Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Shocking standard of new teachers

They don't know primary school stuff, let alone show any benefit of a university education.  It's a tremendous revelation of non-existent school standards.  The blind are leading the blind.  No wonder so many parents send kids to private schools

Clare Masters

GRADUATE teachers are leaving university, without basic literacy skills, including spelling and grammar, and are increasingly needing tutoring to pass the literacy portion of their qualifying exam.

Tutoring agencies are seeing a rise in the number of graduates seeking help to pass the Federal Government's Literacy and Numeracy Tests for the Initial Teacher Education (LANTITE) test, required to become a teacher, and experts are saying the test should be done as an entrance' exam to weed out unsuccessful candidates.

Some agencies say students are struggling with basic skills like fractions, grammar and even knowing the number of weeks in a year. "We have been surprised by the number of university students studying to be teachers who are seeking assistance with their literacy skills to pass their LANTITE, and who may have already failed this test a number of times," said Dr Selina Samuels, chief learning officer at tutoring service Cluey. She said there had been over 750 inquiries for LANTITE support in just four months.

Teacher Melinda Wood, from The Tutoring Academy, said many of her students were missing basic foundation skills. "With literacy, they don't know the simple rules for grammar, punctuation and how to spell or do fractions.

"I had one student who didn't attend primary school in her own country and came to Year 8 in Australia and has difficulty reading. She is doing a Masters of Education and she is struggling a lot."

Ms Wood gave one example of a question that asked students to estimate an annual income from weekly pays and said students were failing it in practice tests as they "don't know how many weeks are in a year".

"They use spell check and stuff at home to help them but the. second they are in exam conditions they don't know how to cope."

The recent PISA scores show Australian students are falling behind and Centre for Independent Studies' Blaise Joseph said a teacher's core skills needed to be high. "Evidence shows it is really important teachers be high achievers. Over the years we have lowered the bar for entry standard for teacher education degrees," he said.

"We have about one in five Australian students below the minimum standard for literacy and that is going to be reflected in new teacher intakes. It defies common sense you have uni students who don't have basic literacy and numeracy skills who are then going to be responsible for teaching literacy and numeracy to children."

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail" of 24/2/20

Great Australian Bight: Equinor abandons plans to drill for oil

Norwegian oil company announces it has scrapped its $200m plan to deepwater drill in Great Australian Bight Marine Park

After extensive Greenie harassment

Norwegian oil giant Equinor has abandoned plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight, declaring the controversial project did not make commercial sense.

The company said on Tuesday it had told federal, South Australian and local authorities it had decided to scrap the $200m project to deepwater drill in the Great Australian Bight Marine Park.

It is the third major oil company to abandon plans to drill in the bight, following BP and Chevron.

“Following a holistic review of its exploration portfolio, Equinor has concluded that the project’s potential is not commercially competitive compared with other exploration opportunities in the company,’’ the company’s country manager for Australia, Jone Stangeland, said in a statement.

The decision is a significant win for environment groups and other opponents of the project, including Indigenous elders and local councils. The proposal sparked protests supported by tens of thousands of people opposed to fossil fuel extraction in a marine wilderness area.

Equinor’s announcement comes shortly after the proposed Stromlo-1 well site, in water more than 2.2km deep and nearly 400km off the South Australian coast, was granted environmental approval by the federal offshore petroleum regulator. The Wilderness Society launched legal action challenging the decision last month, arguing opponents had not been properly consulted.

Peter Owen, the Wilderness Society’s South Australian director, welcomed Equinor’s decision to “responsibly withdraw” from the project.

“It’s been a while coming, but the right decision is the right decision, and we have no doubt that the hundreds of thousands of people that have supported the campaign to fight for the Bight will be both delighted and relieved to hear this news,” he said.

Owen called on the Morrison government to “listen to the people and permanently protect the unique waters of the Great Australian Bight from drilling for good”.

The federal minister for resources, Keith Pitt, said the government was disappointed about Equinor’s decision, but pleased the company had made clear it would still be part of the oil and gas industry in Australia. It said the decision would be “particularly hard for South Australia”.

He said the government remained committed to “encouraging the safe development of Australia’s offshore petroleum resources. “The Bight basin remains one of Australia’s frontier basins and any proposals for new oil and gas fields in this area will be assessed fairly and independently,” he said.

Equinor was granted a petroleum title over areas in the Bight in 2011. In December, it cleared the second of four regulatory hurdles it needed to pass before it could start drilling, when the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority, known as Nopsema, granted its environmental approval.

The company described the decision as an important milestone that followed more than 400 meetings with community and other organisations. Environmentalists, local councils and elders of the traditional owners of the Bight, the Mirning people, denied they had been properly consulted and vowed to continue to fight the project.

Industry body the Australian Petroleum and Production and Exploration Association said the company’s decision to drop the project was disappointing for South Australians, who would have benefited economically, and for the “wider Australian community”, which needed new energy supplies.

Matthew Doman, the association’s chief executive, said: “The proposed exploration activity had been subject to an extreme campaign of false and exaggerated claims that deliberately overstated the risks and ignored the potential benefits.”

Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s chief executive, David Ritter, said the decision was an “incredible win for people power and nature”. He said it followed years of relentless campaigning by coastal communities, Indigenous traditional owners, surfers, the seafood industry, tourism operators and local businesses.

“Never doubt the power and determination of the Australian people,” Ritter said.

Sarah Hanson Young, the Greens environment spokeswoman and a South Australian senator, called on other parties to back Greens’ legislation that would put the Bight forward for world heritage protection.

“Opening a new fossil fuel basin in the middle of our ocean was always madness,” she said. Moving to net zero emissions by 2050 means we must reduce pollution now, not give the green light to new polluting projects.”

Noah Schultz-Byard, South Australian director of the Australia Institute, said polling suggested an overwhelming majority of people would support world heritage listing for the Bight.

Stangeland said Equinor said it still held an offshore exploration permit in Western Australia and would maintain “other ongoing interests and activities in Australia”.


‘Secretive’ GetUp angers volunteers

A feeding trough for a Leftist elite?

GetUp faces rising dissent in its ranks from supporters who claim the left-wing campaign group’s leadership is “secretive” about how it spends millions of dollars raised from public donations, and no real power is allowed to so-called “members” in running the organisation.

Longtime GetUp volunteers who have worked in senior campaign roles said the group’s senior executives disliked criticism, and questions about operations were often rebuffed.

“GetUp is terribly secretive,” a former volunteer said. “They seem to take the view that new people are coming in all the time, so it doesn’t matter if they lose others.”

The Australian has obtained internal correspondence between GetUp’s economic fairness campaigns director, Ed Miller, and several disillusioned supporters who claim the group “lacks transparency” and has not addressed “specific concerns about where and how funds are spent”.

Other disillusioned GetUp ­activists gave the example of $250,000 allegedly raised in donations as part of GetUp’s “protect the ABC” campaign, yet they had no evidence the money was used for campaign billboards or ads.

The Australian reported on Monday that GetUp spent more than 70 per cent of the $12.4m in public donations it raised last year on staff salaries, administration costs and travel, despite telling supporters in its online appeals for funds that “every dollar” would be used to build a fairer Australia “with spending on billboards, hard-hitting TV ads and rallies”.

GetUp devoted $3.6m of its annual donations total to “campaign expenses” while outlaying $7.2m on salaries, according to the group’s audited 2019 financial report. Another $1.4m was spent on administration, $806,000 on rent and more than $500,000 on travel.

GetUp, however, says 89 per cent or $12.4m of total expenditure was “related” to campaigns, including the $7.2m “wages for the staff”. It says its expenditure should not be compared with charities delivering social services.

Disillusioned GetUp followers complain the group gives no breakdown of spending on each campaign and rebuffs attempts to gain such information.

A longtime GetUp activist from Brisbane told Mr Miller in internal online communications that his concern, shared by others, related to a “lack of transparency”. “Despite what you say, an outsider cannot easily obtain the ­information,” he wrote.

The complainant also claimed volunteers helping GetUp’s unsuccessful campaign to oust minister Peter Dutton from his Queensland seat of Dickson at last May’s election stormed off “in ­despair” on polling day because voting cards were “so off-topic and irrelevant to local voters”. “All this dysfunction contributes to the sense of unease about GetUp’s ­attitude to their volunteer base,” the complainant said.

Mr Miller responded that he was “genuinely really sorry” the GetUp volunteer felt aggrieved, and conceded many staff and volunteers were feeling “burned out” after the election because of “strategic errors”. Another volunteer from the NSW central coast joined the online conversation. “Yes, we had the same experience during election day,” he said.

The Brisbane complainant later directed criticism at GetUp national director Paul Oosting, disputing his claims during a recent National Press Club address about the group’s “responsiveness and responsibility to its members’ input”.

Mr Oosting has repeatedly declined to respond to questions from The Australian about whether some concerns had been raised internally about spending.

He has also declined to disclose salaries for GetUp executives, including himself, or how GetUp’s donations income-to-spending ratio compares with other groups in the charity and not-for-profit sector. Mr Oosting defended the $7.2m in salaries, saying GetUp’s strategists, campaigners, organisers and developers were some of its “greatest assets” and the “driving force”. A GetUp spokeswoman said she was not aware of internal concerns about GetUp.

As a not-for-profit company, GetUp does not pay income tax because its financial reports show annual deficits. GetUp says it did not launch a “bushfire relief efforts” appeal, or directly raise funds for bushfire relief, instead referring members to the NSW Rural Fire Service or Red Cross.


Desperate white South African farmers who rushed for protection visas in Australia have their claims rejected

It's a lot easier if you are an Afghan or an Iranian

A surge of South Africans seeking protection in Australia have been disappointed as no visas have yet been approved.

Rejection letters to the families applying for protection and humanitarian visas have said they are not refugees because the violence in South Africa is widespread, random and opportunistic.

'The risk of murder and serious physical/sexual assaults is one faced by the population of the country generally and not by the applicants personally,' said the letter, quoted in The Australian newspaper.

South Africa's minority white farmers say there has been a concerted campaign to drive them off their land, and violent murders - some involving horrific rape and torture - have been forcing them to leave.

Liberal National Party member Savanna Labuschagne, herself a migrant from South Africa, said some people had their skin ironed off and holes drilled through their knee caps.

'An elderly couple had boiling water poured down their throats. I could go on for days. How do we help our people?' she told The Australian.

Ms Labuschagne said both blacks and whites had suffered from the South African government's 'corruption'.

She also shared some of the racial hatred that has been directed at the white minority by black South Africans on Facebook.

One black South African man had posted to social media that it was his duty and the duty of others to 'eliminate every white person in South Africa'.

'The only way to end racism and the oppression of my people is to destroy the white race. This must be done as quickly as possible,' his post read.

Ms Labuschagne along with fellow LNP member Patti Maher, also a South African migrant, said they were feeling frustrated as South Africans were prevented from receiving assistance by the bureaucracy. 

South Africa has been divided by deep racial grievances since the apartheid system of racial segregation ended in 1994, and this has been worsened by an economic gulf between rich and poor.

White people, who are less than 9 percent of the population, own most of the farmland in South Africa.

They are vastly outnumbered by black people who make up 80 per cent of the country's 57.7 million population, but who have the least amount of land ownership.

South Africa's ruling party the African National Congress, led by Cyril Ramaphosa, plans to take land without compensation from minority white farmers, who own most of the farmland, and redistribute it to black South Africans.

South Africa's parliament voted in 2018 to amend the constitution to allow land seizures, and has issued a proposed land expropriation bill on which the public comment period is open until 29 February, Business Tech reported.

In March 2018, Mr Dutton suggested white farmers were being persecuted and deserved special attention under Australia's humanitarian program.

He instructed his department to consider claims from persecuted South African farmers, alongside people from Asia, the Middle East and other African countries.

Liberal politicians pushed for up to 10,000 South Africans to come to Australia.

South Africans responded with a surge of 220 claims for humanitarian visas made in the last two years, almost triple the previous rate.

South Africans had previously made just 350 applications for humanitarian visas from 2008 to 2010, an average of 35 per year.

However most of the visa applications have so far been denied leaving South Africans disappointed.

Of the 570 humanitarian visa applications since 2008, only 41 were granted and 340 are still to be finalised, The Australian reported.

Protection visa applications have also failed with 97 rejected in the past three months.

Of 33 protection visa applications lodged since November, none have been approved.

A Home Affairs spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia on Monday that anyone who makes a claim for protection will be considered under the humanitarian program, and that there are many other visas available to South Africans such as the skilled, temporary and family visas.

'Almost 80,000 visas have been granted to South Africans since July 2018, allowing them to come to Australia,' the spokesperson said.

'South Africa is the 9th largest source country of permanent migrants in Australia.'

To be considered a refugee, a person must have a well-founded fear they will be seriously harmed because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a social group, the Home Affairs Department says on its website.

The serious harm can be to their life and liberty, or the denial of a capacity to earn a livelihood to survive.

Australia's Refugee Review Tribunal wrote in 2011 that despite concerns among white South Africans that they were being targeted for race, most evidence pointed to other motivations such as financial gain.

Crime is widespread in South Africa where 14 million people live in extreme poverty, and farmers are isolated and thus can be seen as easy targets.

In 2018, South Africa suffered almost 20,000 murders with most of the victims being black victims of black violence, while only 62 were farm murders - not all of them white, according to government figures quoted by investigative journalist James Pogue writing in Harper's Magazine.

Mr Pogue wrote that the brutality of the torture inflicted on some of the white victims does indicate a level of racial vitriol in the attacks.

In May last year, South African activist Annette Kennealy, 51, who spoke out against attacks on white farmers was found stabbed and beaten to death on her own farm in Limpopo province.

Kennealy was a public supporter of the white Afrikaner community and in her last Facebook post, she shared a link alleging that 10 farm attacks, including one murder, had been reported in just four days in 2019.

She also routinely shared links and stories relating to politics in South Africa, and the government's plans to start expropriating farms from white land-owners.

The South African Human Rights Commission has said black farmers have given evidence that farm safety isn't the preserve of any one racial group, although it does not dispute that there are attacks motivated by racial hatred.


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