Monday, March 19, 2018

A win for the major political parties; defeat for minorities, including Greens

The X-man is dead; South Australians finally get rid of their painful Greenie government.  The Leftists will be out for a long time in S.A. now.  They hung on for so long because of a gerrymander.  The new government will be sure to reverse that ASAP

Voters have given the minor parties the flick in two key elections this weekend.

In the end, Nick Xenophon failed to make much impression on the South Australian state election when pollsters and commentators had predicted he would hold the balance of power.

When he first stepped down from the Senate to lead SA Best, there was even talk of him becoming premier.

Instead, the Liberals, led by Steven Marshall, look to have won sufficient seats to govern in their own right, ending 16 years of Labor rule.

Departing Labor premier Jay Weatherill conceded it was always going to be difficult for Labor to win a fifth straight election.

However, Labor still held on to a rump of seats and it wasn't the usual landslide associated with the end of a long-term government.

In the inner-Melbourne seat of Batman, Labor unexpectedly held off another attempt by the Greens in the by-election caused by sitting MP David Feeney being forced to step down over his citizenship.

Labor candidate and former ACTU president Ged Kearney actually managed a swing towards her party.

In both cases, it could be seen as another vote of confidence for Opposition Leader Bill Shorten after being attacked on all sides for announcing a risky policy that will end cash handouts on non-taxpaying shareholders just days out from the elections.

It puts Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on course for an inevitable 30 consecutive Newspolls showing the coalition behind Labor - one benchmark he set on rolling Tony Abbott for the leadership.

This weekend's results may also be a sign that the minor parties are losing their appeal having made a big impression on the 2016 federal election.

It was the sixth attempt by Greens candidate Alex Bhathal to try an secure Batman.

Such a disappointing outcome from what was seen as an "unloseable" election came hot-on-the-heels of the party's poor showing in the Tasmanian election earlier this month, the strong-hold of the Green vote.

Friction within the party - such as between Lee Rhiannon on the extreme left and traditional Green voters of the Bob Brown ilk - may put pressure on Richard Di Natale's leadership.

But it's not just the Greens.

Pauline Hanson's One Nation also flopped in both the Western Australian and Queensland state elections last year, and again in SA, having promised so much after scoring four Senate seats in the 2016 federal poll.

And SA Best, aka the Nick Xenophon Team, having nothing to shout about either.

Could it be that rather than holding the big parties to account, voters realise that other than griping from the sidelines, the minor parties will never actually govern and would rather put their cross against someone who perhaps will?

The next test will be the Victorian state election in November, unless there are further federal by-elections from the dual-citizenship fiasco or in the unlikelihood Turnbull bites the bullet and goes for an early election.


Batman by-election: Bickering Greens blew it

The Batman result is a disaster for the Greens and a significant campaigning achievement for Labor.

The extent to which the Greens blew it is in Richard Di Natale’s brief statement on the party’s Batman debacle.

Di Natale _ who hid from most of the media yesterday _ lamented that ``we have to get our own house in order if we’re going to win back traditional Greens voters who were turned off by the leaking and sabotage from a few individuals with a destructive agenda’’.

On the back of that disunity, Labor’s Ged Kearney mustered a 6.5 per cent swing and a two-party preferred vote of 52 - 47 against the Greens’ Alex Bhathal.

Bhathal, after umpteen attempts at the seat, is officially a dud candidate.

With Bhathal at the helm, the Greens had a horror campaign with internal bickering detracting from their core message.

The Greens have wasted an epic opportunity to cement themselves in Melbourne’s inner north and it will only get harder when the Liberals run a candidate at the next general election.

Labor started the campaign trailing the Greens by as much as six percentage points, spooking Bill Shorten and others.

But Labor strategists said even the southern end of Batman — a Greens stronghold — had failed to deliver sufficiently for the minor party in the numbers needed to oust the ALP.

There was talk last night that Labor’s Ged Kearney was the antidote to the negatives that swirled around former MP David Feeney, who quit over the citizenship crisis. It certainly looks like her campaigning worked.

But it wasn’t until the last week of the by-election campaign that the Labor vote pulled back. Shorten will be elated.

The result will keep Anthony Albanese at bay and refocus the attention on the cost of living, which was at the heart of the ALP win.

Labor’s Ged Kearney mustered a 6.5 pr cent swing and a two-party preferred vote of 52 - 47 the the Greens’ Alex Bhathal.



Four current reports below

Graduates slam ‘meaningless’ degrees, dismal career prospects and crippling debt

Data released by the Good Universities Guide late last year revealed about 30 per cent of undergraduates left university without any job prospects and struggled to break into the competitive job market.

While Charles Sturt University had the best employment outcomes followed by Charles Darwin University and Notre Dame, Australia’s worst-performing institutions were Southern Cross University followed by Curtin and La Trobe.

Research from the National Institute of Labour Studies at Flinders University also revealed that between 2008 and 2014, the percentage of recent graduates in full-time employment dropped from 56.4 per cent to 41.7 per cent, with the 2017 Graduate Outcomes Survey finding the courses with the lowest full-time employment rate immediately upon graduation were creative arts and science and mathematics.

However, Universities Australia Deputy Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said an improving labour market had led to a “steady improvement in graduate job rates”.

“The data shows that graduates, like everyone entering the labour market, need time to establish their careers,” Ms Jackson said.

“But this immediate outlook can shift quickly — within three years of finishing their studies, nine in 10 graduates are employed full-time.

“Employment rates after four months differ by field, but after three years, graduates with generalist degrees have largely closed the gap.”

Nevertheless, Queensland mum of three Susan Jane still hasn’t found work more than six years after graduating.

In 2009, she hired a manager for her natural therapies business, rented out her home and moved from Gympie to the Gold Coast to pursue her dream of studying at Griffith University.

As a 48-year-old mature-age student, Ms Jane enrolled in a bachelor’s degree in Public Health, majoring in Health Promotion.

At the time, Ms Jane and her fellow students were told there was an abundance of jobs in the industry.

But by the time Ms Jane graduated at 50 in 2011, a change in government had already ended the Health Promotion career boom, with the private sector quickly snapping up experienced workers from the public sector who suddenly found their positions redundant.

It meant recent graduates were forced to either relocate to other states, or abandon their careers altogether.

Ms Jane said she had given up looking for a job she was qualified for two years after graduating in the top five per cent of her cohort.

She has never worked in the field, and is saddled with a $25,000 HECS debt she has little hope of paying off.

“I absolutely loved uni; I worked three jobs doing it, and I went in with the right attitude because I wanted to get ahead,” Ms Jane said.

“They told us there were heaps of jobs available and because it was a new area, they were screaming out for people.

“I did three years of full-time study, but by the time I finished, there was absolutely nothing there at all.”

Ms Jane said out of her university peers, she only knew of three people who had found jobs in health promotion — although all three had moved across the country to Victoria.

She stressed that her studies had been a positive experience that had given her a lot of confidence, and that she did not blame the university for her career outcomes.

But she said given the rapidly changing nature of work, it made more sense for universities to provide broader qualifications in areas such as “leadership” or other areas that would be useful in a range of careers, instead of providing rigid degrees for specific careers.

Since graduating, Ms Jane has published a book and now organises personal development and goal setting workshops in schools and in the community.

She said she had used the skills she learned while studying as much as possible — but admitted her struggle to find a job had been “challenging”.

“I wasn’t expecting to add more financial stress — getting a degree was supposed to ease that,” she said.


Nightmare of the 'ed tech' jungle

Regarding the recent backlash against the common sense suggestion by the Australian Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, that schools should ban mobile phones:

We were told by academics this would ‘take us back in time’, ‘there are so many new ways that mobile devices can add to the classroom’ and ‘we can’t let fear control everything we do’!

Yes, pity those poor students who lived before the 2000s and didn’t have access to the vital educational resource of smartphones. How did students ever learn before education apps were invented?

A Melbourne school recently banned student mobile phones, and the principal said the effects during recess and lunch were startling: ‘I hadn’t anticipated the level of noise. There was laughter, people were actually interacting and socialising.’ What a crazy idea. More radical than the Communist Manifesto of 1848. But that school is not alone in scepticism about the benefits of technology in classrooms. The prestigious Sydney Grammar School in 2016 banned laptops in class, and required students to handwrite assignments and essays until Year 10.

Cases like these provide some perspective on the fashionable trend of schools using education technology, or ‘Ed Tech’ as hip people call it.

According to the latest international education datasets, Australian schools use classroom technology far more than most other countries

But there is very little evidence to indicate more computers in classrooms actually improve student results. Recent studies have come to conflicting conclusions, but there is no clear link between school technology usage and student performance. While the novelty of the latest technology may get people excited, that doesn’t mean it helps students learn.

Furthermore, ‘21st century learning’ isn’t cheap. Investments in technology — like laptops and tablets for every student — can become obsolete quickly, require a great deal of maintenance, and are expensive.

Just look at the Rudd-Gillard governments’ ‘Digital Education Revolution’ program, with an original cost of $1.2 billion which blew out to over $2 billion. Remember the incredible transformation of schools and all the amazing improvements in student results? Neither do I.

Interestingly, some studies suggest education technology in fact has a negative impact on student achievement.

And recent research has found students using laptops in class has a damaging effect on other students who aren’t using laptops because they increase distractions (this concept has been called ‘the new second-hand smoke’).

It’s not hard to understand why. Try sitting at the back of any lecture theatre in a university these days. Most students have their laptops open — so they can ‘better follow the lecture slides’ and ‘take digital notes’ — but all you will observe is a sea of scrolling Instagram feeds, not to mention multiple people with earphones plugged in and surreptitiously catching up on the latest Walking Dead episode. Generally the poor lecturer at the front is completely oblivious and carries on about his fascinating area of expertise, satisfied because at least all the students are quiet.

A similar phenomenon occurs in many school classrooms. Some teachers are happy their students have laptops because it helps keep them serene during lessons; and of course students aren’t wasting time since the school’s IT system blocks social media sites (and obviously, the kids will never figure out how to get around it, right?).

Most fellow young people I talk to agree laptops are a source of distraction that hinders rather than helps learning. It’s mainly only cool older education academics with a piercing in their ear (or other places) who still go on about the supposed monumental benefits of 21st century learning.

Of course, education technology is not useless. In the right circumstances, and in moderation, it can be beneficial to student learning. But the focus should be on using it better rather than using it more. Technology addiction is already a problem, and ‘Ed Tech’ (with its limited benefits) could create even more young people who are hopelessly attached to technology, at the expense of deep subject knowledge.

The best way to help students be prepared for the 21st century is to ensure they leave school good readers, fluent writers, competent in maths, and with a sound and well-rounded knowledge of the core disciplines. These are the fundamental skills people will always need to be successful. In contrast, learning with, and about, new technologies can quickly become outdated, due to the rapid pace of technological change. A wise senior teacher once revealed to me the greatest irony of education: ‘If you teach kids the latest thing, then that will be the first thing you’ve taught them which becomes out of date.’


Private sector innovation in education

The federal government is implementing Turnbull’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, but the real innovation is that the National STEM Education Strategy is prioritising industry collaboration and pathways to employment rather than ‘fads’ such as iPads and mindfulness.

Following the success of the US education program Pathways in Technology (P-TECH) — which partners high schools with industry to develop STEM skills — the federal government has provided $5.1 million in funding to pilot the program here, with 14 Australian sites to be operating by mid-2018.

The P-TECH program has students undertake hands-on workplace learning and receive classroom instruction focused on the STEM skills employers need.

Despite the programs benefits, taxpayer support for P-TECH must be removed. It is inappropriate to use taxpayer funds to provide industry participants the opportunity to future-proof their workforce at the expense of their competitors.

P-TECH has already had early successes. The Skilling Australia Foundation reports that while government funding for the Geelong pilot expired in June 2017, the program continues to operate with financial support from local industry and community groups.

As the excitement about STEM continues, it is easy to miss what is truly important about P-TECH: industry collaboration. Workplace learning has been a central component of vocational — and to a certain extent, university — qualifications, but has been ignored at school level.

The workplace learning component of P-TECH should be extended. Students would benefit from the opportunity to undertake workplace learning in sectors that have not traditionally participated in work-based learning at school level, such as logistics.

On-the-job training teaches students the relevance of their education to the employment landscape and prepares them for the workforce.

Further, the implementation of hands-on learning in communities with high youth unemployment would strengthen local economies and teach at-risk students the benefits of work.

As industry develops new pathways to employment, it has never been more important that Australia avoid the latest education ‘fads’ and deliver tangible outcomes for students by expanding workplace learning.


Prominent lawyer to investigate sacking of an elite high school deputy principal for the cutting of a student’s hair

Ray Finkelstein QC, will be investigating the sacking of a long-standing deputy principal at Trinity Grammar. A letter was sent to the school community on Friday afternoon, informing them investigation proceedings will begin immediately.

Mr Brown, known as Brownie, was dismissed from his position at prestigious private boy's school Trinity Grammar in Melbourne's east last week.

A group of 50 former captains and vice captains have penned a heartfelt letter calling for the reinstatement of a long-standing teacher.

The letter accompanies a student protest on Tuesday in which students donned brown armbands and smart casual attire in support of their fired deputy principal.

He was sacked after video surfaced of him trimming a student's hair with scissors before school photo day at the beginning of term.

The decision to let Mr Brown go outraged parents and students, who have started an online petition and wore brown armbands on Tuesday in protest.

The letter was sent to the principal and the school council chair on Monday, and raises concerns held for the direction of the school.

'We are writing to express our profound disappointment at the School Council's decision to dismiss Rohan Brown after an exemplary 30 year career,' they wrote.

'Many of us are former students of Rohan's and have directly witnessed his exceptional personal qualities.

'His defining characteristics define the school's traditional core values: he is courteous, fair and humble, wholly dedicated to the wellbeing of the school's students. 'He can be firm, but he is not a bully. He wants boys to be their best.'

The letter went on to question the school's aims, and noted a change towards a performance-based school.

'In recent years, the school's executive leadership has made clear its intention to change the school's vision and direction.

'This has seen a dramatic shift from Trinity's position as a non-selective, not-elite school dedicated to holistic personal development, to an institution focused on "exceptional" performance defined by ATAR excellence, growth and profit.'

Students taking part in the brown armband protest insisted they did not want to disrupt class, but felt the need to make a 'unified statement of solidarity'.

'He is a pretty integral part of this school. We all really love him, he is such a big presence at the school and he will be sorely missed,' a student told the Today show.

'He was only upholding the school rules and the school values, which he loves and cares about so much,' said another.

'A lot of the boys are planning to have a protest at the school and everyone is wearing brown arm bands for Mr Brown and we all think that the punishment clearly does not fit the crime,' said a third student.

The armband protest comes after hundreds of angry parents and former students challenged the decision at a special meeting on Friday 9 March.

Meanwhile, more than 5,000 people have signed an online petition urging the school to 'Bring Brownie Back.'

Trinity Grammar will now appoint an independent expert to review its procedures, ABC News reports.

On Monday, the school's headmaster Dr Michael Davies issued a statement saying students, staff and other stakeholders will be consulted about the review

He added the school 'takes seriously its duty of care to students, staff and the wider community.'

Dr Davies said: 'We have reached out regularly to the boy involved in the February incident, over the past few days. 'We have also been in touch with Rohan Brown over the weekend.'


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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