Tuesday, December 19, 2017



The Only Place Where The Feds Should Spend More On Higher Education

The federal government has no constitutional authority to spend money on higher education, to give or lend students money for it, to direct how colleges will function, or anything else. By far the best course of action would be for Congress to dismantle the Department of Education and repeal all U.S. statutes pertaining to education.

But since that is not going to happen in the foreseeable future, it is worth considering how the feds might do less harm or even improve higher education. The latter is not quite a null set.

In 2008, Congress passed and President Bush signed Public Law 315. It added a section to the Higher Education Act authorizing American History for Freedom grants. The relevant language in Sec. 805 authorizes the Secretary of Education to approve grants “to establish or strengthen postsecondary academic programs or centers that promote and impart knowledge of (1) traditional American history; (2) the history and nature of, and threats to, free institutions; or (3) the history and achievements of Western civilization.”

In short, the Education Department could spend money to expand intellectual diversity in American higher education—a worthwhile goal.

Here’s the background on the American History for Freedom (AHF) program.

In 2002, the National Association of Scholars developed the idea that federal grants could be used to help offset the heavy progressive/statist tilt found in most of our colleges and universities, by jump-starting a movement to restore intellectual pluralism. A bill to bring this concept to reality was drafted and found support in the House and Senate. When Congress finally got around to reauthorizing the Higher Education Act in 2008, it was included.

The promising idea of using federal money to seed college programs that would educate students on the American Founding, our constitutional history, Western civilization and its institutions, and so forth was, however, sidelined by the election of Barack Obama. AHF’s supporters knew that Obama’s Education Department would not make good use of funds for the purposes they envisioned and therefore never sought any appropriation to cover Section 805. That remains the case to this day.

But now circumstances have changed. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos would no doubt sympathize with the goals of AHF and make beneficial grants if the funds were appropriated for them.

If Congress were to appropriate a fairly small (by the standards of Uncle Sam, anyway) amount such as $100 million, that money would have a huge impact as it was used to catalyze new programs and expand existing ones.

In this piece, NAS president Peter Wood likens AHF to the old Radio Free Europe program, arguing that our campuses need something similar—Radio Free America on campus. The Left, Wood explains, gained control over our colleges beginning with the advent of politically-charged “studies” programs in the 1960s, specifically black studies, women’s studies and environmental studies. “Each had its own agenda but those agendas overlapped in their disdain for America and in their rejection of the university as a place reserved for open-minded inquiry,” he writes.

From those outposts of politicized study, determined “progressives” spread outward to the point where departments free of ideology are the exception. In most humanities and social science departments, students now, as Wood puts it “marinate in the story that they are hapless victims of hateful oppressors.”

To be sure, there are islands of serious academic study where the conclusions don’t have to perfectly align with leftist theory. For example, at Texas Tech, there is the Institute for the Study of Western Civilization. UCLA hosts the Center for the Liberal Arts and Free Institutions. At Wake Forest, Professor James Otteson has managed to launch his Eudaimonia Institute – despite furious opposition from faculty leftists who can’t stand the fact that funds from the Koch Foundation are involved. (You can read more about that in this Martin Center article by Professor Robert Whaples.)

The problem is that the number of courses and programs that view America and the world through classically liberal lenses is tiny in comparison with the number that employ Marxism, critical race theory, intersectionality, and so on. At many schools, non-leftist teaching and scholarship has almost no presence.

That is not just a problem for students, who might never encounter a professor who is skeptical about, say, minimum wage laws, the claims of the “sustainability” crowd, or the idea that America is shot through with institutional racism. It’s also a problem for the faculty. When scholars never encounter intellectual pushback within their departments, a rigidity sets in that prevents them from contemplating ideas outside their comfort zone. That is the case, for instance, in social psychology, as Professor Richard Redding argued in this piece.

Dozens of new programs could be seeded with AHF grants—programs that would at least somewhat restore intellectual balance on our campuses and improve the chances that students will learn something about the values and institutions that made the U.S. successful.

SOURCE 





Too many kids go to college

Lubos Motl

Six years ago, an Intelligence Squared Debate took place in Chicago (see 100 minutes above). Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and an aide to Donald Trump now, teamed up with Charles Murray, a researcher of IQ. They defeated Vivek Wadhwa and Henry Bienen after they argued that too many kids go to college.

It was a decent debate and Thiel and Murray obviously made more sense. It has become almost automatic – and I would say, it's a part of the political correctness – to assume that everyone may go to college, everyone should go to college, and the college experience will be a positive thing for everybody.

It just isn't so and can't be so. Only a fraction of the kids of that age may be considered "material for college". They are sufficiently smart and they are sufficiently disciplined, patient etc. to actually suffer through the activities that the college involves.

The defenders of the "college for everybody" have argued that there is a clear correlation between the degrees and lifetime salaries etc. I don't doubt it. But it's because

the people who are really unable to do a well-paid job or study a college end up in the group outside the college, anyway;

and because some companies or other employers prefer to employ a person with a degree even if he or she is exactly as good as a candidate without a college!

The strategy described in the second point is still rational because of the first point: the employer gets a near-certainty to eliminate the candidates who are really unable to even try a college, those who couldn't be accepted to one etc.

But those things could be obvious, anyway, and neither point indicates that the college actually brings something positive. Wouldn't it be better if everyone got the degree immediately after he's accepted to the college, or after one year that he survived? The reason why it could be "enough" is that the information about the school that gave the degree is more useful for the employer because they may figure out what kind of a person he was. We know what characteristics are common among those who are accepted to Harvard.

As Charles Murray said, if you only know that someone has a bachelor degree, you literally know nothing about the person. Almost everyone can have the bachelor degree – especially the easy degrees that are abundant outside STEM. There are lots of crazy bachelor degrees – often spread by pseudo-departments of pseudo-women's and pseudo-African pseudo-studies that were created purely in order to allow a college degree to those who don't belong to a college.

The average IQ and related characteristics of a recipient of a bachelor degree doesn't significantly differ from the average IQ in the population. And Murray said that the selection of employees that "requires a BA" is a self-fulfilling prophesy. You're labeled dumb or lazy without a BA. And that's why the kids who aren't lazy go to schools even though they normally consider the learning process at the school worthless (and it often is worthless for them) – they're there purely for the certification that they're not dumb or lazy!

This bubble of education has diluted the value of the degree – the basic university degrees don't really mean much today. But the excess of students has also lowered the quality of the education in the legitimate departments. They also receive a higher number of students which means that their average readiness had to go down and the best students – who would be there even if there were no education bubble – often have to wait for the slower, "bonus ones".

And perhaps more importantly, a big segment should be inserted here to discuss the evil of "colleges as the indoctrination centers" with their extreme left-wing atmosphere, speech codes, snowflakes in safe spaces, and so on. A priori, this political distortion of the Academia seems like an independent question from the education bubble. But they're not really independent. Many of these safe spaces and speech codes etc. were introduced partly or largely as tools to defend lots of the students who really shouldn't be students at all.

I think that somewhere in the debate, Peter Thiel was asked whether it's consistent for him to oppose kids' going to college while he has spent lots of time in colleges. Well, fake modesty has become a "must", too. But believe it or not, Peter Thiel is an example of a man (or boy) who would naturally belong to a college in any system. He is of the right type.

It's not just about the intelligence. It's about the curiosity, patience, and intellectual discipline, among other things. But there are lots of people who are (sometimes extremely) skillful at many things and who could create and lead huge new companies who are simply not the Academic types in the same sense as Peter Thiel. And those are the folks for whom Thiel's $100,000 scholarship paid for "avoiding any university" was created for.

Around 1:07:50, Peter Thiel was explaining that people are diverse and he was immediately attacked by one of the "education for everybody" guys – and his applauding soulmates in the audience – who claimed that everyone is the same as Peter Thiel in the pre-college age. Please, give me a break with this stunning politically correct, egalitarian garbage. If you compare the people and teenagers etc. according to many trivial criteria, even e.g. how many books or non-fiction books they have read, you will get vastly different results – by orders of magnitude – because people are just different from each other.

It's been months when I watched the whole 2011 IQ2 debate last time so I don't remember everything. But I suspect that much of the discussion was also about the gap between the things that are being taught, and the things that are useful in the later life (and demanded by the employers or industries), and so on.

The final monologues have made it clear that the "education for everybody" side just wanted to mindlessly push the "college for everyone" and not watch any consequences or whether things are beneficial at least in the zeroth approximation. Peter Thiel pointed out that there was no accountability and the bubble deflates when people start to think independently. Murray said that a system that would be optimized would be very different from the current one. Students would study because of the stuff they learn, not because of the piece of paper, and many types of folks would spend much.

Before the debate, 39% voted "too many kids in college", 40% opposed. This tiny edge reversed after the debate, to 47%-to-46%, so Peter Thiel and Charles Murray apparently did an infinitesimal piece of work to persuade the audience that there is an education bubble.

SOURCE 





We have to move away from the worship of university entry as the only path to success in life

In education I worry there is too much competition. Students compete from the days of the National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy right through selective school and scholarship exams, the Higher School Certificate, and their courses at university.

Academics at university compete for tenure-track jobs, for grants and for papers in high-impact journals.

Universities compete with each other globally, and even compete against the vocational education and training sector here.

Competition drives us to be better. Life is competitive, and I enjoy the striving and fulfilment that comes from healthy competition. I, more than most perhaps, have engaged with metrics as a university manager and I never tire of the data and statistics.

But even I worry when the competition becomes too intense. I worry for the mental health of students and the futures of our staff. I worry when everyone dreams of being president — top dog — and when every university wants to be Harvard.

I worry about what I call the witch’s hat type of competition, where everyone is converging on the same goal and competition intensifies as one ascends. There isn’t much room at the top of a witch’s hat.

Globalisation is driving the same dreams and uniformity is taking over from diversity. I worry that people increasingly will be lured into a futile race up the witch’s hat. Most people are bound to fail.

I envisage another type of competition, the ice cream cone view of life. Here individuals spread out as they climb to achieve their goals. There is room at the top in an ice cream cone because everyone is doing something different. One person aims to be the best mathematician, one the best plumber, another the best ballet dancer.

Some universities want to be like Harvard but others want to be small teaching communities with a focus on values.

One doesn’t need to get to the top to reach fulfilment. Ice cream trickles down to the various ridges that cover the cone. Eventually some melts and nourishes those who are still at the bottom. In an inclusive society one climbs up the inside of the cone.

So what magic will invert the witch’s hat to make an ice cream cone? Many of the elements are already in place. In addition to academically selective high schools, we also have high schools that concentrate on sports, or the performing arts, technology, or ostensibly even on agriculture. We might think about establishing more science, technology, engineering and maths senior high schools, and perhaps arts and humanities high schools, too.

We have to move away from the worship of university entry as the only path to success in life. The university sector, the vocational education and training sector, and the government must work together to sort out how to help students find their way into the system that suits them best.

Existing mechanisms that encourage diversification of the university sector could be strength­ened further. Funds should be allocated to reward true excellence in teaching as well as true excellence in research, so institutions make choices rather than everyone aiming for the same thing.

We have systems for measuring research excellence and for rating the student experience, but perhaps because we know these systems will never be perfect we lack the confidence to attach significant funding to them.

What about those young academics who are trapped in the race up the slippery slope of the witch’s hat, completing PhDs and aiming for fellowships and grants, or struggling to survive on casual or sessional teaching?

Some of these might thrive in educational-focused roles where they could concentrate on building a career through teaching without having to compete for the fixed pool of research grants. Others might benefit from focusing intensely on research supported by Australia’s fellowship systems.

Some might move to high schools or into the vocational sector, if these parts of our education system were better supported.

Most of all we must not lose our nerve when other countries post on their Facebook pages that they are having fun.

While globalisation has many benefits the uniformity of thinking is a risk. We should remain confident that we can find many different ways of being happy and prosperous.

SOURCE



Monday, December 18, 2017



Student campaigners branded Oxford professor 'bigoted' and his article 'racist'

It's the students who were able to see only one side of the question who are the real bigots

Oxford students have branded an eminent professor ‘bigoted’ after he suggested feelings of guilt around British colonialism may have gone too far.

Nigel Biggar, regius professor of moral and pastoral theology at Christ Church college, said society should take a more balanced view of the Empire rather than simply remembering it with shame.

He acknowledged ‘atrocities’ had occurred under colonial rule, but said it had also provided law and order in other countries that many citizens had valued.

The comments were made in an opinion piece for a newspaper, titled ‘Don’t feel guilty about our colonial history’.

Yesterday, student campaigners at Oxford called the article ‘racist’ and claimed it ‘whitewashed’ the British Empire.

Common Ground, a student-run race rights group, wrote an open letter condemning the article and claiming it ‘seeks to justify’ colonialism. It also said Professor Biggar should not be allowed to run his new academic project, called Ethics and Empire, which the students said filled them with ‘horror’.

However, Oxford University last night stood by the professor, saying he was ‘entirely suitable’ and an ‘internationally-recognised authority on the ethics of empire’. It said it supported ‘academic freedom of speech’, which must not be allowed to be curtailed in the face of protesters.

Professor Biggar has been at Oxford for a decade and is also a canon of Christ Church Cathedral. He is the director of Oxford’s McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics and Public Life.

His article, in The Times newspaper, said ‘apologising for empire is now compulsory but shame can stop us tackling the world’s problems’.

It pointed out that Britons may become too afraid to intervene in human rights abuses abroad if they saw all past foreign policy as inherently bad. He said: ‘If on the other hand we recognise that the history of the British Empire was morally mixed, just like that of any nation state, then pride can temper shame.

‘Pride at the Royal Navy’s century-long suppression of the Atlantic slave trade, for example, will not be entirely obscured by shame at the slaughter of innocents at Amritsar in 1919.

‘And while we might well be moved to think with care about how to intervene abroad successfully, we won’t simply abandon the world to its own devices.’

The students said: ‘The inaccuracy displayed by Biggar, as well as a conspicuous lack of rigour, must not go unchallenged. He implies colonised societies had no political order prior to colonisation, invoking a racist, hackneyed, and fictional trope about the nature of pre-colonial societies … [he] seeks to justify a post-colonial agenda of interference that destabilises developing nations.’

They said of Ethics and Empire: ‘We believe Nigel Biggar has shown himself to be an inauspicious and inappropriate leader for this project… Is this what is needed at the University of Oxford – a project led by someone pushing to “moderate our post-imperial guilt”?’

They called on the university to answer what input ‘students of colour’ had in the project and who was funding it.

‘The proud announcement of this project, following on the heels of Biggar’s bigoted article, reflects a university that has shown itself to be singularly incapable of reckoning with its colonial past – and singularly incapable of taking responsibility for how that past continues to shape its present and its future,’ they said.

‘If the University of Oxford, our university, wanted to reckon properly with that past – and its impact on the present and future – it would not stand idly by in the face of Biggar’s commendation of imperialists and apologies for colonialism.’

An Oxford spokesman said: ‘We absolutely support academic freedom of speech. The history of empire is a complex topic and it is important that universities consider our global history from a variety of perspectives.

‘This is a valid, evidence-led academic project and Professor Biggar, who is an internationally-recognised authority on the ethics of empire, is an entirely suitable person to lead it.’

It comes following the failure of a campaign at Oxford to tear down a statue of Cecil Rhodes because of his life as an imperialist. Students at other universities have tried to ‘no-platform’ academics on their campuses because they disliked their views.

SOURCE 




On campus, ‘diversity’ is now a threat to free thought

Equality quangos are pressuring universities to buy into PC ideology

We’re used to hearing stories about some universities making life difficult for those who openly disagree with a predominantly liberal-left outlook. Less well-known is a movement to railroad universities into endorsing as official policy some truly controversial views on race, gender and equality.

Until about 10 years ago, universities by and large concentrated on their primary functions of teaching students, sponsoring research, and hiring and supporting academics. Of course, they rightly had to practise fairness and non-discrimination in doing this. But they still regarded education and research as their primary purpose, and would never have dreamed of making the promotion of equality or diversity a primary aim in its own right.

Unfortunately, this sensible and balanced view has largely gone. Not only do we have a new breed of academic interested in process over purpose and ‘social justice’ over everything - we now also have the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU).

The ECU is a little-known organisation founded in 2005 and based in London. It has a staff of around 40, overseen by a board of 13 drawn mainly from the academic great and good. It is bankrolled by Universities UK, similar Welsh and Scottish higher-education bodies, and organisations such as the Royal Society, and is subscribed to to the tune of a few thousand pounds per year by just about every university in the UK. The ECU functions as a kind of equality pressure group, and sponsors two so-called charter marks – the Race Equality Charter and the gender-equality charter, Athena Swan – which are awarded to universities and university departments that meet certain requirements.

This academic quango may be well-meaning, but it is far from clear whether it is worth funding. For one thing, the cost of premises and a staff of 40-plus on central London salaries could presumably cover a decent number of bench fees, library books, or, for that matter, researchers. For another, universities themselves have their own army of equality and diversity officers, not to mention human-resources departments charged with being up-to-date on anti-discrimination law.

Indeed, the ECU isn’t just concerned with traditional ‘fair treatment’ equality – the sort no one would object to. Instead, it goes a good deal further. Take the Race Equality Charter, which universities are under almost irresistible peer pressure to adopt. If a university wants to participate, its vice-chancellor must formally endorse a document stating, among other things, that ‘racism is an everyday facet of UK society’ and that ‘diverse teams enhance creativity and promote innovation’.

For Athena Swan, the process is similar. Universities signing up to it must commit themselves to ‘addressing unequal gender representation across academic disciplines and professional and support functions’; ‘making and mainstreaming sustainable structural and cultural changes to advance gender equality, recognising that initiatives and actions that support individuals alone will not sufficiently advance equality’; and ‘tackling the discriminatory treatment often experienced by trans people’.

Now, these aims and assertions may or may not be justified. But it is deeply problematic that universities, supposed homes of free thought, are now expected to adopt them as a sort of academic equivalent of the Thirty-Nine Articles. And this is just the basics. The charters also have bronze, silver and gold awards, which require universities to go a good deal further.

Dig deeper into ECU documents and you see far more concerning examples of a postmodern, victim-centred approach to equality. Its explanatory document on gender, for example, claims gender is ‘self-determined by [people’s] internal perception, identification and experience’, and ‘often performed – meaning that gender is a “doing” or active experience’.

Of course, participation with the ECU is voluntary. But this is true only in a very literal sense. UK research councils consider participation in Athena Swan when issuing grants. And the next Research Excellence Framework, which will report in 2021, is likely to include a requirement not only that universities participate in Athena Swan, but that individual departments have at least a bronze award.

This is bad news for those of us who believe the university should be a place for free debate, rather than evangelising an official, or semi-official, ideology.

SOURCE 





Australia: Pro-homosexual school program is gone, but its influence remains

Miranda Devine

EDUCATION bureaucrats keep trying to find ways to get around the NSW government’s ban on the “sexual and gender fluidity” sex education program known as Safe Schools.

This time it’s an attack on special religious education (SRE) classes. New education department guidelines issued in September banned volunteer scripture teachers from referring to sexual and gender issues.

In a letter this month responding to complaints from Presbyterian minister Rev Dr Peter Barnes, and Anglican minister Rev David Milne, Rod Megahey, assistant director of primary education, cited a departmental review of the SRE program which had elicited complaints from a “small number” of parents who “objected to secondary school SRE teachers addressing issues of sexuality and expressing homophobic views.”

Rev Barnes, of Revesby, and Rev Milne, of Panania, are insulted by the charge of homophobia. They want to know whether the new policy means that SRE teachers are not allowed to teach the seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery”, or the Sermon on the Mount, which includes the line: “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart”.

Rev Barnes asks if the Ten Commandments has to become the “Nine Suggestions”.

“Such a policy would clearly hand over the teaching of sexual ethics to those of the same mindset as the one who brought in the Safe Schools Program. “So much for freedom of religion, even in voluntary SRE classes.”

That’s the point. Religious education classes are voluntary, and if parents want their children to learn Christian ethics, that is their right. Parents who object to Christian teachings equally have the right not to allow their children to attend the classes.

But they don’t have the right to force their values on to other people’s children.

SOURCE




Sunday, December 17, 2017






Student Debt Is a Symptom of Our Broken Education System. This Bill Would Spark a Change

Rep. Ron DeSantis   

We are facing an education crisis in this country. While the value of continued education after high school is undeniable, our nation’s singular focus remains on the necessity of traditional four-year degrees, which come at a soaring cost to students and their families.

For many students, a classic bachelor’s degree earned at a brick-and-ivy university is a worthwhile investment that provides the necessary knowledge to succeed in their given field post-graduation. But that is certainly not the case for all students.

Estimates suggest that a quarter to nearly half of college graduates are underemployed, and often work in jobs that do not require a college degree. And college tuition does not come cheap—the amount of student loan debt held by the American people is now higher than credit card debt.

There has to be a better way to give our students the opportunities they deserve while helping drive down the astronomical educational costs that are burdening working-class families.

I recently introduced the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity (HERO) Act, a bill that would foster innovative solutions to the process of higher education accreditation and would essentially put choice and affordability back into the hands of students.

Our country’s burgeoning student loan debt has been driven, in part, by the accrediting agencies that accredit higher education bodies and decide who is worthy of government funding by way of student loans.

The regional accreditation bodies, the universities, and the Department of Education essentially act as a cartel that controls who can enter the system. This impedes the innovation that is needed to tackle high costs, lack of school choice, and the decline of value in four-year degrees.

The HERO Act aims to break up that cartel, opening up higher education to more Americans by empowering individual states to develop their own systems of accrediting educational programs. All accredited programs would then be eligible to receive federal student loan money.

The HERO Act would enable our post-secondary education system to become as diverse and nimble as the industries that are looking to hire.

States would be able to accredit nontraditional education options, such as single courses or vocational programs, to meet the particular needs of their local economy. Students would be able to put federal loan money toward single learning courses, online opportunities, and apprenticeships in skilled trades.

Freeing up states to decide how they wish to accredit education options would spark a new era of competition. Trade schools and nontraditional organizations could directly compete for funding, making their appeals to students who have a variety of interests and seek a return on their investment.

Florida could decide to accredit specialized mechanics apprenticeship programs to cater to our robust flight industry, while California might empower Silicon Valley companies to teach coding programs to students who do not necessarily need a four-year degree.

Not only would the HERO Act allow states to fulfill the educational needs they have identified, but it would give students far greater flexibility to tailor their education to their needs. With the fast pace of innovation and an ever-changing economy, workers can often find themselves in need of educational programming mid-career.

Under the reforms proposed by the HERO Act, students could take shorter courses catered to their specific educational needs rather than leave the workforce completely to go back to school.

It is important to note that this bill would not alter current federal accreditation systems. Federal agencies would, however, have to recognize that individual states are on equal footing to know where the current system is failing, and to accredit programs that will fill this void.

Greater competition would force colleges and universities to reassess their federally subsidized pricing practices and help break the cycle of government subsidies that contributes to rising tuition rates. Some students may no longer choose time-consuming and costly four-year degrees if another educational opportunity at a lower cost could impart the necessary knowledge and skills.

Additionally, the HERO Act would require institutions to publish information regarding student success, to prove that they are fiscally accountable, and to ensure schools are held accountable for student loan defaults.

The HERO Act would expand higher education opportunities to millions of Americans who are underserved by our current system. We cannot allow the iron triangle that currently controls accreditation to stifle innovation and shut out potential students from accessing higher education in a manner that works for them.

Simply put, receiving a four-year degree is not the only means of achieving career success, and our federal education policy should reflect that truth.

SOURCE 




Sexism, segregation, squalor: Religious schools are undermining British values, says regulator

More and more religious schools are failing to meet the government’s minimum requirements, according to the UK education watchdog. Some students are being taught sexist and solely religious texts in lieu of basic math and English.
The Ofsted Annual Report 2016/17 has shone a light on the dank, squalid conditions experienced at some of Britain’s independent religious schools. “There has been a sharp decline in inspection outcomes for other independent schools and in particular schools with a faith. Almost half of faith schools (49 percent) were judged less than good at their most recent inspection and over a quarter (26 percent) were inadequate,” the report states.

“The most basic checks, such as whether staff were suitable to work with children, were not in place,” it revealed. “Perhaps more significantly, in a handful of schools inspectors found instances of sexist and sectarian literature.”

The report also shows that a rising number of religious schools are actively undermining British values in their teachings. Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman told the Daily Mail that in some parts of the country “shared values and tolerance clash with community expectations.”

Of the 977 independent schools inspected, 315 do not meet government standards and nearly half of the below-average schools - 147 of them - are faith-based education facilities.  

Some 33 percent of the UK’s Christian schools, 54 percent of Jewish schools, and 58 percent of Muslim schools make up the 147 facilities that fail to meet minimum targets.

Spielman told the Evening Standard that, in some extreme cases, students are being taught oppressive and sexist values at the expense of a traditional education. “When I see books in schools entitled ‘Women Who Deserve To Go To Hell,’ children being educated in dank, squalid conditions, children being taught solely religious texts at the expense of learning basic English and mathematics, I cannot let it be ignored,” she said.

“We have a proud tradition in this country of respecting religious freedom. But there are occasions when multiculturalism can and does comes into tension with the expectation that students should be prepared for life in modern Britain.”

The annual report reveals that one of the schools deemed “unacceptable” is the Al-Hijrah School in Birmingham. “The recent case of Al-Hijrah School in Birmingham showed that an ethos that completely segregates children in school and that spreads discriminatory views about women is unacceptable. The fact that this reflects a cultural norm in that community does not mean that children can be disadvantaged in their education,” it states.

Not only is Ofsted targeting schools deviating from a traditional basic education or teaching repressive values, the education watchdog is taking on “illegal schools” - but Spielman says that greater legislative powers are needed to take on the issue.

“Current legislation is inadequate to tackle unregistered schools,” Spielman said. “It limits our powers to tackle them and allows institutions to exploit loopholes about definitions of education.”

Since January 2016, Ofsted has identified 291 potential facilities which may be unregistered. Approximately 125 inspections have taken place, 38 warning notices were issued, and 34 illegal schools have been closed or have stopped operating illegally. The report says that the remaining cases remain under investigation.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said laws have been changed to prevent extremism in schools, promoting mutual respect and tolerance of those with opposing beliefs.

“We changed the law and the requirements on schools so that they have to actively promote the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and the mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs,” they said.

“It is absolutely right that Ofsted reports on schools that fail to protect children or fail in any other way to meet the standards we expect, so that we can take action to ensure they adhere to the law.  Any independent school that does not comply with the independent school standards must either improve or we will close it down.

“We always support Ofsted, local authorities and the police in tackling unregistered schools, which are illegal and unsafe.”

SOURCE 





British regulator appoints 'conservative teacher' as curriculum lead

Government and politics Inspection Ofsted Primary Secondary
Heather Fearn, a self-described “conservative teacher” has been appointed Ofsted’s new lead for inspector curriculum and professional development.

This follows Ofsted’s decision to include a number of traditional-leaning teachers and educationists in its curriculum-advisory group earlier this year.

Ms Fearn will join the watchdog’s education-policy team from 1 January. Ofsted has said that her role will involve “ensuring that the content of the training, mentoring and coaching available to inspectors across the education remits helps them prepare for the new education inspection framework 2019”.

Previously, Ms Fearn worked as executive vice-principal and curriculum director at Thetford Academy, part of the Inspiration Trust.

She has written blogs for the Conservative Education Society with titles such as “Why I’m a conservative teacher” and “I’m not quite in favour of grammar schools BUT…”

Ofsted’s curriculum advisory group recently included Anna Trethewey, deputy director of thinktank LKMco, Christine Counsell, director of education at Inspiration Trust, and Daisy Christodoulou, known for her traditionalist views on education.

SOURCE 






Friday, December 15, 2017



How Affirmative Action Hurts Asian-Americans in College Admissions

Michael Wang stared at the letter in dismay.

It marked the sixth Ivy League university he had been rejected by, out of the seven he had applied to. In addition to his perfect ACT score and grade-point average, he was ranked third nationally in piano, sang at President Barack Obama’s inauguration, and had received accolades in many debate competitions.

When Wang realized that people with lesser qualifications than his were getting accepted by the Ivies, he suspected that something else was afoot: It wasn’t his qualifications keeping him from his dream, it was his Asian last name.

That explains why in May 2015, he, along with 64 Asian groups, filed a complaint with the federal Department of Education against Harvard University, which is now under investigation for its affirmative action policy.

Article VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits educational institutions that receive federal aid from discriminating based on race. Owing to allegations of discrimination advanced by Asian-Americans, the Justice Department has asked Harvard to produce documents that will help shed light on its admissions process.

Racial preferences in university admissions first arose in the late 1960s, when its supporters said they were needed to remedy a history of discrimination against African-Americans. In 1978, in California Board of Regents v. Bakke, the Supreme Court used twisted reasoning, rejecting racial quotas as unconstitutional, while affirming the permissibility of considering race in admissions.

Since then, the high court has edged closer and closer to banning racial preferences as distasteful and un-American, but hasn’t brought itself to completely eradicate them.

But now we are seeing how racial preferences also can hurt a minority group; namely, Asian-Americans. That’s why a number of Asian-American special-interest groups filed suit in federal court in May 2015, complaining that Harvard and other selective institutions of higher education employ veiled racial quotas in their admissions procedures.

These groups point to the fact that, on average, it is much more difficult for Asian-Americans to gain admission to elite schools than it is for their Hispanic, black, or white counterparts.

Asian-Americans must score 140 points higher on their SATs than white students, 270 points higher than Hispanic students, and 450 points higher than black students.

One study measured the considerable difference in SAT and ACT scores within highly selective universities and examined what factors allow certain low-scoring applicants to get into those colleges.

Findings revealed that it is equally likely that a black student who scored 27 on the ACT and a white student who scored 30.8 would get accepted. By contrast, they found that an Asian scoring 27 on the ACT would have as much chance of acceptance as white student who scored 23.6.

Since the ACT is measured on a 36-point scale, the difference in points is considerable. For example, a score of 27 places a student in the 86th percentile nationally, while a score of 23 bumps a student down to the 69th percentile. Especially in a competitive admissions process, such a difference can greatly affect a student’s chance of acceptance.

Among all racial groups, Asian-Americans are most “underrepresented relative to their application numbers,” according to the Asian American Coalition for Education. Although in 2008, Asians comprised more than half of “highly qualified” applicants to Harvard, only 17 percent received acceptance letters. Despite their rise in population, the percentage of Asians at Ivy League institutions has stagnated at about 18 percent.

Absent racial preferences, the Hispanic acceptance rate at elite institutions would drop to half its current rate, while black acceptance would plummet by two-thirds. By contrast, the number of Asian acceptances would rise from 17.6 percent to 24.3 percent.

 Given these statistics, Asian interest groups fear that race amounts to more than just “one factor among many” in admissions processes. The Supreme Court has explicitly prohibited the practice of considering a student’s race to be a “defining feature of his or her application.” Instead, the court found that race must remain merely one consideration in a “holistic” evaluation of the individual applicant.

The Justice Department intends to discover whether the admissions difficulties Asian-Americans face result from a policy at Harvard that is “indistinguishable from racial quotas.” To do so, Justice has asked for access to documents that reveal the details of Harvard’s admissions procedures.

Harvard has been wary of producing records that contain information about students’ test scores and demographics.

However, under the threat of being sued by the Justice Department, Harvard proposed a plan to reveal the admissions information that the department requested. The school will require the Justice Department to limit viewing of the documents to Harvard lawyers’ offices.

The Justice Department indicated that Harvard’s proposal is promising, but it is still reviewing whether the university’s proposal complies with Article VI access requirements.

If proven that Harvard and other elite schools use policies that disproportionately consider race, these institutions should not continue to receive federal funds.

We will never eliminate discrimination by enacting policies that limit the opportunities of one race in favor of another.

As Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts once put it, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

SOURCE 





The World Might Be Better Off Without College for Everyone

I have been in school for more than 40 years. First preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, junior high, and high school. Then a bachelor’s degree at UC Berkeley, followed by a doctoral program at Princeton. The next step was what you could call my first “real” job—as an economics professor at George Mason University.

Thanks to tenure, I have a dream job for life. Personally, I have no reason to lash out at our system of higher education. Yet a lifetime of experience, plus a quarter century of reading and reflection, has convinced me that it is a big waste of time and money. When politicians vow to send more Americans to college, I can’t help gasping, “Why? You want us to waste even more?”

How, you may ask, can anyone call higher education wasteful in an age when its financial payoff is greater than ever? The earnings premium for college graduates has rocketed to 73 percent—that is, those with a bachelor’s degree earn, on average, 73 percent more than those who have only a high-school diploma, up from about 50 percent in the late 1970s. The key issue, however, isn’t whether college pays, but why. The simple, popular answer is that schools teach students useful job skills. But this dodges puzzling questions.

First and foremost: From kindergarten on, students spend thousands of hours studying subjects irrelevant to the modern labor market. Why do English classes focus on literature and poetry instead of business and technical writing? Why do advanced-math classes bother with proofs almost no student can follow? When will the typical student use history? Trigonometry? Art? Music? Physics? Latin? The class clown who snarks “What does this have to do with real life?” is onto something.

The disconnect between college curricula and the job market has a banal explanation: Educators teach what they know—and most have as little firsthand knowledge of the modern workplace as I do. Yet this merely complicates the puzzle. If schools aim to boost students’ future income by teaching job skills, why do they entrust students’ education to people so detached from the real world? Because, despite the chasm between what students learn and what workers do, academic success is a strong signal of worker productivity.

Suppose your law firm wants a summer associate. A law student with a doctorate in philosophy from Stanford applies. What do you infer? The applicant is probably brilliant, diligent, and willing to tolerate serious boredom. If you’re looking for that kind of worker—and what employer isn’t?—you’ll make an offer, knowing full well that nothing the philosopher learned at Stanford will be relevant to this job.

The labor market doesn’t pay you for the useless subjects you master; it pays you for the preexisting traits you signal by mastering them. This is not a fringe idea. Michael Spence, Kenneth Arrow, and Joseph Stiglitz—all Nobel laureates in economics—made seminal contributions to the theory of educational signaling. Every college student who does the least work required to get good grades silently endorses the theory. But signaling plays almost no role in public discourse or policy making. As a society, we continue to push ever larger numbers of students into ever higher levels of education. The main effect is not better jobs or greater skill levels, but a credentialist arms race.

Lest I be misinterpreted, I emphatically affirm that education confers some marketable skills, namely literacy and numeracy. Nonetheless, I believe that signaling accounts for at least half of college’s financial reward, and probably more.

Most of the salary payoff for college comes from crossing the graduation finish line. Suppose you drop out after a year. You’ll receive a salary bump compared with someone who’s attended no college, but it won’t be anywhere near 25 percent of the salary premium you’d get for a four-year degree. Similarly, the premium for sophomore year is nowhere near 50 percent of the return on a bachelor’s degree, and the premium for junior year is nowhere near 75 percent of that return. Indeed, in the average study, senior year of college brings more than twice the pay increase of freshman, sophomore, and junior years combined. Unless colleges delay job training until the very end, signaling is practically the only explanation. This in turn implies a mountain of wasted resources—time and money that would be better spent preparing students for the jobs they’re likely to do.

SOURCE 






College Presidents Making $1 Million Rise With Tuition and Student Debt

A seven-figure salary to run a nonprofit college? You know what they say: Pro Humanitate.

That's the motto of Wake Forest University, where President Nathan Hatch came in first in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s new ranking of compensation for heads of U.S. colleges. In 2015, the latest year for which data are available, he earned $4 million.

Hatch is one of 58 college presidents with total compensation of more than $1 million, up from 39 in 2014 and 32 in 2013, according to the Chronicle’s calculations. Average total compensation for school heads serving the full year was $569,932, up 9 percent from 2014's average. The data were drawn from federal tax filings for 500 private, nonprofit schools. 

"It certainly raises eyebrows," said Dan Bauman, a data reporter for the Chronicle. "It's unusually high."

To recruit and retain senior executives, schools often include deferred-compensation packages, a trend noticeable among most of the top earners in 2015. The chart-busting payday for Hatch, who has headed up Wake Forest since 2005, was partly from compensation of more than $3 million that came due in 2015, said Katie Neal, a spokeswoman for the university.

"President Hatch's compensation over the course of his tenure reflects his exceptional leadership," trustee chair Donna Boswell said. The school has raised nearly $800 million under Hatch, she said.

Total compensation includes base pay, bonus pay, nontaxable benefits (for example, health benefits, life insurance and dependent care) and other pay (such as severance payments, spending accounts and club dues). Such perks as housing and travel may also be included. Hatch had base pay of $839,944 and a bonus of $92,000.

In fact, all five of the highest-paid university presidents in the report on 2015 reaped deferred pay and bonuses that dwarfed their base salaries. James Wagner, then head of Emory University, took home the second-highest amount, fueled by a 10-year deferred-compensation award, according to spokeswoman Nancy Seideman. Of Wagner's $3.51 million take-home pay, $991,460 was his base salary, according to the Chronicle.

High pay and hefty endowments in academia have long drawn skepticism, or scorn, apparent most recently in the depths of the Republican-drafted tax legislation making its way through Congress. If it is passed in its current form, schools with more than $500,000 in endowment assets per student — about 30 universities, including Emory, as of 2014 — could see their annual investment income taxed at 1.4 percent, a levy that higher-education advocates have decried as "arbitrary," saying it "makes no sense." Currently, both public and private nonprofit colleges are tax- exempt.

Across the country at the University of Southern California, C.L. Max Nikias collected a total of $3.18 million, of which $1.5 million came from a "one-time special bonus," said John Mork, chairman of the school's board of trustees. Since joining the school as president in 2010, Nikias has been responsible for a record-high level of freshman applications, the largest campus expansion in university history and "exceptional success" in the school's fundraising efforts, Mork said.

"For these reasons and many others, the executive committee of the board believes that President Nikias is doing an excellent job and was appropriately compensated," he said.

A modern university president’s responsibilities are greater than people may realize, the Chronicle’s Bauman said. School heads are often expected to lead the university as well as its medical enterprises, fundraising efforts, alumni relations and many other endeavors, all under the public eye, he said.

"It's not the interpretation that we get from pop culture, the guy sitting behind a big wooden desk reading Plato," Bauman said.

As college presidents' compensation has risen, so have tuition and student loan debt. In 2004, about $364 billion in student loans was outstanding. That figure has more than tripled to $1.3 trillion, according to the most recent New York Fed data.

"You have a lot of people arguing that the pay for presidents is out of line for someone in a nonprofit education role," Bauman said.

Argue away, say boards of trustees, usually the body responsible for determining a president's compensation package. Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, took home $3.09 million in 2015, making her the highest-paid Ivy League head and the fourth-highest paid overall. David Cohen, chair of the school's board of trustees, said he wouldn't do anything differently.

"The trustees believe she is the best university president in the country and that her salary should rightly reflect the stellar leadership she has brought to Penn," he said.

To compile its list of private, nonprofit schools, the Chronicle looked for those that have the biggest endowments, are listed as participating in the Title IV federal student aid program and are classified as baccalaureate, master’s or doctoral institutions.

SOURCE 


Thursday, December 14, 2017



Is there hope for the education system?

Both sides of the aisle can agree that education reform is a necessity. With rising costs of higher education and increased joblessness amongst graduates, the higher education system is failing millions of young Americans. Rather than merely reauthorizing the Higher Education Act as administrations before have done, Congress is voting on the first significant changes to the legislation since 2008.

The Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act was introduced by Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) as an opportunity to reauthorize the Higher Education Act with changes to fit it into a modern context.

As Representative Foxx explains, “We need a higher education system that is designed to meet the needs of today’s students and has the flexibility to innovate for tomorrow’s workforce opportunities. The PROSPER Act is higher education’s long overdue reform.”

The bill encourages greater partnership between industry and institutions by focusing additional resources toward Federal Work-Study programs and provides institutional aid to develop and implement career-specific programs. In a major shift toward private sector partnership, the bill also requires grant application boards and accreditation boards to have at least one member of the business community present, to ensure institutions receiving federal funds are preparing students to meet the needs of the labor force.

Higher education provides no benefit if students cannot receive jobs upon completion of their degree, the situation many students are currently finding themselves in.

Millennials are the most college educated generation, but at the same time too many are finding themselves unable to enter the labor force. The value of a college degree has dropped substantially due to increased enrollment, while tuition soars alongside attendance.

In states like Iowa, more than half of the available jobs are middle-skilled jobs requiring some form of vocational training or employment that needs more than a high school degree but less than a four-year college degree. Students entering college, rather than taking these careers have caused a skills gap across industries in the state’s labor force.

This leaves students with costly degrees but no place to find jobs, most of these students are merely forced to peddle in their debt until an opportunity comes along.

The PROSPER Act begins to taks aim at assisting students with debt as well.

According to the Act’s summary released by the House Education Workforce, the act simplifies the FAFSA system and streamlines student aid programs into a single grant, single loan, and single Work-Study program to “ease confusion for students who are deciding the best options available to responsibly pay for their college education”.

However, this has been a frequent area of controversy for the bill as well. Opponents of the bill have been quick to notice the legislation ends several student loan forgiveness and repayment programs for individuals working in the public and non-profit sector.

This is not the first time this option has been discussed, the Department of Education discussed the possibility of removing loan forgiveness programs earlier this year. Almost 600,000 borrowers have signed up for this program since President George W. Bush introduced it in 2007 to encourage graduates to enter the public service.

Neal McCluskey of the Cato Institute argues while this bill does take significant steps to mend the federal aid system and reduce debt, it does not do enough, “What needs to happen, ultimately, is for federal student aid to be phased out… Students with a demonstrated ability to do legitimate college-level work in in-demand fields would almost certainly be able to find private loans; both borrower and lender would likely profit. This bill, not surprisingly, does not phase aid out. It does, though, consolidate aid programs, and takes some small steps forward, capping total amounts students and their families can borrow from Washington, and letting schools say they won’t let students borrow a lot if the program doesn’t seem to justify it.”

The federal government leads student financial assistance, but only because former President Barack Obama made it so. While passing Obamacare, a healthcare policy, President Obama federalized student loans to pay for the costly health plan. Republicans blame this action for souring student loan costs in recent years.

If the history of higher education chaos, exacerbated by elements of this bill, teaches us anything, it is that the federal government should not be handling education policy. While this legislation attempts to limit the federal government’s role in education, it does not go far enough to ensure state control. Many of these very reform elements could be shifted to the states.

The Constitution says nothing about Congress or the executive branch’s role in education, let alone higher education. If states wish to build private sector relationships, they should be the facilitator of those, rather than the federal government which is woefully out of touch with statewide industry needs.

Higher education should be a bipartisan point for Congress, but not federal legislators, state legislators. While the full jury is still out on this bill, as it has not reached the House and Senate floor yet, once it does, representatives would do best to push issues to state governments rather than attempt comprehensive reform on their own

SOURCE 





Here’s the gender gap that matters

The gender gap in engineering and math is old news by now. Despite society's strenuous efforts to close it – including giving girls pink Lego sets to play with – nothing seems to work. The percentage of female engineering students remains around 20 per cent, give or take.

Meanwhile, there's another gender gap that everyone ignores. This one is in the ultra-competitive field of veterinary medicine. Not long ago, all vets were men, and women who aspired to be vets were told to aspire to something else. Scarcely any women were admitted into vet schools before the 1970s. Today the ratio in veterinary school is 80-20 – in favour of women. In 2015, for example, Guelph's Ontario Veterinary College admitted 83 women and only 18 men.

Oddly, nobody is hollering about discrimination in veterinary medicine. No activists or politicians are lobbying for preferential treatment for men, or preaching about systemic discrimination, or complaining because women win all the scholarly awards. No one gives two hoots about the vets (except for the veterinary schools themselves, which are desperate to recruit more males). The reason is that this particular gender imbalance doesn't fit the prevailing narrative, which is that women in historically male fields face systemic discrimination at every turn.

The gender gap we talk about incessantly – the one focused on the relatively small number of professions where men still outnumber women – is not the one that matters. The one that matters is the absence of so many men in higher education. Today, women dominate at all levels of education, including the graduate levels. In most postgraduate fields, as well as in law and medicine, women now outperform and outnumber men by growing margins.

Here's the picture, according to economist Mark Perry writing for the American Enterprise Institute. For every 100 men enrolled in U.S. graduate schools, there are now more than 135 women. In 2016, women earned 57.4 per cent of the masters' degrees and 52.1 per cent of the doctoral degrees. Women earned more doctoral degrees in seven of the 11 graduate fields tracked by the Council of Graduate Schools, including education, arts and humanities, public administration and biology. Men earned most of the doctoral degrees in only four fields: business, engineering, math and computer science, and physical and earth sciences.

I couldn't find similar comprehensive information for Canada, but the University of British Columbia is probably representative. Today, 56 per cent of all UBC graduate students are female. Women dominate in five of the eight fields tracked by UBC, sometimes by overwhelming margins: they make up 75 per cent of graduate students in education, 65 per cent in health sciences, 58 per cent in humanities, 67 per cent in non-health professional areas, and 56 per cent in social sciences. Women make up 44 per cent of the sciences. They lag significantly in only two areas: business and management (38 per cent) and engineering (26 per cent).

"Men have increasingly become the second sex in higher education," writes Mr. Perry.

What's clear from these trends is that educational inequality has worked its way up from elementary school, and is now solidly entrenched at all levels of attainment. This, in an age when higher education and cognitive skills are more important than ever. Why? Surely one reason is the temperamental differences between males and females. Females aim to please; males tend not to give a darn. Females don't mind sitting still and colouring inside the lines; a lot of men go crazy. The modern world demands the type of social skills that women are very good at. Most young men simply aren't wired to sit in classrooms until their mid-to-late 20s.

And that basically explains the feminization of veterinary schools. They're hard to get into. They require many years of extra schooling. The vast majority of the applicants are female because the guys don't even bother trying. They've gone missing in action.

Higher education has become so feminized that it's hard to see how it can be re-engineered to appeal to men. Meanwhile we've hit another watershed. A record number of men are marrying women who are more educated than they are. That's because, as the Institute for Family Studies reports, wives now have more education than husbands do. Among newlyweds, the trend is even more pronounced. In 2015, it says, nearly a third of newlywed women married down, educationally speaking.

Tell your daughters to get used to it. Because the way things are going, they will too.

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Elite colleges are making it easy for conservatives to dislike them

Drew Gilpin Faust, the president of Harvard University, has been lobbying in Washington against a Republican proposal to tax large university endowments and make other tax and spending changes that might adversely affect universities. Faust says the endowment tax would be a “blow at the strength of American higher education” and that the suite of proposals lacks “policy logic.” Perhaps so, but they have a political logic. We hope that Harvard and other elite universities will reflect on their part in these developments.

The proposed tax and spending policies aimed at universities are surely related to the sharp recent drop in support by conservatives for colleges and universities. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, 58 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the way things are going in the country, a figure that has grown significantly in the past two years. This development likely reflects four related trends.

First is the obvious progressive tilt in universities, especially elite universities. At Harvard, for example, undergraduate students overwhelmingly identify as progressive or liberal and the faculty overwhelmingly gives to the Democratic Party. Even Harvard Law School, which has a handful of conservative scholars and a new conservative dean, is on the left end of law school faculties, which are themselves more progressive than the legal profession.

Second, the distinctive progressive ideology of elite universities is relentlessly critical of, to the point of being intolerant of, traditions and moral values widely seen as legitimate in the outside world. As a result, elite universities have narrowed the range of acceptable views within their walls.

Third is the rise of anti-conservative “mobs,” “shout-downs” and “illiberal behavior” on campus, as New York University social psychologist Jonathan Haidt describes it. Conservative speakers of various stripes are being harassed and excluded with increasing frequency. “Today, on many college campuses, it is liberals trying to repress conservative ideas,” noted former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg at a Harvard address a few years ago. Harvard is actually somewhat better on these issues than many universities — it hasn’t had anti-conservative mobs, and it has been relatively respectful of conservative speakers. But even at Harvard, the pervasive progressive orthodoxy chills conservatives’ speech in the classroom and hallways.

Fourth is the public contempt of so many university academics for those who fund their subsidies. Paul Krugman, an emeritus professor at Princeton University now at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, as well as a New York Times op-ed columnist, offered a self-described “deep thought” in reaction to a Post article about rising conservative anger at American universities: “Maybe conservatives are turning against learning because learning is incompatible with modern conservative ideology.” Krugman’s statement was a mere tweet. But in our experience it reflects an attitude that is widespread at elite universities.

We do not believe that every university in the country, or even every department in most universities, reflects the progressive views that we have described. Nor are we expressing a view on the merits of the current tax and spending proposals, which have complex consequences for universities and the public welfare, about which reasonable minds can differ. And Harvard and other private universities of course have every right to adopt a progressive ideology and to enforce it, more or less, by decisions on faculty hiring, student admissions and the allocation of resources.

But educational institutions should not be surprised when these attitudes and behaviors prove unappealing to a Congress and executive branch that are largely in the control of conservatives. Conservative politicians and their constituents hear, on the one hand, that government owes universities a continuance of largesse and, on the other, that conservatives are ignorant, unworthy or corrupt. This sounds suspiciously like special pleading by an intellectual elite that wants to indulge in social criticism at the expense of the criticized, in both figurative and literal senses.

Universities have become distinctively sectarian, limiting their appeal to federal elected officials who do not share those sectarian views and who are less and less willing to pay the universities to trumpet them.

SOURCE 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017



Trump plays the race card yet again by targeting affirmative action on campus

I would have thought it was affirmative action advocates who are playing the race card.  Trump is opposing use of race in admission decisions. 

The writer below pins his argument about the evilness of Trump on blacks being under-represented in tertiary colleges.  But what does that prove and why is it bad?  To the race-obsessed Leftists it is obviously bad but people not concerned about race might simply say: "That's the way the cookie crumbles" and leave it at that. 

And given the long-term failure of blacks to increase their presence in tertiary institutions, "That's the way the cookie crumbles" could be the only reasonable response -- or at least the only response that acknowledges reality

One wonders at the poor grip on reality of the writer below.  He also hates on the greater presence of the rich in universities.  High income earners do tend to be brighter and that is hereditary so their children are much more likely to meet the criteria for college admission. Only a Communist society could change that but even the Soviet union had a distinct favoured elite -- The Nomenklatura.  So when will the galoot below accept that all men will NEVER be equal?  He will never accept it because it goes against his Leftist religion.

He will never get the Communist society he seems to want so he will take whatever pressure towards it that he can get:  The pressure to enrol in colleges those who are less fit for it but are the "right" race.  He can't see that he is using an injustice to create some semblance of his impossible dream.  He can't see that he is the racist



Once again, Donald Trump pummels reality to please his base. As often, his cudgel is race.

His Justice Department, The New York Times reports, is investigating colleges, including Harvard, whose admissions policies supposedly disfavor whites and Asians to benefit blacks and Hispanics. This is perverse, for the evidence shows that those minorities continue to be underrepresented on American campuses.

Indeed, in the last 35 years this gap has widened. A comprehensive study by the Times shows that the percentage of black freshmen at elite schools is virtually unchanged, and that the increase in Hispanics has not kept up with their growth rate overall. The same holds true at top liberal arts colleges and public flagship universities, including the University of California in America’s most diverse state.

In 2003, the Supreme Court found that promoting diversity on campus is a legitimate consideration in admissions policy. But according to the Department of Education, since that ruling we have seen little progress.

As of 2014, the African-American population in four-year colleges had risen 1 percentage point, to 13 percent, over the preceding decade. Hispanics were up only a little more. Yet Trump’s DOJ, according to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, is “attempting . . . to achieve what they have not been able to do with the Supreme Court” — discourage affirmative action.

His campaign thrived on deliberately stoking racial anxieties and resentments. Surveys show that a belief that whites are treated unfairly is a powerful predictor of support for Trump. Similarly, his adherents are more likely to feel that the growth of racial or ethnic groups is negatively affecting our society.

These feelings pervade the GOP electorate. A 2017 survey showed that 43 percent of Republicans believe there is significant discrimination against whites, whereas only 27 percent of them believe the same for blacks. As Thomas Edsall spelled out in the Times, Trump benefits from a “white identity politics” among voters who want the advantages they imagine accrue to minorities.

Now Trump’s presidency is reeling. His attack on affirmative action on campus is red meat for white people, demonstrating he will correct the passion for diversity which, his followers believe, limits white opportunity by skewing college admissions.

Thus does bigotry bury what, for the GOP, is a highly inconvenient truth. According to The Washington Post: “At 38 top colleges in the United States, more students come from the top 1 percent of income earners than from the bottom 60 percent.” It is income inequality, not race, that disadvantages lower-bracket whites.

But for Republican ideologues and cynics, reverse discrimination in admissions is a politically potent myth, energizing the base while providing cover for policies favoring the wealthy. Nowhere is this pernicious stalking horse more empowered than among Republican judges on the Supreme Court, to whom Trump will ultimately look to banish affirmative action.

Principal among them is Chief Justice John Roberts. It was in opposition to affirmative action in admissions that he wrote his famous dictum: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

This excruciating platitude does not withstand exposure to the world as it actually exists, including in college admissions. Such banality is, perhaps, to be expected from a smug country clubber, smiling benignly at the waiter who has just served up his favorite single malt scotch. But from America’s chief justice, it drives rulings that serve the ideology and electoral interests of the GOP at the cost of justice for minorities.

This effort is epitomized by Fisher v. University of Texas, the most recent challenge to affirmative action before the Supreme Court.

At issue was a modest plan allowing the university to consider race as one of many “plus factors” in some students’ admissions decisions. The white plaintiff conveniently overlooked that of the 47 students admitted with lower grades and test scores, 42 were white. A narrow majority of justices upheld the Texas program.

Roberts dissented. At oral argument he demanded to know: “What unique perspective does a minority student bring to a physics class?”

Seriously? Does Roberts really imagine that this is about the principles of physics? What about those disadvantaged students — minorities and the poor — who the university sought to help? Or what students of all backgrounds experience as part of a diverse student body? His calculated obtuseness exposes the GOP’s attack on affirmative action for what it is — a callous sham.

But there Roberts remains, awaiting the next attack, which beyond doubt will be supported by Donald Trump.

SOURCE 






Trump, DeVos have stopped forgiving student loans for college scam victims

Not so quick to give out taxpayer money

The Trump administration has not approved a single debt cancellation request from students who received federal loans to pay for failed, for-profit colleges, according to the Department of Education's Inspector General.

Thousands of students who attended now defunct for-profit colleges such as Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institutes applied for debt forgiveness under a program launched by the Obama administration. And during the last six months of President Barack Obama's president, more than 46,000 claims were sent in.

The Obama administration's Education Department approved nearly 28,000 of those claims during those final six months.

But since President Donald Trump's first day in office on Jan. 20, the Education Department has received nearly 26,000 claims and approved zero of them, according to the IG report.

But there also haven't been many denials, either -- the IG report says only two claims have been denied.

That's because Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has paused the program pending further review the process of debt forgiveness, as well as the possibility of abandoning the program altogether.

Canceling the program would affect at least 87,000 borrowers who have submitted claims and are waiting for approval as of October, according to the Washington Post.

The IG report recommends that the program be restarted.

A. Wayne Johnson, chief operating officer of the federal student aid program, said relief could soon come for about 11,000 former Corinthian students, according to the BBC.

Democrats have criticized DeVos for not more quickly finding a solution for students who have fallen victim to for-profit college scams.

"When a predatory college breaks the law to trick students into enrolling, those students are entitled to have their federal student loans canceled to help them start over," Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said in November.

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Teacher Who Was Fired For ‘Misgendering’ A Student Slaps School With Lawsuit

A teacher who was fired for calling a transgender student by her biological gender hit back at the school with a lawsuit.

After math teacher Joshua Sutcliffe, 27, allegedly said “well done girls” to two students at an Oxfordshire secondary school in England, the school suspended him and called for a disciplinary hearing. He apologized to the student, but he was charged with misconduct for “misgendering,” according to the Evening Standard.

Not long after, Sutcliffe was fired from his teaching post and he responded by sending a letter to the school saying that it’s equality policies are “totalitarian,” Metro reports. “I regret that our relations have reached this point, but I feel I have no choice but to bring legal proceedings against you without further notice,” Sutcliffe wrote in his letter.

“While the suggestion that gender is fluid conflicts sharply with my Christian beliefs… I have never looked to impose my convictions on others,” Sutcliffe, who is also a Christian pastor, said the school initially suspended him for six weeks, according to BBC News. He also thinks referring to someone by their birth gender isn’t wrong or unreasonable, according to the Daily Mail.

More than 2,000 children aged three to 18 in the U.K. were referred to a gender identity specialist last year, BBC reports.

The teacher’s firing and sequential lawsuit comes after similar events in the U.S. An 8-year-old transgender student and his parents recently sued a California school for failing to let him express his identity as a girl and another set of parents filed a lawsuit against a school in New York, alleging the school created a hostile environment for their five-year-old kid, according to The New York Times.

SOURCE 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017






How America Is Breaking Public Education (?)

Ethan Siegel, writing and depicted below, somehow manages to combine unoriginality with being a bit of a nut.  The image below is only one of his eccentric depictions of himself.



Siegel has reduced the problems of education to only one factor -- albeit a factor popular among teachers.  He says teachers need to be treated like professionals but that they are not. What teacher union would disagree with that?

Being Left-leaning, however, Siegel has not thought to ask WHY teachers are inapty treated.  To describe a problem seems to him a sufficient contribution without offering any solution to it. If you can't call "racism" as a response to some problem, Leftists are stumped.

And for anybody with experience in the education sector, the reason for the situation is obvious:  Most public school teachers are dummies.  Except for a few dedicated souls, those who teach are those who could get no other work deserving of a college education.  A bright graduate will look to teach only as a last resort, and  will very rarely drop to that last level.  The "Teach for America" system is an explicit recognition that bright graduates typically don't go into teaching.

OK.  That's the first part of the explanation.  Now we ask WHY teaching is such an unattractive job in most places today.  It helps to answer that to consider some places where teachers are high quality -- say South Korea.  Teachers there mostly have higher degrees and are something of an elite.  How come?  Because teaching has long been a rewarding and prestigious occupation and there is nothing in South Korea to disrupt that.  Even from ancient Sumeria we have a depiction of a parent giving a teacher a fleece -- a bit better than an apple for the teacher.

So what has gone wrong in the Anglosphere countries of recent times?  Answer: Leftist destruction of discipline.  Teachers now have very few disciplinary options available and a few unruly students can now totally destroy the classroom experience.  Teaching becomes a constant battle to get the attention of the students.  In many public schools teachers are little more than child-minders.  They can do very little teaching. So we have the experience of places like California where students can graduate High School while being barely able to read and write

And who would want to work in that environment?  Only those with no other options.  So as older teachers retire, classrooms have been left in the hands of people with very little in the way of educational achievement themselves.  Politicians talk about demanding that admission to their teacher-training colleges include only candidates with good GPAs etc but if they insisted on that, they would soon run out of teachers.

But good classroom management is within living memory so higher educational standards are possible -- but only if Leftist "reforms" of the last 30 years or so are rolled back


The ultimate dream of public education is incredibly simple. Students, ideally, would go to a classroom, receive top-notch instruction from a passionate, well-informed teacher, would work hard in their class, and would come away with a new set of skills, talents, interests, and capabilities. Over the past few decades in the United States, a number of education reforms have been enacted, designed to measure and improve student learning outcomes, holding teachers accountable for their students' performances. Despite these well-intentioned programs, including No Child Left Behind, Race To The Top, and the Every Student Succeeds Act, public education is more broken than ever. The reason, as much as we hate to admit it, is that we've disobeyed the cardinal rule of success in any industry: treating your workers like professionals.

Everyone who's been through school has had experiences with a wide variety of teachers, ranging from the colossally bad to the spectacularly good. There are a few qualities universally ascribed to the best teachers, and the lists almost always include the following traits:

* a passion for their chosen subject,

* a deep, expert-level knowledge of the subject matter they're teaching,

* a willingness to cater to a variety of learning styles and to employ a variety of educational techniques,

* and a vision for what a class of properly educated students would be able to know and demonstrate at the end of the academic year.

Yet despite knowing what a spectacular teacher looks like, the educational models we have in place actively discourage every one of these.

The first and largest problem is that every educational program we've had in place since 2002 — the first year that No Child Left Behind took effect — prioritizes student performance on standardized tests above all else. Test performance is now tied to both school funding, and the evaluation of teachers and administrators. In many cases, there exists no empirical evidence to back up the validity of this approach, yet it's universally accepted as the way things ought to be.

Imagine, for a moment, that this weren't education, but any other job. Imagine how you'd feel if you found yourself employed in such a role.

Requiring teachers to follow a script in a variety of educational settings is one of the surest ways to squash creativity and kill student interest. It is a more widespread practice than ever before.

You have, on any given day, a slew of unique problems to tackle. These include how to reach, motivate, and excite the people whose education and performance you're responsible for. It includes imparting them with skills that will enable them to succeed in the world, which will be vastly different from state-to-state, county-to-county, and even classroom-to-classroom. Gifted students, average students, special needs students, and students with severe disabilities are all often found in the same class, requiring a deft touch to keep everyone motivated and engaged. Moreover, students often come to class with problems that place them at a competitive disadvantage, such as food insecurity, unaddressed physical, dental, and mental health issues, or home life responsibilities that severely curtail their ability to invest in academics.

If your goal was to achieve the greatest learning outcome possible for each of your students, what would you need to be successful? You'd need the freedom to decide what to teach, how to teach it, how to evaluate and assess your students, and how to structure your classroom and curriculum. You'd need the freedom to make individualized plans or separate plans for students who were achieving at different levels. You'd need the resources — financial, time, and support resources — to maximize the return on your efforts. In short, you'd need the same thing that any employee in any role needs: the freedom and flexibility to assess your own situation, and make empowered decisions.

In public education, if teachers do that, they are penalized to an extraordinary extent. Passion is disincentivized, as whatever aspects your passionate about take a back seat to what will appear on the standardized test. Expert knowledge is thrown to the wayside, as curiosity and engagement is seen as a distraction. A vision for what successful students look like is narrowed down to one metric alone: test performance. And a teacher's evaluation of what skills are important to develop is treated as less than nothing, as anything that fails to raise a student's test score is something that everyone — the teacher, the school, and the student — are all penalized for.

If this were common practice in any other industry, we'd be outraged. How dare you presume to micromanage the experts, the very people you hired to do a difficult job full of unique challenges to the best of their abilities! Yet in education, we have this unrealistic dream that a scripted, one-sized-fits-all strategy will somehow lead to success for all. That we can somehow, through just the right set of instructions, transform a mediocre teacher into a great one.

This hasn't worked in any walk of life, and it doesn't work in education. If we were serious about improving the quality of public education in this country (or any country), we wouldn't focus on a one-size-fits-all model, whether at the federal or state level. We would fully fund schools everywhere, regardless of test scores, economic concerns, or teacher quality. We would make a concerted effort to pay desirable wages to extremely qualified, expert-knowledge-level educators, and give them the support resources they need to succeed. And we'd evaluate them across a variety of objective and subjective metrics, with any standardized testing components making up only a small part of an evaluation.

The most important goal of an education is something we rarely talk about: the set of skills and the capabilities of thinking and problem solving that a student acquires. Part of what makes an adult successful in this world is the unique toolkit they have for approaching, attacking, and defeating the challenges they face in this world. A diversity of experiences and methods among the population is a great way to ensure that more problems can be solved; absolute uniformity is as bad for human society as monoculture is for agriculture. The greatest advances in science and society have come about because of the unique backgrounds and approaches some of the greatest minds in history possessed and utilized. Unless our goal is societal stagnation, we need to encourage creativity and excellence, not only in our students, but in our educators as well.

Like any job involving an interaction with other people, teaching is as much of an art as it is a science. By taking away the freedom to innovate, we aren't improving the outcomes of the worst teachers or even average teachers; we're simply telling the good ones that their skills and talents aren't needed here. By refusing to treat teachers like professionals — by failing to empower them to teach students in the best way that they see fit — we demonstrate the simple fact that we don't trust them to do a good job, or even to understand what doing a good job looks like. Until we abandon the failed education model we've adopted since the start of the 21st century, public education will continue to be broken. As long as we insist on telling teachers what to teach and how to teach it, we'll continue to fail our children.

SOURCE 





Why history education is central to the survival of democracy

Canadians are at war over their history. The CBC series Canada: The Story of Us caused outrage in spring 2017 with the choices made for its historical storyline. Critics called the series anglocentric and said it omitted the roles of the Acadians and Mi'kmaq people.

Statues and names of prominent Canadians have also been the centre of vigorous debate across the country this year. One of these debates has focused on the statue of Edward Cornwallis in a public park in Halifax — the military officer who founded Halifax for the British in 1749, but also offered a cash bounty to anyone who killed an Indigenous person. They have also included calls from the the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (EFTO) to remove so-called “architect of genocide” Sir John A. Macdonald’s name from elementary schools across the province.

Amid debates over the renaming of public buildings across the country, our public history is being hotly contested. And Canada is not alone. As protests and counter protests about the public commemoration of Civil War figures in the United States demonstrate, history is a significant public concern in many places around the world.

For history educators like myself, the good news is that the public obviously cares about history very much. The bad news is that we can’t seem to talk about it without resorting to name calling, vitriol and sometimes — as evident in recent events in Charlottesville — violence.

I believe the teaching of history to be more important than ever. History — if funded and taught well — can teach a tolerance for ambiguity. It can provide people with strategies to help them think through complex issues.

War, and war memorials in particular, are central to collective memory. Taught well, war offer windows into the construction of personal and national identity.

Between virtue and evil

Our public discourse has become dangerously polarized — making democratic deliberation about collective memory, history and the common good almost impossible.

Reflecting on the 2017 French election, French political scientist Nicole Bacharan described the worry and stress resulting from, “the division of the country and the hatred that came out of groups of people who can’t discuss anything, can’t understand each other, can’t talk.”

Bacharan is just one of many voices lamenting the poverty of civic discourse in democratic jurisdictions around the world. The debates about public history installations are one manifestation of that wider trend. I think they illustrate an important aspect of this toxic polarization — a seeming inability to handle nuance.

Citizens want things kept simple. In their view, historical figures or events represented in public memorials are either iconic representations of virtue and progress that should stand for all time, or they are manifestations of evil and should be torn down. There seems to be no room for complex alternatives.

The trouble is, life is complicated and full of nuance. We like the dividing line between our heroes and villains to be clear but as Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn points out in The Gulag Archipelago:

“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

Teach history, teach complexity

I am convinced that contemporary approaches to history education can help citizens develop the tolerance for complexity and ambiguity necessary to engage effectively in civic life.

Over the past half century there has been an explosion in theoretical and empirical research related to the teaching of history, and there is a growing consensus around the world about what constitutes effective teaching and learning in the field. Some key elements of that consensus include:

* History education must move beyond the transmission of what historians know to include attention to historical method — how historians know. This is often referred to as historical thinking.

* History education must include attention to historical consciousness, or how history and memory work to shape how we think about ourselves, our communities and our place in the world.

* There are many places where history can be learned, including classrooms, historical sites, museums, patriotic ceremonies and family events.

* History education must engage students in thinking about what constitutes evidence about the past and how we assess and construct accounts about the past.

* Research evidence makes it clear that students, even those in primary school, can learn to think in sophisticated and complex ways about the past and its relationship to the present and the future.

* Effective history education requires well-educated and skilled teachers.

History as educational priority

While this consensus exists among researchers and many history teachers around the world, conditions in the classroom or lecture theatre are often very different.

One key issue is that education in social studies — and history education in particular — has diminished as a priority area in public education in Canada and around the world.

Traditionally social studies was considered one of the core areas of the curriculum, but the policy changes in the past 30 years — in New Brunswick, across Canada and globally — has been toward subjects considered more immediately useful for fostering employment, particularly in technical fields.

There are several other key factors limiting the implementation of effective history education. These include a persistent focus on nation building rather than developing critical skills, and assigning teachers with little or no history background to teach courses in the area.

War and collective memory

Colleagues and I at the Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society at the University of New Brunswick have developed a broad program in history education to complement the Centre’s well-established work in history.

Central to this initiative is collaboration between historians, history educators and teachers — to develop materials and approaches that implement the consensus on effective history education described above.

We believe the theme of war and society offers a potentially effective way to do this for several reasons:

* Topics in the area are often presented as iconic and, as Canadian historian Margaret MacMillan points out in The Uses and Abuses of History, part of the purpose of teaching history is to challenge and investigate icons.

* War and war memorials are often central to collective memory and they provide a window into the construction of personal and national identity.

* War shows up in school curricula, museums, family lore and community memorials. This provides the opportunity to bring the community into the classroom, as well as consider relationships among the past, present and future.

* Virtually all elements of the study of war and society, including community memorials, are contested. This provides opportunities for students to examine diverse historical perspectives.

* The issues involved are multilayered and complex. As historian Tim Cook points out in his recent book about the Canadian memorial at Vimy Ridge: “Vimy, like all legends, is a layered skein of stories, myths, wishful thinking and conflicting narratives.”

Research from around the world shows that fostering the abilities of young citizens to grapple with these complex and difficult questions lays a foundation for enhanced civic discourse in the future.

We do not want to end debates about our history; we do hope to make them more substantive and fruitful.

SOURCE 






College Republicans Kicked Out Of Coffee Shop For Wearing MAGA Hats

A coffee shop owner gave college Republicans five minutes to get out of the shop because of their MAGA hats, according to a Friday video.

The unnamed owner of Rodrigue’s Coffee at Fordham University in New York kicked the college Republicans out because the MAGA hats allegedly violated the shop’s “safe space policy,” reported Campus Reform. “I am protecting my customers,” said the owner.

“We are your customers,” responded a member of the college Republicans. “We bought something.”

“I don’t want people like you supporting this club. No one here wants people like you supporting our club,” the owner told the group. “I am giving you five minutes.”

When one student asked for a refund, the owner said “you had some coffee … do not try to outsmart me.”

One of the college Republicans asked the owner to explain how the MAGA hat violated the safe space policy, to which the owner responded by suggesting it stood for “fascism! Nazis! You have three minutes.”

Rodrigue’s Coffee Shop’s “safe space policy” instructs customers to “not make assumptions about someone’s gender, sexuality, race, class, or experiences. Be aware of your identity, while being considerate of the personhood of your peers.”

“We went there because we wanted to test the unwritten rule that conservatives were banned from that coffee shop,” said one Fordham College Republican to Campus Reform.”We went there and just started doing some homework and studying. Then we were asked to leave.”

The college Republican asserted that, as a student who paid over $70,000 in tuition per year, he should be able to use campus buildings and express his political views in them.

“Rodrigues is a student-operated part of our student-led Campus Activities Board and advised by Student Affairs staff,” said Bob Howe, Fordham’s assistant vice president for communications, to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “There is no University safe space policy, nor one that excludes any members of the Fordham community from any public spaces on the basis of their political views.”

Howe told TheDCNF that Fordham values a diversity of opinions and said that the university is still looking into the occurrence and will appropriately sanction students who may have infringed upon the school’s code of conduct.

TheDCNF reached out to Rodrigue’s Coffee Shop for comment, but received none in time for press.

SOURCE