Friday, November 15, 2019

Boston University Set to Hire Professor Who Accuses Israeli Soldiers of 'Rape' and 'Systematic Massacres'

The Women’s Studies department at Boston University is considering hiring a noted academic named Sarah Ihmoud; the offer is “imminent.” It’s easy to see why: Ihmoud would be a plum hire for the department, as she represents the cutting edge in academic thinking today. Her paper, “Sexual Violence, Women’s Bodies, and Israeli Settler Colonialism,” claims that the “rape and killing of Palestinian women was a central aspect of Israeli troops’ systematic massacres and evictions during the destruction of Palestinian villages in 1948.”

What could be trendier or more in demand? As colleges and universities all over the country follow the establishment Left into ever more vicious and open anti-Semitism, it is surprising that Ihmoud isn’t at the center of a bidding war among the nation’s top institutions of far-Left indoctrination, that is, what used to be known as institutions of higher learning.

Even in an environment that increasingly rewards and encourages anti-Semitism, Ihmoud’s venom is striking. “Israeli officials’ repressive policies and incitement against the Palestinian people,” she rages, “work to empower and embolden Israeli settler society to embody the power of the state and viciously attack Palestinians. This is clearly exhibited in the attacks on Palestinian women’s bodies inside Al-Aqsa mosque these last weeks in Jerusalem, by both settler publics empowered by the state’s military protection, and members of the state security forces.”

None of that happened of course. Nor did any of Ihmoud’s other claims. Israeli troops did not engage in “systematic massacres and evictions during the destruction of Palestinian villages in 1948.” As the forthcoming book The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process shows, the Arabs, for the most part, left Israel because they were ordered to do so by Muslim Arab leaders. The Arab Higher Committee actually exhorted Arabs to leave the new State of Israel, and they obeyed in large numbers.

This action had been contemplated for a considerable period: in May 1946, fully two years before the State of Israel proclaimed its independence, Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam, secretary-general of the Arab League, stated that “Arab circles proposed to evacuate all Arab women and children from Palestine and send them to neighboring countries, to declare ‘Jehad’ and to consider Palestine a war zone.”

When the war came, many of the Arab Muslims left of their own accord, to the consternation of others who were determined to wage jihad. The Arab newspaper Ash Sha’ab, based in Jaffa, lamented on January 30, 1948, that “the first group of our fifth column consists of those who abandon their houses and businesses and go to live else- where.... At the first sign of trouble they take to their heels to escape sharing the burden of struggle [jihad].”

Others left because the plan to get the Arabs out of harm’s way until the Jews were destroyed and Israel was defeated was being implemented. The Economist magazine reported on October 3, 1948: “Of the 62,000 Arabs who formerly lived in Haifa not more than 5,000 or 6,000 remained. Various factors influenced their decision to seek safety in flight. There is but little doubt that the most potent of the factors were the announcements made over the air by the Higher Arab Executive, urging the Arabs to quit.... It was clearly intimated that those Arabs who remained in Haifa and accepted Jewish protection would be regarded as renegades.”

The Jordanian daily Falastin complained on February 19, 1949, that “the Arab state which had encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies, have failed to keep their promise to help these refugees.”

The Near East Arabic Broadcasting Station confirmed this on April 3, 1949: “It must not be forgotten that the Arab Higher Committee encouraged the refugees’ flight from their homes in Jaffa, Haifa, and Jerusalem.” The Egyptian daily Akhbar el Yom on October 12, 1963, reported that the grand mufti had issued the same call to Arabs to leave: “The 15th May, 1948, arrived.... On that day the mufti of Jerusalem appealed to the Arabs of Palestine to leave the country, because the Arab armies were about to enter and fight in their stead.”

The Jordanian daily Al Urdun reported on April 9, 1953: “For the flight and fall of the other villages it is our leaders who are responsible because of their dissemination of rumors exaggerating Jewish crimes and describing them as atrocities in order to inflame the Arabs.... By spreading rumors of Jewish atrocities, killings of women and children etc., they instilled fear and terror in the hearts of the Arabs in Palestine, until they fled leaving their homes and properties to the enemy.”

Sarah Ihmoud proves that this rumor-mongering is still alive and well. In a sane world, such a dishonest propagandist wouldn’t be offered any academic position. But this is not a sane world. She will be quite happy among her like-minded colleagues at Boston University.


What have Germaine Greer, King Alfred and Jacob Rees-Mogg got in common? They've all been vilified by campus thought Stasi
With this month marking the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I spent the weekend re-watching the film The Lives Of Others, which is set during the final years of East Germany's Communist regime.

In case you haven't seen it, this moving masterpiece tells the story of an operative for the Stasi, the East German secret police.

An expert at bugging dissidents, he begins to have doubts about the morality of his own side.

It is a powerful portrait of a society in which free speech was ruthlessly suppressed, and in which making an ill-judged joke could mean losing your job or ending up in prison.

For those of us who remember the Cold War, films like this offer a nightmarish, Orwellian vision of total conformity, with an intrusive government policing what you say, what you write and even what you think, and with informers, bugs and even police surveillance vans at every turn.

But in today's world, the real threat to free speech comes not from a totalitarian government. It comes from — of all places! — the university campuses that are supposed to be hotbeds of debate and disagreement.

And if you doubt it, just look at the chilling findings of a poll of British students by the think-tank Policy Exchange.

Almost incredibly, fewer than half of students consistently support free speech. A staggering 44 per cent thought Cardiff University was right to ban the feminist writer Germaine Greer after she questioned whether transgender 'women' were really women, while just 35 per cent thought it was wrong.

Similarly, 41 per cent thought Cambridge was right to withdraw a fellowship from best-selling conservative Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, who divides opinion with his views on topics such as masculinity, political correctness and the gender pay gap, while only 31 per cent supported him.

Perhaps most damningly of all, more than one in four students think the Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg should be banned from speaking on campuses, simply because they object to his socially conservative politics.

In some ways, the poll's findings are depressingly predictable. In the past few years, barely a week has gone by without some new example of student intolerance, from protests at visiting speakers to the banning of fancy-dress costumes on the grounds they are 'racist' or 'cultural appropriation'.

Even so, this is the first time a survey has produced hard evidence of the new narrow-mindedness in Britain's universities.

It's true not all students are equally intolerant. But as anybody familiar with our universities knows, it is the loudest, most extreme activists who set the tone, dominating student unions and shouting down those who disagree.

As in Communist East Germany, nobody is safe. Veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who was beaten up by thugs after protesting against the views of Vladimir Putin, and of Robert Mugabe, might have assumed he had banked enough credit with the Left to last him several lifetimes.

Yet when Tatchell was booked to speak at Canterbury Christ Church University, activists tried to get him kicked out on the grounds that he had dared to defend Ms Greer's right to speak.

No parodist could have invented a more bizarre scenario.

To older readers, all this may sound demented. Some may recall the free speech controversies of the Sixties, when thousands of young people at U.S. universities staged sit-ins in support of their right to debate whatever and with whomever they wanted. Yet if you ventured on to campus today and made that argument, student activists would almost certainly condemn you as a racist, sexist, homophobic dinosaur.

As they see it, the priority is to protect their 'safe space'. And if even a handful of students find your views offensive, then you have no right to utter them. Where on earth does this come from? Well, it's tempting to suggest many of today's students are spoiled, entitled, ignorant brats who have no tolerance, no humility and, perhaps above all, no sense of history.

But even if that's true — and let's be honest, it's not entirely false — it's not the whole story.

Sad to say, many academics have effectively colluded in this culture of intolerance. Think, for example, of the disgraceful bullying campaign against Oxford's Regius Professor of Moral Theology, Nigel Biggar, after he had the temerity to suggest the British Empire wasn't entirely bad.

Or take an even more deranged example from just a few days ago: an academic campaign to rename the Anglo-Saxons, the first Englishmen and Englishwomen, on the grounds that the name 'Anglo-Saxon' has become synonymous with 'white supremacy'. Never mind that, say, Alfred the Great called himself an Anglo-Saxon. If you use the word, the academics say, you are exposing your own racist wickedness.

But it would be a mistake to treat all this simply as a joke. This is our history, and if we're not careful, we'll end up losing it to Left-wing bigots.

And it's worth noting that this kind of strident, sanctimonious narrow-mindedness is not confined to Britain's universities.

Only yesterday, novelist Alice O'Keeffe wrote a disturbing article for The Guardian about publishers' refusal to 'reach out beyond the cosy pro-Remain bubble'.

A senior figure at publishing conglomerate Hachette, employing the pious cant that has become so tiresomely familiar, said he would refuse to take on anything that didn't uphold 'social justice' or that 'went against our inclusive ethos'.

And the managing director at publisher Profile even said he would not publish anything that appealed to Leavers: 'What would we be publishing? Fantasy histories of a Britain in which servants doff their caps?'

I hardly need to point out how unimaginative, arrogant, blinkered and downright ignorant such views are.

Sad to say, though, liberal intolerance is becoming increasingly common, and is all the more insidious because it comes from people who see themselves as the only true free thinkers.

The very idea of a frank exchange of views is becoming endangered. Thanks to social media, young people, in particular, just want to hear their views repeated, their prejudices echoed.

When you suggest that they might enjoy hearing somebody they disagree with and, even more shockingly, that they might learn something, they stare at you as if you have just come out as a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

So what to do? Policy Exchange suggests that universities should employ 'academic freedom champions', answering to individual vice chancellors. But that sounds like just another bureaucratic non-job to me.

When the disease is cultural, the solution must be cultural, too. The only way to fight for free speech is to keep insisting on it.

No platforming, safe spaces and snowflake culture should be taboo. And when students say they're offended, university authorities — and other students — should tell them to grow up. That means, of course, that we all need to tolerate views we disagree with. But nobody ever really suffered from listening to contrary arguments.

Indeed, isn't robust argument the lifeblood of a democratic society? Haven't we all learned from somebody we never expected to agree with? And what's the alternative? A 21st-century East Germany in which conformity is enforced, not by government, but by the shrieking of a Twitter mob? A world in which the wrong joke can get you sacked?

We're halfway down that road already. It's not too late to turn back. But if we don't fight for free speech now, it will be gone before we know it.


Australia: Foreign hack 'wake-up call' prompts overhaul to combat foreign interference at Australian universities

Australian universities will adopt new guidelines to try and combat the threat from "unprecedented" levels of foreign interference.

Education Minister Dan Tehan described a sophisticated cyber attack on the Australian National University, which has not been attributed to any one country, as a "big wake-up call" for the sector.

He said the guidelines would strengthen cyber security and intelligence sharing between universities and the Government.

They also place more responsibility on universities to understand exactly who they are collaborating with and what their research is used for.

"It can be difficult but you can put intellectual property requirements around what that end use should be, and you can also make sure that if you've done the due diligence you understand what the links might be between that professor and certain other institutions in a country, which then might bring up red flags," Mr Tehan said.

"And that's when the collaboration and co-operation kicks in because then can raise those concerns with Government agencies and they might say look, we don't think that that is the type of research that you should be undertaking."

Inside a massive cyber attack on the Australian National University that risks compromising high-ranking officials across the globe.

The announcement follows concerns about the links between Australian universities and the development of mass surveillance and military technologies in China.

Some Government backbenchers have also warned that universities are not doing enough to combat China's influence on campuses.

The guidelines were developed in conjunction with the university sector.

Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson said most of the guidelines were already being implemented.

"This is just a way of putting them all down in a list so that they can be handily and readily accessed by university staff so they can go through the whole list, just to question themselves," she said.

"Universities know very, very clearly that this this is an increasingly complex world and we need to deploy everything we have at our fingertips to make sure that universities and the research inside universities, the students and staff, are as safe as they can be."

Mr Tehan said the guidelines would be reviewed in the middle of next year.


Thursday, November 14, 2019

U. of Virginia Cancels 21-Gun Salute, Citing Gun Violence

The University of Virginia canceled the 21-gun-salute portion of its annual Veterans Day ceremony, citing gun violence. James Ryan, the university’s president, posted a statement on Facebook explaining that there were concerns about firing weapons on school property in light of recent school shootings. He said there were two specific reasons.

“First, to minimize disruptions to classes, given that this event is located at the juncture of four primary academic buildings and is held at a time that classes are in session; and second, recognizing concerns related to firing weapons on the Grounds in light of gun violence that has happened across our nation, especially on school and university campuses,” the president wrote.

As you might imagine, the outrage among veterans and military supporters has been severe. “I am very disillusioned, very upset, and very surprised that they would make such a decision,” veteran Jay Levine told television station WHSV. The Daily Progress condemned the university’s decision in an editorial.

“It also, ironically, sends an unfortunate message about students: That they are too fragile, too delicate, too distractible to deal with the ‘interruption’ of the salute. That they are too insular, too wrapped up in their own worlds to comprehend and accept this longstanding practice. That they must be protected from the reality that exists outside academia,” it wrote.

The blowback was apparently so significant that President Ryan promised to reintroduce the 21-gun salute next year.

The notion that students might suffer some sort of disruption because the ROTC is honoring our veterans is repulsive. The irony is that gun salutes are a demonstration of a military’s peaceful intentions, according to the U.S. Army Center of Military History.

“The use of gun salutes for military occasions is traced to early warriors who demonstrated their peaceful intentions by placing their weapons in a position that rendered them ineffective,” the center explained. “The 21-gun salute became the highest honor a nation rendered.”

The University of Virginia may think it is protecting its overly sensitive students, but in reality it is disrespecting our veterans.


British university to introduce a 'controlling anxiety' module to prepare students for world of work

A university for trainee lawyers is to introduce a “controlling anxiety” module in an attempt to prepare students for the world of work.

BPP University Law School will also offer courses on “mindfulness on the go” and “managing your sleep” from the end of the month.

The private university, which has branches in London, Bristol, Cambridge, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, prides itself on creating graduates who are “career ready”.

It says that students leave the university “not just armed with academic theory, but also the context, skills and behaviours you need to succeed”.

Jo-Anne Pugh, director of programme design and development at BPP Law School,said the new courses are part of a series of initiatives to boost wellbeing and mental health services at the university.

 It follows research published earlier this year by the junior lawyers division of the Law Society, which showed that stress and mental health issues among young lawyers were on the rise.

Almost half (48 per cent) said that they had experienced poor mental health, a 10 per cent increase from the year before.

Meanwhile, 93 per cent of respondents said they felt stressed, with almost a quarter of them feeling severely or extremely stressed.

Ms Pugh said: “It wasn’t that long ago when mental wellbeing in the law was barely discussed. “The profession has moved on and all law schools must also do the same. “Our new programmes will introduce students to self-reflection, wellbeing and emotional intelligence. 

“Strategies for good mental wellness will be embedded within all our legal education and training to help prepare and support students for both study and their later working lives”.

Universities have come under pressure to step up their efforts to assist students with mental health issues.

Ministers have written to vice-Chancellors urging them to prioritise the wellbeing of new students, saying that learning is no longer the main purpose of higher education.


Amen to that! Oxford students revolt over head of college's 'woke' plan to scrap saying grace before meals

We're used to militant campaigns by ultra-PC students – but at one Oxford campus, the shoe is on the other foot.

Worcester College's provost is now facing a furious backlash after trying to abolish the centuries-old customs of standing for dons and saying grace before meals.

Students said they had been told by catering staff that they were no longer required to get up when senior academics entered and left the dining hall.

They have also been informed about proposals to axe the Anglican Grace, which is read before meals in Latin, and replace it with a 'range of set texts of thanksgiving from any world culture, religious or not'.

Professor Kate Tunstall's plans have infuriated students from the junior common room, who held a vote on the issue.

The majority were in favour of preserving the traditional practices and have decided to petition the governing body to reinstate the standing policy.

Damon Falck, the JCR vice president, said students are 'passionate about keeping the theatre that reminds them of this place's history and that it's a special place to be'.

He told the Daily Telegraph it is 'significantly more awkward to sit in silence while the tutors arrive or leave than it is to stand' and said standing is 'an excellent way to signal the start of the meal, and for everyone to be silent for grace'.

Professor Tunstall, the college's interim provost, said the changes would boost 'inclusivity' and prevent students from feeling alienated.

A senior academic said the protest showed that 'some of the governing body are more woke [politically correct] than the student community... and the students are not as woke as they thought'.

Worcester College, which was founded in 1714, boasts supermarket chain founder John Sainsbury, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and Harry Potter actress Emma Watson among its alumni.

The college confirmed its governing body voted in June that students 'would no longer be required to stand when tutors come into the hall at formal dinners'.

A university spokesman said: 'The vote was taken following consultation with students and staff representatives who welcomed this as progressive change. Nobody has banned anyone from standing if they wish to do so.'


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

New Curriculum “Deep Equity” Deeply Racist, Demonizes Whites

A new curriculum, in schools across the nation, teaches that America is a deeply racist nation with a “hierarchy of various oppressions,” as an observer recently put it. Called “Deep Equity,” it demonizes whites while deep-sixing debate, instructing teachers to reject and resist parents who disagree. The idea is that dissenting white people are simply too ignorant and immersed in privilege to recognize and acknowledge their oppressor status.

That’s according to Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson, who reported on the curriculum Friday. Created by for-profit “education” company Corwin, owned by SAGE Publishing, Deep Equity is the latest example of how the “Left has abandoned education in favor of naked political propaganda,” states Carlson.

Corwin describes its curriculum “as a teacher training program that is ‘aimed at producing real school improvement for equity and social justice,’” Carlson relates, quoting program materials. How does Deep Equity purport to accomplish this?

Mainly “by attacking the students on the basis of their skin color,” says Carlson.

“According to deep equity, America is based on a hierarchy of various oppressions: Men oppress women, Christianity oppresses Islam, English oppresses Spanish, white people oppress everyone,” the pundit continues.

“And, by the way, if you have a problem with this explanation, you are yourself entrenching oppression; you’re part of the problem. According to Corwin, differences in academic performance have nothing to do with culture or effort; they are purely the product of racism”

How does Deep Equity fight this “racism”? By instructing teachers on “different types of ‘white identity orientations,’” Carlson further explained, calling it “pseudoscience.”

Unlike today’s fashionable “identities,” however, whites’ choice of identity won’t automatically be respected. After all, most white people have a “Fundamentalist White Identity,” defined by “denial,” “ignorance,” and “supremacy,” Deep Equity tells teachers. Never fear, though, they can possibly work their way toward “wokeness,” as the instructional sheet below informs.

Deep Equity White Identity Orientations

Moreover, if whites are willing to humbly and obediently sit at the feet of their enlightened betters and learn “their whole life,” they can advance what the curriculum calls the “White Allies Action Agenda,” whose instructions for becoming a tolerable white person are below.

Deep Equity White Allies Action Agenda

Unsurprisingly, a teacher Carlson’s team spoke to who has used Deep Equity says that the curriculum forces educators to become “racial activists.” It’s a divisive, resentment-rousing program “certain to confuse and wound and divide our kids of all colors,” as Carlson puts it.

And if you think, “This couldn’t possibly be in my kid’s school,” think again. It’s taught all over, even in places such as Fauquier County, Virginia, which voted for President Trump by 25 points, Carlson points out. It’s also in “West Des Moines, Iowa; it’s in Chandler, Arizona; we could go on,” the commentator continues.

Why can bizarre social engineering be in even so-called good school districts? Remember that whether in the city or country, Gotham or Mayberry, all schools’ educators are generally drawn from the same teachers’ colleges and are indoctrinated similarly.

Moreover, schools tend to use textbooks from just a few publishing companies, which compile these learning materials based on the desires of major markets such as Texas and, to the point here, ultra-left-wing California. Ergo, your son in Salem, South Carolina, could be reading a “San Francisco” textbook.

Add to this that school administrators tend to be far more left-wing than the communities they serve and it’s unsurprising that not only is Deep Equity metastasizing rapidly, but that the radicalism it represents is nothing new in our schools.

As one of many, many examples, I reported in 2016 on how the for-profit Pacific Educational Group (PEG) was busy teaching “white privilege” peppered with Marxist dogma to America’s schoolteachers. In other words, Deep Equity is just the latest, most radical edition of same-old-same-old with a stylish, marketing-worthy name.

There’s big money in indoctrination, too. Eighteen school districts reportedly paid PEG a combined $1.56 million in just 2014-15 alone. That’s your tax money at work — and it’s funding Deep Equity as well.

Moreover, “No one will ask you if you like it or not, and don’t bother to complain,” notes Carlson. “Deep Equity orders teachers, and we’re quoting now, ‘to explicitly reject and resist any parents who disagree with it.’”

This also is just the latest iteration of an old idea. Back in the ’90s already, sexual devolutionary school activists recommended dealing with opposition to their indoctrination by keeping parents in the dark and moving forward “independently.” As Imani Matthews, a teacher at the private Riverdale Country School in New York, put it circa 1998, “There isn’t a loving presenter of the other side.”

Unfortunately and increasingly, in government and private schools, the only “side” presented is the one that wants to “love” your kids to death — and it’s killing our civilization. This is why support for homeschooling is registering a marked increase. For as intellectual and moral rot increase in the educational establishment, what other recourse do concerned parents have?


Concerned parents blast Britain’s toughest ‘Tiger Headmistress’ after she told them to ignore children who accuse teachers of racism when in trouble

She is talking about made-up accusations being used to undermine discipline

The headmistress of 'Britain's strictest school' has sparked outrage after suggesting parents should ignore children who accuse a teacher of being racist.

Katharine Birbalsingh, headteacher and founder of the notoriously uncompromising Michaela Community School in Wembley, London, faced a backlash today after telling parents to 'back the teacher' when pupils 'accuse them of being racist'.

The school, which opened in 2014, demands older pupils do 90 minutes of homework a night, bans phones, makeup and loud talking and makes students eat vegetarian meals. 

Ms Birbalsingh was asked about teachers showing favouritism before replying on Twitter: 'Who cares?! It is like saying 'Teacher is racist' or 'Teacher doesn't like me'.

'Ignore it. Work hard. Indulge your kid with their grievances & you destroy all hope of success for your kid. Up to you. My advice is: Back the teacher even if you don't like them.'

Teacher Patryk Malinski replied: 'Back the teacher if he/she is racist? Are you serious?'

Ms Birbalsingh added: 'Yes I am being serious. If child says teacher is being racist, back the teacher. Whatever the child says, back the teacher. 'If you don't, you are letting the child down and allowing them to play you for a fool.' 

The school hit the headlines in 2016 when a pupil was given a sandwich and piece of fruit to eat in 'lunch isolation' when his parents did not pay the termly dinner fee.

Ms Birbalsingh and her staff were trolled on social media and even received death threats over the incident, but the headteacher remained unrepentant.

Former British boxing champion Ashley Theoplane added: 'So under your leadership. Racist teachers have protection.'

Director of communications at Pride London, Rhammel O'Dwyer-Afflick, added: 'Astonishing... teachers have a duty to safeguard their students and that includes investigating all concerns.

'Yes, some students will make unfounded allegations but that doesn't mean each case shouldn't be taken seriously.'

Speaking from school today, Ms Birbalsingh said: 'If your child is in trouble and your child says my teacher is racist - you should be backing the teacher. If you genuinely think the child is being subjected to racism then have a word with the head.

'If the child believes that every time they are in trouble for not doing their homework or everytime they are in trouble for misbehaving in lessons - all they have to do is to go home and say teacher is being racist.

'The child will use that excuse whenever they can because that is what they do. 'I would say it happens all the time. Teachers are genuinely frightened of being called racist.

'If you are terrified of being called a racist you can't hold your standards high. Black kids have an extra card to play when it comes to this sort of thing.

'I have not seen the social justice tweets but they actually ruin black people's lives.'


Feminists demonize male sexuality

Bettina Arndt

It’s rather timely that I planned this week to post a video of a talk I gave at the Chicago International Conference on Men’s Issues (ICMI 2019), speaking about the successful feminist campaign to rein in male sexuality.

The campus rape tribunals are the result of effective lobbying by these activists which has succeeded in making university campuses unsafe places for most young men, with any sign of healthy male lust leading to male students being targeted and sometimes thrown out of university.

But campus rape allegations are simply the tip of the iceberg. Men are in trouble for looking at women in the wrong way, for not keeping their trousers zipped, for viewing pornography, for showing normal male sexual curiosity and expecting sex to be part of a loving marital relationship.

Men today are not just chaste – they have been neutered. “Leaving sex to the feminists is like letting your dog vacation at the taxidermist,” said Camille Paglia. That’s right. Men are now totally stuffed.

Here’s the new video. I hope you enjoy it.

Via email from Tina:

Monday, November 11, 2019

Universities Buy SAT-Takers’ Names And Boost Exclusivity

Jori Johnson took the practice SAT test as a high school student outside Chicago.

Brochures later arrived from Vanderbilt, Stanford, Northwestern and the University of Chicago.

The universities’ solicitations piqued her interest, and she eventually applied. A few months later, she was rejected by those and three other schools that had sought her application, she said. The high-school valedictorian’s test scores, while strong by most standards, were well below those of most students admitted to the several schools that had contacted her.

“A lot of the rejections came on the same day,” said Ms. Johnson, a 21-year-old senior film major at New York University, one of three schools that accepted her out of 10 applications. “I just stared at my computer and cried.”

The recruitment pitches didn’t help Ms. Johnson, but they did benefit the universities that sent them. Colleges rise in national rankings and reputation when they show data suggesting they are more selective. They can do that by rejecting more applicants, whether or not those candidates ever stood a chance. Some applicants, in effect, become unknowing pawns.

Feeding this dynamic is the College Board, the New York nonprofit that owns the SAT, a test designed to level the college-admissions playing field.

The board is using the SAT as the foundation for another business: selling test-takers’ names and personal information to universities.

That has helped schools inflate their applicant pools and rejection rates. Those rejection rates have amplified the perception of exclusivity that colleges are eager to reinforce, pushing students to invest more time and money in preparing for and retaking exams College Board sells. Colleges say the data helps them reach a diverse pool of students they might have otherwise missed.

“The top 10% of universities don’t need to do this. They are buying some students’ names who don’t have a great chance of getting in,” said Terry Cowdrey, an enrollment consultant for universities and Vanderbilt University’s acting dean of undergraduate admission in 1996 and 1997. “Then the kids say, ‘well why did you recruit me if you weren’t going to let me in?’ They do it to increase the number of applications; you’ve got to keep getting your denominator up for your admit rate.”

Vanderbilt’s admissions rate has dropped to 11% in 2017, from 46% in 2002, according to an analysis of federal data. The number of Vanderbilt applicants rose more than three-fold over the same period. Vanderbilt uses College Board names to increase diversity and takes data privacy seriously, said Douglas Christiansen, Vanderbilt’s dean of admissions and a past chair of College Board’s trustees. “We have students from small farming communities, small rural communities, inner cities, large cities, small cities,” he said. “We cannot travel to all of these places.”

Anxious families

The race for applicants has stoked the environment of anxious families who place a high value on getting into elite schools. An increasingly competitive atmosphere helped set the stage for the admissions cheating scandal unveiled in March. At its center was college counselor William “Rick” Singer, who helped applicants cheat or bribe their way into schools. He has pleaded guilty to bribing college coaches and creating false athletic résumés.

He also made use of the SAT, helping students get fake scores. A lawyer for Mr. Singer declined to comment.


How Micro-School Networks Expand Learning Options

A blend between homeschooling and private schooling, micro-schools retain the curriculum freedom and schedule flexibility characteristic of homeschooling.

Technology has the potential to decentralize K-12 education and make it more learner-directed, upending a top-down system in favor of individual autonomy and self-determination. But the technology can’t do this alone. It requires a learning environment that fosters creativity and curiosity, using digital platforms and supportive adults to facilitate exploration and discovery. The entrepreneurial educators at Prenda, an Arizona-based network of micro-schools, think they have uncovered the right mix of powerful technology and warm, nurturing learning spaces that could help to transform education.Like many education innovations, Prenda began with a parent who was looking for something better for his child.

Like many education innovations, Prenda began with a parent who was looking for something better for his child. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Kelly Smith sold his software company in 2013 and moved back to his hometown of Mesa, Arizona, where he began hosting weekly, after school computer coding clubs for his eight-year-old son and other children at the local public library. The enthusiasm for these clubs swelled, and before long Smith was supporting code clubs in libraries across the country, reaching over 10,000 children in 30 states. “The energy of these code clubs was astonishing,” Smith recalls.

Smith estimates that he personally worked with about 2,000 children during his time of running the code clubs and he was increasingly fascinated by his observations about how people learn. “Learning is a very different thing when a human being wants to learn something than when a human being doesn’t want to learn something,” says Smith.

I would watch these kids come to the club complaining about how much they hated school and how they were bad at math and then I would see them figure something out in computer programming that was much harder than anything their teacher would ask them to do.

He began to see the importance of free will and choice in learning. Smith continues:

My experience and my kids’ experience in traditional education is that it was things done to you against your will. You may do fine, some kids do fine, but you’re not really going to learn unless you choose to learn. There is this agency, this humanity, at the bottom of it. It may sound fluffy but it’s a profound insight.

The Micro-School Movement

Smith started to wonder what would happen if school were like his coding clubs, fostering agency and eagerness for learning, without coercion. In January 2018, he launched Prenda to create the type of school he envisioned. Prenda is part of the larger micro-school movement, an educational shift occurring over the past decade in which entrepreneurs and parents create intimate, mixed-age learning spaces, often in homes or local organizations.

A blend between homeschooling and private schooling, micro-schools retain the curriculum freedom and schedule flexibility characteristic of homeschooling, while relying on paid teachers to facilitate the classroom experience. Micro-schools are typically a fraction of the cost of a private school and educate no more than 10 to 15 students at a time. Prenda, for example, caps enrollment at about 10 students per classroom with one teacher, or “guide” as they call them, and costs $5,000 per child per year.

Prenda’s massive growth over the past few months to the rising number of parents who are looking for alternatives to conventional schooling.

Prenda began in Smith’s home with seven children spanning kindergarten to eighth grade, with a focus on self-directed learning tied to mastery in core academic subjects. As the children’s excitement for learning grew and more parents became interested in Prenda, Smith built an integrated software platform to support and scale his emerging model. The software emphasizes three broad, daily categories of interaction and introspection: Conquer, Collaborate and Create. In Conquer mode, the learners set daily goals for mastery in basic skills, such as reading, writing, math, and other core subjects.

The students use various online learning programs, including Khan Academy, No Red Ink and Mystery Science to build competency, and the Prenda software helps to track their progress against their personal goals. In Create mode, the learners work on individual projects, while Collaborate mode emphasizes group projects, Socratic group discussions, and critical thinking and reasoning skills in core subject areas. The Prenda software buttresses these activities by offering resources and a structured framework for the guides, as well as tools and transparency for students and parents.

Today, Prenda micro-schools operate in 80 locations throughout Arizona, serving about 550 children. Smith expects to expand Prenda beyond the state, and double its enrollment, within the next year. He attributes Prenda’s massive growth over the past few months to the rising number of parents who are looking for alternatives to conventional schooling. Smith says:

It turns out that there are a lot of parents who are asking: Is the traditional approach to education going to do it for my child? Maybe their kid is doing fine, getting good grades, but in their eyes parents see the love of learning draining out of them.

Most of these parents are not interested in full-time homeschooling or some other unconventional path, says Smith, but the Prenda micro-school model offers the best of schooling and homeschooling. According to Smith:

I think the real reason we have been able to scale so quickly is that we are able to offer something that parents have been looking for.

Prenda San Carlos School

Some of those parents include members of the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona. Located in a rural section of the state, the education options available to the children on the reservation are limited. The reservation’s public schools consistently receive “F” ratings with the Arizona Department of Education, and student proficiency scores are strikingly poor, despite annual per-pupil spending of nearly $17,000 in 2018, or about 70 percent more funding per pupil than Arizona’s average of $9,900.

Two private, religious schools on the reservation provide alternative options for some Apache children, but most families have no choice but to send their children to the failing public schools or leave the reservation. “Arizona is leading the way in school choice and charter schools,” explains Cota. "It’s crucial we keep this going."

For Jeremiah Cota, a tribal member, this was unacceptable. In August he helped to launch two Prenda classrooms on the San Carlos reservation using borrowed church space. The school currently serves 22 students, with the goal of expanding to meet mounting parent demand.

Cota, who grew up on an Arizona Apache reservation, says that many parents in tribal communities are frustrated by their limited options. At an information session he hosted at the San Carlos reservation before opening Prenda, more than 200 parents showed up, concerned mostly about ongoing bullying and safety issues in the public schools. They were also frustrated by a lack of academic rigor and a curriculum that lacked cultural relevancy. “Parents thought their only other option was to send their children off the reservation, but we can do this here in our community,” says Cota.

We can have ownership. We can have a world-class education that’s culturally appropriate, that’s within our own context.

The flexibility of the Prenda model allows for both academic rigor and a culturally appropriate education. For example, daily individual and group projects at the Prenda San Carlos School involve bringing in guest speakers from the reservation or doing hands-on exploration of the tribal lands. “We are very connected to our land, our wildlife, and we want to continue to teach children how to preserve and protect our land,” says Cota.

Prenda’s accessibility and expansion have been abetted by Arizona’s robust climate of education choice. For instance, many of the children participating in the Prenda San Carlos School use funds available to them through Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account, an education savings account (ESA) available to many tribal members, as well as other eligible children throughout the state. For Prenda students who are not eligible for an ESA in Arizona, they are able to access Prenda through the state’s Sequoia Charter School network, which supports hybrid learning models.

“Arizona is leading the way in school choice and charter schools,” explains Cota. "It’s crucial we keep this going. Without this flexibility, we couldn’t do this.” He is optimistic about the growth and replicability of the Prenda model to serve many more students, including those who have historically had limited access to education choices. “It gives hope and empowerment to these communities,” says Cota.


UK: Nigel Farage attacks schools for teaching young children Brexit is 'evil'

Speaking at a rally, the Brexit party leader warned that there is a “bias” within schools at the moment. He said: “I fear that through the education system, the bias is much that actually we are teaching young people, ‘here’s a problem.

“‘Here are two solutions: one is virtuous and good and the other is evil.’”

The Brexit Party leader went on to clarify what both good and evil stood for.

He added that “good being the open-door immigration and evil being control the border; good being Greta Thunberg, bad being people like me who want to plant trees.”

During his rally in Workington, Cumbria, Mr Farage went onto claim that his party would not produce a manifesto but instead, a “contract with the British people”.

He also insisted that despite some arguing that the Brexit Party will not have much of an impact in the election could be proved wrong as his party could indeed end up in a situation similar to that of the DUP.

He added: “Over the course of the last two years, the 10 members of the DUP have basically held the balance of power in Westminster.

“Getting enough Brexit Party MPs in there will not only put the fear of God into them but we might, with any luck, be able to get Brexit going in the right direction and that means not signing up to a new EU treaty.”

Over the last few weeks, Mr Farage has offered the Tories an election pact.

His approaches, however, have so far been declined.

Despite that, Mr Farage has given Mr Johnson until November 14 to accept his proposal.

The Brexit party has remained confident that it will stand 600 candidates to contest the election if no pact is reached as he stated that Labour heartlands in the north and Midlands will be their focus.


Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Chicago Teacher Union vs. Charter Schools

This is the second week of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) strike. It’s the second CTU strike in less than 10 years, and it’s having wide and far-ranging repercussions.

Even worse, if the strike persists for a few more days, thousands of CPS students will not be able to participate in the upcoming Illinois high school playoffs. This is especially unfortunate because these postseason athletic tournaments are prime opportunities for CPS students to showcase their athletic abilities and receive scholarship offers from college scouts and recruiters, who routinely attend such athletic extravaganzas.

Another huge consequence of the current strike is a death blow to charter schools in the Windy City. Although CTU and CPS officials are still negotiating issues involving teacher compensation, more support staff, and smaller classroom sizes, it seems as though both sides easily and eagerly agreed on one thing: a moratorium on new charter schools in Chicago.

This is an alarming development. CPS and CTU are more interested in protecting and even expanding their monopoly on public-school education than they are helping children escape failing schools. Chicago is a city that desperately needs more, not less, school choice. This commonsense notion is shared by Chicago residents, especially those stuck in dangerous and poorly performing schools, who overwhelmingly support school choice.

For years, the “public school industrial complex” and its minions have tarred and feathered charter schools. However, despite this concerted campaign, the evidence shows charter schools are hugely beneficial.

As the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) notes, “Charter schools are free, independent neighborhood public schools open to all children, including students who are English language learners and students with special needs. Charter schools do not have special entrance requirements and have the freedom to be innovative, while being held accountable for advancing student achievement.”

Unlike the hopelessly outdated one-size-fits-all public-school model, “Each charter public school is unique -- both inside and out. Some may focus on college preparation, math and science, and others integrate the arts into each subject. While the possibilities are endless, charter public schools aim to provide a range of options so that parents can choose the school that best fits their child’s needs.”

Further, school choice programs, including charter schools, have a proven track record of success. According to EdChoice:

“Given enough time, school choice programs create small, positive test score gains for participating students. Of the 18 random assignment studies conducted, 13 have found positive outcomes for either the full sample or at least one sub-sample of students studied.”

“School choice programs appear to increase graduation rates for participating students. Three studies have examined these effects so far and found positive effects on educational attainment for at least one subgroup of students.”

“There is virtually no evidence that school choice harms neighboring public schools. In fact, students tend to experience small gains on test scores there. And school choice programs achieve these benefits with fewer public resources. Of the 33 studies that examine the competitive effects of school choice programs, 31 found positive effects, one saw no visible effect and one found negative effects. Moreover, 40 fiscal analyses have been conducted on school choice programs. All but three found these programs generated net fiscal savings overall for taxpayers, and three found the programs were revenue neutral for taxpayers.”

“Similarly, we see no evidence that students who participate in school choice programs are alienated from their communities or show less public-spiritedness than their public school-educated peers. In fact, research too appears to show the contrary. Of the 12 studies looking at civic values and practices outcomes, eight found positive effects. Four found no visible effect, and none found negative effects.”

“School choice ameliorates segregation. It does not exacerbate it. Of the 10 studies that have examined school choice’s effect on integration in schools, nine found positive effects. One was unable to detect any effects, and none found negative effects.”

This last point is especially relevant to charter schools in Chicago. Chicago has 121 charter schools serving 57,000 students. Of these 57,000 students, 98 percent “identify as students of color” compared to 87 percent in CPS. Moreover, 88 percent of Chicago charter school students “receive free or reduced lunch,” compared to 75 percent in CPS. Chicago charter schools also enroll a higher percentage of special-needs students.

INCS also shows Chicago charter school students routinely outperform their CPS peers. Charter school students in the Windy City have “higher college and university enrollment rates” (7.2 percent compared to 2.2 percent). Charter school students have higher standardized test scores, based on PLAN and ACT tests. Charter school students complete more college coursework (21 percent compared to 13 percent). And last but not least, Chicago charter schools have higher attendance and classroom engagement rates than their CPS peers.

There is a treasure trove of empirical evidence showing school choice is unequivocally a net positive. Taking politics out of the equation, using simple logic, it seems like a no-brainer that more education options (private schools, charter schools, homeschooling, etc.) equals more opportunities for students to attend the best school that fits their unique needs and circumstances.

Unfortunately, CTU and CPS officials have conspired to suspend the expansion of charter schools in the Windy City. Sadly, union bosses and far too many CPS teachers are putting their lust for more money and power first and foremost, thus preventing thousands of Chicago students from having the opportunity to escape Chicago’s terrible public schools for much greener pastures in charter schools.


Kamala Wants to Lock Up Your Kids in School All Day

Kamala Harris has found the perfect way to disprove accusations that she's a cop. She wants to lock up your kids all day!

Kara Voght, Mother Jones:

The mismatch between the school day and work day presents a real burden to working Americans with families. And Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has a new bill that seeks to correct it...

Her plan: A pilot program that gives money to 500 schools that serve a high proportion of low-income families to develop a school schedule that better matches the work schedule. Each recipient school would receive up to $5 million dollars over five years to keep their doors open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with no closures except for weekends, federal holidays, and emergencies...

Harris’ plan takes pains to ensure school staff wouldn’t be overburdened by her vision, a key concession in an environment in which teachers have taken to the picket lines to protest long hours and low pay. Teachers and administrators would not increase the amount of time they work unless they volunteer additional hours and are compensated fairly for them.

So schools would be open longer, but nobody would have to work more. Presumably this will involve some sort of magic wand.

"After-school programs are good. If something is good, the government should make it compulsory." That's how Dems think.

As you may recall, Harris supported a California law that punished parents of truant children. Some parents were arrested and even jailed because their kids missed school. She's been known to laugh about it in public:

Well, if you increase the number of hours a day that a child can be considered truant, you can increase the number of parents you throw in jail. The kids are more miserable. The parents are more miserable. Everybody loses. Which means Kamala wins!

These days, Kamala is in fifth place in the polls, trailing Mayor Pete by a wide margin. The more I learn about her, the less I like her. I was hoping for a Trump/Harris debate, just for the chaos. Imagine him calling her "Brown Sugar" and then jumping 10 points in the polls. But the more she talks, the less likely it is. Beto finally wised up. Maybe she'll be next.


Kapow! Take that, campus feminists!

By Bettina Arndt, writing from Australia

Great news - Senator Amanda Stoker has fired another round. I reported last week on her blast at TEQSA, our university regulator, for failing to protect the legal rights of people, usually men, accused of sexual assault on campuses. Last night she was speaking to Peta Credlin on Sky News and brilliantly exposed many of the flaws in the appalling university regulations governing this issue.

Here’s the link to the Sky program -

Please help me circulate this, particularly to people working in higher education and those who can spread the word about what’s happening here.

Amanda Stoker is a former barrister and criminal prosecutor and was able to spell out the lack of procedural fairness in current regulations, explaining that the basic rights of the accused person are being “completely squashed” under the current system which offers none of the normal protections available in criminal law courts.

Stoker listed those missing protections, namely that the accused had no access to evidence against them, there was no effort to ensure the reliability of that evidence, no power to call evidence in their own defence, no legal representation, no presumption of innocence, no right of appeal.

A secretive, unsupervised committee would determine guilt on the balance of probabilities with power to impose serious penalties including expulsion from the university. As Stoker pointed out this means students thus punished have wasted money and time invested in their degrees and are likely to be excluded from chosen professions – all penalties not found in the criminal justice code.

We should be really troubled by this, said Stoker explaining that universities established these unjust rules in an effort to make sure women feel safe. But the resulting one-sided procedures are resulting in gross injustice, she said.

She added an extra serve for TEQSA which is supposed to be responsible for making sure universities are well governed. “They have entered the fray ..gone out on a limb to endorse a set of processes that are really unbalanced.” And they have done this “in circumstances where it is their job to ensure they are delivering balance and fairness as the corollary of public funding and public support that goes to our universities.”

TEQSA is supposed to provide the checks and balances but instead “they are jumping on one side of the argument to the unfairness of others. That’s just not right.”

Wow, those squirming bureaucrats must be still smarting from Stoker’s treatment last week and now she piles on this lot.

Well, as you can imagine I am absolutely delighted to have Stoker out there fighting the good fight on the issue I have spent the last year trying to get onto the public agenda. My campus tour was aimed at drawing public attention to this feminist tilting of sexual assault regulations to favor the victim and ensure more rape convictions.

My only concern is Stoker is offering to help TEQSA “work through the principles of natural justice….and deliver fairness.”  But how will we ever know whether these unsupervised, secretive committees of untrained people are offering fairness to the accused?

It’s far better that we persuade universities to get out of the rape adjudication business and leave that to the criminal courts. No doubt this former criminal prosecutor is capable of getting the higher educator sector to see reason and vacate the territory.

Via email from Tina:

Friday, November 08, 2019

What's Really Wrong With American Public Schools?

Poverty, low attendance, and negative peer influence all trace back to fatherlessness.

There is no good way to measure the success of a public school unless you measure what dictates the success of any public school. For example, if I worked on the line for a car manufacturer and every fifth car that came off the line had a dent in it, I would be compelled to find out what’s going on. I would not check the cars; I would check the system that is producing dents in the cars. In other words, I would stop the line and measure where and when the malfunction occurred. The malfunction in the public school does not begin with the “dent” on the students’ report card or state-mandated tests. It begins with the “dent” in the students’ home.

If you listen to the experts bellow about the reasons high-school students drop out they say it’s due to three things: poverty, low attendance, and negative peer influence. On surface, these three things are the perfect scapegoats for poor performance. However, those are only the “dents” that have occurred. Poverty has a name. Low attendance has a name. Negative peer influence even has a name. Poverty’s name is laziness. Low attendance’s name is indifference. Negative peer influence’s name is anger. The umbrella that all three of these names fall under is called fatherlessness.

While walking the halls of a local public high school, I spoke with an athlete dragging his feet to class. I exclaimed, “Move like you have somewhere to be!” He looked back grinning and said, “I’m quick! Check my stats on the football field.” I said, “Ok, so what’s your GPA?” He responded, “I don’t know that.” I told him, “Those are the stats I’m talking about! If you don’t know those stats, what you do on the field don’t mean nothin’! He turned and looked at me and I asked him the silver bullet question. "Where’s your daddy?” He looked me in my eyes with resentment and said, “I ain’t got no Pops.” I told him, “I can tell by the way you conduct yourself. You are wandering the hallway aimlessly not realizing you must be two-dimensional (great on and off the field). If you are so quick, then you should have been in class five minutes ago ready to learn.”

He looked at me again and grinned as if to say, “Yeah, you’re right.” He seemed like a good kid, but he needs some fatherly leadership. I walked him to class and told him I would be back to eat lunch with him and to provide him more guidance. This youngster has a real chance to go pro. He is a huge defensive end, but his lack of discipline off the field may cut him short in the long run.

Colossians 3:21 says, “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” The young athlete roaming the halls was angry that his father left him alone. He was also discouraged as his sluggish walk with sagging pants suggested. A father provokes his son or daughter to wrath by simply walking away in an endless disappearing act. A father’s absence creates poverty, apathetic attitudes for school attendance, and children who disrupt the school behavior codes of conduct. The Bible is right and somebody’s wrong.

Brookings Institute scholars Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill propose a concrete agenda for increasing opportunity that is cost-effective, consistent with American values, and focuses on improving the lives of the young and the disadvantaged. They emphasize individual responsibility as an indispensable basis for successful policies and programs. In their book Creating an Opportunity Society, they examine economic opportunity in the United States and explores how to create more of it, particularly for those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.

The authors recommend a three-pronged approach to create more opportunity in America:

Increase education for children and youth at the preschool, K–12, and postsecondary levels

Encourage and support work among adults

Reduce the number of out-of-wedlock births while increasing the share of children reared by their married parents

In other words, graduate from high school; get a full-time job; don’t have a child before age 21 and get married before childbearing. Among the people who do these things, according to the research of Haskins and Sawhill, about 75% attain the middle class, broadly defined. However, out-of-wedlock births have a lot to do with out-of-wedlock sex, and this pattern often leads to experiencing out-of-wedlock poverty.

Poverty means you have more mouths to feed than income. It does not mean you are prone to violence or that you can’t learn. Poverty is a great motivator — just ask Frederick Douglass. Low attendance means you don’t find value in education. It does not mean you can’t get a ride to school since the school bus runs all morning. No excuses. Negative peer influence is the lack of love shown at home. It does not mean you go with the peer pressure since you can choose your own friends instead of them choosing you.

Poverty, low attendance, and negative peer influence are all “dents” in a child’s life. They do not define the student. Unfortunately, education experts have labeled entire school districts and zip codes based on the “dents” of poverty, low attendance, and negative peer influence. Worse yet, these same “experts” in education bypass the system (at home) that created the “dents” while attempting to fix the dents that are continuously coming off the conveyor belt ad nauseam.

Every system is perfectly designed to get the results that it yields. Maybe one day the education “experts” will address this giant, pink elephant lethargically sitting in the hallways of our public schools.


Want Better Schools? Parents, It's Up to You

The "Nation's Report Card" continues revealing bad signs about public education.

“To promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.” —U.S. Department of Education Mission Statement

Umm… Achievement and preparation via education excellence with equal access sounds terrific, but it’s not what’s happening after federal spending has been increased six fold since the U.S. Department of Education’s first budget in 1980.

Last week, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for 2019 — a.k.a. the “Nation’s Report Card” — was published. If you believe parents have a responsibility to be the First Teachers, the data will support your thoughts that too many are sending their children to America’s public schools for teachers to raise, not just educate. If you subscribe to the narrative that public schools are racist establishments that deny minorities access and are institutionally prejudiced, you’ll use data to support your thesis despite the trillions of dollars that have been spent on America’s urban core. In other words, the data might support any sort of dissection of the results, but let’s just boil it down in this sense: The proficiencies of children in public schools are embarrassingly low and will continue to be a true barrier to the success of generations to come.

Since 1980, Congress has appropriated spending for public education in excess of $1.5 trillion. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s website, the funding formula is 8% from the federal government and the rest from state and local sources. So, clearly, the funding of public schools is vast.

Exactly how embarrassing are the 2019 scores of America’s students? Looking at reading, children testing for proficiency taught in public schools were 34% at the fourth-grade level, 32% at the eighth-grade level and, at graduation, 36% in the twelfth-grade year. Yeah, that means around 65% of kids at all grade levels are below taught and expected capability in reading — a foundational skill needed throughout life.

In math, the respective numbers were 40%, 33%, and 23% at the same ascending grade levels, while science numbers were 37%, 33%, and 21% at the same times of assessment.

How do these numbers compare over the years? Since the mandate of Common Core — the federal required standards with money attached from the U.S. Government — a decline has been measured by consistent data. Scores for the lowest performers in the bottom 10% have fallen and the only improvements have been scored at the top 10% of students. Put simply, the gap is growing between those who achieve and those who struggle.

Despite almost 76% of teachers surveyed noting that they have changed “at least half of their classroom instruction” and another 19% responding that they’ve changed almost all of their teaching to fit the new mandates, it appears that attempts to create a one-size-fits-all curriculum has failed. The test scores have fallen for a third consecutive time since the 2015 implementation of Common Core. On the same day that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos declared, “This country is in a student achievement crisis” based on the relatively small number of students proficient in academics, a second barometer of achievement validated the dismal results.

The Condition of College & Career Readiness report cited by Secretary DeVos that substantiated her concern looked at the performance of 1.78 million high-school graduates who took the National ACT test. “Readiness levels in English, reading, math, and science have all decreased since 2015, with English and math seeing the largest decline” across all races according to DeVos, with the only improvements among Asian-Americans.

So, for the Department of Education to meet its stated mission, real change must occur. Now, we’ll also stipulate that there is no provision for education in the Constitution. But in any case, leftists have a weaponized agenda to divide and pit one group against another rather than work toward a true solution.

A massive amount of money has been spent. While some argue that the funding has been inequitable, the data continues to support that targeted funded has been directed to problem classrooms, schools, and districts above and beyond that of regular appropriations for “average” schools. Put simply, the inequity in spending, one could argue, has been in favor of underperforming schools, not to reward those or to reinforce the behavior of those that excel. So, money doesn’t fix the problem.

Federally mandated standards have been attempted with significant strings attached to access this targeted funded. Again, the promised improvements just didn’t happen. Instead, as the recent NAEP demonstrates, kids already performing well continued to do so. The ACT report states, “This year’s ACT score data — as well as five-year trends — confirm that students with higher levels of academic preparation are maintaining or slightly improving their readiness, while students with lower levels of academic preparation are falling further behind.” Well, those sure-fired-standards helped those who would likely have performed with proficiency without them.

OK. So, what’s missing?

Rather than offer any editorial, let’s just look at another published report that was based on an extensive survey of almost 650,000 students commissioned by Congress — The Equality of Educational Opportunity. This data included both measurements of the quality and quantity of educational resources available as well as the achievement of those students — a measurement of performance and equitable access.

The conclusions of this report were deemed controversial because the narrative was shattered that a bureaucracy could guarantee a positive educational outcome. Among key findings of the publication that was renamed The Coleman Report, as required by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, variations in school quality as measured by classroom size, per pupil expenditure, the size of features such as a library, showed “little association with levels of educational attainment.” The 737-page report noted, according to a Johns Hopkins Magazine analysis, “The physical amenities of a school weren’t the most important factor in a child’s educational success, and neither was funding, which, it turned out, was relatively equal within regions.”

Get ready for haters and head explosions in 3-2-1… “All factors considered, the most important variable — in or out of school — in a child’s performance remains his family’s education background,” surmised the data in the original 1966 study. In 2016, a national gathering that included then-Secretary of Education John King reviewed the landmark research and presented The Coleman Report at 50: Its Legacy and Enduring Value noting, “The conclusion that family background is far more important than people realized has remained a solid empirical finding for 50 years, and Coleman and his colleagues were the first to show the power of that relationship. But that insight has not done enough to shape policy. Too many proposals for innovative educational reforms fail to recognize how important family is. Policymakers have dropped the ball on that insight.”

It’s not popular to hear, but if Americans want proficiency in their students, parents must be the First Teachers and commit to a lifetime of learning.


The Miseducation of America's Youth
Dr. Bill Bennett’s resume is full of incredible experiences — but it’s not everyone who gets confirmed to a department your boss has openly tried to abolish. That was the unique situation Bill found himself in when Ronald Reagan picked him as America’s secretary of education. The 40th president believed control over schools should be returned to our states and local communities. Reagan never got his wish, but what he did get was an agency transformed by a man who believed in unlocking students’ potential. Thirty-five years later, it’s a cause the beloved author — one of the most important cultural voices of our time — is still championing.

After a lifetime in education, it’s hard not to take the latest news on test scores personally. And Dr. Bennett, like so many people who’ve devoted their careers to learning, is no different. The headlines about America’s reading and math levels are, as current Secretary Betsy DeVos agreed, devastating. “Two out of three of our nation’s children aren’t proficient readers. In fact, fourth grade reading declined in 17 states and eighth grade reading declined in 31. The gap between the highest and lowest performing students is widening, despite $1 trillion in federal spending over 40 years designated specifically to help close it.”

What’s happening in America? Thursday, Dr. Bennett joined me on “Washington Watch” to give his take on where the country has gone wrong — and what parents and communities can do to fix it. There are a lot of problems facing this country, Bill agreed, but “in the long run, the failure of our students to be able to think, to read, to count is potentially catastrophic.” “We’re going backwards 10 years, even 20 years,” he said soberly. And that matters especially to kids where education is their only lifeline. In homes where the family doesn’t value education or parents don’t read to their kids or do homework with them, he explained, “school can be the difference.” But unfortunately, Bill pointed out, those are also the schools that are failing America the most.“

And it’s not just reading and math scores that are taking the hit. "We do worse in American history than we do in even those two. It’s our worst subject. Our students do not know who they are as Americans.” If there is history being taught, he explained, “it’s left-wing, tendentious, and politically correct. It’s a terrible situation,” he lamented. And it’s one of the reasons he keeps writing books. His latest, an updated version of America: The Last Best Hope, is what he calls “the real history of the United States.” “This country is the greatest political story ever told,” Bill said. “We are uniquely blessed and we have taken unique advantage of those blessings. And although it’s the greatest political story ever told, our children have not been told that story.”

And the evidence of that is everywhere — from polls showing an uptick in pro-socialist millennials to the lack of patriotism plaguing our culture. “If they do not know what they came from, what their legacy is, what their inheritance is, how will they support or defend it? Well, of course, they’re going to follow the temptations of socialism and big government… We did it right,” Bill points out. “We avoided the siren calls of communism — although this generation is buying into it [out of ignorance]. And, you know, if this is not an emergency — an intellectual, moral, and political emergency — I don’t know what is.”

That emergency, Dr. Bennett says, is one of the reasons he’s spent 40 years pounding the podium for school choice in education. “[You must have] the ability to educate your child the way you want.” Without it, entire generations are at risk of never learning anything but far-Left propaganda. While America is wasting its time on gender-neutral pronouns and sex ed and revisionist history, “What do we think China’s doing?” Bill asked. “While we’re fooling around with this stuff? They’re teaching the [important] things.”

Obviously, that’s part of the underlying problem here. American schools are spending so much time and energy on this parallel universe of make-believe that they’re not teaching the fundamentals that will help children. And the tragedy of that is it not only affects us as a nation, but also these disadvantaged children whose futures depend on having the building blocks of an education. They’re being denied that because our focus is elsewhere.

“We’re hurting them,” Bill agreed, which is another irony of liberalism. The same Left who says it has “so much sympathy and empathy for the poor are putting them in schools [that do them a disservice].” If you want kids to be lifted up, Dr. Bennett insisted, education is a great equalizer. “And we know how to do it, but we refuse to, because we bow down before political correctness, instead of doing what we know should be done and what will be successful.”

Make sure the kids in your life understand the incredible blessing it is to be Americans. Pick up a copy of Bill’s updated version of America: The Last Best Hope and teach them the lessons so many schools are not.


Thursday, November 07, 2019

UK: 'This country is breeding a lot of ignorant buffoons!' Apprentice viewers vent their disbelief that Lord Sugar's business wannabes don't know what a mortar board is or dates of the Second World War

Candidates on The Apprentice were slammed by BBC viewers last night after the losing team failed to understand the dates of the Second World War.

Events manager Riyonn Farsad was fired having been part of the losing team five times and Lord Alan Sugar's patience ran out after a disappointing display.

His team were stumped by the starting date of the war before they even began the task, which involved finding a pre-war copy of Alice's Adventures In Wonderland.

Their hunt for items in Oxford and Cambridge did not fare well, paying over the odds in the discount buying task, and not securing all desired objects on the list.

The team also failed to know what a mortar board was, with Riyonn believing it was something a plasterer would use in his work.

One viewer tweeted: 'It says a lot about the British education system, when The Apprentice candidates don't know when World War Two started and how long it lasted. This country is breeding a lot of ignorant buffoons.'

Another added: 'Should have sacked the whole team for not knowing what a Mortar Board is or when World War Two started.'

And a third said today: 'Just remembered an entire team of contestants on The Apprentice didn't know what year World War Two began.'

It was Farsad who was sent home after beginning the latest episode by saying 'this isn't a good start' when his team did not know the dates of the Second World War. He suggested it lasted four years.

Teammate Pamela Laird said: 'Does anybody know just so we can be really clear, what date the Second World War started. How long did it go on for?'

The contestants struggled over whether 1945 was the start or end date of the war, and tried to work out the timeline based on their parents' ages.

An opposing team led by Marianne Rawlins did not face the same struggles, and managed to spend less in the task.

Lion, who is from Taunton, Somerset, said before the show aired: 'On this week's show I am the only one who knows when the Second World War was.'

The librarian added: 'It's very insulting to British people that they don't know such an important part of our history.

'I am disappointed in all of the candidates because no one else knew the dates. It shows how ignorant they all are to our history and respect for our country. It is very basic knowledge.

'We are often branded as idiots for going on The Apprentice but we do not help ourselves and have ourselves to blame. It's idiotic. It's as simple as that.'

Lion also wrote a tweet ahead of the show asking viewers to look out for the 'important reminder' about teaching children national heritage.

Fellow contestant Lewis Ellis replied to her comments, admitting to 'struggling' to know the wartime dates.

His tweet, which has since been deleted, said: 'We did struggle to recall the exact dates but I do recall World War Two involved aggressive foreign policy by the Nazi party and an unprovoked attack. Why does that sound familiar?'

Lion's father is Belgian and once fought for German armed forces, she said.


Results Are In: Common Core Is Making American Kids Dumber

The never-ending quest of modern educators to find new ways of learning that will never hurt any child's feelings has not been a resounding success thus far. The ambitious attempt to standardize learning across the country known as Common Core can now be measured and the news isn't good.

The Common Core website explains the initiative:

[A] set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA). These learning goals outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade. The standards were created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live.

The aforementioned bad news is that the first group of Common Core high school grads aren't as well prepared as their predecessors.

The Federalist:

For the  third time in a row since Common Core was fully phased in nationwide, U.S. student test scores on the nation’s broadest and most respected test have dropped, a reversal of an upward trend between 1990 and 2015. Further, the class of 2019, the first to experience all four high school years under Common Core, is the worst-prepared for college in 15 years, according to a new report.

Paraphrasing a popular commercial from recent years: "That's not how this is supposed to work. That's not how any of this is supposed to work."

However noble its intentions, Common Core is a failure of one-size-fits-all standardization.

The Federalist post notes various slippages in proficiency in different subjects and different grades, but the most damning assessment comes from the college admissions testing organization ACT:

On the same day the NAEP results were released, the college testing organization ACT released  a report showing that the high school class of 2019’s college preparedness in English and math is at seniors’ lowest levels in 15 years. These students are the first to have completed all four high school years under Common Core.

“Readiness levels in English, reading, math, and science have all decreased since 2015, with English and math seeing the largest decline,” the report noted. Student achievement declined on ACT’s measures among U.S. students of all races except for Asian-Americans, whose achievement increased.

The kids can't read, write, or count as well as they used to. Other than that, this is all going swimmingly.

I spent half of my elementary and high school years in Catholic schools, where the learning was a bit more tailored to a student's abilities. Not surprisingly, I learned more in those schools.

The avalanche of evidence about Common Core's failure will no doubt be used by liberals as evidence that schools and teachers need more money. While not a federal program per se, there were a lot of federal grant dollars spent to get states to adopt Common Core. The program began as a "more money" initiative. Of course, with the Left, there never is enough money to throw at a problem.

What is left out of the reports cited in the Federalist's article is the fact that -- despite all protestations to the contrary -- most public schools are more interested in liberal indoctrination than education. It's more important to terrorize children with apocalyptic climate-change messages than to teach them to read.

Common Core is an extremely detailed and fleshed-out approach. If it's failing at achieving its basic goals, the flaw is in the curriculum, not the funding.


Do University Stores Rip Off Students?


I had a couple of my economics students, Tom Witschey and Ryan Dufinetz, help me conduct a little study recently. We were interested in whether an Ohio University owned convenience store attached to a large dormitory charged more for sundry goods (toothpaste, Ramen noodles, Pepsi, ketchup, condoms, sugar, water bottles, peanut butter, Pop-Tarts, gum and nine other items) that students commonly buy than the town’s two largest grocery store retailers, Wal-Mart and Kroger, as well as a small local grocery, Seaman’s, all located too far from campus for students to walk, as well as a large CVS drugstore outlet conveniently near the campus.

What was the result of this little shopping expedition? We found that on average, the price of the surveyed goods was 40-60% higher at the university store (called Jefferson Market) than at Wal-Mart, and 25-30% higher than at Kroger. Even Seaman’s prices were 20-30% lower than at Jefferson Market. However, the prices at CVS were fairly comparable to those at the university store. Our reading of the evidence: when students are without auto transportation, they are trapped into paying high prices, because the campus area stores have a near monopoly so exploit students.

Interestingly, only one item—condoms—was cheaper at the Jefferson Market than at the competitors, consistent with a frequent refrain on the part of the university’s Division of Student Affairs, urging students to practice safe sex (as opposed to the message generations earlier which was to practice no premarital sex; how times change). The school rips kids off a bit on Pop-Tarts to subsidize condom purchases—for the greater good.

To be sure, Ohio University is primarily in the education business, not a grocery store, and large scale volume does give Wal-Mart and Kroger an advantage. This, however, is at least partially offset by cost advantages Ohio University has, namely the fact that other stores pay substantial property and income taxes, whereas the university does not—in fact it receives subsidies from the state and federal governments financed in large part with tax revenues.

A more comprehensive survey involving perhaps a dozen or more universities would be worthwhile, and I suggest young researchers seek government or private foundation grants. That said, I have traveled to literally scores of colleges and universities in recent years, and often inquire of students about the prices they pay for goods bought in college run convenience stores, sometimes in the student union building, and generally get similar reactions—school prices are higher than those of private commercial providers. Is this exploitation or not?

There is both an economic and moral issue here. The economic issue is that universities have enormous amount of monopoly-like power. Once students enroll at a school, it has a monopoly over the provision of educational services, and often non-educational services as well, such as housing and providing food. Universities often compel students to live in their dorms and eat their food, and even sometimes force them to pay fees to help finance such non-academic activities as ball throwing and kicking contests like football and basketball.

Why doesn’t the Anti-Trust Division of the Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission investigate this issue, threatening action against schools and perhaps others abusing this monopoly power, akin to the company stores in early 20th century mining towns? They have on rare occasion done so in the past in the area of admissions, but why not more aggressively? I generally do not believe anti-trust laws are effective, but collegiate monopolies are highly entrenched, often even reinforced by such collegiate controlled support organizations as regional accreditation agencies or, in the case of college athletes, the National Collegiate Athletics Association.

The moral question is why do adults responsible for the intellectual advancement of older children transitioning to adulthood exploit them for financial gain? Colleges have expenses and bills to pay, but they are given special privileges by society (government subsidies, exemption from taxes) because they are performing the important social task of helping young persons become adults and prepare for the world of work. Ripping off students, where it happens, sends a bad message—you can exploit the weak and vulnerable if it is profitable to do so.