Friday, November 15, 2013

Alabama Supreme Court Ends “Right” to College Life

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled 6-2  that non-custodial parents are no longer required to help pay their child’s college expenses

While everyone was fretting over the Federal shutdown, the Alabama Supreme  Court took the unexpected, but absolutely correct action, of overturning Bayliss v. Bayliss. The Bayliss precedent has been used by courts to provide post-minority support for college. It has become an expected right for the "college life" for Alabama children.

Now, with Bayliss overturned, the choice to provide monies for college is the choice of divorced parents. These parents, just as with the children of non-divorced parents, may add conditions that may be met by their children in order to provide college costs.

It is the first lesson in responsibility for many children to seek funds through scholarships, grants, parents, grandparents, and "God forbid" work. Now all children, whether or not their parents are together, may learn this lesson.

The ruling does not affect cases where a final decision has been rendered. It could impact cases that are currently on appeal.

Lyn Stuart, Associate Justice, Supreme Court of Alabama, stated: I concur in the main opinion, and I write specially to further state my reasons for concurring to overrule Ex parte Bayliss, 550 So. 2d 986 (Ala. 1989). I disagreed with this Court's holding in Ex parte Bayliss when it was decided in 1989, while I was serving as a trial court judge. However, cognizant of my role at that time, I recognized Ex parte Bayliss as the law and followed it when called upon to do so."

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled 6-2 in Christopher v. Christopher that non-custodial parents are no longer required to help pay their child’s college expenses. With the Supreme Court’s decision, the children of divorced parents must now rely on voluntary parental support from both custodial and non-custodial parents to help cover college expenses, such as tuition, room and board, and books. 

In 2010, Christopher v. Christopher originated in Limestone County after a divorced father asked his wife to help pay for their son’s college costs. A court ordered the mother to pay 25 percent of the costs. The decision was upheld by the Court of Civil Appeals before it went to the Supreme Court.

In this decision, the Supreme Court overruled Bayliss v. Bayliss, a 1989 case where the court determined the non-custodial parent should help pay the college expenses of a post-minority child. In Alabama, a child is a minor until age 19. The child in Christopher v. Christopher was at least 19, but still unable to support themselves.

With the Bayliss decision, the court determined it has a right to assure that the children of divorced parents, who are minors at the time of divorce, are given the same right to a college education before and after they reach the age of 19 years that they probably would have if their parents had not divorced.

The Alabama Supreme Court stated in its conclusion: "The Bayliss Court failed to recognize the ordinary and common-law definitions of ‘child’ as a minor, did not defer to the Legislature’s designation of the age of majority, and failed to observe the canon of construction that courts cannot supply what a statute omits. Accordingly, we expressly overrule Bayliss."

Stephen Johnson, chairman of the Family Bar Section of the Alabama State Bar Association, wasn’t surprised with the decision. "… The Bayliss case has been the subject of controversy for the last 24 years," Johnson stated in an email. "Most lawyers that I know whom do domestic appellate work have been looking for the right case to take to the Supreme Court to challenge the Bayliss decision for years.

"What is surprising is that the decision to overturn Bayliss was predicated on statutory interpretation instead of the constitutional argument of equal protection. Christopher v. Christopher is technically a domestic relations case; however, the language of Christopher is long reaching into how our current Alabama Supreme Court is going to view statutory interpretation in the legal system."

Auburn attorney Stephanie Pollard visited an Auburn University class last week and said approximately one-fourth of the class had a non-custodial parent helping pay college costs. Pollard emphasized that parents can still work out an agreement to help their children cover college costs.


Feds' Tentacles in the Common Core

In 2007, a group of governors and state education chiefs got together to try to remedy the declining and degraded U.S. public academic system. Their goal was to establish a new set of standards that better prepared kids for college, careers and their ever-changing, hyper-connected and globally competitive world.

In short, as a result, the Common Core State Standards were born.

In 2010, standards were published and made available for mathematics and English language arts. Though standards for science and social studies are still in development, the goal is for states to have 85 percent of their curricula based upon the full spectrum of those standards.

CCSS advocates pitch that the initiative is a step in the right direction from the disastrous No Child Left Behind federal system. But not everyone is catching the CCSS fever. In particular, there are concerns about federal overreach into and control of their local academic arenas.

By 2009, 45 states had signed on to join; Virginia, Nebraska, Texas and Alaska declined CCSS adoption. Minnesota partially adopted the language arts standards but rejected the math ones. And some other states have since jumped ship in other ways. In August, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Oklahoma and Utah withdrew from the assessment groups designing tests for the CCSS. And noted, "Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah are all currently considering full withdrawal with other fiscally conservative states sure to follow." And in September, Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order restricting Florida's involvement with the CCSS national assessments because of concerns over federal overreach of the program.

I commend the governors and state education chiefs who tried to improve the substandard and dilapidated state of U.S. public education, despite decades of attempts by federal and state governments to improve it. But there are good reasons that so many states have rejected or are questioning the ultimate value of the adoption of CCSS.

Let me tell you my core problems with CCSS and why I believe that the standards are not the solution for America's broken educational system. (I'm going to unfold these problems in depth with solid evidence in successive weeks, concluding with what I believe would be a far better option than CCSS.)

My first issue with CCSS is one that is hot on the blogosphere and in the news: The feds have abandoned their commitment to stay out of local academic affairs by using CCSS to usurp power over public schools and influence young American minds.

In fact, one of the biggest defenses by CCSS advocates is their belief that the federal government -- particularly the White House -- is in no way behind the standards' implementation, development and utility.

PolitiFact examined the words of Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who said last July that CCSS is being "used by the Obama administration to turn the Department of Education into what is effectively a national school board." PolitiFact categorically evaluated Rubio's statement as false.

But recent evidence shows that Rubio is right and PolitiFact is wrong. The feds already have started invading local school districts via CCSS in three ways: funding, influencing classroom curricula and siphoning student information from schools. Let me explain each in turn.

First, if the feds are so far removed from CCSS, why is it that the Department of Education has funded it with $350 million and motivated states to adopt the standards by rewarding Race to the Top grants and waivers from No Child Left Behind? (Please read and ponder that question again.)

For example, according to Politico, in August, the Department of Education granted NCLB waivers to eight school districts in California that agreed to the White House's pro-Common Core preferences.

Politico further reported that the Council of Chief State School Officers, which represents state superintendents, has shared that it regards district-level waivers "as an example of federal overreach -- and a direct threat to their authority over schools."

Politico also noted, "California teachers unions also oppose the plan, warning in a June letter that the waiver sets up a 'privatized "shadow" system of education in California' that leaves children 'susceptible to market exploitation and profiteering.'"

I don't know about you, but I've yet to see the federal government funding anything that it didn't eventually have its hands into.

The Foundry explained: "The waivers are set to expire for 34 states and the District of Columbia at the end of the 2013-2014 school year. The Department (of Education) is offering renewal but is requiring states to reaffirm commitments to its policies. (Notice: "its policies"!) This includes increased emphasis on 'college and career-ready standards,' which most states have interpreted to mean Common Core national standards and tests."

I know that Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who is a former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools (interesting that it's Barack Obama's former turf), is working desperately to distance the federal government's connection to and influence over CCSS. But if Duncan is going to be successful in maintaining that separation, for starters, he needs to drop the funding (monetary coercion) and refrain from using first-person plural pronouns when discussing who is responsible for the Common Core State Standards as he did when he told a group of journalists in June: " We've set a high bar for states." (Italics mine.)

I am personally challenging state and federal representatives to get on board to stop this Common Core insanity. I will be researching each politician to see who is and who is not supporting CCSS, and before this series is complete, I will be publishing their names in my columns, and they reach millions. I'm sure my readers will find my list of names helpful the next time they walk into the voting booths!

Stop Common Core right now!


Britain:  My old class mates and why every town needs a grammar school

By Simon Heffer

When I was at school in Essex, I had a friend whose parents were a bus driver and a school dinner lady. They lived in a council house and were the most decent, respectable people, their house spotless and their garden immaculate.

They always ensured he did his homework and worked hard to get on, and partly because of that attitude, he went to Oxford, and is now a senior executive with a leading international bank.

But if his parents were the driving force behind his success – and the importance of a supportive family in a child’s progress cannot be overstated – our school was the vehicle that allowed him to flourish.

Another boy I knew, whose father drove a lorry, ended up as a successful accountant. Others whose fathers were clerical workers or farm labourers went to Oxbridge or top Russell Group universities, going on to found businesses and working all over the world.

For my first three or so years, I caught the bus from our village each morning with a genial boy in my year who was rather good at art – grammar schools were not relentlessly academic. He has since won the Turner Prize and delivered the Reith Lectures: his name is Grayson Perry.

What bound this eclectic group together was the fact that we all went to a grammar school. That meant it didn’t matter a jot what our backgrounds were.

If we were bright enough and fortunate enough to get a place, we found ourselves on a level playing field on which any boy could excel if he chose to. I’ve always believed there could be no better illustration of what social mobility means – and grammar schools delivered it magnificently.

I knew scores of boys from modest homes who were recruited to an aristocracy of talent thanks to the availability, free of charge, of a better education than most private schools offered. The exercise was rewarding for them, but also for the teachers (many without any teaching qualification, Nick Clegg should note) who saw their dedication rewarded by most of their charges getting into the best universities and into serious professions thereafter.

Our magnificent headmaster – a former maths master at Eton, who himself had gone to Cambridge after grammar school in Staffordshire – told us all on day one, when we were 11 years old, that we were incredibly lucky to be there.  If we did what was expected of us, and worked hard, glittering prizes would await us.

My school survives, one of just 164 grammars that do. The attempted wholesale abolition, launched in 1965 by Labour’s education minister Tony Crosland (who notoriously said that ‘I’m going to destroy every f****** grammar school in England’) has led to the state of affairs described in a speech to Conservatives last Friday night by John Major. He spoke of the dominance of the privately educated and the ‘affluent middle class’ in British life, and lamented a collapse in social mobility.

It is undeniably true that, as a society, we have almost ended meritocracy by failing dismally to develop the potential of children whose parents can’t pay for their schooling. And I have no doubt that this is because of the near-abolition of selective education from the late 1960s: a policy – though Sir John omitted to say so – supported by David Cameron.

Sir John was a grammar school boy, and what he learned there – at Rutlish school in south London, now a comprehensive – may well have helped him to Downing Street. It is surprising he did not mention this in his own social mobility.

One of the many criticisms of grammar schools is that they provide an elite education to the middle classes free of charge. In some cases that is true: my parents were civil servants, and among my friends’ parents were teachers or small businessmen. But, equally, some never knew the luxury of a white-collar job.

A glance through Who’s Who shows that many senior positions in society are held by grammar school boys and girls. But with so few such schools now, the preponderance of the privately educated reaching the top echelons of society will become even greater.

It is a crying shame that David Cameron, who lives off a trust fund, and whose parents were rich enough to send him to Eton, refuses to endorse grammar schools. He should be ashamed of denying to children without his advantages the chance to have the superior education their talents demand.

I don’t know how Sir John would fare as a boy today but if other state schools offered a challenging, rigorous and inspiring education, one might say there would be no need for grammar schools at all.

But even the most dyed-in-the-wool socialist must know that too many of them do not. No wonder the grammars that do remain are wildly oversubscribed.

There is an anecdote, for example, of one boy travelling every day from Portsmouth to a grammar school in Kingston in South-West London, so excellent is the education on offer.

Some argue that these schools are becoming a preserve of the middle classes, but I would say that bright children from any background will always flourish in this system.

What we really need is a grammar school – or two – in every town. Everyone should live in a catchment area. But because of the political bigotry on Left and Right against selective education, the only guaranteed means in most parts of the country to have an outstanding education is to pay for it.

And that is depriving Britain of the skills of all those lorry drivers’ sons and farm labourers’ daughters who would once have been nurtured by grammar schools to be the stars of tomorrow.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tear Down this What? The Common Core on the End of the Cold War

The ninth of November marked the twenty-fourth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, probably the most important historical event since World War II and the most important lesson about human freedom experienced within the living memory of most of us.

Presumably, next year there will be more of a commemoration, but the salient question now is how this lesson is being taught in the nation’s classrooms. For while those of us in our forties and older remember the fall of communism and its causes, today’s teenagers are wholly in the dark. What, then, are the high-school students of today being taught about what exactly—what principles, what forces, which people—brought down the Wall?

It is actually fairly easy to answer this question since forty-five states are now controlled by the testing and curricular regime known as the Common Core. The Common Core documents themselves, admittedly, are sometimes what Churchill called the Soviet Union, “a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” If we just take a quick glance at Appendix B of the Common Core English Standards, which recommends “exemplar texts” for reading, we find the addresses of a host of worthy historical figures: Patrick Henry, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, and, yes, Ronald Reagan. What a model of non-partisan selection!

But it would behoove us to look at which speech of Reagan is being recommended: “Address to Students at Moscow State University.” Now that is rather odd. Would that speech be the first that comes to mind when we consider “the best of Reagan”? Was that address the most historically significant? Why not the First Inaugural or his acceptance speech at the 1980 Convention or his important addresses on foreign policy or even his 1964 “A Time for Choosing” on behalf of Barry Goldwater that launched him to political prominence? Might this be a case of the architects of the Common Core wanting to look non-partisan by having Reagan’s name on the list while actually trying to take away the force of his message to America? We can solve the mystery by finding out what will take place in classes across the land, neatly packaged for us in a textbook that bears the Common Core logo: two C’s inside a bright red ball.

On pages 403-4 of Pearson/Prentice Hall’s LITERATURE, Grade Ten, Common Core Edition, we see an editorial written on the tenth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It appeared in The New York Times. It begins, “The Berlin Wall was bound to fall eventually.” That’s interesting. Was the editorial board of The New York Times writing in 1980 that the Berlin Wall was “bound to fall eventually”? The editorial continues:

    "But that it came down as bloodlessly as it did 10 years ago this week is largely a tribute to one leader. Today Mikhail Gorbachev is a political pariah in Russia and increasingly forgotten in the West. But history will remember him generously for his crucial role in ending the cold war and pulling back the Iron Curtain that Stalin drew across Europe in 1945."

So there you have it. Gorbachev brought down the Wall. Why? Well, evidently because he was a good guy. In one line of the editorial we are treated to a masterful use of elliptical prose: “As political pressures began to build in the late 1980s, Mr. Gorbachev was left with two options.” Etc. What political pressures? Who or what brought those pressures? We are not told. The New York Times editors assign the words “enlightened,” “idealism,” and “pragmatic” to Gorbachev. Indeed, the General Secretary of the Communist Party is said to have had “a wisdom and decency that is sadly rare in international power politics.” Does that comment extend to American participants in international power politics, particularly at that time?

Those of us who lived through those years and kept up with events might wonder what role, if any, Ronald Reagan played in this drama, according to the textbook editors. Will the adjectives “enlightened,” “pragmatic,” “wise,” and “decent” be applied to him? His name is not to be found in any of the documents concerning the fall of the Berlin Wall. But on page 449, we do find, as promised in the Common Core, his Address to the Students of Moscow State University held up as a model “exemplar text.”

Unfortunately, the address is so heavily highlighted with shades of green, blue, orange, gray, purple, and pink—and so buried under the jargon of two-bit literary criticism (central idea and point of view, methods of development, organizational structures, rhetorical devices, figurative language, tone and word choice)—that it is hardly readable. Worse still, in the textbook editors’ introduction to the speech, students are told the following:

    "Led by Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviets were blazing through the greatest changes they had seen since the 1917 revolution. Although reforms were rapidly taking root, they were not far enough from communist ideology for Reagan. . . . In this excerpt, notice how Reagan restrains his strongly anti-communist sentiments while still extolling the ideals he represents."

The lesson? The enlightened, idealistic, wise, decent, and yet pragmatic Gorbachev had events well under control. The Soviets were “blazing through changes”; i.e. reform must have been their idea. But things were not moving fast enough for the strongly-anti-communist (i.e. stubborn, right-wing) Reagan. Nonetheless, we, the editors, have found a rare speech in which he actually moderated his tone. That’s Reagan at his best, insofar as he had a best.

What’s missing in this account? “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Those are the words that brought down the Wall. But they are not to be found in the Common Core and therefore in the classrooms of America.

The architects of the Common Core plainly do not want the young people of America to read or to watch—for it is on the Web—that speech. The progressive bureaucrats who are now in control of the nation’s schools do not want the young people of America to know that the Cold War was won on principle, that courage and resolution on the part of Americans were essential to the ending of tyranny in the communist-controlled countries and the protecting of freedom in the rest of the world. They certainly do not want young Americans thinking that we were in the right and had to be prepared to use force against an evil empire. Above all, the arch-testers do not want today’s youth and tomorrow’s voters to know that in this contest for right and freedom a former actor named Ronald Reagan played the starring role.


National Motto "In God We Trust" Too Religious to Hang in School

A North Carolina school refused to hang posters depicting an American Flag and the national motto “In God We Trust” because their legal counsel feared the signs would be seen as promoting religion.

The American Legion offered the free posters to the Watauga County School District, but found the 130 framed images unwanted.  As reported by Fox News:

    “We got an email from the school saying thank you but on advice of their legal counsel they could not accept the posters because of separation of church and state,” American Legion member Rick Cornejo told me in a telephone interview.

    I suspect the school board is wary of militant anti-Christian bigots and their army of legal minions – poised to attack God-fearing Americans with lawsuits.

    Cornejo, who is also a local Baptist preacher, said the decision to ban the posters has resulted in a lot of hurt feelings.

    “It’s disappointing, it really is,” he said. “Educators are asking us for those posters so they can put them in their classrooms but right now they can’t do it – because the school board won’t let them.”

    The 16x20 inch framed posters include the words “In God We Trust,” with an American flag in the background.

    It reads: “The national motto of the United States, adopted by Congress, July 30, 1956.”

    A spokesman for the school district told the Watauga Democrat newspaper that “In God We Trust” was banned on the advice of their legal counsel. They feared someone could see the poster and construe the district was promoting religion."

A 2012 Gallup poll found the majority of Americans still claim to be of a religion:

“In God We Trust” starting appearing on American currency in 1864. That is almost 150 years. Surely there have been millions of non-religious Americans in that time span. So why the power shift now? Why does only 23 percent of the population have authority over the other 77 percent? This instance is merely a continuation in the rise of the minority rule. Apparently, not even a school district snuggled in the Bible Belt is safe from the growing threat.


British school pupils who wore their Air Cadets uniforms to show respect for war dead kicked out of class for breaking uniform rules

Angry parents have criticised a school after senior teachers sent home children wearing their Air Cadets uniforms on Armistice Day because it breached its uniform rules.

Pupils at Smestow Sports Academy, in Wolverhampton, had donned their blue uniforms in honour of Britain's fallen soldiers on Monday.

Aman Nanglu, 15, Rezanne Willis, 16, and Elle Phillips, 15, made the decision to pay their own tribute while the nation fell silent during the two minute act of remembrance.

But they were stunned when teachers threw them out of class just after 11am - because the cadet uniforms broke school rules.

They were told by headteacher Martyn Morgan they could only return once they had changed out of the military attire and into their school uniform.

Today the families of the schoolchildren - who are all members of the 1047 City of Wolverhampton Air Training Corps squadron - branded the decision 'disrespectful.'

Elle's father, Paul Phillips, 47, from Merry Hill, West Midlands, was contacted at 11.30am by the school to inform him his daughter would be leaving lessons at midday.

The project engineer said: 'I don't think there is anything wrong with it. In fact, I am proud that Elle wanted to wear it.  'She is a very good student and she feels strongly about it.  'We thought it was just respectful to show it wouldn't just be a normal day.  'We wanted to show it does actually matter.'

Aman's mother Meena Kumari, 45, added: 'I'm utterly shocked.  'These youngsters take a lot of pride and they are on the right track. 'Why can't the school see why they are doing it?'

Another parent, who did not wish to be named, said: 'You would think the school could make an exception on such a day - its not like they were going along in fancy dress.  'The Air Cadets uniform is smart and always impeccable - they were not going to lessons dressed like scruffs.  'They were raising awareness for a great cause.

'It is a disgrace, you would think common sense would prevail on such an occasion as Armistice Day.'

Students were told they could not return to the school until they had changed back into their jumpers and ties.

Headteacher Martyn Morgan said it was school policy for children to wear their uniforms at all times.  He added: 'They were not wearing school uniform.  'They were asked to return to school once they had changed into school uniform.

'As is our normal practice the parents of the students were contacted first and we made it explicit that they should return to school once changed.

'This process is in line with the guidelines in the Department for Education publication 'School Uniform A Guide for Headteachers, Governing Bodies, Academy Trusts, Free Schools and Local Authorities'.'


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

WA: College Students Placed on Probation For Pulling Gun on Six-Time Felon

Gonzaga University seniors Erik Fagan and Daniel McIntosh were placed on probation Sunday for pulling a pistol on a six-time felon who demanded money from them in their university-owned apartment.

School policy prohibits weapons "at any location on campus, or within University residences." The school board found the students guilty of possessing weapons on school property and of putting others in danger, according to the student's attorney Dean Chuang.

Fagan told the Spokesman-Review they intend to appeal the probation:

 “That information is going to be on our educational record, and anytime we go for a job interview and show them our transcripts, that information will be on there. We don’t feel like we should be punished just for defending ourselves."

On the night of Oct. 24, a man, later identified as Jonathan Taylor, pounded on the door of the student’s apartment and asked for cash. Fagan told local ABC News affiliate KHQ he offered him clothes or food instead:

 “It was scary. And that’s when he started saying, ‘You don’t want to do this. I just got out of jail. And he lifts up his pant leg and shows some kind of ankle bracelet.”

Taylor began encroaching on the door jam with his hand at the small of his back, according to Daniel McIntosh. As soon as McIntosh pulled his pistol, the man fled. Police captured Taylor a short-time later and confirmed he was a six-time convicted felon.

Despite the fact that McIntosh owned the gun legally, and has a state-issued concealed handgun permit, the school is charging him for breaking university policies. Fagan was also charged, after campus police found he kept his hunting rifle in his apartment.

Common sense and the Second Amendment make this politically correct Washington school board look absurd. Fagan and McIntosh are the type of responsible and quick-thinking individuals we should be applauded in our society, not punishing.

Gonzaga University President promised students he would consider amending the gun policy in an e-mail sent this weekend:

"President Thayne McCulloh said as a Jesuit institution dedicated to thoughtful evaluation of complex social issues, he believes this is an opportunity to objectively re-examine their firearms policy."

In spite of the commotion and debate, McIntosh told KHQ even an expulsion would not make him regret his choice to defend himself or others:

 "My roommate's life, my life, anybody's life is worth an expulsion in my book."


Principal Bans Vet Parent, Sees Facebook Post of Concealed Weapons Permit

Army veteran Tanya Mount was banned from her daughter’s school after posting a photograph on Facebook of her updated concealed weapons permit. Mount received a criminal trespass warning statement in the mail from the Richmond County Board of Education Police.

 “The principal is scared of you, she doesn’t want you on the grounds,” police told Mount.

Georgia school principal Janina Dallas confirmed the Facebook post was indeed the reason for banning the parent from school grounds.

“It is my duty and responsibility as principal of this school to ensure the safety and security of all of our faculty staff and students,” Dallas told ABC news affiliate WJBF. She pointed to the number of school shootings around the country as being the reason for preventative measures.

Mount feels as though she is being treated like a criminal. The veteran told Fox News:

 "I am a private person, however after serving OUR country, it is my DUTY to make sure that our lives are not infringed upon, however do it all within the confinements of the LAW, I am a law abiding citizen."

Mount transferred her daughter to another school district and has asked for a public apology from principal Dallas.

So, why was the elementary school principal trolling the personal Facebook posts of her students’ parents anyways? Mount's daughter is disabled, and the mother was giving her time to the school as a volunteer. If a school shooting were to occur, the children would be much safer with a former military personnel armed and ready on the scene.


She Lost Her Job Over This Photo; Find out Why

Lorraine Cook found out the hard way that Pocatello High School in Idaho doesn’t understand the difference between staff vacation time and work. Cook posted a harmless photo of her with her boyfriend from their vacation to her personal FaceBook page over summer, only to have it resurface later in the hands of her employer. Cook was up until recently, the girl’s basketball coach at the school; they subsequently fired her over this depiction of two consenting adults on a trip.

Parents at the school rallied in support of Cook to have her job reinstated, but the district hasn’t budged. The kicker? Her boyfriend in the photo is Tom Harrison, head football coach at the same school Cook was fired from. Harrison didn’t lose his job though, he was only reprimanded for the photo.

Pocatello, you’ve got some explaining to do for your blatant double standard here. While Mr. Harrison doesn’t deserve treatment equal to the obvious sham you just pulled on Ms. Cook, Lorraine deserves nothing less than the treatment her boyfriend received.  I’m happy to report that Lorraine has hired an attorney in this matter, it’s too bad that funding that could have went to pay this coach to keep doing her job will now be spent fighting her in court because the district couldn’t mind their own business.


School Voucher Fight Heats Up in Louisiana

The Department of Justice is suing Louisiana. Why? Because they believe the state’s amazingly successful school voucher program “frustrates and impedes the desegregation process,” or something. To borrow a line from perhaps the most loathed Supreme Court Justice on the High Court, history didn’t stop in 1965. That is to say, Jim Crow is as dead today as slavery -- as are all other legal institutions founded on racial inequality. The DOJ is therefore using an old and outdated court order to keep poor kids in failing schools. This logic, incidentally, is quickly exposed as wrong-headed when one realizes roughly 90 percent of Louisiana’s school voucher recipients are -- wait for it -- minority students.

The Goldwater Institute, which is representing four families in this protracted legal battle, released the following press release today after filing a brief in a federal court on Wednesday:

"Desegregation orders were meant as a mechanism to expand educational options for minority children, not as a tool to keep them out, Louisiana families represented by the Goldwater Institute told a federal court in a brief filed yesterday.
The Institute is representing four Louisiana families, as well as the Louisiana Black Alliance for Education Options, a network of thousands of families across the state. The families are asking the court to dismiss recent attempts by the federal government to end a popular school voucher program in the state. The Justice Department contends that the school voucher program, which is overwhelmingly being used by minority families, “impedes desegregation” and must be approved by one or more courts that are supervising desegregation orders.

According to Clint Bolick, lead attorney for the families and noted defender of school choice programs who served in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the notion that the voucher scholarship program violates desegregation orders is off base.

“The Scholarship Program cannot be shoe-horned into a lawsuit and set of remedies that were triggered by, justified by, and limited to a very different program and set of circumstances,” wrote Bolick in a response filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana."

He continued:

 “This program carries forward the spirit and ethos of the civil rights movement,” said Bolick. “Shutting it down would set the clock back by forcing the most disadvantaged children back into failing schools.”

More than 90 percent of the children benefitting from vouchers are minorities. The outcome of this legal battle in Louisiana has implications for school choice programs throughout the country. Standing desegregation orders remain in effect in over 200 school districts nationally, meaning that a DOJ victory in this case could similarly jeopardize school choice programs across the country."

To put it differently, the stakes are high and the outcome will reverberate across many school districts in the United States. This is why Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is on the move, taking on the special interests who are fighting tooth and nail to maintain the status quo on the most tenuous of grounds. Those who truly believe in opportunity for all will recognize this lawsuit for what it really is: a misguided ploy to impede progress and consign a generation of young people to mediocrity. Let us hope that the voices of reason and justice prevail in this case. Anything less would be unfair to Louisiana children and their families.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

School Lunch Expansion: Another Wasteful, Unaffordable Entitlement

Soon, all public schools will be allowed to enroll all students, regardless of need, into a new federal entitlement: “free” school lunches. This is the second year of a three-year rollout for the program, embedded in Michelle Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. As the 2010 law goes into effect, families keep finding the lunches aren’t necessarily healthier, new calorie limits can mean older and athletic kids go hungry, taxpayer costs have spiked, and piling on new food welfare programs continues to make more poor kids fat.

This year, 11 states qualify for the “Community Eligibility Option.” If more than 40 percent of their students are eligible for federal lunch subsidies called free and reduced-price lunch, they can put all the kids into the program. That’s right: Schools don’t even need most of their students to register in the “low-income” category to enroll every single one into food welfare.

This country just witnessed a 16-day government shutdown because we can’t afford to pay for existing entitlement programs. It’s insanity to create another entitlement for families that can afford to provide lunches for their children.

I joined Fox News recently to discuss this entitlement expansion. Besides many unprintable emailed responses, I received one from a Florida teacher:

“Supposedly hungry children would take a tray of breakfast food. They would open the pint of milk, take one sip. They would receive a beautiful piece of fruit (apple, banana, pear) and not touch it or maybe take one bite. … They did not eat 10 percent of what they received,” she wrote. “I began asking them why they weren't eating. Many stated they’d already eaten at McDonalds that morning or ate cereal at home. When I asked, ‘Why are you getting free and reduced breakfast?’ They would shrug their shoulders. They didn’t know. Just expected it.”

When this teacher attempted to reduce the waste by collecting uneaten food and encouraging kids to share, the school cafeteria refused to serve it again because it was against government regulations. For the same reason, a homeless shelter wouldn’t accept the food as a donation. So teachers began taking home bags of fruit, unopened milk containers, and other items each day.

“Finally, after about three weeks, the principal came to me and told me to stop because they had a budget they had to spend. If they didn’t spend it, it would be reduced,” the teacher wrote. “If the kids aren’t eating it and it’s going in the trash, then you don’t need that much in your budget.”

Federal school lunch (and now breakfast and an afternoon snack) is a story of big government and big agribusiness colluding to create a program that benefits them at the expense of hungry children and working adults. Food welfare became national decades ago in an agreement between rural and urban lawmakers that ensured each would continue to vote for the other’s pet entitlements: welfare and agribusiness subsidies (which raise the price of food for everybody). There is no reason local communities and states cannot supply school lunches to the truly needy—except that would make it harder for lobbyists to influence the rules to fatten their wallets, regardless of whether the rules make any sense for all kids and schools.

Our nation must make choices regarding government spending, and this should be an easy case: Let’s get back to helping only the truly needy. No child will go hungry if this program is not expanded, or if it is scaled back to let those who see these kids each day judge their nutritional needs.


Teachers are failing to let pupils know who's boss, says Ofsted chief: Faint-hearted heads failing to impose discipline 'resulting in lower standards of education'

Faint-hearted heads are failing to impose their authority on schools, resulting in low standards of  education and poor discipline among pupils, according to the chief inspector of schools.

Sir Michael Wilshaw said school leaders are too worried about offending their teaching staff, many of whom have a ‘pervasive resentment of all things managerial’, and refuse to accept their place lower down the hierarchy.

In a hard-hitting speech in central London yesterday, the head of Ofsted said teachers were also failing to make it clear to children that adults are in charge.

He said there was nothing wrong with telling children ‘Do as I ask, because I am the adult’.

But he suggested the problem stemmed from weak heads who lack the will and experience to lead from the top.

Sir Michael said: ‘Too many teachers still think that school leaders do not have the right to tell them how to teach or what to do.

‘The staff room, in their minds, is just as capable of deciding the direction a school should take as the Senior Leadership Team.

‘I’ve come to the conclusion that many of their efforts are undermined by a pervasive resentment of all things managerial.

‘Some teachers simply will not accept that a school isn’t a collective but an organisation with clear hierarchies and separate duties.

‘What’s worse, far too many school leaders seem to believe that they don’t have a right to manage either. They worry constantly about staff reaction. They hold endless meetings to curry favour. They seem to think they cannot act without their employees’ approval.

‘Yes, you should consult with staff. But never confuse consultation with negotiation.’

Children cannot ‘thrive in a chaotic school where there is little authority’, Sir Michael said, adding: ‘Indeed, children who come from homes where there are few boundaries need more structure at school, not less.

‘Raising attainment is predicated on a culture in which heads do everything they can to reinforce not only their authority but the authority of all the staff in the school.

‘If youngsters feel that they are in a more powerful position than the teacher, the teaching assistant or the dinner lady, that they can defy authority and do so with impunity, no amount of theorising about raising attainment will make much difference.

‘There is absolutely nothing wrong in my view in saying to youngsters “Do as I ask, because I am the adult, I am older than you, I know more than you and, by the way, I am in authority over you”.’

In 2011, Education Secretary Michael Gove announced new measures to give disruptive pupils an ‘unambiguous lesson in who’s boss’, including loosening rules on the use of physical force by teachers, the right to search children for items, such as mobile phones, and increased financial penalties for parents who allow their children to play truant. But Sir Michael’s comments suggest school staff still do not have the confidence to exert their authority after years of seeing their powers eroded.

In 2011 Education Secretary Michael Gove, left, announced new measures to give disruptive pupils an 'unambiguous lesson in who's boss', while Schools Minister David Laws, right, yesterday announced £10m would be spent on doubling the number of specially trained teachers in challenging schools

He also warned too many headteachers lack vision for their school beyond a ‘natty slogan’, and don’t pay attention to detail.

‘It’s pointless concocting grand plans if the school playground is a mess, uniforms are slovenly, staff are too casual, children pay more attention to their mobile phones than to the teachers and the school reception has all the charm of the check-in desk at Ryanair,’ he said.

‘The best leaders get the details right because they know that these underpin the big issues of student achievement and progress.’

Chris McGovern, of the Campaign for Real Education, said teachers needed extra training to help them understand their greater powers of discipline. He said: ‘The Government should make the guidelines even clearer.’

Meanwhile Schools Minister David Laws yesterday announced £10million was being released to more than double the number of specially trained teachers in challenging schools.


Australia: Poll reveals Queenslanders want a return to corporal punishment to deal with bad behaviour in schools

BRING back the cane - that's the call from Queenslanders fed up with bad behaviour in our classrooms.

An exclusive Sunday Mail/Seven News poll reveals a majority of people want to see corporal punishment reintroduced to state schools after an 18-year ban.

The survey also found more than one in five respondents see misbehaviour and bullying as the major issue affecting children’s education.

While the teachers’ union remains firmly opposed, Queensland Association of State School Principals president Hilary Backus said the results reflected a feeling in society and there was an argument that individual schools should be allowed to decide whether to use the cane.

"We are seeing such a challenge in children entering schools who have been used to getting their own way and not able to follow instructions. Maybe society is realising we should put an end to it," she said.

"I don’t think I could say we would welcome it back. But should schools, with their communities, determine what is appropriate for their school setting? I don’t think I would have an argument with that."

But State Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek is adamant this is one issue where policy will not be led by public opinion, ruling out any return to the days when unruly students were given six-of-the-best.

"I think we’ve moved on from that," he said. "There is no science or data that it (corporal punishment) will make a difference. I don’t believe hitting them with a cane or a feather-duster is the answer."

Mr Langbroek said new laws passed last month enabling other disciplinary measures such as Saturday detentions would be more effective.

More than 61,000 suspensions were handed out to public school pupils in 2012 — a third of them for "physical misconduct" -- and 1,331 expulsions.

Documents obtained by The Courier-Mail under to Right To Information laws earlier this month revealed almost 100 incidents of violence or threats of violence including assaults on staff and the use of weapons including knives and a spear.

Queensland Secondary Principals’ Association president Norm Fuller said: "Certainly, we need strong discipline but there are other ways of doing that. I would not like to see us go back to the days of the cane — that’s not necessarily going to change behaviour."

And Queensland Teachers’ Union president Kevin Bates said they wanted the ban to stay. "Teachers and principals are not enamoured by the idea of belting kids. No professional would argue there’s any benefit."

Acting Commissioner for Children and Young People Barry Salmon, a former teacher, also opposed the return of the cane.

"There are more effective ways of managing a child’s behaviour which do not include the use of physical punishment, through setting clear boundaries, consistent expectations, appropriate penalties and positive encouragement, he said.

Dr John Reddington — founder of the "Concerned Psychologists" group which has been campaigning for 12 years to make smacking illegal — said the Newman Government’s tough recent stance on law and order could be influencing the turnaround in public opinion on corporal punishment.

"But violence produces violence," he said. "The majority (of people) simply don’t understand alternative methods."

P&Cs Qld spokesman Peter Levett said he was "not necessarily surprised" by the level of support for corporal punishment but declined to state any position on the issue.

Kevin Glancy, Queensland convener of conservative lobby group CANdo, said the use of corporal punishment had made previous generations "stronger and more disciplined".

"Australia would be a better place if young people came out of schools with a sense of discipline. The streets would be safer. "People are tired of the dysfunction," he said.

Although banned in state schools since 1995, corporal punishment is still allowed in Queensland non-state schools with at least two still using the discipline method — Central Queensland Christian College and Chinchilla Christian School.

Central Queensland Christian College principal Michael Appleton declined to comment this week, stating that it was not a central issue of school life for them and they have no interest in telling other schools whether they should or should not use it.

Two years ago, he told The Sunday-Mail his school had a culture of grace and love, with physical discipline only used after warnings and time-outs

"Normally this is never needed, but sometimes there are children who are looking for the boundaries in life and will push and push until they find them.

"When they have that "ouch” moment physically, they know they’re going the wrong way.

"When using physical discipline, we take time to express our care for the child and provide reassurance afterwards.”

At Chinchilla Christian School its parent handbook for Prep to Year 7 states discipline refers to the training of mind and character in an atmosphere of love and security. "Counselling goes hand in hand with discipline.”

A position statement released by The Royal Australasian College of Physicians this year warns physical punishment may be harmful in the long term.

"Research shows that a child who experiences physical punishment is more likely to develop aggressive behaviour and mental health problems as a child and as an adult,” it says.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Idea of ‘excellence for all is nonsense’, says former private school head

Not all children should be encouraged to attend university because the idea of "excellence for all is nonsense”, the former head of Harrow has said.

Barnaby Lenon, who is still Chairman of the Independent Schools Council, has argued that getting a degree is a privilege not a right, and many students would be better off going straight into the workplace as their degrees are not worth their value.

Mr Lenon, who has taught at Eton and was head of the £33,000 a year Harrow School for 12 years before retiring in 2011, said: “200,000 students getting degrees in business would be better off getting a job in a business.”

He also expressed disapproval of degrees such as communications and marketing.

The former head told the Oxford Student Union debate that people believe that a university education is a right because of the “everyone must now win prizes” mentality which emerged after the Second World War.

Warning against the concept of “equality of outcome”, the idea of equalising where people end up rather than where or how they begin, he added: “Selection by ability has become taboo, but the idea of excellence for all is nonsense.”

Tim Waterstone, founder of the book shop chain, agreed with him, stating: “No one has the right to be a scholar. You do have the right not to be discriminated against, but there is no guarantee to go to university.”

They pair argued against David Willetts, the Universities Minister, and Geraldine Van Bueren, professor of International Human Rights Law at Queen Mary, University of London, who supported the proposition that “university education is a right not a privilege”.

Mr Willetts said that the “biggest lies” of the debate were that something which is taxpayer funded “should be a right for a minority” and that access to universities needs to be restricted to fewer numbers, the Oxford Student reported.

However, his argument was interrupted by protesters who unfurled a banner reading “---- YOU DAVID WILLETTS” and began shouting at him.

He was joined by Professor Van Bueren, who noted that a higher education has begun to be seen as a privilege “and privilege and equal opportunity do not go hand in hand”.

But her stance was attacked by Stephen Dorrell, Conservative MP for Charnwood, who said that “the last thing we need is for a human rights lawyer to swoop in and tell us how to run a government.”

He argued that human rights are “a fine basis to ensure basic rights,” but “not a good basis for policymaking.”

Another advocate for University education being a privilege was Spencer Matthews, the star of the reality show Made in Chelsea, who also provoked the ire of the protesters who had scrawled on their banner after their attack on Willets: “Made in Chelsea is ---- too".

Mr Matthews, who had reportedly hastily written his speech on a sheet of A4 with the help of Union officers before the debate, said that his father and brother had not attended University and “turned out just fine”.

Support for university education being a right rather than a privilege was voted against by the union by a margin of 23.


Number of children in Britain being taught in 'titan' primary schools of at least 800 pupils rises fourfold to 52,000 in just three years

The number of children being educated in primary schools of at least 800 pupils has risen almost fourfold in three years.

About 52,000 youngsters are currently taught in these ‘titan’ primaries, compared with 13,700 in 2010.

And 5,350 are squeezed into primary schools with more than 1,000 pupils, according to data released by the Department for Education under the Freedom of Information Act.

Not a single primary school across England housed so many children in 2010.

The rise in super-size primaries comes amid a school place crisis which this September left councils struggling to cope with the huge influx of pupils.

The Daily Mail revealed how youngsters were packed ‘like sardines’ into oversized classes, with former police stations and even factory car parks used for lessons.

A baby boom that began more than a decade ago, rising immigration and hard-up parents opting out of the private sector have been blamed for the problem.

DfE data shows ‘titan’ primary schools have become a common way to cope with spiralling pupil numbers following a lack of forward planning under Labour.

This is despite the fact that parents and education experts fear children as young as four become ‘lost’ in these extra large schools.

Between January 2012 and January this year, numbers of pupils in 800-plus primaries rose by 48 per cent. The number in schools of more than 1,000 children more than doubled, from 2,100 to 5,350 over the same period.

There are 58 primary schools currently educating 800 or more pupils, including five that have more than 1,000. There were just 16 with 800 or more in 2010.

Other data released under the Freedom of Information Act revealed Labour repeatedly ignored warnings about the looming primary school crisis. In 2007, councils were told to slash surplus places and close schools despite the Labour government’s pupil estimates indicating a rapidly increasing primary population.

A Daily Mail survey found that one in three councils launched extra reception classes this September – part of a raft of emergency measures.

Barking and Dagenham council, East London, even admitted it was considering three-day weeks.

Professor Alan Smithers, of Buckingham University, said ‘titan’ schools may make economic sense but do not pay ‘sufficient regard to the development of our children’, adding that they can be ‘overwhelming’.

The Local Government Association found some parts of England could see nearly twice as many pupils as places in two years.


Australia: Learning the hard lessons of failed educational experimentation

DISMAYED by their children's indifferent literacy and numeracy skills and limited historical, geographical and scientific knowledge, many parents will not be surprised by today's revelation that a doubling of education funding over the past 20 years has not improved education standards. As national education correspondent Justine Ferrari writes, while school funding has doubled in real terms since 1995 to $40 billion a year, Australian students' results in international and national tests have flatlined or fallen. Yet, despite the failure of smaller class sizes, student laptops and better buildings to improve student achievement, educators and politicians continue investing in them year after year. Working with his state colleagues and the non-government sector, Education Minister Christopher Pyne has no alternative but to pursue a sharp break from current patterns.

For an insider's view of the malaise that has progressively sucked quality, rigour, purpose and discipline from many schools, readers will relate to the insights of Michael Hewitson, an experienced maths/science teacher and former principal from South Australia, whose book How Will our Children Learn? (Connor Court) is reported in Inquirer today by associate editor Chris Kenny. It speaks volumes that Trinity College, a low-fee school founded by Hewitson in 1985 at Gawler, a dusty, working-class community north of Adelaide, grew into one of Australia's largest and most in-demand schools, with 3500 students within 15 years. After it started with only the most basic facilities, much of its development occurred with just 65 per cent of the money, per child, of a state school.

The issues on which Mr Hewitson focuses in his book provide a useful guide for education reform. He covered the importance of parental choice in education, the advantages of state schools being allowed greater independence and reporting to local school boards or councils rather than government bureaucracies, school governance, student discipline, teacher quality and commitment, streaming of students according to ability in some subjects and the importance of making the core curriculum - English, spelling, grammar and writing, number skills and maths - a priority. Like other experienced educators, Mr Hewitson also advocated extending the school day to cater for cultural and sporting activities. Nor should the anecdotal evidence in the book about the value of phonics in teaching reading, even to the most disadvantaged students, be overlooked. Unfortunately, although the benefits of phonics, in tandem with vocabulary work, comprehension and storytelling, have been proven repeatedly in empirical studies, the "whole language" system of teaching reading still prevails in many schools and university teaching programs. Importantly for students from less affluent backgrounds, Mr Hewitson's experience in resolving difficult disciplinary issues, at Trinity and as a young teacher with classes of 45 students at Whyalla, reflected the findings of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development research reported last week. Like the OECD number crunchers who surveyed the impact of rowdy classrooms on student achievement around the world, Trinity College parents, students and teachers found well-managed classrooms raised students' opportunities by boosting their chances of gaining access to their preferred tertiary courses.

After the inherent wastage of the $16bn school building program and an upsurge of recurrent funding under the Howard, Rudd and Gillard governments to little avail, the national interest demands Mr Pyne, his state counterparts and universities in charge of teacher education move on from the flawed education theories that have shortchanged two generations of Australian students. Poor outcomes tend to hurt disadvantaged students more. But it is also a serious concern the achievements of the top 25 per cent of students appear to have stagnated, a trend pinpointed in a recent study of 37,000 students from all sectors in Victoria and in international testing.

Some states have already freed up many schools from centralised departmental control and allow principals autonomy in hiring and firing staff and setting their spending priorities. Injecting intellectual rigour and balance and removing postmodern and pop-cultural fads from the curriculum is also essential. As the Gonski funding process unfolds, however, the main challenge for the commonwealth and states is to lift the status and expertise of the teaching profession, starting with academic entry standards for school leavers aspiring to teach. Effective in-service programs for teachers to improve classroom practices and more effective leadership training for principals would also have a direct bearing on school performances. Teaching quality is the main focus of high-performing East Asian school systems, and its value was underlined by Mr Hewitson in his account of a band of dedicated teachers.

Parents know good schools or bad schools when they find them, regardless of sector, postcode, class sizes or facilities. Business as usual, with its prevailing mediocrity, is no longer acceptable. Until teachers' unions and some academics show a more mature understanding of the teaching profession and the needs of students, their continuing demands for smaller classes and more funding will render them irrelevant in one of Australia's most important social debates.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

To Each According to His Disability

Mike Adams

I'm probably too young to have so many pet peeves. The list seems to get longer every year. So, naturally, the longer I teach, the longer my list of class rules seems to get. In addition to rules of class conduct, I also have to develop rules concerning over-disclosure of information in emails and office visits. Such over-disclosure is always geared towards one goal for the student: transforming personal deficiencies into legitimate disabilities in an effort to attenuate workload expectations.

Whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed by these excuses, I take time out in class to reiterate the rules concerning over-disclosure. Note that I always go over these rules at the beginning of the semester but I have to repeat the exercise at least twice during the semester. My two basic rules follow:

1. If you believe you have some kind of disability then go to disability services and let them decide if you are right. If this requires anything of me, they will let me know and I'll make whatever accommodations they require. No need to share the details concerning what your disability is or how it came to be. All I need is an official form with clear instructions.

2. If you experience other life difficulties that are temporary then there's no need to worry. I'll allow one week of absences and one make-up exam. No need to explain your emergency. Just use your week of free absences as you see fit. Again, there is no need for details. If one week is not enough then these are not really emergencies. In all likelihood your life is one long emergency and failing my class won't really matter in the grand scheme of things.

Before the first half of the semester is over, I always get bombarded with demands for extra emergency time. Even after I reiterate the rules, I still have some who feel the need to challenge my overarching principle of keeping private (usual medical) information private. Here are some examples of challenges I have received in recent semesters:

- One student came by and began his plea by saying "I know you told us that if we had a disability, you don't need to hear the details. But I have two disabilities." Now this kid will make a great lawyer, won't he? I told students not to talk about a disability (singular). But technically I really didn't say anything about disabilities (plural). Clearly, this kid was born to litigate.

- Just one day after I demanded that students stop disclosing unnecessary medical information, I had a student send an email loaded with such information. But it wasn't his. Instead, it was his girlfriend's medical information. His argument was threefold: 1. She had a psychological disorder and couldn't drive. 2. He needed to drive her everywhere. 3. He needed extra absences. I’ve got to hand it to him. He found another loophole. I didn't say anything about disclosing other people's medical information. And victimhood should transfer from one person to the next, right? Clearly, this kid wants to be a lawyer, too.

- Slightly more than one hour after I told another class to lay off the unnecessary personal disclosure a student came to the office with a special plea. He claimed he lost his health insurance and could not afford his medication. So, in his eyes, he should be given a special exception. I mean, other people could just take their medication and shut up. But he couldn't do so if he didn't have health insurance, right? Wrong. I told him he shouldn't have voted for Obama and tossed him out of my office.

- Another student began to tell me about his disability right after he failed the first exam. Note that this was in a class where students took three book tests. I interrupted him and told him I understood that disabilities could slow reading but that the disability services office was in a better position to help him. He then informed me that he didn't actually read the book that was the subject of the last book test. In other words, the student wasn't even trying to link his disability to actual test performance. He was just talking about the disability in the hopes of getting generalized sympathy.

Weird isn't it? What makes it even weirder is that all four of the above requests were from male students. Our university student population is about 70% female and 30% male. But it seems that 70% of these disability victimhood pleas come from male students while about 30% come from females. So the question becomes twofold: 1) Where do people get the idea that they have some sort of a right to claim (and endlessly discuss) a disability? 2) Why has this idea become so contagious among young males?

The first question is easy to answer. For sixty years, the Marxist worldview has been dominant on our college campuses. And Marxists know only one way of restoring equality. It has nothing to do with teaching people who have nothing how to pull themselves up. They only teach how to take people who actually have something and bring them down via “redistribution.” In the context of economic redistribution, they force people to work for others rather than themselves. Human nature doesn't work like this. And so the standard of living for everyone plummets right along with so-called inequality.

This is the disability culture in a nutshell. Forget about raising yourself to a higher standard. Instead, claim a disability and pull the standard down to you. We've destroyed academic standards but at least there isn't any more inequality. Eventually, we all become average.

The second question is also easy to answer. It has everything to do with the feminization of the classroom. In recent decades, women have come to dominate the realm of primary and secondary education. Consequently, between the ages of 6 and 18, males are spending considerable time with women who are more inclined to allow them to indulge their weaknesses, rather than their strengths. Female teachers have a different view of boys’ competitive tendencies compared to the male teachers who used to supervise them. No one could seriously expect that spending twelve years under the daily authority of women would have no real impact on our young boys.

But despite the wishful thinking of Marxists, human nature never really goes away. Boys will still be boys. Even when they are taught that they have weaknesses and disabilities they will still try to compete. That is why I have to listen to so many "my disability is bigger than yours" stories. They seem to have replaced the spitting and urinating contests of the days of old.

Marxism may be an old and failed idea. But its subtle variations are robbing our children of the chance to excel by facing the prospect of failure. Ironically, when everyone becomes mediocre there won’t be any diversity left to celebrate


Ambitious [British] parents are sending their children to fee-paying prep schools before parachuting them into [free]  grammar schools, a report claims

Going to high-performing independent schools until the age of 11 gives youngsters an advantage with entrance tests and interviews.

It also means that a few years’ investment in their education helps them to qualify for up to seven years of free schooling at some of the best state secondaries in England.

But the practice is taking places from bright children from poor families, according to research by the Sutton Trust, which campaigns to improve social mobility through education.

It recommended measures including poorer pupils being given priority at selective schools, similar to a system in place at some universities that critics have branded ‘social engineering’.

Around 22,000 children started at grammar schools between 2009 and 2011.

The trust found 2.7 per cent, or just over 600, were entitled to free school meals at their previous state school - indicating a low-income background - despite 16 per cent of all pupils being eligible for the benefit in the sector.

This compares to 12.7 per cent, or 2,800, who came from outside the state sector, even though only six per cent of children attend private schools.

Last month the Daily Mail revealed how grammar schools dominated the top ten in A-level and GCSE results at state schools this year - despite there being just 164 throughout England.

New grammar schools are not allowed to open but some have been able to expand to take more pupils under a relaxation of rules. They currently educate around 30,000 pupils.

Tory MP Graham Brady, a supporter of selective education, said having more grammar schools would help correct the imbalance caused by better-off parents taking action to maximise their child’s change of winning a place.

‘The figures from Northern Ireland show that where selection is universally available, the percentage of children in grammar schools on free school meals is significantly closer to the community at large,’ he added.

The research, led by Anna Vignoles, a professor of education at Cambridge University, also found parents from disadvantaged backgrounds were likely to associate grammar schools with tradition, middle class values and elitism, creating a social as well as an educational barrier.

The Sutton Trust said all children entitled to a pupil premium - extra funding handed to schools for disadvantaged youngsters - should be given preference over wealthier applicants to grammar schools.

Universities that charge tuition fees over £6,000 are obliged to produce plans showing how they are increasing their intake of students from deprived backgrounds.

Other suggestions include changing entry tests to make them less coachable and giving at least ten hours of free or subsidised test preparation to all applicants to ‘provide a more level playing field’.

Robert McCartney, of the National Grammar Schools Association, insisted social engineering would not solve the problem of high demand.

‘Social engineering should have no place in post-primary education,’ he said. ‘The purpose of school is to educate, not to drive a social or political or ideological agenda.’

Sutton Trust chairman Sir Peter Lampl added: ‘The big challenge, particularly in those areas where a selective system prevails, remains how to ensure that those grammar schools are open to all and are not simply the preserve of better-off families who can afford private tutors or prep school fees.


Australia:  Queensland Government has plan for schools to use funding for chaplains instead of education

SCHOOLS could use funding for chaplains instead of education programs or support staff under a controversial move being considered by the State Government.

The move would give Independent Public School principals the power to boost school chaplaincy hours at the expense of literacy and numeracy programs, or other staff including guidance counsellors and psychologists.

The Queensland Teachers Union and Australian Secular Lobby are against the plan, arguing that the mainly Christian chaplains have no place in state schools.

Most chaplains in state schools are employed by Scripture Union Queensland, which says its chaplains are trained to provide important social, emotional and spiritual support to all students - and not to evangelise kids.

A document obtained under Right to Information reveals the state's 80 Independent Public Schools could soon use discretionary funds - currently used for literacy and numeracy programs, support staff or professional development - to pay for chaplains instead.

"Currently the Chaplaincy Services in Queensland State Schools procedure states that school funds provided by the Queensland Government for educational purposes cannot be used for chaplaincy services," states a briefing note to Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek. "The flexible use of discretionary schools funds to support chaplaincy/student welfare services can be explored further as part of the review of the chaplaincy procedure."

Mr Langbroek confirmed the move was part of the review, which was expected to be finalised for 2014.

The State Government already provides up to $11,000 a year for school chaplains, while the Federal Government also provides funding.

Secular Lobby spokesman Hugh Wilson said state schools should be free from religion. Mr Wilson said the move would be "absolutely disgraceful".

Scripture Union Queensland CEO Peter James said chaplains were trained in youth work and pastoral care, which complemented psychologists and guidance counsellors.

ASL spokesman Hugh Wilson said state schools should be secular and warned the move to boost chaplaincy services with discretionary funding would be "absolutely disgraceful".

"There's little enough money given over for Education Queensland schools, that is why P & Cs raise money for motor mowers and janitor's utes and playground equipment," he said.

QTU president Kevin Bates said state education should be "free, public and secular" and student welfare services should be delivered through fully trained and accredited school counsellors, guidance officers, psychologists and social workers, not chaplains.

Scripture Union Qld CEO Peter James said they approached the State Government for increased funding for chaplains after the Bundaberg floods, because more students needed their help.

He said chaplains were trained in youth work and pastoral care, which complemented psychologists and guidance counsellors.

"A chaplain is in the playground and at the school gate," Mr James said.  "There is a lot of time that is needed to just chat and unpack that stuff, that isn't necessarily counselling."