Wednesday, April 16, 2014
There's an MRCTV video circulating on the Internet that features a man with a microphone asking college students in Washington, D.C., to name just one member of the United States Senate. At least half a dozen are stumped. When he asks how many senators each state has, the same crew is equally flummoxed. One hundred percent of the students could name the hit song from the movie "Frozen," though.
These surveys about how ignorant Americans are have become hardy perennials. Survey data confirm that large numbers of Americans lack even rudimentary knowledge of what used to be called "eighth-grade civics." A survey by Common Core found that 25 percent of American high school students thought Christopher Columbus sailed after the year 1750, and about a third of them did not know the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech and religion.
We can all have a good laugh at the expense of the ignorant kids, but, of course, if they are truly undereducated (and these surveys can exaggerate), it's largely the fault of our schools.
It's nice to be reminded, from time to time, about what good schools and good teachers can achieve.
In McLean, Va., a suburb of the District of Columbia, Langley High School has for the past 22 years conducted a program called "Case Day." The brainchild of teacher Steven Catlett and former clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court General William Suter, Case Day involves the entire school (but most intensively the seniors in government class) in studying a pending Supreme Court case. Government teachers Allison Cohen and Micah Herzig, both former lawyers, try to choose cases that will engage teenagers. In past years, students have argued District of Columbia v. Heller (the gun control challenge), Morse v. Frederick (the "bong hits for Jesus" case), and Grutter v. Bollinger (an affirmative action question).
Four students were assigned to argue the cases before a panel of nine "justices," which included two students and also law professors, practicing lawyers and members of the school board. Suter played the role of chief justice.
This year's oral argument was Riley v. California, a Fourth Amendment case contesting the police search of a cellphone. The students familiarized themselves with a dozen or so Supreme Court precedents. As one explained, "We were told that in six weeks we were going to get a crash course in college, law school, and 20 years of practice." All agreed that studying the precedents changed their initial impression of the proper outcome of the case. They were also unanimous in saying that they now hope to be lawyers -- with their teacher acknowledging a little sheepishly that she may have conveyed the misimpression that law school is fun.
Before the drama of the mock oral argument, guest speakers elucidated the issues by offering some context on common law privacy, search-and-seizure cases and the facts of Riley v. California. Then, as the robed justices entered the chamber (well, school library), all rose. A student clerk intoned the "oyez," saying, "All persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting ... "
Sparks flew! The arguments featured exactly the sort of thrust and parry that characterizes the actual Supreme Court. Student advocates were challenged by justices attempting to probe the weaknesses of their arguments (while much of the school watched on monitors). Grace Sununu and Anna Cox, representing Riley, were asked why the digital contents of a phone deserve any different consideration from ordinary papers that the court has held may be searched incident to arrest. Was it the sheer amount of data? What if someone were carrying a paper diary with tiny printing? Of William Miner and Ben Parker, appearing for California, it was demanded, "Suppose someone is arrested for jaywalking? Does that mean their entire private life (which can be accessed on a cellphone) is open to search?"
Though they could scarcely complete a full sentence without being interrupted, the students dropped case names and legal doctrines with impressive poise and confidence. The student justices (Natalie Fahlberg and Myunghoon Kim) drilled their colleagues mercilessly.
The Langley court ruled 5-4 in favor of Riley. That other court a few miles east will hear oral argument in the case on April 29, when the six students who participated will sit in the audience as the guests of Justice Antonin Scalia, a loyal supporter of Case Day.
This is not a high-tech, expensive program. Any school with good teachers and access to a library could do it -- and should. It's amazing what students are capable of, when asked.
CA: Schoolkids compare MLK to Mumia Abu-Jamal
A lesson plan asking students to draw parallels between late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal is an “absolute disgrace,” the widow of the fallen officer told FoxNews.com.
Maureen Faulkner, whose husband Daniel was gunned down in Philadelphia on Dec. 9, 1981, said the latest effort to glorify Abu-Jamal’s past using a lesson plan posted on the Oakland (Calif.) Unified School District’s website is akin to advocating violence to young students.
“It’s a travesty,” Faulkner told FoxNews.com by phone early Thursday. “You’re going to teach children about a man who murdered a police officer? That’s not a good lesson to be teaching children. He was a radical, a militant. My question is: Are our tax dollars paying for this?”
The lesson plan, which was authored by teacher Craig Gordon for 11th-graders within the 37,000-student district, suggests to “critically examine a possible parallel” between King and “someone else many believe is currently targeted by the U.S. government, Mumia Abu-Jamal.”
It also asks students to consider the following statement: “The media, prison system and law enforcement organizations have censored Mumia Abu-Jamal. On one hand, there have been occasional stories in print and broadcast media about Mumia Abu-Jamal. On the other, despite the widespread support for Abu-Jamal that has made his case the most renown and controversial of death penalty cases in the world today, these stories are extremely rare and always refer to him as a ‘convicted cop-killer.’”
Despite Abu-Jamal’s “prolific writings” in several books, none of his work can be found in mainstream media, according to the lesson plan.
“My first take on this was: There’s a lot more educational things you could be teaching children about than a cold-blooded murderer,” Faulkner told FoxNews.com. “It’s an absolute disgrace that they’re trying to make any comparison.”
Faulkner noted that Abu-Jamal — a former Black Panther who has garnered worldwide support by some who believe he was victimized by a biased judicial system — will turn 60 later this month while imprisoned in Pennsylvania. Faulkner's late husband, however, won’t be so fortunate.
“What about my husband’s 60th birthday? He’s been in the ground for the past 32 years,” Faulkner said. “My husband has missed 32 birthdays, 32 Christmases and 32 anniversaries. It’s an abomination.”
Troy Flint, director of public relations for the Oakland Unified School District, said the lesson plan is no longer part of the district's curriculum and was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
"The fact that a website documenting Urban Dreams remains accessible is an oversight related to technology management; it does not speak to current instructional practice in OUSD," Flint wrote FoxNews.com in an e-mail. "To avoid any confusion in the future, we will conduct an inventory of the numerous websites created to support learning districtwide to ensure they conform with our present academic philosophy and do not inadvertently misrepresent Oakland schools."
Some academics contacted by FoxNews.com, however, said King and Abu-Jamal are “fundamentally similar” since both have committed their lives to challenging systemic racism in the United States.
Mark Lewis Taylor, a professor of theology and culture at the Princeton Theological Seminary and a longtime Mumia supporter, identified two major differences between Abu-Jamal and King, saying the former radio journalist has worked more obviously than the assassinated civil rights leader within an “international framework of justice struggle.”
Abu-Jamal, according to Taylor, also worked more than King to “mobilize grassroots organizations” and movements. King had a tendency, Taylor said, to privilege black church organizations and, at times, espouse a certain sense of black middle-class advantage and leadership.
“But what King and Abu-Jamal shared should not be overlooked,” Taylor wrote FoxNews.com in an email. “One shouldn’t juxtapose a respectable ‘cuddly’ Martin Luther King over and against a more radical and supposedly ‘villainous’ Abu-Jamal — as the media hype often has it when they relentlessly misrepresent him as a ‘cop-killer.’ In fact, authorities have had the wrong man on death row and in prison these 32 years, not the man who actually shot Officer Faulkner.”
In 2011, Philadelphia’s district attorney announced that prosecutors would no longer pursue the death penalty against Abu-Jamal. Instead, he will spend the rest of his life in prison for killing Faulkner, a 25-year-old patrolman who scuffled with Abu-Jamal’s brother during an early morning traffic stop. Abu-Jamal, whose real name is Wesley Cook, was wounded by a round from Faulkner’s gun and a .38-caliber revolver registered to Abu-Jamal was found at the scene with five spent shell casings, according to trial testimony.
In 1995, Abu-Jamal authored “Live From Death Row” and has been the subject of numerous documentaries and books. The onetime journalist has also enjoyed support from, among others, actor Tim Robbins and from as far away as France, where a street bears his name in a Paris suburb.
Most recently, Abu-Jamal appeared in national headlines in February when his link to President Obama's nominee for a top Justice Department post, Debo Adegbile, was revealed. Adegbile faced criticism for his role in getting Abu-Jamal's death sentence overturned during his time as acting director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Adebile's confirmation was blocked in early March.
King’s niece, Alveda, said she wasn’t very familiar with Abu-Jamal’s case, but said any comparison to her uncle should begin with a thorough understanding of his nonviolent philosophy.
“Students should be required to know Martin Luther King, Jr., before comparing anyone to him,” she told FoxNews.com by phone. “I believe that law enforcement officials, those who find themselves at odds with the law, and anyone who has a conflict for any reason would be best served by embracing the nonviolent philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr.”
Universities are not Walmart
Just recently, the e-zine Salon.com ran a piece bearing the provocative title, “The Walmart-ization of higher education: How young professors are getting screwed.” It wins my prize for the most bizarre think-piece of the year.
The author, Keith Hoeller, considers the move in higher education to replace tenure-track professors with lowly adjuncts. To him, this is apparently as shocking as it is surprising.
He begins by noting that various surveys of workers show that tenured professors are a pretty happy bunch. They average over $90,000 a year in total compensation, for only nine months work, and they report low levels of job stress, high levels of job satisfaction, and so on. This is hardly a surprise. Getting tenure means never having to hear “you’re fired.” Tenured professors are virtually immune from termination, no matter how poor their job performance.
The first strange thing about Hoeller’s article is that it isn’t reporting anything new. The shift from highly-paid tenured professors to lowly-paid adjuncts has been going on for decades. The article’s deeper flaw its author’s use of Walmart as a slur.
Yes, Walmart uses a lot of part-time labor, as do most other retail and service industries. (The frequency of part-time work is increasing rapidly as the full implementation of that crazy-quilt law called ObamaCare grows nigh). But the resemblance ends there. Walmart, so despised by bien pensant literati, has succeeded in lowering its prices dramatically, on a vast array of consumer goods, and has done so since its inception. Walmart saves the average American family — all American families, including those of elitists who refuse to shop there — something like $2,300 per year. Its costcutting measures, including of course labor-saving measures — which go way beyond using part-time labor — have benefitted all consumers with lower prices and better goods, and Walmart investors with a good return on their money.
In stark contrast, colleges have systematically screwed their consumers and investors. Consider first the consumers, i.e. students. During the past few decades, they have seen their tuition rise much faster than inflation — while the service rendered has steadily deteriorated. The deterioration takes the form of watered-down courses, degrees in vacuous subjects, and rampant grade inflation. Over the past decade in particular, students have had to run up huge amounts of loan debt getting degrees that have proven worthless in terms of career placement.
The investors in these colleges, the taxpayers (for public schools) and the donors (for private ones), who have seen graduation rates dwindle and the employability of recent college grads — only 56% of whom are in jobs appropriate to their training — plummet, are also being swindled.
The Hoeller piece doesn’t address the damning context of the increased use of academic part-timers: the fact that such savings in labor costs have not even slowed the explosion of costs to the students, and the fact that the services rendered have dropped in quality. The proximate cause is, of course, administrative bloat.
Bloat is the focus of a recent article by Jon Marcus of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting. Marcus reviews a report from the Delta Cost Project (also reviewed by the Chronicle of Higher Education) on the rapid growth in college administrative staff. Marcus reports that the growth in the number of college administrators has greatly exceeded the growth in both the number of students and the number of faculty. Over the past 25 years, colleges and universities have increased the number of their administrative staff by 517,636. During that time, the ratio of nonacademic employees to faculty has doubled. We now see two non-academics for every tenure-track or tenured professor at public universities, and a ratio of two and a half to one at private colleges.
Growth in this area is especially strong at the central offices of public college and university systems. For example, the headquarters of the California State University system has a separate budget that exceeds the budget of three of its campuses!
Marcus cites economist Robert Martin making the point that so eluded Hoeller: “While the rest of the economy was shrinking overhead, higher education was investing heavily in more overhead.” Walmart, Target, Costco and so on continue to deliver more for less, while the higher education system business only continues to deliver less for more.
Marcus notes that in constant dollars, tuition and fees have nearly doubled at private four-colleges, and nearly tripled at public four-year colleges, over the last quarter-century. And during this period, the ratio of part-time to full-time faculty has gone from about one-third to about one-half.
Naturally, administrators have a reply: they claim they are delivering more value to the consumers (students) and principals (taxpayers and donors) by creating and expanding offices for security, counseling, technology services, “sustainability,” disabled student services, and especially “diversity.” But skeptics rightly reply that these services don’t seem to have resulted in objectively measurable favorable outcomes. For example, over the past decade, Marcus notes, the percentage of students pursuing bachelor’s degrees — which can be completed in four years — and actually getting their degrees within six years has risen only slightly (from 55% in 2002 to 58% in 2012).
And several economists cited in Marcus’ piece made the obvious point that universities, to the extent they even need many of these services, could easily outsource them. As Robert Martin put it, “You can hire outside firms, on a contract basis, with competitive bidding. All these activities are a distraction from what the institution is supposed to be doing.”
What is causing the exploitation of adjuncts and the explosion in student fees is at base the same thing: a severe case of the principal-agent problem.
The managerial agents at American universities — the administrators — have achieved virtually total power over the institutions they manage, so much so that they view themselves as the true principals (owners). Of course, they’re not — the principals are the taxpayers, the donors, and the tuition-payers. But the administrators seldom see it that way.
Until this problem is solved, you can expect to see administrative bloat continue apace, enabled by the burgeoning ranks of the adjuncts — and by higher tuition, which is in turn fueled by the federal student loan program, a government program run amuck.
In fine, the American university system is as dissimilar to Walmart as you can get. Walmart has not been shafting its customers through management bloat, higher prices, poorer service, and lousier products, all fueled by massive federal subsidies. The American university system has.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:39 AM
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
They want me silenced. Brandeis complies
Ayaan Hirsi Ali has just released (as of 4:30 p.m. E.T. Wednesday, April 9) this statement in response to Brandeis University’s decision to rescind her invitation to receive an honorary degree:
“Yesterday Brandeis University decided to withdraw an honorary degree they were to confer upon me next month during their Commencement exercises. I wish to dissociate myself from the university’s statement, which implies that I was in any way consulted about this decision. On the contrary, I was completely shocked when President Frederick Lawrence called me—just a few hours before issuing a public statement—to say that such a decision had been made.
“When Brandeis approached me with the offer of an honorary degree, I accepted partly because of the institution’s distinguished history; it was founded in 1948, in the wake of World War II and the Holocaust, as a co-educational, nonsectarian university at a time when many American universities still imposed rigid admission quotas on Jewish students.
“I assumed that Brandeis intended to honor me for my work as a defender of the rights of women against abuses that are often religious in origin. For over a decade, I have spoken out against such practices as female genital mutilation, so-called ‘honor killings,’ and applications of Sharia Law that justify such forms of domestic abuse as wife beating or child beating. Part of my work has been to question the role of Islam in legitimizing such abhorrent practices. So I was not surprised when my usual critics, notably the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), protested against my being honored in this way.
“What did surprise me was the behavior of Brandeis. Having spent many months planning for me to speak to its students at Commencement, the university yesterday announced that it could not “overlook certain of my past statements,” which it had not previously been aware of. Yet my critics have long specialized in selective quotation – lines from interviews taken out of context – designed to misrepresent me and my work. It is scarcely credible that Brandeis did not know this when they initially offered me the degree.
“What was initially intended as an honor has now devolved into a moment of shaming. Yet the slur on my reputation is not the worst aspect of this episode. More deplorable is that an institution set up on the basis of religious freedom should today so deeply betray its own founding principles. The ‘spirit of free expression’ referred to in the Brandeis statement has been stifled here, as my critics have achieved their objective of preventing me from addressing the graduating Class of 2014. Neither Brandeis nor my critics knew or even inquired as to what I might say. They simply wanted me to be silenced. I regret that very much.
“Not content with a public disavowal, Brandeis has invited me ‘to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues.’ Sadly, in words and deeds, the university has already spoken its piece. I have no wish to ‘engage’ in such one-sided dialogue. I can only wish the Class of 2014 the best of luck—and hope that they will go forth to be better advocates for free expression and free thought than their alma mater.
“I take this opportunity to thank all those who have supported me and my work on behalf of oppressed woman and girls everywhere.”
Get ‘Em While They’re Young: Promoting Homosexuality In Public Schools
The Obama administration and the NEA continue using taxpayer money to push their outrageous agenda
Funded by our tax dollars, every year, the National Education Association promotes what most consider sinful behavior in schools across the country. This year, the Day of Silence (DOS) will be today, April 11. Under the guise of “Anti-bullying” education, thousands of public schools allow students to participate by remaining silent throughout an entire day, even during instructional time.
The DOS is sponsored by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and is a political action in public schools that promotes the homosexual movement.
Flashback to May 23, 2011, when the resignation of [Obama appointee] Kevin Jennings was completely ignored by the media. Jennings was (no joke) the “Safe Schools Czar” for the Obama administration; and after I read what he promoted in public schools, it almost made me sick to my stomach.
Jennings was the founder of GLSEN, and one look at their recommended reading list should cause alarm. There are books encouraging the sexualization of children (regardless of “orientation”) and a sexed-up reading list for teachers on down to grade schoolers. Kevin Jennings had been known to encourage sex between adults and minors. CNS News reported:
“In April, he spoke at an assembly at a public school in Maryland where he compared those who oppose homosexuality to supporters of slavery and racial segregation.”
During his fourteen-year tenure at GLSEN, Jennings touted his homosexual activism and included the fact that since 1995, he increased the number of public school-based and student-led pro-homosexual clubs, such as Gay-Straight Alliances, from 50 to 4,300 today. With the NEA’s cooperation, Jennings was responsible for adding more than 4,200 new clubs in America’s public schools that promote homosexuality.
GLSEN’s goal for the Day Of Silence is to encourage sympathy and support for not only homosexual and lesbian students, but also those involved in cross-dressing behaviors. Behind the veil, DOS is not led by students at all.
Linda Harvey of Mission America writes:
“GLSEN describes itself as ‘championing LGBT issues in K-12 education since 1990.’ Did you catch that – ‘K through 12’? Younger and younger students are the target of this group. The younger, the better because they are easier to manipulate.”
Of course, any activity considered sinful by biblical standards should not be promoted in public schools in any way. The DOS seems to justify immoral behavior under the blanket of tolerance, yet prevents Christian students from sharing their faith with peers caught up in gender confusion. Amazingly, the DOS requires that teachers create activities around the students who are silent. Sadly, those students who choose not to go with the homosexual flow are a captive audience, while an agenda they may disagree with is implemented in their classroom.
Attorney Robert Tyler, founder of Advocates for Faith and Freedom, warns that the new tolerant terminology coming to public schools is “gender liberation.” Evidently, this will be used to ‘liberate children’ from stereotypes and to eliminate our God-given distinctions between male and female. One of their solutions is gender neutral restrooms.
Conservative and Pro-family groups have been warning that this assault on Christian values has been increasing. They even support gender change for elementary age children while suppressing objections by Christian parents. Calling it “blatant indoctrination,” Linda Harvey also wrote “The Sleazy History of GLSEN,” questioning how they achieve the “sexual enticement” of children.
“Behind GLSEN’s window-dressing rhetoric about safe schools, bigotry, ‘homophobia’, oppression, and concerns about harassment, lies the reality: advocacy of actual homosexual sex, sometimes very explicit even for young kids. And sometimes it’s with adults…. How can they get away with … even soliciting the opinions of minors for sketchy, internally-constructed and analyzed school climate surveys, where no parental permission is needed to interview a sixth-grader about homosexual identity via the Internet?”
With access to kids, GLSEN will use children to normalize homosexuality as long as parents and public schools continue letting them do it. Harvey said “The gatekeepers are not watching.”
Jennings (appointed by President Obama in 2009) was finally forced to resign from his position in the Obama administration. What other radicals has the president appointed in the Department of Education and other cabinet positions? It should not surprise us that President Obama would appoint homosexuals to his administration as there are a record number, more than any other president in our history. It’s been clear where Obama stands since he was elected president. But how in the world did such a dangerous man like Jennings remain in the Obama administration for two years?
Kevin Jennings has said that “twenty percent of people are hard-core, fair-minded, pro-homosexual people.” However, he ridiculed Christians and discussed what he called “his strategy” at a speaking engagement a few years back and stated that:
“Twenty percent are hard-core [anti-homosexual] bigots. We need to ignore the hard-core bigots, get more of the hard-core fair-minded people to speak up, and we’ll pull that 60 percent [of people in the middle] … over to our side.“We have to quit being afraid of the religious right. …I’m trying to find a way to say this. I’m trying not to say, ‘F*ck ‘em!’ – which is what I want to say, because I don’t care what they think! [audience laughter] Drop dead!”
I can see why Obama liked him. Kevin Jennings wrote the foreword of the book Queering Elementary Education. One of six books Kevin Jennings wrote to promote homosexuality was Becoming Visible: A Reader in Gay and Lesbian History for High School and College Students. Jennings also founded the nation’s first “gay/straight alliance” in Massachusetts. Harry Hay “inspired” Kevin Jennings to become a homosexual activist.
We all have our mentors; but since Jennings had access and influence on public school kids across America for two years, and Hay was such an infamous radical, we should probably take a closer look. Harry Hay, a known Marxist, was a founder of the homosexual movement, an open supporter of NAMBLA, and a prominent member of the Communist Party USA. Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the Center for Investigative Journalism at Accuracy in Media. In his article “NAMBLA-gate: the Strange Case of Kevin Jennings,” Kincaid stated:
“This is the real scandal – the degree to which the homosexual movement tolerates pedophiles in its midst and regards a champion of pedophilia as a hero.”
In 2011, President Obama awarded Kevin Jennings $410 million to promote homosexuality in the public schools. National recession? No problem; this was important! Jennings received an increase of $45 million for his work to push through his agenda on school children regardless of the fact that America has massive federal budget deficits.
As it happens with a Democratic administration, people are appointed to positions before the media reports on their backgrounds, if they ever do report on them. Shortly after Jennings was appointed, The Washington Times attempted to get more facts by questioning the Obama administration, including Education Secretary Arne Duncan. They made “serious inquiries about the filth propagated by a senior presidential appointee,” but were being stonewalled.
It was alarming that someone like Kevin Jennings was put in a position responsible for implementing federal education policy. There was clear evidence from various sources that Jennings helped promote a “reading list for children thirteen years old” that made explicit adult-child sex appear normal and acceptable. This was under the guise of promoting so-called alternative lifestyles. The Washington Times reported:
“Democrats clearly are terrified of ruffling the feathers of their activist homosexual supporters, who are an influential part of the Democratic Party’s base. This scandal, however, is not merely about homosexual behavior; it is about promoting sex between children and adults.”
Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact some homosexual activists aren’t just happy with being accepted, welcomed, and even given special rights in our society; they are now working to squelch the free speech of others. The Obama administration and the NEA continue using taxpayer money to push their outrageous agenda.
What is ‘normal’ has been redefined, and we’ve allowed it to happen. Fifty years ago, this was unheard of in America. Moreover, America has forgotten how to blush; and even Christians have forgotten how to stand up for truth. We’ve reached a tipping point. Opponents of biblical Christianity used to simply disagree with us; today, they’re working to silence us.
You Aren't Invited
Officials with the Olathe, Kansas, school system have apologized after inviting only black students on a field trip that included visits to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and an exhibit on the Civil Rights movement at a local museum. Well, actually, they say it was all a "misunderstanding" and that the invitation mistakenly "suggested" the trip was open only to blacks. But the actual invitation specified that it was for "our African-American sophomores and juniors."
Posted by jonjayray at 12:12 AM
Monday, April 14, 2014
Study: No connection between spending, student outcomes
For decades, it’s probably the most troublesome question facing education: Why are results for U.S. public school students so mediocre, despite the billions of taxpayer dollars spent?
Andrew Coulson thinks he’s got the answer: Because there is no discernible correlation between spending and outcomes.
“The takeaway from this study is that what we’ve done over the past 40 years hasn’t worked,” said Coulson, director of the Center For Educational Freedom at the CATO Institute. “The average performance change nationwide has declined 3 percent in mathematical and verbal skills. Moreover, there’s been no relationship, effectively, between spending and academic outcomes.”
The CATO Institute is a free-market think-tank based in Washington, D.C.
Coulson just released his study, “State Education Trends: Academic Performance and Spending over the Past 40 Years,” and he points to this chart that incorporates costs and the number of public school employees with student enrollment and test scores:
While spending has just about tripled in inflation-adjusted dollars and the number of school employees has almost doubled since 1970, reading, math and science scores for students have remained stagnant.
“That is remarkably unusual,” Coulson wrote in his study. “In virtually every other field, productivity has risen over this period thanks to the adoption of countless technological advances — advances that, in many cases, would seem ideally suited to facilitating learning. And yet, surrounded by this torrent of progress, education has remained anchored to the riverbed, watching the rest of the world rush past it.”
Coulson also looked at Scholastic Aptitude Test scores since 1972 and the numbers hold in each of the 50 states, including New Mexico:
“It’s really impressive how disconnected spending and achievement have been in our state public systems,” Coulson said in a telephone interview with New Mexico Watchdog.
Correlations are based on a scale between zero and one, with the higher the number approaching 1.0 suggesting a perfect correlation between spending and results. Coulson’s figures came out well below 1.0 — at .0075. In other words, the numbers Coulson worked with would have to be more than 13 times stronger to suggest a perfect correlation.
“The 0.075 figure reported here suggests that there is essentially no link between state education spending (which has exploded) and the performance of students at the end of high school (which has generally stagnated or declined),” Coulson wrote in the 60-page report.
Coulson also says that not only is there no evidence that spending increases improve scores, he says the statistics show that decreases in spending have no discernible effect in negatively influencing student scores.
“At one time or another over the past four decades, Alaska, California, Florida and New York all experienced multi-year periods over which real spending fell substantially (20 percent or more of their 1972 expenditure levels),” he wrote. “And yet, none of these states experienced noticeable declines in adjusted SAT scores.”
But if spending has no affect, then why do students at private schools, which charge tuition, perform better than students in public schools?
“Actually, the average per-pupil spending in private schools is substantially below the average per-pupil spending in government schools,” Coulson said.
He pointed to a study he conducted in New Mexico’s neighboring state of Arizona in which Coulson said average per-pupil spending at private schools was about 66 percent of the cost of public schools.
National studies have shown the average per-pupil spending in the U.S. exceeds $11,000.
“There are many states in which you can find very many private schools for half that amount, certainly many for three-quarters of that,” Coulson said.
New Mexico Voices for Children, which has long advocated for increased spending for public schools, dismissed Coulson’s study.
“The Cato report assumes that education money is spent the same way it was in the 1960s and ’70s,” the organization said in an email to New Mexico Watchdog. “In fact, schools have been mandated to provide many more services—special education, after-school programs, computer sciences, etc.—and today’s classrooms require much more technology than they did in the days of the mimeograph. Ignoring this would be like looking at the rising cost of the automobile without taking into account the fact that modern cars have safety systems and technology that didn’t exist in the days of the Model T.”
Other critics of Coulson’s study point to his use of SAT numbers. Since 1986, the number of students taking the SAT has more than doubled. Since more students are taking the test because more students are attending college than in the past, the numbers would flatten.
Coulson said he adjusted and controlled for the test scores.
“It does seem that it is quite readily possible to control SAT scores for the participation rate and variations in demographics to get an estimate of real, representative state performance,” he said.
California's Brownshirt Anti-Semitism Comes to Vassar
California is the lifestyle incubator of the nation. And now the trendy anti-Semitic thuggery that debuted at California's public universities has metastasized across America, all the way to the elite halls of Vassar.
Before we discuss the fashionable pogrom that just took place on the Vassar campus where Jackie Kennedy once strolled in pearls, let's look back at May 7, 2002. On that day, Professor Laurie Zoloth, Director of the Jewish Studies program at San Francisco State University, attended a "Peace in the Middle East" campus rally, organized by Hillel students, where they sang songs and prayed for peace in Israel. Wrote Professor Zoloth:
"As soon as the community supporters left, the 50 students who remained praying in a minyan for the traditional afternoon prayers, or chatting, or cleaning up after the rally, talking -- were surrounded by a large, angry crowd of Palestinians and their supporters. But they were not calling for peace. They screamed at us to ‘go back to Russia' and they screamed that they would kill us all, and other terrible things. They surrounded the praying students, and the elderly women who are our elder college participants, who survived the Shoah, who helped shape the Bay Area peace movement, only to watch as a threatening crowd shoved the Hillel students against the wall of the plaza.
"As the counter demonstrators poured into the plaza, screaming at the Jews to ‘Get out or we will kill you' and ‘Hitler did not finish the job,' I turned to the police and to every administrator I could find and asked them to remove the counter demonstrators from the Plaza, to maintain the separation of 100 feet that we had been promised. The police told me that they had been told not to arrest anyone, and that if they did, "it would start a riot." I told them that it already was a riot."
Eventually, the terrified Jewish students gathered under the flag of Israel and were led by armed police guard back to the Hillel House. "This was neither free speech nor discourse, but raw, physical assault," wrote Professor Zoloth, who noted with sadness, "Not one administrator came to stand with us."
May 7, 2002 turned out to be a grand day for Jew-haters, because things only got better from there. Threatening, harassing, intimidating and assaulting Jews is now a venerable tradition on California's public campuses, protected by taxpayer-funded administrators and enshrined by public indifference.
Let's flash forward to San Francisco State University today. Mohammad Hammad, president of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS), has recently enjoyed organizing campus art projects that read "My heroes have always killed colonizers," posing on social media sites with a knife that he claims "makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier," and vowing to use his GUPS presidency "to radicalize half of our population and bring them back with me as fighters."
Upon being informed of these threats by a Jewish group called AMCHA Initiative, SFSU President Leslie Wong took decisive action by yawning, shrugging and sticking his fingers in his ears. After the police intervened, Mohammad Hammad disappeared from campus, presumably with his weapons collection intact. But the radical student group that elected him president still has free reign.
AMCHA Initiative, led by the politely relentless Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, documents the anti-Semitic tsunami on University of California's campuses. At UC Berkeley, a Jewish girl holding an "Israel Wants Peace" sign was ramrodded with a shopping cart by the head of Students for Justice in Palestine. At UC Irvine, eleven Muslim students disrupted the speech of the Israeli Ambassador with such ferocity they were convicted of disturbing the peace. And on and on and on.
The regal disinterest of UC's Board of Regents has allowed the cancer to spread. If these characters can get away with it in California, they can pull it off in Michigan, Boston, and Brooklyn, too. As Caroline Glick explains, anti-Israel student activists at the University of Michigan recently hurled death threats at Jewish student council members and called them "dirty Jew" and "kike." Michigan university administrators aggressively intervened -- on behalf of the anti-Semites.
Last February, Brooklyn College campus police forcibly removed four Jewish students who were peacefully monitoring an anti-Israel event. Brooklyn College administrators then lied about the Jewish students, claiming they were disruptive. Karen Gould, the college president, was forced to apologize to the students after a video exonerated them.
And at Northeastern University in Boston, a pressure campaign finally goaded administrators into suspending Students for Justice in Palestine's campus affiliation for a year, after a series of vicious provocations. Students defaced a menorah on campus, disrupted Jewish events, and frightened Jews by placing mock eviction notices on their dormitory rooms.
Now it's Vassar's turn. Long gone are the days chronicled in Mary McCarthy's famous novel, "The Group," in which aristocratic young women clad in sweater sets gained a little academic polish while searching for husbands. Now Vassar is all about multiculturalism, with one notable exception: It's edgy, it's cool, it's hip to hate Israel. Thirty-nine Vassar faculty members (including, tragically, Joshua Schreier, Director of Jewish Studies) signed a libelous letter supporting an academic boycott of Israel, in which they accused the Jewish state of cartoonish evils. As on the other campuses, the road to physically intimidating Jews was paved with academic corruption.
A planned trip to Israel with Earth Sciences Professor Jill Schneiderman and Greek and Roman Studies Professor Rachel Friedman has set off a firestorm of anti-Semitic fury. In late February, Students for Justice in Palestine activists physically intimidated students going into Professor Friedman's class to discuss the upcoming trip. According to William Jacobson's invaluable reporting at the Legal Insurrection blog, Professor Friedman was "shocked" and "in 17 years at Vassar never experienced anything like this."
Vassar's administration then convened a campus-wide forum to discuss "the ethics of the travel trip." On March 3rd, 200 people gathered for an "open conversation" which quickly degenerated into what Schneiderman described as a "very toxic atmosphere" in which "rage against Israel was the theme." "I was knocked off-center by a belligerent academic community dedicated to vilifying anyone who dares set foot in Israel," wrote Schneiderman on her blog. Friedman said that Jewish students who spoke in defense of Israel were heckled, drowned out with finger-snapping noises and loudly laughed at.
So far, Vassar president Catharine Bond Hill has refused to comment. But Vassar's national reputation has taken a serious hit, and a newly formed group of parents and alumni called Fairness to Israel may continue to press the issue.
The anti-Semitism weaponized at California universities has now infected campuses around the country. The academic community bears the blame for its studied indifference to this ugliness and its outright enthusiasm for tormenting Jewish students and faculty.
But the Jewish community must also acknowledge its failure to effectively combat this dangerous trend. Mainstream Jewish institutions have been AWOL from the battle. Now that Abe Foxman is finally retiring from the Anti-Defamation League, it's time to replace him with someone who knows how to start winning.
Why is Israel Losing the PR Battle At American Campuses?
From the birth of the state of Israel in 1948 to the 1980's, comments about this Jewish nation were uniformly and reflexively positive. Jews and non-Jews alike took pride in the resourcefulness of a people who could make the desert bloom and who had the backbone and will to defend themselves against Arab invaders.
Somewhere along the way this view changed. It wasn't a sudden event, albeit the astonishing alacrity of an Israeli victory over its enemies in 1967 seemed to turn the underdog into a dominant force. It was a shift borne of economic, cultural and political factors.
On the economics front, the reliance of the West on Middle Eastern oil to run their industries gave Arab states leverage they did not possess at any time in the past. Israel became a target and a refuge. On the one hand, the argument was made that Israel is an occupying nation that had displaced Palestinian refugees; on the other hand, the Arab states could hide behind the claim of Nakba or "the catastrophe" as they violated human rights in their own nations. Israel became a useful source of hostility even though Arab states did almost nothing to mitigate the plight of the refugees they claimed to represent.
Oil money also allowed for the promotion of these misguided historical interpretations in madrassas around the world. Israel was considered colonial, exploitive and imperialistic. Buttressing these claims, was a book, Orientalism, that captured the spirit of this Arab Zeitgeist. The author, Edward Said, was handsome, charming and persuasive. He was also a fabricator. His contention that he was born in the Palestinian territory and was forcibly displaced by Israeli troops, is a complete fabrication. That, however, didn't matter. His book became essential reading material for any student interested in Middle East studies. As Chairman Mao noted a lie repeated a thousand times becomes the truth.
Not only did Said have a well endowed chair at Columbia, he was the architect of the university's Middle East Studies Program which is notoriously anti-Israel. Of course, Columbia is not alone. Saudi money was given to Georgetown, Yale, UCLA, and others - all with the understanding that the Arab narrative would be given a fair hearing. Without a countervailing argument the "fair" became, in large measure, "the one sided." The well funded Muslim Student Organization (MSO) described in the Holy Land Foundation case as a front for the Muslim Brotherhood - was launched at campuses across the nation with an agenda that demonizes Israel and recruits impressionable teenagers into its ranks. MSO was described in the Holy Land Foundation case, that dealt with contributions in the U.S. solicited for terrorist organizations like Hamas, as a front for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Many Muslim groups sponsor "interfaith" seminars designed, it is said, to develop an understanding with Islam. What actually occurs is a form of proselytizing since principles of the West and the history of Israel are not conveyed to Arab students. Interfaith is usually a one way street.
The same might be said of the United Nations. Despite the heroic campaign to beat back the "Zionism is racism" proposal of the 57 Muslim states and their allies, Israel is the most vilified nation in General Assembly deliberations. In fact, Israel is cast as a rogue state, notwithstanding the medical assistance Israel provides whenever there is a global natural disaster.
So pervasive is the Arab narrative that even Jewish groups, e.g. "J-Street" and several Hillels, espouse this line or, at least, assume the grievance has legitimacy. As a consequence, Israel is not only opposed by foes, but by so-called friends. This is somewhat akin to the Pogo position: "I have seen the enemy and it is us."
To suggest that pro-Israeli sentiment needs a boost, is to maintain the obvious. Without it, however, the road ahead is littered with dangerous metaphorical mines each intent on blowing up pro-Israeli attitudes and delegitimizing the home of the Jews.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:23 AM
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Pushing Back Against Common Core Lobbyists
Attention, class: A Common Core mouthpiece wants to rap my knuckles with his Gates Foundation-funded ruler. In response to my column two weeks ago about the marketing overlords pushing the Fed Ed racket, Chad Colby of Achieve Inc. demanded corrections. Let's go to school.
"I wanted to take a moment to highlight two points that were incorrect regarding Achieve," Colby complained. "Contrary to Ms. Malkin's assertion, Achieve employs no lobbyists and we never have."
No? Never? Someone didn't do his homework. Mr. Colby, meet Patricia Sullivan. She's the founding executive director of Achieve and a career lobbyist who has bounced around D.C. for the past quarter-century in influence-peddling positions for the Gates Foundation-funded National Governors Association, Council for Chief State School Officers and Center on Education Policy. She has "advocated" for trade groups, a teachers union and her own "consulting firm." That's Washington-speak for "lobbying."
And let me introduce Mr. Colby to Ronn Robinson, a founding senior vice president of Achieve and veteran Democratic and corporate education lobbyist for former Washington Gov. Booth Gardner and Boeing. According to The Hill newspaper's column titled, ahem, "Lobbying World," Not-a-Lobbyist Robinson left Achieve several years ago to lobby for the D.C.-based National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE).
NCEE is the multimillion-dollar Gates Foundation-funded advocacy (read: "lobbying") group founded by Marc Tucker, the godfather of Common Core-style schemes and top-down control masquerading as "reform." He has dominated the D.C. education-lobbying scene since before Bill Clinton was in office. Like Achieve, Tucker's NCEE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that crusades for ever-increasing federal involvement in every aspect of education while denying its brazen lobbying activities.
In the early 1990s, NCEE (established with $5 million in New York taxpayer-funded seed grants) paid Hillary Clinton more than $100,000 to direct the group's "Workforce Skills Program" while she worked at the Rose Law Firm in Arkansas. After the Clintons moved into the White House, Tucker sent a now-infamous letter to Mrs. Clinton outlining a radical progressive plan "to remold the entire American system" through a centralized national-standards Trojan Horse.
Tucker's proposal represented "a new approach to government" by elitist bureaucrats to "create a seamless web" that "literally extends from cradle to grave." The Clinton White House soon after delivered federal Goals 2000 and School-to-Work laws. Tucker has explicitly advocated that the United States "largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control." Today, his acolytes hail the creation of a "P20W" system to groom students from "prenatal" ("P") through graduate school ("20") and into the workplace (W").
Tucker's close ally, Mike Cohen, was one of the cadre of education radicals called on to shape his plan and was name-checked in his letter to Hillary. Cohen served as a top education adviser to Bill Clinton and his Education Secretary Richard Riley, and as a Don't-Call-Me-A-Lobbyist lobbyist for the NGA before becoming president of Achieve Inc. in 2003.
And that brings us back to Mr. Chad Colby and Achieve Inc.'s second complaint. As I reported in my column, the incestuous relationships among these lobbying groups and their Common Core boondoggle partners are deep and wide. I noted that in addition to staffing the Common Core standards writing committee and leading the public relations campaign, Achieve Inc. "is the 'project management partner' of the Common Core-aligned, tax-subsidized PARCC testing conglomerate."
Colby protested that "Achieve is no longer affiliated with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)" and that its "contract ended with them in December of last year." Clean break? Hah. Achieve and PARCC are inextricably intertwined.
Don't take my word for it. Take PARCC's. Though the contract with Achieve "ended" last year, a PARCC letter to Arizona education officials explains that no one's really going anywhere:
"The Achieve staff members that have conducted the work of PARCC over the last several years are transitioning to PARCC, Inc. so that they can continue to maintain the leadership and programmatic expertise that will see the project through the end of the development period, as well as the sustainment of the assessment moving beyond the grant. Many of them have been involved in work surrounding student assessment and academic standards for 15 or more years..."
Moreover, PARCC makes crystal clear that "the Achieve staff members that will make up PARCC, Inc. ... have been intimately involved in the development of each of PARCC's procurements, subsequent contracts and contract management."
Despite spending tens of millions of dollars on advocacy along with millions more in federal and state taxpayer grants and subsidies, the Beltway educrats' propaganda machine is crumbling. Tens of thousands of parents and students are now boycotting the racket's PARCC/Achieve field tests. States are withdrawing from standards, technology and data-collection plans in droves.
Looks like it's time to ask the Gates Foundation to pour more money down the Common Core/Fed Ed Not Lobbying vortex, Mr. Colby. Class dismissed
English teenagers are among best at solving practical problems
English teenagers are among the best in Europe at solving practical problems, a league table revealed yesterday. The nation’s 15-year-olds came 11th in the world in a new test – ahead of their peers in the United States and all other European countries except Finland.
The results are welcome news following England’s demotion from the top 20 nations in maths and reading.
However Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong, which all have strong academic records, did better.
The rankings, based on a test taken by 85,000 pupils across 44 jurisdictions, show that English teenagers are better at solving real-life problems – such as adjusting a thermostat or selecting the cheapest rail tickets – than they are at tackling academic subjects.
England is one of only a handful of countries where teenagers are better at problem-solving than maths, reading and science.
Experts said the finding suggested GCSEs may be ‘unfair’ to boys.
The OECD, which produced the league table, insisted the difference in performance between boys and girls was not statistically significant.
The computer-based 40-minute test was the first of its kind run by the OECD, which regularly examines pupils’ performance in richer nations.
Pupils in England scored 517, against an OECD average of 500. Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland didn’t take part.
The highest score was achieved by Singapore, with 562.
Outside East Asia, the highest marks were achieved by Canada, Australia and Finland, with England coming 11th.
‘In England, students perform significantly better, on average, in problem solving than students in other countries who show similar performance in mathematics, reading and science,’ the OECD report said.
‘This is particularly true among strong performers in mathematics, which suggests that these students, in particular, have access to learning opportunities that prepare them well for handling complex, real-life problems.’
A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘Our young people are strong in problem-solving. This is a skill we should build on.’
Women Now 33% More Likely Than Men to Earn College Degrees
American women born in the early 1980s are 33 percent more likely to have earned a college degree by the time they reach 27 years of age than their male contemporaries, according to the results of a longitudinal study published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The study also showed that women in that age group who started college were more likely to have completed it.
“Thirty-two percent of women had earned a bachelor's degree, compared with 24 percent of men,” said the BLS. The 32 percent of women with college degrees was 8 points--or 33.3 percent--more than the 24 percent of men.
Women 33% More Likely Than Men to Have College Degrees
“In total, 70 percent of women had either attended some college or received a bachelor's degree, compared to 61 percent of men,” BLS said. “In addition to being more likely to attend college, women were more likely to have finished their college degree. Of the 70 percent of women who started college, 46 percent completed their bachelor's degree by age 27. In comparison, of the 61 percent of men who started college, 39 percent had completed their bachelor's degree.”
The study is based on a series of surveys conducted among 9,000 men and women who were born in the years from 1980 through 1984. They were first surveyed in 1997, when they were 12 to 17 years old. In 2011-2012, they were interviewed for the fifteenth time, when they were between the ages of 26 and 32.
The survey also found that men in this age group were slightly more likely than women to have dropped out of high school. “Nine percent of men were high school dropouts compared to 8 percent of women.”
Friday, April 11, 2014
A Faculty Revolution Against Free Speech
“We must do away with all newspapers. A revolution cannot be accomplished with freedom of the press.” - Ernesto "Che" Guevara.
When I first started writing about campus free speech issues for Town Hall in 2003, I complained that most college administrators were ignorant of the constitution. One of my readers, Jim Collins from Colorado Springs, was quick to correct me. Jim pointed out that college administrators aren't just ignorant of the First Amendment. Instead, he insisted that they are hostile towards it. Time has shown just how right he was. In fact, administrative hostility towards the First Amendment has gotten worse since 2003.
Unfortunately, this hostility has spread from the administration to the faculty. In fact, just a few years ago, Dick Veit, our former faculty senate president here at UNCW, joined an administrative effort to punish faculty who dared to criticize the administration in opinion columns written in off-campus forums. This was done under the guise of promoting "collegiality."
The collegiality pretext has been used at other universities. It was first pushed at UNCW by then-Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo. She actually admitted that it was intended to punish me for publicly criticizing the university - for various reasons such as excessive spending on diversity and exorbitantly high salaries for university administrators. Internal emails confirmed that collegiality was being proposed as a device to explicitly punish my constitutionally protected speech.
It is noteworthy that these emails also revealed that Dick Veit was working with the administration to put the collegiality measure in place. Fortunately, when the measure came up for a vote, the junior faculty rebelled and voted it down. Veit later left the senate in frustration over his failed effort to supplement "teaching, research, and service" with a broad "collegiality" factor, which could be used to veto the United States Constitution.
Unfortunately, there are a lot other Dick Veits working in academia. Enter Gabriel Lugo who is a fan of Ernesto "Che" Guevara and is the current faculty senate president at my university. Lugo recently circulated false information on the faculty senate mailing list, which, unfortunately, may embolden senior faculty and administrators inclined to punish junior faculty for speaking out on matters of public concern. This requires a little background information. Please keep reading.
Last year, as our university began to consider revamping promotion polices - like the ones in place when I was denied promotion - Lugo circulated a memo to faculty giving guidelines on academic freedom as it relates to the promotion process. He urged faculty to read two Supreme Court cases, which he claimed were relevant to the issue of free speech. One of those cases was Garcetti v. Ceballos (2006).
In Garcetti, Justice Kennedy wrote a majority opinion, which modified a previous rule regarding free speech and public employment. Previously, the Court said that public employees have a First Amendment right to speak out on matters of public concern without facing retaliation. Garcetti modified the rule saying that this right did not extend to public employees who spoke out on matters of public concern that were also a part of their "official duties."
The rule arose in the case of a public employee, Ceballos, who happened to be a district attorney. But some, including dissenting Justice David Souter, worried that the rule would be applied to professors who have a special role in the public square. In other words, the case was seen as a potential threat to academic freedom. For this reason, Justice Kennedy added a paragraph to the opinion noting that the rule in Garcetti did not specifically address the role of professors. Kennedy, writing for the majority, stated "We need not ... decide whether the analysis we conduct today would apply in the same manner to a case involving speech related to scholarship or teaching."
Enter UNCW. In my recent lawsuit challenging my 2006 promotion denial, the university tried to apply Garcetti to my speech. They specifically argued that the mere mention of the column on my promotion application transformed my private speech into an official duty thus stripping the views expressed in the column of First Amendment protection. In other words, the university claimed a right to punish the speech by denying my promotion.
Gabriel Lugo and the faculty senate were silent while this epic First Amendment battle was brewing. That battle was settled in a 2011 unanimous decision in my favor. In that decision, the 4th Circuit specifically ruled that the Garcetti "official duties" distinction does not apply to university professors. It was a monumental victory for academic freedom.
In January of 2014, the 9th Circuit relied on Adams v. UNCW. They refused to allow a university to apply Garcetti in order to justify suppressing another professor's speech. That victory (in a case originating in Washington State) shows that our victory in the 4th Circuit is now spreading across the entire country. It seems everyone is learning from Adams v. UNCW - except for UNCW Faculty Senate President Gabriel Lugo.
Lugo's insistence that Garcetti still applies to academic promotion cases (remember, he said so in a recent memo) raises some interesting questions. In fact, I have two questions for Lugo and the faculty senate:
1. Is President Lugo so out of touch that he has never even heard of the 4th Circuit decision in Adams v. UNCW? As a reminder, Lugo teaches at UNCW. In fact, our offices are in the same building.
2. Or is it the case that Lugo has heard of Adams v. UNCW and has decided to actively mislead the faculty about their rights?
Those are really the only two options. Lugo is either a) completely uninformed about, or b) actively opposed to, academic freedom. Of course, I have my own constitutionally protected opinion of where Lugo, the Peruvian fan of Che Guevara, stands. (Hint: Read the quote at the top of the column).
This battle for campus free speech is not a battle against ignorance of our rights. It is a battle against hostility towards our rights. All of this talk about collegiality is merely intellectual cowardice meant to shield tenured hypocrites from well-deserved criticism.
How Wisconsin’s voucher students did better than you were told
Voucher students outperformed their public school counterparts on Wisconsin standardized tests, but you wouldn’t know it by reading any of the major state newspapers.
Newly released statistics from the Department of Public Instruction show that voucher students scored better than public school students, nearly across the board, when controlling for the students’ economic status. But don’t take our word for it. Here’s the data:
Standardized test scores tend to correlate with income level. Students living in poverty tend to score lower on standardized tests than students in better economic situations.
When attempting to control student test scores for these factors, voucher students mostly outperform public school students on the tests. They have also improved test scores at a faster rate during the past four years.
That said, DPI’s data doesn’t allow for exact comparisons of student performance across poverty levels. The DPI reports voucher student numbers without breaking down the data according to economic status. For public school students, DPI provides the scores for the students receiving free or reduced lunches.
The voucher program income cutoffs don’t perfectly align with free or reduced lunch income cutoffs, one measurement of student poverty.
A family of four cannot earn more than $43,752 to qualify for a reduced-price lunch.
The income cutoff for the statewide school-choice program is $50,636 for a family of four. In 2011 the Legislature increased the income limits for the Milwaukee and Racine programs from nearly $40,000 a year to nearly $71,000 per family of four.
The vast majority of students in the school choice-program qualify for a free or reduced lunch.
The major news outlets throughout the state, however, reported that voucher students in private schools performed worse than public school students on standardized tests.
“DPI: Wisconsin voucher schools show lower test scores compared to public schools” was the Wisconsin State Journal headline.
“Voucher students post gain in math, reading; still lag public schools,” read the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“Voucher student scores lag public school students,” read the Racine Journal Times, which ran the Associated Press story.
That’s what they reported, more or less following the narrative in the state Department of Public Instruction’s news release regarding the testing data.
It’s technically all correct, but only when comparing apples to oranges. In this case, that means comparing test scores of poorer voucher students with those of wealthier public school students.
“There is a general level of trust (among the media) because (DPI is) a government agency,” said Jim Bender, president of School Choice Wisconsin. “The rabid anti-school choice folks that sit at the controls of power inside (DPI) operate under a false veil of objectivity. In reality, DPI knows whatever headline they put out in a press release will likely be the headline in the paper the next morning.”
Many of the newspaper reporters also included the students who opted out of the tests as part of the voucher students’ overall score. DPI reports students who opt-out of tests as scoring non-proficient.
The DPI numbers and media accounts also fail to adjust for the thousands of new voucher students who attended their private school for just a few months before taking the tests. Most of these students’ academic careers have been in the public school system.
“DPI advocates and lobbies against the program and consistently manipulates the release of data to put the school choice program in a negative light,” Bender said. “This release of data is no different. Unfortunately, many in the media just fall for it.”
It’s a hard fall.
Researchers looking at the decades-long Milwaukee Parental Choice Program found that voucher students had better reading and math scores, graduated high school at a higher rate and did better in college than their MPS counterparts. The choice program also helped MPS scores increase by fostering competition for students and, therefore, tax dollars.
Coursework is axed as Gove toughens up GCSEs and A-Levels: Education Secretary introduces plans for harder exams including questions in foreign languages
Teenagers will carry out a dozen science experiments, study the sweep of British history and answer questions in foreign languages under dramatic changes to GCSEs and A-levels.
Coursework will be axed in almost all subjects – amid concerns it leads to cheating and wastes teaching time – in favour of written final exams.
Papers will demand greater knowledge of mathematics, scientific formulae, grammar, punctuation, British history and geography and cutting-edge science such as nanoparticles and space physics.
Unveiling the changes, Education Secretary Michael Gove said they would undo ‘the pernicious damage caused by grade inflation and dumbing down’.
He announced details of changes to a wide range of subjects which will be phased in from 2015. These include a requirement on pupils taking A-levels in any of the sciences to carry out at least a dozen practical experiments over the two-year course.
Pupils will be given a separate pass or fail grade for their performance in the practicals to stand alongside their usual grade in the written exam.
They will also be required to answer questions on the experiments in the main written exam. Mr Gove has said he backs ‘more whizzes and bangs in school science’.
But the move provoked fury among many scientists who say practical work should continue to be assessed as part of the overall A-level grade. English language GCSE will award 20 per cent of marks for accuracy in grammar, punctuation and spelling.
In a linked announcement, exams watchdog Ofqual said assessment in new GCSEs and A-levels would be ‘by exam only’ – except where the essential skills for a subject could not be tested in an exam.
Coursework or controlled assessments – coursework undertaken in exam conditions in class – will no longer feature in most GCSEs.
Ofqual chief executive Glenys Stacey said: ‘Non-exam assessments do not always test the skills they are meant to assess, they can disrupt classroom time better spent on teaching and learning and may provide limited evidence of performance across a group of students if they all get limited marks.
‘Importantly, non-exam assessments can narrow the focus of what is taught and can be vulnerable to malpractice, meaning the playing field is not level for all students.’
But head teachers’ leaders warned that schools and pupils faced ‘enormous pressure’ and confusion as the new-style exams are phased in.
‘Hastily implemented changes on such a scale carry an enormous risk,’ said Brian Lightman, of the Association of School and College Leaders.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:09 AM
Thursday, April 10, 2014
CA: School wrestling coach gets wave of support as video of him taking pupil down goes viral
The mobile phone video from inside a classroom at Santa Monica High School went viral late last week.
It showed Mark Black, a longtime teacher and wrestling coach, swatting at a student with his arms, grabbing the teenager by the thigh and then crashing into desks and the classroom wall as he tried to execute a takedown. Moments later, Black had the young man pinned to the ground.
District Superintendent Sandra Lyon called the incident "utterly alarming" and acted swiftly, placing the teacher on leave pending the outcome of an investigation. In a statement released hours after the fight, she called the teacher's use of physical restraint "unacceptable" and pledged that the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District would offer support to the student's family.
But over the weekend, the tide changed.
Irate parents flooded Lyon and school board members with letters, castigating the superintendent for pre-judging the popular teacher and fiercely defending Black, 60, for what some saw as an act of bravery. Thousands of people liked a "We Support Coach Black of Samohi" page on Facebook and signed a Change.org petition calling for the coach's reinstatement.
So Lyon issued a second statement over the weekend, acknowledging that her remarks about Black had "caused great anger" and apologising to the community.
On Monday, Santa Monica police announced the arrest of an 18-year-old and a 16-year-old in connection with the classroom scuffle and said they would seek battery charges against both students.
The investigation casts a different light on Black's physical altercation, which some supporters say was necessary to keep other students safe. One school board member said the incident arose from a conflict over drug use, which raises complicated questions about when and how school staffers should intervene when students pose a threat or break a rule.
"It's a huge controversy when teachers put their hands on students," school board member Oscar de la Torre said. "From me knowing Mr Black personally — he was a former teacher of mine — I know him to be a fair person. The school board is committed to conducting a thorough and fair investigation."
Police and jail records identified the 18-year-old as Blair Moore. He is due in court on Tuesday for arraignment, and police are asking that he be charged with threatening a school official, possession of a weapon — a box cutter — on a school campus and possession of marijuana on school grounds, in addition to the battery charge.
Police did not identify the 16-year-old.
De la Torre said other staffers were injured trying to break up the melee and at least one person sought medical attention.
Lyon did not return multiple phone messages seeking comment, but in a third statement Monday she defended her decision to place Black on paid administrative leave as "standard procedure." Black did not reply to an email seeking comment.
Darrell Goode, president of the Santa Monica-Venice branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, voiced support for the superintendent's action. He said the recent event was particularly sensitive because of an incident about a year and a half ago in which an African American wrestler at the school was hazed by white teammates.
"They have security, so I'm not sure why a teacher would need to grab a student under any condition," Goode said. "It's just judgment. You call security and security calls police."
But Daniel Jacobs, 32, a 1999 Santa Monica High School graduate who runs a Silicon Valley start-up, was so upset by Lyon's initial statement that he started his own Change.org petition, which asks Lyon to apologise.
Jacobs said that when he saw the video, his reaction was that it captured Black "trying to neutralise a threat."
Jacobs said that whenever he returns to Santa Monica, he makes a point of visiting Black. "I've never met a better or more kindhearted man in my life."
Forget tiger moms! Study says Asian American children succeed because of socioeconomic factors
Which is as near as they can get to mentioning IQ
Asian American students tend to succeed because their parents invest time researching their education and encouraging their children into traditional jobs and not because of tough rules or habits introduced at home by so-called Tiger Moms, a new study claims.
Sociology professors Jennifer Lee and Min Zhou interviewed 82 adult children of Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants from Los Angeles to better understand Asian Americans' success.
They wanted to explore the impact of Tiger Mom parenting – strict advice made famous by Amy Chua in a 2011 column where she claimed Asian American children succeed because of parenting rules among the community, including limiting free time, avoiding TV and subjects like gym and drama and ‘insulting’ her children until they reach top grades.
The two academics said what they discovered was a departure from Chua’s theory. Though Asian parents aid their children, it comes from their determined research into the best schools and living in a community that prides traditional jobs and academic success above other achievement.
This explains why Asian Americans from poor families often succeed just as well as their richer counterparts, whose parents like Chua can invest heavily in extra-curricular activities like encouraging musical instruments and foreign languages.
To do this, parents use the 'Chinese Yellow Pages': a whopping 1,500-page directory that lists both Asian businesses in California as well as top high schools and universities.
'Doing well in school' translates to 'getting straight A’s, graduating as valedictorian or salutatorian, getting into one of the top UC (University of California) schools or an Ivy, and pursuing some type of graduate education in order [to] work in one of the ‘four professions’: doctor, lawyer, pharmacist, or engineer,' the researchers say.
‘So exacting is the frame for "doing well in school" that our Asian respondents described the value of grades on an Asian scale as "A is for average, and B is an Asian fail,"' they add.
It is not down to direct parent coercion but because as a member of the community they have their own measures of success and failure and tend to accord to them.
These measures, though, may cause Asian American students to feel alienated when they fail to meet them. Separating ethnicity from achievement, the authors argue, would give Asian Americans space to achieve success on their own terms.
'That Asian Americans are increasingly departing from the success frame, choosing alternate pathways, and achieving success on their own terms, should give Asian immigrant parents and their children confidence that broadening the success frame is not a route to failure,' Lee said.
Sixth Graders' Common Core Homework: Remove Two Rights from Bill of Rights
An Arkansas mom was disturbed to learn her sixth grade daughter's homework was to "prioritize, revise, prune two and add two" amendments in the Bill of Rights. The homework, part of the controversial Common Core curriculum, said that the Bill of Rights is "outdated and may not remain in its current form any longer."
Lela Spears was particularly disturbed because her daughter's Sixth Grade History class "had received no prior training in civics or how to amend the Constitution, which may lead those children to incorrectly believe that it can be changed by a 'special committee' as suggested by the assignment," Digital Journal reported:
"After she brought it home and explained her assignment to me, it made me question exactly what she was being taught. Where I can see a class using critical thinking skills to modernize the words, as to help them better understand the Amendments, giving an assignment to remove two then add two with little explanation as to why is upsetting," Lela Spears said.
The first ten amendments to the Constitution, also known as the Bill of Rights, contain amendments that guarantee the right to free speech, assembly, the right to bear arms, due process, trial by jury, no cruel or unusual punishment, and limits to Federal power.
This homework was part of the Common Core curriculum which parents have been clamoring to replace in several states. Jeb Bush and Hilary Clinton are very public fans of the curriculum.
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Grappling with the Burden of Student Debt
Every year the percentage of American high school graduates enrolling in college increases. Yet the cost of attaining those degrees has been growing at an astronomical pace, one that is harmful and unsustainable.
Using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to assess the rising prices of goods, it is immediately clear that something very strange is going on in the higher education market. The cost of attending college has increased by nearly three times that of the CPI taken as a whole.
Today, most students can only afford college by taking out loans. While less than half of undergraduates needed loans in the early 1990s, the figure has risen to more than two-thirds. The average loan burden is now an astonishing $29,400.
In a recent interview with CCTV America, The Heartland Institute’s Director of Government Relations, John Nothdurft, described the serious woes created by the more than $1 trillion in federal student loan debt currently hobbling a generation of young Americans. Rather than being a sure way to enter the middle class, the lodestone of debt has made life a struggle for many young graduates trying to start careers. Instead of being liberating, college has shackled these people to a struggle to stay afloat, forcing many to make hard decisions; some have to move back in with their parents because they cannot get decent work, while those who can work are so laden with debt that they have to put off life milestones, like buying their first houses or starting families, far longer than did previous generations.
The sheer amount of debt is staggering, and it continues to grow as costs increase and post-college employment prospects remain the doldrums.
Why then are students continuing to enroll in college in record numbers? One reason appears to be the bizarre sensibility propagated by the media and education establishment that college must needs be the natural follow-on from high school, that all normal people go on to college. Essentially, college has been transformed in the public psyche from an optional undertaking designed to educate professionals and develop human capital into a mandatory rite of passage. Should it hold such an exalted place?
In a country ever more dependent on technology and innovation to stay ahead of global competitors, a well-educated populace is essential to success. It is absolutely true that America relies upon its superior advancement to remain a powerhouse in world commerce. Some promoters of increased college enrollment argue that it is only by getting more people into college can we retain our knowledge edge. However, that argument is not borne out by the facts.
In reality, increased college enrollment and graduation do not translate to gains to a “smart economy.” When lots of students enroll in college to study the humanities, they do not contribute to the technological gains of the country. What college so often turns out to be is an expensive four-year detour that does little to boost the career potential of a graduate.
The problem is exacerbated by the heavy government involvement in the student loans market. The government makes loans on the basis of financial need alone, and does not consider what the recipient intends to do with the money. The result is countless billions of dollars of taxpayer money spent on educations that will yield no great economic value for the country. It is the definition of a poor investment decision. In the interest of treating students equally, the federal government does nothing to shepherd the people’s funds which are entrusted to its care, instead treating the people who might be able to succeed in the information economy with an engineering degree as an equal risk to the students of 19th century French poetry. This willy-nilly assessment of the value of college has no doubt contributed to the poor allocation of educational resources.
If the government insists on funding higher education, then it should make assessments in the same way private loaners would, namely to actually assess the risk-reward frontier of the loans it gives. Such assessments could go a decent way toward blunting the currently distorted incentives of loan recipients whose interest rates and borrowing amounts are unaffected by chosen courses of study.
Yet there are better ways to allocate these federal resources. One way would be to just stop distorting the higher education mark with its deluge of cash, so that colleges have to set tuition more along the lines of market-price, rather than tuition based on the amount they think they can squeeze from the government. It could also make access to vocational education more readily available so that there is a genuine alternative to college that won’t break the bank or waste government funds egregiously.
The way to an innovative society cannot be paved with crushing debt. Ultimately, something’s got to give. Rather than bankrupting the next generation, we should lay the groundwork for its success. Radically reforming the federal loan system would be a good start.
Meltdown: Staffers Beaten, Students Brawling at Lawless Philly High School
One teacher calls it the "new normal" for southwest Philadelphia's Bartram High School: a massive brawl in the cafeteria, where students punched and stomped each other, and even attacked school police; firecrackers set off in the building; and the student who fractured the skull of a "conflict resolution specialist" is once again roaming the halls, just two weeks after the attack.
Insiders told the newspaper, the larger problem at the 1,100-student school "is the continued culture of chaos and disregard for authority."
According to the newspaper, four additional Philadelphia and school police officers will be at the school by Monday; a community meeting is planned; and the district has reached out to city officials to get social-services help for students who need it.
"We want to show students that this is a place where you come in, you learn, and adults are here to help you, to take care of you," district spokesman Fernando Gallard was quoted as saying.
The report includes video of the cafeteria brawl.
The Inquirer says Bartram has been a problem all year -- "with more students, less staff, one principal removed less than two weeks into the school year, and rampant class-cutting, fights, smoking, and other student problems."
CNSNews.com reported in January that the Obama administration has announced new "guidance" for schools, aimed at reducing out-of-school suspensions and eliminating racial disparities in school disciplinary proceedings.
Attorney General Eric Holder criticized zero tolerance policies, saying they “make students feel unwelcome in their own schools....Routine school discipline infractions should land students in the principal's office, not in a police precinct."
Australia: Selective State schools even more socially exclusive than private schools
Brains rise to the top
Para Parameshwaran was not interested in fancy sporting fields when deciding on a school for his children.
For the civil and chemical engineer and his wife Yogarani, also an engineer, the focus for their family was for the children to study with "like-minded" students.
Their son, Kajanan, 17, is vice-captain of James Ruse Agricultural High and their daughter, Balaki, is in year 10.
"For us, we gave little thought to private schools because we researched schools and we knew we wanted them to be with like-minded kids and where they could be challenged," Mr Parameshwaran said.
Highly educated parents such as Mr Parameshwaran, who migrated from Sri Lanka in 1998, are increasingly sending their children to the state's best selective schools rather than some of Sydney's most elite private schools, the latest My School data reveals.
The top selective schools, including James Ruse, Baulkham Hills, Hornsby Girls and North Sydney Boys, have families from the highest social and educational backgrounds, the index measuring social advantage on My School shows.
As well as the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage, My School also publishes every school's distribution of students across the quarters of social advantage. At James Ruse, which has consistently topped the Higher School Certificate results for almost 20 years, 85 per cent of students come from the most advantaged backgrounds and none fall into the most disadvantaged quarter. James Ruse's ICSEA ranking is 1249, while Baulkham Hills has an ICSEA of 1200, Hornsby Girls 1229, North Sydney Boys 1216, North Sydney Girls 1216 and Sydney Girls 1196. The average rank is 1000.
Mr Parameshwaran sent Kajanan and Balaki to their local primary rather than a school with a selective opportunity class but the couple always intended to send them to one of the top-performing selective schools for high school.
An education academic at the University of Sydney, Craig Campbell, who has written a book called School Choice, said private schools considered selective schools a threat and they tried to attract students from advantaged backgrounds
But Dr Campbell said selective schools were "the most socially exclusive schools of any in NSW".
As well as a high level of social advantage, many of the selective schools have an extremely high proportion of students with a language background other than English. At James Ruse it is 97 per cent.
"But they also have a very high proportion of parents who are tertiary-educated and also from professional middle-class backgrounds so there is a huge pull of cultural capital," Dr Campbell said.
"A lot of the families who were sending their kids to selective schools tended to see some of the wealthier non-government schools as too rich, too privileged."
Posted by jonjayray at 12:17 AM