Gloves off: Time for Action

We’ve just heard that despite all the lobbying by dedicated supporters behind the scenes that Sue Ellery, Minister for Education, is still determined to push ahead with the plan to close Perth Modern School as we know it. It’s time to ramp things up.

Education Central is an experimental model, untried anywhere in Australia. It’s disruptive, rushed, poorly planned, and badly sited. It’s a flagrant expense we don’t want or need. The state is deep in debt.

There’s been no communication at all from the Minister of Education with Perth Modern School families. The Department of Education has announced the school will be local intake from 2020, but hasn’t bothered to notify families in Year 7 – 9 that their children will not be graduating from Perth Modern School.

Fed up? Let’s get cracking.

We’re getting organised to make sure it doesn’t happen. Don’t let them put eleven year olds in a skyscraper in a congested, noisy zone designed for business and adult entertainment.

It’s urgent: Write those letters!

We understand State Budget preparations are underway. Right now the Government is making decisions about what election commitments will be funded.  So it is imperative we speak up.  Your letters do matter and must be replied to by the Government. If we are silent, there is no pressure to change plans. Leave the politicians in no doubt of how risky and unwanted this project is.  There are better choices to solve overcrowding.

We’re only asking for the same facilities as any other parent in the state — an oval, green space, trees and outdoor areas, and cricket pitches in the sun. Space for children to play.

Don’t let politicians take risks with your children’s health and education! Speak up!

To make it easier we’ve assembled a Guide for writing letters. 

See the Key-points you may want to discuss.

Please CC us: contact@save-perthmodernschool.com

Get involved.  Let’s nip this unrealistic idea in the bud.

No more waiting for someone else to solve this. It’s up to us now, for the sake of our children.

The key points

The new government in Western Australia wants to close Perth Modern School as we know it and move children aged 10 – 18 to the top of a high rise building. In theory it will be 16 to 25 stories tall, without outdoor space apart from the roof.

education-central-sml

The policy appeared without warning or consultation six weeks before the state election.

The Education Central  PDF

Unlike other public schools in Australia, there will be no ground access, no ovals, no green space and little prospect of trees. The building will be shared with other organizations, hundreds of thousands of visitors, and will not be owned by the Education Department, but built by a private developer and leased. Access for 1,500 students will be through lifts.

The proposed site is between the CBD and Northbridge, over the Perth underground Bus Port. It is one of the busiest sites in Perth.  Northbridge has high crime statistics and drugs.

The state government is $33 billion in debt (p19); this ambitious project is untested, yet is planned to be built in 2 years and 7 months for use by Jan 2020.

map-new-school-location

Parents and the broader school community are opposed

The P&C are overwhelming against this move. They remain worried about the effect on physical and mental health, the loss of school history, heritage, and a strong community which donated generously to support low income students and provide buildings.

Students without access to green spaces and natural daylight or outdoor areas are at increased risk of permanent eye damage, vitamin deficiencies,  mood changes and behavioural difficulties. “Green exercise” even changes heart rate patterns 12 hours later.

Perth Modern School serves all West Australians.

Perth Mod parents just want the same thing every parent wants, access to eduction that is appropriate to their childrens needs with recreation facilities similar to most schools.

They are grateful for the current school.

What you can do

No High Rise Schools. Save Perth Modern.

Join the Facebook Page.

Sign the petition: Academic Excellence stays at Perth Modern – say ‘NO’ to a high-rise school.

Get in touch with us. Contact your parent social coordinator through email, use the contact page here, or leave a comment here or at the facebook page.

Write letters to your elected representatives.

To make it easier we’ve assembled a Guide for writing letters. 

See the Key-points you may want to discuss.

Please CC us: contact@save-perthmodernschool.com

Teens who exercise get higher IQ scores

“We have also shown that those youngsters who improve their physical fitness between the ages of 15 and 18 increase their cognitive performance, says Maria Åberg, researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy and physician at Åby health centre. “This being the case, physical education is a subject that has an important place in schools, and is an absolute must if we want to do well in maths and other theoretical subjects.”

The study involved 1.2 million Swedish men doing military service who were born between 1950 and 1976. The research group analysed the results of both physical and IQ tests when the men enrolled.

The study shows a clear link between good physical fitness and better results for the IQ test. The strongest links are for logical thinking and verbal comprehension. But it is only fitness that plays a role in the results for the IQ test, and not strength.

If the link between fitness and intelligence were entirely due to genes and upbringing, the researchers note, they wouldn’t find an association among pairs of identical twins. However, the correspondence between cardiovascular fitness and intelligence scores remained strong. Thus the link between fitness and intelligence appears to arise mainly from environmental factors.

REFERENCE

Aberg et al. (2009) Cardiovascular fitness is associated with cognition in young adulthood. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0905307106

Research news: Retinal cell discovered that is overstimulated in indoor light, may lead to myopia

Too much time spent indoors may cause “aberrant over-growth of the eye, leading to myopia” according to Associate Prof. Greg Schwartz, Northwestern University.  New research has uncovered a specific retinal cell that is highly sensitive to daylight and controls “how the eye grows and develops”. Indoor light has a different spectrum and strength to outdoor light.

nerve-cells-retina
Image of the newly discovered call called “ON Delayed” retinal ganglion cell.

““More than a billion people in the world have myopia, whose incidence is rising and is linked to how much time people spend indoors as children,” Dr. Schwartz said.”

If the ON Delayed cell instructs the eye to grow too long, images fail to be focused on the retina, causing nearsighted vision and a lifetime of corrective glasses or contact lenses.

“The eye needs to stop growing at precisely the right time during childhood,” Dr. Schwartz said.

“The indoor light spectrum has high red/green contrast, which activates these clusters of photoreceptors in the human eye, creating the equivalent of an artificial contrast image on the retina,” he said.

“It’s likely the human version of the ON Delayed retinal ganglion cell would be overstimulated by such patterns, causing aberrant over-growth of the eye, leading to myopia.”

— Northwestern University

This new research underscores parents concerns that a high-rise indoor environment will prevent normal eye development in students, potentially leading to long term eye damage.

H/t JR

Reference
1. Mani A, Schwartz GW: Circuit Mechanisms of a Retinal Ganglion Cell with Stimulus-Dependent Response Latency and Activation Beyond Its Dendrites: J Current Biology; Feb 2017.

Year 8 Perth Modern School students come from far and wide

The year 8s at Perth Modern School come from Mandurah to Yanchep, and as far east as Mount Helena and Gidgegannup. There are also two students from homes near Bridgetown and Denmark in country WA. (Boarding facilities exist in City Beach for country students).

Perth Modern School serves all of Perth.

year-8-perth-mdern-school
Perth Modern Students come from all over Perth. (Just the Year 8s visible here)

Let’s keep the opportunity open to all students in Western Australia.

Click here and open the map in another window to see a larger area.

Perth Mod Year 7 students come from all over Perth

There are baseless claims that Perth Mod is full of “rich kids”. These accusations are not connected to reality.  One parent created a google map of the year 7 address list. The map says it all, except it doesn’t show at least five children who come from even further away.

Thanks to HP. Open this link in a new tab to enlarge.

Map, Perth Modern School, Student addresses, Map, Geographic spread

The map does not contain all homes, for privacy reasons some addresses are unknown. Continue reading “Perth Mod Year 7 students come from all over Perth”

Spread the word: A cutting summary

election-2017

A summary of the situation for media, friends, and letters to editors

New plan to put children in skyscrapers

Five weeks ago, without any consultation, the Labor Opposition in WA suddenly announced “Education Central“. They would be moving students at Perth Modern school to a 16 – 25 storey skyscraper in 2020 whether they wanted it or not.

In the plan, children as young as 11 will be in an office tower sandwiched between the CBD and the late-night pubs and drugs district of Perth. The site is next to the central railway station, in the most congested real estate in a radius of 2,500km. The school will have no oval and no trees, unless they get one to grow on the roof. This will be the only public school in Australia where no child will ever be able to kick an AFL football, though they will be closer to prostitutes. 😉

Sue Ellery, the Shadow Minister for Education, promises green space on every floor and on the roof. Since five-star hotels in Perth cannot afford to do that, parents wonder how the Department of Education can. (A pot plant in every corner?)

There is a genuine need for another school in Perth, and a demographic squeeze is coming. But this experimental multiuse complex (with Scitech at the base) needs to be finished in just 2 years 8 months. Let’s call it the Tower of Babylon, but the joke is not so funny. Perth needs a school in the western suburbs but they are all safe Liberal seats on 20% margins. Instead of reopening a school to the west, Labor thinks it will give the high-reputation Perth Modern school site to the local inner city catchment which is a long way from the beachside area, but is close to voters in the seat of Perth. (A seat held by the Liberals on a 2.8% margin). Labor claim that’s where the growth is. But Education Department enrollment figures for 2016 show that the high schools in the western suburbs grew around ten times faster than the school closest to the inner north.
Continue reading “Spread the word: A cutting summary”

A plan to destroy a world class institution, sacrificing students’ best interest?

A reply to the Education Minister from a concerned parent:

Dear Ms Ellery

Thank you for finally sending a reply, which sadly is a duplicate of what I had seen sent to other people, and which offers nothing whatsoever in terms of answering the queries I posed or providing solid, substantiated evidence to support the proposal.

I had been sympathetic to Labor as I had concerns about the financial management of government under Liberal. However, if this proposal is any reflection at all of how Labor will manage its decision-making, financial management, stakeholder engagement, consideration for particular interest groups e.g. children/students, and willingness to sacrifice the vulnerable to gain political advantage (which very obviously is what this proposal is about), then I am afraid Labor comes across as a much worse alternative.Much much worse.

You have been dismissive in responding to concerned parents and citizens, dictatorial in declaring that the proposal will be implemented, even before any sort of consultation with stakeholders (including the Education Department), and lame in not attending (or even sending a representative to) the well-publicised public forum on Tuesday attended by all the other political parties.

In the feeble hope that you may still actually listen, I will respond to your generic ‘cut and paste’ comments.

“One of the constraints of being in Opposition is that there are protocols in place which prevent us from discussing political policy matters with public servants. The school Principal, rightly so, is represented on both the Parents and Citizens Association and the School Board. It was not possible to canvas the policy with those bodies prior to the announcement as to do so would have put the Principal or her representative in a very difficult position. While that is a matter of regret, it was an unavoidable consequence of the protocols about what Oppositions can or cannot do.”

That is untrue and misleading.Yes, the Principal does sit on the P&C and the Board. 

However, nothing prevented Labor from expressing the wish to engage with them separately without the Principal in attendance.

Further, Labor chose to spring this proposal right at the last minute just before the commencement of the campaign/caretaker period, knowing full well the restrictions in place will stifle the expected discussion/debate.

“St Georges Anglican College is in William St (formerly Murdoch College in Murdoch) in the CBD and offers a wide range of extra-curricular activities which mean the students are in and around the CBD before and after school. Trinity and Mercedes are also considered inner city schools. Issues about air quality, safety and “proximity to anti – social activities” are manageable issues for these schools, they will be manageable for a new one too.”

I understand it has been repeatedly pointed out to you that these are blatantly non-comparable examples.  Continue reading “A plan to destroy a world class institution, sacrificing students’ best interest?”

Media and Media Releases

election-2017

ABC: Opposition to relocation of Perth Modern school.

The West: Backlash over Perth Mod move to City.

Business News: Parents Rally against Labor School Plan

Media Release March 8th, 2017

Perth Modern parents mobilise against ill-conceived plan

Labor fails to send a spokesperson to speak at parent forum

Level of public support for affected students is rising

Parents at Perth Modern School, the State’s sole academically selective school, are up in arms at WA Labor’s plan to move them from the current site at Roberts Road to a skyscraper in the city. Labor proposes to name the new school “Perth Academic College”.

A meeting at North Perth Bowling Club was held last night. Continue reading “Media and Media Releases”

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