Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Educational apartheid in Australian schools?

Retired school principal Chris Bonnor thinks so. See below. His basic beef is that children from affluent homes do better at school. He ventures no explanation of why that is so. He simply says that it is deplorable. But is it changeable? He seems to think that it obviously is but he makes no argument to that effect. He is enclosed in a warm cloak of his own righteousness that frees him from any obligation to justify his views.

He does not at all consider the very well attested fact that higher IQ kids do better at school and that IQ is mainly hereditary. Findings to that effect have emerged repeatedly for over a century. So there never will be an equality of educational outcomes.

Chris could probably live with that but what really burns him up is that the kids who do well also come from more affluent homes. And -- horrors! -- they even go to private schools!

Again Chris fails to ask why that is so. It's a pretty obvious deduction that smart people will in general be smart at making money too. So the smart parents of smart kids will be able to give the kids concerned comfortable homes and a good educational experience. That dastardly IQ is behind the high SES background of the more successful students too!

But no evidence or reasoning will have any impact on our Chris. He is a rigid bigot who believes what he wants to believe and damn the evidence. That educational inequality must always be with us is incomprehensible to him. He is good at hate, though. Calling natural inequality "apartheid" is scurrilous. He is at best a buffoon

If we sat down 40-plus years ago to write a prescription for a social/academic apartheid system of schools operating on an unlevel playing field, we couldn’t have done it better. It is a structural oddity which has placed Australia as an outrider on the OECD stage.

In the process, it effectively discounted one of the key findings of the Gonski Review, something that seems to lie at the heart of our problems. This problem isn’t hard to find. Anyone can go to the My School website and easily discover that the NAPLAN results coming out of the schools tends to match the socioeconomic status (SES) of the students going in each day.

But there’s more. Gonski reported – and other research confirms – that the collective impact on student achievement comes even more from the SES of each student’s peers, than from their own family. In the world of schools, negative peer effects are associated with students from disadvantaged social backgrounds; positive effects with students from advantaged backgrounds.

Parents and teachers know about this peer effect and that knowledge drives our enrolment shift from low to higher SES schools. School principals certainly know, and competition between schools too often degenerates into an unseemly competition to get preferred students.

The combination of such peer impacts on student outcomes in an already segregated system of schools calls out for a review of how our school system is structured and what we should be doing to create a more inclusive system and socially diverse schools.


Forensic laboratory DNA results ‘untrue’, public inquiry finds

Bureaucratic laziness at work. That is shocking enough. What makes it more so is that dodgy forensic science has been going on in Queensland government laboritories since at least 2005. At least some people have been sacked over it this time

Forensic scientists at Queensland’s DNA laboratory have been making “untrue” statements to courts, prosecutors and victims of crime since 2018, damning findings of a public inquiry reveal.

The government-run lab, a major focus in The Australian’s investigative podcast, Shandee’s Story, has been ordered to immediately change expert witness statements issued in the past five years, affecting potentially thousands of criminal cases including rapes and murders.

Led by recently ­retired Court of Appeal president Walter Sofronoff KC, the inquiry released alarming interim findings on Tuesday that the lab issued statements of “no DNA detected” and “insufficient DNA for further processing”, when samples had not been fully tested and there was a chance that usable DNA could be found.

Queensland’s unusually high threshold for testing, ­demanded samples contain ­double the number of cells ­required in NSW before they could progress to DNA profiling.

If samples fell below the threshold, they were reported by the lab as having “insufficient DNA” or “no DNA detected” to police and in the formal witness statements prepared for scientists to give evidence in court.

But the inquiry has heard it is possible to extract “either a full or partial profile” below Queensland’s threshold, meaning the statements routinely produced by the lab are “untrue”.

Mr Sofronoff recommended every witness statement issued since 2018, when samples were reported as having insufficient or no DNA, be identified by the lab “without delay”.

Once identified, the lab must prepare a correction explaining “the statement was not correct and that the sample contains a low level of measurable DNA which, if fully processed, might produce an interpretable profile”, for those samples initially reported as having “insufficient DNA”.

In each case deemed as “no DNA detected”, the lab must clarify that the statement was incorrect and “that further work might result in a usable profile, but that that is unlikely”.

In the 40-page report, handed to cabinet on Tuesday morning, Mr Sofronoff said the discovery that witness statements have been issued that are untrue was “deeply concerning”.

“I am of the opinion that the practice of putting forward these untrue statements as true expert evidence is a profound issue for the administration of criminal justice, for the integrity of police investigations and for decisions made by victims of crime,” he wrote.

“The belief in the truth of these statements should not be permitted to continue for a day longer.”


Australia has become a nation ruled by fools

We have surrendered power over every aspect of our lives and industry to fifteen debating chambers in eight ruling cities. These assemblies are controlled by lawyers, unionists, centralists, green dreamers, power seekers, and tax consumers.

Their direct cost alone is horrendous.

There are 837 politicians (ignoring local government). Each has a salary (say $200,000), travel and office costs (say $150,000 per year), and staff costs (say $200,000) – a billion here, plus a billion there and pretty soon you’re talking real money.

Now add all the state and federal governors, the cabinets with their limos and press corps, eight armies of tax collectors, and the accountants and lawyers trying to protect taxpayers from them. Then there are the building costs with each citadel probably getting its red-and-black flag (the NSW version flag cost $25 million).

But salaries and perks are a minor part of their real cost. The killer costs are incurred when they use direct investments or fiddle the rules on taxes and subsidies to chase impossible green dreams.

Most of our 837 politicians and their servants are obsessed with Net Zero and, learning from the Covid lockdowns, they now dream of Climate lockdowns.

Devoid of engineering talent or economic common sense they presume to design our electricity network (but they ban emissions-free nuclear power while planning the destruction of the old reliables, coal, gas, and hydro). Although the green-infected electricity grid is struggling to meet current demands, they ‘plan’ to add even greater loads to turn water into hydrogen, push water uphill, charge giant batteries and power subsidised fleets of electric vehicles.

Pretending to save the bush, their green mandates and subsidies are replacing useful grasslands and valuable resources of hardwood, softwood, mulga, and saltbush with bird slicers, roads, poles, wires, plastic, metal, concrete, and glass as the new green energy landscapes. Then they plan to use this intermittent low-density green energy to produce hydrogen which can never recover the energy used to produce it, and also consumes nine tonnes of fresh water for every tonne of hydrogen produced.

Ignorant of the realities of food production, they turn grasslands into havens for weeds and pests, and lock-the-gates to explorers, farmers, foresters, and fishermen. They think we can have drought and flood mitigation without dams, timber without foresters, minerals without mines, and food without farmers and fishermen.

They reward people who won’t work and tax those who do. Ignorant of the benefits of federalism, they strive to destroy federalism by inventing a ‘National Cabinet’, and run endless centralising summits, enquiries, and talkfests. Soon, the veto of The Voice could make anything and everything impossible!

A cold hungry winter is about to show Europe the deadly dangers of listening to green dreamers. It is surely time for Australia to withdraw from foreign entanglements like the Paris treaty, and chop Canberra’s green tentacles, limiting its duties to defence, foreign affairs, and maintenance of free trade (exactly as our founders intended).


Australian Greenies don't like honour to the Queen

The Victorian Greens say they will move a motion in state parliament calling on the Andrews government to immediately reverse its “disrespectful” decision to rename a Melbourne hospital after Queen Elizabeth II.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday announced a re-elected Labor government would spend between $850m and $1.05bn on rebuilding Maroondah Hospital in Melbourne’s east.

Mr Andrews said the rebuilt hospital would be named after the late monarch, “as a mark of respect to her unwavering commitment to healthcare and our community”.

But Indigenous groups and the Greens have attacked the government over the move, claiming it will make Aboriginal Victorians feel “culturally unsafe”.

Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam foreshadowed the motion – to be moved later on Tuesday – saying the decision “to change the name of a hospital from an Aboriginal word to the name of a foreign monarch representing colonisation is completely disrespectful and erases First Nations language”.

“As Victoria embarks on its historic treaty process Labor must listen to First Nations communities and act now,” Dr Ratnam said.

“What is Labor thinking changing the name of a hospital from a First Nations word to the name of a foreign monarch representing colonisation?

“It is a disrespectful decision that erases precious Woiwurrung language. This is not what treaty looks like.

“If this government is serious about treaty it would listen to First Nations communities and act now, not later.”

Mr Andrews defended the decision on Monday, saying the local government area which is home to the hospital will continue to be known as Maroondah.

Mr Andrews dismissed opposition towards the renaming by the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, saying members of the body had been elected only to “negotiate treaty”.

Assembly co-chair Marcus Stewart on Monday tweeted a phrase in Taungurung language which he said closely resembled “get in the bin” in response to Mr Andrews’ announcement the hospital would be renamed in honour of Queen Elizabeth.

“They are elected to negotiate treaty,” Mr Andrews said.

“That’s what they are elected to do, and we are delivering that treaty.

“It’s a brand new hospital for Melbourne’s east, and it’s going to get a new name, and it’s going to be absolutely fantastic.”

The surrounding local government area would still be named Maroondah and the redeveloped hospital would be close to the Maroondah Hwy, Mr Andrews said.

“I think it’s very well known and understood the Queen was a very strong supporter of the NHS in Britain,” he said.

“She was someone who opened hospitals in Victoria … I don’t think anyone could question her compassion and her genuine care for patients in hospitals.”




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