Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wed 12th December Todays News

Happy birthday and many happy returns Ashley Xu. An auspicious day being Constitution Day in Russia, where constitution is apparently favoured above dexterity, strength, charisma, wisdom and intelligence in Dungeons and Dragons. Remember, birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.


Yuan Shikai





[edit]Holidays and observances


Proof our students are not being taught properly

Miranda Devine – Wednesday, December 12, 2012 (9:04am)

The poor results of Australian primary students in an international reading skills study are a disgrace. But it’s not all about “resources”, despite what teacher unions, the Gonski review and the federal minister Peter Garrett keep saying.
PRIMARY students have a “substantial problem” in reading, with 25 per cent failing to meet the minimum standard for their age in international tests, while maths and science skills in primary and high school have stagnated over the past 16 years.

In the first international test of primary students, Australian year 4 students scored the lowest of the English-speaking nations in reading, ranked 27th out of 48 countries tested, comparable to Bulgaria, Slovenia and Lithuania.
“To say the results are disappointing is an understatement,” said Geoff Masters, chief executive of the Australian Council for Educational Research, which performed the testing in Australia.

It is the first time Australian primary school students’ reading skills have been benchmarked internationally. The ranking is significantly worse than Australian high school students’ reading levels.
The 2011 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) measured year four reading standards in 45 countries. Australia ranked 27th and placed at a substantially lower level than 21 countries including the US, England, Canada, Portugal and Bulgaria. Twenty-four per cent of year four students did not meet the study’s “intermediate benchmark,” which is regarded as the minimal acceptable standard of literacy.
A companion report, the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) found that Australian year four students perform below those in most developed countries, ranking 25th in science, and considerably below 18 countries. Australia ranked 18th in maths. 
The National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy (I was on the committee) in 2005 identified the problems and mapped out the solution, according to evidence-based research.
It is no secret how children learn to read.
Early, systematic, direct and explicit instruction in phonics is necessary if a child is to learn to read properly, though not the only factor. Teacher quality is crucial. And increasing evidence suggests pre-school intervention is needed for socially disadvantaged children whose vocabulary is not being developed at home.
Yet all we hear about from the government is Gonski Gonski Gonski, as if the Gonski review recommendations of $5 billion more a year for smaller classes and more specialist teachers is the answer.
Australian school spending grew 44% from 2000-09, far more than the OECD average, yet our students’ reading and maths scores plummeted over that period. They were thrashed by students in larger classes in countries which spent far less.
NSW alone has already spent more than $700 million on shrinking classes in the first three years of school, and look at the results.
As I wrote in July, our average class size is 23, yet in reading and science our students are one to two years behind their peers in Shanghai, where the average class size is 40, according to a report by the Grattan Institute, and we’re more than two years behind in maths.
Now when the chickens are coming home to roost, the education establishment wants to waste more taxpayer money on more strategies that don’t work.


Mummy bloggers to the rescue

Miranda Devine – Wednesday, December 12, 2012 (5:23am)

IT was appropriate that Julia Gillard’s latest party for mummy bloggers at Kirribilli House coincided with the latest polls showing Labor’s vote back on a downhill trajectory.
Cynically pandering to demographic slices of the electorate should only get you so far.
It was the PM’s second function for bloggers in a busy six months of Y-chromosome bashing, which included her world-famous misogyny speech and girlpower stories pitched to women’s magazines.
For some reason the women so targeted on gender grounds don’t feel patronised or taken for fools. But, until the latest polls showed a collapse in Labor’s upward momentum, Australia was being played like a violin by Gillard and her scheming Scottish strategist John McTernan.
In an article for the latest The Monthly magazine, Nick Bryant maps out McTernan’s strategy: Emphasise the economy, schools, carbon tax, Gonski and disability insurance while downplaying boats, pokies and, ironically, carbon. And character assassinate Tony Abbott.
The numbers began trending up for Labor and down for the Coalition in about September, and the question of better PM switched in Gillard’s favour, as Labor moved to own the economic narrative.
In September began the all-out assault on Abbott’s character, beginning with the allegation that when he was a 19-year-old student politician he punched a wall near the head of a female political rival.
The government went to town on the story, with Wayne Swan describing the Opposition Leader as a thug’’.
In September, too, Abbott-friendly 2GB broadcaster Alan Jones came under fire for saying the PM’s father had died of shame’’.
Meanwhile, Gillard was being recast as a stateswoman, addressing the UN and cosying up to US President Barack Obama.
She unveiled big-spending motherhood promises, from dental schemes and Gonski education reforms to raising the salaries of childcare workers, and reassuring public servants their jobs were safe.
Then came her October surprise, the misogyny speech casting herself as the victim of a sexist Abbott.
It was the McTernan strategy to a tee and the polls validated his tactics.
But now comes a turnaround. The last Newspoll for the year, taken over the weekend, reflects questions over the PM’s legal advice to the AWU regarding the incorporation of an association later described as a slush fund, record boat people arrivals, and ICAC’s Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald corruption allegations tarnishing the Labor brand.
Labor’s primary vote fell four points to 32 per cent, a sixmonth low, while the Coalition’s rose three points to 46, leaving the widest gap between the parties since McTernan’s strategy kicked in. Flattered mummy bloggers are all that’s left. 



Tim Blair – Wednesday, December 12, 2012 (5:11pm)

Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki entertains fans: 
During an exhibition match against Maria Sharapova in Brazil, Wozniacki stuffed her chest and skirt with padding and pranced out onto the court, inciting laughter from the crowd. 
Naturally, this has been condemned as racist.



Tim Blair – Wednesday, December 12, 2012 (12:19pm)

The campaign to sack Alan Jones declares victory: 
With Alan Jones well and truly held to account, we believe the time has come to formally declare this part of the campaign to be over. We believe that this is the correct decision both strategically and morally. 
It’s a brilliant success, except that it isn’t
Alan Jones maintained the number one spot in his breakfast show and increased his audience share to 18.2% in the most recent radio ratings … 



Tim Blair – Wednesday, December 12, 2012 (11:33am)

A contact hidden deep within the Sydney Morning Herald emails: 
Would it surprise you to learn that when Julia Gillard paid her first visit as PM to a certain newspaper’s offices they held a female-only morning tea for her while the men remained at their posts? 
Nothing is really surprising in our current era of galpartheid.



Tim Blair – Wednesday, December 12, 2012 (11:19am)

Climate academic Peter Christoff
Think of how we view sellers of asbestos or heroin or tobacco. 
OK. Bad people. 
We no longer buy the argument that harm is a case of ‘’buyer beware’’. 
If you say so. 
We ascribe responsibility to the knowing, predatory traders of harmful substances. 
True, I guess. 
Coal is another such substance. 
Especially if you inject it.



Tim Blair – Wednesday, December 12, 2012 (10:38am)

A number of readers note the omission of Gina Rinehart and other members of the productive sector from Fairfax’s “most influential women” list. Here’s the selection criteria
From more than 2000 nominations we selected the 20 women we felt most strongly were “a woman that empowers other women”.  This list is a timely reminder of just some of the inspiring and powerful women we have in our corner. They have all made an impact on the lives of Australian women this year and the issues that are most important to them. 
One of the Cornered Twenty, Marieke Hardy, spent much of 2012 in her role as freelance book censor. Another “woman that empowers other women” is just a Facebook page:


And yet another empowerer is Susan Carland, a suburban Melbourne girl who these days gets around in a freedom smock. Inspiring!



Tim Blair – Wednesday, December 12, 2012 (9:59am)

AAP reports
The sexual harassment case against former federal parliamentary speaker Peter Slipper has been dismissed by a Federal Court judge. 
UPDATE. James Ashby intends to appeal
Mr Ashby said no evidence had been heard in his substantive claim against Mr Slipper since he filed the claim eight months ago.
“There’s been a determined campaign to try and prevent the substantive allegations being heard and judged in open court that (has) put me at a maximum cost in pursuing justice,” he told reporters outside the court in Sydney.
“With my lawyers we will study the judgment in detail but at this stage we intend to appeal this regrettable decision.” 


Albrechtsen on being the one to argue against three on Insiders

Andrew BoltDECEMBER122012(7:09am)

Janet Albrechtsen has been asked to become Insiders’ token conservative. She’s a little underwhelmed - and not just by this one ABC program:
AFTER waiting more than a decade to hear from Aunty, finally word came last Friday afternoon. Aunty is the national broadcaster and the email came from the producer of ABC1’s Insiders wanting to discuss “upcoming opportunities on the program”.
Insiders extended a kind invitation for a different conservative—me—to join its Sunday morning weekly political program from time to time. What explained this offer from the blue? To be fair, Insiders did ask me when I started writing for The Australian. As a media newcomer, I said I needed time to settle in. But what explains 10 long years between drinks? Maybe signalling on national television that I am open to changing my mind about gay marriage, as I did recently on Q&A, was the clincher.

More likely, the invitation arrived thanks to the power of The Australian’s letters page. Last week, a stream of frustrated letter writers said “enough”; they were giving Insiders the flick because “Sunday mornings regularly lead off with a Labor or Greens press release” and “progressives lecture me on the evils of Tony Abbott while loosely guided by Barrie Cassidy as Julia Gillard’s cheer-leader”. Letter writers expressed disappointment about the “continued absence of any conservative voices” among ABC news and current affairs hosts; it is a “slap in the face to half of the Australian population that helps pay for its existence”.

While the ABC celebrates diversity by employing indigenous reporters and filling radio and TV spots with female voices, diversity of opinion is another matter entirely. Alas, the invitation from Insiders, while genuinely appreciated as an olive branch, misses the point. The issue is not whether Janet Albrechtsen or Niki Savva sits in the chair reserved for the show’s sole conservative. The point is that our taxpayer-funded broadcaster thinks it appropriate, week in and week out, for the program to have a three-to-one ratio in favour of progressives.


Without free speech, you cannot defend your other rights

Andrew BoltDECEMBER122012(7:04am)

Praise to the three Labor MPs resisting those in their party planning to restrict even further your right to speak: 
ATTORNEY-GENERAL Nicola Roxon faces dissent in her own ranks over new discrimination legislation, with Labor backbenchers concerned the proposed laws may restrict freedom of speech and make it unlawful to offend people.
Victorian MP Kelvin Thomson, NSW MP Stephen Jones and West Australian senator Mark Bishop spoke out following comments by ABC chairman Jim Spigelman that the overhaul could redraw the line between permissible and unlawful speech. 
The chairman of the Australian Press Council, Professor Julian Disney, has also chipped in, saying that “making conduct unlawful in these terms (to “offend") is an unacceptably broad and severe limitation on freedom of speech”. The APC also urged the federal government to remove those aspects of the proposed legislation.

“This does not mean that the council believes that vitriolic personal attacks and intimidation should be published or condoned by responsible media outlets” added Disney in a statement today.


Taxpayers just don’t know the NBN is good for them

Andrew BoltDECEMBER122012(6:58am)

Talk about ingratitude. This kind Labor Government spends $37 billion of taxpayers’ money on a service that 75 per cent of tax payers can’t be bothered taking up:

Nationwide, the take-up is about 15 per cent, prompting the Coalition to question the multi-million-dollar advertising blitz for the $37.4 billion network. 
Well, if this turns out to be a white elephant, those taxpayers should just blame themselves.


Curious. It seems building school halls doesn’t improve reading

Andrew BoltDECEMBER122012(6:52am)

But how can this be, after Julia Gillard spent $16 billion on Building the Education Revolution?
AUSTRALIAN primary school students have scored the lowest of any English-speaking nation in an international test of reading, shocking education experts who have questioned the standard of teacher training and quality of teaching in the classroom.

In the first international reading test of Australian primary schools, about 25 per cent of the nation’s Year 4 students failed to meet the minimum standard in reading for their age, rising to more than 30 per cent in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Of the 48 countries tested, Australia ranked 27th, comparable with Bulgaria, Slovenia and Lithuania, and significantly behind the leaders Hong Kong, Russia and Finland, as well as the US and England.

A test of maths and science among Year 4 and Year 8 students showed Australian students’ skills had stagnated over the past 16 years, while some countries, notably in Asia, had greatly improved.
I’m floored. How could Australian children not have improved in reading, writing and mathematics after this government spent so many billions on buildings?
Oh, and don’t forget all those free computers. Surely that would have lifted classroom standards?
Or not, of course.

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