When the outback is your classroom, who needs a phone signal?

Children across South Australia are venturing into the bush to connect with land and Aboriginal culture as part of an ongoing program that turns the outback into a classroom. Kids on Country, run by the Nature Foundation SA, takes students to Hiltaba or Witchelina nature reserves for week of culturally appropriate conservation activities and hands-on learning with Aboriginal elders, Indigenous rangers and science educators.

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Does the average teacher spend ‘nearly $500 a year’ on school supplies? – AEI – American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

This spring’s teacher walkouts have spurred renewed attention to the question of teacher pay. The topic is a serious one, warranting the extensive reportage it’s received. At times, however, the media’s progressive sympathies, the allure of hard-luck tales, and concerted PR by teachers’ unions have yielded some questionable coverage. A recent case has been the spate of stories suggesting that teachers routinely reach into their own pockets to spend extraordinary sums on classroom materials.

does the average teacher spend 500 dollars on school supplies?

@beachbumledford via Twenty20

“There is no other job I know of where the workers subsidize what should be a cost borne by an employer as a necessary ingredient of the job,” American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten has thundered. Numerous recent stories have echoed her sentiment, repeatedly stating that the average teacher spends nearly $500 a year, unreimbursed, on school supplies. “The average teacher spends $479 a year on classroom supplies, national data show,” read a typical headline in Education Week. The Washington Post reported the same finding, in a story headlined “Teachers shelling out nearly $500 a year on school supplies, report finds.” A Time story explained, “Nearly all public school teachers report digging into their pockets to pay for school supplies, spending nearly $480 a year.”

Such claims make for attention-grabbing headlines. But, as with some of the other assertions made in the teacher-pay debate, they can be misleading. It’s less that the coverage is “wrong” than that it’s credulous and sometimes deceptive. So, let’s take a moment to clear things up.

The data in question are drawn from the 2015–16 National Teacher and Principal Survey, a nationally representative study of teachers and principals in public schools, conducted by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Using the survey results, NCES calculated average teacher spending for the 94 percent of teachers who said that they spent money out of pocket — excluding the 6 percent of teachers who did not report such spending, though the coverage frequently skips past that qualifier. (Including those other teachers lowers the average by about $30 a head.)

In reporting the “average” figure, news outlets have made the odd choice to focus on mean spending rather than the more typical median figure. There’s a reason most such data are reported in terms of medians (e.g., “median household income”). The median, after all, is the figure midway between the top and bottom of a distribution, meaning it represents the middle of the pack. A mean, on the other hand, can be dramatically moved by a few outliers. Including Warren Buffet or Bill Gates in a sample of average household income would make the typical household look much wealthier than it really is; similarly, a small number of teachers claiming big outlays can move the mean a lot. Indeed, NCES says that just one in five teachers reported spending more than $500, and the median teacher reported spending $297 — or about 60 percent of the widely quoted $479 figure.

Even these qualifications elide the real concern, however, which is the trouble with placing too much weight on a self-reported figure like this one. Journalists have generally ignored the problem inherent in asking respondents about how much they claim to do a good or noble thing. Self-reporting in such cases is highly susceptible to what social scientists term “social-desirability bias”: the tendency of respondents to say things that cast them (consciously or subconsciously) in a more favorable light. Studies show, for instance, that respondents substantially overestimate the number of days per week that they exercise, claim to watch the news three times as much as they actually do, and dramatically over-report their weekly worship-service attendance.

Now, let’s be clear. We are not suggesting that teachers are lying about their spending. But we are suggesting that, when teachers filled out the survey, precious few probably took the time to comb through twelve months’ worth of receipts and credit-card statements. Most of them probably guesstimated, and it’s safe to assume that their guesstimates tended to be on the high side.

We have no desire to diminish the real sacrifices many educators make, much less to deny that some teachers do indeed dig deep into their own pockets on behalf of their students. Spending even $100 or $200 per year out of pocket, especially for a teacher making $45,000 per year, is a big deal, and we don’t mean to suggest otherwise. But serious conversations about teacher pay should be informed by accurate data and careful analysis. Public deliberations about how much teachers should be paid, and whether raises ought to be funded by new taxes or cuts to other programs, are best served by reporting that meets that standard.

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A.P. Bio

NBC’s A.P. Bio deserves plaudits for taking a shot at the ridiculous bureaucracy of public schools. Jack Griffin (Glenn Howerton, playing basically the same narcissistic slacker he’s honed for 12 years on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) teaches high school as a way to pay the bills while working on a pop philosophy book that he thinks will make him rich. When Griffin leaves the classroom to get a snack, one of his students accidentally suffers a minor injury, and Griffin gets sentenced to a single day in “Teacher Jail.”

Teacher Jail, as Griffin soon discovers, is a trailer behind the school where several erstwhile educators spend their days getting paid not to work. The others are guilty of far worse crimes than Griffin’s, but it’s too hard to fire them.

The school’s union rep contacts Griffin and offers to appeal his one-day sentence to the school board. That could allow him to spend weeks, even months, in Teacher Jail while the case is being processed. Griffin, seeing an opportunity to finish his book and draw a salary at the same time, happily agrees.

A young, eager substitute (Taran Killam) is brought in. The students love the stand-in, who actually teaches them rather than ducking out for snacks. He, of course, is summarily fired when Griffin returns.

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What This Teacher Has Her Five-Year-Old Students Do Before Class Every Morning Is Now Going Viral

Morning routines can shape us or break us. When we wake up and do things that enhance our lives from the beginning of the day, we build up our lives to be the way we want them to be. For example, meditation or exercise in the morning can do wonders for your mood and energy level throughout the rest of the day.

But our morning routines can also expand to how we act at work or in school when we first arrive. One teacher is making headlines because of what she has their kindergarten students do with each other every morning. It’s inspiring and building their confidence as well as making the learning environment more welcoming and wholesome.

Burleson, Texas teacher Ashley Coston Taylor teachers five and six-year-olds at Keene Elementary School. In the morning before she gets down to the brass tacks of teaching, Taylor, 41, assigns each student to be the day’s “greeter.” The task of the greeter is to welcome every other student into the classroom with a smile and a handshake.

Taylor hopes to teach her Texas students good manners and confidence. But that’s not all! She wants them to know that there is always “someone on their side.” The greeter can make every student feel welcomed.

When video of Taylor’s classroom tradition went online, it quickly went viral. Other teachers and parents across the state of Texas and the country as a whole were inspired. They loved seeing these five and six-year-old sharing a handshake and a greeting each morning as they gear up to learn. It gets them engaged from the beginning, and they feel like part of the classroom community.

Taylor is a veteran teacher. She’s been on the job working with students for 18 years. And she shared the video of the morning routine on Facebook from class on May 21.

Watch the clip to see the small boy in the orange shirt standing with great posture as he welcomes the other students for the day. His backpack is large, but that only serves to make him all the cuter looking.

In the clip, when a girl in a princess backpack approaches, he reaches his hand out and says, “Good morning, Serena.” She smiles and shakes his hand. Every student in Taylor’s class gets a chance to greet the other students.

After every student is in the class, gets inside, they all say good morning, and a few even share a hug. The student waits in line patiently as they participate in the wholesome ritual.

When the students are done, Taylor shakes the student’s hand and respectfully says, good morning to him.

Taylor wants students to learn how to make eye contact and give a firm handshake. It’s a life lesson students don’t usually learn in school.

Taylor said, “The school shootings have been a real eye-opener. Maybe if some of those kids had felt someone was on their side, things would have happened differently. I understand there are lots of factors that play into those situations. But ‘what if,’ you know?”

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Michelle Malkin: Crapweasel of the Week: Educrat Arne Duncan

Educrat (ED-yoo-krat) noun, usually pejorative. A government school official or administrator whose primary function is to spend tax dollars telling other parents what to do with their children.

Beltway education bureaucrats abhor families who choose to keep their kids out of public schools — unless it’s to grandstand over gun control.

Behold Arne Duncan, longtime pal of Barack Obama and former U.S. Department of Education secretary, who called last weekend for parents nationwide to withdraw students from classes “until gun laws (are) changed to keep them safe.”

Emotions are still raw after a teen shot 10 classmates and teachers to death in Texas last week. But Duncan has no excuse for his cynical, made-for-cable-TV exploitation of the Santa Fe High School massacre. Existing state laws banning minors under 18 from purchasing or possessing guns didn’t stop the shooter. Neither did laws against possessing sawed-off shotguns or pipe bombs.

And contrary to hysterical early reports, the accused 17-year-old gunman did not use “assault rifles.” So a “common sense” ban on “assault weapons” would not have saved lives, either.

But effective solutions to maximize students’ safety and well-being seemingly aren’t Duncan’s goals. His mission is airtime. Publicity. Entertainment. Provocation for provocation’s sake. Show time — for the children, of course.

School boycotts are a “radical idea,” he admitted to MSNBC. “It’s controversial. It’s intentionally provocative.” Praising teacher walkouts and student protests, Duncan told The Atlantic he supported parent-initiated school shutdowns for gun control because “we are not protecting our kids… And the fact that we’re not doing that — we’re not willing to think radically enough to do it — I can’t stomach that.”

Ah, the royal, unstomachable “we.”

Here’s another thing I find hard to swallow: Education overlord Arne Duncan now championing the radical idea of parents exercising their autonomy to do what’s best for their children.

As Obama’s meddling power-hungry education secretary, Duncan attacked “white suburban moms” and their children who turned to homeschooling in protest of the top-down Common Core “standards”/testing/data-mining program. Duncan sneered that he found it “fascinating” that the grass-roots anti-Common Core revolt came from “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.”

This elitist control freak revealed his fundamental disdain for rabble-rousing parents who’ve taken educational matters in to their own hands. By characterizing the movement against Common Core as “white” and “suburban,” Duncan also exposed his bigotry against countless parents “of color,” like myself, who’ve long opposed Fed Ed’s sabotage of academic excellence, local control and student privacy in school districts across the country.

Note that newly minted parents’ rights advocate Arne Duncan never once advocated boycotting Chicago public schools, which he ran for eight years, for their abject failure to quell rampant school violence.

Nor has Duncan called for parents to demand their districts withdraw from the disastrous “PROMISE” alternative discipline program that he helped create. (After Duncan’s protege, Broward County school superintendent Robert Runcie, initially denied that Parkland, Fla., shooter Nicholas Cruz had benefited from the program, he sheepishly acknowledged last week that Cruz had in fact been referred to the program and avoided criminal prosecution for school vandalism as a result.)

Nor has Duncan said a peep about systemic coddling of abusers in the classroom by teachers’ union presidents in New Jersey and Ohio, as exposed over the past month by undercover investigative journalists at Project Veritas.

Instead, Duncan has won high praise and more media interviews for his phony boycott proposal. “My family is all in if we can do this at scale,” he nobly tweeted.

But what his slavering fans in the liberal media won’t tell you is that Duncan’s wife works at and his own children attend the exclusive, private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools in tony Hyde Park, which a Lab Schools brochure brags is “patrolled by the University of Chicago Police Department and private security.”

Armed, of course, for thine and thee, Arne. But not for we.

PHOTO: Michelle Malkin speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Photo by Gage Skidmore. Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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What Do You Get When You Google ‘Homeschoolers’?

My wife and I have four children and we homeschool them. People often ask us if that is difficult, with the kids there all the time. We usually respond by pointing out the benefits of home schooling.

And there are many, many benefits to home schooling our children. There might be more expenses involved than just sending them to public school, since the government has already captured our tax dollars. But homeschooling is cheaper than sending them to private school and we know exactly what we are getting.

We don’t have to get the kids up early and get them ready to go. They can learn at their own natural pace, rather than struggling to keep up with or being slowed down by the class. We don’t have to pack lunches for them in advance or pay for lousy cafeteria food. Much of the school day at public schools is filler; we can cut that out.

Any school violence is handled by saying “Son, stop hitting your sister!” And there are no disruptions or penalties if we decide to take the whole family from New Hampshire to Florida for a few months in the winter, which is awesome.

The bottom line is that home schooling allows us to fit education around our family’s life rather than the other way around.

But having said all that, yes, there are difficulties that are common to home schooling parents everywhere. Often, we know exactly what they need to learn, and proceed to teach them. But we don’t always have the subject competency that we would like to teach our children.

The way that most homeschooling families handle this is by banding together. We form co-ops to help our children learn and socialize together. This allows us to use the expertise of other parents to fill in what we lack and it allows us to seek out resources — from online classes to specialized tutoring and teaching — together.

Homeschooling co-ops have become such a big deal that Google is even taking notice. It will soon be making a resource called G Suite for Education available to co-ops like mine, helping to further close the resource gap between public schools and folks who have to create school from scratch.

G Suite for education is a suite, or bundle, of tools — a little bit like Microsoft Office, but it’s free and much more internet-based. These tools include Google Drive and Docs, Calendar, Gmail and Google Classroom. As someone who uses Google tools extensively in his business, I am very happy that my children will soon be able to use the same tools and more to further their educations.

This new tool should make it easier for them to get individual instruction from teachers over the internet, organize, collaborate with other co-op classmates when they aren’t in the same place, and do all kinds of things I couldn’t even dream of doing at their age. It’s wonderful to see the opportunities available to this generation of homeschoolers.

Google takes a lot of flak for its policies in other areas, but good on the company for making this happen.

The post What Do You Get When You Google ‘Homeschoolers’? appeared first on The American Spectator.

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