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Sydney International Grammar School. Where well off ex-pats send their children. In a now heavily...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 02/07/2021 - 9:53am in

Sydney International Grammar School. Where well off ex-pats send their children. In a now heavily modified old wool store (1903). Glebe.

France Will Pay You to Swap Your Car for an E-Bike

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 21/04/2021 - 10:50pm in

Three great stories we found on the internet this week

Trade-in value

Electric bicycles are booming, but the price tag — often several thousand dollars — can leave some would-be e-bikers stuck with a car that, while annoying and polluting, is at least paid off. Now, France will become the world’s first country to offer drivers a chance to trade in their aging vehicles for a 2,500 euro (USD$3,000) credit that can be used to purchase an electric bike.

While the credit-for-clunkers approach may be new, France’s new incentive builds on a bevy of perks being rolled out across the continent that are turning Europe into an e-bike eden. As RTBC reported last summer, sales of e-bikes are soaring across Germany, Norway and Sweden, propelled by government rebates and changing attitudes about a device once seen as mainly for senior citizens. Advocates hope that the new subsidies will convince even more car owners to step out of their vehicles. “For the first time it is recognized that the solution is not to make cars greener, but simply to reduce their number,” said a spokesperson from the French Federation of Bicycle Users.

Read more at Reuters

Here comes summer

Climate change is forcing the world to adapt in all sorts of ways. For some ski resorts in Austria, adaptation means turning away from the very thing that people know them for.

austriaSt. Corona, Austria. Credit: Michael Eisenriegler / Flickr

The Washington Post reports on how ski towns like St. Corona are preparing for a future (and in some cases, a present) of less snowy winters. After a startlingly warm winter in 2015 that saw December visitors strolling the grounds in shorts and t-shirts, the village began to retool its offerings. It opened a summer toboggan course, a bicycle park for kids and standup paddleboard rental facilities, turning what was once chiefly a wintertime destination into a place that now attracts more mountain bikers than skiers. “Essentially, we doubled our numbers each year,” St. Corona’s general manager said of its new summertime clientele, who now more than offset the losses incurred from warmer winters. 

While there’s nothing cheerful about a shrinking snowpack, St. Corona is nevertheless being held up as an example of how struggling Alpine towns can reinvent themselves in the era of climate change. “We can definitely tell that summers are getting longer and warmer, and we need to offer something besides skiing,” said the manager of one tourism board.

Read more at the Washington Post

Hot lunch

During the pandemic, with many of its students learning remotely, New York City’s public school system effectively transformed itself into one huge citywide foodbank. Over the last 11 months, it has distributed over 90 million meals to students and their families. During that time, the percentage of families utilizing their school’s food program increased by 250 percent. Many of these meals were picked up at grab-and-go meal sites located in communities of color, fulfilling a variety of dietary needs, from vegetarian to halal. The city even, in the midst of all this, announced plans to improve the quality of its school food. The Journal of Urban Health called New York’s school system a national leader in feeding the city through the crisis.

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“They did a massive job overhauling this huge city agency to meet a very big need, and that’s incredible,” the deputy director of the Hunter College New York City Food Policy Center told Civil Eats. Now, some advocates are encouraging the city’s school district to make feeding students and their families a permanent part of its mission. “I’ve always said the most important school supply in the world is food,” said one Bronx-based advocate. “With supermarkets closing and children shopping out of bulletproof windows in gas stations and the occasional bodega… food is the most critical thing that we can provide to families.”

Read more at Civil Eats

The post France Will Pay You to Swap Your Car for an E-Bike appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Idled by Covid, School Bus Drivers Are Becoming College Counselors

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 29/03/2021 - 7:00pm in

Why an Indianapolis district turned to bus drivers to keep students on track” was originally published by Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news organization covering public education. Sign up for their newsletter here.

On a recent morning, several Wayne Township high school students missing class received wake-up calls. But it wasn’t a teacher calling, or a counselor. It was school bus driver Erica Woods, working double duty as a case manager to support students.

She’s part college-prep guide, part mom and part cheerleader, even reminding them to breathe and drink water. “I need you to come to school everyday,” Woods told the students. “This is no joke.”

To keep high school seniors engaged and on track to graduate amid the pandemic, Wayne Township officials turned to a previously untapped resource: hourly employees still on payroll, but with time on their hands because students had switched to learning virtually.

Woods is one of 17 classified employees, or hourly staff, who served as the primary liaison for about 900 of the Indianapolis district’s seniors during eight weeks of virtual learning earlier this year. To safeguard against the pandemic, students learned remotely from November 16 to January 26.

Wayne Township bus driver Erica Woods works as a student case manager for the district during virtual learning. Credit: Aaricka Washington / Chalkbeat

District administrators said the experiment was so successful that it will continue with 10 employees, even though high schoolers have moved on campus two days a week.

Wendy Skibinski, Wayne Township’s director of college and career readiness, said the district came up with the idea last summer after seeing the effects of high school students losing the in-person support they usually had.

“We had to think about how we were going to accelerate the class of 2021 and get them up to speed,” Skibinski said. “All of the things that we typically would have done last spring, they missed out on all of that.”

Wayne Township, like other districts, allowed younger students more in-person learning and social contact than older students got, because science points to Covid not spreading in elementary schools as much as it does elsewhere. Many high school students nationwide have received very little in-person instruction since the onset of the pandemic a year ago and have been socially isolated during a pivotal time in their lives.

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From April to October last year, mental-health related medical visits increased among 12- to 17-year-old children by 31 percent compared with previous year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Wayne Township recognized the stresses facing many high school students: jobs to support their families, parents who lost work, financial aid and college applications, resumes, mock interviews and graduation — all without in-person help from overworked counselors.

Wayne’s high school student-to-counselor ratio is 475 to 1.  The American School Counselor Association recommends schools have a 250 to 1 ratio. Skibinski said the district couldn’t afford to add more counselors in the middle of a pandemic.

District officials worried students would fall even further behind after Marion County ordered campuses to close in November.

At the same time, Skibinski said the district wanted to retain employees who weren’t able to work in a virtual environment.

The district previously found creative ways to mobilize those workers. Last March, it assigned its bus drivers to distribute meals to students at more than 1,000 bus stops.

So last fall, Skibinski solicited volunteers among paraprofessionals and transportation staff and trained them in college and career readiness support, interpersonal skills, technology tools, the college-guidance software Naviance, and resource tools on Google Drive.

District officials wanted case managers to build relationships with students, address their basic needs and make sure they had tools like technology, space and an organized schedule. Case managers check on grades and make sure students complete their assignments. Sometimes they help them with classwork. Their responsibility has evolved.

“It really started to morph,” Skibinski said. “Every day at 2:30, we would debrief. What are the kids asking for? What do they need? What do we need to provide more of?”

chalkbeatWayne Township bus driver Erica Woods works as a student case manager for the district during virtual learning. Credit: Aaricka Washington / Chalkbeat

During the eight weeks of virtual learning, case managers earned their regular hourly wage. Now, as some of their previous duties have resumed with hybrid instruction, case management pays a $15 hourly stipend. Wayne Township, which is expected to receive nearly $16 million in its second round of Covid relief funding, approved $16,000 toward the program for the remainder of the school year.

Woods has resumed driving a bus, starting around six a.m. every day. In between picking up and dropping off students, she’s checking her Galaxy 20 tablet for emails from students and calling students who may take evening classes. After work, she may spend a couple of hours checking and responding to student emails.

Last Saturday — when students were more reachable — she was online by 11:30 a.m., calling, emailing and updating her color-coded spreadsheet with information on the 41 students she is responsible for.

“There could be maybe 10 to 15 doing magnificent,” Woods said. “My focus is to make sure that the rest of them are coming along, making sure that their needs are met. I will ask them, ‘Hey, can you do an assignment a day? This needs to be done before March.’”

Skibinski said the pandemic has been terrible for everyone, but Wayne Township’s experiment has worked well enough to continue.

“We can’t let Covid be the reason why we’re not successful,” Skibinski said. For students, “We’re going to walk alongside you because our ultimate goal is for you to graduate, but also for you to do whatever it is your post-secondary goal was.”

Woods, a grandmother of seven and a bus driver for 24 years, feels she’s come into her life’s work. She hopes now to earn a teaching credential.

“There’s a need that needs to be met,” Woods said. “I enjoy being around people. Helping has always been my passion.”

This story was originally published by Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.

The post Idled by Covid, School Bus Drivers Are Becoming College Counselors appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Do Adults Really Not Remember School Sucked?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 13/02/2021 - 6:28am in


Education, school

One of the constant refrains which has bemused me during the pandemic is all the people saying how much kids want to go back to school.


This has struck me as crazy, because I don’t seem to have childhood amnesia. I didn’t like school, and I remember that almost no kid I ever met, even those who did, preferred school to days off.

But I shrugged until I read this teacher’s account of asking her students how their time off was.

Surprise, almost all of them were happy they had had the pandemic time off.

School is, well, mostly bad. It teaches things slowly, it mostly trains obedience, and it’s a social horror show. When we say social dynamics are like high school, we never mean anything good, and there are dozens of movies about how awfully students treat each other.

And most of what is taught in school and university is quickly forgotten. I used to amuse myself by asking recent university grads what they had learned, most of them could barely remember anything. Since I was widely read, often I knew enough to ask basic questions about their discipline, and they wouldn’t know the answers.

School is no different: information which is not used or found important, is lost, and it is lost quickly once the final, externally imposed, exam, is over.

Parents want their children to go back to school because it’s a babysitting service, and since we’re not paying parents to stay home, they need someone to take care of their kids. And yes, some may be falling behind or finding distance learning hard, but a decent system could make that up well enough.

But the idea that the kids themselves miss school, except in the sense that they can’t see their friends (which is pandemic related, and if it’s not safe to see them outside of school it isn’t safe to see them in school) is laughable.

It’s fairly obvious that the way we do school is terrible. It doesn’t teach knowledge quickly; the knowledge isn’t retained well, it destroys curiosity and natural desire to learn and it mostly has the effect of making children who should be outside running around into good little slaves: people who have learned to sit down, shut up, and do what teacher (or later, boss) says, the way they want it done.

It’s a wage-slave factory and that students come out with some actual knowledge is a secondary issue (if it wasn’t, effective illiteracy statistics wouldn’t be constantly  high.)

Effective traumatic conditioning makes you pretend that you enjoyed it. And that’s what school is: a way of taking the juice of life out of you and destroying your ability to make independent decisions and love learning.

We forget that, because what was done to us was horrible and all our trusted adults were onside with it. So as with horrible parents, we have to pretend they did it because they loved us.

Maybe they did, since they think being a slave is good, since most of them (us) are slaves, and we must believe that whatever we do is good.

But, at the least, let us not forget something simple. Most kids prefer not being at school to being at school. And if you have honest recollection of your childhood, you probably did too.

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School’s back from the long summer break, and the...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 08/02/2021 - 8:38am in



School’s back from the long summer break, and the Leichhardt Public School kids are printing their own fence art. Looks like they’ve got themselves a pretty good art teacher. Leichhardt.