Friday, June 01, 2012

When Schools Are Like Jails — Or Worse

A 17-year-old Texas honor student has been jailed for missing too much school. Diane Tran works both full-time and part-time jobs, in addition to taking advanced and college level courses, and her parents have split up and moved away, leaving her in charge of younger siblings, making it hard to keep to the exact school day. Judge Lanny Moriarty was not sympathetic: “If you let one run loose, what are you gonna do with the rest of ‘em?” [CBS Atlanta].

As one commenter noted, “The judge’s thought process is so primitive it’s just gut wrenching. His response is literally, ‘If you let one of them loose, What are you gonna do with the rest of them?’ What are humans? Animals? How on earth does that justify the fact of detaining a 17-year-old girl working overtime to support her sister and brother?”

If she were an adult college student, no one would fault her for occasionally missing class in order to earn a living or take care of relatives. (At Harvard Law School, I missed virtually every class in my secured transactions course, but still received a “B.”) Indeed, it would be deemed praiseworthy for her to earn academic honors despite juggling shouldering such heavy, competing burdens and responsibilities.

But Diane Tran, who has been forced to grow up fast and assume the mantle of adulthood, gets sent to jail for doing so. Why? Because the age of compulsory school attendance has been increased from 16 to 18 in many states. Most recently, “answering a call from President Obama,” Maryland increased the mandatory school attendance age from 16 to 18. Increased mandatory attendance ages deprive some impoverished students who are old enough to work of the needed flexibility to earn a living or care for siblings or sick relatives.

They also increase risks to school safety by forcing bored underachievers who are not interested in learning to keep attending school even after age 16 — resulting in some of them acting out, disrupting class, or even committing acts of violence.

In reality, 17-year-old students forced to stay in school seldom learn much; their learning is “typically quite low,” says a Nobel Prize-winning economist. Forcing students to attend school longer creates jobs for teachers’ unions that seek to require schooling of some sort until age 21, and leads to truancy prosecutions against parents unable to get their stubborn, fully-grown offspring to school.

In Florida, a 17-year-old student with asthma nearly died after a school nurse denied him the use of his own inhaler, because his mother hadn’t signed a form. Then the nurse locked the door and watched him lose consciousness while refusing to call 911. There is absolutely no reason a 17-year-old student who is old enough to drive or join the military cannot be trusted to use his own inhaler as prescribed by a physician. The school district defends the nurse’s outrageous actions.

If a parent had withheld an inhaler like this, it would be considered child abuse. If a prison did it to a prisoner, it would be a violation of the Eighth Amendment. But school officials, who cite the doctrine of in loco parentis when they want to restrict students’ free-speech and privacy rights, hypocritically refuse to accept any responsibility for the lives of their students even when the risk to the student’s life is created by the school’s own rules (like rules forcing students verging on adulthood to leave their inhaler with the school nurse).


‘Meaningful Work’: Elites harm low-income people and society by denigrating “menial” work

By Thomas Sowell

‘Education” is a word that covers a lot of very different things, from vital, life-saving medical skills to frivolous courses to absolutely counterproductive courses that fill people with a sense of grievance and entitlement, without giving them either the skills to earn a living or a realistic understanding of the world required for a citizen in a free society.

The lack of realism among many highly educated people has been demonstrated in many ways.

When I saw signs in Yellowstone National Park warning visitors not to get too close to a buffalo, I realized that this was a warning that no illiterate farmer of a bygone century would have needed. No one would have had to tell him not to mess with a huge animal that literally weighs a ton, and can charge at you at 30 miles an hour.

No one would have had to tell that illiterate farmer’s daughter not to stand by the side of a highway, trying to hitch a ride with strangers, as too many college girls have done, sometimes with results that ranged all the way up to their death.

The dangers that a lack of realism can bring to many educated people are completely overshadowed by the dangers to a whole society created by the unrealistic views of the world promoted in many educational institutions.

It was painful, for example, to see an internationally renowned scholar say that what low-income young people needed was “meaningful work.” But this is a notion common among educated elites, regardless of how counterproductive its consequences may be for society at large, and for low-income youngsters especially.

What is “meaningful work”?

The underlying notion seems to be that it is work whose performance is satisfying or enjoyable in itself. But if that is the only kind of work that people should have to do, how is garbage to be collected, or how are bedpans to be emptied in hospitals, or jobs with life-threatening dangers to be performed?

Does anyone imagine that firemen enjoy going into burning homes and buildings to rescue people trapped by the flames? That soldiers going into combat think it is fun?

In the real world, many things are done simply because they have to be done, not because doing them brings immediate pleasure to those who do them. Some people take justifiable pride in working to take care of their families, whether or not the work itself is great.

Some of our more utopian intellectuals lament that many people work “just for the money.” They do not like a society where A produces what B wants, simply in order that B will produce what A wants, with money being an intermediary device facilitating such exchanges.

Some would apparently prefer a society where all-wise elites would decide what each of us “needs” or “deserves.” The actual history of societies formed on that principle — histories often stained, or even drenched, in blood — is of little interest to those who mistake wishful thinking for idealism.

At the very least, many intellectuals do not want the poor or the young to have to take “menial” jobs. But people who are paying their own money, as distinguished from the taxpayers’ money, for someone to do a job are unlikely to part with hard cash unless that job actually needs doing, whether or not that job is called “menial” by others.

People who lack the skills to take on more prestigious jobs can either remain idle and live as parasites on others or take the jobs for which they are currently qualified, and then move up the ladder as they acquire more experience. People who are flipping hamburgers at McDonald’s on New Year’s Day are seldom flipping hamburgers there when Christmastime comes.

Those relatively few statistics that follow actual flesh-and-blood individuals over time show them moving massively from one income bracket to another over time, starting at the bottom and moving up as they acquire skills and experience.

Telling young people that some jobs are “menial” is a huge disservice to them and to the whole society. Subsidizing them in idleness while they wait for “meaningful work” is just asking for trouble, both for them and for all those around them.


Free pre-school education for poorest toddlers 'to give them fair crack of whip', British Liberal leader  says

That such schemes have never worked either in Britain or the USA is a lesson that "sound-good" liberals are incapable of learning

Free pre-school education is being extended to two-year-old children in the poorest areas of the country to boost their chances in life.

Nick Clegg, the deputy Prime Minister, will also say today that parents of children on free places can drop their children earlier and collect them later.  Mr Clegg said the changes were designed to help children from the poorest backgrounds get the best start in life.

More than 800,000 three and four year olds nationally are currently eligible for 15 hours per week of free early education.

The plan had been to extend this to 150,000 two year olds from the poorest families from September 2013, rising to around 260,000 in the following year. However, Mr Clegg said that a £3million trial – affecting around 1,000 children - will now start in September in 10 trial areas.

The time when parents can pick up and drop children is also being increased from 8am to 7am, and from 6pm to 7pm, to suit better parents work commitments.

Parents will also be able to spread their free nursery places over two, rather than three, days, which will allow them to leave their children for longer on individual days.

Mr Clegg said: “Every child should have a fair crack at the whip from the start and be able to go on to fulfil their potential. “By getting things right from the off we’re making sure our youngsters are ready to learn when they start school so that they get the most out of their education.”

The news came as a Government review is expected to say that people from poorer backgrounds from the North are least likely to get ahead in their careers in Britain.

Some professions – such as politics and the law – were becoming more elitist, and were virtually shut off to people from working class backgrounds.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ditch College for All

 The college-for-all crusade has outlived its usefulness. Time to ditch it. Like the crusade to make all Americans homeowners, it's now doing more harm than good. It looms as the largest mistake in educational policy since World War II, even though higher education's expansion also ranks as one of America's great postwar triumphs.

Consider. In 1940, fewer than 5 percent of Americans had a college degree. Going to college was "a privilege reserved for the brightest or the most affluent" high-school graduates, wrote Diane Ravitch in her history of U.S. education, "The Troubled Crusade." No more. At last count, roughly 40 percent of Americans had some sort of college degree: about 30 percent a bachelor's degree from a four-year institution; the rest associate degrees from community colleges.

Starting with the GI Bill in 1944, governments at all levels promoted college. From 1947 to 1980, enrollments jumped from 2.3 million to 12.1 million. In the 1940s, private colleges and universities accounted for about half. By the 1980s, state schools -- offering heavily subsidized tuitions -- represented nearly four-fifths. Aside from a democratic impulse, the surge reflected "the shift in the occupational structure to professional, technical, clerical, and managerial work," noted Ravitch. The economy demanded higher skills; college led to better-paying jobs.

College became the ticket to the middle class, the be-all-and-end-all of K-12 education. If you didn't go to college, you'd failed. Improving "access" -- having more students go to college -- drove public policy.

We overdid it. The obsessive faith in college has backfired.  For starters, we've dumbed down college. The easiest way to enroll and retain more students is to lower requirements. Even so, dropout rates are high; at four-year schools, fewer than 60 percent of freshmen graduate within six years. Many others aren't learning much.

In a recent book, "Academically Adrift," sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa report that 45 percent of college students hadn't significantly improved their critical thinking and writing skills after two years; after four years, the proportion was still 36 percent. Their study was based on a test taken by 2,400 students at 24 schools requiring them to synthesize and evaluate a block of facts. The authors blame the poor results on lax academic standards. Surveyed, one-third of the same students said that they studied alone five or fewer hours a week; half said they had no course the prior semester requiring 20 pages of writing.

Still, most of these students finished college, though many are debt-ridden. Persistence counts. The larger -- and overlooked -- consequence of the college obsession is to undermine high schools. The primacy of the college-prep track marginalizes millions of students for whom it's disconnected from "real life" and unrelated to their needs. School bores and bothers them. Teaching them is hard, because they're not motivated. But they also make teaching the rest harder. Their disaffection and periodic disruptions drain teachers' time and energy. The climate for learning is poisoned.

That's why college-for-all has been a major blunder. One size doesn't fit all, as sociologist James Rosenbaum of Northwestern University has argued. The need is to motivate the unmotivated. One way is to forge closer ties between high school and jobs. Yet, vocational education is de-emphasized and disparaged. Apprenticeship programs combining classroom and on-the-job training -- programs successful in Europe -- are sparse. In 2008, about 480,000 workers were apprentices, or 0.3 percent of the U.S. labor force, reports economist Robert Lerman of American University. Though not for everyone, more apprenticeships could help some students.

The rap against employment-oriented schooling is that it traps the poor and minorities in low-paying, dead-end jobs. Actually, an unrealistic expectation of college often traps them into low-paying, dead-end jobs -- or no job. Learning styles differ. "Apprenticeship in other countries does a better job of engaging students," says Lerman. "We want to diversify the routes to rewarding careers." Downplaying these programs denies some students the pride and self-confidence of mastering difficult technical skills, while also fostering labor shortages.

There's much worrying these days that some countries (examples: South Korea, Norway, Japan) have higher college-attendance rates, including post-secondary school technical training, than we do. This anxiety is misplaced. Most jobs -- 69 percent in 2010, estimates the Labor Department -- don't require a post-high school degree. They're truck drivers, store clerks, some technicians. On paper, we're turning out enough college graduates to meet our needs.

The real concern is the quality of graduates at all levels. The fixation on college-going, justified in the early postwar decades, stigmatizes those who don't go to college and minimizes their needs for more vocational skills. It cheapens the value of a college degree and spawns the delusion that only the degree -- not the skills and knowledge behind it -- matters. We need to rethink.


Why don't you want our children to have as good an education as you, Nick?

Nick Clegg is leader of the British Liberal party.  He was educated at a prestigious private school and furthered his studies at Cambridge University.  He is personable but is as shallow as a birdbath

In a horrible, ignorant speech last week, the Deputy Prime Minister revealed himself as a limited, conformist slave to conventional wisdom. He  is also a wretched, skulking hypocrite, as I shall explain later. He ought to know better.

Thinking people of Left and Right have at last begun to see that comprehensive state schools have failed the country, and, above all, have failed the children of the poor.

Even veteran radical commentators such as Nick Cohen and Mary Ann Sieghart see the sense in selection by ability.

But Mr Clegg is demanding that our great universities should be ruined by the same egalitarian dogma that has wrecked secondary schooling.

Put simply, he wants the best colleges to lower their entry requirements. This will, of course, increase the number of state school pupils who get in. And it will reduce the numbers from private schools.

It is easy to sympathise with this, if you forget that it will also mean that university standards will fall, irrecoverably. It should not be possible to buy privilege in education. It is obvious that ability and merit alone should be our guide.

But that is exactly where we were heading in this country until the Left-liberal levellers got to work. Mr Clegg thinks that ‘little has changed’ in the past 50 years. Oh yes it has. It has got much worse, thanks to people like him.

In 1965, just before most grammar schools and Scottish academies were abolished, 57 per cent of places at Oxford University were taken by pupils from state grammar schools or direct grant schools (independent schools that gave large numbers of free places on merit, a fine system done away with in 1975 in another wave of vindictive Leftist spite).

What is more important, the number of state school entrants was rising rapidly, and had done ever since 1945, when the grammar schools were opened to all who could qualify.

No special concessions were made in those days. The grammar school boys and girls were there by absolute right. These brilliant people still hold high positions in every profession and activity.

But after 1965, the flow dried up, and instead of having a proper, qualified elite, we had to make do with privileged ninnies such as Mr Clegg instead.

Either they had gone to hugely expensive private schools, as he did, or they arrived at the top via the rich, well-connected socialist’s route to privilege, a semi-secret network of excellent state schools, some religious, some with tiny catchment areas where most people cannot afford to live, some with other elaborate arrangements to keep out the masses.

These schools – the Roman Catholic London Oratory that atheist Mr Clegg has visited as a prospective parent is an example – are officially comprehensive. But, in fact, they are comprehensive in the same way that 10 Downing Street is an inner-city terrace house.

What does Mr Clegg plan to do for his children? Does he plan to toss them into a bog-standard comp, where they will have to struggle to learn from demoralised supply teachers amid the shouting, the mobile phone calls and the fights?

Will he then feel his parental duty has been done if, despite the fact that they know very little, they are given privileged access to Oxbridge, but are unable to benefit from its rigour? I doubt it.

He won’t talk about it. He thinks it’s none of our business. Well, he is wrong. He has made it our business by supporting and defending a system that slams the gates of good schools in the faces of all those who are not rich.


Chancellor slams Australia's university fee system as 'communist'

AUSTRALIA'S higher education system is akin to communism, one of the country's leading academics said yesterday.

Monash University chancellor Alan Finkel told the National Press Club the "centralised" system, in which the federal government sets course fees, was hampering Australia's research and innovation promise.

"What's happened in the last few years is they've freed up student demand so we've gone from a controlled sector … [that sets student numbers] but they've maintained central control, what I like to think of as a communist system in terms of how the universities are controlled from the federal government, which means we can't set fees," Dr Finkel said.
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"And if you can't set fees you can't increase the fees in order to have more money to invest in higher quality.

"So we need to allow diversification across the sector in terms of quality of research, quality of education."

Dr Finkel's comments come as Times Higher Education magazine published its inaugural "100 under 50" list.

The list is designed to showcase the "best" global universities aged 50 years or less. Australia performed strongly on the list, with 14 universities in the top 100.

Editor Phil Baty said the list was "brilliant news". "Only the UK has more representatives in the top 100 list than Australia, which beats the US, France, Germany and Canada," he said.

Australia's entries include Macquarie University and the University of Wollongong (tied at 33), and the Queensland University of Technology (40).


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Nasty bureaucrats:  TX Honor student jailed for truancy

A US honor student has been jailed for missing too much school in Texas.  Diane Tran, a 17-year-old Willis High School junior, was sentenced to spent 24 hours in jail and pay $100 in fines for excessive truancy, according to CBS Atlanta.

She had broken a Texan law that makes it a crime to miss more than 10 days of school in a six month period, reported Local TV network KHOU-11.

Judge Lanny Moriarty said that at an appearance by Tran in his Justice of the Peace court last month he warned her to stop missing school.  When she recently missed classes again, he issued a summons and had her arrested in open court when she appeared.

"In such cases, resolution of the issue is entirely in the hands of the court," a statement on the website of the Willis Independent School District read.

However, Diane is not the stereotypical truant one would expect in such a case.  She helps support two siblings with both a full time and part-time job. Her parents were divorced and she lived with the family that owns the wedding venue where she works on weekends.

"She goes from job to job from school," Devin Hill, one of Tran's classmates, told KHOU-11. "She stays up until 7:00 in the morning doing her homework."

According to KHOU-11, Tran admitted that she was often too tired to go to school.  She said she took AP Spanish, college level algebra and dual credit English and history courses.

Despite pleas for leniency, Moriarty reportedly said "a little stay in the jail for one night is not a death sentence" and claimed if one student was allowed to avoid jail then they would all "run loose."

A petition at and a website has appeared after news of the year 11 student's plight spread online.


Mississippi school district agrees to not handcuff students to objects

The Jackson, Mississippi, school district has agreed to stop shackling students to fixed objects, after it was sued for handcuffing pupils to railings and poles at a school for troubled children, officials said on Friday.
The Southern Poverty Law Center sued Jackson Public Schools in 2011 over its treatment of students at the district's Capital City Alternative School. Students at that campus have been suspended or expelled from other schools.

The center argued in its lawsuit that students at Capital City Alternative School were "handcuffed and shackled to poles" for non-criminal offenses such as violating dress code or talking back to a teacher.

U.S. District Judge Tom Lee approved a legal settlement on Friday.

Under the agreement, Jackson Public Schools will order its employees to end the practice of fixed restraints, which refers to securing a student to an immobile object with handcuffs or shackles, according to court papers.

The district will not use handcuffs on any student under 13, court papers said. In addition, handcuffs won't be used as punishment or for non-criminal conduct. The district also agreed to revise its restraint policy and document all cases in which handcuffs are used on students.


In court papers filed last year, attorneys for the school district acknowledged that "employees passing by or through the ... area can hear children calling out and asking for the handcuffs to be loosened."

The lead plaintiff in the case was described in the suit as an unidentified eighth grade student with a history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, asthma and seizures.

On one occasion, when he was handcuffed to a pole for hours, he was forced to call out to ask to be taken to the bathroom, the lawsuit said.

Jayne Sargent, interim superintendent of Jackson Public Schools, said in a statement that her district was "delighted" it could reach a settlement.

"The children certainly will benefit the most," said Sargent, who added that the incidents that led to the lawsuit occurred before she became interim superintendent.

Jody Owens of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Mississippi office said in a statement that the settlement is a victory for Jackson public school students.

"This handcuffing policy demonstrated a punitive school culture and a broken model of school discipline that focused on criminalizing students at the expense of educating them," Owens said.

The U.S. Department of Education warned in a report this month that restraining students can, in some cases, lead to their deaths, and that the use of restraints has not been shown to reduce students' bad behavior on campuses. The department says restraints should not be used unless a child endangers himself, herself or others.

Mississippi was listed in the report as one of several states without statutes or regulations addressing the topic of student restraints. Other states in that category included Indiana, Kansas, Alabama and Arizona.


A Neglected Private Benefit of Education

Bryan Caplan

One neglected lesson of Charles Murray's Coming Apart is that, due to changing family structure, the private return to education has risen even more than it seems.  In the 60s, rates of marriage and divorce barely varied by education level.  Now, however, there is a huge gap.  Since being single is an expensive luxury, the breakdown in the family implies that the true standard of living gap between college grads, high school grads, and high school drop-outs is markedly larger than it seems.

Furthermore, because people tend to marry others with similar education levels, college grads don't just get their historically high return to education.  They can also reasonable expect to capture the historically high return to education of a well-educated spouse.

Has the family-status-adjusted return to education risen more for men or women?  It's tempting to answer, "Men, hands down."  After all, now that college-educated women are (a) far more likely to work and (b) make a lot more money, the spousal income that college-educated men can reasonable expect to capture has grown by leaps and bounds.  On second thought, however, the answer's less clear.  In the 60s, going to college had little effect on a woman's chance of raising kids without their father support.  Now college drastically reduces that risk. 

I freely admit that ability bias overstates the effect of education on family status.  But I'm confident that a big causal effect remains.  After all, when people hang out together, they're a lot more likely to date and marry.  That's the way of the world.  If you want to marry a doctor, hang out near a medical school.  If you want to marry a college grad, go to college.  After graduation, moreover, your education continues to have a big effect on who you work and socialize with.  Selfishly speaking, you should heavily weigh these effects when you make educational plans.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Quebec students, government resume negotiations

 Quebec college and university students and the provincial government returned to the bargaining table on Monday in an attempt to put an end to a months-long dispute over tuition hikes that has led to clashes with police and mass arrests.

No comments were issued at the end of more than six hours of talks Monday evening. The parties agreed to reconvene Tuesday.

Riot police were deployed as about 200 protesters stood in front of the building in Quebec City where the talks were held. They ordered people to disperse and moved in buses to hold those arrested.

Student leaders said Monday that the tuition hike and an emergency law put in place to limit protests would have to be on the table.

Students have called for a tuition freeze, but the government has ruled out that possibility.

The French-speaking province's average undergraduate tuition — $2,519 a year — is the lowest in Canada, and the proposed hike— $254 per year over seven years — is tiny by U.S. standards. But opponents consider the raise an affront to the philosophy of the 1960s reforms dubbed the Quiet Revolution that set Quebec apart not only from its U.S. neighbor but from the rest of Canada.

Analysts have said Quebecers don't compare their tuition rates to those in the U.S. or English-speaking Canada, but to those in European countries, where higher education is free.

More than 2,500 students have been arrested since the demonstrations began, including nearly 700 this past Wednesday, but arrests are down markedly since.

Student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said his group wasn't going to rush a decision and would take the time to ponder any agreement. He said if the government refused to budge on the two issues, his group would reconsider participating in negotiations.

"Since the beginning of the strike the organizations agree on the objective to cancel tuition hikes," he said.

Student leaders Leo Bureau-Blouin and Martine Desjardins agreed tuition fees have to be on the table and said the ball was in the government's court.

Education Minister Michelle Courchesne said she was showing up at the meeting "open" to discussions but didn't know how long the talks would last.

On Monday evening, protesters in Montreal held the latest of what have become nightly demonstrations, banging pots and marching through downtown streets under the watchful eye of police officers.

Lawyers wearing their black robes held their own march in Montreal against the new emergency law. Genevieve Dufour, one of the protesters, told French-language TV network Radio-Canada that the new law would have an enormous impact on the justice system.

"It raises a lot of questions on the legitimacy of laws," she said. "When the lawyers come out and challenge the laws it has an enormous impact."

Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who has vowed to shake up the debt-ridden province's finances since he was elected nearly a decade ago, has refused to cave in.

Charest's government passed emergency legislation on May 18 restricting protests and closing striking campuses until August.

The law requires that police be informed eight hours before a protest begins, including details on the route of any demonstration of 50 or more people. It also prohibits demonstrations within 50 meters (165 feet) of a college and declares that anyone who incites or helps another person break the new protest regulations can be fined.

Amnesty International says the law breaches Canada's international human rights obligations and called for it to be rescinded by Quebec's legislature.

The latest round of talks comes at a crucial time for the Quebec government, with thousands taking to the streets nightly in protest and Montreal's peak tourism season fast approaching, a period of international events such as the Grand Prix F-1 race and international jazz and comedy festivals that bring millions in revenue.

Event organizers have expressed concern about the impact the continuing protests could have on the festivals, which include nightly outdoor shows on stages surrounded by lucrative concession stands that draw thousands into the streets for weeks.

Students have been holding nightly protests, some of which have ended in clashes with police. The latest manifestation of dissent has been protesters pouring to the streets banging pots late into the night, creating a cacophony of noise some fear could disrupt festival performances.


Dear Graduates: You’re Screwed!

It’s graduation season, and prominent political and media figures are making the rounds to give commencement speeches at colleges across the country. The president, administration officials, progressive members of Congress, left-wing television talking heads, liberal columnists, etc., are spewing so many feel-good platitudes that you’d think doing so was an Olympic event and they were training for the gold in London.

The one thing missing from these speeches is reality.  As such, and since not even an online college has asked me to deliver a commencement address, I’ll give mine here.

Graduates, congratulations on successfully completing college. Since I was able to do it, it can’t be that hard. But it’s a feat worthy of celebration nonetheless. Kudos on a job well done.

Now comes the bad part.  After the hangovers from your graduation parties fade away, the hangover of reality will set in. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you rely on the mainstream media for your information, you probably haven’t heard this – you’re screwed.

In addition to the tens of thousands of dollars in student loans you now owe, your share of the national debt as a citizen is more than $50,000. Once you find a job and become one of the elite 53 percent of Americans who pay taxes, your share will jump to $138,000.

But don’t think about that number just yet; it won’t apply to about half of you for some time. You see, in President Obama’s economy about half of you won’t find full-time employment – or any job – for quite some time.

Sure, you’ve been hearing for months about the dropping unemployment rate and are probably thinking your prospects are looking up. Well, I’m the pin here to burst your bubble, because someone has to.

The rate hasn’t fallen because jobs have been created. It’s fallen because hundreds of thousands of people have given up looking for work. In the government’s dishonest way of calculating labor statistics, these people no longer exist. In fact, not only do they exist, but the more they give up looking for work, the fewer workers we actually need. That’s an even bigger problem for you, and it’s one unlikely to be solved by the people who consider spending more than last year, but less than planned, to constitute a “draconian cut” in spending.

To those who went into practical fields of study, such as physical and computer sciences, you’ll probably be all right. Those jobs are always in demand and I can’t really tell you anything you either don’t already know or won’t be better off discovering on your own.

Those of you with a degree in Caribbean Pygmy, Eskimo Gender or theater studies…Yeah, that wasn’t a smart move. On the bright side, you can learn early decisions have consequences, and you might as well own it because you bought it.

For the record, when we run into each other in the future, to make that interaction less awkward – yes, I would like fries with that.

Some of you will go on to accomplish great things, live amazing lives and enjoy tremendous success. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, you may even become successful enough to become the type of people many of your fellow students, professors and even our president demonize on a daily basis. It’s the new American Dream, so to speak – to become successful enough your government attempts to turn your fellow Americans against you.

On the other hand, if government keeps spending the way it is, it’s unlikely you’ll ever obtain the level of success government would like to deny you.

But I’m not talking about the end of the world here – only the end of the civilized world. That’s because, just as much of our past comes from Greece, our future lies there too – unless we start to take fiscal responsibility seriously.

We’ll know if we are at least interested in avoiding a trip off the financial cliff on November 6. Neither candidate for president offers the sort of sanity we need. But hopefully, if we can defeat President Obama, we at least can start to get our government used to the idea of taking its medicine.

I know that thought isn’t popular here on college campuses, but then neither is independent thought in general, so…

Since we now live in a culture that rewards stupidity with reality shows and everyone gets a participation ribbon, maybe the key to our economic future is to be the world’s cautionary tale. I hope not.

Ultimately that’s up to each of you. Do we pull up from our current nosedive and continue moving down the road to greatness or do we get distracted by shiny plastic objects and keep the focus on who is Kim Kardashian’s husband of the week? Are we a beacon of hope for the world or people who obsess over who advanced on American Idol and fall for the false promise of candy land where birth control grows on trees, health care is magically free and where personal choices and responsibilities become rights and freebees?

The path paved with freebees is always the most alluring because who doesn’t like free stuff? But remember – Democrats have promised you that path your whole life. And now that you’ve graduated college, many of you will realize it’s only led you into debt and back to your parent’s basement. If that’s your version of Utopia…you misread the book.

I hate to end this speech on a down note, but as so many of your fellow graduates have joined the “Occupy movement,” mostly the philosophy majors and those getting their Ph.D. in disciplines like gender and race privilege studies, and, as such, haven’t showered since Republicans took back the House of Representatives, my eyes are burning and I must stop.

Good luck to you, good luck to us all. We’re gonna need it.


Australia:  University of Queensland nepotism inquiry completed by Crime and Misconduct Commission

THE Crime and Misconduct Commission has completed its investigations into the University of Queensland nepotism scandal and its report will be tabled in Parliament.

Vice-chancellor Paul Greenfield and his deputy Michael Keniger were forced out after The Courier-Mail revealed a "close family member" of Prof Greenfield's had gained entry to the medical faculty without the proper entry requirements.

A CMC spokeswoman said yesterday the report would contain a number of recommendations, but declined to elaborate.

"The public report will also incorporate recommendations from two ongoing reviews announced earlier by the CMC and associated with the forced offer for entry."

Prof Greenfield has denied any wrongdoing saying the relative was admitted to the medical school as the result of a misunderstanding.  [It was a "misunderstanding" that his daughter was admitted to medical school???   "My daughter the doctor" was just an accident?   Pull the other one.  Greenfield is a smart bootlicker who got just a bit too smart  -- JR]


Monday, May 28, 2012

Kids with Cell Phones: Record Your Socialist Teachers!

    Doug Giles

God bless cell phones. With them we can chat with our friends; we can watch the grossest zit since the dawn of time being popped via YouTube; and our kiddos can record their bat crap crazy teachers attempting to mitigate their First Amendment rights!

This week audio surfaced of a North Carolina teacher, Tanya Dixon-Neely (black), berating 13-year-old Hunter Rogers (honky) for criticizing president Obama (hate crime). Neely said Rogers could be arrested for slandering Obama. What a crock! Children cannot be arrested for criticizing Obama—at least not until his second term when we will truly see our First Amendment rights vanish like a pack of raw wieners at Rosie’s house.

Thankfully, Hunter hit the record button on his iPhone when this blathering big government gal started spewing lies to the kids—via North Carolinians’ tax dollar—exposing her incredible bias, and thereby getting her suspended. Hopefully she’ll get fired.

Parents in Hunter’s school district should demand she get canned. Why? Well, one reason is she doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about and is teaching your children. Hello. What kind of Bozo screening process is in place that people like Tanya get the keys to your tadpole’s future? I wouldn’t let her sell fried chicken gizzards at a carnival much less school one of my offspring.

The only positive upshot to this sordid socialist scenario is that Hunter turned his cell phone on this mental schoolmarm. Hallelujah. Now parents and the planet can get a dose of the propaganda that’s regularly doled out in public schools.

With this in mind I think parents should tell their progeny each day before they send them off to school, “Now, honey, when Ms. Smith starts saying psycho stuff and threatening you with prison if you don't madly love on Obama, it is okay for you to record her and then upload this mess to YouTube. Don’t be afraid of these bullies. Don’t punch ‘em in the nose but instead punch record and then forward it to Jesse Watters and see if he can get Bill to run it on The Factor.” * Check your state's laws to see if two party consent is needed before YouTubing your audio or video.

Which brings me to a vision I just had. I have had a dream … a dream where the Hunter Rogers of the nation will point their iPhones and Blackberries at their scary teachers en masse and with one voice yell to these anti-American propagandists the words of Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister—“We’re not gonna take it!”

I have had a dream … a dream where sellers of progressive swill are fearful of publicly braying their biased beliefs before an army of God- and country-loving kids.  Can I get a witness, my brothers and sisters?


Obama's Education Hypocrisy -- Again

If you were a child in the District of Columbia school system (51st in state rankings for academic achievement, first for school violence), you and your parents probably greeted the election of Barack Obama with great joy. If someone had suggested to you then that the president would attempt to torpedo the scholarship program that permits some District kids to attend the private schools of their choice, you might have thought you were hearing racist smears.

But that is what happened. As he did in previous years, President Obama has once again attempted to zero out funding in 2013 for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, a small federal outlay that provides scholarships to some 1,600 students to attend private or parochial schools. Since the program's inception in 2004, more than 10,000 families have applied to participate. The average income of OSP participants is $24,000.

The administration claims that it "strongly opposes" the OSP because it "has not yielded improved student achievement." But as the Black Alliance for Educational Options reports:

"The most recent federal evaluation of the OSP showed that students who used their scholarships had a 91 percent graduation rate -- 21 percent higher than those who were offered but did not use scholarships and more than 30 points higher than D.C. public school students. The program has also produced gains in reading."

The president delivers energetic speeches about the "knowledge economy" and the urgent need to improve education for all of America's kids. He's been troubled and adamant about the problem of school dropouts: In a 2010 speech, for example, the president declared: "This is a problem we cannot afford to accept or ignore. The stakes are too high -- for our children, for our economy, for our country. It's time for all of us to come together ... to end America's dropout crisis." But the program in D.C. that cuts dropout rates by 30 points? He's standing in the schoolhouse door saying, "No exit."

At least two students, Sarah and James Parker, were able to attend Sidwell Friends -- the school the Obamas chose for their daughters -- thanks to the scholarships. The Wall Street Journal's William McGurn quoted their mother, who noted that at the public school her kids would be obliged to attend without the scholarships, fewer than half of the students are proficient at reading or math. "I once took Sarah to Roosevelt High School," Deborah Parker recounted, "to see its metal detectors and security guards. I wanted to scare her into appreciation for what she has at Sidwell." Too bad she couldn't take Obama on the same tour.

The last time Obama, who likes to style himself the voice of the 99 percent, attempted to kill the Opportunity Scholarship Program, it was saved by Speaker of the House John Boehner -- just another white Republican who cares nothing for blacks and Hispanics. During tense budget negotiations in 2011, Boehner succeeded in getting the president's approval for a five-year reauthorization of the $20 million program.

Now the president is proposing, as Democrats always do, to increase funding for the Department of Education by 2.5 percent, taking it to $70 billion and once again to eliminate funding for the OSP, moving those funds back to the public schools.

It's easy to see why the president wants to double down on the current system. Ever increasing expenditures have done so much for the kids of the District of Columbia. The District now spends $18,000 per student. More than 60 percent of District fourth graders cannot read at grade level. Only 14 percent of eighth graders are proficient in reading. The Washington Post reports that in math, the District has, "by a wide margin, the nation's highest proportion of fourth and eighth graders in the 'below basic' category -- and the lowest in proficient/advanced." During the 2007/2008 academic year, police received more than 3,500 calls from public schools, 900 of them for violent incidents.

The overwhelming majority of parents who've been able to take advantage of Opportunity Scholarships are happy with them, along with more than 70 percent of District residents generally. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who has joined Speaker Boehner in attempting to secure funding for the program, said "If Dr. King were alive today, he'd be fighting his heart out for the OSP."

But Dr. King is not alive, and the first black president, whose daughters are in no danger of losing their spots at Sidwell, has turned his back.


Google chairman: Britain must improve maths skills

Britain must change its poor attitude towards maths or risk becoming a "dusty museum to the past", the executive chairman of Google has claimed.

Eric Schmidt, one of the internet's most powerful figures, said Britain must place more value on the teaching of maths in schools or risk falling behind rapidly growing Asian competitors in future.

People with no maths skills will also be left behind in future job markets where all of the highest-paid jobs will demand some level of numerical ability, he added.

Speaking at Google's Zeitgeist conference in Hertfordshire last week Mr Schmidt, 57, lent his backing to the Telegraph's Make Britain Count campaign, claiming "cultural prejudices" are responsible for the country's low mathematical ability.

His comments came after Ofsted announced this week that British children's poor numeracy is a "cause of national concern" with almost half of all schools failing to teach the subject to an adequate standard.

He said: "I believe it is possible to change cultural prejudices and biases within this country, and for the British people to say, "We want to be the best in the world at maths. To have that sort of Russian national excellence at mathematics, without some of the other aspects of Russia.

"Like it or not, this is a competitive world, and if you look at the Asian model, they are producing more science, engineering and mathematics graduates than Europe, and their economies are growing faster.

"You have to ask yourself this question. Is your vision for Britain a dusty museum to the past, or a powerhouse with a great future? Right now, maths may not be fashionable, but it may well turn out to be necessary."


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Malik Ali Brings the Crazy to Irvine Speech

Zionists are responsible for the global financial meltdown, and President Barack Obama is a puppet for powerful white people who are gearing up for full-scale military conflict to colonize Africa.

Those kernels of wisdom were imparted by Imam Abdel Malik Ali at the University of California, Irvine last week. He spoke as part of the Muslim Student Union (MSU)'s "Palestine Liberation Week" on campus, an annual event that routinely features radical ideology and hate speech.

Malik Ali, described as a "hilarious hater" by a local newspaper, earned a reputation for "repeatedly cross[ing] the line from lambasting Israeli policy to promoting bizarre anti-Jewish conspiracy theories of the sort typically favored by neo-Nazis, as well as by giving voice to loathing for all Jews as a people."

The MSU, therefore, was well aware of what it was getting when it invited Malik Ali to speak, and he did not disappoint. He repeatedly dismissed Israel as an apartheid state, adding that any supporter of the Jewish state was inherently immoral. He derided what he saw as an American imperialism that is driven by racist power brokers and "Zionist Jews."

"The current financial crisis and collapse, the architects of it are Zionists," he told a crowd of more than 150 people. "Whether you're talking about [Alan] Greenspan or whether you're talking about [Treasury Secretary Timothy] Geithner or whether you're talking about [former White House economic adviser Lawrence [Summers] or whether you're talking about [Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd] Blankfein, or whether you're talking about [JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie] Dimon - I'm saying Zionism corrupts you, Zionism corrupts you.

"These are not righteous Jews who are doing this. These are not righteous practitioners of the Jewish faith who are doing this," he said. In fact, not all those named are Jews. But Malik Ali said they drive animosity toward Muslims in order to divert attention from their bad deeds.

"These are them who would mix injustice with their religion. And so in order for the American people not to realize that, again Islam and Muslims must be vilified."

That vilification apparently extends to the heart of the war on terror, which Malik Ali argued is made up of whole cloth.

"There's no such thing as al-Qaida," he said. "That's another okeydokey - that's another deception. There is no such thing as al-Qaida. Like no such thing as al-Qaida. No, no such thing at all."

President Obama is a mere pawn doing the bidding of powerful, colonial interests, Malik Ali said. They need a black face in power to mask their true objectives.

"Barack Obama is already in brothers and sisters, because the next theater of operations is Africa. Black Africa. That's the next theater of operations. That's why the troops are coming out of Iraq. That's why the troops are coming out of Afghanistan," he said. American forces already have been used in Somalia and Libya, and a few have been sent to Uganda.

"And check this out. They cannot have a white man in the White House bombing black Africa. You can't do it. Because if you have a white man in the White House bombing black Africa, it's gonna wake black people up all over this world . But if a black man is doing this, a black man with a Muslim name is doing it. And then they have the US-African command, which is designed to remilitarize and recolonize Africa. The head of the US-African command is an African-American general. Be very careful of just using color."

Malik Ali first warned people not to be excited about Obama within weeks of his election. The incoming president was "a very dangerous, dangerous deception" because Jews like Rahm Emmanuel and David Axelrod were key advisers.

America's first black president, Malik Ali said last week, has proven to be a tool for racists.

"The justification for empire has always been white supremacy. We have to do this to you. It's the white man's burden. How come they sit there in Iraq? They sit there in Iraq to teach the people how to govern themselves. Iraq has been here for like 5,000 years. But they have to teach the Iraqis how to govern themselves. It's the white man's burden. See the corrupting influence of empire at the root of it is the justification for empire. And that is white supremacy."

It would be easy to dismiss Malik Ali as a crackpot. In 2010, he endorsed terrorist groups Hamas and Hizballah. Speaking at San Francisco State University months after the 9/11 attacks, he insisted that Palestinian suicide bombers are not terrorists, but heroic martyrs who make their mothers proud. "And once you go up against a people who love death, more than you love life, you in trouble man! You in serious trouble!"

It is significant, though, that the MSU - considered among the most radical chapters of the national Muslim Students Association - continues to invite him to rant at its events, while still claiming to be a serious campus organization.

A California jury convicted 10 students from Irvine and UC, Riverside of misdemeanor charges stemming from an MSU plot to silence a 2010 speech on campus by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. Prosecutors argued that the group could not use free speech rights to deprive others of the right to speak. Internal MSU emails, obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, made it clear that the students did not want Oren to be able to complete his talk.

Its opposition to Oren's speech was rooted in a passionate opposition to Israeli actions, they say. But the consistent presence of an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist like Malik Ali at MSU events calls that motivation into question.

Still, supposedly mainstream Islamist groups and their allies hailed the students as martyrs for free speech, prosecuted solely for their faith and political beliefs. In his remarks, Malik Ali praised the "beautiful brothers" involved in the plot, saying "that what the Irvine 11 did was right, what the Irvine 11 did was righteous, what the Irvine 11 did was good, and there was nothing wrong with what the Irvine 11 did especially in the respect of being in the United States of America."

But his commitment to free speech stops when Muslims are offended.

He compared reaction to a campus incident in which the university president cited an incident in which a swastika was drawn on a Jewish student's door as an act of intolerance. But nothing was said when other students posted images that were supposed to be of the prophet Muhammad.

"How come that [swastika] shouldn't be tolerated and that is injurious and not the pictures of the prophet, peace be upon him, that they show him being disrespected? How come that wasn't put on the list? How come that wasn't cited as an act of intolerance? Why not? But no, at that time I'm told that the students the MSU were simply told that it is their right to free speech. What? Right to free speech? They have a right to put that type of information out there that is inflammatory; they have a right to do that? Okay, I see."

Muslims are convenient scapegoats for racist, colonialist powers to usurp American civil liberties and kill enemies, he said, warning, "It's gonna go beyond us and it's gonna hit other Americans."

This is protected speech, and MSU is free to choose its speakers no matter how extreme their message. It also provides compelling evidence that the MSU's judgment is driven by a hatred, not just of Israeli policy, but of Jews and others who support the state.


'Why do people hate Jews?' Shocking GCSE religious studies question set by Britain's biggest examinations board

Britain's leading examining board has been accused of 'justifying' antisemitism in schools after GCSE pupils were asked in an exam to explain 'why some people are prejudiced against Jews'.

More than a thousand religious studies students sat the test last Thursday, which was set by one of the three major English exam boards, AQA.

The bizarre question has sparked fury among teachers, parents, ministers and members of the Jewish community who have blamed the body for 'justifying' anti-semitism in schools.

'Clearly this is unacceptable and has nothing whatsoever to do with Jews or Judaism,' said Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Rabbi David Meyer, the executive head of Hasmonean High School, whose pupils do not sit the AQA exam, said that the question had 'no place' in an exam paper.

'The role of education is to remove prejudices and not to justify them,' he said. 'The question plants suggestions and implies ideas that shouldn't be instilled into students.'

The question has caused such outrage that it has been carried to the very top of Government.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said: 'To suggest that anti-semitism can ever be explained, rather than condemned, is insensitive and, frankly, bizarre. AQA needs to explain how and why this question was included in an exam paper.'

He said that it was 'the duty of politicians to fight prejudice, and with antisemitism on the rise we need to be especially vigilant'.

However, one examiner leapt to the board's defence, saying it was a 'legitimate' question that pupils needed to be asked.

Educator Clive Lawton, formerly an A-level chief examiner for religious studies for another board, said: 'I do understand why people might react negatively to the question, but it is a legitimate one. 'Part of the syllabus is that children must study the causes and origins of prejudice against Jews.'

A spokesperson for AQA said that the question was part of a paper focusing on Judaism and the 'relevant part of the syllabus covers prejudice and discrimination with reference to race, religion and the Jewish experience of persecution.

'We would expect [students to refer] to the Holocaust to illustrate prejudice based on irrational fear, ignorance and scapegoating.'

She added: 'The board is obviously concerned that this question may have caused offence, as this was absolutely not our intention'.  '[The question] acknowledges that some people hold prejudices; it does not imply in any way that prejudice is justified'.

Ofqual, which regulates exams, said that it was in discussion with AQA: 'We will take appropriate follow-up action if necessary.'

Approximately six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust by the Nazi regime and its collaborators in the build up to and during the Second World War.


British teachers given 'overly generous' severance payoffs of up to £200,000

Official figures show that educational staff received packages worth tens of thousands of pounds after either being sacked or made redundant over the past year. Some teachers were given the generous packages to leave their school "by mutual agreement", according to information released under freedom of information laws.

Many signed confidentiality clauses, meaning the terms of their payouts are prevented from being made public.  But one head teacher in London was handed almost £200,000 from taxpayers for loss of office when his school underwent a merger.

Last night critics described the payouts as “overly generous” packages at a time when schools were under pressure to make budget savings.  According to a survey of London-based schools, more than 160 staff received the packages after losing their jobs over the past year.

Campaigners warned that it was “almost inevitable” that taxpayers in other areas across the country were facing similar situations.

According to the survey, Dinesh Ramjee, the former head of Henry Compton school in Fulham, west London, received £195,490 to leave after it merged with nearby girls' school Fulham Cross to become Fulham College.

Other payouts included a head teacher in Lambeth, south London, who was handed £117,500 after stepping down "by mutual agreement".

Another in Enfield, north London, received up to £30,000 after resigning and signing a confidential "compromise agreement". This meant no further action could be taken against the local council.

In south-east London, one Bromley teacher was given a "termination payment" of up to £22,000 while an unidentified Greenwich school staff member was awarded nearly £60,000 after being made redundant.

"Taxpayers will view these payouts as overly generous packages at a time when schools are searching for savings,” said Emma Boon, campaign director of the TaxPayers' Alliance.  “If it was happening on a large scale across the country, that would be worrying.”

But Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head teachers, added: “Headship is an accountable role, and rightly so.  “But if we move people on when things aren't working or the role is redundant, we need to ensure they and their families are protected during the change."

Mr Ramjee, who stepped down from his role in August 2010 after 37 years in education, told the Evening Standard that his settlement, negotiated by union representatives, was a “private arrangement between myself and my governors and the local authority”.

A Hammersmith and Fulham council spokesman also defended the arrangement.  He added: “We now have one Executive Head teacher, instead of two, at Fulham College which has lead to substantial and ongoing savings for taxpayers.

“We have seen significant improvements in school standards over recent years and now boast some of the best and most popular schools in the country."

Last month, official figures released for the first time showed that 700 senior staff in state schools earned more than £100,000, including 200 who are paid at least £110,000.