Friday, May 16, 2014

DC Schools: $29,349 Per Pupil, 83 Percent Not Proficient in Reading

The public schools in Washington, D.C., spent $29,349 per pupil in the 2010-2011 school year, according to the latest data from National Center for Education Statistics, but in 2013 fully 83 percent of the eighth graders in these schools were not "proficient" in reading and 81 percent were not "proficient" in math.

These are the government schools in our nation's capital city -- where for decades politicians of both parties have obstreperously pushed for more federal involvement in education and more federal spending on education.

Government has manifestly failed the families who must send their children to these schools, and the children who must attend them.

Under the auspices of the National Center for Education Statistics, the federal government periodically tests elementary and high school students in various subjects, including reading and math. These National Assessment of Educational Progress tests are scored on a scale of 500, and student achievement levels are rated as "basic," "proficient" and "advanced."

In 2013, students nationwide took NAEP reading and math tests. When the NCES listed the scores of public-school eighth graders in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, D.C. came in last in both subjects.

D.C. eighth graders scored an average of 248 out of 500 in reading, and Mississippi finished next to last with an average of 253.

Only 17 percent of D.C. 8th graders rated "proficient" or better in reading. In Mississippi, it was 20 percent.

In math, D.C. public-school eighth graders scored an average of 265 out of 500, and only 19 percent were rated "proficient" or better. Alabama placed next to last with an average math score of 269, with 20 percent rated "proficient" or better.

Some might argue it is unfair to compare, Washington, D.C., a single city, with an entire state. However, D.C. also does not compete well against other big cities.

The Department of Education's Trial Urban District Assessments program compares the test results in 21 large-city school districts, including Washington, D.C.

In these assessments, the scores of students from charter schools were removed and the average reading score for D.C. public school eighth-graders dropped to 245. That was below the national large-city average of 258, and tied D.C. with Fresno for seventeenth place among the 21 big cities in the TUDA.

In math, minus the charter school students, D.C. public-school eighth graders earned an average score of 260. That was below the national large-city average of 276, and put D.C. in a tie for sixteenth place, this time with Fresno and Baltimore.

The NCES database indicates that in the 2010-2011 school year, Washington, D.C. public schools spent a total of $29,349 per pupil, ranking No. 1 in spending per pupil among the 21 large cities in the TUDA.

New York City Public Schools ranked second among these large cities, spending $23,996 per pupil. That was $5,353 -- or about 18 percent -- less than the $29,349 the D.C. public schools spent.

Table 236.75 from the NCES's Digest of Education Statistics compares per pupil spending among the states and the District of Columbia. It indicates that D.C. spent a little bit less per pupil -- $28,403 -- who enrolled in the fall in 2010-2011 school year. But that still ranks D.C. as No. 1, out-spending all the states.

How did the D.C. public schools spend $28,403 per student?

Among other things, they spent $10,584 per pupil on "instruction," which "encompasses all activities dealing directly with the interaction between teachers and students."

Then they spent $5,487 on "capital outlays," which includes "the acquisition of land and buildings; building construction, remodeling," etc.

Then they spent $2,321 on "operation and maintenance," which includes "salary, benefits, supplies, and contractual fees for supervision of operations and maintenance," etc.

Then they spent $2,124 on "interest on school debt."

Then they spent $1,613 on "instructional staff," $1,546 on "school administration," $1,404 on "student transportation," $1,208 on "student support," $866 on "general administration," $761 on "food services," $450 on "other support services."

Congress ought to give every family in Washington, D.C., a choice of whether or not they want a government school to spend this money on behalf of their children. The D.C. public school system should be required to provide every family in the district with school-age children with a voucher for each child that is worth every penny the district now spends per pupil in its public schools. Families should be able to use that voucher at any school they want, anywhere they want.


Pupils shouldn't swim during Ramadan because swallowing pool water 'would break the fast' claims chair of governors at school accused of teaching Islamic extremism in Trojan Horse scandal

He must think chlorine is nutritious

A governor who is said to have orchestrated a plot by Muslim extremists to take over a group of schools believes children should not be allowed to swim during Ramadan because it may 'break their fast'.

Tahir Alam, the chairman of Park View School in Birmingham, said there should be sensitivity during the Islamic holy month because pupils could accidentally ‘swallow water.’

The suspected ringleader of the 'Trojan Horse' operation also said Muslim women and girls have an 'obligation' to cover their bodies after denying claims he made schoolchildren wear headscarves.

He describes himself as a 'conservative Muslim', but says allegations of Islamification and extremist teachings at the schools in Birmingham are false.

Mr Alam drafted a document in 2007 suggesting songs with ant-Islamic lyrics should be banned from schools and dancing 'discouraged'.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Alam said no one had praised al-Qaeda in assemblies and refuted rumours that classrooms had been segregated.

He added that schools' policies on areas such as collective prayer, headscarves and halal meat were 'within the legal parameters.'

‘No child has to wear a headscarf, nobody has to go to prayer in a compulsory manner ... only 5-10 per cent of our children pray during lunchtime,' he said.

Despite having a 99 per cent Muslim uptake, Mr Alam said Park View has no 'religious designation', which means they cannot force any faith practices on students.

‘The whole thing has been blown out of all proportion. It's based on an anonymous document, unsigned, undated.

‘I wonder how many other unsigned and undated documents would generate 12 weeks of media hysteria and political storm.’

‘So any accommodation that we may do in relation to catering for the children - for example, if it relates to the prayer maybe, or halal meals or collective worship - all these practices are well within the regulations and the law.’

Whistleblowing teachers have claimed the school is in the hands of a group of extremists who infiltrated the governing body, forcing non-Muslims out and replacing them with hardliners.

Six non-Muslim headteachers at schools in the city are said to have left their posts in the last six months.

But Mr Alam said  he did not know the circumstances of their departures and assured listeners he had taken on non-Muslim staff during his tenure.

'We have run Park View as a highly successful school. Our results are amongst the highest in the area.  ‘It's something that needs to be replicated not removed.’

Birmingham City Council has received 200 complaints about Muslim practices across a number of schools in the city.

The Department for Education has commissioned an investigation into the claims, headed by former counter-terror chief, Peter Clarke.


State schools 'are creating an amoral generation': Private headmaster says staff are too busy chasing exam results to teach children right from wrong

Schools are producing a generation of ‘amoral’ children because staff are too busy chasing exam results to teach pupils the difference between right and wrong, it is claimed today.

A private school head will claim that teachers - mainly in state schools - are under so much pressure to meet exam targets they are failing to equip pupils with basic values.

Richard Walden, chairman of the Independent Schools Association, will say that private schools, in contrast, are turning out ‘well-rounded’ pupils with ‘moral understanding’.

In provocative remarks, Mr Walden will claim that many state school teachers ‘operate in a climate of fear’.

He will suggest that the Government’s regime of testing and league tables is the modern-day equivalent of the birch, which was used to cane pupils until corporal punishment was outlawed in 1986.

But parents are increasingly ‘buying in’ to the idea that only exam scores matter and are demanding ‘quick-fix results’.

Mr Walden, head of £6,867-a-year Castle House School in Shropshire, which caters for two to 11-year-olds, will make the claims in a keynote speech to fellow heads at the association’s annual conference in Warwickshire.

Too many teachers in state schools are ‘overwhelmed by the pressure to achieve results’ and devote too much time to ‘teaching the basics’, he will argue.

‘Schools are turning out too many amoral children because teachers cannot find the time to teach the difference between right and wrong,’ he says.

‘It seems that the only results that matter are those which have created added value in terms of raising a pupil’s statistical level from one stage to the next, and parents are increasingly buying in to this notion.

‘This focus on league tables and attainment levels distracts teachers and effectively disables them from providing children with a more rounded and enriching education - one that will give them the moral compass they need for life.’

Mr Walden will say that the ‘formation of character is fundamental in education’ and done ‘so well’ in independent schools, which offer a broad curriculum and range of lunchtime and after-school activities.

He will dismiss the argument that privately-educated only succeed in life because they are from ‘elitist or privileged’ backgrounds.

‘They do well because they have received a value-rich education, provided with love in our independent schools.’

Learning values allows pupils to ‘distinguish the good from the bad and the true from the false’, Mr Walden says.

‘The very nature of our schools, with their respect for discipline and academic seriousness, sport and culture, citizenship and community, service, environmental awareness, spiritual life and personal responsibility, sends out into the world young people with emotional intelligence, developed moral understanding and a willingness to make a contribution to society,’ he says.

These qualities cannot be measured by ‘inspectors’ tick-charts’.

Mr Walden goes on to say: ‘We cannot measure the growth of maturity in a young person grade by grade.

‘It takes time, but if we hold our nerve as educators and as schools - and that may mean resisting the demands of parents who want quick-fix results, or the pressures of external statistical grading systems, not to mention the difficult financial situations that we can face - if we hold our nerve, we will continue to turn out well-rounded individuals who make a difference to society, as we have for many years.’

He will say it is important to discuss ‘values’ since education ‘does not seem to be enough’.

He will refer to a Muslim scientist who held extremist views while studying at Cambridge, before renouncing them in the wake of the 2005 London bombings.

‘Education is the mark of a civilised society; we believe it should prevent barbarism. But it does not seem to be enough. Indeed often it is the educated who perpetrate wicked acts.’

Pupils need to learn how to ‘think for oneself and choose wisely’ to help them grapple with ethical issues in future, Mr Walden will say.

He adds: ‘We are gaining the potential to improve the human gene pool, for a good end, the eradication of many diseases - but at what cost?’


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Summerhill: The misery of a great Leftist fantasy

Mikey Cuddihy is now 60 years old and a successful artist and teacher. Yet the pain of childhood loss suffuses this memoir as if the traumatic events happened just last year.

She was born into a large and wealthy Irish-American family, who enjoyed a luxurious life. But her beautiful actress mother became an alcoholic, given to lashing out at her five children. 

When Mikey was four, her parents divorced and her father gained custody of the children. His second wife once stood one of her stepsons under a freezing shower because he was naughty. Such random cruelty seems to have marked the Cuddihy children’s family life.

A year later their father crashed his car and was killed. Mikey and her siblings went to live with their mother, who by then was remarried, had a baby and had controlled her drinking. Then, just four years later,  their mother crashed her beaten-up old car and died in hospital.

Their Uncle Tom announced that they were all going to England. The elder brother and sister were being sent to a school in Scotland, while Mikey and her brothers Sean and Chris were being packed off to that famously bohemian Suffolk boarding school, Summerhill.

A.S. Neill founded Summerhill in 1921, firmly believing that schools ought to be progressive ‘democratic communities’, run by means of  student meetings and with no requirement to attend lessons. Teenagers ‘in a relationship’ were allowed to sleep together, while the smallest children (‘the Tinies’) ran wild.

There is something unbearably poignant about her flat description of the conditions: ‘My  new family consists of 60 kids and a few adults, mostly foreign, all displaced. Trying to figure out how to live in Neill’s self-constructed, child-centred universe.’

Mikey joins other girls in a bleak dormitory to sleep on ancient Army bunks and talk about their absent families each night, in the dark.

This was the early 1960s and these poor children were ‘part of the new wave of spoilt brats whose counter-cultural, media mogul parents’ had a particular idea of freedom. That is, freedom to dump their children in an anarchic setting where the library consisted of ancient Enid Blyton books and children could choose to play all day.

There was a disturbing incident when Mikey’s teenage brother Sean had ‘done something’ to a little girl, and was sent away to join Deedee and Bob in Scotland. Nobody explained to Mikey what happened. Did he rape the child? It remains unclear, but what is horrifyingly obvious is  that Neill was unable or unwilling to treat the incident with the gravity it merited.

Mikey grew up (this part is as vividly told as the Summerhill years) to become an artist and a mother, witnessed Sean’s increasingly disturbed behaviour — and experienced, through closeness to all her siblings, that supportive family love which can overcome layers of dysfunction.

The ironies within this compulsively readable account of Sixties child-rearing are many. The ‘happiness’ of the title is clearly debatable, and yet the plight of the orphaned family — victims of thoughtless, selfish adults — is recounted with a commendable lack of emotion.


Now halal sneaks into British schools: Parents angered by move by councils to ban pork sausages and bacon and replace them with ritually-slaughtered meat

Hundreds of schools have banned pork – sausages and bacon – and switched to halal only meat for meals even where Muslims are in the minority.

Many families of other faiths and none have been angered and upset by the move which has often been done by schools and councils with little or no consultation.

At least two dinner ladies have been sacked in the last year after serving non-halal food to Muslim students by accident.

By contrast, dinner ladies in hundreds of schools are expected to serve halal meat to primary and secondary school age pupils every day of the week whether they are Muslim or not.

The driving force appears to be cost because it is far easier and cheaper to have a single source of halal meat for everyone, rather than having to provide a segregated menu.

In most cases the halal meat served in schools will come from animals that have been pre-stunned before slaughter, which welfare experts say is the minimum required to minimise suffering.

The concern among non-Muslim parents is that it is not clear which schools are using halal only meat. Separately, a move to halal only meat means children have no choice but to eat it or switch to a vegetarian option.

This is a particular worry for the Sikh community who refuse to eat halal meat on religious grounds.

A spokesman for the Sikh Council UK said: ‘We are concerned that many schools, councils and other public sector bodies and their caterers are effectively allowed to deceive the public by providing halal meat without declaring it as such.

‘Public sector bodies have a duty to the entire community and should be accommodating for all needs without fear or favour.’

He said: ‘Everybody has a right to purchase and consume food in accordance with their religious or other beliefs and food should be clearly labelled to allow individuals to make an informed choice.

‘All foodstuffs using or containing halal meat and any derived products from halal meat should be clearly labelled as halal. Certified halal meat products should be provided and be available for the benefit of the Muslim community where required.

‘All consumers should have the confidence that foodstuffs that are not labelled as halal are in fact halal free. It should be a duty of trading standard officers to enforce effective and clear labelling on all food.’

In March, parents in Rotherham condemned a school’s decision to ban all pork products from the menu and replace other meats with halal versions.

The change means pupils aged 3-11 at Brinsworth Manor Infant and Junior Schools in Rotherham - which Ofsted identifies as having only a small number of pupils from minority ethnic groups - will no longer be able to enjoy sausages, bacon or ham.

Parents at both schools, which share a site, were told of the decision in a letter from Rotherham Council’s catering officer, who wrote that there had been ‘minor adjustments’ to the lunch menu.

Although just 20 per cent of the school’s 600 pupils are Muslim the menu changes were reportedly brought in to make the school more inclusive.

A mother with an 11-year-old girl at the school, who asked not to be named for fear of being branded racist, said: ‘At home I pay more for organic and free range food. I am a Christian but I don’t do it because of that, it’s more for the respect of how animals are killed.

‘The way the animals are slaughtered for halal meat is a religious killing and I don’t feel it should be in schools.

‘My daughter has been anxious about the change as she has concerns about if it is humane killing. I believe in animal welfare rights and standards of meat production that halal does not follow.’

The change in policy was agreed by the head teacher and governors as part of a policy to make the meals more inclusive.

This same scenario is understood to have been played out in hundreds of schools across the country over the past five years.

While schools are going to extraordinary lengths to protect the interests of Muslim pupils, there is no such support for others who may not want to eat halal for various reasons.

Dinner lady Alison Waldock, aged 51, was fired for gross misconduct last year from a Cambridge school after she mistakenly gave non-halal food to a seven year-old girl.

The girl’s parents complained with the result she lost her job after 11 years with the catering company involved.

In February last year, it emerged that a dinner lady at a multi-faith school in Moseley, Birmingham, was sacked after she accidentally served non-Halal meat to Muslims. Moseley School has a policy of serving halal-only meat to all 1,400 students, regardless of their faith.

The change to halal seems to have been encouraged and organised by local councils, however the Local Government Association, which speaks for them, denied responsibility. It said each school has responsibility for a decision on whether or not to switch to halal only meat.


Anger of British mother who has to home school her daughter after NINE different schools rejected the four-year-old

She probably lives in a "good" area.   There is great competition to get kids into the schools of such areas so some people lose out

A mother has been left furious after being forced to home school her four-year-old daughter who was was rejected from nine schools in her local area.

Estelle Perrons should have started term last September but now faces an uncertain future because no school in her catchment area has enough space to take her.

Her mother Emily Perrons, 26, had set her sights on St Mary’s Primary School, the same primary school her other two daughters Elizabeth, ten, and Eve, eight, go to.

However, after being told there was no room, the single mum was forced to look elsewhere. The search has continued without success for the past eight months.

Miss Perrons, who doesn’t drive, said Nottingham City Council told her the nearest school that will take her daughter is six miles away in Clifton.

But as the mum-of-three has to walk her other children the two miles to their school she is being forced to home school Estelle as it is 'physically impossible to be in two places at once.'

Yesterday Miss Perrons, from Sherwood, in Nottingham, fumed: 'It is ridiculous, I am now facing the option that my daughter might not go to any school.

'She is going to nursery for three mornings a week but she is the oldest there as she is nearly five and the nursery is saying they can’t cater for her much longer.

'Now I just want her in any school I can physically get to. I have appealed all nine schools’ decisions but it is looking unlikely.

'It would have been nice for her to be with her sisters as I don’t want them split up but that doesn’t seem like an option.

'I was working at Argos before I had children and I just want any job now.  'If I can’t get Estelle into school I won’t be able to get a job and the government will make me go on Job Seeker’s Allowance.

'I don’t want to claim benefits, I want to work. It is not my fault there are not enough school places.  'We are already walking four miles a day and if we do get the bus a family ticket is £9. To get to Clifton as well would mean spending nearly £20 a day just on bus fares.

'All I want is for Estelle to be in school and get an education.

'I have started looking to see if we can move because I think that will have to be the last resort.'

Geraldine Kelly, head teacher at St Mary’s, in the Sherwood area of Nottingham said they faced a difficult task at having to turn down places for children.

She said: 'We are popular because we get results and are rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. It is difficult but we have to turn down some parents.'

Councillor David Mellen, portfolio holder for children’s services for Nottingham City Council, has pledged that a place will be found at every school.

He said: 'We are working very hard to offer every child a place as quickly as possible.'


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How Far School Choice Policies Have Come in Two Decades

It’s amazing how far school choice options have come in a little more than two decades. From Milwaukee’s first-in-the-nation school voucher option in 1990 and the first charter school opening its doors in Minnesota in 1992, parental choice in education has advanced considerably, and innovation in school choice policy has taken shape in ways that were inconceivable in those early years. Today, 39 private school choice programs operate in 18 states and Washington, D.C.

The past three years in particular have produced some of the most exciting advancements in school choice policy to date. In 2011, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law the nation’s first education savings account program. ESAs are parent-controlled savings accounts that enable families to completely customize their children’s educational experiences.

Parents of eligible students can have 90 percent of the funding the state would have spent on their children in their assigned public school deposited directly into their ESAs. Funds are deposited onto a restricted-use debit card, which parents can use to pay for a wide variety of education-related services and products. ESA funds can be used to pay for private school tuition, online learning, textbooks, curricula, special education services and a host of other education-related expenses. Parents can even roll unused funds into a college savings account.

And because parents direct every dollar of their ESA funds to options that fit their child’s learning needs, providers must provide quality products and services at competitive rates, which puts downward pressure on prices not only for schools but for all eligible education products.

For instance, parents could pay for private school tuition for a half-day, then use the debit card for tutoring in the afternoon. They might even finance educational therapies one day a week, as Kym Wilber, mother of 8th grader Zach does. “I have a private tutor for Zach, and I can use [ESA] funds for that,” Wilber says. “With the ESA, I can actually go out and buy things for our home program, such as additional speech tools.”

The Wilbers’ experience mirrors that of many who take advantage of Arizona’s ESA option. Although many families use their ESAs in a manner similar to a traditional school voucher, more than one-third of parents use their funds to completely customize their children’s educational experience. Some, in fact, eschew traditional brick-and-mortar schools altogether and instead purchase curricula and textbooks and then hire private tutors to create a made-to-order learning experience for their children.

A parent-led Yahoo group—an Internet message board where families discuss their experiences with their ESAs—is an example of the extent to which parents want to be involved to the greatest extent possible with their children’s education. It is, as the parents describe, a place to “share ideas, questions and information with each other as we make exiting, individual educational decisions” for their children.

When it was enacted in 2011, the Arizona ESA option was available only to children with special needs. Every year since has brought expansions to the program. Today, children with special needs as well as children from active duty military families, children of fallen soldiers, children in Arizona’s foster care system and children from low-income families assigned to underperforming public schools are eligible for the accounts.

Just as parents have looked to one another in the ESA program for advice about what works well for their children, so too have states begun to take cues from one another, replicating the most promising policy innovations. Last week, the Florida legislature passed legislation to create the Florida Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts—the Sunshine State’s version of ESAs. Florida would become the second state to embrace the most innovative option to date in school choice.

The combination of innovative education financing models such as ESAs, in conjunction with the growth of online learning, allows for education options that are truly customized and student-centered and are a far cry from the one-size-fits-all public education system. School choice policy has come a long way over the past two decades, and as Arizona’s experience has demonstrated, ESAs are the way of the future as states consider how to bring innovation, competition and choice into their education systems.


Oxford loses out to Cambridge for the fourth year in a row in a new league table of universities

Oxford has lost out to Cambridge for the fourth year running in a new league table of universities.  The prestigious institutions took the top two places in the latest annual Complete University Guide.

In third place, the same as last year, was the London School of Economics and Political Science, followed by St Andrews in Fife, Scotland, which moved up two places to fourth, and Durham, which holds on to fifth place.

The table uses available data to rank universities on nine areas - student satisfaction, research, entry standards, student to staff ratios, spending in academic services, spending facilities, the numbers of good honours degrees achieved, graduate prospects and completion rates.

The authors said that at many universities, student to staff ratios had improved this year due to institutions taking on more staff and falling student numbers, whilst more money is also being spent on student facilities and there has been a rise in entry standards.

David Jobbins, a spokesman for the Guide, said there had been a 6.4 per cent year-on-year fall in undergraduate numbers in 2012/13 according to their analysis.

'It is that fall in some institutions and programme areas, coupled with the opportunity taken by some institutions, of which the University for the Creative Arts and the Arts University Bournemouth are good examples, to reclassify technical staff as academic staff, thus improving the student: staff ratio,' he said.

Rounding out this year's top 10 were Imperial College London, Warwick, Bath, University College London and Exeter.

The biggest climbers in this year's table were the University for the Creative Arts which has moved up 24 places to 62nd, Abertay in Dundee which has risen 20 places to joint 91st, the Arts University, Bournemouth, up 18 to 57th, Derby, up 16 to joint 87th and Manchester Metropolitan, up 15 places to joint 73rd.

Ten universities fell at least 10 places. These were: Royal Agricultural University, down 32 places, Aberystwyth, down 17, Birmingham City, down 16, St George's, University of London, down 12, Hull, Northampton, Buckinghamshire New University and Anglia Ruskin, all down 11 places and Bedfordshire and Ulster, down 10.

In total, 123 universities were included in this year's guide, which is published online.

Principal author Dr Bernard Kingston said: 'Many of the changes this year are attributable to changes in definitions and weighting.

'There was an official and fundamental review of the staff record data between the two years, while the old distinction between graduate and non-graduate employment has been replaced by one between professional and non-professional employment.'

He added that the rankings give would-be students 'an accurate and independent guide to the UK university system'.


University often 'wasted on teenagers', says UCAS chief

University is often "wasted" on school leavers because they fail to select the correct degree course, according to Britain’s higher education admissions chief.

Too many teenagers – particularly those from middle-class backgrounds – "sleepwalk" into university under pressure from their parents and peers without giving it proper thought, said Mary Curnock Cook.

In a speech, she said the penalties for students who choose the wrong course can be severe because many have a miserable time or drop out altogether – saddling them with large debts.

The introduction of higher tuition fees of up to £9,000 for the first time in 2012 had a positive effect as it forced more 18 and 19-year-olds to "pause for thought" before making applications, she said.

Mrs Curnock Cook, chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), said more school leavers should consider deferring a degree until their 20s or 30s to ensure they make the right decision.

Addressing an audience of head teachers, she told how she did not go to university until her 40s, adding: "I do sometimes think that higher education is wasted on the young."

UCAS figures show most students applying to university are in their teens.

Just over half – 295,000 – of those lodging applications by the main January deadline last year were 18 or under while another 20 per cent – 115,000 – were aged 19.

It emerged that 120,000 applicants were in their 20s, some 20,000 were in their 30s and another 10,000 were aged 40 or over.

Mrs Curnock Cook said young people “don't always make the right choices”.

“It's about the privilege of spending three years exercising your brain in something you are really interested in,” she said. “If you've made the wrong decision it might not give you the best outcome."

The comments – to a meeting of the International Baccalaureate Schools and Colleges Association in London – follow the publication of figures showing that more than 26,000 students dropped out of university last year.

It emerged that around one-in-15 undergraduates – 6.7 per cent – failed to complete the first year of their degree, while many more were forced to transfer to another course or university.

Mrs Curnock Cook said the issue was particularly pressing among more affluent pupils from private or grammar schools who automatically take a degree at 18 because "their parents probably went to university and it's never been a real question for them about whether they should".

She added: "I kind of call these 'the sleepwalkers' – those who, just as A-levels and IB follow GCSE, so university follows your sixth-form studies."

Mrs Curnock Cook insisted university was a "big financial commitment".

There are significant "penalties for failure for young people who pick the wrong course, don't really enjoy it, don't get the most out of it or – worst of all – drop out because it's become three times more expensive”, she said.

Mrs Curnock Cook urged teenagers to carry out proper research on the UCAS website and understand that “lots and lots of people to go university in their 20s and 30s”.

"My message is that schools need to focus on helping students think about these decisions in a lot of detail and not to rush them based on what your parents think or what your mates are doing,” she said.

She said that the introduction of £9,000 fees had already convinced sixth-formers to think twice about a degree, added: “The positive of higher tuition fees is that people are not going to take this decision quite so lightly.

"If the higher fees actually cause some of these sleepwalkers pause for thought about this very important decision they are making then I think that's probably a good thing.”

*A fifth of students believe that teaching standards at their university are poor, according to research.

A survey of 3,400 undergraduates by the website Student Hut found that 19.6 per are unimpressed by lectures and seminars.

Some 20.8 per cent believe that levels of support available outside of timetables sessions was lacking, it emerged.

Dan Lever, founder of Student Hut, which is a Trip Advisor-style website enabling students to rate their degree, said many students “feel that their experiences are not living up to the expectations they were sold in brochures”.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014


'Discriminatory practice reflects a narrow-minded and statist view of education'

An Indiana-based company has decided not to hire any homeschool graduates, withdrawing a job offer from one candidate after discovering he was home educated, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association.

That’s despite the fact that assessments and evaluations for homeschool students routinely run higher than for public-school students.

HSLDA spokesman Michael Donnelly said NiSource, an energy-distribution company, informed HSLDA it would not hire homeschool graduates.

The decision was based on the company’s interpretation of state law.

Donnelly said he was told by NiSource legal counsel Adele O’Connor that the company “disagrees with the conclusions in your letter as to the legal requirements regarding a diploma,” established in Chapter 3313 of the Ohio Revised Code.

Donnelly, argued, however, that the section applies to public and chartered private schools, not homeschools.

“NiSource is wrongly using Ohio law as an excuse to defend its discriminatory hiring policy,” Donnelly said. “There is simply no legal impediment to NiSource hiring a homeschool graduate – especially the one in question here.”

He said Ohio law “clearly recognizes homeschooling as a legal and valid educational option.”

“To rescind an offer of employment to an otherwise qualified and experienced applicant who received a legally recognized education is unreasonable and discriminatory,” Donnelly said.

He explained that HSLDA got involved when the company, after having initially offered a job to the applicant, whose name was being withheld, withdrew the offer.

The organization wrote letters to the company explaining the benefits and validity of homeschooling, without results.

“In addition to graduating from homeschool in compliance with Ohio law, this applicant had years of relevant job experience and several key industry certifications. During his last two years of high school the applicant took seven courses at a recognized state college and made the dean’s list,” Donnelly said.

Donnelly said HSLDA has been working with homeschool advocates in Ohio to seek legislative action to “prevent this kind of discrimination.”

“The problem may indicate more than just discrimination against homeschoolers,” he said.

“This situation reflects the precise concern that motivates HSLDA’s opposition to the Common Core and its ‘college- and career-ready’ standards – that qualified homeschool graduates who don’t have a state-issued credential will be discriminated against in employment decisions.”

He said HSLDA opposes Common Core because it creates a system based on nationalized standards, assessment and data collection that could negatively affect homeschool graduates and job seekers.

“Research indicates that homeschooled students are well prepared academically and socially for careers and college,” Donnelly argued. “Hiring decisions should be made based on an individual’s qualifications, not a policy that discriminates against an entire class of people based on how they were educated.”

He added that HSLDA “affirms the right of private companies to create their own hiring policies, which may include evaluating the academic credentials of prospective applicants.”

“However, NiSource’s discriminatory practice reflects a narrow-minded and statist view of education that is inconsistent with the values of a free society.”

NiSource responded to a WND request for comment after the story was posted online, stating, “We support the pursuit of non-traditional education. Across NiSource, we’re pleased to hire homeschooled candidates with a GED or officially recognized diploma. Like other hiring requirements, we need a recognized, objective, across-the-board means to verify educational qualifications.” notes that in public schools, the average scores for reading, language and math is at 50 percent.

But homeschoolers score in the 89 percentile in reading, 84th in language, 84th in math and 86th in science.

As college freshman, they carry a grade point average of 3.41, compared to the 3.12 for other students. As seniors, they outscore others 3.46 to 3.16.

According to the National Home Education Research Institute, “Homeschool students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education,” and they also “typically score above average on the SAT and ACT tests.”

“The research based on adults who were home educate is growing; thus far it indicates that they: participate in local community service more frequently than does the general population, vote and attend public meetings more frequently than the general population, and go to and succeed at college at an equal or higher rate than the general population.”

HSLDA’s own pages of stats on home education reveal that in Pennsylvania, homeschooled students on the state standardized test scored in the 89th percentile for reading, 87th for science and 81st for social studies.

The report said: “Homeschooling works. Even many of the State Departments of Education, which are generally biased toward the public school system, cannot argue with these facts. Not only does homeschooling work, but it works without the myriad of state controls and accreditation standards imposed on the public schools.”


American Students Perform Worse As They Reach Higher Grades

High school test scores released by the federal government Wednesday provide fresh evidence of a troubling theme in American education: Students seem to perform worse on tests as they advance through the public school system to higher grades.

America's high school seniors have mostly stagnated on the National Assessment of Education Progress in reading and math at least since 2005, when a comparable version of the math exam was first given, according to the report. In 2013, the latest NAEP math test, seniors scored an average of 153 out of 500 -- three points higher than in 2005. In reading, students lost ground, dropping from 292 in 1992 to 288 in 2013. In both subjects, achievement gaps between ethnic groups didn't diminish.

“Despite the highest high school graduation rate in our history, and despite growth in student achievement over time in elementary school and middle school, student achievement at the high school level has been flat in recent years," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "Just as troubling, achievement gaps among ethnic groups have not narrowed."

As white students likely become a minority in the nation's public school population for the first time next school year, Duncan said schools "must do better for all students, especially for African-American and Latino students.”

On NAEP tests administered to fourth graders and eighth graders, students have shown incremental growth. In fourth-grade reading, scores increased from 215 in 1988 to 222 in 2013.

In fourth-grade math, scores increased from 213 in 1990 to 242 in 2013. In eighth-grade math, scores increased from 263 in 1990 to 285 in 2013. At both grades, higher percentages performed at advanced, the highest level, than in 2011 or in 1990.

But the high school results barely budged.

This trend is reflected on some international exams, and has led experts to wonder, despite the push for early education, whether America's biggest education problem spot is in the later grades.

"Our high schools take kids who have made incredible progress in fourth grade and eighth grade," said Mark Schneider, a vice president at the American Institutes of Research who previously led the government arm that administered NAEP. "Whatever good we did is gone."

Experts had several possible explanations. "Either our high schools are doing a terrible job, or 12th graders don't care about NAEP," Schneider said. When he oversaw NAEP, Schneider said he saw signs that 12th graders are less motivated than fourth graders or eighth graders to perform on a test that has no bearing on their lives. "They have so much on their plates," he said. "Motivation has always been a problem -- that's the optimistic assumption."

On the other hand, Schneider said, "states and schools have lied about the rigor of their courses. … Students aren't learning what they should be learning in high school."

Current test administrators say they have reason to believe motivation is less of a factor than before. On a Tuesday call with reporters, Cornelia Orr, executive director of the National Assessment Governing Board, said test-takers now see a motivational video before answering questions. "It's a little bit more of an urban myth about students just blowing off a test when they sit down to do it," she said.

Similarly, John Easton, who heads the Institute for Education Sciences, said "we are feeling confident in 12th graders' enthusiasm at this point."

Peggy Carr, who oversees NAEP administration, said in an interview that the Education Department will soon release a paper proving that the patterns of persistence and engagement are not all that different between fourth graders and 12 graders. "It's probably not explained by lack of engagement with the assessment," she said. "There's really no evidence to suggest that's what's going on."

So what explains the stagnation in 12th grade? Carr said it may have to do with sampling. NAEP has been described as the "gold standard" of standardized tests because, unlike many state and local exams, the stakes are low. NAEP results only provide a barometer on performance, unlike state tests, which are used to reward and punish schools and, more recently, to evaluate teachers. So schools have little incentive to cheat or teach to the NAEP test.

In 2013, 92,000 12th graders took the test, the exam's highest participation rate. The sample size included higher proportions of minority students, students with disabilities and English language learners than in previous years.

Over time, as the graduation rate has increased, NAEP has included more students who would have dropped out in previous years. These students are often the lowest performers, and this demographic change would not affect fourth grade or eighth grade scores. But it may cause 12th grade scores to lag.

"What's happening is that students who would normally drop out of school are staying in," Carr said. "Students who would normally not be taking our assessment, they're in there now at larger proportions."


Texas School Suspends Student for Declining to Worship the Flag—Because That's What America's All About

If you are a fan of the First Amendment, you probably have heard of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, the 1943 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court said public schools may not force students to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance. I am guessing that officials at Needville High School have not heard of Barnette, because if they had they probably would have thought twice about suspending 15-year-old Mason Michalec for refusing to stand during the pledge. KHOU, the CBS station in Houston (which is about 45 miles from Needville), reports that Michalec was given a two-day in-school suspension for remaining seated. Now the principal is threatening him with another suspension unless he gets with the program.

Michalec explained that he sat as an act of protest because he was "really tired of our government taking advantage of us." He added, "I basically said it from the time I was in kindergarten to earlier this year, and that's when I finally decided I was done saying it....I'm angry, frustrated and annoyed that they would try to write me up for something I have the right to do."

Barnette involved Jehovah's Witnesses, who object to flag worship because they (quite plausibly) view it as a form of idolatry. But the decision was based on freedom of speech, which includes the right to refrain from agreement, as well as freedom of religion. Justice Robert Jackson seemed to think the principles at stake were pretty important:

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.

We think the action of the local authorities in compelling the flag salute and pledge transcends constitutional limitations on their power and invades the sphere of intellect and spirit which it is the purpose of the First Amendment to our Constitution to reserve from all official control.

Maybe the teacher and principal who suspended Michalec thought making him stand for the Pledge of Allegiance was fundamentally different from making him recite it or making him salute the flag. (It's not.) More likely, they did not think at all.


Monday, May 12, 2014

'We need more tiger-parents to push pupils': Expert says British are falling behind East Asian children because parents think ability is inherited rather than result of hard work

Top IQ kids will do well in any system.  But effort can make a difference in the middle IQ range

British teenagers are falling behind those in high-performing East Asian countries because too many parents in the UK believe that ability is inherited rather than the result of hard work, an expert warned yesterday.

Sir Michael Barber, chief education adviser to publishing giant Pearson, suggested that higher expectations from ‘tiger parents’ in the UK could boost school performance.

‘In the Pacific Asian cultures, there is a strong belief that effort will be rewarded,’ said Sir Michael, who advised Tony Blair on education and policy delivery.

‘If you try harder, work harder, you’ll achieve higher standards, whereas in Britain and America, particularly, there is a perception that you are born either bright and the education system pulls that through, or doesn’t. That has a big impact on attitudes.’

His remarks raise the prospect of a rise in ‘tiger mothers’ such as Amy Chua, who described how she chivvied her two daughters to academic success Chinese-style in a best-selling book which provoked fierce debate in Britain.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, published in 2011, was described by the US law professor, whose  parents were ‘very strict, Chinese immigrant parents’ as ‘the story  of my family’s journey in  two cultures’.

Sir Michael made his remarks as the UK came sixth in an international league table of education systems, behind South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.

He said parental expectation in those Asian countries was ‘very high’, with mothers and fathers spending ‘long evenings’ helping their children with homework.

‘There is a contrast between those attitudes and here, where some parents don’t exert that kind of pressure for achievement, don’t expect effort to be rewarded and do think that either their child is really clever or isn’t – and sometimes reinforce that in a way that is unhelpful,’ he added.

‘Overall, there is a contrast that is deeply embedded in cultures.

‘The rise of Pacific Asian countries, which combine effective  education systems with a culture that prizes effort above inherited “smartness”, is a phenomenon  that other countries can no  longer ignore.’

Britain’s position in the latest Global Index of Cognitive Skills and Attainment, published by Pearson and compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, remains unchanged since the rankings were last produced, in 2012.

East Asian countries tightened their grip at the top of the table featuring 39 nations, while Finland slipped to fifth. A report accompanying the index found that ‘parental expectations have a measurable impact on student motivation’.

Sir Michael said the message needed to be ‘spelled out’ that there were risks associated with failing to gain a good education.

He added: ‘Changing culture is  an extremely difficult thing  to attempt.  ‘It is something that everybody involved in education needs to  contribute to – it’s not a job just  for government.

‘The way schools relate to  parents about their individual child is really important. That’s an area where you can significantly change culture.

‘But in the end, it is about  communicating with people about how different the 21st century  is going to be from when they went to school.’


Another Bite At The For-Profit Education Apple

President Obama is passionate about education, especially for underprivileged kids … or so he says. An ardent opponent of school choice, except when it comes to his own kids, one of his first acts was to try to kill the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship that provides poor kids in the nation’s capital the chance to escape failing schools. He’s repeatedly tried to ax the program, only to be blocked by Republicans. But the President’s assault on education doesn’t end with just young kids, it continues throughout the entire education system.

For the last few years, the Obama administration has waged a war against for-profit colleges, higher education institutions whose student body is made up of non-traditional students – older and poorer – seeking to obtain marketable skills in this weak economy. The Department of Education has been attempting to impose new regulations on these schools, restricting student loans for applicants, which would shut many of them down and limit higher education options for millions of students.

While every college-bound student would undoubtedly love to attend Columbia or Harvard, that’s simply not in the cards for most people. For the rest of us, it’s smaller schools, cheaper schools, state schools.

But a four-year college isn’t for everyone, especially right out of high school. Some people, myself included, aren't mentally ready for college right out of high school, and many more simply want to learn a trade. That’s who the Obama administration is targeting with their latest attempt to regulate for-profit schools out of existence.

While I, after couple of years off and working a long string of jobs I hated, got my act together and went to a four-year state school, many of my friends simply floundered. The options available today didn’t exist then, so they drifted. They weren’t "A" students, they weren’t academically minded, nor were they particularly driven. But they didn’t have to be in order to make a living.

In the late 1990s, the economy was in much better shape and good jobs existed. But the so-called Obama recovery has produced mainly part-time work and service jobs. Those who want sustained careers need additional education, and for-profit schools, in many cases, are the only ones offering it to them.

With all the whining liberals do about some people earning more than others, also known as “income inequality,” it’s odd they would move to cut off any avenue to higher potential earnings, especially for low-income and older Americans seeking to better themselves. But that’s exactly where we are today … again.

I first wrote about this in 2011, when cronyism and scandal enveloped Democrats’ attempt to kill for-profit schools. But failure and corruption has never deterred Democrats from pushing forward their agenda, so we’re dancing to the same song again.

It was, of all things, comedian Rob Schneider who put this issue back on my radar screen when he told Philadelphia radio host Chris Stigall, “There’s not one segment of business under the Obama administration that hasn’t been hurt…he attacks for-profit schools, which is totally an elitist thing from a guy that went to Harvard.” Deuce Bigalow is correct.

As the Washington Post put it, the Obama Administration is attempting to implement rules for student loans that “would cut off financial aid to career-oriented programs whose graduates have high student-loan debt relative to their incomes.” Sounds sensible, right? If, of course, you don’t mind the government deciding what is a worthy career pursuit for you.

But, as always, the devil is in the details.

The Post points out, “Administration officials deny they are singling out for-profit institutions, arguing that the measures tying student debt and loan default to financial aid would apply to all career-training programs. Blurred in that claim is that degree programs in the for-profit sector would have to meet the stringent new standards but degree programs offered by public and private nonprofit institutions would not.”

In other words, your unmarketable 1940s bisexual polar bear studies degree from Overpriced U will be unaffected, but your computer repair Associate’s Degree from a technical school that happens to be accredited but privately owned would be subject to the new rule.

But this isn’t a simple rule, it’s 845 pages of regulations. And it's not meant to stop students from making bad decisions. It is a series of flaming hoops for-profit colleges will need to jump through, meant to make it impossible for students to choose a school the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue deems unworthy. As is always the case with these massive regulations, they’re written without regard to the fact that these schools are the prefect fit for millions, and the only option for many.

Like Obamacare, this proposed set of regulations are a one-size-fits-all mess meant to protect people from themselves and punish those with whom the Obama administration has made a value judgment against. They don't believe profit should be anywhere in health care or education; those are “fundamental rights” to the left.

It’s the nanny state inserting itself into our lives even further. It’s yet another attempted denial of “choice” by those who wrap themselves in the moniker so completely you tend to forget they mean it in only one, very specific way. It is regulatory spandex. And as any weekend trip to a mall can tell you, one size definitely does not fit all, especially in a nation of 330 million people.

If the Obama administration finally gets its way, the government will say people can get an education anywhere they like, as long as the government approves of their choice. It’s the essence of progressivism, so, in a way, it’s an education for everyone, except this one is more expensive and leads to more unemployment than anything the government is seeking to limit.


Private British sixth form starts lessons at 1.30pm because headteacher thinks teenagers need to lie in bed and study better in the afternoon

A private sixth form is set to move lessons to start at 1.30pm every day because the school's teacher thinks his teenage pupils will study better after a morning lie in.

Instead of rising early for a 9am start, pupils at the £15,000-a-year Hampton Court House, in East Molesey, Surrey, will get to enjoy a lie in and work from 1.30pm until 7pm.

Head teacher Guy Holloway says the move for all sixth form pupils, set to kick in from September, has been made in light of research by neuroscientists.

He predicts that not only will his students aged 16 and upwards get a quality night's sleep, but their cognition and productivity will also be improved.

The co-educational school will have the latest start time in the UK, and will be the only one to begin lessons in the afternoon.

Experts say young people are biologically programmed to get up later, and that rather than this being down to laziness it is simply a shift in their body clocks.

In 2007 the Hugh Christie Technology College in Tonbridge, Kent, introduced an 11.30am start three days a week start for all students aged 14 and above.

And in 2010 Monkseaton High School, North Tyneside, moved its 9am start to 10am.. Both schools say the later start has boosted their student’s levels of concentration and exam performance.

However, Hampton Court House has gone further with its 'no mornings' regime.

'There are 168 hours in a week and how productive they are depends on how they choose to use those hours,' said Mr Holloway. 'At Hampton Court House we don’t think we have the answer for everybody, it’s about what works in our community.  'We want to get them into an environment where they can get quality sleep and their bodies are functioning well.'

He said pupils would also benefit from reduced journey times as they travel to and from school after rush hour.

Year 10 student Gabriel Purcell-Davis will be one of the first of 30 A-level students to start at the later time.  'I want to wake up in my bed, not in my maths lesson,' said the 15-year-old.

Lessons for all other pupils at the school will still begin at 9am as usual.

The move is based on research by Russell Foster, who said teenagers have a biological predisposition to go to bed later and get up later.

Neuroscientists have also linked better sleep in teenage years with improved mental health.

Research associate Paul Kelley, who is working with Dr Foster on his latest sleep research at Oxford University, said moving sleeping patterns later benefited health and that teenagers performed better after a good night’s rest.

'You can’t train your system to get up at a practical time,' he said.

'It’s biological, just as your heartbeat, your liver function and a bunch of other things that all sync to natural biological time and that is not in your control.

'Anything you do to change the rhythmic systems of your body means your organs become desynchronised with each other and this is where people get ill and there is no fixing it by giving someone an alarm clock. 'Your body is not watching your wristwatch.'

The move has been met with scepticism from other school heads in the area.

Lesley Kirby, head of nearby Richmond Park Academy, said they had considered a slightly later start, but it would inconvenience teaching staff too much.

She added: 'It is also important for the main school to see sixth formers as successful role models who are carrying on their education and that is not present if they see them for a very short period of the day.

'Then what are these students going to do when they have a 9am lecture at university, or start work? They won't be able to go in during the afternoon.

'School is about training people in living effective lives and I don't think this is effective as it would be quite difficult to make the change back. I would also wonder how robust the science is.'


Sunday, May 11, 2014

UCLA Professor Blows Whistle on Illegal Admissions Practices at University

In 1996 California voters passed Proposition 209, which prohibited discrimination or preferential treatment based on race, ethnicity or sex in admissions to public college and universities. But the moment 209 passed, UCLA, according to a new book, set about figuring ways around it.

"Cheating: An Insider's Report on the Use of Race in Admissions at UCLA," by Professor Tim Groseclose, describes what the author insists are illegal admissions practices that he witnessed at UCLA.

Groseclose's story begins in 2008 when, as a member of a faculty oversight committee for admissions, he asked for a random set of application files. He suspected that UCLA was using racial preferences in its admissions decisions -- in violation of Prop 209. When UCLA refused to give him the files, he grew even more suspicious. In response, he resigned from the committee and alerted the press.

To divert attention away from his resignation, he says, UCLA formed the equivalent of a blue-ribbon commission. Specifically, it commissioned one of its sociology professors, whom it called an "independent researcher," to study UCLA admissions and to examine Groseclose's allegations about racial preferences.

Although the study was supposed to be completed in a year, UCLA did not release it until four years later. The statistical tests that the researcher conducted showed significant evidence of racial preferences. However, says Groseclose, UCLA wrote a press release claiming the opposite.

In addition to summarizing that report, Groseclose analyzes a data set that he obtained from UCLA via California's Public Records Act. That data set, which he has posted online and is accessible to the public, contains evidence that is even more damning to UCLA.

But perhaps more interesting than the data and statistical analyses is Groseclose's documentation of the suspicious ways that UCLA faculty and senior officials reacted when he asked for the data. They seemed to know that UCLA was breaking the law, and they resorted to desperate measures to prevent Groseclose and others from seeing the proof. Once Groseclose began to press them, he says, their responses became more and more fanciful. For instance, they claimed that "privacy" was the reason they couldn't give him the data. But then Groseclose suggested that they redact all names and personal identifiers from the applications. They still refused. Further, if they were so concerned with privacy, why did they give the data to the "independent researcher"?

They never gave Groseclose a plausible answer.

While Groseclose's disturbing revelations about UCLA admissions are interesting, the main contribution of his book, I believe, is his insight into the minds of the professors and university administrators. As Groseclose discusses, they have an extremely intense desire for racial diversity. How intense? Groseclose says some even lie and break the law to achieve it. The lies, in their eyes, are "noble lies." The law-breaking becomes, to them, an act of "civil disobedience." But as Groseclose discusses, sometimes -- in order to cover up the original noble lie -- the professors and administrators have to tell more noble lies. When the lies become a habit, the result is a culture of corruption and dishonesty.

Groseclose's book, I suggest, is one of the world's best case studies of that culture.

My favorite parts of the book are the conversations that Groseclose reports from faculty meetings. He discusses one meeting in which the UCLA chancellor pressured Groseclose's committee into adopting a "holistic" admissions system. The reason, the chancellor admitted, was because "several constituencies of UCLA are distressed and upset about the very low numbers of African-American freshmen." At another meeting, two leftwing professors insisted that the university's "independent study" should not examine data from a particular year. Why? They admitted that in that specific year, UCLA was probably the most guilty of violating the law.

Henry Kissinger is often credited with saying, "Academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so low." Indeed, if you'd told me before I read the book that it contained transcripts of faculty meetings, I would have replied, "I think I'd rather watch paint dry." The conversations are, however, both fascinating and troubling. They give special insight about how leftwing professors and university administrators think. If those conversations are representative -- and I believe they are -- then they reveal some major problems that our country faces.

I was honored to write the opening foreword for his book, and to have his first official interview upon its release.

Martin Luther King yearned for a color-blind society. Many of the left, however, want a color-coordinated one -- provided they are in charge of the coordinating. When asked whether he supported race-based preferential treatment for blacks, John F. Kennedy said: "I do think that we ought to make an effort to give a fair chance to everyone who is qualified. ... We are too mixed, this society of ours, to begin to divide ourselves on the basis of race or color."

"Cheating," Groseclose's new book written from his perspective as a UCLA insider, is an important voice in this debate on race-based preferences.


British govt. tells teachers to identify pupils at risk of Muslim radicalisation

Teachers have been told to vet pupils for signs of radicalisation following concerns that extremists may be attempting to infiltrate schools in the wake of the Trojan Horse plot to introduce Islamic practices into state schools.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has written to every school in England issuing fresh guidance and warning staff to look out for signs of children being exploited.

In the guidelines, teachers are told to maintain an attitude of "it could happen here" at all times.

The document covers all forms of safeguarding, including physical abuse, female genital mutilation, child sexual exploitation and cyberbullying.

It urges heads to pay regard to separate extremism guidance designed to protect "vulnerable people from being drawn into terrorism" – particularly linked to Islamist and far right groups.

Signs of possible radicalisation can include people suddenly changing their style of dress or personal appearance to fit in with a particular cause and losing interest with other friends, it says.

The document also suggests looking out for individuals using derogatory terms for rival groups and even showing "technical expertise" in areas such as survival skills and chemicals.

The disclosure comes amid a series of ongoing investigations into allegations of an Trojan Horse Islamist plot to take over schools in Birmingham.

Speaking earlier this week, David Cameron said he was "hugely concerned" about the allegations, adding: "Will not have extremism, entryism, Islamism in our schools."

Mr Gove's letter tells staff working in schools to look out for "signs that a child may be being abused", directing them to detailed information on "specific safeguarding matters including female genital mutilation, child sexual exploitation, cyberbullying, mental health, and radicalisation".

The Department for Education guidance says "knowing what to look for is vital to the early identification of abuse and neglect".

It provides links to separate Home Office guidelines that says the "most significant threat to this country is from Al Qa'ida affiliated, influenced and associated groups and many referrals will therefore relate to this threat".

The DfE document also tells teachers to look out for signs of physical abuse in light of a series of child neglect scandals, including the killing of four-year-old Daniel Pelka in Coventry, who was beaten and starved to death.

It also covers sexual exploitation following the grooming of girls by gangs of men in a series of towns and cities such as Rochdale and Oxford.

The document says: "Sexual exploitation can take many forms ranging from the seemingly 'consensual' relationship where sex is exchanged for affection or gifts, to serious organised crime by gangs and groups.

"What marks out exploitation is an imbalance of power in the relationship.

"The perpetrator always holds some kind of power over the victim which increases as the exploitative relationship develops."


House Passes Bipartisan Charter School Bill

With strong bipartisan support, the House on Friday passed a bill, 360-45, to expand access to charter school funding. Introduced by the chairman of the House Education Committee, Rep. John Kline (R-MN), the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act “supports state efforts to start, expand, and replicate high-performing charter schools,” according to the Education and the Workforce Committee.

 The bipartisan measure would provide $300 million annually to expand charter schools and consolidate two programs. It would provide state grants to expand and replicate high-quality charter schools and help fund the acquisition of buildings for the schools.

“The Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act is a bipartisan initiative that will encourage the growth of charter schools and provide a new avenue of hope for children and their families,” Kline said in a statement, but cautioned that their work to provide more education options for students isn’t done.

“By harnessing the innovations coming out of public charter schools, replicating their successes, and sharing those lessons with non-charter schools, we can help make the promise of a quality public school for every child a reality,” George Miller (D-CA) said. “In particular, this legislation supports students who are traditionally underserved by charter schools, including those with disabilities and English-language learners, so that they can enjoy the same opportunities to succeed.”