I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"No Excuses" Is Destroying Lives in the UK

Leonie Haimson twitter-points to an incredibly disturbing report from The Prince's Trust, a British charity set up by Prince Charles* to help disadvantaged young people in the UK. By their account, giving out lots of bad grades - just like New York State recently did, with SecEd Arne Duncan's hearty approval - is destroying many young British lives:
Key findings
> One in six young people (18 per cent) believe they will end up on benefits for at least part of their lives. This increases to more than one in three (34 per cent) among those leaving school with fewer than five GCSEs graded A*- C
> Young people with few qualifications are also almost twice as likely as their peers to believe that they will “never amount to anything”
> One in five young people (20 per cent) claim they have “abandoned their ambitions” due to their poor qualifications [underline emphasis mine]

The GCSE, or General Certificate of Secondary Education, is the national exam for the UK. Getting five A*-C (A* seems to be the same as an A+) grades is basically a gateway to higher education. According to this report, the youth of the UK are increasingly giving up on having a healthy, productive life if they can't pass their exams.

But here's the really interesting thing: neither the students nor The Prince's Trust seem interested in blaming teachers or schools for a student's poor showing on the tests:
According to the survey, young people with fewer than five GCSEs graded A*- C are more likely to have faced significant barriers to learning in their home environment
> More than one in five young people with fewer than five GCSEs graded A*- C (29 per cent) say they “struggled to concentrate on schoolwork due to family problems”, compared to just 12 per cent of all young people
> Seventy per cent of young people say they had access to a computer when they were doing their homework. This figure is significantly lower for young people with fewer than five GCSEs graded A*- C (44 per cent) [underline emphasis mine]
Crickey! It sounds like these young people are saying their lack of success at school was caused by a difficult home life and income inequity! Why must they defend the status quo?!
The findings also reveal the extreme pressure that young people face in the wait for exam results
One in five young people (20 per cent) who are waiting for exam results say that worrying about this is affecting their health
One in six young people (17 per cent) have experienced panic attacks due to the pressure to succeed
>More than one in 10 (15 per cent) say they are unable to sleep at night
I have an idea: let's move all these kids to New York! Then Regents Chancellor (and massive hypocrite) Merryl Tisch can simply declare all these neuroses "healthy."
>Almost a third of young people (31 per cent) say that getting a good job is “virtually impossible” without good exam results
> More than one in three young people (38 per cent) believe those who fail their exams will struggle to find a good job in the future 
Well, that's easy to fix: just pass the test! After all, everyone can be above average...

According to the report, only 18% of British teens who received fewer than five A*-C  grades on their exams agreed with this statement: "I felt positive about my future when I received my GCSE results."

When will someone undertake a similar survey of the students in New York State, now that NYSED has declared that 69% of them are not "proficient"? Keep in mind that the pass rate in the UK is about 70% - that's the failure rate now in New York State.

I do not understand the mindset of an adult who thinks it is a good idea to tell the vast majority of children that they suck. What can it possibly accomplish, other than discouraging our youth?

ADDING: Looks like the Brits mess around with their cut scores, too. Was it Oscar Wilde who said: "The British and the Americans are two peoples divided by a common language"? And a common desire to politicize education.

* I'd like to point out that, apparently, the Prince of Wales does not think helping disadvantaged young people includes activities like:
  • Putting out non-peer reviewed research on teacher quality.
  • Supporting the de-unionization of the UK teaching corps.
  • Funding groups like StudentsFirst to act as money funnels for campaign contributions.
Also: the Brits seem not to much like it when the wealthy Royal Family gets too involved in politics. Funny how us Americans - who claim to have founded this country to get away from the rule of British plutocrats - seem to have no problem when our "royal families" buy and sell our politicians on the open market.

Who's the real aristocracy now, hmm?

I say, we really don't have much influence compared to that Walton family in the States, do we?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

The California Parent Trigger ha brought "no excuses" to
the City of Angels:

"In an unprecedented partnership, the L.A. Unified
School District has joined forces with Crown Prep, an outside charter operator, to run the persistently low-performing campus south of downtown.

At the front entrance of the school, two banners — one in English, one in Spanish — welcomed parents to the campus with its new name, 24th Street Learning Center."

Educational Program « Crown Prep

"Crown Prep has modeled itself after other successful urban public schools, which have used a “no excuses” model with students of similar demographics."