Thursday, December 15, 2016
Sydney temperature panic
Every summer Sydney has some very hot days. And the Warmists at the BoM always announce that some temperature or other was the hottest ever. They are rather desperate at the moment. All they have to report is the "highest minimum", which is a long way from the maximum. And the maximun of 37C was pretty pissant too. In 1790 (Yes, 1790, not 1970) the Maximum in Sydney was 42C. How disappointing for them!
SYDNEY sweltered through its hottest December night on record as the mercury refused to budge to acceptable levels. The Bureau of Meteorology confirmed the overnight temperature dipped to 27.1C.
It was the highest minimum on record. The previous record was set on Christmas Day 1858, when it dropped to 26.3C.
The temperature also smashed all but one previous record, making it the second-warmest Sydney evening in recorded history.
BoM forecaster Jordan Notara told AAP they were expecting last night to break the record of 26.3C..
At 6am this morning the temperature at Sydney Harbour was already 29C and at midnight the temperature was still a warm 27C at Observatory Hill.
The mercury hit 37C yesterday with an expected high of 38C today.
The hot night prompted plenty of reaction on social media, with some remarking it is standard Sydney for this time of year. Others tried to see the lighter side of things.
For those unable to cope with the heat, the good news is a cool change should see the mercury dip to a much more comfortable 22C tomorrow.
“There will be a 5C drop in temperatures within the first few hours, so by early evening people will definitely be feeling the difference,” Mr Notara said.
Sydney’s CBD sizzled at a high of 37.8C — nearly 13 degrees above the city’s long-term average for December — while at Penrith, in the city’s west, the mercury surged to 39.4C.
About 800 people had flocked to the Aquatic Centre at Sydney Olympic Park in the city’s west before lunchtime to seek relief from the city’s hottest December day since 2005.
Do Australian schools need more money, or better spending?
The article below asks the right question but is poor at answering it. It starts out saying that educational success has little to do with money but then quotes a do-gooder saying that money is the key. It also breastbeats about the bad performance by poor students and pretends that this can be improved. It cannot. Not by very much anyway. Generally speaking, the poor are poor because they have low IQs -- and there is no remedy for that.
The two things that are REALLY needed to lift standards are: 1). Adoption of teaching methods that work -- e.g. phonics in literacy teaching; and 2). Segregating or effectively disciplining unruly students. Unruly students take away time that should be used for teaching and make the classroom an unattractive place for potential teachers
It would also help if results from Aboriginal kids were reported separately and removed from the overall data. School attendance is often very patchy among Aborigines and no teaching method is going to work on students who are not there
The relationship between spending and performance is not a simple one
Many countries that got similar average maths scores spent very different amounts on education — and many countries that spent about the same had very different scores.
For example, Australia's score in maths is better than the UK and the US, which each spent more per student.
But Australia's score is well below Korea, Estonia and Poland, who spent between $12,000 and $28,000 less on each student than Australia did.
Overall, the relationship between spending and results was not significant once spending per student passed above US$50,000.
In other words, take out the countries that are not spending very much, and the correlation between spending and performance disappears.
This tallies with Education Minister Simon Birmingham's comments that Australian school funding is at record levels and the focus can no longer be on how much money is being spent.
So how can Australia improve its schools?
Pete Goss from the Grattan Institute says that what matters most for Australia now is not how much money goes into education, but how the money is spent.
"To make sure money is well spent, step one is to distribute to the schools who need it most," he said.
"Step two is that whatever money schools get, it must be spent as effectively as possible on teaching approaches that have been shown to work and are cost effective.
"One side of politics seems to focus more on step one, where money is distributed. The other side focuses more on step two, how money is spent. "We have to get both right."
Laura Perry, associate professor of education policy at Murdoch University, says Australian education has a "distribution problem rather than an absolute funding problem".
"The biggest problem ... is we don't give as much money to the schools that really need it and we tend to give money to the schools that don't need it," she said.
Globally, the PISA data shows that students who are at a socio-economic disadvantage are almost three times more likely to fail to reach a baseline skill level in science.
A 'fair' education system was defined as one where a student's result reflects their ability, rather than things they can't control, like their socio-economic status.
On some measures of fairness, Australia fell below the average among the 35 OECD countries being compared.
Coming from an advantaged background in Australia adds 44 points to a student's science score for every unit increase in socio-economic advantage.
In many countries, including Vietnam, Canada and China, education was more equal than in Australia.
What's the result of unequal schooling?
The difference in education equality in different countries is most obvious in how the bottom quarter of students fares in each country.
Although Australia's bottom and top quarter of students are performing better than the OECD average, the bottom quarter is performing much worse than the bottom quarter in Singapore, Vietnam, Estonia and Japan.
Professor Perry says Canada is the most relevant comparison to Australia.
"We can say that low socio-economic status students ... perform much better in Canada than Australia," she said.
"If you look at the total average [score] for each country, it's higher in Canada and that's the main reason why."
Australia worst in OECD on staffing gap
Professor Perry says one of the explanations for the poor performance of Australia's lowest socio-economic students is their poor access to qualified teachers.
The gap between rich and poor schools' ability to attract qualified teachers in Australia is the largest in the OECD.
The data was gathered by asking principals how much their school's ability to teach students was affected by having unqualified or poorly qualified teachers.
Australian principals in schools in high socio-economic areas gave very different answers from those in poorer areas.
Shortages of qualified teachers were more likely in Australian public schools than private schools.
The same goes for education materials — things like IT equipment, classroom and laboratory materials. Only Mexico, Spain and Turkey had a more unequal split in terms of access to material.
Sue Thompson, director of educational monitoring for the Australian Council for Educational Research, says lots of students, particularly in junior secondary school, are being taught by teachers out of their field of expertise.
One Australian study showed that about 38 per cent of students were being taught by teachers not qualified in maths and science.
These teachers are limited both in their ability to find ways to teach the bottom-performing students, and to challenge the top students, Dr Thompson says.
"All of the OECD research on disadvantaged students shows that by lifting the success of disadvantaged students, you would increase the system as a whole but also you gain on the performance of the high-achieving students as well, as a result of better teaching," she said.
Professor Perry says the amount of social segregation between schools has become a "vicious cycle" in Australia: as teacher shortages become more pronounced in lower socio-economic schools, parents choose to avoid those schools, perpetuating the problem.
"A low socio-economic school, another word for that is a hard-to-staff school," she said.
An Australian mayor criticized for rejecting race-consciousness
The Lord Mayor of Hobart has been slammed for 'disgusting ignorance' after her comments regarding a proposed Aboriginal memorial in Tasmania.
Earlier this week Sue Hickey said that she objected to a proposal by Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) to build an Aboriginal Memorial in the city because it would create a 'guilt ridden' place and current generations should not be blamed for past atrocities.
'I didn't kill the Aborigines, and nor would I; it was a different era,' she told ABC radio.
Former [black] Labor senator Nova Peris took to Twitter to pronounce her frustration with Ms Hickey's comments.
'Disgusting ignorance by Mayor of Hobart. No doubt (Sue Hickey) is front n (sic) centre of every Anzac Day dawn service w/ a red poppy,' Ms Peris tweeted.
The memorial makes up part of the $2 billion concept plans drafted by David Walsh's MONA for a cultural hub located on the Hobart waterfront at Macquarie Point.
The proposed Truth and Reconciliation Art Park would serve to acknowledge conflict between European settlers and Indigenous people known as the frontier wars and the Indigenous Tasmanian groups that subsequently died out.
A SKIP bin operator fined $15,000 for unlawfully stockpiling waste said he had complied with an earlier clean-up notice but was fined anyway because he did not write back to the Environment Protection Authority twice.
West Gosford property owner Anthony Kamper, trading under the business name Ring a Skip, said he was issued two clean-up notices — with the same document number — one for his skip bin company and one to him as the land owner Anthony Kamper Pty Ltd.
He said he spent thousands of dollars getting an independent survey to assess the amount of waste present and cleaned the site as required by the EPA.
Mr Kamper then wrote back under his Ring A Skip letterhead advising the EPA the site was compliant.
But he said because he did not write back twice, once as Ring A Skip and again as Anthony Kamper Pty Ltd, he copped a $15,000 fine anyway — despite being in regular phone contact with the EPA and there being no confusion that he was the one-in-the-same director of both companies.
“I think it’s disgusting that they fined me when they’re working with me,” he said. “OK, if there’s compliance issues, let’s address the compliance and not just fine me over what’s essentially a clerical error.
“They shouldn’t have given me a fine in the first place — the site was clean. I think it’s unfair and to say I’m illegally dumping is not right. Uncompliant maybe, but illegal? No.
“I’m working with them and they shoot me in the back anyway.”
EPA officers conducted a number of inspections of the West Gosford property after receiving complaints from neighbours.
Mr Kamper engaged the independent survey as he was instructed to do and went back and informed the environment watchdog he had more than 2400 cubic metres of waste on the property including soil, concrete, bricks, garden waste, timber, plastic and household rubbish.
Under legislation it is illegal to receive and store more than 1000 cubic metres, or 1000 tonnes, of waste without an Environment Protection Licence.
Mr Kamper said until he had the survey done he had no idea what “1000 tonnes looked like” and as soon as it was identified, it was rectified.
And while Ring A Skip escaped a fine by complying with the clean-up notice, he as the landowner Anthony Kamper Pty Ltd, was fined anyway.
The EPA said at the time the stockpiled waste exceeded the 1000 cubic metre threshold and was therefore brought onto the site illegally.
A spokeswoman for the authority said the $15,000 penalty was “the appropriate fine for the offence of exceeding more than 2,400 cubic metres of waste on a property without the appropriate licence or approvals”.
“The EPA deals with both the owner and the occupier of a site as separate entities as they have separate obligations under the regulation. Therefore offences are dealt with separately,” she said.
“The EPA applies tough penalties to achieve environmental compliance.
“The fact that Anthony Kamper Pty Ltd is the site owner and company director is not relevant to how the EPA deals with and communicates with each legal entity.”
Mr Kamper said he had written to the State Debt Recovery Office to review the fine.
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