Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

When Government Preschool Comes To Town

TheFederalist

An extensive list of programs and classroom regulations dictate everything from the length of the school day (6.5 hours) to the number of students per classroom (16, with mid-year growth to 18 allowed). Even the physical environment of state-funded preschools— displays, furniture, materials—must meet specific requirements, and the daily classroom schedule must be approved by the Alabama Office of School Readiness.

“[Government subsidized preschool] does away with choice,” Mears said. “There are still those parents who don’t want their little child in class from 8 to 3:30 every day.”

Preschool institutions have not been found to advance a child’s learning long-term, according to the best studies available. Even popular pre-K advocates, such as W. Steven Barnett of Rutgers University, have found that any evident academic advancement of preschool attendees fades out, typically by the second grade. But state and federal lawmakers continue to funnel increasing funds in that direction regardless.

Multiple organizations in the state have studied the topic of federal and state-based preschool programs and expressed opposition. Alongside the ACEA, Eagle Forum and the Alabama Policy Institute have criticized mandating preschool state and nationwide. It’s an excessive amount of money and effort and not even proven to increase graduation rates, Mears said.

“The challenge is for policymakers to ensure that there are an array of options,” Alger said. “There is no one-size-fits-all in [early learning]; the ones who know best how programs are going to work in communities and cities are Alabamans.”

Stupid is as stupid does…Our public schools are atrocious

Police, lawyer release statements on student’s alleged dinosaur killing

A Summerville High School student who says he was arrested and suspended after writing about killing a dinosaur using a gun in a class assignment has hired a lawyer.

Attorney David Aylor, who is representing 16-year-old Alex Stone, said his client’s arrest over a creative writing assignment on Tuesday was “completely absurd,” and is seeking to appeal the suspension and “proceed with the legal issues of [Stone's] arrest.”

“This is a perfect example of ‘political correctness’ that has exceeded the boundaries of common sense,” Aylor said in a statement released on Thursday.”Students were asked to write about themselves and a creative Facebook status update – just days into the new school year – and my client was arrested and suspended after a school assignment.”

The Summerville Police Department who arrested Stone on Tuesday on a charge of disorderly conduct is disputing Stone’s account of his arrest.

“The information that is being reported is grossly incorrect in reference to what led to the juvenile being charged,” said Capt. Jon Rogers in a Summeville police statement released on Thursday.”The charges do not stem from anything involving a dinosaur or writing assignment, but the student’s conduct.”

Stone said he and his classmates were told in class to write a few sentences about themselves, and a “status” as if it was a Facebook page. Stone said in his “status” he wrote a fictional story that involved the words “gun” and “take care of business.”

“I killed my neighbor’s pet dinosaur, and, then, in the next status I said I bought the gun to take care of the business,” Stone said.

Stone says his statements were taken completely out of context.

“I could understand if they made him re-write it because he did have “gun” in it. But a pet dinosaur?” said Alex’s mother Karen Gray.”I mean first of all, we don’t have dinosaurs anymore. Second of all, he’s not even old enough to buy a gun.”

Investigators say the teacher contacted school officials after seeing the message containing the words “gun” and “take care of business,” and police were then notified on Tuesday.

Summerville police officials say Stone’s book bag and locker were searched on Tuesday, and a gun was not found. According to police, when Stone was asked by school officials about the comment written on the assignment, he became “very irate” and said it was a joke.

To be thorough, they should have searched the neighbor’s yard for a dead Triceratops, too…H/T Instapundit

The useful idiots running our schools…

TN High-School Student Suspended For Saying ‘Bless You’ After Someone Sneezed

Sie werden sagen “Gesundheit” oder hinausgeworfen werden, Schweinehund!!

WMC in Memphis, TN:

A young girl, who claims she was standing up for her religious beliefs in the classroom, was suspended after breaking a class rule of saying “bless you” after a classmate sneezed.

When Dyer County High School senior Kendra Turner said bless you to her classmate, she says her teacher told her that was for church…

Students sent WMC Action News 5′s Michael Clark a photo of the teacher’s white board that lists ‘bless you’ and other expressions that are banned as part of class rules.

If this young lady wants to express her religious beliefs in an American public school, she should convert to Islam, don a hijab, and say “Al-hamdu Lillah” when someone sneezes. Then she will be safe from any reprisals.

I wonder what would happen if somebody brought a copy of Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret into this classroom? Would it burst into flames? Would the teacher run screaming like a vampire from sunlight? That would be awesome.

Black Law Professor Says Obama Destroying The Nation, Hurting Black People

GOPTheDailyDose

Have you heard of Professor Carol M Swain? She is a law professor at Vanderbilt University who said she cannot understand how anyone who calls themselves a Christian could belong to the Democratic Party. Personally, this is the exact sentiment that I share…and am sure many of my readers feel the same way. The Democratic party is based on the idea of abortion on demand. Abortion is built into their party platform: abortion on demand with no apologies. Prof. Swain argues that abortion, among other things, is equivalent to a genocide of the black community.

In a recent interview Swain pegged Obama as a destroyer of the country in general but specially bad for the black community in particular. She also says that it bothers her that so many people in the black community have been deceived and bullied into supporting a number of liberal policies that are destroying their communities and devastating lives.

Swain feels strongly that Obama is destroying the Constitution and robbing both black and white Americans of our civil rights. Obama and his Regime have attacked our freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of association. You probably also realize that during Obama’s presidency he has dramatically expanded the level of surveillance into our lives. We are at a point now where we are literally being watched from the moment we leave our houses in the morning until the moment we return. We cannot even be sure when we are having a private conversation.

Has affirmative action inflated the credentials?

Black Men Need More Education Than White Men to Get Jobs

A recent report from the advocacy group Young Invincibles suggests not: African American millennial men need two or more levels of education to have the same employment prospects as their white peers. White male college graduates have a 97.6% employment rate. Black male college graduates have a 92.8% employment rate—which correlates more closely with the job prospects for white men who have some college education but no degree (92.5%).

The 19th century reformer Horace Mann may have called education the great equalizer, but 150 years later, the numbers suggest otherwise. The reason for this is obvious—as the report points out, “the legacy of racial discrimination across centuries continues to impact economic disparities, and so young African Americans start on an uneven playing field.”

The study reports one (somewhat) hopeful finding: “Increased educational attainment clearly closes the gap, and closes it dramatically.” That means that each level of education an African American student achieves makes a steadily bigger difference in his employment prospects. Earning a high school diploma has a 50 percent larger impact on a black man’s employment likelihood than it does on a white man’s. By the time those two men arrive at the professional degree level, the 50 percent has become 146 percent: the African American man is much, much more likely to be employed now than he was with just a bachelor’s degree—even though a white man with a bachelor’s degree still has slightly better employment prospects than a black man who has gone to graduate school.

Finding ways to increase the number of African American students at American colleges and graduate schools is certainly a worthwhile aim. But it’s equally important to make sure they’re getting the same advantages as their white peers after graduation day: the support networks and internship programs that can lead to stable careers.

Study: Half of All School Employees Not Teachers, 130% Increase Since 1970

CNSNews

The ranks of non-teachers – such as administrators, counselors, teacher aides and cafeteria workers – has swelled 130 percent since 1970 and they now make up 50 percent of all public school employees according to a new study, The Hidden Half: School Employees Who Don’t Teach.

Looking at data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the Thomas B. Fordham Institute found that the growth of non-teaching staff has greatly outpaced student growth over the past four decades.

From 1970 to 2010, the number of students grew by 8.6 percent, while the number of non-teaching personnel increased by 130 percent.  Non-teachers now consume over a quarter of all education expenditures, the study found.

In addition, America now spends a greater percentage of its education funding on non-teachers than any other country in the world besides Denmark.

A previous study from the Friedman Foundation, The School Staffing Surge, found that “states could have saved more than $24 billion annually if they had increased/decreased the employment of administrators and other non-teaching staff at the same rate as students between 1992 and 2009.”

However, test scores and graduation rates show little evidence of improvement despite the explosive growth of non-teaching positions.

“As I showed in my study,” Ben Scafidi, author of The School Staffing Surge, told CNSNews.com, student achievement in public schools did not rise between 1970 and 2008–even though staffing skyrocketed.”

With the exception of these two reports, the sharp increase in non-teaching public school employees has received little media attention or public scrutiny. That may be due in part to the difficulty in getting recent data on the trend.

Study: A fourth of public school spending goes to salaries and benefits of nonteachers

AEIdeas

Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Thomas B. Fordham Institute

A new Thomas B. Fordham Institute study finds that the number of non-teaching staff in the United States has grown by 130% since 1970. These three millions employers now account for half of the public school workforce with their salaries and benefits absorbing one-quarter of current education spending. The largest single position is now that of “teacher aide,” which was pretty much nonexistent in 1970.

What’s going on? From an analysis by Chester Finn:

We don’t know nearly as much as we’d like on this topic, but it’s not a total mystery. The advent and expansion of special education, for example, led to substantial demand for classroom aides and specialists to address the needs of youngsters with disabilities. Broadening school duties to include more food service, health care, and sundry other responsibilities accounts for still more. But such additions to the obligations of schools are not peculiar to the United States, and they certainly cannot explain big staffing differences from place to place within our country

Our sense is that these millions of people have quietly accumulated over the years as districts simply added employees in response to sundry needs, demands, and pressures—including state and federal mandates and funding streams—without carefully examining the decisions they were making or considering possible tradeoffs and alternatives. This was the path of least resistance and, at a time of rising budgets, was viable even if imprudent.

But it’s no longer sustainable in the public sector any more than the private. Observe how private firms go about reducing costs, boosting productivity, enhancing organizational efficiency, and increasing profitability: they almost always start with staffing. The Pentagon is putting itself through similar self-scrutiny. So is the U.S. Postal Service.

One could list plenty more examples. Changing staff—and staff-related budgets—is never easy, especially in the public sector, due to politics, contracts, and civil-service rules. But that’s what leaders are for: to overcome obliviousness, work through politics, catalyze rethinking, and rearrange practices that no longer deliver the required results at an affordable cost.

How Community Organizing Busted A Union And Sparked An Education Revolution

This Colorado district is leading the nation in rethinking how to get good teachers, rather than a bad union.

When 300 blue-shirt-wearing union members showed up at a board meeting chanting “This is what democracy looks like” and complaining vouchers and merit pay would “starve public education,” the four conservative board members began to consider dropping the union contract entirely. But open negotiations made that crazy-seeming idea a reality. It led to public discoveries that union money and activity in Douglas County—as everywhere else—went more to political activities than instructional improvements. Once that happened, the board began to consider, and then follow through on, ending its union contract.

“What we have been able to do and the speed at which we have been able to do it directly results from not having a union contract, because with a union everything is a compromise position,” says Fagen, a quick-speaking mother of two who looks to be about five feet, two inches tall.

Once free of the union, Douglas County could experiment with free-market ideas that most conservative school board members—where they exist—only dream about. If its experiments go well, it offers a template both for propelling conservatives into education, which is largely a liberal playground even in K-12, and for what such leaders might do when they get there.

NCAA antitrust ruling barely chips at college sports dysfunction

LATimes

The reality of football and basketball players graduating into professional athletic careers makes a mockery of the NCAA’s assertion, in its Division-I manual, that “student participation in intercollegiate athletics is an avocation.”

Nobody believes that, least of all the administrators at Division-I schools. Back in 2000, Michigan’s Duderstadt — who also had served as chairman of the Big-10 athletic conference — wrote that those two sports had become irreversibly “transformed into big-time show business.” As a result, their objectives “have become market share and commercial value, and the welfare of their players as students has been largely ignored.” (Judge Wilken quotes Ed O’Bannon as feeling like “an athlete masquerading as a student” during his UCLA years.)

Big universities have allowed themselves to become minor league farm clubs, providing the NFL and NBA with roster-ready talent for free. The universities get publicity and contributions, but it’s a Faustian bargain, because their academic responsibilities are hopelessly irreconcilable with the role of athlete factories. The elevation of football and basketball programs has produced embarrassing scandals that have brought down entire university administrations (hello, Penn State) and tarnished their claim to be models of principled behavior and integrity (hello, USC).

Duderstadt’s prescription was simple albeit, as he acknowledged, “draconian”: divorce the football and basketball programs from the universities. Let the sports programs “become truly independent and professional activities.” He cites one proposal to create a new pro league for younger players. The athletes would be paid like minor leaguers, coached by professionals on teams openly affiliated with the big leagues. Colleges could still have football and basketball, but only in true amateur terms, without athletic scholarships and with participants who genuinely met admission standards.

Wilken’s ruling, by contrast, tries to have things both ways. She ridicules the NCAA’s assertions that limits on athlete compensation are crucial to preserve popularity with the fans, competitive balance, and the educational component in the life of the “student-athlete,” whatever that creature is.

Yet her prescriptions still are based on the assumption that big-time football and basketball are essential elements of the university experience. She has moved the goal posts on the compensation of these players, but what’s really needed is to knock them over.

We Don’t Need No Education…

The alternative: set ‘em free...

It can happen anywhere; these concepts are not the sole domain of rural Vermont hill farmers living out their Jeffersonian fantasies. Kerry McDonald left a career in corporate training to unschool two of her four children in Boston, though her husband, Brian, still works as a technology consultant. “The city is our curriculum,” says McDonald. “We believe that kids learn by living in the world around them, so we immerse them in that world.” Their “classrooms”—sidewalks, museums, city parks—may appear drastically different from those of my sons. But the ethos remains the same, that a child’s learning is as natural and easy as breathing.

Unschooling is also perfectly legal in all 50 states, so long as certain basic stipulations—from simple notification to professional evaluations, “curriculum” approval, and even home visits—are met. But many unschoolers have been reticent to stand up and be counted, perhaps because the movement tends to attract an independent-thinking, antiauthoritarian personality type.

What kids need instead, Gray contends, is exploration and play without supervision. It is this that allows them to develop self-determination and confidence. If he’s right, current educational trends are not promising: in 2012, five states voted to increase the length of the school year by no less than 300 hours.

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