Friday, 16 March 2018
Monday, 5 March 2018
Thursday, 1 March 2018
Dolly Parton joined “Good Morning America” earlier today to discuss her special appearance in Washington, D.C., Tuesday where she celebrated a huge milestone for her book-giving literacy program and launched a new venture with the nation’s largest library.
“It makes me feel proud of who I am, where I'm from and the fact that I am in a position to help people and especially the kids,” Parton said of the milestone for her nonprofit, Imagination Library. “It's so important to me because if you can teach children to read they can dream and if you dream you can be successful.”
Alongside Carla Hayden, who heads the Library of Congress, the iconic country singer dedicated the 100 millionth book from her Imagination Library to the research library. Through the nonprofit, she has been donating millions of books to children for more than 20 years.
Parton also helped kick off a new initiative between the Imagination Library and the Library of Congress, in which a book will be read during a live-stream and shared with libraries across the U.S.
Saturday, 24 February 2018
A $25 million library designed to look like a Scottish castle, an orchestra pit and a chapel nestled into nearby bushland are just some of the new features planned for Sydney's elite private schools, despite complaints from neighbouring residents and local councils.
Seven schools are planning to spend a combined total of more than $365 million on new facilities and school redevelopments, an analysis of development applications currently waiting for approval from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment has revealed.
A rendering for Scots College's proposed $25 million new library by JCA Architects.
Scots College in Sydney's east has submitted plans for a $25.1 million major upgrade of its library building, including a "complete recladding of the exterior in a Scottish Baronial architectural style" complete with castellations, a tower, a turret, and "grand bay windows".
Loreto Kirribilli has submitted plans for a $103.3 million staged redeveloment of the school, including a new five-storey "innovation centre", outdoor rooftop learning terraces and two "vertical connection pods".
Cranbrook's $75 million redevelopment plan includes a new aquatic recreation centre, a drama theatre, "teaching terraces" and a new academic and liberal arts facility, while SCEGGS Darlinghurst's $48.7 million plan includes a new six-storey "multi-purpose building", possibly with new swimming facilities.
St Catherine's School has submitted modifications to its previously approved $62.5 million redevelopment, which still includes an orchestra pit, a ballet studio, a playbox theatre and a new aquatic centre.
St Aloysius' College is also planning a major redevelopment, including a new sports facility and extensions of its great hall, chapel and existing learning facilities. The plan does not provide an exact value but will cost over $30 million.
Loreto Normanhurst is planning to construct a number of new buildings and a "bush chapel" and increase its student cap from 1150 students to 2000, with costs expected to exceed $20 million.
The school's principal Barbara Watkins said the projected student increase "is in line with the expected growth in demographics in schools over the next 30 years" and that the school funds its physical site through loans, fees and fundraising.
"Government funding goes directly to the educational needs of our students alone," Ms Watkins said.
Associate professor in the school of education and social work at the University of Sydney, Helen Proctor, said the top private schools often become "caught in a bit of a cycle".
"It becomes an arms race where those schools are charging very high fees and they feel like parents want something very visible for those fees, they want the state-of-the-art sports stadium, library and performance centre," Dr Proctor said.
"It would be difficult to find a top school that doesn't have a current building project.
"It's hard to imagine what more they need. It does seem extraordinary that those very top schools would need government funding."
Two of the schools with planned redevelopments were revealed as being among the most overfunded private schools in the country.
Loreto Kirribilli last year received federal government funding equivalent to 196 per cent of its appropriate level, as calculated under the Gonski Schooling Resource Standard (SRS), and St Aloysius' was funded at 183 per cent of its SRS.
Sydney's high-fee private schools raised fees by up to 5 per cent this year and SCEGGS and Cranbrook are currently two of the most expensive, with annual fees rising to more than $37,200 for year 12 students this year.
The combined price tag for the seven schools' planned developments is close to the $390 million allocated by the NSW government last year to address an enormous maintenance backlog across the state's 2100 public schools.
A number of the plans have been met with concerns from local residents and councils over ongoing traffic issues in areas surrounding the schools.
A spokeswoman for Woollahra Council said it has raised concerns about "ongoing parking problems and traffic congestion" with Scots College, and has refused a previous development application by the school due to traffic issues.
Similar traffic congestion issues have also been raised by local residents and local councils in relation to the submissions by SCEGGS, Loreto Kirribilli and Loreto Normanhurst.
Two letters of opposition from local residents to Loreto Kirribilli's planned redevelopment said nearby streets are "gridlocked" in the mornings and afternoons, and residents and North Sydney Council told the Department of Planning that the school should be required to build dedicated pick-up and drop-off areas on its grounds.
Loreto Kirribilli, Scots College and SCEGGS did not respond to questions by deadline.
When Victorian Opposition leader Matthew Guy tries to whip up a moral panic about the state of our education system it is only so he can propose kicking it further down an authoritarian path.
The Victorian Liberal-Nationals School Education Values Statement released last month points to the stagnation of literacy and numeracy test results as evidence of the breakdown of "discipline", "teaching the basics" and "instilling sound values".
Mr Guy's draconian plans – which include installing police in our 10 most "high-risk" schools, abolishing the Safe Schools program, pumping up parochial Australian nationalism and stamping out celebration of diversity in the curriculum – are bound to have a devastating impact on the educational opportunities of our most disadvantaged and marginalised students.
But if Mr Guy's fear mongering about falling standards touches a nerve for some, it is because we really do have good cause to be worried about our education system.
The Australian Education Union's response to the Coalition's statement, published in The Age, gets it right when it champions the great work teachers and support staff can do when they are adequately funded and trusted. However, as teachers currently working in schools, we were disappointed by the failure of the AEU to address the reasons why this trust and support for teachers is rapidly disintegrating.
The plateauing NAPLAN results Mr Guy refers to are a reflection of a much deeper crisis in our schools, the cause of which remains both Liberal and Labor policy – the thoroughly discredited market-based model of education – which research suggests has been a key factor in the recent flatlining of student results.
Mr Guy claims billions of government dollars spent over the last 15 to 20 years have done nothing to improve educational standards. Frankly, many teachers would agree, although not for the reasons that Mr Guy suggests.
In the first place, public schools have not seen the majority of funding increases. Between 2006-07 and 2015-16 government funding to public schools increased by around 23 per cent. In the same period, government spending on private schools increased by 42 per cent.
This madness is justified as governments supporting parent choice in the marketplace of educational options.
The Liberals' not-so-invisible hand reached peak corruption last year when the Turnbull government legislated to federally fund 80 per cent of private schools' basic needs (regardless of their capacity to charge fees many times this amount), while funding only 20 per cent of government schools' basic needs.
But the problem of marketisation runs deeper. Public schools have been set in competition not just with private schools, but also with each other.
We have had nearly 10 years of Labor's MySchool website, which encourages parents to play the school system like the stock market. Low scores are punished with low enrolments, as privileged families flock to high-performing schools, and the least socially mobile remain at schools with the least resources to support them.
As a result, when public schools in Victoria have received meagre funding increases, these are too often wasted on programs that principals think will boost scores and reputation – even if they undermine real learning. Despite plenty of evidence that streaming actually reduces student achievement, select-entry programs are breaking out like algae plagues around the state. As are uniform policies that mimic private schools in pettiness and pricing.
There are so many commercial consultants offering to sell schools magic-bullet strategies for lifting literacy and numeracy results that the Department of Education and Training has developed a "preferred suppliers list" to help principals choose between them.
These data merchants are wreaking educational havoc; their trade relies on principals remaining in perpetual suspicion of teachers' competence. "Coaches" at my school are interrupting excellent teachers in front of their classes, mid lesson, to tell them they aren't implementing the right strategy for the moment.
Teachers across Victoria's public schools waste hours and hours of precious preparation time reformatting lesson and unit documents to fit each new guru's formula – only for the model to be replaced at the behest of the next guru. And whoever the consultant is, teachers are encouraged to see their students as data points on an array of commercial, internal and external tests.
Education market ideologues such as Matthew Guy (and sadly, Labor's James Merlino) are hostile to funding preparation time for teachers to plan to the individual needs of their students, and craft bespoke lessons to engage and challenge everyone.
The kind of education that starts with the students, not the test, is particularly terrifying to conservatives like Mr Guy. He is so disturbed that teachers could tell our students that LGBTIQ people and same-sex attraction are nothing to fear that he would axe the Safe Schools anti-bullying program.
He is so petrified of students learning that Indigenous and non-"Western" people have profoundly shaped our world that he would cut non-compulsory curriculum references to them. What a nightmare for Mr Guy, that we might teach students that literacy and mathematics are powerful tools for understanding and changing society; he would rather we keep our eyes on the "basics", i.e. test scores
The apex of Mr Guy's fearful vision is his call for police in schools. It suits his agenda perfectly to stigmatise and threaten young people who are being fleeced of a world-class education, rather than rethink the marketised mess that is leaving teachers and students demoralised and angry.
Teachers are appalled by the Liberals scapegoating our most disadvantaged students. But in order to truly defend them, we must also fight to stop the marketisation of our schools. We must demand that Labor breaks with MySchool and NAPLAN and starts funding a public education system that trusts and resources teachers.