Monthly Archives: January 2016

‘Culture, not just curriculum’, determines east Asian school success

Pupils-study-inside-a-cla-014The study found that children of immigrants from high-achieving East Asian countries are still two-and-a-half years ahead of their western peers by the time they are 15. Photograph: Alamy

A new study has cast doubt on the current enthusiasm in the west for copying teaching methods in China and South Korea, where children score highly in international tests, suggesting that cultural factors beyond school also play a part in their success.

Politicians and policymakers from the west, where children gain lower marks, are avidly studying the education systems of those countries that regularly top the Pisa international league tables in the hope of emulating their achievement.

But a new study from the Institute of Education (IoE) at the University of Londonconcludes that the children of immigrants from these countries when educated elsewhere continue to score just as highly within no-better-than-average school systems.

The study, by Dr John Jerrim, reader in education and social statistics at the IoE, found that children of immigrants from high-achieving east Asian countries are still two-and-a-half years ahead of their western peers by the time they are 15, even when they are educated alongside them in western-style schools.

Jerrim studied the performance of more than 14,000 Australian schoolchildren who took the 2012 Pisa maths test, set by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and found that second-generation immigrants from east Asia, who were mostly of Chinese origin, scored on average 605 points – 102 points more than Australian-born citizens.

Their results were only beaten by the Shanghai region of China, which came out top in the Pisa rankings. By contrast, second-generation immigrants in Australia from the UK scored 512 in the Pisa maths test. In England, children of Chinese origin have the highest GCSE scores of any ethnic group – last year, 78% gained at least five A*-C GCSEs, compared with a national average of 60%.

The UK, in common with other countries, has been keen to learn from the success of Asian education systems. In July, the Department for Education (DfE) announced an £11m initiative to bring 50 Shanghai maths teachers to Englandthis year to help raise standards. The Chinese teachers will provide masterclasses in 32 “maths hubs”, which will form a network of centres of excellence across England.

Yet Jerrim warns policymakers not to be guided by Pisa scores alone. “High-ranking Pisa countries may well provide western policymakers with valuable insights into how their own education systems might be improved. But any subsequent policy action must be supported by a wider evidence base – policymakers should not rely upon Pisa alone.

“For instance, one does not want to erroneously conclude that rote learning helps to improve children’s maths skills, simply because this technique is often practised within east Asian schools. Indeed, the fact that children of east Asian heritage perform just as highly in the Australian education system (whose schools and teachers do not routinely use such techniques) would actually seem to contradict such views.”

Jerrim continued: “The attitudes and beliefs east Asian parents instil in their children make an important contribution to their high levels of academic achievement. Yet as such factors are heavily influenced by culture and home environment, they are likely to be beyond the control of schools. Greater recognition needs to be given to this point in public discourse. Indeed, policymakers should make it clear that there are many influences upon a country’s Pisa performance, and that climbing significantly up these rankings is unlikely to be achieved by the efforts of schools alone.”

Children taking the Pisa test completed a background questionnaire asking about their parents’ country of birth, attitudes to education, their own aspirations and out-of-school activities, which Jerrim used to explore other factors that may play a part in the immigrant children’s school success. His study then used advanced statistical analysis to gauge their relative importance.

Jerrim concludes that family background factors such as parental education accounted for almost 20% of the 102-point achievement gap between East Asians and native Australians – half of the 276 second-generation east Asian children had graduate fathers, compared with only a quarter of the 6,837 Australian-born children. A further 40% of the gap between east Asian and native Australian children (the equivalent of a year’s school progress) was accounted for by a range of school factors.

“I found that, on average, east Asian families send their children to ‘better’ schools than native Australians do,” Jerrim says. “We can’t be sure why this occurs. Their school selection may, of course, reflect the high value east Asian parents place on education. What is clear, however, is that a range of school effects (including the positive influence of fellow pupils as well as the quality of the school) form a key part of the reason that east Asian children in Australia are doing so well.”

A combination of out-of-school factors and personal characteristics accounted for another 25% of the Pisa score gap. East Asian children spent substantially more time studying after school (15 hours a week) than native Australian teenagers (nine hours). They had a very strong work ethic and were more likely to believe that they could succeed if they tried hard enough – although there was no evidence that they had put more effort into the Pisa maths test. They also had higher aspirations; 94% of them expected to go on to university, compared with 58% of the native Australians.

via theguardian

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

contour-world-map***

Tests show high radon levels at PGCPS schools

carmody hills

WASHINGTON  — Six weeks after ABC7 revealed that several Montgomery County schools had radon levels above the EPA recommended limits, we’re getting similar test results from Prince George’s County public schools.

Kevin Lewis has the story. ~~>(ABC7)

pgcps_logo

pg_map_medium

***

Supreme Court majority is critical of compelled public employee union fees

111004_scotusjustices_ap_328United States Supreme Court justices.

By Robert Barnes

A majority of the Supreme Court on Monday seemed prepared to hand a significant defeat to organized labor and side with a group of California teachers who claim their free speech rights are violated when they are forced to pay dues to the state’s teachers union.

By their questioning at oral argument, the court’s conservatives appeared ready to junk a decades-old precedent that allows unions to collect an “agency fee” from nonmembers to support collective-bargaining activities for members and nonmembers alike.

It is the most important Supreme Court case of the year for unions and one of a clutch of politically charged cases that puts the justices in the spotlight as the nation turns its attention to the elections of 2016.

The case involves only public-employee unions — not private workers — but those unions are the strongest segment of an organized labor movement that is increasingly tied to the Democratic Party. At the same time, Republican governors across the nation have become embroiled in high-profile battles with the public-employee unions in their states.

Conservative groups have directly asked the court to overturn a 1977 decision, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, that favored the unions. That ruling said that states could allow public-employee unions to collect fees from nonmembers to cover the costs of workplace negotiations but not to cover the union’s political activities.

The unions say losing those fees would be a heavy blow because there is no incentive for workers to pay for collective-bargaining representation they could receive for free. About 20 states, including California, allow what the unions like to call “fair-share” fees.

But conservative justices sharply questioned whether it was possible to separate public-employee negotiations from the kind of public policy questions — teacher salaries and classroom sizes, for instance, and the tax dollars that must be raised to pay for them — that are raised.

“When you are dealing with a governmental agency, many critical points are matters of public concern,” said Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who traditionally is the most likely of the court’s conservatives to join with liberals to form a majority.

Some teachers disagree with their unions on issues such as merit pay, promotion and the importance of seniority, Kennedy said.

The fees “require that employees and teachers who disagree with those positions must nevertheless subsidize the union on those very points,” he said.

It is not enough to argue that the teachers can speak out on their own as citizens, he said.

In the current case, union leaders were not counting on Kennedy but on another conservative, Justice Antonin Scalia.

Scalia in the past has expressed sympathy for the view that the unions needed to collect the fees to prevent “free riders” — those who benefit from the agreements that unions reach with government employers but who do not pay for the union’s costs. But he did not pose any questions Monday that favored the union’s view and said he shared Kennedy’s concerns.

“The problem is that everything that is collectively bargained with the government is within the political sphere, almost by definition,” he said.

He also questioned the contention that the unions would not survive without collecting the fees. Already, there are 25 states that do not require their collection, and Scalia said the unions should do a better job of persuading those eligible to join.

California Solicitor General Edward C. DuMont, who was aligned in the case with the teachers union, said the California unions already had extraordinary participation but prohibiting agency fees fights human nature.

“Many people can want something in the sense they view it as very advantageous to themselves, but if they are given a choice, they would prefer to have it for free, rather than to pay for it,” he said. “This is a classic collective-action problem.”

Oral arguments are not always predictive, but it seemed clear that DuMont, California Teachers Association attorney David C. Frederick and Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., representing the Obama administration, were treading against the tide.

The court’s five conservatives in 2012 and 2014 had expressed grave doubts about whether the Abood decision had properly taken into account the First Amendment rights of the union objectors.

It has been the pattern of the court headed by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to take incremental steps toward undermining a precedent with which it disagrees before delivering a final blow.

The court’s liberals said the challengers had not made the case for why the court should abandon a precedent rather than take the normal path of upholding it.

[Two teachers explain why they want to take down their union]

Justice Stephen G. Breyer said the Abood “compromise” had worked pretty well over the last 40 years. When the court starts overruling precedents, he said, “What happens to the country thinking of us as a kind of stability in ­­a world that is tough because it changes a lot?” Breyer asked.

Justice Elena Kagan also pushed that theme, telling Washington attorney Michael A. Carvin, who represented the objecting teachers, that he had a “heavy burden.”

“That’s always true in cases where somebody asks us to overrule a decision. It seems to be particularly true here,” Kagan said. “This is a case in which there are tens of thousands of contracts with these provisions. Those contracts affect millions of employees, maybe as high as 10 million employees. So what special justification are you offering here?”

Carvin replied that the strongest reason for overturning a precedent is when it “erroneously denies a fundamental right’’ — in this case, freedom of speech and association.

Kagan and other justices said the court’s precedents were clear that when government is acting as an employer, it can act as any employer in restricting employee rights.

Frederick argued for leaving the decision about requiring fees to the individual states, rather than forbidding the process. “Different states have different experiences, and this is an opportunity for the states to draw upon those distinctive experiences in coming up with a system that’s fair for everyone,” he argued.

There seemed to be two options if a majority disagreed with Abood but was reluctant to overturn the precedent.

The justices could remand the case to the lower courts. Carvin and his clients had raced through the lower courts in hopes of getting the case to the Supreme Court faster.

The justices could also change how the agency fees are collected. Currently, the fees must be paid, and then employees “opt out” of funding the union’s political activities and receive money back. Objecting employees say that minimizes the burden on them.

But there was limited questioning from the justices about whether such a change might be an alternative to overturning the system.

The case is Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.

usa-flag-wallpaper-01***

Unbeliavable! 2 PGCPS girls can still ride school bus after beating up 11-year-old boy!

Still1217_00009_1450399044283_643146_ver1.0_640_360ACCOKEEK, Md. (ABC7) — A sixth grade student was brutally beaten by two girls on a school bus December 16, 2015, as the bus pulled out of Accokeek Academy. The entire incident was caught on camera.

At the time, the young boy’s parents wanted to know why the school that bills itself as a “bully free zone” did nothing to stop the attack.

The parents say that when their son sat down next to an older girl on Wednesday, Dec. 16, she told him he could not sit there. When their son refused to get up, that’s when his parents say the girl punched him in the face, and her sister joined in.

“They just maliciously and viciously beat my son,” Myles’ parents said.

Now a few weeks after the incident, Myles’ parents are upset again after they found out the two girls can still ride the bus with their son, says a representative from Prince George’s County Public Schools.

Accokeek Academy said it suspended the two girls for the attack, and initially told the Slade’s that the girls would be transferred to another school in the same county.

“The two young girls will be transferred to another school in the same school district,” Shawn Slade told us about what they were told from the school.

But now Shawn and Lesley Slade say they received word yesterday that the girls – seen beating up their son in the video – will remain at Accokeek Academy, and even be allowed to ride the bus.

“They will be allowed to ride the school bus,” Shawn Slade told us. “I was appalled. I mean, he’s the victim and this is how you treat him?”

The rep says that the school system is following its practices and procedures, and that nothing requires them to transfer these girls to another school.

Unhappy with that, the Slade’s say they are going to court on Monday to obtain a restraining order to keep these girls away from their son.

Read more>>>

pgcps_logo

councmap

***

Mr. Bodyguard Hyena and why his escort is unfair through a jungle.

image

The Hyena is the most hated and feared animal in the Animal Kingdom, and so are the Sychophants in the human kingdom. The hyena can escort you at night through a jungle and even the lions will not dare touch you if they sense Hyena is your escorting Bodyguard of the day.

But the most interesting part is why is Hyena body-guarding you or escorting you? Its not because, hyena is loyal to you or gives a damn about your well being or safety. NO! Mr. Bodyguard Hyena is behind you praying ceaselessly that your swinging hand falls off or your leg gets plucked off by earth as you take your steps for him to savour. And the reason Mr. Hyena is jealously guarding you against the Lions, Tigers, Wolves, crocodiles and any other predator is because he hopes against hope once your hand drops or you leg gets stuck on earth and plucked off, he will not have competition, because he is greedy.

He is so overwhelmed by greedy he does not realize your hands cannot fall off nor your leg cannot self-pluck off and get stuck on earth. That is what SYCOPHANTS are! So any county leader involved in corruption, and the rest of you who get their egos massaged by sycophants, it will do you good to understand why they are acting so..Remember #Attorneys involved in corruption and misconduct in Prince George’s County? and even the #RogerThomas nuisance and the rest including any attorney who gets compromised to the detriment of their clients. Their support is based on this premises!

In the next few weeks, we plan to launch an expose concerning these issues and suggestions on how to take the county and the world forward into the future. Stay tuned!

image

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

contour-world-map***

The Cruel Charter School Addiction in Philadelphia

hite0Dr. William Hite Jr is involved in charter schools fiasco in Philly. The lure and promise of magic with millions of dollars squandered on charter schools that are no better–and often worse–than the public schools is an endless blame game which appears to have no end in sight.

Eileen DiFranco, a retired school nurse in Philadelphia, describes an episode from “The Twilight Zone” in which a sober family man encounters slot machines in Las Vegas and becomes an addict. He can’t help himself. He gambles everything and can’t stop.

She compares this gambling fever to the charter school addiction of districts like Philadelphia. No matter how many charter schools fail, the district leaders led by Dr. William Hite Jr want more of them. They are in love with the lure and promise of magic and they can’t stop. Meanwhile, the public schools suffer as do the children who attend public schools, while millions are squandered on charter schools that are no better–and often worse–than the public schools.

She writes:

With their “no excuses” mantra, highly paid charter school CEOs promise school administrators that they will bring students up to grade level in no time at all. It all sounds so attractive. And believable. School districts all over the country have been sucked in by this big, brash idea that sounds wonderful on paper, but has largely failed to deliver on its promises. This has not stopped the charter school operators from repeating their claim of educational superiority over and over again until it takes on the ring of truth.

But the reality is that the charter schools’ claims contain more “truthiness” than actual truth. According to Kevin Welner, director of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a national study by CREDO that many cited to tout the superior performance of charters actually found that “less than one hundredth of one percent (<0.01 percent) of the variation in test performance in reading is explainable by charter school enrollment.”

Let’s put that alleged 0.01 percent success rate into a Philadelphia perspective. The SRC has approved charter school establishment and expansion even while the traditional public schools languish. As children are injured, or even die, as did Laporshia Massey at Bryant Elementary, or as violence occurs, as it did at George Washington High School, the fault somehow lies with the resource-starved schools and not the SRC’s addiction to the lure of charter schools.

The underwhelming performance of charter schools for an overwhelming amount of money should set off alarms. Their quick solutions to educational woes follow the logic of past failures: Just hand over the money and we’ll do it all for you. In the end, however, there is only one certainty: If something is too good to be true, it is not the truth.

Several questions need to be asked about this scenario. The first is, why would the SRC allow the majority of Philadelphia’s children to attend dirty, unsafe schools without counselors, nurses, and assistant principals while other children clearly do not? Why is there hardly any discussion about this glaring disparity?

I have a couple of answers. The first is that there is a plan afoot to break public schools deliberately so that they can be handed over to charters. Thus, the SRC and Hite are wreaking havoc by deliberately deferring maintenance and cutting staff to dangerous levels in traditional schools. This practice effectively insures the failure that is necessary to hand over the now low-performing, intentionally broken “seats” over to more “successful” charter operators who feel justified in cutting into the resources available to District schools. This is being done in a calculated way in order to break the teachers’ union, the whipping boy of modern school reform.

The second is that District leaders and politicians are trying to appease elected officials in rural areas who perceive city schools and urban children as great leeches feeding off public dollars who divert resources away from more deserving populations. For them, giving more money to ”those” children in urban areas is like throwing money into a pit. The idea in the Pennsylvania House and Senate is that throwing money at schools doesn’t fix them, although they believe that having enough money fixes just about everything else.

The third is that the SRC has become the ball carrier for hedge fund managers for whom education is a place where they can make money. The fact that school reform is being led by MBAs rather than by educators is telling.

Philadelphia public schools are dying. Who will be held accountable? The legislature? Former Governor Tom Corbett? Superintendent William Hite?

The leaders are chasing a rainbow, bright promises that have never come through for the children. They are killing a democratic institution that society depends on and needs. Can they sleep at night?

School_District_of_Philadelphia_logo

***

PGCPS Parkdale High evacuated due to bomb threat.

635876740092136846-Parkdale-High

(Photo: WUSA9)

Parkdale high school in Prince George’s County, Md. was evacuated due to a bomb threat Wednesday morning, and police issued an all-clear shortly before 11 a.m. after searching the High School.

Students at Parkdale, northeast of Washington, D.C. near the Beltway, were moved out of the school and were keeping warm on heated buses, according to Prince George’s County police. They were evacuated for about two hours.

“We have not found anything to indicate there was a bomb at school,” said police Cpl. Maria McKinney.

>>>Read more

***