Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Good Schools Aren’t the Secret to Israel’s High-Tech Boom

I am often asked how a country the size of New Jersey, with fewer residents than New York City, became a global high-tech force. In a dynamic world, where innovation and adaptation are crucial, everyone wants to know Israel’s secret educational ingredient.

Despite its small size, Israel lists 93 companies on the Nasdaq—more than India, Japan and South Korea combined. In 2016 investors sank $6 billion into Israel’s more than 6,000 startups.  All have research-and-development centers located here.

Many people look to the Israeli education system to explain this success. During my two years as minister of education I have come to understand that although Israel’s schools are good, our secret weapon is a parallel education system that operates alongside the formal one. This is where our children learn to become entrepreneurs.

Israel’s shadow education system has three components. The first is our heritage of debate—it’s in the Jewish DNA. For generations Jews have studied the Talmud, our legal codex, in a way vastly different from what goes on in a standard classroom. Instead of listening to a lecture, the meaning of complex texts is debated by students in hevruta—pairs—with a teacher offering occasional guidance.

Unlike quiet Western libraries, the Jewish beit midrash—house of study—is a buzzing beehive of learning. Since the Talmud is one of the most complex legal codes ever gathered, the idea of a verdict is almost irrelevant to those studying. Students engage in debate for the sake of debate. They analyze issues from all directions, finding different solutions. Multiple answers to a single question are common. Like the Talmud itself—which isn’t the written law but a gathering of protocols—the learning process, not the result, is valued.

The second component of our shadow education system is the peer-teaches-peer model of Jewish youth organizations, membership-based groups that we call “movements.” Teenagers work closely with younger children; they lead groups on excursions and hikes, develop informal curricula, and are responsible for those in their care. As an 11th-grade student, I took fifth-graders on an overnight hike in the mountains. Being given responsibilities at a young age helped shape me into who I am today.

The third component is the army. Because we are constantly defending ourselves from Islamic terror, 18-year-old boys and girls are drafted into the military for stints of two or three years. Young Israeli adults must literally make life-or-death decisions every day. As a 23-year-old officer in 1995, I led 70 soldiers behind enemy lines. The covert mission required me to prepare my troops, mobilize people and equipment, build contingency plans, and function under immense physical and mental pressure. These situations teach a person how to execute plans—or adapt and improvise.

Consider a hypothetical 19-year-old soldier in the intelligence corps, analyzing aerial photographs or intercepted communications. She must decide if the material in front of her indicates an impending attack or not. This isn’t a rare occurrence. Thousands of Israeli soldiers experience it daily.

 Good teachers in vibrant classrooms are necessary for children—and nations—to succeed. Schools provide a base of literacy, mathematics and social interaction. But Israel’s extracurricular system goes further. Peer-led debate and intellectual dialogue enhances learning. Actual responsibilities, like caring for younger children, nurture growth and maturity. Real-life tasks show young adults how much they are capable of achieving.

These are the principles that anyone wishing to replicate Israel’s success should emulate. Two qualities are needed to change the world: innovation, to think of new ideas, and entrepreneurship, to turn those ideas into reality. That is the essence of today’s economy.

The way to create citizens steeped in the ethos of both is to give children, at a young age, the room to try. 


If we’re repealing Obamacare, Congress might as well bring back private student loans, too

As high school seniors make their decision of which college to go to next fall, Congress has been working on its Obamacare decision; but what the American people might be missing, is that these two issues are extremely closely related.

As student loan interest payments fund the Obamacare subsidies, students are being forced further into debt while their tuition climbs.

The Obamacare legislation worked to cut banks like Sallie Mae out as the middle-man between lenders and borrowers, this sent 69 percent of student loan profits, roughly $8.7 billion a year, to pay for Obamacare programs.

The need to fund these programs has caused the federal government to spike interest rates on loans significantly.

The Hill’s Dick Morris explains that the federal government borrows the funds for student loan programs at 2.8 percent, and then lends it to students at roughly 6.8 percent; accounting for a 4 percent mark up in interest rates just to fund liberal health policy.

By hurting private sector job creation, Obamacare has in part made loan repayment even more difficult. The Consumer Federation of America in a study from early March found that a total of $137.4 billion in balances were in default in 2016, an increase of 14 percent from 2015. The report continues to explain that for the last 3 years, each year the federal government has increased the amount of loans owned or guaranteed by the government by approximately $80 billion.

By expanding the student loan program but not creating enough jobs for college graduates, Obama helped to increase student debt to a point where it is nearly impossible to pay them back.

Perhaps the largest concern, is that aside from costing students more on loan payments, these loans also spike the cost of college. The Wall Street Journal in July 2015 revealed that as student loan access and college aid increased from the federal government, cost of college has increased as well. The Journal notes, “for every new dollar a college receives in Direct Subsidized Loans, a school raises its price by 65 cents. For every dollar in Pell Grants, a college raises tuition by 55 cents. This is one reason tuition has outpaced inflation every year for decades, while the average borrower now finishes college owing more than $28,000.”

As the Hill’s Morris explained, “The nexus between the student loan program and Obamacare is purely opportunistic…The 16 million American students who now have student loans are paying for Obamacare out of their meagre incomes just at the point when they graduate from college and need funds to start their lives, buy their first homes and begin a family.”

Now, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that there is about $1.3 trillion in outstanding student loan debt, with more than 8 million Americans in default on more than $110 billion in balances.

Then-U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) fought against this practice in 2014, claiming that Obamacare had “nationalized the student loan industry.” As a first-time congressman, Cotton attacked the legislation for taking money from students to pay for programs that only generated more costs.

Cotton, now a senator since 2015, was absolutely right. Just like in our healthcare system, the student loan crisis can only be solved through returning choice to consumers and utilizing the private sector.

Forbes.com contributor Preston Cooper argued in 2016 that student loans could be secured within the private sector through income based collateral. He offered a system in which lenders receive loans in exchange for portions of future income, verified from the IRS the same way mortgage lenders do.

By removing the government from the loan process, the private sector can set realistic rates and force universities to lower prices to an attainable place for students. Granting loans on the basis of a likelihood to be repaid, the traditional standard, will also direct capital to those majors that actually produce jobs.

However, currently, universities are encouraged to promote federal loan options to students first, so the private sector doesn’t even have a chance.

As long as the federal government squeezes the private sector out of the student loan process, the legacy of the Obama Administration will be that of higher prices and reduced opportunity. While students should be focusing on beginning their college education, Congress should be focused on removing Obamacare and reining in their influence over the student loan process.


Counteroffensive on the Western Front

As the West's liberal democracies are undermined from within by academia's cultural Marxism, they are also threatened by Islamic fundamentalism -- twin perils that make the establishment of a foundation to champion Western civilisation not merely timely but absolutely vital

There’s no doubt that Western liberal democracies such as Australia, the UK, France, Germany and the United States are under attack.  In Melbourne and Sydney Islamic extremists have killed innocents, and the Islamization of the UK and Europe is leading to ethnic ghettos and home-grown terrorism.

Given such threats the recent decision to establish a foundation to champion Western civilisation, funded by a bequest from the late entrepreneur Paul Ramsay and chaired by John Howard, is significant and timely.

As I argue in The Culture of Freedom whether it is the enemy within, preaching political correctness, identity politics and victimhood, or the enemy without, represented by Islamic terrorism, our way of life is facing an existential threat.

The traditional academic curriculum has been replaced by a rainbow alliance of radical Neo-Marxist, postmodern and gender theories in which Cardinal Newman’s ideal of a education championing “freedom, equitableness, calmness, moderation, and wisdom” is condemned as elitist, inequitable and obsolete,

As noted by the American academic Christopher Lasch, universities are no longer committed to independent critical inquiry “as it is no longer necessary to argue with opponents on intellectual grounds or to enter into their point of view.  It is enough to dismiss them as Eurocentric, racist, sexist, homophobic – in other words as politically suspect”.

Only this month American students at Middlebury College in Vermont violently disrupted a speech by Charles Murray, an academic who argues that genetics play a powerful role in academic performance, chanting “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Charles Murray go away!”

In England a report by the Adam Smith Institute based on the fact that “50% of the general public supports right-wing or conservative parties compared to 12% of academics” concludes “individuals with left-wing and liberal views are overrepresented in British academia”.

Australian universities, with the occasional exception, are not immune.  In his 1996 Boyer Lecture the ANU academic Pierre Ryckmans bemoaned how universities had also been captured by the cultural-left. After noting one incident where a young academic attacked a speaker, describing him as elitist and bourgeois for daring to make judgements of relative value and worth, Ryckmans concludes “to deny the existence of objective values is to deprive the university of its spiritual means of operation”.

More recently, John Carroll from LaTrobe University details how the cultural-left uses “neo-Marxist categories of exploitation and oppression to find ‘victims’ of their own country’s mendacity – so Australia becomes racist, cruel to refugees, misogynist, homophobic and increasingly riven by inequality.  The tropes endure, with Islam the current exploited and oppressed repository of virtue”.

The school curriculum has also been captured and is being used to promote identity politics and cultural relativism.  Students are told they must embrace diversity and difference and that all cultures must be equally acknowledged and celebrated. Except when it comes to Asian and Indigenous cultures that are given priority at the expense of Western civilisation — especially Judeo-Christianity, where in subjects like history, literature, art and music its treatment is scanty and superficial. As noted by the literary expert Barry Spurr the result is that while students get to study the contribution of Indigenous Australians there is little, if any, recognition of the central importance of the Western literary canon. Greg Melleuish, from the University of Wollongong, is also critical when he argues that the history curriculum does not give enough “importance to the place of Western civilisation in world history, especially over the past two hundred years”.

At the very time Western, liberal democracies are being undermined from within they are also being threatened by Islamic fundamentalism, currently best represented by Islamic State.  Extreme interpretations of the Koran, as detailed by Ayaan Hirsi Ali in The Heretic, are committed to destroying Western nations by establishing an Islamic caliphate and sponsoring acts of terrorism. Incidents like 9/11, the Bali bombings, the attack on the office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the subsequent 2015 attacks in Paris and the genocide against Coptic Christians in Egypt represent a concerted campaign to destroy what the Koran describes as “the unbelievers”.

While the overwhelming majority of Muslims are peaceful and law abiding it is also true that there are elements of the Koran that are hostile to our way of life.  Fundamentalist Islam denies women the freedoms and liberties we take for granted and there is no division between church and state.

Unlike Western civilisation, where Christianity and historical movements such as the Reformation and the Enlightenment have led to the freedoms and liberties we now take for granted, Islam is not as accommodating.

Proven by Islamic terrorism and the cultural-left’s political correctness movement there is much to be done to strengthen and defend Western civilisation against enemies foreign and domestic and the establishment of the Ramsay Foundation provides a beacon of hope.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Trump’s Responsible Decision to End an After-School Program That Harms Children

President Donald Trump has clear justification for his recommendation to eliminate a $1.2 billion after-school program administered by the Department of Education.

Rigorous scientific evidence shows that the program, called 21st Century Community Learning Centers, harms children. Advocates of evidence-based policy should applaud the president’s fiscally responsible decision, part of his fiscal year 2018 budget request.

The role of the federal government in funding after-school programs increased substantially after Congress passed the Improving America’s School Act of 1994, which created 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

Congress wanted to open up local schools so that communities could use the space more extensively beyond normal hours. The after-school program was intended to “support continuing education and lifelong learning opportunities to children and adults to help keep the country’s workforce competitive for the 21st century.”

In 1998, administrators altered the social program to provide activities in public schools during after-school hours, stating: “The goal of the program is to help students meet local and state academic standards in core subjects, such as reading and mathematics.”

Despite this lofty goal, the program has been proven to be ineffective and wasteful. Not only did the program fail to affect academic achievement, but an experimental impact evaluation at multiple sites in 2007 found a whole host of harmful effects.

Yet, Congress has continued to fund the program despite:

Failed impact on homework outcomes. From the perspectives of students and parents, the evaluation assessed the effectiveness of the after-school program based on 22 outcome measures regarding homework activities. It concluded the program failed to affect 21 out of the 22 outcomes.

For example, participation had no effect on homework and tutoring activities as reported by students. Only one outcome measure yielded a beneficial result. According to parents’ reports, participating students were more likely to be engaged in after-school tutoring activities, compared to students who weren’t in the program.

Otherwise, the program failed to affect tutoring and homework outcomes.

Harmful impacts on academic outcomes. The evaluation assessed 11 academic outcomes. Only two of these measures yielded statistically meaningful results. Startlingly, these two outcomes point to harmful impacts of participating in the after-school program.

According to their teachers, participating students were less likely to achieve at above average or high levels in class and were less likely to put effort into reading or English classes. Otherwise, the program had no effect on the other measures of academic achievement.

For example, participating students fared no better in math, English/language arts, and science grades than did similar, nonparticipating students. Further, the program did little to improve reading skills.

Harmful impacts on behavioral outcomes. Of the 12 behavioral outcomes assessed by the evaluation, six measures indicate that 21st Century Community Learning Centers produced more harm than good. Overall, teachers found participating students to have disciplinary problems that were confirmed by student-reported data.

These students were also more likely to have behavior problems in school than were their counterparts. Teachers were more likely to have to call the parents of participating students about misbehavior.

Participating students were also more likely to miss recess or be placed in the hall for disciplinary reasons. Their parents came to school more often to address behavior problems. Participating students were also more likely to be suspended than similar students.

The evaluation demonstrated scientifically that 21st Century Community Learning Centers not only was ineffective but harmful to students. Some members of Congress, however, ignore the ample scientific evidence of failure.

Responding to Trump’s budget cut, for example, Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., a member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, said: “This critical program provides a direct funding stream to allow children to have access to after-school programming. We ask that you reconsider this misguided proposal.”

Barletta’s assessment is not based on the evidence. American taxpayers deserve better.

21st Century Community Learning Centers is a critical failure. Trump’s recommendation to eliminate it is fiscally responsible.


School Lesson Compares Trump to Hitler, Mussolini

A group of moms in Saratoga Springs, New York has decided to fight back against what they call the radical leftwing indoctrination that has infested the local school system.

They call themselves the “Conservative Chicks” and one of their leaders contacted me after reading my new book, “The Deplorables’ Guide to Making America Great Again.”

She realized it was time to take a stand after a teacher at the local high school led a classroom presentation on fascism that included a graphic portrayal comparing President Donald Trump to Hitler and Mussolini.

That’s right, folks. A tenth grade teacher at Saratoga Springs High School led a discussion on the rise of fascism during World War Two by referencing President Trump.

“It’s total indoctrination,” said Melissa, the parent who contacted me. She asked that I not use her last name. “It’s not their place to indoctrinate our children. It’s their job to teach the facts. Healthy debate is one thing but this definitely crossed the line.”

The entire lesson plan was posted on the school district’s website. But once I started poking around and asking questions, the lesson was hidden behind a password protected wall.

“Trump has absolutely no relation to World War Two. There’s no reason why he should be included with Stalin, Mussolini or Hitler,” the mom said. They are trying to link him to the leaders of that time. That crosses a line.”

Another graphics listed “early warning signs of fascism”:


Transgender Challenges

By Walter E. Williams

Determining one's own sex or that of another used to be a simple matter. First, there was the matter of appearance, whether a person looked like a male or looked like a female. If appearance produced some uncertainties, one could determine sex by examining a person's birth certificate. If appearance and a birth certificate produced uncertainties, the ultimate, absolute proof of sex was a person's chromosomes; XX marked a female, and XY marked a male. Case closed.

But those old-fashioned simple methods of identifying sex have changed. In fact, relying on those old tried-and-true methods of sex identification qualifies one for opprobrium, with the charge of being homophobic. Today — independent of appearance, genitalia, birth certificate and chromosomes — one is a male or female based on how one labels oneself.

This new liberty applies to not only sex but also race. Rachel Dolezal, born Caucasian, chose to be a black person. By becoming a black person, she became the president of the Spokane, Washington, office of the NAACP and an instructor of Africana studies at Eastern Washington University. As far as she is concerned, she's still a black person now, and she has a new legal name, Nkechi Amare Diallo, which means "gift of God" in Ibo. A notable beneficiary of racial fakery is Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who claimed that she was of Cherokee Indian ancestry. That helped her land a $430,000 job for a year at diversity-hungry Harvard University as a professor of law. If Diallo and Warren were not leftist, learned college professors and students would condemn their behavior as racial appropriation.

But let's explore further the idea of freeing oneself from the oppression of biological determinism. There is no better testing ground than America's colleges, which are at the forefront of transgenderism, for seeing how this might work. How tolerant would college administrators be of conservative male students, if they said that they feel womanish, going into the ladies' bathroom and showering facilities? Would these men, claiming to be women, be eligible for tryouts for the women's basketball or field hockey team?

Suppose a college honored the right of its students to free themselves from biological determinism and allowed those with XY chromosomes to play on teams formerly designated as XX teams. I would anticipate a problem competing with other colleges. An unenlightened women's basketball team might refuse to play against a mixed-chromosome team whose starting five consists of 6-foot-6-inch, 200-pound XYers. The NCAA should have a rule stating that refusal to play a mixed-chromosome team leads to forfeiture of the game. It's no different from a team of white players refusing to play another because it has black players.

It's not just college sports that would yield benefits for those escaping biological determinism. What about allowing XYers who claim they are women to compete in the Women's International Boxing Association? Then there are the Olympics. The men's fastest 100-meter speed is 9.58 seconds. The women's record is 10.49 seconds. What about giving XY people a greater chance at winning the gold by permitting them to compete in the women's event? They could qualify by just swearing that they feel womanish or suffer from gender dysphoria.

You say, "There you go, Williams, picking on colleges again!" I applaud the fact that some colleges are taking a leadership role in fighting biological determinism. Barnard College President Debora Spar wrote: "There was no question that Barnard must reaffirm its mission as a college for women. And there was little debate that trans women should be eligible for admission to Barnard." With that announcement, Barnard College joined a growing list of women's colleges — along with Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, Mills College and Simmons College — that have updated their admissions policies to take transgender women's applications into consideration. The question that remains is just how much equality these enlightened colleges will permit between XXers and XYers. Will they sexually integrate all of their facilities? Or will they endeavor to develop the morally repugnant policy of "separate but equal"?


Sunday, March 26, 2017

New ‘Safe Space’ Guidelines at University of Arizona Treat Students Like Preschoolers

The University of Arizona is encouraging college students to cry "ouch!" when they hear something offensive, make artwork about race relations, have story time, play four corners, and take a "time out" if they feel uncomfortable.

A new guide for faculty on "Diversity and Inclusion in the Classroom" offers tips for "inclusiveness" and how to establish a "safe space" in the classroom. The guidelines are voluntary for faculty and were first reported by the College Fix.

The guidelines offer "Strategies for Engaging Students," which include the "One Diva, One Mic" rule and allowing 20-year-olds to yell "ouch" and "oops" in class.

"Creating a safe space for students for engaging in dialogue about challenging topics is vital in promoting positive intergroup interactions," wrote Jesús Treviño, the author of the guide and vice provost for "inclusive excellence" at the university.

Ground rules for "personal and group affirmation" include "One Diva, One Mic," which stipulates that college students should not interrupt each other.

The guide also suggests the "Oops/ouch" rule. "If a student feels hurt or offended by another student's comment, the hurt student can say ‘ouch,'" the university said. "In acknowledgment, the student who made the hurtful comment says ‘oops.'"

"Ground rules help students feel comfortable being honest," the university said. "Students should be affirmed for being open, honest, and vulnerable about their perspectives and experiences."

The guidebook suggests games for students like "Four Corners," where students are split into each corner of the room based on how much they talk in class.

University faculty are encouraged to engage in storytelling so students can "learn to bond and understand each other."

"The objective of storytelling is for students to gain a deeper understanding of the different groups to which their peers belong," the guide states. "Stories are interesting and convey emotion, history, pain, joy, spirituality, friendship, forgiveness, and other ideas."

In addition to telling stories, professors should have students make "collages" and "art work," participate in "reflection sessions," and keep a journal about their feelings.

"Collages and other forms of art tap into students' creative and visual side," the guide states. "Here students might be asked to create a collage depicting intergroup relations or intergroup concepts and ideas."

Another tool is the "fish bowl discussion," where students sit in a circle in the classroom and talk about issues like diversity.

The university guide also explains what a metaphor is to faculty.

"A metaphor [is] ‘a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them' (Webster's Dictionary)," the guide states.

The university encourages professors to use metaphors to explain race relations in America.

"Someone might provide the following metaphor: ‘Race relations in America remind me of the relationship between the earth and the sky. The earth represents ethnic/racial minorities, which sends water (e.g., diverse cultures, perspectives, opinions) to the clouds through the process of evaporation, making the sky look beautiful. For their part, clouds (which remind me of Whites) return the water back to the earth and enrich it. Both the earth and the clouds are equally important and need each other in order to live and make life interesting.'"

The guide is meant to serve as a resource for "difficult or challenging topics in the classroom" and is not required.

The guide includes examples of "tension" that could occur in class, including a hypothetical where a straight religious student claims that "LGBTQIA+ individuals do not have the right to exist."

The university argues "inclusiveness matters," saying all classroom discussions should be done in a "safe, caring, and respectful atmosphere."

"Discourage the devaluation of emotions and feelings," the university tells professors. "We may laugh and cry together, share pain, joy, fear and anger."

An example of the guidelines in practice includes students and professors taking "time outs" during class.

"If you feel uncomfortable, you may need to take time out, but let the facilitator know," the guide states.

The guidelines teach about "microinsults" and "microinvalidations" in addition to the standard "microaggressions."

The university defines "microinsults" as "[b]ehaviors, actions, or verbal remarks that convey rudeness, insensitivity, or demean a person's group or social identity or heritage."

"Microinvalidations" are "[a]ctions that exclude, negate, or nullify the psychological thoughts, feelings or experiential reality of people who represent different groups."

The university provides examples of microaggressions that faculty should avoid, like announcing a student's name—"Jesús Quintanilla"—wrong, "assigning class projects that are heterosexist, sexist, racist, or promote other oppressions," or using "heterosexist" language in class.

Professors also are encouraged to respect student's preferred pronouns in order to avoid committing a microaggression.

For instance, a professor should not say, "Alex, you use ‘they/them' pronouns. No, that's too confusing. They is plural. I'm going to use him for you."

Professors are told to stop "problematic behavior," such as "microaggressions," in the classroom immediately.

If "someone makes a joke that is racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.," the guide recommends that professors respond, "I didn't think this was funny. I'd like you to stop."

Nevertheless, the guidebook states it is "okay to use humor in class."

"However, make sure that it is appropriate humor that does not target or degrade any student in the class or group of people overall," the university said.


Warning over segregation in England's schools

Thousands of state schools across England are segregated along ethnic or social grounds, according to research. More than a quarter of primary and four in 10 secondary schools are ethnically divided, the social integration charity, The Challenge, found.

It says almost a third of primary and a quarter of secondary schools are segregated along socio-economic lines.

The Department for Education says all schools are expected to promote social integration and British values.

Researchers from The Challenge - working with the iCoCo Foundation and SchoolDash - measured how segregated a school was by comparing its numbers of white British pupils and those eligible for free school meals with those of the 10 schools closest to them.  They used official statistics for the years 2011 to 2016, examining more than 20,000 state schools.

Areas singled out for particular concern were:

   * Kirklees in West Yorkshire
   * Lancashire as a whole, but especially Blackburn with Darwen
   * Rochdale in Greater Manchester
   * Birmingham

The researchers regarded a school to be "segregated" if the proportion of ethnic minority pupils or pupils on free school meals was very different to the proportions at the neighbouring schools.

They found secondary schools were more likely to be segregated by ethnicity than socio-economic status, while primary schools were more likely to be segregated along socio-economic lines.

Primary faith schools were more ethnically segregated than those of no faith (29% against 25%) when compared with neighbouring schools, the study found.

Faith-based primary schools were also more likely to have a wealthier student population, with over one in four (27%) having significantly fewer pupils from more disadvantaged homes than other nearby schools; this compared with 17% of non-faith primaries.

Grammar schools - which Theresa May's government wants to expand - were heavily segregated by social background, the research found.

Some 98% of these selective schools had low numbers of poorer pupils, compared with their local schools, and none had pupil populations with high numbers of children eligible for free school meals.

The study also suggested that in some areas the situation was worsening - with primaries becoming more ethnically segregated over the past five years in more than half of the 150 areas examined.

'Anxiety and prejudice'

Jon Yates, director of The Challenge, said: "At a local and national level, government needs to commit to doing much more to reduce school segregation.

"We know that when communities live separately, anxiety and prejudice flourish, whereas when people from different backgrounds mix, it leads to more trusting and cohesive communities and opens up opportunities for social mobility.

"We urge local authorities, faith schools and academy chains to consider the impact admissions policies have upon neighbouring schools and put policies in place that encourage better school and community integration."

Responding to the findings, a Department for Education spokesman said: "We expect all schools to promote social integration and the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect for different faiths and beliefs.

"Our free schools programme already encourages applications for free schools which aim to bring together pupils from different ethnic or faith groups, and our consultation, Schools That Work For Everyone, includes faith schools setting up twinning arrangements with others not of their religion so that pupils mix with children from different communities and backgrounds.

"But we know there is more to do. The Casey Review highlighted a number of issues around levels of ethnic segregation in school intakes in some areas of the country. The government is considering the review and its recommendations and will respond in due course."


Good gravy for teachers in CA

Californians pay the highest state personal income taxes in the nation, but if state Senators Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) and Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park) have their way, teachers will be off the hook. Galgiani and Stern’s Senate Bill 807 would provide teachers with tax credits for college tuition, certification expenses and other costs. If they remain in the classroom for five years, they gain complete exemption from state income tax.

The bill is supposed to remedy a teacher shortage, but taxpayers should not be fooled.

The tax exemption amounts to a pay raise of four to six percent for the state’s teachers, whose average salary is $69,324, by some accounts $84,489, highest in the nation, and much higher than California’s $61,818 median household income. California teachers are not underpaid and not overworked. The school year is 180 days, in some districts 175 days, so teachers in effect work only half the year. The benefits are all gold-plated and firing a teacher is nearly impossible, whatever the gravity of the offense.

Teachers also received another bonus in the form of the Local Control Funding Formula. The billions for “at risk” students and English learners is being spent on salary increases, and Governor Jerry Brown is okay with it, in the name of “subsidiarity.” It’s his payoff to the teacher unions and educrats who helped extend the “temporary” tax hikes of 2012.

Like the governor, legislators who want to exempt teachers from state income tax remain unwilling to lower taxes across the board, for every taxpayer. A single worker earning $51,530 pays a rate of 9.3 percent. Many of the top earners, who pay the highest rate of 13.3 percent, are high-tech entrepreneurs who generate jobs and revenue. As Senator Stern sees it, however, “teachers are the original job creators” and thus more deserving of a tax break. Stern and Galgiani’s Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act of 2017 would be more accurately titled the Separate and Unequal Tax Exemption Act.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Texas high school opens Muslim prayer room

For decades the ACLU and allied groups fought to get Christian prayer out of American public schools. They were successful. But now prayer is coming back into the schools, and as long as it's Islamic prayer, it seems to be fine with everyone. This does, however, reinforce the principle of Sharia that Muslims have rights and privileges to which non-Muslims are not entitled.

A prayer room at a Texas high school is raising legal concerns and the state's attorney general's office in a letter on Friday to school district's superintendent indicated the school's policy should be neutral toward religion.

Liberty High School's prayer room, which is reportedly dedicated to students who practice Islam, allows the students to pray at the school on Fridays instead of leaving to say their required prayers. The letter cites the school's own news site, which focused on the prayer room.

In a letter Friday to the the Frisco Independent School District, the Texas attorney general's office outlined the legal concerns over the prayer room, indicating it may violate the First Amendment's protection of religious liberty.

"Liberty High School's policy should be neutral toward religion," the letter from Deputy Attorney General Andrew Leonie to Superintendent Jeremy Lyons said. "However, it appears that students are being treated different based on their religious beliefs. Such a practice, of course, is irreconcilable with our nation's enduring commitment to religious liberty."...

"Reports from Liberty's news site indicate that the prayer room is not available to students of all faiths. Instead, it appears that the prayer room is ‘dedicated to the religious needs of some students,' namely those who practice Islam," the letter reads....

"This is my seventh year at Liberty, my first year it kind of started when a core group of students were leaving campus every Friday for Friday prayer," said Principal Scott Warstler.

"Their parents would come pick them up, so they may miss an hour and a half to two hours to two and a half hours of school every Friday, so I met with those students and a couple of their parents and suggested if they would be okay if the students were able to lead the prayer at school as a group, and we gave them a space to do that so they didn't have to be in a car traveling thirty minutes each way on a Friday missing an hour, hour and a half, of class," said Warstler....


British universities told they must protect freedom of speech

Universities will be required to protect free speech across their campuses including inside the student union under plans being drawn up by the government.

Jo Johnson, minister for higher education, has written to universities saying that they will be compelled to include a clear commitment to freedom of speech in their governance documents to counter the culture of censorship and so-called safe spaces.

The letter, seen by The Times, said that it was the “legal duty” of universities to ensure as far as practicable that freedom of speech is secured for “members, students, employees and visiting speakers”. This meant that all university premises should not be “denied to any individual or body on any grounds connected with their beliefs or views, policy or objective”.

In the letter for dissemination to all universities to Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, Mr Johnson added: “It is important to note that the duty extends to both the premises of the university and premises occupied by the students’ unions, even when they are not part of the university premises.”

Safe space and no platform movements have swept across campuses, including a campaign to ban Germaine Greer from giving a speech after her “offensive” comments about transgender people.

Students are also the victims. Censorship has steadily increased at universities, with 94 per cent of campuses having some restrictions on freedom of expression, up from 90 per cent last year and 80 per cent in 2015.

Village People outfits, vicars and tarts parties, dressing up like chavs, gangsters or Mexicans and even Pocahontas outfits have been banned as offensive by some student unions.

Cardiff Metropolitan University is trying to ban terms such as “gentleman’s agreement” and “mankind” in case they cause offence.

The Higher Education and Research Bill gave powers to impose public interest principles on higher education providers, Mr Johnson said, and there will be a consultation starting shortly.

“As part of this, the government proposes to raise the issue of freedom of speech, with a view to ensuring that a principle underscoring the importance of free speech in higher education is given due consideration,” he wrote.

“Subject to the outcome of the consultation, this could require providers that are subject to a public interest governance condition to include a principle about freedom of speech principles in their governance documents.”

The higher education bill has run into opposition in the House of Lords. Peers said that it gave too much power to students, who would be able to contribute to a new ranking system.

They said that this power to rate could force university authorities to give in to student demands for more safe spaces, however unreasonable they may be, in order to be given good ratings.

Mr Johnson said that all institutions must have a code of practice setting out free speech procedures in connection with hosting meetings.

These codes of conduct should not be allowed to “gather dust”, he said, adding: “They are crucial in demonstrating to students that free speech should be at the heart of a higher education community.”


Australian high school students given option to select 'gender X' instead of 'male' or 'female' on official exam papers

In the Left-run State of Victoria

High school students who do not identify as male or female will now be able to list themselves as 'gender X' on official high school documents.

In the ruling made by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA), students sitting their VCE and VCAL examinations will have a third option when it comes to listing their gender identity.

The move comes as Victorian transgender and intersex pupils feeling marginalised by the lack of identification on personal I.D forms, voiced their concerns to the education body.

But the decision has come under staunch opposition with some describing the it as a threat to 'bathroom usage.'

In announcing their ruling, VCAA expressed that their decision came with the support of schools and that the well-being of students was their priority.

'The inclusion of Gender X in student records is of importance to the health and welfare of individual students who do not identify as male or female.'

The rule would allow the VCAA to use gender X statistics to categorise a new subset of children - as young as 15 - as non male or female when it comes to VCE results. 

Education Minister for Victoria James Merlino supported the move arguing that it was a reflection of every student.

Opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling however called on Premier Daniel Andrews to stop: 'pushing his radical gender and sexuality theories onto other people's children.'

Dan Flynn, Victorian director of the Australian Christian Lobby, also strongly opposed the decision, expressing concern that it could create safety issues within school bathrooms and change rooms.

'Boys are boys and girls are girls and there would be a fractional category of people who are truly intersex. We are also opening the door to say 'I don't want to be a male or a female, I want to be something else,' Mr Flynn told the Herald Sun. 

Adding that by having a third sex, same-sex sports teams would also be among those affected and that the decision is in direct contrast from the expectations of parents and the community. 

However executive director of Transgender Victoria Sally Goldner lashed out at Mr Flynn's comments that a 'gender X' would risk safety in toilets, describing it as a non-existent argument.

'There has never been a proven case (of misconduct) in Australia involving transgender people … in bathrooms. I really have to express my frustration that we keep having this 'nothing' debate,' she said.

Transgender Victoria however disagreed having the third option as 'gender x', rather calling on I.D forms to have four options: male, female, 'other please specify', and one allowing pupils to not answer.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Education Department rescinds rule that stopped aggressive student debt collectors

The Department of Education has rolled back a 2015 rule that prevented student-debt collection of large fees from defaulted borrowers who quickly begin paying again.

In a statement Thursday, the department said the Obama administration rule would have benefited from public comment before it was put in place. It applied to Federal Family Education Loans and prevented guaranty agencies that collect on federally-backed student loans from borrowers who have started repaying or worked out a payment plan.

Agencies want the ability to charge late fees to students who have defaulted, but the Obama administration argued they shouldn’t be able to do so if the student has committed to start paying again. United Student Aid Funds, a guaranty agency, spent $90,000 in the first half of 2016 lobbying against the rule, claiming that the Higher Education Act allows the imposition of such fees. The previous year, an appeals court ruled against USA Funds when it came to collection of the fees.

At issue was a Minnesota woman who was charged $4,547 in fees for defaulting on $18,000 in student loans. She argued that because she had agreed to resume paying off her debt, USA Funds shouldn’t be allowed its 16 percent collection fee. Earlier this year, the company agreed to pay $23 million to settle a class action lawsuit on its practices, although it did not admit to wrongdoing.

After nine months of nonpayment, student loans default. The number of people defaulting hit an all-time high in 2016, with 8 million people abandoning repayment on loans exceeding $137 billion. More than 1 million people defaulted for the first time last year.

The Department of Education said the rule would not be reinstated without a period of public comments. In the meantime, guaranty agencies are free to resume collecting the fees.

FFEL are no longer used because the Education Department now loans directly to students, so anyone who has taken out federal student loans since 2010 is not impacted by the rule change.


What it's like to be a conservative student on campus
For Madeline May, it’s not worth it to speak out about her political beliefs on campus. May, a senior telecommunications major, feels she will automatically be stereotyped and dismissed because of her conservative leanings.

“I don’t try to make my voice heard, it’s not worth it,” May said. “It’s the minority opinion on campus, so we don’t publicize our opinion because it’s too divisive.”

Of course, that’s not true for every Republican. But that doesn't mean it's easy for them to speak out.

At most colleges, a liberal view is the norm, Matthew Woessner, a political science professor at Penn State University, told the Daily News. Conservative beliefs are considered a deviation.

This makes it harder for Republican students to speak out and have their voice heard on campus for fear of being labeled as racist or intolerant, Woessner said.

May experienced this during her first semester of college. In her COMM 210 class, she said her clearly liberal professor would argue with her consistently on her beliefs, and as a result, her grades suffered. May said it's all because she said she was a Republican.

“I just learned to not talk about it in a classroom,” May said. “It’s not worth your grade being damaged, not worth people having a bad view of you.”

And historically, faculty have fallen on the left side of the political spectrum, Woessner said. A 2016 survey by Econ Journal Watch found that Democrats outnumbered Republicans 11.5-1.

This can make it harder for conservative students on campus in general, he said. When they try to speak out, they don’t have professors sympathetic to their point of view. Having a mentor to validate their beliefs can make a big difference, Woessner said.

Republicans tend to have the burden of proof, and are the ones who have to show other students that they are not intolerant just because of their political leanings.

“The trick is to have conservative views but be intellectually deep enough to communicate with someone with different beliefs and not come across as unkind and aggressive,” he said. “Be extremely patient when the other side thinks the worst of you and make a point calmly and intellectually.”

In other words, they have to demonstrate to any non-Republican students that they don’t fit in with the negative stereotype.

But on campuses that may not be overly receptive to their beliefs, that’s easier said than done.

At both New York University and University of California Berkeley, conservative speakers coming to campus sparked protests. University officials canceled former senior editor for Breitbart News Milo Yiannopoulos' speech at Cal Berkeley. Additionally, Gavin McInnes, a conservative actor, comedian and co-founder of Vice Media, cut his presentation short at NYU.

And at Ball State, Donald Trump’s election brought liberal rallies and protests to campus. These reactions remained peaceful, and none got out of hand. It was just a group of students standing up for what they believe in.

But Mike Lee, a sophomore criminal justice major, suggested that if Republican students were to do the same thing on campus, he would fear for his safety. “If I grouped all of us together and plopped us out on campus, we’d be threatened and called racists or bigots,” Lee said.

Lee said when he talks politics with people, they automatically assume he’s wrong. When he tells people he voted for Donald Trump, some call him a racist.  “College is supposed to be about expanding your knowledge,” Lee said. “Why are they scared of my point of view?”


IRS Gives "After School Satan Club" Tax-Exempt Status in 10 Days

While the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) makes conservative groups wait years for tax-exempt status an "After School Satan Club" launched to hinder Christian-based counterparts got its nonprofit ranking in just ten days, records obtained by Judicial Watch show. The classification is offered to charitable, religious and educational organizations that operate as nonprofits. Under the Obama administration IRS political appointees illegally targeted conservative groups, either making them wait up to seven years for tax-exempt status or denying their application altogether. Judicial Watch uncovered that scandal and has obtained piles of government records showing how the IRS illegally colluded with another federal agency to single out groups with conservative-sounding terms such as patriot and Tea Party in their titles when applying for tax-exempt status.

In the meantime, leftist groups like the Satan club got fast tracked. The principle goal of establishing the Satan clubs in public schools throughout Washington State appears to be to counter existing enterprises operated by a Christian-based group. Documents obtained by Judicial Watch include the process of establishing an after-school Satan club at Point Defiance Elementary in Tacoma. The entity behind the club is a nonprofit called Reason Alliance, which is based in Somerville, Massachusetts, and operates in Washington State as the Satanic Temple of Seattle. Its director, Lilith X. Starr, established the Point Defiance Elementary Satanic club, the records show. In its application the club states that its purpose is "character development" and that adult instructors are vetted by the Satanic Temple's "Executive Ministry." Children ages 5-12 will develop basic critical reasoning, character qualities, problem solving and creative expression, according to the Satanic Temple filings included in the documents. The club logo is a pencil with devil's horns. Records obtained by Judicial Watch from the Treasury Department show that the Satanic cult applied for tax-exempt status on October 21, 2014 and received it on October 31, 2014.

The parent permission forms ask for the name of the child's church and pastor, the records show. They also reveal that Starr, the Seattle Satanic Temple director, told Tacoma School District Superintendent Carla Santorno that the clubs are led by "caring Satanists" and each child receives a membership card. Starr also tells the superintendent that the effort to establish after-school Satan clubs in Tacoma schools is in direct response to the Christian-based Good News Clubs operating in campuses throughout the district. This ignited concern among some Tacoma district officials, the records show. In one electronic mail exchange, Tacoma Schools official Andrea O-Brien-Henley sends colleague Paul Koch a citation from the Satanic Temple's website noting that the temple only wants to establish after-school Satan clubs in school districts with Christian Good News Clubs. O'Brien-Henley notes that it's odd that the Satanic Temple only targets schools that have Good News Clubs, writing to hear colleague: "If they really want to get their message out to kids it seems kind of odd that they would only be targeting schools with a Good News Club; one would think that they would want to start clubs anywhere there is an *interest* in them."

Here's the citation that O'Brien-Henley forwarded to fellow school district official Koch from the Satanic Temple's website: "How do I start an After School Satan Club in my school district? If there isn't a chapter of The Satanic Temple near you, but you're interested in starting and After School Satan Club in your school district, please contact The Satanic Temple. Please keep in mind that the Satanic Temple is not interested in operating After School Satan Clubs in school districts that are not already hosting the Good News Club. However, The Satanic Temple ultimately intends to have After School Satan Clubs operating in every school district where the Good News Club is represented."

In another exchange, the Executive Director of Communications for the Tacoma School District, Dan Voelpel, expresses concern to colleagues that people will confuse the school district's message of tolerance toward the Satan Club with tolerance toward alleged "hate-related activities around the country in the wake of the presidential election." In the records the principal of Point Defiance Elementary reveals that, two weeks after the Satan club was launched, no one had signed up for it. The fact remains however, that the IRS fast-tracked a deranged Satanic cult to operate as a nonprofit in taxpayer-funded elementary schools.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Trump Budget Proposal Cuts Funding for Education Department, Student Aid

President Trump Thursday morning released a $1.15 trillion budget proposal that cuts the United States Department of Education’s $68 billion budget by $9.2 billion (or 13.5 percent), down to $59 billion.

According to the budget blueprint called “America First,” the Federal Pell Grants program could be “on sound footing for the next decade” since the administration would keep the program’s discretionary funding at its current $22.5 billion level.

However, there will be “a cancellation of the $3.9 billion from unobligated carryover funding” out of the estimated $10.6 billion surplus. Funding for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions would remain at its current $492 million level.

However, Trump is restricting federal spending on education programs “that do not address national needs, duplicate other programs, or are more appropriately supported with state, local or private funds.” It calls for the elimination of the $2.4 billion Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program, or Title II grants, stating that the program is “poorly targeted and spread thinly across thousands of districts with scant evidence of impact.”

The $808 million Trio and $219 million GEARUP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs), two programs that prepare low-income, first-generation and disabled middle and high school students for college, would lose $193 million. In addition, work-study programs will be “significantly” reduced and reformed “to ensure funds go to undergraduate students who would benefit most.”

The budget zeroes out funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, which provide millions in funding for programs at colleges and universities.

The Corporation for Community and Public Service, which funds AmeriCorps, would also be completely eliminated.


Georgia getting tough on failing schools

A bill to grant the state more power to intervene in Georgia's struggling schools is one step closer to a vote in the Senate.

The chamber's education committee on Monday approved the bill creating a "chief turnaround officer" to work with low-performing schools.

The committee maintained a key portion of the bill, which would make the State Board of Education responsible for hiring the new official. Education groups instead want the elected state superintendent to hire the new official because board members are appointed by the governor.

Superintendent Richard Woods, elected as a Republican, also pushed for the change but senators said it wasn't necessary.

The committee did amend the bill to prevent for-profit organizations from being hired to run public schools and decided schools should have three years to show improvement with state intervention, rather than two years in the House-approved bill.

The bill still prescribes some dramatic consequences for schools that show no improvement during that period or that refuse a "turnaround" contract with the state. In both cases, state officials could decide to remove staff, turn the school into a charter or allow parents to enroll their children elsewhere.

The bill must return to the House if it wins Senate approval.


Why the feverish Leftism on American campuses?

First among those reasons is the unique structure of the American university. Unlike Australia where most students are commuters living off campus, US four-year schools are residential. Most students are affluent; a year at Middlebury costs about $US64,000 ($84,000), close to the norm for elite private institutions these days. They arrive fresh from childhoods filled with swimming and music lessons, soccer leagues, and ski and European trips with mum and dad. Many, perhaps even most, of them remain on campus for four full years.

These facts are crucial to the religious intensity of the American scene. Adolescents are the most tribal of human beings, desperate to fit in with their clan and prove their bona fides to their peers. Add the disorientation of being on their own and relatively unsupervised for the first time in their lives — and perhaps loneliness to boot — and you get a ­campus highly vulnerable to contagious youthful obsessions.

“The people in the audience who wanted to hear me speak were completely cowed,” Murray wrote in his Middlebury account. It’s not surprising. The terror of being pointed out and shunned by the people with whom they share meals, dormitories, classes and leisure has to be a powerful censor for most 18-year-olds. It’s also a strong temptation to the inevitable bullies among them.

Making matters worse are the dormitories themselves. American students who go to public high schools have little choice but to study and socialise with many kinds of fellow students. On many campuses, however, when they arrive they are often ghettoised into black, Hispanic, LGBTQ and white residences. With a constant drumbeat of diversity talk, including intensive orientation meetings, the minority dorms become the university’s sign to everyone of the virtuous other.

Commuting students, on the other hand, are at least somewhat spared the tyranny of the identity politics of the faculty and campus in-group for the simple reason that they have lives, friends and loved ones outside the ivy walls. The Occidental College sociologist Lisa Wade calls the American university a “total institution”. By comparison, the Australian university is a partial institution with a more moderate role in the lives of students.

Also aggravating campus intolerance in the US is Donald Trump. Students were already prone to accepting the trinity of racism, sexism and homophobia; the Trump era has intensified their devotion exponentially. The stakes when confronted with a visitor such as Murray, said to espouse a racist ideology, were very high indeed. Many doubtless had come to believe that they were the only thing standing between freedom and sin itself. The President has not made much effort to temper these passions, failing to explain radical policy shifts and giving plenty of reason to be suspicious of his motives.

The third and related reason that American students may be more at risk of joining an impassioned mob at this moment than their Australian peers is the former’s class and economic isolation. These divisions pre-date the election of Trump; indeed, they are one of the reasons he was elected in the first place. Schools such as Middlebury have become ghettos for the children of America’s upper middle class. Even most of the “students of colour”, as they are described, come from the comfortable homes of Indian doctors and African-American professors. Few have had much contact with the more than half of the country that doesn’t share ­either their cosmopolitan tastes in clothes, food and media, their access to good education, or their comfortable family lives. They are not used to suffering serious consequences for their actions.

Ironically, it was precisely this tragic American divide that was supposed to be the topic of Murray’s Middlebury talk. Coming Apart describes “the bubble” that protects America’s professional and creative class from the harshness of working class life as well as poverty and the values that often develop in response to it. As one-time Middlebury professor and my former editor Myron Magnet noted in response to l’affaire Murray, the naive Middlebury students are exactly the sorts who could most benefit from Murray’s analysis. Alas, it was not to be.

Australia may not yet have descended into Middlebury’s religious madness. But the episode showed that substituting doctrinal conviction for reason is a dangerous game for universities. It’s not just the principle of free speech that comes under threat; logical distinctions, scepticism, subtlety, context and reading itself yield to shared dogma impervious to ­question.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

No long-term effects of reduced class sizes

Immediate educational outcomes of reduced class sizes are normally used to evaluate the change -- and the usual finding is of "no benefit" from smaller classes.  So the paper below from Norway is a stand-out.  It has much stricter criteria. It evaluates life outcomes.  But the result is the same.  Reduced class sizes confer no benefit on the student.  Abstract only below

Long Term Impacts of Class Size in Compulsory School

Edwin Leuven & Sturla A. Løkken


How does class size in compulsory school affect peoples’ long run education and earnings? We use maximum class size rules and Norwegian administrative registries allowing us to observe outcomes up to age 48. We do not find any indication of beneficial effects of class size reduction in compulsory school. For a 1 person reduction in class size we can rule out effects on income as small as 0.087 percent in primary school and 0.12 percent in middle school. Population differences in parental background, school size or competitive pressure do not appear to reconcile our findings with previous studies.


Race-Conscious Curbs on Suspensions in School Lead to Violence

By Hans Bader

The Obama-era Education Department sought to radically transform school discipline. It pressured schools to reduce suspensions, in the name of fighting racial disparities. Teachers in affected school districts complain of increased disorder and physical attacks by students as a result.

In places like New York City, schools have made it more difficult for principals to suspend disruptive or threatening students. The results? Increased violence, drug use, and gang activity, according to the Manhattan Institute’s Max Eden. He looks at the consequences of the curbs on suspension imposed under Mayor Bill de Blasio in a study released today: School Discipline Reform and Disorder: Evidence from New York City Public Schools, 2012-2016.

His findings are based on student and teacher responses to questions contained in the NYC School Survey. As he notes, “the de Blasio administration removed the vast majority of school-order-related questions on the NYC School Survey, limiting our ability to judge changes in school climate. But the answers to the five questions that were asked consistently reveal a troubling pattern. According to teachers and students, school climate…deteriorated dramatically” when de Blasio’s curbs on suspensions were implemented from 2013 to 2016.

In terms of violence, 50% of schools deteriorated, and only 14% of schools improved. In terms of gang activity, 39% deteriorated, while only 11% of schools improved. For drug and alcohol use, 37% deteriorated while only 7% of schools improved. By contrast, these measures had been stable during the preceding four years before Mayor de Blasio took office.

Ironically, although these curbs on suspensions were done in the name of helping minority students and ending a supposed “school-to-prison pipeline,” they harmed minority students the most, producing “a significant differential racial impact.” As Eden notes, “Nonelementary schools where more than 90% of students were minorities experienced the worst” effects on school climate and safety. Indeed, the harm from curbing suspensions had “a disparate impact by race and socioeconomic status.” Of schools that serve over 90% minority students, “about 50% saw a deterioration in student-reported physical fighting…and nearly 40% saw an increase in student-reported drug and alcohol use and gang activity,” while few saw any improvement: “about three times as many schools reported a deterioration as an improvement.”

Curbs on suspensions produced even more harm in other large urban school districts — such as Oklahoma City, which curtailed suspensions in 2016 to appease the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. As Eden notes, there were also reports of rising violence in cities like Chicago and St. Paul:

“One Chicago teacher told the Chicago Tribune that her district’s new discipline policy led to “a totally lawless few months” at her school. One Denver teacher told Chalkbeat that, under the new discipline policy, students had threatened to harm or kill teachers, ‘with no meaningful consequences’ …After Oklahoma City Public Schools revised its discipline policies in response to federal pressure, one teacher told the Oklahoman that ‘[w]e were told that referrals would not require suspension unless there was blood.’ Another teacher in Oklahoma City reported: ‘Students are yelling, cursing, hitting and screaming at teachers and nothing is being done but teachers are being told to teach and ignore the behaviors … . These students know there is nothing a teacher can do. Good students are now suffering because of the abuse and issues plaguing these classrooms.’ In Buffalo, a teacher who got kicked in the head by a student said: ‘We have fights here almost every day … . The kids walk around and say, “We can’t get suspended—we don’t care what you say.”’ … In St. Paul, Minnesota, Ramsey County attorney John Choi noted that the number of assaults against teachers doubled from 2014 to 201558 and called the situation a ‘public health crisis.’”

One reason for these curbs on suspensions was the dubious notion peddled by the Obama-era Education Department that student suspensions are often due to racism, and that higher suspension rates among minority students are typically the result of racism. (See Education Department, Office for Civil Rights, Dear Colleague Letter on the Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline, Jan. 8, 2014).

That notion is at odds with federal court rulings. For years, the courts have recognized that schools are not guilty of discrimination merely because black students get suspended from school at a higher rate than whites, since the higher rate may just reflect higher rates of misbehavior. (See, e.g., Belk v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 269 F.3d 305, 332 (4th Cir. 2001) (en banc) (although “statistics show that of the 13,206 students disciplined from 1996–98, sixty-six percent were African–American,” this “‘disparity does not, by itself, constitute discrimination,’” and provides “no evidence” that the school district “targets African–American students for discipline.”); Coalition to Save Our Children v. State Board of Education, 90 F.3d 752, 775 (3d Cir. 1996)(rejecting the “assumption ‘that “undiscipline” or misbehavior is a randomly distributed characteristic among racial groups’”); Tasby v. Estes, 643 F.2d 1103 (5th Cir. 1981)).

For example, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals struck down as unconstitutional a provision that forbade a “school district to refer a higher percentage of minority students than of white students for discipline unless the district purges all ‘subjective’ criteria from its disciplinary code,” concluding that that constituted a forbidden racial quota. As it noted, “Racial disciplinary quotas violate equity” by “either systematically overpunishing the innocent or systematically underpunishing the guilty,” and thus violate the requirement that “discipline be administered without regard to race or ethnicity.” (People Who Care v. Rockford Bd. of Educ., 111 F.3d 528, 538 (7th Cir. 1997)).

Student misconduct rates are not usually the same among different racial groups. A 2014 study in the Journal of Criminal Justice by criminologist John Paul Wright and his co-authors, for example, found that racial disparities in student discipline resulted from more frequent misbehavior by black students, not racism.

Higher rates of misconduct among black students are not surprising, since they are more likely to come from a poor or single-parent family, and factors such as low socio-economic status are correlated with higher rates of misbehavior. For example, a 2007 report noted that serious “discipline problems” were much higher in schools with many poor kids than in schools with few kids in poverty, and frequent “verbal abuse of teachers” occurred at nearly five times the rate in those schools. (See Rachel Dinkes, et al., Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2007 (2007), pg. 26).

The Obama-era Education Department claimed it has the right to demand that schools eliminate colorblind disciplinary rules just because they have a “disparate impact”—i.e., if a higher percentage of blacks than whites are suspended, and the school cannot prove to bureaucrats’ satisfaction that the disciplinary rule is essential to maintain order. The Education Department’s January 2014 guidance to the nation’s schools declared that a school can be guilty under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act (for disparate impact) solely due to “neutral,” and “evenhanded” application of discipline rules, just because more minority students violate such rules (see pp. 11-12).

But the Supreme Court ruled in Alexander v. Sandoval (2001) that disparate impact doesn’t violate Title VI, only “intentional” discrimination does. The Education Department elsewhere has claimed that while the Title VI statute itself doesn’t reach disparate impact, regulations under it can and do (an idea that the Supreme Court decision did not explicitly reject, but cast serious doubt on, by describing it as “strange” in footnote 6 of its opinion), but clearly the statute itself does not.

The Obama-era Education Department was so rigidly focused on race that its 2014 guidance stated that even if the only reason a school punishes more black students for unauthorized “use of electronic devices” is because blacks actually “are engaging in the use of electronic devices at a higher rate than students of other races,” the school could still be liable for racially “disparate impact.” This distorts the disparate impact concept. Even when courts do allow liability for disparate impact, the disparity must result from something in the disciplinary process, not the pattern of behavior observed.

For example, the Obama-era guidance fails to control for non-racial factors to even the limited extent required in disparate-impact cases. Even when courts do allow liability for disparate impact in discipline (as in the workplace), they require that the disparity result from something in the disciplinary process, not the mere fact that more members of one racial group misbehaved.

As a federal appeals court decision allowing lawsuits over disparate impact in workplace discipline emphasized, a mere “bottom line racial imbalance in the work force” is “insufficient.” That case allowed minority employees to sue over allegations that delegation of discretionary disciplinary authority to managers caused more minorities to be punished, but it noted that the employer could nonetheless prevail by showing that this “challenged practice [of delegation] did not cause the disparity” in discipline rates. (See Robinson v. Metro-North Commuter R.R. Co., 267 F.3d 147, 160-61 (2d Cir. 2001), abrogated in part by Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338 (2011)). That court later allowed the lawsuit to continue because the plaintiffs’ statistical expert “controlled for various factors that one would expect to be relevant to the likelihood of disciplinary action,” — such as “age, years with the company,” “department, and union vs. management status.” (See Caridad v. Metro-North Commuter R.R. Co., 191 F.3d 283, 292-93 (2d Cir. 1999), abrogated in part by In re IPO Sec. Litig., 471 F.3d 24 (2d Cir. 2006)).

By contrast, the 2014 guidance issued by the Obama administration’s Office for Civil Rights simply relies on the “bottom line” racial imbalance between blacks and whites, rather than controlling for various non-racial factors that one would expect to be relevant to the likelihood of disciplinary action, such as low socio-economic status, which are much more prevalent in the black community.

The Education Department also claimed such racial imbalances were usually the product of racist intent by schools, rather than just “disparate impact.” That assumption is at odds with the Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. v. Armstrong. It rejected the “presumption that people of all races commit all types of crimes” at the same rate, which is “contradicted by” reality. Blacks, who are only 13 percent of the population, commit nearly half of all homicides. The Education Department claimed there is no evidence of “more frequent” misbehavior by minority students. But the homicide rate is 10 times higher among black teens than white teens.


My Local School Board May Begin Silencing Parents Over Transgender Agenda

In Fairfax, 10 parents have just three minutes each to give their views to the county school board each meeting.

Earning one of these coveted slots is like buying concert tickets: You get up early on the Monday before the meeting and click frantically, hoping to be among the first 10 when the school board opens its sign-up line.

Since the school board imposed its gender identity politics on unwilling Fairfax families nearly two years ago, it has heard from dozens of angry parents. More come forward every month.

For school board members on the receiving end of the discourse, this must be getting old. But that's the price of freedom, right?

Maybe not. Parents have learned that bureaucrats on the Fairfax County School Board have had just about enough of this free speech, and are meeting to discuss how best to curtail it.

This week, board member Ryan McElveen, chief proponent of the transgender policy, is calling a meeting to discuss the public speaker process. Nothing good can come from that.

Last month, a citizen speaking before the Fairfax County School Board made the charge that nonresidents frequently appear at school board meetings-meaning people who do not reside in Fairfax County. He was referring to some who voiced criticism of school board action.

I'm a Fairfax County resident, and to my knowledge, all the speakers who have spoken out against the gender identity policies of the board have been Fairfax County residents. But if they want to require ID, I'm all for it.

But I wonder, do they also favor IDs for voting in Fairfax? Do you have to show proof of legal residency to receive school services? Those are good questions for the board, if I ever get the chance to ask them.

The gentleman who made the complaint claimed that Loudoun County residents were testifying in Fairfax County.

Perhaps he thought I was from Loudoun, since I testified before the Loudoun school board back in December. But I was speaking as a Fairfax County resident and as a sexual assault victim, to warn them that allowing men and boys into women's and girls' locker rooms, showers, and bathrooms is not only disrespectful, but dangerous.

Thankfully, Loudoun did not go the way of Fairfax.

I actually had to withdraw my daughter from her Fairfax County public elementary school over concerns for her personal safety and privacy. Her former school is currently allowing a biological boy to use the girls' facilities, without any parental notification.

When Fairfax County School Board Chairman Sandy Evans says the transgender guidelines are "on hold," she gives a false impression. The policy is being implemented right now, behind parents' backs.

And now, a new speech policy against parents is being considered. This would affect parents who are not only constituents, but also the taxpayers who pay the school board's salaries.

As a taxpayer, I am entitled to voice my concerns. I am a strong believer in giving both positive and negative feedback.

I called Fairfax County Interim Superintendent Steve Lockhard's office this week to thank him for keeping schools open Wednesday-unlike our neighbor city, Alexandria, which closed schools for the leftist women's protest, putting politics above children.

The Fairfax County School Board does not seem interested in listening to constituents who do not share their political views. When a single citizen makes the unfounded claim that non-Fairfax parents are speaking, McElveen shows deference and schedules a meeting to address it.

Yet when hundreds of parents and citizens with diverse cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds have gathered in one room to voice their concerns about adding "gender identity" to the so-called nondiscrimination policy, no meeting is ever called.

The school board hasn't even shown us the courtesy and respect to acknowledge that we've been heard. All we've heard is their silence-and now they want to silence us?

The school board needs to develop some respect for parental input. Rather than shutting down citizens who would defend the privacy of their children, the Fairfax County School Board should make good on its commitment to openness, respect, and the democratic process.