April 17th 2010

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: Broad approach needed to boat-people saga

DEFENCE: Unmanned aircraft needed to patrol our seas

CANBERRA OBSERVED: What is Tony Abbott on about?

PAID PARENTAL LEAVE I: Rudd and Abbott schemes will punish stay-home mums

PAID PARENTAL LEAVE II: Maternity leave and the mother wars

COVER STORY / POPULATION: The philosophical roots of 'Demographic Winter'

BUSHFIRES: Victoria changes tack on fuel-reduction burns

CLIMATE CHANGE: Criticism of 'Climategate' inquiries accelerates

UNITED NATIONS: UN body seeks 'universal human right' to abortion

CHINA: Stern Hu convicted in kangaroo court

OPINION: All in the mind: Asian strategy and Australian big talk

TRADE UNIONISM: The most dangerous man in Detroit?

PORNOGRAPHY: Call for restrictions on 'soft porn' magazines

AS THE WORLD TURNS: India launches world's largest school voucher program; Child 'spies' to snoop on teachers; Mothers and fathers disappear from UK birth certificates; Will America break up?

CINEMA: Portrait of Nelson Mandela - Invictus (rated PG)

BOOK REVIEW : THE RETREAT: Hitler's First Defeat, by Michael Jones

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India launches world's largest school voucher program; Child 'spies' to snoop on teachers; Mothers and fathers disappear from UK birth certificates; Will America break up?

News Weekly, April 17, 2010
India launches world's largest school voucher program

Today India creates the world's largest school voucher program. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 comes into force, meaning that from the start of the next school year, 25 per cent of all recognised private schools must admit poor and marginalised students between the ages of six and 14 - and government will pay for their tuition.

Though not consciously designed as a school voucher program, this is nothing short of a revolution in school choice - and a recognition of reality. India's parents are already flocking to both registered and unregistered private schools, which provide a far better education than their public-school counterparts. In urban areas, some 50 per cent of all parents opt for the private schools; in rural areas, where schools are scarcer, the numbers are lower, but still significant.

It's clear why: on average, private schools provide a better education at a lower cost. The 2009 Annual Status of Education Report, conducted by a New Delhi-based nonprofit, shows that more than half of fifth-grade public-school students can't read at a basic second-grade level. Private-school students have a 41 per cent reading advantage in English over their public-school peers. These differences in learning outcomes are not surprising since 25 per cent of public-school teachers are absent on any given day and half of those present don't do any teaching. ...

The salaries of teachers in private unaided schools are four to seven times lower than those of government schools.

Extract from Parth J. Shah, "India launches world's largest school voucher program", Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2010.
URL: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304739104575154582256397118.html

Child "spies" to snoop on teachers

Pupil "spies" are attempting to rid schools of strict teachers by sabotaging their promotions and snitching on their lessons, it has been claimed.

They are being allowed to rate members of staff through observing their teaching, filling in anonymous questionnaires and even sitting on interview panels.

The Government has put greater emphasis on schools allowing the "voice" of youngsters to be heard in recent years.

In Ofsted forms, school heads need to illustrate how the views of pupils are taken into account.

From September, headteachers will have a legal duty to consult pupils on major changes to school policy. …

One teacher told how he was "culled" from the interview process for a new job because the pupils on the panel thought he was "too strict". The teacher said: "I felt upset that two out of three of the adults liked me enough but that the pupils had that much sway." …

One teacher took a snowboard along to impress a group of five to seven-year-olds as part of the interview but failed to get the job. The youngsters preferred two other applicants who brought in balloons and a didgeridoo.

Another teacher lost out for supposedly looking like "Humpty Dumpty"; another because he didn't allow the pupils to e-mail him at home.

Extract from Sarah Harris, "Power of the pupils: Child 'spies' allowed to sabotage the careers of teachers", Daily Mail (UK), April 3, 2010.
URL: www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1263221/Power-pupils-Child-spies-allowed-sabotage-careers-teachers.html

Mothers and fathers disappear from UK birth certificates

The words "mother" and "father" are to disappear from birth certificates to allow homosexual couples to be named as "parents" of surrogate children.

The switch means the biological parents will no longer necessarily be identified on the certificates that provide a legal record of a child's birth.

Birth certificates have recorded mothers and fathers since registration of babies was introduced more than 170 years ago.

But to comply with a change in the law, around 200 special certificates a year will be authorised for same-sex couples who qualify under a new law as the legal parents of a child born through surrogacy or fertility treatment.

The move has been questioned by fertility experts and lawyers, who believe it means birth records will be effectively falsified.

In the case of two women who register as the parents of a child, there will be no record on the birth register of who the biological father is.

Baroness Deech, a former head of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, warned: "It could even result in deception to exclude the natural father where the mother conceived naturally but uses this provision to cut him out of the child's life." …

Lady Deech, a senior family lawyer, said the rule allowing two parents of the same sex to appear on birth certificates gave her "unease".

She said: "It puts the demands of the adults ahead of the rights of children to know and benefit from both sides of their genetic makeup."

Extract from Steve Doughty, "Mothers and fathers disappear from birth certificate to allow homosexual couples to be named as parents", Daily Mail (UK), March 29, 2010.
URL: www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1261461/Mothers-fathers-disappear-birth-certificate-allow-homosexual-couples-named-parents.html

Will America break up?

The bitter debate over Obamacare has exposed the country's profound divisions. We are no longer one nation or one people. Rather, there are now two Americas: one conservative, the other liberal. Increasingly, we no longer just disagree but we despise each other. ...

Ultimately, a country is not simply its geographical borders with the people inside of it. It is something more - and deeper. A nation must share a common heritage, language, culture, faith and myths.

Once upon a time, Americans celebrated the same heroes, sang the same patriotic songs, read the same history and literature, and gloried in its exceptional nature: a city upon a hill, with liberty and freedom for all. It was understood that, for all of our different ethnic and religious backgrounds, America is a product of English and Christian civilisation. Those days are long gone.

Instead, we are going the way our Founding Fathers warned us against: increasing balkanisation and sectionalism. A constitutional republic - unlike an empire - is only as strong as its national cohesion. It is based not on imperial coercion but civic consent.

Extract from Jeffrey T. Kuhner, "Will America break up?" Washington Times, March 25, 2010.
URL: www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/mar/25/will-america-break-up/

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