Monday, January 18, 2010

"Groundbreaking" study rediscovers the link between social class and IQ

Someone should tell Charles Murray

MORE than half of Adelaide's Year 7 students who score below-average numeracy results live in low socioeconomic suburbs, a groundbreaking report reveals. Commissioned by the Education Department, the study is the first of its kind to detail the gap in outcomes for students in disadvantaged areas and finds the "most marked" shortfall in remote areas of the state.

It finds 177 of the 318 metropolitan Year 7 students with below-average numeracy scores are from the northern region. This compares with only 12 in the eastern region, 44 in the west and 85 in the south. Report co-author John Glover said the study, which used 2008 national literacy and numeracy data, revealed "big challenges to the public education system". He said the report demonstrated "hard cold facts" children in low socioeconomic areas had the "lowest education outcomes and poorest achievement".

SA Council of Social Services executive director Ross Womersley said socioeconomic status was linked to poor educational performance, but the issue was "much more complicated". He said the poor education of some parents and their inability to aid their children's development also played a role. "Low income does correlate, at least in some part, with people having poor educational outcomes," Mr Womersley said. "There are still people within that survey group and areas of the state where there would be people on quite low incomes who are managing one way or another to help their children get reasonable educational outcomes."

The report Understanding Educational Opportunities and Outcomes is a project between the University of Adelaide's Public Health Information Development Unit and The Smith Family. It has found that disadvantaged suburbs where students failed in literacy and numeracy included Elizabeth, Onkaparinga, Port Adelaide, Port Augusta and the APY Lands. Peers in inner-city areas including Burnside, Unley and Walkerville fared much better.

Other findings show:

YEAR 7 students from the northern suburbs are almost five times more likely to fail numeracy tests than peers in eastern Adelaide.

STUDENTS in parts of country SA were three times more likely to achieve lower literacy levels than the national minimum standard in Years 3 and 5.

ABORIGINAL children have the poorest educational outcomes but participation in literacy and numeracy testing has reached nearly 80 per cent.

MORE than three times the amount of Year 3 children living in outer suburbs including Elizabeth, Salisbury, Onkaparinga and Hackham are reading at levels below the national minimum standard

COUNTRY children in Years 5 and 7 are more likely to have scores below the national minimum standard than those in the city.

Professor Glover said the report provided a "lesson for the Government". "Overcoming the differentials in educational outcomes for children living in the most disadvantaged and most well-off areas is clearly a government priority, but it will require new thinking and a greater effort to address these inequalities," he said. [It will require a new set of genes too!]

SA Primary Principals Association president Steve Portlock said experienced teachers should be placed at schools with a low socioeconomic status. "Those students should have the most experienced teachers and the most experienced leaders," he said.

Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith said the study would be used to help plan for educational improvement in disadvantaged communities. "This important, nation-leading work will help to ensure that resources and early intervention are directed to members of our community who most need help," she said. "Our 20 children's centres and Innovative Community Action Networks school retention program, currently being expanded across the state, are examples of government programs that target need."

Opposition education spokesman David Pisoni said areas of social disadvantage were the "worst places" for the Government to build super schools. "Overseas experiences show super schools have been detrimental to education and behaviour outcomes of children," he said.


500 rally against 'draconian' laws

The laws are a gross attack on freedom of movement and freedom of association -- all because a couple of bikers had a fight in an airport departure lounge. For that, all biker clubs have to be outlawed, apparently. But the laws are likely to affect many other clubs and businesses too. Background here

HIGH-PROFILE members of WA's legal fraternity, academia and industry united with outlaw bikies to rally against proposed new anti-association laws today.

About 500 people attended the rally opposite Parliament House this morning to protest the Barnett Government's "draconian" anti-association laws.

Speakers such as high-profile QC Tom Percy, CFMEU president Kevin Reynold,s and leading academic and criminologist David Indemaur spoke out against the injustices contained within the Government's police powers legislation, which is expected to be debated in Parliament within weeks.

Coffin Cheater Eddy Withnell spoke of the prejudice he had already experienced, having been hit with a prohibition order that prevents him entering any licenced premises - including his own business, The Voodoo Lounge.

The rally was organised by the United Motorcycle Council of WA (UMCWA), which was formed last year to give riders a voice in the public debate.


Australia/U.S. free trade agreement has been beneficial

IT'S five years since our free trade agreement with the US entered into force and the results are in: Australia has won. In the lead-up to January 1, 2005, public debate correctly highlighted the fact that the agreement wasn't perfect. Australia did not secure an end to US restrictions on imported Australian sugar and immediate liberalisation of trade restrictions on other agricultural commodities.

And Australia secured equivalent trade-offs by maintaining television local-content restrictions that were outdated and heavy-handed regulations on the pharmaceutical industry.

Since the FTA commenced, critics have continued attacking the agreement because our trade deficit with the US has widened. Yet an average $1.2 billion increase in our annual merchandise trade deficit between the 2005-06 and 2008-09 financial years is insignificant in comparison with the US investment windfall the FTA delivered.

A key provision of the agreement was the relaxation of the threshold requirements for US investors to seek Foreign Investment Review Board approval before investing in Australia. The results are clear. According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data, total US investment in 2005 was just shy of $334bn and has increased by an average of $20bn a year, reaching $418bn by the end of 2008.

And attacking a marginal trade deficit increase ignores that free trade is not a zero-sum game and that imports deliver benefits as well. To be internationally competitive, Australian businesses need technologies that help improve productivity, competitive inputs into domestically produced manufactures and service imports to support industry growth. Necessary imports added with the significant size of US investment have helped Australian industries grow, create jobs and ride out the global economic crisis.

Increased US investment has also helped foster industries of the future. According to a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade analysis, US investment is "increasingly more diversified, particularly with increased activity in the services trade". US investment is underwriting a boom for our services exports, with the ratio of Australia's goods to services exports to the US roughly two to one.

By comparison, our ratio of goods to services exports to our other top five trading partners is nearly 23 to one for Japan, eight for China, 10 for South Korea and five for India.

Our service exporters are also supported through the FTA's commitment to encourage professional associations and governments to recognise qualifications for people from both countries. The responsible bi-national working party has already secured greater qualification recognition and, consequently, work opportunities in the US for accountants, engineers and legal professionals. Not surprisingly, these particular industries now make up some of Australia's largest exports to the US.

And our service industry interests were also advanced through the establishment of the two-year, indefinitely renewable E-3 working visas in the US. In 2008 the visa was used by 15,000 people and now gives Australians one of the most preferential work visas to the US. Under the visa, Australia may lose skilled workers to the US in the short term, but the vast majority will return home with knowledge and experience to help Australian industries grow.

It is these dynamic, unpredictable outcomes that demonstrate the benefits of free trade as businesses find new markets, increase imports, increase competition, and cut the price of business inputs and consumer goods that improve standards of living.

But while Australia has won from its US FTA, we shouldn't sit on our free trade laurels. Although the Rudd government is making all the right public noises on free trade agreements, concurrent regulations and industry support programs are unwinding the dividends of trade liberalisation. Federal Industry Minister Kim Carr regularly introduces protectionist measures, from increased automotive industry subsidies to offset tariff reductions, to regulations that haze contractors tendering for government projects into using local suppliers.

The NSW and Victorian state Labor governments have introduced protectionist local-content thresholds for government contracts that reduce value-for-tax dollar for state budgets already in deficit.

The Rudd government also bowed to vested interests such as the campaign to keep import restrictions on copyrighted books that protect the profits of multinational publishing houses and marginal electorate-based printing companies that are then passed on to consumers.

Instead of introducing protectionism the Rudd government should be negotiating more FTAs such as the joint Australia-New Zealand FTA with ASEAN countries, which came into force on the fifth anniversary of the US agreement's. Why? Because in five years the economic benefits of the US and ASEAN FTAs will be clear, but they won't be for newly introduced protectionism.


Reconsider carbon plan, says Australian government adviser

ONE of the Government's key business advisers on the emissions trading scheme has called for a fresh look at whether the plan should go ahead. Dick Warburton, chairman of the panel set up last year to advise on emissions-intensive trade-exposed activities, said that after Copenhagen's failure, the matter should be debated afresh. He is organising a round-table of company executives, bureaucrats and experts - including supporters and critics - to consider the pros and cons and alternatives of a trading scheme.

His move comes as Opposition Leader Tony Abbott tonight gives his first speech as leader on the environment, arguing that while the environment is important, it is not just about climate. He will seek to redirect focus to areas where Australia can make a difference on its own, including water. Mr Warburton told The Age that despite intense political debate about the emissions scheme, important aspects had not been dealt with adequately. "Chairmen and CEOs and the public have very poor knowledge of what the ETS involves." The round-table should be held by the end of this month, he said.

The Government plans to bring in legislation incorporating last year's deal with the Opposition - which prompted the change of leadership - as soon as Parliament resumes next month. "I think there should be a delay in whatever we do until we have a clear picture of the best course," Mr Warburton said. There was no rush - "We need to get it right."

Mr Warburton is chairman of Tandou and the Magellan Flagship Fund, chairman of the Board of Taxation and a former member of the Reserve Bank board. He personally believes the climate change science is not settled and would favour a carbon tax or other alternative to a trading scheme. A round-table would give some indication of how opinion in big companies is moving after Copenhagen.

Other business sources expect a weakening of support from business for quickly passing the legislation. An important pointer will be the attitude of the Business Council of Australia, but it is yet to consider its position after Copenhagen.

The Government has constantly repeated the argument that business wants legislation passed as soon as possible to provide certainty


1 comment:

Paul said...

maybe not new genes, but new parents....which I guess is much the same thing....OK, new genes.