Sunday, November 14, 2010

True Story: Liberal Teacher Told me to Stop Spreading 'Propaganda' about Liberty

One feature of my classroom that I haven't told you all about before is my Liberty Library. I got this idea from a friend of mine who also teaches in Michigan in a nice district that is a little friendlier than mine to conservative ideas. I decided to give it a try regardless, and purchased a series of short books (30 pages or less) that emphasize themes that I consider to be friendly towards the practice and belief of liberty- books such as The Law, Why Government Is the Problem (Essays in Public Policy), I, Pencil - My Family Tree As Told to Leonard E. Read, and Depressions: Their causes and cure (Politics minibooks). These books challenge students to think differently about the law, government, and economics, and students are free to check them out and read them as they wish.

Last week, a student of mine checked out from my Liberty Library my copy of Moral Basis for Liberty. This book discusses why liberty and freedom are good and desirable things for a society- in my opinion, ideas and thoughts and arguments that shouldn't in any way be controversial or debatable. But apparently having books around for students to read that discuss why liberty and freedom are good is something that other teachers in public schools disagree with, because at our social studies department meeting today, I was confronted by several liberal teachers regarding this book.

After I sat down, several teachers stopped talking with one another and looked to the leader of the group, Mr. Liberal Teacher. He addressed me "Teacher, it has come to our attention that you are spreading your propaganda around the school, giving books to students on subjects that are controversial and debatable."

I was surprised, but of course sympathetic to his argument- I had brought up the same thing last year when he was requiring his students to read The Communist Manifesto and Che: The Diaries of Ernesto Che Guevara in his World History class. "What book am I passing out that is controversial and debatable?" I asked.

"Something about Moral Basis for Liberty," Liberal Teacher replied, and the other liberal teachers in his group nodded along. "What you do in your classroom is your own business, but you can't press your views on students regarding such issues as freedom and liberty."

This of course stunned me- I had never thought that students freely deciding to read books on liberty and freedom would prompt any sort of confrontation. Oh, I figured some of the more conservative or libertarian books in my library might cause some blowback, but not books that argued that freedom and liberty were moral!

Liberals and Democrats want liberty and freedom too, right? Or perhaps Mr. Liberal Teacher didn't want those things- from what I have heard about his classroom, he is a lot like other liberal teachers, and attempts to intimidate and browbeat and bully his students into agreeing with his liberal worldview, and as such would view critical thinking and the open exchange of ideas and freedom and liberty as a threat to what he is doing.

The educational workplace though is not the proper place to have a debate such as this, and from personal experience I have learned that fighting an open war with liberal teachers is a sure-fire way to get fired, so I simply said "Thank you for your concern" and changed the subject. For now, they were content enough to have simply fired their shots at me and were content with their attempts to intimidate me, but I have to admit, they probably shouldn't have let it go with just that.

They're right to fear me, and fear other conservative teachers like me, who are busy opening the minds of students to the possibility that it is okay to be a conservative or libertarian, that it is moral to want liberty, that freedom is a moral goal in itself, that government should be limited in a free society, that private property rights should be protected and respected, and that government is rarely the solution to the problem but often the problem.

I don't push these views in my classroom, but I make sure that they are available and that they are presented along with liberal and socialist and communist and fascist views, and as my students become more intelligent and wise and better critical thinkers, they are choosing on their own to listen to and follow the conservative views over others.

This liberal teacher should have gone farther in bullying and threatening me, because every year I churn through my classroom hundreds of more good patriots and citizens who someday will vote for a government that believes in the protection of life, liberty, and property.

He is right to fear me, because I'm teaching my students to be like our patriot hero forefathers, the philosopher revolutionaries who dared to challenge the bullies from across the sea and build a free nation, one based on a proposition that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain rights, and that government should be a just government based on the consent of the governed. Liberal Teacher made his points, but in the end, the game will be won by the forces of moral liberty, and I will have done my part to make that so.


British students winning thousands of pounds in refunds for poor University teaching

University students who complain about the quality of their teaching are winning thousands of pounds in refunds. The financial compensation awarded has so far ranged from a few hundred pounds to £45,000.

And the country’s leading student watchdog has warned that complaints against lecturers and universities are set to rise as the tuition-fee cap increases from £3,290 per year to £9,000.

Student complaints to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), which looks into compensation cases on behalf of students, have doubled since 2005, to more than 1,000 last year.

‘Having looked at the figures, complaints rise as fees rise – that is very likely to happen. That is already a trend we have seen over the past few years,’ said Rob Behrens, the head of the OIA.

The highest amount that the OIA has secured is £45,000, which was awarded to a postgraduate student last year. Some students are calling in their own lawyers to sue universities independently.

A Freedom of Information request by The Mail on Sunday found that universities refunded a total of almost £60,000 to 50 successful claimants last year.

Mr Behrens added: ‘One of the effects of tuition fee rise is that students will act like consumers and will demand more.’


All British graduates hit by hidden cost of fees

Every graduate will be worse off under the Government’s reforms to university tuition fees than previously thought, according to details released by officials.

Plans put forward by the Coalition will also cost the Treasury billions of pounds more than the original proposals set out by Lord Browne’s review last month, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

Under the plans, which are expected to come into force in 2012, universities will be allowed to charge tuition fees of £9,000 a year, almost triple the current rate. Students will not be expected to pay fees while they study, but will receive government loans to cover the cost of their tuition.

Ministers said graduates would start paying back their loans only once they began earning £21,000 a year, with a higher, 3 per cent interest rate coming in for those earning above £41,000.

It had been widely assumed that these thresholds for repayments would rise every year with inflation and salaries, as Lord Browne, the former head of BP, had proposed. However, the Department for Business told the IFS that the thresholds would rise only every five years, meaning that many more graduates than previously thought would be forced to begin repayments sooner as salaries rose.

Professor Lorraine Dearden, from the IFS, said: “All graduates are going to be paying more than under Browne because of the threshold — £21,000 in 2020 in real terms is going to hit a lot more graduates than £21,000 in 2016,” she said.

Ministers hoped that by asking students to pay a higher share of the cost of their degrees, the burden on the taxpayer would be reduced.

Professor Dearden said the Government’s plans meant only about 10 per cent of graduates would pay back the full cost of their loans.


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