Friday, June 08, 2018

Scotland’s private schools eye international expansion as market booms                       
 Scotland’s private schools are following the lead of English institutions by opening new campuses overseas in an attempt to cash in on the growing international demand for British-style education.

Gordonstoun, the elite academy in Moray attended by Prince Charles, this week confirmed it was considering whether to establish offshoots in Asia and North America.

Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh already plans to open a campus in Shenzhen, China, later this year. Mary Erskine and Stewart’s Melville, also based in the capital, each signed an agreement in 2017 to establish Chinese bases by next year.

Expanding overseas could provide the independent sector with additional revenues at a time when the domestic market remains resilient despite pressures from Brexit and reputational damage caused by UK-wide claims of abuse.

It was revealed last year that UK private schools were now educating more pupils in the rest of the world than in Britain.

“I don’t see it as a negative that Scottish schools are looking to open abroad as it is what they have been doing down south for over a decade now,” said John Edward of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS).

“It’s not a case of playing catch-up, it’s a case of identifying the right opportunities at the right time. The circumstances of our schools have always been very different to the ones in England, they tend to be more rooted in the community.

“There is a huge growth in international interest in the sector. It is a very competitive and global market as there are other schools elsewhere in the English-speaking world, such as Canada or South Africa, which are also looking to bring pupils from overseas to board.

“But there is a British international school being opened every day in places like mainland China and the Middle East. There is almost an unquenchable thirst for English-speaking education.

“There is not just a demand for pupils – but also teachers from the UK being headhunted to work in the schools. In UK terms, I would say it is the biggest soft export we have at the moment.”

The private school sector in Scotland has remained steady despite a slight fall in pupil numbers in the past decade.

There are 29,664 pupils in 74 independent schools north of the Border, accounting for 4.1 per cent of pupils in the country. Of those schools, 19 offer boarding to 3,023 pupils – 32 per cent of whom are from overseas.

The capital remains the biggest market, with the number of secondary-age pupils in Edinburgh being privately educated rising from 25 per cent to 30 per cent in recent years.

Gordonstoun, which charges up to £38,000 per year, saw its income from fees fall by around £1.5m according to its latest accounts, with the number of pupils dropping by 8 per cent in 2016 to 520.

A spokeswoman for Gordonstoun told The Times it has received “considerable interest” from the rest of the world in its curriculum.

They continued: “It is therefore not surprising that Gordonstoun is receiving a large number of requests from those around the world wishing to adopt our approach.

“Gordonstoun has always embraced an international outlook and we are exploring a number of ways in which we can grow the international reach and impact of our world-leading approach to character education. This is at an early stage of development and we are excited about the opportunities under discussion. International opportunities will enable us to spread our educational ethos.”


Rev. Graham: San Diego Ed. Dept Seeks to 'Lure' Kids Into Sexual 'Promiscuity'

Commenting on the Sexual Health Education Program implemented in the San Diego Unified School District -- a sexually graphic "education" curricula for 6th grade, 8th grade, and high school students -- Christian leader Franklin Graham said California, like many states, is trying to "lure" children into sexual "promiscuity" and accept "lifestyles" contrary to "God's Word."

Many parents who have children in the San Diego public schools have objected to the program and sought to opt their children out of the class. The program includes graphic descriptions of anal, oral, and vaginal sex presented to kids 11 and 12 years old, according to the Concerned Parents of San Diego, which wants the class suspended until more age-appropriate material can be crafted with parents' input.

"There’s an agenda in California and every other state to target the minds and hearts of children," said Rev. Franklin Graham in a June 3 post on Facebook.  "The agenda is to lure them into promiscuity and condition their minds to accept lifestyles that are against the teaching of God’s Word."

"What do we do?" he said.  "Parents have to be involved and not accept curriculum such as the sex-ed curriculum these San Diego parents are fighting. Using smutty language and imagery to taint the minds of elementary school children—or any age students for that matter— is wrong."

"Teaching 6th graders about sexual pleasure and how to go to websites to learn to 'ask for consent in a sexy way' should not be happening," said Graham.

He continued, "This is an example of why we need men and women who believe in God to run for school boards at the local and state level. It’s also imperative that Christians vote in every election for candidates who support biblical principles, including the legislators who make these laws."

"I hope that every pastor will encourage the members of their congregation to let the Christian voice be heard in the elections," said Graham. "Let’s be salt and light as Jesus commanded and make a difference for our children and grandchildren!"


The hypocrisy and bigotry of the academic Left

"Academia’s deep ­antipathy towards its own civilisation”

A course in Western civilisation has proved too provocative for the Australian National University to take on, yet its Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies has been at the forefront of contentious discussions around Middle Eastern politics and society with minimal backlash from its ­academics.

The centre, which has benefited from sizeable donations from the United Arab Emirates and the governments of Iran and Turkey, frequently publishes ­articles supportive of a Palestine state and Iran, hosts lectures on “deconstructing the extremist narrative” and “Islamophobia in post-communist Europe”, and has featured guest speakers who are critical of US policy.

It has also spruiked the success of a delegation to Iran late last year — led by ANU chancellor Gareth Evans — as the “first round of the Australia-Iran dialogue” after a 10-year suspension.

ANU vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt has been forced to ­defend the centre in the wake of criticism of the university’s decision to withdraw from negoti­ations with the Sydney-based Ramsay Centre over a proposed degree in Western civilisation and scholarship program.

Professor Schmidt announced the decision last Friday, citing concerns for academic autonomy. However, it also followed threats of a backlash from the National Tertiary Education Union, which had claimed that the Ramsay Centre — chaired by former prime minister John Howard and with Liberal politician Tony Abbott on the board — sought to pursue a “narrow, radically conservative program to demonstrate and promulgate the alleged superiority of Western culture and civilisation”.

“Any association, real or perceived, with this divisive cultural and political agenda could potentially damage the intellectual reputation of the humanities at ANU and the ANU more broadly,” the union wrote in its letter to the vice-chancellor.

Politicians and conservative academics have since questioned how ANU had been able to successfully negotiate donations with foreign entities but had been unable to resolve any issues preventing the Ramsay Centre ­alliance from going ahead.

Mr Abbott this week pointed out the “hypocrisy” of the union opposing the course when the university had accepted funds from Dubai, Iran and Turkey in the past. A member of one of the donors, Dubai’s Al-Maktoum Foundation, is listed as a member of the centre’s advisory board.

Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly has also accused the university of double standards. “They are accepting money from Iran. That’s a despotic government … that does everything to suppress academic freedoms, the freedoms of women,” Mr Kelly told Sky News.

“When it comes to a course on Western civilisation, absolutely, any course of Western civilisation is going to be pro-Western civilisation, simply because of the facts, because Western civilisation is why we have the great society that we have today.”

Bella d’Abrera, the program ­director of Western civilisation at the Institute of Public Affairs, said she struggled to understand how a course that was “for” Western civil­isation should be viewed any more contentiously than that of the Arab studies centre’s promotion of Middle Eastern and Central Asian politics and culture and the role of Islam in the broader world.

She pointed to an upcoming symposium sponsored by the centre on “alternative traditions of law, norms and rules” that will seek to examine “new ways of seeing the relationship between ­interpretation, law and justice”.

“The fact that ANU is prepared to accept funds to promote the study of other civilisations but has rejected Ramsay Centre’s generosity reveals academia’s deep ­antipathy towards its own civilisation,” Dr d’Abrera said.

Arab studies centre director Amin Saikal did not return calls or emails yesterday. The highly distinguished academic has written extensively on Middle Eastern politics.

In an article last June published in the centre’s Bulletin, titled “Fifty Years of Israel’s occupation”, he wrote about Israel’s unwillingness to implement any deal that could require it to relinquish its occupation of the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.

He was critical of Benjamin Netanyahu and referred to Hamas, “which Israel, as well as many of its Western supporters, especially the US, have denounced as a ‘terrorist organisation’.”

An article by his deputy director, James Piscatori, also published in the Bulletin, critiques Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, which prompted Iran to issue a fatwa against the author, as ­“gratuitously offensive”.

“One wonders: would he have been able to achieve the same ­effect of questioning the ­sacred with less confrontational language?” Professor Piscatori writes.

“For when the intended audience finds the metaphors crudely constructed and the political instrument of language blunt, ­offence is bound to be taken.

“What may have been intended as literary licence, even a philosophical challenge, is destined to be greeted by those within the ­tradition as ‘literary terrorism’.”

Professor Schmidt has declined repeated interview requests, but in a letter on ANU’s website on Tuesday he said he was “disappointed” that the Arab studies centre had been singled out.


Thursday, June 07, 2018

UK: Oxbridge's lack of black students a 'staggering' failure, says universities minister

WHY is it important to have blacks at Oxford and Cambridge universities?  Surely what matters is that each student is admitted  on non-discriminatory grounds and is given every opportunity to develop his/her full potential.  Oxford and Cambridge do exactly that. 

If there is evidence of blacks being discriminated against let us hear of it.  But there is none.  As they do worldwide, Africans  in Britain have very poor High school performance.  THAT is why so few meet Oxbridge admission criteria

Oxbridge is Britain's prime location for intellectual excellence.  To degrade it by having racist admission criteria would be a great loss and would prove nothing

The universities minister has attacked Oxbridge for its “staggering” failure to attract more black students, saying that colleges must look beyond exam results to improve diversity.

Sam Gyimah, who was elected as the first black British president of the Oxford Union debating society in 1997, claimed that diversity at Britain’s two oldest universities had scarcely changed from his own student days, as he warned it was time they “stood up to the mark”.

Speaking openly about the issue for the first time, Mr Gyimah said he struggled to understand how Oxford and Cambridge could regularly produce Nobel prize winners but could not “crack the issue of admissions”.


Developing countries lead in education innovation

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said too many schools are operating “very similarly to 100 years ago, and the world today is much different.” She is right, but the secretary might direct Americans to the creative innovation happening abroad.

Sugata Mitra, an education researcher at England’s Newcastle University, is educating poor children using self-organized learning environments (SOLEs), where kids teach each other using technology and collaborative learning.

In 1999, Mitra placed a computer with internet access in a wall in an Indian slum. Within hours, kids gathered in groups to teach each other how to browse and download programs.

Next, Mitra placed computers in rural villages in India and later in Cambodia, Africa, China and South America. Kids became computer literate and improved their English skills using the SOLEs approach.

Mitra discovered that learning, memorization and critical thinking were maximized when four kids collaborated using one computer, even with limited adult intervention. For example, in India, kids only had access to “Granny Clouds,” which allowed British grandmothers to give the kids encouragement and English lessons using webcams.

Mitra introduced SOLEs to a school in Gateshead, England, and found primary school students learned secondary school material. Today, several schools in Georgia, Maryland and Texas have “SOLE sessions.” Mitra’s research challenges the view that learning is maximized when teachers stand in front of a chalkboard lecturing. Students can successfully teach each other.

James Tooley, a professor of education policy at Newcastle University who studies private education in developing countries, has found an abundance of low-cost schools independent of the government that often operate below the radar.

In Patna, India, Tooley identified 1,224 such schools when government records listed only 40. In the poorest area of Hyderabad, 37 percent of schools are small and unregistered, operating successfully without government funding or regulation.

A full 76 percent of schoolchildren in Hyderabad attend independent schools, and they outperform similar students in government schools. Similar results were found in Ghana and Nigeria.

Impressed by what he observed, Tooley founded a chain of 38 low-cost, high-quality independent schools in Ghana, the OMEGA Schools. The daily “pay-as-you-learn” fee is 65 U.S. cents, less than 14 percent of the average daily income in Ghana. (The U.S. equivalent would be $24 per day.) Tooley’s research shows value-for-money is achieved when schools face robust competition and daily accountability, with limited bureaucracy.

Obstacles are in the way of a large-scale adoption of the Mitra/Tooley approach in the United States. Adult supervision of students is often required by law, and government-school teachers must be certified. And given the power of teacher unions, politicians typically oppose any reduction in the role of teachers or "educrats."

Even though government schools have serious flaws, many parents are reluctant to gamble on new learning models. On the other hand, American parents can overcome the obstacles to innovation.

In low-income neighborhoods, where schools are often dangerous and ineffective, parents want new options. As proof, 70 percent of low-income voters support school vouchers. The learning models proposed by Mitra and Tooley are not for everyone, but parents fed up with failing government schools would likely jump at more choices. Other parents would follow with demonstrated success.

Through private funding, schools can escape much government red tape, which stifles innovation and increases costs. Education entrepreneurs and investors need to start low-cost independent schools, letting “a million schools bloom.”

In contrast, American politicians suffocate choice and competition: The number of public school districts plummeted from 119,001 in 1937 to 13,588 in 2011.

A boom of low-cost independent schools could be paid for through education savings accounts (ESAs), privately funded tax-credit scholarships, 529 Savings Plans and tax-funded vouchers.

The Acton Academy is a franchise model that is consistent with the Mitra/Tooley approach, as is today’s homeschool model, which features decentralization, personalized curriculum, student collaboration, integrated technology,and fewer government rules. Homeschooled kids test better than kids in government schools.

Old-line government schools are failing many children, especially in low-income neighborhoods. Yet in some of the world’s poorest places, people find innovative ways of helping themselves by nurturing high-quality, decentralized, low-cost independent schools, featuring tech-infused student collaboration. Entrepreneurs could revolutionize U.S. education by rapidly scaling up this approach.


Australian National University ‘gutless’ to reject study of Western civ., says another university boss

The Australian National University’s reluctance to host a ­pro­posed Western civilisation course is “the greatest act of gutlessness since Trevor Chappell bowled under­arm to New Zealand”, says Australian Catholic University vice-chancellor Greg Craven.

“This whole exercise is not a protection of academic freedom,” Professor Craven added, referring to ANU’s rejection last week of the Western civilisation program proposed by the Ramsay Centre, chaired by former prime minister John Howard.

“It’s one of the greatest failures of academic freedom in Australian university history … What’s happening here is not an attempt to protect a diverse range of studies and views around civilisation, but to make sure one particular view, as far as possible, is kept ruthlessly out of the university.”

The ANU was in negotiation with the centre until last week when discussions regarding academic freedoms broke down.

Yesterday, federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham let fly at unions and activist students for using “fear and negativity” to shut down debate on the plan, saying he hoped another university would take up the offer. “I hope they (the universities) stare down the fear and negativity that the likes of the (National Tertiary Education Union) or various student unions engage in from time to time and recognise that academic freedom and free academic inquiry should extend across all disciplines,” he said.

It has emerged the Ramsay Centre approached other universities about the Western civilisation program, but none agreed to take it on. “Melbourne is one among many Australian universities approached by the Ramsey Centre,” said University of Melbourne acting vice-chancellor Mark Considine. He said it appre­ciated the opportunity but had not submitted an expression of interest.

The University of Sydney confirmed an approach by the Ramsay Centre. “However, the University of Sydney needs to make its own assessment of the opportunities and risks independent of the current noise,” it said.

Macquarie University said it met the Ramsay Centre last year “for initial talks on potential collaborations”. None was pursued.

Professor Craven declined to say whether the Ramsay Centre had approached the ACU: “Of course we’d look at a program like Ramsay, and I would have a lot more confidence in the ­robustness of our own academic processes than ANU apparently has in theirs.”

He said the ANU’s rejection of the Ramsay proposal should not be seen as a protection of university processes and independence.

“It is a complete misconception that universities do not continually have discussions with partners outside the university about everything from research to teaching to courses, for the purpose of designing something that meets needs and intellectual imperatives,” he said.

“I hate to break the news to people, but take for example linkage research projects with industry … Does anyone seriously believe that the two partners do not discuss what the research looks like and what its outcomes are going to be and where it’s going to go, so that it is literally acceptable and beneficial?

“I think what’s happened is a group of people wish to preclude particular academic perspectives and have tried to do so under the false flag of academic freedom and due academic process.”

Professor Craven said it was “astonishing” that while a centre for Western civilisation had been deemed inconsistent with academic freedom, six universities host Confucius centres, which some observers say are under Chinese government control and used to disseminate pro-China propaganda .

“I think this is really a bit of a defining moment for Australian universities,” he said.

Ramsay Centre director professor Simon Haines condemned the tenor of the debate. “Some of the recent media comment, from both ends of the political spectrum, has been deplorable,” he said, labelling the treatment of some academics “unacceptable”.


Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Their Son Is Suicidal Because of Bullying. They Blame an Obama-Era School Discipline Policy

Nicole Landers found a note written by her 9-year-old son, Jared. “Kill me. I mean nothing. I have issues,” it read.

Her son’s April 16 note, Landers said, was the culmination of months of bullying Jared endured in the classroom. That bullying included being struck in the face and thrown in the mud by another student. Even threats of electrocution.

“Jared has been relentlessly bullied,” his stepfather, Josh Landers, told The Daily Signal. “To the point of being suicidal.”

The Landerses tried addressing the situation with officials at Pine Grove Elementary School in Carney, Maryland, where Jared, who has since turned 10, is in fourth grade.

The parents provided documentation to The Daily Signal of bullying reports they filed with Baltimore County Public Schools throughout the year, including communication from April, when the situation became dire.

Nicole and Josh Landers say their 12-year-old daughter, Tamar, has faced multiple instances of sexual harassment in the same school district. They say Justin, their 18-year-old son, was threatened after reporting a student with a knife in class at his school, Loch Raven High School.

Officials at Baltimore County Public Schools, the parents say, are unable to provide a safe learning environment for their three children. They blame an Obama-era school discipline policy.

The U.S. Department of Education had good intentions in establishing the policy, noting that black students in the 2011-12 school year were three times as likely to be suspended and expelled as white students. Many argued that high suspension rates for minority students contributed to a “school-to-prison pipeline,” where already disadvantaged children ended up incarcerated.

To address this disparity, the Obama administration established new school discipline guidelines in 2014. Using the threat of civil rights lawsuits, the policy urged the nation’s schools to use positive reinforcement instead of punishing students’ bad behavior by suspending or expelling them.

“We went from a policy of zero tolerance to extreme tolerance,” Josh Landers says. “All that it has done is caused chaos within classrooms. It has disarmed teachers from having the ability to control their classes and stay safe and protected. Students are bullied relentlessly.”

In order to address this, Nicole and Josh Landers started Parents Against School Violence, a group that is calling on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to rescind the Obama administration’s 2014 guidance. DeVos is in the process of reviewing those guidelines, and hasn’t made a decision.

The Landerses, however, say they don’t have time to wait. Next fall, they plan to send Jared and Tamar to private school.

“I’m not confident that both of the children we still have left in the public school, that they would both come out alive or not seriously harmed,” Nicole Landers says.

“We’ve done some investigations with a couple of private schools, and we’re going to bite the bullet,” Josh Landers adds.

The Landerses say they aren’t sure how they’ll pay for private school, but that extra work, second jobs, and God will help.

“We will go to whatever lengths that we have to, to ensure not only their most basic safety within the school system, but also the benefit of a healthy education,” Josh Landers says of Jared and Tamar.


Why There’s an Increased Interest in Homeschooling

Nice to see all that yellow hair

There’s a lot to dislike about many public schools—and right now, student safety is at the top of the list. “After a gunman opened fire on students in Parkland, Florida,” a new Washington Times feature explains, “the phones started ringing at the Texas Home School Coalition, and they haven’t stopped yet.”

Like so many state organizations, the Texas organization was used to a certain number of inquiries about homeschooling. President Tim Lambert says they usually averaged about 600 calls a month—a number he watched double over the past several weeks. “When the Parkland shooting happened, our phone calls and emails exploded. And they’re not alone.

“I think what happens with these school shootings is they’re the straws that broke the camel’s back,” Christopher Chin, the president of Homeschool Louisiana, told the Times. “I don’t think it’s the major decision-maker, but it’s in the back of parents’ minds.” In general, he thinks, the violence, bullying, and dangerous environment is tipping the decision for families, who were already sick of the lack of quality instruction and liberal indoctrination.

More families are angry about what their kids are learning—and they’re pulling their kids out of public school to prove it.

Over the last four years, reporters have seemed surprised by the mass exodus of children from traditional education settings. The homeschooling movement has ballooned from 1.5 million to estimates of more than 2 million now. Since most states aren’t required to count the number of homeschooling families, it’s still a guessing game. But there’s one thing everyone agrees on: more parents are making the leap—and fast.

Based on the crackdown on faith, the out-of-control sex ed, and genderless chaos, who can blame them? “Most parents homeschool for more than one reason,” Brian Ray points out at the National Home Education Research Institute. When he asks families, he hears these issues over and over again: “a desire to provide religious instruction or different values than those offered in public schools; dissatisfaction with the academic curriculum, and worries about the school environment.”

In some states, like North Carolina, the number of kids in home schools is actually growing faster than private school enrollment. At least at home, parents can take back the control that schools are stealing from them.

Of course, not everyone is happy about the shift—least of all big government bureaucrats, who are worried they’re losing their grip on students. Or local school districts, who lose a significant chunk of funding with each departing student. But what are moms and dads to do when the place they send their kids to learn is punishing their religion, denying them privacy, and forcing them to sit through sex-ed curriculums so pornographic you couldn’t read it on the evening news?

When President Barack Obama forced schools to open their bathrooms and locker rooms to kids of both genders, Texas Lt. Gov.  Dan Patrick warned that it would “be the end of public education, if this prevails. People will pull their kids out, homeschooling will explode, and private schools will increase.” Looking back, Patrick was prophetic.

But, as usual, as the number of homeschoolers grow, so do the legislative threats. States like California would like nothing better than to clamp down on the families who want to take full responsibility for their children’s education.

Parents, state legislators and groups like the Homeschool Legal Defense Association need to be on their toes, as liberals try to fight back with tighter restrictions and more regulations on homeschoolers. In the meantime, maybe more school districts will get the message: If they stop being hostile to most Americans’ values, fewer parents would be running for the exits.


The college dropout problem most education advocates don’t talk about

Talk of higher education reform tends to focus, understandably enough, on the cost of college. After all, steady tuition increases, rising student debt, and eye-popping sticker prices at well-known colleges and universities leave too many students and parents wondering if college is out of reach.

For all this healthy attention as to whether students can afford to go to college, however, we’ve too often lost sight of an equally crucial question — whether they’ll actually earn a degree once they’re there. The disheartening reality is that far too many students invest scarce time and money in attending a college from which they never graduate, and frequently wind up worse off than if they’d simply foregone college altogether.

In 2016, more than 40 percent of all students who started at a four-year college six years earlier had not yet earned a degree. Odds are that most of those students never will. In real terms, this means that nearly two million students who begin college each year will drop out before earning a diploma.

Indeed, according to our research, there are more than 600 four-year colleges where less than a third of students will graduate within six years of arriving on campus. When we look at public two-year colleges, most of which are community colleges, the graduation rate for full-time, first-time students is even lower. Only about 26 percent of students at those schools will have completed their degree within three years.

These dismal completion rates create significant private and societal costs. For individual students, the costs come in the form of student debt, lost time, and lower expected earnings (median annual earnings for students who complete a bachelor’s degree are $15,000 higher than for those who attended college but didn’t earn a degree). For society, the costs show up in forgone tax revenue and wasted public subsidies. In aggregate, some estimate that the total private and public costs of non-completion impose a half a trillion dollar drag on the economy.

In seeking to respond to these challenges, education scholars at the American Enterprise Institute and Third Way have joined together to commission a series of studies by five experts laying out the challenges of non-completion and the urgency for families, educators, and policymakers to take action to address it. (You can find those papers here.)

Now, we do well to heed the risks that a narrow focus on college completion can invite — especially when such an emphasis starts to shapes the incentives and strictures of public policy.

As we have seen in K–12, it is all too possible for simple metrics to yield gamesmanship, corner cutting, or manipulation. We are all-too-familiar with colleges that are content to churn out watered-down degrees with little labor market value, or that take care to only admit the most academically prepared students — leaving someone else to serve others for whom the path to completion will be more difficult. Obviously, measures that encourage colleges to “game the system” are a step in the wrong direction.

Thus, reforms intended to incentivize or improve completion rates need to be designed with scrupulous attention to potential consequences and due regard for the full range of outcomes that matter to taxpayers and students.

That said, there are examples of intriguing programs at the state and college-level that merit careful attention. Thirty-two states currently use performance-based funding policies that award a larger share of public subsidies to colleges that deliver impressive performance metrics. While the overall success of these policies is still up for debate, what’s clear is that states like Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee are using these policies to gently prod colleges to focus on their students’ outcomes. In such states, some higher education institutions have modified their advising, counseling, and academic services to prioritize retention and completion.

Approached with care and appropriate attention to possible perverse incentives, performance-based funding is one way to encourage colleges to put more emphasis on supporting the students they enroll.

At the campus level, it’s vital to note that low-cost, quick-fix programs are predictably hard to come by. While there are no silver bullets, we know that higher education providers are already making hundreds of decisions that impact students’ experience and motivation in a way that makes it more or less likely they will succeed.

For example, Georgia State University issues automatic completion grants to college-level juniors and seniors with unmet financial need. On average, these grants are about $900 each, and they help students overcome the stumbling blocks that can be posed by expenses like heating bills and textbook costs. In 2016, nearly 2,000 students received completion grants, with GSU reporting that 61 percent of seniors who received one graduated within two semesters. Programs like these illustrate what colleges can do to help students graduate, without compromising standards or lowering the bar for college completion.

Even in these polarized times, we can agree that college students should complete their degrees and that taxpayers should get repaid for the funds they make available through student loans. We have the opportunity to seek solutions that focus not only on whether students can afford to arrive on campus, but on whether those students willing to do the work will leave with the education and the credential they came for. Left or right, that’s a cause we can all embrace.


Tuesday, June 05, 2018

UK universities oppose boycotting Israeli academia

British universities oppose an academic boycott of Israel, according to a statement made last week by the head of the international arm of the University Association of Britain and the President of Exeter University, Sir Steve Smith.

During a meeting between representatives of British universities and the heads of universities in Israel, Smith emphasized to the heads of the latter the “commitment of the British Universities Union against any academic boycott with an emphasis on Israel and the importance of not allowing political or other issues to harm the cooperation between the institutions.”

The explicit resistance by Britain comes in the wake of several attempts to implement an academic boycott of Israel. Such calls were made by university heads and senior officials in the higher education system in Norway, Ireland and the United States, among others.

In addition to what he told the Israeli academic leaders personally, Smith also sent a written statement on the subject to the British Universities Union, which was approved in 2015, and which also strongly opposes an academic boycott of Israel.

"The British University Committee is committed to the free sharing of ideas between universities and in academia,” the statement said, “regardless of nationality and place. Therefore the committee strongly opposes an academic boycott on the grounds that it is hostile to academic freedom, including academic freedom to cooperate with one another."

It further stated that “the committee wishes to ratify its previous position regarding the boycott of Israeli universities."

Tel Aviv University President Prof. Joseph Klafter and the British Minister of Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Sam Gyimah published a joint statement emphasizing the importance of cooperation between the two countries.

"We welcome any statement condemning the phenomenon of an academic boycott of Israel," said Prof. Klafter, "and call upon the European university unions to adopt similar statements."

Last week, the Council for Higher Education approved the university's code of ethics, granting independence to Israeli academic institutions to apply it in accordance with their worldview. In this context, the most relevant section of the code is a ban on support by Israeli scholars and lecturers of academic boycotts of Israel.


College Students Freak Out After Accidentally Rejecting Socialism

Students at Davidson College were offered the change to give socialism a try with their GPAs and soundly rejected it- then quickly retreated to their safe spaces when they realized what they’d done.

Posing as “Students for Educational Equality,” two students from the college’s chapter of Young Adults for Freedom circulated a petition suggesting that they take a couple of points off of the GPA of the top performing students and redistribute them to the lowest performing students so that everyone could graduate.

Of course, students thought this was insane (a professor was willing to sign it, though). They had a lot of questions for the YAF petitioners. What would prevent students from counting on getting this boost every semester? Why should students who worked hard be docked points while students who didn’t work as hard get points they didn’t earn? They were all great questions.

The College Fix reports that students were extremely upset when they realized they had accidentally rejected socialism. They called for a “teach-in” at the student union to discuss their feelings on the matter. In the video of this event, students denounce the YAF effort as “inflammatory” and unfair, making light of socioeconomic disparity of campus.

The YAF Chapter responded on their Facebook page saying:

"It is simply an illustration of fruits of your labor and your being able to decide what happens with those fruits,” the statement continued. “Regardless of your level of income or academic achievements, what is relevant is that the fruit is yours and you should be able to decide what you do with it. Davidson Young Americans for Freedom stands for limited government and free enterprise, and we stand by our video".


Chinese doing well in American education

As senior year comes to its end, Chinese Americans keep their momentum as one of the top groups on college campus in collecting more bachelor's degrees and over.

A case in point, among the 4,300 students bidding farewell to Queens College (QC. Acceptance rate: 39.8%) in New York prior to this weekend, nine percent were first-generation Chinese Americans and 21 percent American-born Chinese. 30% Chinese overall.

This year's figure of Chinese American graduates and undergraduates nationwide in higher education has not been calculated yet, but other latest statistics are telling their upward trend.

Around 26.7 percent of U.S. Asians were Chinese American undergraduates, and up to 28.5 percent postgraduates and above, the U.S. Census Bureau (USCB) said in May, adding that 23 percent of the Asian Americans had won single or both degrees.

Asian Americans were the best-educated ethnics compared with all the others in the United States, with 53.2 percent of them over 25 years old harvesting bachelor's degrees and above, far exceeding the national level of 31.2 percent, according to USCB.

QC is one of the four-year colleges in the City University of New York system, with a motto of "We Learn So That We May Serve." It usually hosts up to 18,500 students, including 14,400 undergraduates and 4,100 postgraduates.

Queens has been widely seen as the most demographically diversified boroughs of New York City, almost half its population being immigrants.

The total number of Asian Americans has surpassed 21.4 million. Chinese Americans top this demographic spectrum with 5.08 million in all, according to USCB.


Monday, June 04, 2018

Funding education is about keeping America competitive

A "more money" advocate below.  "More efficiency" is not on his agenda.

He dismisses administrative bloat with a wave of his hand, despite the great growth in non-teaching staff.  Some figures about that would have been nice. 

Ceasing to teach rubbish "studies" subjects would also decrease the number of employees, with a big benefit to the bottom line.

 He also fails to see that conservative legislators are going to keep the purse-strings tight while the universities reinvent themselves as Leftist Madrassas

Critics of recent teacher walkouts dismissed the protests as a simple pay dispute. But salary grievances are just a symptom of larger problems in America’s education system. At a time of growing concern over America’s ability to compete in the global economy, public schools, once seen as an engine of social mobility and economic opportunity, are under increasing financial strain.

Teacher walkouts helped draw attention to funding problems for K-12 education across several states. But the situation is equally dire for America’s public colleges and universities. State governments have systematically divested from public education over the past decade. Between 2008 and 2015, higher education spending per student dropped in 46 states.

Importantly, the downward trend isn’t just a result of widespread austerity. Over that same period, higher education was the only major line item that saw cuts.

What’s the problem?

Shortfalls in state funding have to be made up for somewhere. Colleges and universities have opted for steep tuition hikes. Average tuition for four-year public institutions has increased over $10,000 since 2002. That’s about 65 percent.

Take Arizona, the scene of recent #RedforEd demonstrations. A Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report shows that Arizona made the fourth-largest spending cuts on higher education since 2007. Not coincidentally, tuition over that period almost doubled (increasing 90 percent).

The costs of higher education, once heavily subsidized by state governments, are now being passed on to students and their families. Unfortunately, American families can’t keep up. Tuition increases significantly outpace growth in household incomes. Thanks in part to the Great Recession, median incomes in the United States have barely budged over the past 10 years.

Hence, a sharp increase in student loan acquisition. Those unable to afford the higher price tag are turning to the federal government for aid. The Federal Reserve reports that total student loan debt exceeds $1.4 trillion. That’s the equivalent of 7 percent of current U.S. GDP — a record high.

As a result, Americans are leaving college with increased debt, or, in many cases, failing to complete their degrees.

How did we get here?

Incentives to cut higher education spending in favor of other fiscal priorities are plain to see. For one thing, the short-term political benefits of cuts outweigh the long-term costs. Faculty and administration salaries make for an easy political target. The tenure system, seen to protect inflated contracts, long has been a source of contention.

More recently, higher education suffers widespread criticism for “administrative bloat.” Never mind that evidence says otherwise. The argument is that universities are wasting money and need to get their fiscal priorities in order.

It’s no surprise, then, that state governments have found it politically expedient to cut higher education funding in favor of other fiscal priorities. After all, the costs of doing it won’t be fully visible until future generations.

The result has been a lost decade in higher education provision. Funding shortfalls have led to cuts in staffing, program offerings and scholarships. This means that colleges and universities aren’t just more expensive for the consumer. The “product,” in a word, is suffering.

What’s at stake?

The debate over education funding has larger implications. During the 2016 presidential election, we heard a lot about how America is lagging behind its global competitors, and President Trump hammered has this message. We are told that trade agreements such as NAFTA infringe unfairly on U.S. sovereignty. That other countries take away American jobs. That the trade deficit is unsustainable.

Yet, while elected officials point to problems overseas, they ignore the solutions at home.

The great promise of higher education — in the United States and around the world — is that it increases economic opportunities and spurs innovation. The hope is that education helps graduates climb the ladder of social mobility. Now that ladder has been kicked away from many families opting to forego college rather than take on additional debt.

One result is the current shortage of skilled labor. Fewer students are acquiring the skills needed to fill job openings, especially in key services industries. These sectors — information technology, finance, engineering — are among America’s last great comparative advantages. The ability of the United States to compete in global markets depends on keeping these industries fed with talent. And yet the economy is falling significantly behind.

The ill effects of these shortfalls are not yet fully visible. But history will show how severely state governments have miscalculated. If governments want to see the U.S. economy grow and remain competitive, they need to put the keys back in the ignition. As of now, higher education budget cuts have shut off the engine of economic innovation.


No. Oxford University is not racist

The diversity industry patronises black students and harms academia.

Oxford is one of the world’s great universities. It has been ranked the best university in the world by the World University Rankings for the past two years. Seven out of the last 10 prime ministers went to Oxford. In industry, science, law, media and much else, many of the country’s highest fliers graduated from Oxford. And it has secured its place at the pinnacle of academia by selecting only the most able and committed of students.

Yet for several years now, academic merit has been challenged by the politics of diversity. The Labour MP David Lammy has championed the view that demographics – particularly of ethnicity, social class and geography – are relevant to student admissions. Last October he accused Oxford of ‘social apartheid’, stating the student body ‘is utterly unrepresentative of life in modern Britain’. And last week, in response to Oxford publishing its annual admissions data, he renewed his attack, describing the university as ‘a bastion of white, middle-class, southern privilege’.

This is where merit and diversity clash. Academic ability in 18-year-olds is not randomly distributed. Nature and nurture play a role. Some children are born into environments that stimulate academic curiosity. Some grow up wanting to emulate the educational successes of their parents. Some attend more academic schools which have teachers better at enthusing them to excel. Some are more able to devour onerous Oxford lecture notes. Each of these variables is more common in certain demographics than others. And if students were selected solely on the basis of merit, then Oxford would necessarily reflect those demographics.

In 2016, the percentage of A-level students achieving three A grades or better was 13. But for Chinese students the figure was 24 per cent. At the other end of the scale were black Caribbeans (three per cent). In the mid-point were white and mixed-race communities (each 11 per cent) and Asians (10 per cent), although within the Asian category students of Indian heritage did better (14 per cent).

This ethnically based differential in A-level achievement carries forward into degree performance. Controlling for entry qualifications, black students are between six and 28 percentage points less likely than white students to get a first- or upper-second-class degree. For example, within the graduate population that entered university with three As at A-level, 94 per cent of white students graduated with a first- or upper-second-class degree, whereas the figure for black students was 88 per cent. Thus, an institution like Oxford, if it were selecting solely on merit, would expect to have a disproportionately low number of black students as compared to, say, Chinese or white students.

In fact, Oxford has a disproportionately high number of black students, although you wouldn’t know this from the comments made by Lammy and others last week. He quoted the seemingly shocking statistic that, between 2015 and 2017, several Oxford colleges had failed to admit more than one or two black British students. This set the tone of the news agenda, prompting Oxford graduates to tweet their scorn at their old university. But, as ever, statistics are the last refuge of the scoundrel.

The idea that Oxford discriminates against black and minority-ethnic applicants is simply untrue. Only about three per cent of all applications to British universities are from students who identify as black, as distinct from Asians, mixed-race people or other non-whites. And since Oxford has 29 undergraduate-admitting colleges, some of which admit only 50 British students each year, it is not statistically significant that some admit only one or two black students each year.

In any case, Oxford should only admit black students who meet its minimum academic requirements – three A grades or better at A-level. But across all UK universities, only 1.8 per cent of black students achieved this minimum requirement. And yet the percentage of black students admitted to Oxford is 1.9 per cent. Accordingly, when allowance is made for grade attainment, black students fare better than white students.

Comparisons should also take into account the courses that students tend to apply for. Black students tend to apply for more competitive courses, such as medicine or law. When this is taken into account, as the Channel 4’s FactCheck noted, ‘a black applicant to Oxford is very slightly more (0.5 per cent) likely to receive an offer than the average applicant who applies for the same course and has the same predicted grades.’

Far from discriminating against black students, Oxford, by making allowances for grades and course choices, discriminates in favour of black students. This should surprise nobody, for the objective of campaigners like David Lammy is to challenge the meritocratic basis of Oxford’s selection process in favour of diversity. His critique of Oxford draws its strength from the fact that it is, as he put it, ‘utterly unrepresentative of life in modern Britain’. What bothers Lammy is that, to use his image, not enough children from ‘the 20th floor of a tower block estate’ go to Oxford.

He is not alone in this. Lammy now fronts a form of diversity politics that has become a mainstream concern for almost the entire political class. After Lammy wrote an article for the Guardian in 2010, called ‘The Oxbridge whitewash’, then prime minister David Cameron challenged Oxford over its black-student numbers.  In 2017, Lammy secured the signatures of 108 MPs, including Tory Education Select Committee chairman Robert Halfon, to demand Oxbridge do more to admit more students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Last week there was scarcely a politician or academic who was prepared to defend a meritocratic system.

Whatever happens, Oxford will not entirely abandon its meritocratic approach. Those from backgrounds deemed ‘advantaged’ will continue to face a rigorous selection process, while those deemed ‘disadvantaged’ will be given a leg-up. This is what happens when merit yields to diversity: those from backgrounds deemed disadvantaged are favoured and treated as less capable of making it on their own. An easier place at Oxford may be good for children from ‘the 20th floor of a tower block estate’, if they don’t mind being patronised, but it certainly isn’t good for Oxford.


Why This Black High School Girl Is Publicly Speaking up for Student Privacy

Alexis Lightcap knows what it’s like to feel as if she has no voice.

“I completely lost my voice,” she says of her time in the foster care system. “I lost who I was.”

When she and her sister were adopted, though, her parents helped her rediscover her voice. “You have a say in this world, and you need to speak up for yourself,” they would tell her. 

But recent events in her school district have once again threatened to silence her. When her school district, Boyertown Area School District, made changes to its policies to grant access to students who identify as the opposite sex to the restrooms and locker rooms of their choice, it did not inform the students or the parents.

They were given no voice in the matter.

So Alexis is joining an ongoing lawsuit against the policies to speak up for herself and for the other students whose privacy was ignored by the policy change.

Alexis could have participated in this lawsuit anonymously. But she is choosing to publicly take a stand and to offer the perspective of a high school girl who is personally affected by this school district policy.

It’s the perspective that comes from walking into one of the bathrooms at school, where she saw the reflection of a man in the mirror. She was terrified and ran out of the bathroom. From there, she went straight to the school administration to report the incident. But her grade-level principal didn’t remedy the situation. He informed her of the new district policies and sent her on her way.

School administrators have a duty to protect the privacy and safety of all of their students. Boyertown Area School District has failed this duty by only looking out for the interests of a few, and not the whole.

So Alexis is taking her voice back.

She is standing up for the privacy and safety of her fellow students, including her 13-year-old younger sister. She is standing up to say that there are solutions that protect the privacy and safety of all students, not just a few.

Alexis has lost her voice at the hands of government systems before – and she’s not going to let it happen again.


Sunday, June 03, 2018

Prominent Chareidi Activist Warns: ‘No Future’ For Orthodox Jews In Britain

Rabbi Aharon Klein, one of the heads of the Belzer community in London, warned his constituents on Thursday that should the decisions regarding the education in Charedi schools in England go against the ethos taught by the community, then there would be no future for the Charedi community in England whatsoever.

The new rules set down by the Education Ministry, which helps fund the schools, is to teach about “the other and one who is different from the lifestyle of the students.”

“The English are not particularly taking aim at the Charedi schools, but rather trying to prevent young Englishmen and women from becoming too entrenched in their own beliefs and going off and joining a peripheral segment of society that is antagonistic towards others. However, the plans put forth by the Ministry instructed all schools including the Charedi ones to teach about people and their lifestyles that are considered To’eva.”

“From including heresy against G-d as well as things that fall into the category of rather die then transgress as well as other to’eva materials, none of these things will be taught in a Charedi school, for no such school will agree to teach these things.

Three months ago, HaRav Shraga Feivel Zimmerman from Gateshead passed along a similar message, stating that the situation is serious and that the Jews may have to leave en masse.

“The interference of the British Government in religious education is the most serious problem for the Jewish community since Edward the First expelled the Jews more than 700 years ago. English Jewry feels that it is in crisis right now.”


Texas Governor Introduces School Gun-Safety Plan

Texas governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday introduced a plan to prevent more gun violence from hitting his state’s schools.

The Republican governor’s “School and Firearm Safety Action Plan” outlines 40 strategies to prevent shootings, including identifying students with mental-health issues, providing schools with active-shooter training, beefing up school-security staffs, and adding more police officers to schools.

“This plan is a starting point, not an ending place,” Abbott said as he announced the plan at the Dallas School District headquarters. “It provides strategies that can be used before the next school year begins to keep our students safe when they return to school.

School discipline should be tightened for students who cause trouble, and schools should monitor social media to keep an eye on potential threats, the plan recommends.

The governor is also asking the state legislature to enact a “red flag” law, which would allow a threatening person to be stripped of his firearms through a legal process before he could use them against innocent people.

The $110 million plan, a result of days of discussions between Abbott, victims, parents, teachers, law-enforcement officers, legislators, and others, already has $70 million in funds available, and the governor’s office plans to ask lawmakers to make up the gap.

A young gunman shot up Santa Fe High School near Houston, Texas less than two weeks ago, killing ten people. In November, another shooter killed 26 at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, during the Sunday morning service.

Abbott said he may call a special session for state legislators to vote on some of his safety proposals if there seems to be enough support.

“When an active-shooter situation arises, the difference between life and death can be a matter of seconds,” he said. “Trained security personnel can make all the difference.”

Gun-control activists were not satisfied with Abbott’s proposals and demanded that he push lawmakers to regulate firearms more strictly, saying the problem is that guns are simply too easy to get.

The answer to gun violence “isn’t some deep-seated secret,” said the Brady Campaign to Reduce Gun Violence. “It’s the fact that it’s frighteningly easy for dangerous people to get access to a gun, and this proposal does little to stop that.”


Teaching Australian kids to read still based on failed methods

L3 is used in hundreds of schools across NSW and is a core component of the NSW Department of Education’s Early Action for Success strategy. L3 is supposed to provide early literacy intervention for all students including the most disadvantaged groups in order to reduce the number of students needing intervention in later years of schooling.

A primary concern with L3 — as outlined in our Research Brief —  is that it is based on the same constructivist pedagogy as the Reading Recovery program.  A recent longitudinal analysis of Reading Recovery found the long term impact to be limited for the vast majority of students — and even negative for some — so from 2018 the NSW DoE no longer provides system support for Reading Recovery.

One would think that the L3 program would have been evaluated carefully to make sure it is achieving better results, unfortunately, this is not the case. An evaluation of L3 was promised for 2017, but to date this has not been carried out. With $340 million invested in EAfS in 2017-2020 alone, we should expect improvement in student outcomes, but an evaluation of the literacy and numeracy strategy, of which L3 is a key component, has not improved NAPLAN results.

This is not surprising given L3 content does not reflect the evidence base for effective reading instruction in the early years of school, as identified by the NSW Government’s own research unit. A critique of the L3 program by Dr Roslyn Neilson and Dr Sally Howell found that it does not teach the five key components of early literacy systematically or explicitly.

If the NSW DoE is committed to “rigorous evaluation to focus investment and effort on what works” as stated in the 2017-2020 Literacy and Numeracy Strategy then they must carry out a comprehensive evaluation of L3. The DoE should halt any expansion of the program until effectiveness has been established, and assist schools to transition into an evidence based literacy instruction program that reflects the scientific evidence for effective teaching of reading.