Boycott the Naplan

“Teacher Faction Joins Campaign Against NAPLAN“. The title speaks for itself. More and more people seem to be joining the fight against NAPLAN, and this article published yesterday in the Sydney Morning Herald just reiterates that fact. Now not only are students and parents dissing the National tests, teachers and even principals are.

A handful of Victorian educators including a principal have joined the “boycott NAPLAN coalition” (http://www.boycottnaplan.net/) campaign, discouraging students from participating in the tests.

Unsurprisingly, the article is less to do with education and more to do with politics, which seems to be the standard when it comes to education news, but there was this one sentence which had a slight glimmer of the education of children:

“[Lucy Honan, a year 7 teacher] said schools were obsessed with test preparation, leading to stressed students and a narrowing of the curriculum.”

Then, that glimmer was brutally squashed by more politics:

“A spokeswoman for Federal School Education Minister Peter Garrett said parents valued the information NAPLAN provided, which was reflected in the consistently high participation rates of about 90 per cent.”

The article itself, although seemingly adhering to the standard ‘non-education’ frame, was undeniably well-written and had well-researched facts and sources.

– Dillyn ¶

Read More: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/teacher-faction-joins-campaign-against-naplan-20130506-2j3j8.html

It’s Only a Pipe Dream, Japan

The newest education scoop I have here for you is an international article. Coming all the way from Japan (from my seat here on my bed in Australia) is an article which was published in The New York Times on the 5th of May.

The article “Scholarships to Encourage More Japanese Students to Study Overseas” explains of a new idea from Japan’s education minister Hakubun Shimomura, in which scholarships would be offered to Japanese students to continue their studies abroad. The plans come from a series of education initiatives in Japan which intend to make the country more internationally competitive.

“The number of Japanese students studying overseas peaked at 82,945 in 2004 and fell to 58,060 in 2010”

The scholarships would not be available until early 2017 however, and will only be given to students enrolled at Japanese Universities who decide to switch their studies to start in the Autumn rather than Spring, which would match other international countries.

The article (mostly good and informative) is also quite annoying. As discovered in the last paragraph “there is no serious discussion taking place” so, I guess the article was more of a pipe-dream than news?

– Dillyn Ұ

Read More: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/06/world/asia/Scholarships-to-Encourage-More-Japanese-to-Study-Overseas.html?ref=internationaleducation

It’s OK, Tertiary Students Aren’t Important…

To me, ABC News is a forerunner in providing an excellent insight into the most common news and current affairs, and in the case of education news there is no exception.

On Sunday the 14th there was an article published on the ABC’s online site titled “Educators, MP’s Furious Over University Funding Cuts”. The title pretty much captures the story at its crux: there is a lot of anger over the planned funding cuts which are in place to help te Government pay for the Gonski school reforms.

The story gives great detail into how much funding will be taken out from our Universities and why, for example:

“A 10 per cent discount on the upfront payments of HECS loans will be dumped at a value of $230 million and Student Start-Up Scholarships would need to be repaid once the student begins working.”

They also provide tables which neatly explain how much moeny will be saved from these cuts and where the cuts will occur:

University cuts

Savings
Efficiency dividend $900m
Scholarships repaid $1.2b
HECS discount abolished $230m
Tax concession cap $500m
Total savings $2.8b
The news story gives opinions from various politicians and University executives, and the general reaction to the funding is pretty clear: “[It’s] a kick in the teeth” (Victoria’s Education Minister Martin Dixon). There is also a ‘long term effects’ segment to the story, which effectively provides readers with an understanding  of what to expect when it comes to the future of University functioning in the wake of the funding cuts.
There is one strange thing about the story however, and that is what seems to be tagged on at the end. There is a sort of mini story or introduction into the Gonski reform and how positive it is for primary and secondary students, which seemed odd to me, as it started off explaining the negatives of the reform on tertiary students.
Overall though, the story is a brilliant source for information on the Gonski reform, providing clear details of the plans and their effects. Which, in relation to the previous standard of politically fueled Gonski stories, I think is quite refreshing.
– Dillyn ✍

Experience Pays!

In a bold new move, Education experts, business leaders and politicians involved in the Gonski Reform are calling for teacher salaries to be increased upwards of $100,000.

That’s the latest to come from education news in Australia, in an article which appeared in news.com.au on the 6th of April. The story which is titled “Education Experts, Gonski Architect Lead Push for Six Figure Teaching Salaries”, suggests that teachers (particularly the more experienced) should be earning a much higher pay. Gonski review Panelist Carmen Lawrence agrees:

“Teacher pay isn’t bad at entry level, but it deteriorates markedly over time”

The article effectively explains the reasons behind the push, stating that there isn’t much of an advance to teacher pay unless they step out of the classroom into administrative of executive roles. Geoff Chambers, CEO of the Australian Council of Academic Research states:

“We need to find out ways of keeping outstanding teachers in classrooms and remunerating them in a way that encourages them to stay and get better at what they do”

The article, like most education news, seems to focus more on politics than the educatoin of children, although the politics in this story is well worth the while, as greater teacher pay would see improved teaching standars, and encourage the best teachers with the most experience to remain in the classrooms to continue their outstanding work.

– Dillyn✎

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/national-news/education-experts-gonski-architect-lead-push-for-six-figure-teaching-salaries/story-fncynjr2-1226613558962#ixzz2Set49gqS

Groundbreaking Stuff UK…

This morning I was watching yet another of those video formatted news stories (on education of course), which was published by UK online newspaper The Telegraph. The video was named “Smaller  class sizes lead to better educational outcomes”. May I start by saying, thanks for stating the obvious UK… really earth shattering news!

As I approached the video’s main content with sarcasm levels at a high, I thought; of course! We already know that smaller classes have better educational outcomes, more one to one time with student and teacher, which is essential to learning and greater education. So what was the purpose of the news story, if not to tell the audience something they already know?

Well the news itself may not have been very new or exciting, but the man in the video (John Bangs) described as an education expert, gives a detailed explanation into why it is more effective and how each subject would benefit from varying class sizes. He also explains that no matter how qualified the teacher may be, if put against class sizes of 30-40+, there is simply not enough time for ‘dialogic learning’ (or one teacher to one student) as the ratio is just too large.

“It’s just not possible”

So sarcasm aside, the story was actually quite an effective and informative piece on education!

– Dillyn ¶

Check out the video here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9967652/Smaller-class-sizes-lead-to-better-educational-outcomes.html

Gonski With The Politics

The latest product of my adventure into professional news writing on education is a little more local than Kenya or America. The article which featured in the ABC news earlier this week focused on the Australian Government’s new education reform: the Gonski.

For those who are not aware, the Gonski is a review and funding system for education in Australia. It aims to “equalize” the amount of funding each level of schooling – such as more money to public schools.

Some however, are not convinced. The article explains how none of the Australian states have yet signed up to the plan, with Western Australia for example, stating:

“(we) have an excellent education system… the funding model will not be determined by Canberra”

The other states following with similar opinions.

Clearly the article was not entirely focused on education, as the title “Gillard Pressures State Over Gonski Reform” suggests; its also political.

In standard Australian politician form, some kind of argumentative comment was bound to be made, this time by NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli.

“I’m disappointed that the Prime Minister would choose to conduct her negotiations around Gonski through the media and not through a proper policy process.”

In fact, after reading through the article, I discovered (a little too late) that it may not have much to do with education at all…

– Dillyn ¨

Read More: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-03-26/gillard-pressures-states-over-gonski-reform/4595988

American Education System Failure

This morning whilst dabbling in some leisurely reading of international news sources, I came across a story that had a real impact on me. The story was published on the 21st of March on The Global Post , and was titled “Chicago may close 10% of elementary schools to address $1 billion education budget gap”. The title alone is enough to evoke emotions of anger, empathy and sadness at the thought of school children potentially losing their local schools, but after reading the content, I wasn’t sure what to think.

Chicago Public Schools, the country’s third-largest school district, has reported that nearly half of its 681 schools are under-enrolled, with 140 of them more than half empty”

On one hand, the story showed why the closure of the schools would be an advantageous move, saving  hundreds of thousands of dollars, and allowing many children to move from their underutilized, half empty schools with low enrollment rates, to better performing schools close to their home with greater resources available to them.

“For too long children in certain parts of Chicago have been cheated out of the resources they need to succeed”

On the other hand however, the story tells of the disastrous impacts it could have on children and the local areas.

After reading the story I was thinking ‘oh it doesn’t sound so bad’, the positives seemingly outweighing the negatives and providing a better education for those in under used schools. However, after some further research, I discovered the closings were predominantly in poor neighborhoods, where the children would have little to no other options of education if the local school was closed, exposing them to “gang violence and turf wars.”

I felt a little embarrassed that I was looking at the closures in an agreeable light…  To me it appears this story is written in a way as such to sway the public view of closures as more positive than negative. The writer of the story clearly had chosen a side in the fight and had reflected the biased they possessed in their writing of this article.

Read More: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130321/rahm-emanuel-chicago-school-cuts-us-colleges-education

– Dillyn유

We Don’t Need No Education

Recently (in one of my Journalism tutorials) I came across a story that at first seemed very interesting and relevant. The title, “Fears over stressed children as how-to books race off the shelves” pulled me in, it was well written and quite effective in spiking my interest. However, after reading the story itself, I was annoyed and frankly a little confused. The story was written in the Sydney Morning Herald on March 18th 2013, and despite the important subject of stressed school children, the story sounded more like an advertisement, encouraging the use of how-to literacy and numeracy books, rather than stating the negative effects they may be having on said stress levels.

The title is misleading, pulling parents in thinking they might be able to help their young and (apparently) stressed kids, but with statements such as the following, it sounds to me as if parents are being conned into buying the “popular” books:

“The books differentiated from the competition by being ‘bright, non-threatening and including sticker rewards'”.

The image used even had an infomercial feel, showing the brightly coloured books in a nice light.

art-glenn-20fowler-620x349

The facts were not backed up, there were no relevant studies mentioned or scientific proof of the claimed stress levels. Sure, it may be true that children are over-stressed (particularly in year 3 for the Naplan…), but how can the audience be expected to trust the writer when they have no real evidence and the story sounds more like an ad or a book promotion?

There was one bit of evidence (if you can call it that), the writer of the story pulling a quote from US president Barack Obama which has no relevance at all to stress in children:

”Recently, US President Obama said that children were in danger of finding learning boring.”

Um… what?

To conclude, the education subject matter of the story was not well covered. It was hardly an education news story at all, but an infomercial for some very popular how-to books.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/fears-over-stressed-children-as-howto-books-race-off-shelves-20130317-2g8q5.html#ixzz2P4LE7WVY

– Dillyn ✍

Timely Education

Education in the media is not as simple as it may seem: it isn’t just “kids learn this” or “kids learn  that”. Rather, news tends to explore education via multifaceted stories, which explain the issue through layers, tackling more than just one issue. For example, on March 20th 2013, the Sydney Morning Herald released a story entitled “Early Lunch Gives Kids an Energy Hit in Class”, which focused on the link between nutrition and attention to education.

“Schools such as St Therese have moved their lunch forward for an early kick of energy and to avoid children becoming distracted by a grumbling stomach.”

Instead of the standard “attention drops in class”, the Sydney Morning Herald explores why attention is dropping, and what certain schools have done to fix the issue.

“It was not only the body that became fatigued on an empty stomach but also the brain.”

The story uses external sources to explore the issue, as opposed to staying within the trouble area and just interviewing teachers or students. There were quotes from people such as Jenny O’Dea, a professor of nutrition education at the University of Sydney, which provide an informed and educated opinion to back up the school’s reasoning. The layered approach to education news provides a greater trust and interest in the story, using scientific evidence to back up claims, as well as opinions and observations from teachers  to add a personal touch.

The story also serves as a reminder for parents all over the country how important nutrition is for children, particularly with relation to their education.

Read more on the story at: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/early-lunch-gives-kids-an-energy-hit-in-class-20130319-2gdl7.html#ixzz2OtwJgQmW

– Dillyn ✎