Monday, 24 April 2017

ANZAC Day in Ballarat

   

   
 
  

Hang on a minute....

The Germans, always, have a word for it, but the Japanese have an entire philosophy complete with an info-graphic. Where are you at in life? This is doing my head in!
 

Oh....and this is called The Teachers Fountain....somewhere in America. 
I don't know what to say....
 

Trump's education lies....and he's only 100 days into 4 years!

From the 'gadfly on the wall' blog.

Donald Trump lies.

If you haven’t learned that yet, America, you’ve got four more cringe-inducing years to do so.

Even in his inaugural address, he couldn’t help but let loose a whooper about US public schools.

“Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families and good jobs for themselves,” he said. “But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists. … An education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge.”

To which nearly every poor, nonwhite public school parent, student and teacher in the country replied, “What’s that heck did he just say now!?”

Los Angeles Unified School district routinely has broken desks and chairs, missing ceiling tiles, damaged flooring, broken sprinklers, damaged lunch tables and broken toilet paper dispensers.

They’re flush with cash!?

New York City public schools removed more than 160 toxic light fixtures containing polychlorinated biphenyls, a cancer causing agent that also hinders cognitive and neurological development. Yet many schools are still waiting on a fix, especially those serving minority students.

They’re flush with cash!?

At Charles L. Spain school in Detroit, the air vents are so warped and moldy, turning on the heat brings a rancid stench. Water drips from a leaky roof into the gym, warping the floor tiles. Cockroaches literally scurry around some children’s classrooms until they are squashed by student volunteers.

They’re flush with freakin cash!?

Are you serious, Donald Trump!?

And this same picture is repeated at thousands of public schools across the nation especially in impoverished neighborhoods. Especially in communities serving a disproportionate number of black, Latino or other minority students.

In predominantly white, upper class neighborhoods, the schools often ARE“flush with cash.” Olympic size swimming pools, pristine bathrooms – heck – air conditioning! But in another America across the tracks, schools are defunded, ignored and left to rot.

A full 35 states provide less overall state funding for education today than they did in 2008, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which focuses on reducing poverty and inequality. Most states still haven’t recovered from George W. Bush’s Great Recession and the subsequent state and local budget cuts it caused. In fact, over the same period, per pupil funding fell in 27 states and still hasn’t recovered.

And the federal government has done little to help alleviate the situation. Since 2011, spending on major K-12 programs – including Title I grants for underprivileged students and special education – has been basically flat.

The problem is further exacerbated by the incredibly backward way we allocate funding at the local level which bears the majority of the cost of education.

While most advanced countries divide their school dollars evenly between students, the United States does not. Some students get more, some get less. It all depends on local wealth.

The average per pupil expenditure for U.S. secondary students is $12,731. But that figure is deceiving. It is an average. Some kids get much more. Many get much less. It all depends on where you live. If your home is in a rich neighborhood, more money is spent on your education than if you live in a poor neighborhood.

The U.S. is one of the only countries in the world – if not probably the ONLYcountry – that funds schools based largely on local taxes. Other developed nations either equalize funding or provide extra money for kids in need. In the Netherlands, for example, national funding is provided to all schools based on the number of pupils enrolled. But for every guilder allocated to a middle-class Dutch child, 1.25 guilders are allocated for a lower-class child and 1.9 guilders for a minority child – exactly the opposite of the situation in the U.S.

So, no. Our schools are not “flush with cash.” Just the opposite in many cases.
But what about Trump’s other claim – the much touted narrative of failing schools?

Trump says our schools “leave… our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge.”

Not true.

Graduation rates are at an all-time high of 83.2 percent. Moreover, for the first time minority students are catching up with their white counterparts.

It’s only international comparisons of standardized test scores that support this popular myth of academic failure. And, frankly, even that is based on a warped and unfair reading of those results.

It depends on how you interpret the data.

Raw data shows US children far from the top of the scale. It puts us somewhere in the middle – where we’ve always been for all the decades since they’ve been making these comparisons. Our schools have not gotten worse. They have stayed the same.

However, this ignores a critical factor – poverty. We’ve known for decades that standardized tests are poor measures of academic success. Bubble tests can assess simple things but nothing complex. After all, they’re scored based on answers to multiple choice questions. In fact, the only thing they seem to measure with any degree of accuracy is the parental income of the test-taker. Kids from rich families score well, and poor kids score badly.

Virtually all of the top scoring countries taking these exams have much less child poverty than the U.S. If they had the same percentage of poor students that we do, their scores would be lower than ours. Likewise, if we had the same percentage of poor students that they do, our scores would go through the roof! We would have the best scores in the world!

Moreover, the U.S. education system does something that many international systems do not. We educate everyone! Foreign systems often weed children out by high school. They don’t let every child get 13 years of grade school (counting kindergarten). They only school their highest achievers.

So when we compare ourselves to these countries, we’re comparing ALL of our students to only SOME of theirs – their best academic pupils, to be exact. Yet we still hold our own given these handicaps!

This suggests that the majority of problems with our public schools aren’t bad teachers, or a lack of charter schools and school choice. It’s money, pure and simple.

We invest the majority of our education funding in rich white kids. The poor and minorities are left to fend for themselves.

This won’t be solved by Trump’s pick for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos and her school choice schemes. In fact, that’s exactly what’s weakened public schools across the country by leaching away what meager funding these districts have left. Nor will it be solved by a demagogue telling fairy tales to Washington’s credulous and ignorant.

We need to make a real investment in our public schools. We need to make a commitment to funding poor black kids as fairly as we do rich white kids.

Otherwise, the only thing flushed will be children’s future.

ANZAC Day

Today I brought in my father' s World War Two medals got the kids to look at. He was in the RAN during the war and served in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Pacific. We checked out his medals and ribbons. We completed work on ANZAC Day from my TPT ANZAC Day unit but will have a bit to finish off this week. Today we also made replica medals. My sample is below.
 
  
Medal
Replica 
  
 

  

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Top 10 Things Kids Deserve

 

Hooray for science!
 

Interesting story from a year 11 student

From the Crinkling News
https://www.crinklingnews.com.au/

The Australian War Memorial claims it helps Australians “understand the Australian experience of war”.But does it?

The memorial does not commemorate the conflicts between Indigenous Australians and the British from 1788, known as the “Frontier Wars”.

I and some fellow students travelled to Canberra last year to talk to the war memorial’s director, Brendan Nelson.

Dr Nelson told us the memorial was not the “appropriate” place to commemorate the Frontier Wars. However, this position is becoming increasingly isolated from the views of historians and many others.

Was it war?

In December 2013, the memorial said there was not “substantial evidence” that state colonial forces or military units ever fought against the Indigenous population of this country.

However, there is much that contradicts this. Over the decades, military historians have described the conflict that took place from 1788 as warfare.

And it has been reported that an estimated 22,000 first Australians and new Australians died.

Then there is primary evidence from Governor Lachlan Macquarie’s 1816 diary entry: “I have this day ordered three separate military detachments to march …”

There are also hand-written diaries, newspaper articles and personal accounts by the English. And, most importantly, there are the oral traditions of Aboriginal people with recurrent narratives relating to massacres and conflict.

‘Violent and tragic outcomes’

Larissa Behrendt, a Eualeyai/Kamillaroi woman, is a professor of law and director of research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at the University of Technology Sydney.

“Although the colonists eventually prevailed, Aboriginal people around Australia resisted incursions on to the land, often tenaciously, with violent and tragic outcomes,” says Professor Behrendt in her 2012 book Indigenous Australia for Dummies.

If these sources and voices are not enough, the Oxford Companion to Australia’s Military History declares: “Frontier wars were fought in Australia from the late 18th century to the early 20th century as Australian Aborigines battled British soldiers … for control of the continent.”

Australian-raised?

Dr Nelson asserts in a letter to us that “Australian-raised or home-grown military units … were not involved in … conflicts” between Indigenous Australians and British soldiers, colonial police and British- and Australian-born settlers.

Aboriginal people were killed, he says, by British soldiers or settlers or police, but not by the Australian military.

Is this correct? Perhaps, technically. But what if we think differently?

We openly regard our Indigenous peoples as first Australians, so perhaps it is time to reimagine the Aboriginal warriors as the first Australian warriors.

These Aboriginal people were born and raised within the customary laws of their nations. If the memorial does not recognise the new Australians – those British soldiers – as Australian military, the definition of Australian warfare should be reconceptualised to recognise that the first Australians could be considered an army defending their country.

Where should we remember?

There seems to be agreement that the Frontier Wars should be commemorated, but the memorial argues it is not the place to do so. Why not?

It is an almost sacred Australian institution and is visited by millions each year.

We gather there to remember the fallen. If Indigenous people from the Frontier Wars are withheld from this shrine, they will never be recognised and commemorated as equal Australians, the fallen warriors of this country.

Fear of remembering

Perhaps the memorial’s reluctance stems from fear, fear that acknowledgment of the truth about the birth of our nation will somehow bring us into disrepute.

Perhaps that fear extends to concerns about diminishing the Anzac legacy. Coming to terms with our nation’s history means understanding the truth of Australia’s foundation, which includes wars, discrimination and prejudice.

Perhaps this is a foundation our nation is not ready to face. The service of our Anzac troops and the battles fought in the frontier wars are separate, but connected.

“We will remember them,” so the poem goes, but we cannot remember without first acknowledging and accepting our past.

So every year, when Australia as a nation celebrates April 25 as Anzac Day, do we solemnly promise “Lest we forget”, or do we silently swear never to remember?

Nadine Walker is in Year 11 at Killara High School in Sydney. One of her subjects at school is Aboriginal Studies.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Gonski uncertainty

From the Sunday Age 
( Peter is an old pal)

Magpie Primary School, a small rural school on the outskirts of Ballarat, is preparing to lose two teachers next year due to the funding uncertainty.

Principal Peter Clifton said these teachers ran a successful literacy and numeracy program, which had been funded through the Gonski agreement but was now at risk.

"The program has had an enormous impact," he said. "Every prep and grade one student now sits above the national benchmark in literacy and numeracy. We are above average and we want to stay that way."

The anxiety has also spread to the Catholic and independent school sectors, which are warning of fee hikes and program cuts if any future arrangement resulted in some private schools having their funding growth curtailed.

Such concerns intensified earlier this year, when it emerged that the Commonwealth was examining how to pull back the generous annual funding increases locked into legislation by the Gillard government.

While federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham insists funding won't be cut in real terms, Independent Schools Victoria chief executive Michelle Green said some principals had put their planning on hold as they waited for Canberra to provide some clarity about how it would resource them over the next few years.

"Any sudden funding changes could result in unanticipated fee increases that many families and school communities will not be able to manage," she said.

Catholic Education Melbourne executive director Stephen Elder also warned that Catholic schools would consider cutting programs or increasing fees if the federal government abandoned its promise of annual school funding increases of 3.56 per cent.

"This could have a significant impact on families and on some programs, including fee relief subsidies for disadvantaged families or our initial teacher training programs," he said.

Canberra has long made it clear that it would ditch the fifth and sixth years of Labor's signature Gonski needs-based approach and replace it with a more nationally consistent agreement.

The Commonwealth had promised to finalise plans at a Council of Australian Governments meeting that was meant to take place earlier in the year, but was pushed back to June to accommodate premiers who couldn't attend – including Victoria's Daniel Andrews.

As a result of the delay, Victoria's own plans for a schools shake-up appears to have stalled. Last year, a funding review by former Labor premier Steve Bracks found that the Commonwealth's decision to renege on the last two years of Gonski could cost Victorian government schools around $1.1 billion. What's more, the review found, unless this decision was reversed the state would be forced to rethink its own funding regime in a bid to negate the impact.

But while state Education Minister James Merlino conceded in September that a rethink was needed – and said further details would be provided at this year's May budget – his spokesman told The Sunday Age last week: "We can't make informed decisions without knowing what the Federal Liberals are planning to do."

Mr Birmingham hit back on Friday, saying it was hypocritical for Victoria to demand precise details of federal funding "which they already know will grow from existing record levels, when they won't even outline their own scale of investment".

"The Turnbull government has consistently said that future schools funding arrangements would be concluded at the first COAG meeting of this year and that remains the timeframe we work toward," he said.

Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace said Gonski had been used to provide extra support and programs "and that has meant new staff have been employed. With no certainty, people's employment is in jeopardy."