Scientist says, "EVERYONE CALM DOWN!"

This article from New Scientist applies to everything, from panics and over reactions over hand guns causing irrational bans, to Home Education being banned… only in the case of Home Educating being banned, the risk is not real, but is instead a lie used to make people frightened and the cause is not to make people safe but to exercise control over free people:

[…]

"Perhaps the greatest danger of overreaction, though, happens when a government feels it must respond to popular clamour after a high-profile event involving an innocent or vulnerable victim. When a baby is killed, or there is a murder by someone identified as mentally ill or someone on probation, people are reasonably shocked and feel that "something must be done" to prevent such things happening again.

Why do they think that extra bureaucracy will help? While the causes of individual tragedies may be apparent, this does not mean that similar events can be easily prevented in future. That's because they are essentially unpredictable: the underlying problem is that the most shocking "bad" things happen to, or are done by, people deemed to be low-risk, and so attempts to prevent all "bad" things often have a high cost for little apparent gain. This idea is probably best explained through an example.

Let's consider what are officially termed "serious further offences" (SFOs) in the UK. Suppose 1 in 1600 of the total number of people on probation commits such an offence, but that some are more likely to offend than others. These high-risk people offend at three times the rate of the low-risk. Suppose 7.5 per cent of probationers are classified as high-risk. If you locked them all up, what might be the consequences? It is counter-intuitive, but you would make very little impact, and all for considerable cost and loss of liberty.

How so? Imagine you had 8000 people on probation. Of these, 600 (7.5 per cent) are high-risk, and 1 of them commits an SFO. The other 7400 are low-risk – only one-third as likely to commit an SFO – and 4 of these offend. Overall, by locking up all high-risk cases you will prevent only 1 out of the total of 5 offences: 80 per cent of the SFOs will still occur. So what appears to be a reasonable policy could be an overreaction."

David Spiegelhalter is Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge

New Scientist

Which brings us on to New Zealand, where it seems that people in government have at least half a working brain-cell:

Echoing then Minister of Education Dr Lockwood Smith in 1994, that he could not justify the expense of regular reviews on such a low-risk group as home educators, Chief Review Officer Graham Stoop wrote in February this year that reviews of home educators are not efficient or effective. Posted on the ERO website is the following: “From 1 July 2009 ERO will carry out reviews only when requested by the Secretary for Education, or in other particular circumstances.”

This is in line with the present central government’s drive to cut bureaucratic costs. Minister in charge of the ERO, Anne Tolley, said in February: “I have asked ERO to identify schools that are performing consistently well and, accordingly, from March 1, these schools will be exempt from the current three-yearly ERO reviews and will instead be reviewed every four to five years.”

In December 2008, the Finance Minister advised Cabinet to do a line-byline review of expenditure. Home Education reviews were found to account for $283,000 out of a total budget of $28,675,000 or 0.987% (less than 1%). Graham Stoop wrote: “This programme is considered to be low risk to the education priorities of the Government. In 2007/08 ERO completed 644 homeschooling reviews from a total of 6,169 homeschooled students [at an average cost of $439.44 per review]. ERO could not provide assurance that the terms of exemption were being met in only 35 of the 644 reviews [a 5.4% “failure” rate]. This has been the pattern over many years.”

About 35 reviews a year will continue to be made, reviews initiated by the MoE as a result of concerns brought to the Ministry’s notice about particular home educating families. It was felt by home educators in discussions with the ERO back in the years from 1994 to 1999 when no regular reviews were being held, that the bad eggs rose to the top and became very obvious to everyone. Consequently, more exemptions were revoked during that time, with fewer reviews being held, than in the years prior to 1994.

A senior member of the ERO, with with every race, every ethnic background and every level of citizen. It is best to have this experience when one is equipped to discern the difference between ability and pretense, morality and stupidity, propinquity and friendship. And when one can defend what one knows and believes. It is, after all,  crucial to understand and respect differences, but first one must establish one’s own identity. Education is slow; socialization is quick.  (From the foreward of Otto Scott’s Great Christian Revolution: How Christianity Transformed the World. The Reformer Library. Windsor, New York 1995) much experience in dealing with home education reviews, wrote the following in an email dated 30 July:

The reality is home schooling has been found to be low risk. Several things stand out in my mind relating to home schooling and they are:

  • home schooling families have support from other homeschoolers and access to people through support networks and
  • through the Internet;
  • home schooling families are no longer isolated unless they choose to be;
  • there is easy access to a considerable range of resources;
  • the skills of home schooling parents are well used;• home schooling is being seen more as a viable educational option;
  • ICT is a powerful communication and information gathering tool and home schooling families use this tool;
  • people liked the affirmation that home schooling reviews affirmed good practice; and
  • despite initial concerns the feedback ERO has received relating to the home school review process is mostly positive. This person also felt that home  education reviews would not be reinstated for quite some time.

Conjecture will not be slow among home eduators in relation to “what will the MoE do now? Will they make it more difficult to get an exemption?” There is no particular reason to believe this, apart from the obvious fact that National has the same totalitarian tendencies as does Labour…they only tend to move a bit slower. This coalition with the ACT Party, however, does changethings a bit.

Heather Roy of the ACT Party is an Associate Minister of Education… home education fits perfectly into their philosophy of freedom of choice for parents in education and freedom of self determination in how to order one’s family affairs.

Back in 1995, the MoE instituted, for one year only, voluntary written reviews wherein home educators wrote to the MoE about how their home education enterprise was doing. The MoE said they really enjoyed reading the reviews as it was the only feedback they ever got from home educators after issuing the exemptions, the ERO being the ones to contact home educators after that. But the MoE also caught a lot of flak as a result of requesting these reviews, being accused of going outside their statutory powers in asking for such reviews and of trying to get home educators to  incriminate themselves, etc.

What we home educators need to remember just now is that the current coalition government with ACT MPs holding Ministerial portfolios means we have friends in Parliament and an officially friendly MoE philosophy for the time being. This is a time to raise the flag of accomplishments, achievements,  discoveries, the joys, benefits and satisfactions of the home education option to the population at largeand to the MPs in particular.
From TEACH Bulletin
No 130 July 2009
To see the rest of the articles in the July 2009 TEACH Bulletin:
http://hef.org.nz/teach-bulletin/

And there you have it. Perhaps Home Educators in the UK will consider moving to New Zealand to remain free. All those who are fat need not apply of course.

Which brings us to this superb post from Sometimes its Peaceful:

I've been through the twelve parts of my critique of the Badman report [opens pdf] with a highlighting pen now, and it seems that the main points arising from it can be separated into five distinct categories:

  • Language issues, in which sentences are carefully crafted to partially obscure their full meaning, or selective quoting is employed, or certain key or trigger words are used to convey a message not explicitly stated;
  • Safeguarding and child protection issues;
  • Legal issues;
  • Logical issues – or otherwise! By which I mean those points that are contradictory or just not logically coherent; and
  • Financial issues.

In today's post I'm focusing on the main points arising in the category of 'Language':

1.4 I have taken account of the views of local authorities who are strongly of the opinion that the current guidelines are unworkable in that they are contradictory and confer responsibility without power.

(Carefully not mentioning the views of local authorities who are not of that opinion, thereby giving the appearance that they don't exist.)

1.5 However, there has to be a balance between the rights of the parents and the rights of the child.

– and several other similar phrases, such as:

11.2 I have sought to strike a balance between the rights of parents and the rights of the child..

– but nothing about the parental duty set out in Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act. This is reinforced so frequently throughout the report that I think it must be deliberately contrived to set up the erroneous implication that there is some conflict between children's and parents' rights.
From Recommendation 1:

■ Registration should be renewed annually.

But the proposal is not actually for registration, but for a system of licensing. There must be a reason why it's not given its proper name and this can only be to do with presentation.

Recommendation 7

■ That parents be required to allow the child through exhibition or other means to demonstrate both attainment and progress in accord with the statement of intent lodged at the time of registration.

– convoluted, illogical phraseology ('required to allow') straining to conceal its real meaning ('compelled to coerce') behind a mask of artificial geniality. The reason for this can only be that the author knows the true meaning is publicly unpalatable and I'm therefore delighted that home educators have been exposing it for what it is.

8.4 I understand the argument but do not accept it in its entirety in that attendance at school brings other eyes to bear, and does provide opportunity for the child to disclose to a trusted adult.

This is a cunningly slipped-in suggestion that the only trusted adults are to be found in schools. There are quite a few other similar semi-subliminal messages contained in the report.

There are also many explicit and implied references to 'support', in recommendations 1, 10, 12, 17, 18 and 20 as well as throughout the text, but nothing about the consequences to a family, parent or child who opts to decline such offers of 'support'. However, read in context the unspoken threat becomes apparent: permission to home educate will be denied. Such 'support' is actually therefore compulsory coercion and nothing resembling the "act of sustaining, advocacy, help, backing" or "encouragement" described in my dictionary's definition of the word.

With all of the above plus the liberal peppering of the report with such buzzwords as 'safeguarding', 'outcomes' (only certain varieties of these are acceptable), and 'targets' (set by governments, not families), amongst others, I think it's a strong defence to call the whole thing out, and for exactly what it is. Our language is being stolen from us, in this and the rest of the endless tsunami of reports, recommendations, guidances and regulations with which the people of England have been besieged in recent years. We need to claim it back.

In subsequent posts I'll briefly outline the main points of the other categories before moving onto the letter from Ed Balls. http://sometimesitspeaceful.blogspot.com/2009/08/stress-testing-badman-report-points.html

[…]

This is one of the most important posts on the Badman report.

What the report does, by a deliberate misuse of language is sneak in the licensing of Home Education. If you are a Home Educator, and you accept to 'register', you are in effect, applying for a license to be a parent, and if you fail to comply with the terms of what the Local Authority thinks you should be doing as a parent, then your license will be revoked, and they will take responsibility for your children by forcing you to send them to school.

Absolutely dastardly and unacceptable.

If the report had been written honestly, and had used English correctly, then the word 'license' would have been used to describe the recommended process or registration and annual review.

But you already know about the true nature and intent behind this report.

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