Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Increased spending in education is failing to lift student results, a new report has found

A familiar story.  The U.S. and U.K. experience is the same.  What is needed is a return to the time when kids DID learn a lot from their education: Strict discipline, chalk and talk methods and teaching phonics.  It worked in the past; It can work again.  Only Leftist theories stand in the way of it

DESPITE substantial increases in education funding, student performance at Australia’s schools has stagnated or worsened, a new report has found.

A draft inquiry by the Productivity Commission into the nation’s education sector released today said reforms including performance benchmarking had failed to achieve “the desired gains in education outcomes”.

And recommends overhauling Australia’s privacy laws to allow for better sharing of student data between states and territories.

The report, commissioned by Treasurer Scott Morrison, also found student performance had “stalled or, in some cases, declined” and recommended focusing on teacher quality to improve results.
There has been a recommendation to overhaul Australia’s privacy laws to allow for better sharing of student data between states and territories. Picture: Supplied.

There has been a recommendation to overhaul Australia’s privacy laws to allow for better sharing of student data between states and territories. Picture: Supplied.Source:ThinkStock

“Research has found that only a small share (typically about 20 per cent) of variation in individual student outcomes is explained by differences between schools,” it said.

“The majority (about 80 per cent) is explained by differences between students within schools.

“Furthermore, there is a substantial body of evidence suggesting that teachers have the greatest impact on student performance outside of students’ own characteristics, and that directing attention to higher quality teaching can have large positive effects on outcomes across the board.

“All of this suggests that looking within the classroom, particularly at teaching practices, can be more effective at providing insights into how to improve education outcomes across schools and students.”

As well as calling for an “Education Agreement” between the Federal Government and states and territories to ensure good governance over data collection, the Commission also recommends changing Australia’s privacy laws.

It claims schools were being overly burdened by data collection.

“Differences in federal and jurisdictional privacy acts, as well as education Acts impose excessive limits on the ability of education data custodians to release data that contains personal information,” the report said.

“These differences can prohibit entire data collections from being accessed or prohibit disclosure of component cohorts of the same dataset.

The report said the Turnbull Government should amend the Privacy Act to “extend the arrangements relating to the collection, use or disclosure of personal information without consent in the area of health and medical research to cover public interest research more generally.”

“Greater uniformity of privacy laws would go some way toward reducing the regulatory complexity that contributes to the risk averse behaviour of data custodians.”

The report also partially backed the introduction of student ID numbers, claiming there had been “limited progress towards this goal” since it was identified by the Government in 2009.

And called for the funding of a new longitudinal study of Australian children.


'Rational' Australian reforms could benefit US politics, says US ambassador John Berry

The outgoing US ambassador to Australia, John Berry, says Australians are the "most rational people in the world" and he would like to take compulsory voting and short election campaigns back to the United States.

Mr Berry is due to finish his three-year stint as ambassador in about a month and named three political conventions from Australia that he felt would make the US a better place.

"First is your limited time for an election season," he told ABC News Breakfast.  "I think all Americans [would be] standing and cheering if you were to say eight weeks as opposed to two-and-a-half years."

He said the second item on his wish list was a mandatory voting system in the US.  "It pushes your politics to the centre," he said.  "Our primary system, it allows ... either end to control too much of the debate and they're a minority of our country.

"Finally, I think, another thing that you do that again is very rational, is you create an independent commission to draw your parliamentary district boundaries, or our congressional boundaries. "Ours are drawn totally by political determination."

Mr Berry said if those three reforms were adopted in the US it would benefit their democracy.

The US is currently in the middle of a long and at times bizarre presidential election campaign fought between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and the Republican's Donald Trump.

Asked if he had anything to tell Australians who might be watching the race with a mixture of fascination and horror, Berry said it was important to stay calm.

"Many things are said in the course of a debate and things dramatically change when whoever wins this very competitive race puts their hand on that Bible on January 20 and takes the oath of office," he said.

"There is a lot that changes in that five minutes of history and whoever takes that oath I believe will do a good job for the world and a good job for our country."
'Same-sex marriage plebiscite a matter for Australians'

Mr Berry is the first openly-gay US ambassador to Australia and married his partner of 17 years, Curtis Yee, in a civil ceremony in Washington in 2013.

He said the issue of same-sex marriage and whether to have a plebiscite on the matter was something for Australians to decide, but he was thankful the US courts had made a ruling in his home country.

"Each country has to wrestle with that in their own way," he said. "I'm very grateful in the United States that the Supreme Court resolved it for us.  "In the United States the notion that somehow we could put our rights to a vote would be anathema.

"In fact, our founding fathers when they wrote the Federalist Papers specifically said an unpopular minority's rights will always be abused by the majority and therefore you have courts that are to intervene to protect the rights of that minority."

Mr Berry said he had faced no discrimination in his time in Australia and both he and his husband had received warmed receptions "from every person, whether it was Prime Minister Abbott, Prime Minister Turnbull, on down".


Benjamin Netanyahu to be first Israel PM to visit Australia after Julie Bishop invitation

Benjamin Netanyahu will become the first sitting Israeli prime minister to make an official visit to Australia in 2017, after accepting an invitation from Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Ms Bishop is wrapping up a three day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories on Monday, after meeting with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin and visiting Israel's Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem.

As part of the visit Ms Bishop discussed Australia and Israel's bilateral relationship, the ongoing Middle East peace process and Australian development assistance to the Palestinian Territories.

Ms Bishop told Mr Netanyahu, leader of the country's right-wing Likud party, that Australia and Israel enjoy a deep friendship, recognising the contribution Australia's Jewish community make to the nation.

"I want to take this opportunity to reaffirm our absolute enduring commitment to the state of Israel and our friendship, and invite you to come to Australia," Ms Bishop said.

"We're thinking there's a little window of opportunity early next year maybe?"

Mr Netanyahu thanked Ms Bishop for ongoing co-operation between the two countries.

Dates for the visit are expected to be finalised in coming months. It comes after a planned July 2014 trip by Mr Netanyahu was cancelled at the last minute.

"Your friendship is terrific – Australia, the government's, and yours personally and we appreciate our friends," Mr Netanyahu said.

The Jerusalem Post reported Mr Rivlin "apologised profusely" to Ms Bishop after he cancelled a scheduled state visit to Australia in March this year for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Mr Rivlin told Ms Bishop he would be happy to visit Australia in the future.

During a visit to the Palestinian Territories, Ms Bishop was expected to meet with Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Economy Minister Abeer Odeh.

She also met with Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman to discuss international security and the war against the Islamic State group.

Ms Bishop also discussed the closed trial of World Vision employee Mohammed al-Halabi, who was charged over allegations he defrauded the charity to assist the militant group Hamas.

World Vision International president Kevin Jenkins and Australian chief executive Tim Costello have raised questions about the amount of money involved in the case. Ms Bishop said the case was "deeply concerning".


Ned Ludd lives on

Ned Ludd destroyed weaving machines in the early stages of the industrial revolution.  The old order always resists the new

Queensland cabbies are grieving as they prepare to rally on the first day of legal ride-sharing in the state, a taxi boss says.

Taxi drivers will gather at parliament house on Monday to show their disappointment at companies like Uber being allowed to operate legally under the state government's new regulatory framework.

Yellow Cabs Queensland general manager Bill Parker said drivers were concerned their business had been handed to "an American organisation that doesn't believe it should be paying tax".

"It's their business, their goodwill," he told AAP.

"They created the business and they're just reminding this state government that they've handled this matter extremely inefficiently."

The Palaszczuk government last month announced its intention to legalise ride-sharing with a $100 million transition package, including a hardship fund and compensation for existing cab licences.

Mr Parker said protests may continue because drivers felt as though the new framework hadn't created a level playing field. "I think they're suffering from grief," he said.

Mr Parker sad the public should be concerned that safety measures in place for the Queensland taxi industry were non-existent for its ride-sharing counterparts. Among them was a 24-hour system to check a driver's criminal history, he said.

The state's transport act was also operating "wholly and solely" to protect the interests of a taxi passenger, he said, and the industry had created systems to adhere to the legislation.

"Our business model is based upon service delivery, not on money," he said. [JOKE]

Taxis also offered the most reliable wheelchair-accessible public transport option, he added.

But drivers also remain angry about the uneven financial playing field, which involved proper insurance, a disparity in registration costs and the collection of GST.

"Uber got everything they wanted without even turning up and the cab industry has to suffer as a result," Mr Parker said. "I see a lot of people who are suffering greatly at the hands of this decision - some very sad stories."


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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