Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Left-led destruction of standards in the schools

We will MAKE you equal, they implicitly say -- even if we can do that only by dumbing everybody down to a low common denominator. Their "all men are equal" gospel is truly pernicious but is part of their general disconnect from reality.

Reality is unimportant to them. They see only what they want to see. And what they want is to see everyone as miserable as they are. As Gore Vidal once said: "Whenever a Friend Succeeds, a Little Something in Me Dies"

In my university teaching career I saw several instances of the sort of thing mentioned below. I was in a very Leftist Sociology department and I saw student marks upgraded on all sorts of flimsy grounds

A friend of mine walked away from his job as a teacher recently, turning his back on career spanning over three decades.

He told me he was leaving because he was tired of being forced to give good marks to indifferent students, as there existed an unwritten but understood direction that no one was allowed to fail.

He said he was tired of coaching sporting teams to take part in competitions in which there was no scoring, so that everybody was a winner and no one suffered the ignominy of coming second.

If everyone passes and nobody loses, then the students are happy and parents are happy and the headmasters and education bureaucrats are happy.

Little Johnny never acquires the discipline inherent in study, but sails through high school without raising a sweat because the system says he must. He also thinks he’s great at sport as his team never lost.

His lack of commitment to learning doesn’t matter, because as long as he can sign his name and apply for a student HECS loan, universities will welcome him into their folds.

He spends three lovely years watching online lectures in between playing video games, going to the beach and hanging out with his mates.

His tutors give his barely comprehensible assignments a pass mark because they know that their superiors expect everyone to pass.

Tutors know that if they fail students, particularly those from overseas, they will be accused of having a bias against a particular group.

It doesn’t matter that these groups have poor written and spoken English language skills, and engage in wholesale cheating.

It’s much better to give everyone a tick and move on, rather than risk a career-threatening confrontation.

Three years and $30,000-plus later, Johnny emerges from the sun-drenched halls of academia with a degree and zero skills.

He has been in the education system for 15 years and learnt absolutely nothing because no one forced him to pursue goals and strive for excellence.

He eventually gets a job in retail or a call centre, and looks at the degree hanging on his bedroom wall and gets angry because he feels the system has failed him.

What happened to that high-paying job to which his degree entitles him?

He’s right, of course. The system did fail him. It thought it was doing him a favour by protecting him from the emotional damage he might suffer if he was told that if what he was offering up was his best, it wasn’t good enough and he would have to go back and give it another shot.

He never learnt that there are winners and losers in life, and that the difference between the two is that winners try harder.

We know the system is failing these kids because it’s evident in the studies that compare the performance of our students with those in other countries.

This evidence is incontrovertible, but no one seems particularly interested in changing anything.

In 2019 almost one in every 10 student teacher university graduates failed an online literacy and numeracy test.

How difficult is the test? Here are two sample questions.

* This year a teacher spent $383.30 on stationery. Last year the teacher spent $257.85 on stationery. How much more did the teacher spend this year than last year?

* A surf shop has surfboards for hire at $15 an hour up to a maximum of $60 a day. What is the cost of hiring a surfboard from 9.30am to midday?

Challenging? I don’t think so.

Surely a system that produces high school graduates who then progress through a degree at the completion of which they are unable to perform simple intellectual tasks is flawed.

They then go on to teach others and the process is perpetuated.

Many teachers do great work and it could be, I imagine, the most demanding of professions but that is not the point.

The concern is that far too many of our kids are completing their high school education ill-equipped to make their way in the world, and then drift into meaningless degree courses that qualify them for Centrelink payments and little else.

In a few weeks, thousands of Queensland children will part company with their tearful mothers and pass through the school gates for the first time.

We want these kids – all of our kids – to be winners in every sense of the word, but it falls to parents to instil the understanding that success is hard won because a system that seeks to please all and disappoint none will never do it.

Scott Morrison attacks Cricket Australia for decision to drop term 'Australia Day' from BBL promotions

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has criticised Cricket Australia (CA) for its decision to avoid using the term "Australia Day" in Big Bash League promotions.

Three Big Bash clubs will wear Indigenous jerseys and Cricket Australia decided to drop the term in a bid to normalise conversations over the date's history.

The move to abandon references to "Australia Day" prompted a rebuke from Mr Morrison, who is touring a refinery in Queensland on Thursday.

"I think a bit more focus on cricket, and a bit less focus on politics would be my message to Cricket Australia," he told radio station 4RO. "I think that's pretty ordinary but that's what they're putting on their press releases."

He said Cricket Australia should listen to any backlash from fans opposed to the decision and reverse it.

The Sydney Thunder, Perth Scorchers and Melbourne Renegades will all wear their special strips in matches on January 23, 25 and 26.

A barefoot circle, Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony will also take place before some games, with CA leading the initiative backed by the clubs.

The moves form part of several recommendations by the sport's National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cricket Advisory Committee, with three games to be played on January 26.

"They thought it was pretty important to not remove cultural elements we have celebrated all season on a day like that," Cricket Australia's diversity and inclusion manager Adam Cassidy told AAP.

"Obviously it's a bit of a challenge when you have matches being played on a day of mourning for a lot of people."

CA is well aware the issue is a sensitive one and is desperate for it not to prove divisive, but for it to encourage open discussion.

"When you are a business operating under a Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan, it does come with responsibility and accountability to lead on key reconciliation issues," Cassidy said.

"In an ideal world what we're trying to do is create a safe and inclusive environment for everybody."

Indigenous jerseys have been worn across different sports for some time, but it is the first time they will be used over the Australia Day period.

The move has been firmly approved by the game's players, with Sydney Thunder's Brendan Doggett championing the cause through his own Indigenous history.

"I hate conflict. So I am of the opinion if we can all merge forward together that's ideal," Doggett said. "The way we're going to do that is by starting conversations and talking about it and acknowledging the history of what's happened. "If we wear the kit and hopefully even start one conversation then that is a win."

The Thunder have long referred to the public holiday as the January long weekend and have been a leader in multicultural initiatives through the Thunder Cup.

Doggett, meanwhile, has grown increasingly aware of his Indigenous history in recent years, after only discovering his mother's family's links to the Stolen Generation around five years ago.

That, too, has changed his perspective on the day, which he says is now far different to when he was a carpenter in Queensland.

And it's with that perspective he believes it is possible to become more united, and that wearing the Indigenous jerseys could help prompt that.

"For me now it's more of a day to just recognise and acknowledge the history and everything that has happened. And do it respectfully," he said. "It makes me want to make sure that everyone's moving forward together.

"It's a pretty dark past but if we can move forward, together and united then in my opinion that's the best result."

Medevac detainees freed from Melbourne hotel after years in immigration detention

At least 26 refugees and asylum seekers have been freed from immigration detention in Melbourne, where some have spent more than a year detained in inner-city hotels, advocacy groups say.

The men were allowed to leave the Park Hotel and the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) on Wednesday, according to Ian Rintoul from Refugee Action Coalition.

Legal representatives for some of the men who were still detained said they had been told they would be freed on Thursday.

"We've got 100 cases where people are still in detention, and the minister has indicated that he's considering granting the visas in a number of other cases," Daniel Taylor from Sydney West Legal said.

Most of the men had cases pending in the court, where lawyers planned to argue they were being illegally detained.

The men who are being released were brought to Australia under the now-repealed medical evacuation law — widely referred to as the Medevac law — which allowed refugees and asylum seekers in offshore detention to enter the country for urgent medical treatment.

Ramsi Sabanayagan, a Tamil refugee from Sri Lanka, learned that he will be freed on Thursday after eight years in immigration detention. "Tomorrow morning, I am released," the 29-year-old refugee said. "I can't believe, really, I can't explain our happiness. Really, very exciting."

Mr Sabanayagan said he arrived on Christmas Island in July 2013 and was later transferred to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea where he spent more than six years in Australian immigration detention.

In November 2019, he was transferred to Australia under Medevac to receive treatment for mental health issues and severe headaches caused by shrapnel wounds.

Mr Sabanayagan said in recent months he had made multiple requests to immigration officials to be returned to PNG but didn't receive a response.

Police cars lined the streets outside the Park Hotel in Melbourne on Wednesday as officials prepared to move the men to the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) to be processed.

Images showed at least one man waving to supporters as police escorted him to a waiting bus. Within hours, some walked out of the gates of MITA, according to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC).

"The entire refugee movement is feeling a great sense of relief that people are finally being released," Jana Favero from the ASRC said. "People's mental and physical health rapidly deteriorated over the past year, especially with the pandemic."

The Home Affairs department has long maintained the men's stay in Australia would be temporary, and that as soon as their treatment was over they would be returned to PNG, Nauru or another country that was willing to take them.

Before being transferred to Australia for medical treatment, the men had spent years in offshore immigration processing centres on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

Under Australia's immigration policy, asylum seekers who arrive by boat are told they will never be settled in the country.

The Medevac legislation passed in February 2019 was short-lived, as the Government opposed it and repealed it in December 2019, months after the federal election.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton claimed the legislation offered a "back door" into the country that refugees would exploit to stay here.

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Home Affairs Department said Australia's policy remained unchanged. "No-one who attempts illegal maritime travel to Australia will be permanently settled here," the spokesperson said.

The Home Affairs spokesperson did not confirm what visas the men had been given, but said final departure bridging visas give holders the right to temporarily reside in Australia while they finalise their arrangements to leave.

Mr Taylor from Sydney West Legal said all of his clients who had been in detention had asked to return to PNG or Nauru, but their requests were ignored.

Hundreds of people were transferred to Australia under the Medevac legislation. Most were held in Alternatives Places of Detention (APODs), namely hotels in Melbourne and Brisbane while they received medical treatment.

Some of the refugees said they did not receive adequate medical care and were confined to their rooms for 23 hours a day.

Fishermen reject Greenie claims Australians are 'eating endangered sharks' under the guise of flake

Queensland shark fishers have rejected an Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) campaign encouraging Australians to stop eating flake.

The Give Flake a Break campaign urges people to choose sustainable seafood alternatives, as there is no legal obligation to disclose what species of shark is being sold, or where it has come from.

Margaret Stevenson, who owns a fishing business with her husband Graham at Burnett Heads in Queensland, says there should not be any concern as fishers are already heavily regulated.

"We've got a total allowable catch that restricts how much we can catch," she said. "We have to call in and give out how many sharks we've caught, even if it's only one, and that's every trip. "We can't leave the boat ramp for an hour after we've called in so boating and fisheries patrol can inspect our catch.

"We have to identify each species of shark that we catch in our logbooks and report on it and we have to do that on the phone as well — we have to give them the numbers before we get in."

Senior sharks campaigner for the Australian Marine Conservation Society Leo Guida argued the seafood labelling system was "broken".

"Fishers do record what species they catch, and there are fishers out there who do a fantastic job and provide us with sustainable alternatives," he said.

"But by the time it gets to the plate, somewhere along the way, the information as to what species — particularly with sharks — that people are eating gets lost or is very difficult to find.

"We know this because there are quirks in our national environment laws that allow the harvest and sale of endangered fish. "These include the endangered school shark and the critically endangered scalloped hammerhead."

Mrs Stevenson said what AMCS was implying was simply wrong. "It just can't happen with these claims that we're selling product that we shouldn't be — that it's threatening an endangered species," she said.

"If they [boating and fisheries patrol] come and inspect our catch and we have something that we shouldn't have or there's an error in what we've told them over the phone — we're liable to get fined. "Our whole livelihood, our whole business then is on the line."

A handful of species are listed as threatened under Australia's Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, including the grey nurse shark and the speartooth shark, which banned them from being fished in Australian waters.

But while the scalloped hammerhead shark is classed as globally critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, it is legally allowed to be caught in limited numbers in Australia under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

In Queensland, recreational fishers are prohibited from catching scalloped, smooth and great hammerhead sharks, but commercial fishers are not.

Graham Stevenson explained that they were not catching endangered species of shark. "The species of sharks that we catch here primarily are spinner sharks, which are a school type shark — they're in the thousands out here," he said.

"We get black-tipped sharks and weasel sharks — weasel sharks only ever eat octopus, they're very similar to the southern gummy. "At different times of year we do get a lot of hammerhead sharks — they're very prolific in this area."

Mrs Stevenson said she was frustrated that there did not seem to be anything they could do about it. "We're guilty until we're proven innocent and we've got no mechanism available to us prove our innocence as an industry," she said.

"The only thing I can say to consumers is to put the onus back onto these greenie organisations and demand the evidence, demand the proof of what these claims are.

"A few years ago, we had a really good market for shark and they [AMCS] came out and did a big campaign and because of it that whole business that used to buy our shark went bust."




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