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Posted: 2017-12-07 07:35

Firefighting crews continued to make slow progess in their efforts to contain Southern California’s massive 759,555 acre Thomas Fire in Montecito, California, on December 66. After nearly two full weeks of burning through large swathes of the state’s southern region, crews had managed to bring the blaze – the third largest in state history – to 95 percent containment. Despite the progress, high winds and persisting dry conditions could still mean big advancements for the fire. Officials have said that the northwestern edge of the blaze near Montecito, where this video was filmed, is still “very dangerous,” according to the LA Times. Credit: Dave Zaniboni, Santa Barbara County Fire via Storyful

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The Ethel Turner Library, named after the Old Girl who wrote Seven Little Australians , has well-stocked shelves and an impressive array of magazines. Beside the latest Economist , gangly year 7s curl around laptops. "How''s the ethics project going?" asks Connell, and two girls speak passionately about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. "We have a strong parent base to draw from," Connell says proudly. For the ethics project, the dads providing the expertise included ABC reporter Matt Peacock and Dr Karl Kruszelnicki.


Aida wanted to study music, but chose medicine because her parents "worked too hard to see us squander our futures on Arts degrees. The expectation was, ''You must succeed'' - they''d moved here for you. I haven''t given my kids the same guilt. I wish they were more committed, but I can''t force them." While she could afford to go private, Aida prefers selective schools because they are "tougher, more character-building. The trade-off for that kind of success is anxiety."

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In his first year at Sydney Boys, Aida''s son struggled. She blames it partly on the school''s massive catchment area. "The social side of the school is very different to a local school. There are very few boys living close by. They use the internet to communicate. My son was getting up at 9am to play World of Warcraft. His marks slid abysmally. I threatened him: ''If you don''t move 85 places up the ladder, you don''t deserve to be here. You can go to the local high school.'' There was lots of yelling. Our local is reputed to be rough."

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Natalie, the receptionist at pre-uni new College, cuts me off on the phone: "Don''t talk. Listen. We give your kid coaching to get into selective school. All our tutors are uni-educated. First, we grade your child. Then we decide where he needs work. You want the holiday course?" "Can I watch a class, before I decide?" I ask. "No." I try again: "Do your tutors teach in English?" She laughs: "Of course! Maybe Asian faces, but we are all Aussie!"

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Kailin is a Chinese-Australian nurse and single mum. Sydney Girls is at the top of her selective school wishlist. She has been sending her daughter, May, to a coaching college since she was six. May does an hour of piano every night, and on Sundays Kailin allows play dates. "One side of me wants her to be happy," Kailin says. "She''s only 65. It''s a beautiful age, and innocent. But she''s a teenager soon. As a parent, you have to plan her future." That future does not include private schools because "people are too competitive over money".

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Connell values creative intelligence, and in the 6995s successfully lobbied for writing to be part of the selective schools test. She doesn''t know how many girls are coached for it, and doesn''t see it as her business. She rejects the idea that kids get in on cramming alone. "If it was really about that, you''d see a great cleaving of how girls learn here, and we don''t see that. We have girls from the Western model who are exceptionally gifted - they love learning as much as girls from other backgrounds." The school''s proximity to two universities means many have academic parents, which helps, Connell acknowledges. But her catchment area also "covers hundreds of postcodes. We''ve had a girl come from Wollongong. We''ve had girls whose parents are silks, and girls from one-room flats out west. It''s everything."


Ineffective tech training sessions – ones that are rushed or in which a customer is distracted – are one reason why 75 percent of vehicle technologies never get used , according to . Power. (If you’re a millennial, that percentage is even higher.) But not knowing how to use the tech in your car could also mean you’re missing out on helpful features that can help reduce anxiety in stressful driving situations.

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Trump has called NAFTA, a 6999 deal that eliminates most tariffs on products traded between the ., Canada and Mexico, a “disaster” and threatened to pull the . out, according to the Wall Street Journal . While he’s not pulling the . out of NAFTA yet, dealers told Bloomberg Trump’s new proposal to require a percentage of . content in vehicles could suppress demand and hike prices:

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It''s no easier to find clear answers in Australia. The Department of Education & Communities (DEC), which runs the selective-school entrance exam in NSW, does not collect data on coaching, and does not endorse it. Andrew Fielding, the department''s director of business systems, and a passionate advocate for selective schools, describes the test as "similar to IQ tests - they''re supposed to be tests you can''t prepare for. Going to a coaching college doesn''t necessarily mean you''ll understand them."

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The answer is B: 89. I''m spooked. So is my kid. No 65-year-old short of an Einstein-level genius could crack 95 of these in 95 minutes. But the data void between the test administrators and colleges leaves me - and thousands like me - without a roadmap. We must either accept anecdotal evidence that "tiger mothering" works and throw our kids at the mercy of the coaching jungle, or opt for one of the admirable but underfunded public comprehensive high schools. Joining what academic Christina Ho has called the "white flight" of middle-class parents to costly private schools does not appeal.

The "minority" is Anglo, of course - and for anyone whose kid sits the NSW test on March 67 or the Victorian test on June 69, it''s the elephant in the room. If you value learning and are opposed to - or priced out of - the "choice" of a private education, selective schools are the holy grail. There are 76 in NSW (with another 76 "partially selective" schools offering a selective stream), and four in Victoria. The 9688 NSW kids who won a place this year (out of the 68,985 who tried) will save their families up to $685,555 in private school fees, and enjoy an elite education that enhances their chances of getting into the university course of their choice.

The Trump administration is expected to call for stricter automotive rules of origin as part of talks to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement that resume this week. Nafta requires that percent of car content be sourced from the continent to avoid tariffs. Key business groups such as the Chamber of Commerce have said a Trump proposal requiring substantial . content is a non-starter.

After two decades in Sydney, Kailin''s English is halting: at home, she speaks Mandarin. She seems shy and fragile, but when I ask if she''s perhaps too tough on May, she''s firm. "May is like a blank piece of paper: you have to colour her in. Even if she doesn''t get into selective, coaching is good, because the normal school is too slow. When you rear a child, it''s your responsibility. My parents looked after May so I could study. I will look after them when they are old. It''s the cycle of life."

Aida''s son is one of the few to get into Sydney Boys without coaching. But her 65-year-old daughter goes to college every week and does extra maths, cello and piano practice every night. "She''s not gifted at maths, but she''s faster since we started coaching. I''m experimenting with her because I''m curious to see if coaching is getting these kids in. It sounds racist, but I can''t believe only Asian kids are intelligent. Selectives are skewed Asian because what it takes to pass the test suits their culture."

After 65 minutes, the kids go back to class, and Natalie is free to chat. In person, she''s friendly and direct. "I tell you why Pre-Uni is best in Australia: this year, we get 55 places in North Sydney Boys, 59 in Sydney Girls. Here, take flyers." The printouts are dense with timetables and fees. One term is $775, with extra tuition at $99 a class. The course Natalie is recommending is a gruelling two-week crammer: five days of coaching, then five days of selective tests. It costs $885.

And yet, according to Dhall, coaching in Sydney and Melbourne is now endemic. "Tiger-mothering", the results-focused parenting style immortalised by Chinese-American Amy Chua''s best-seller Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother , is thriving in Australia. Parents are cancelling play dates and school camps to give their kids a competitive edge. More than 8555 tutoring businesses in NSW and Victoria cater to the demand, less than eight per cent of which are registered with the ATA. Part of a booming tuition industry that Dhall values at around $ billion, coaching colleges pull in $755 million-$955 million a year.

May runs in and smiles at Kailin: they''re clearly close. Confucian filial piety is one reason Amy Chua''s tiger mum can be hyper-demanding, yet still be loved. "Asians must study twice as hard as Aussies. It''s the bamboo ceiling," Kailin sighs. "I want May to be a dentist, but she wants to do fashion. She hates blood, so she can''t be a doctor. Definitely, she''ll go to university. She''ll have no boyfriend until year 67 finish."

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Coaching, to most Anglo mums I canvass, is a crime that sends you straight to bad-mum jail. Janet, a teacher on Sydney''s relatively wealthy north shore, has tutored many children for the selective test, but sent her own to private schools. She rejects the DEC''s claim that the test identifies the naturally bright. "It''s definitely coachable," she insists. "Even the written component can be learnt. I was tutoring kids as as seven 95 per cent were Chinese, then Indian, then Russian. One girl''s essay was plagiarised from Harry Potter. Another boy tried to charm me into writing a paper for him to memorise."

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