Friday, March 15, 2013

University to Hold Controversial ‘White Privilege  Conference’

This is pure racism

The University of Colorado-Colorado Springs (UCCS) is offering students up to four college credits if they attend the public university’s 14th annual “White Privilege Conference,” Campus Reform reports.

The event, which is organized by UCCS, will focus on teaching whites that they are born with an inherent privilege over other races. A stunning promotional video for the event provides an idea of what the White Privilege Conference is all about.

“I am privileged,” reads black text on an all white background. “I can if I wish arrange to be around people of my race most of the time.”

The video continues:

    “I can go shopping fairly assured I won’t be followed or harassed.”

    “When I’m told about our national heritage or about ‘civilization’ I am shows that people of my color made it what it is.” ...

    “I can, whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, count on my skin color not to work against my appearing financially reliable.”

    “I don’t have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily protection.” ...

    “I can choose blemish cover or bandages in ‘flesh’ color and have them more or less match my skin.”

“I cannot be blind to the invisible system of privilege I am a part of,” the video concludes.

Students will receive one college credit for each day of the three day conference that they attend if they write a brief journal entry summarizing what they learned, according to an online syllabus on the UCCS website.

The UCCS sociology professor in charge of organizing the conference, Dr. Abby Ferber, has authored several books, including “White Man Falling: Race, Gender and White Supremacy.”

“According to the conference’s website, the credit can be attained by any student in attendance and is “widely transferable” to other academic institutions,” The Leadership Institute’s Campus Reform notes.

The University of Michigan and the University of Minnesota are among the four other institutions helping sponsor the controversial conference, which is set to take place in Seattle on April 10-13. Seattle is roughly 1,300 miles from Colorado Springs, Colo.


The School Staffing Surge: Decades of Employment Growth in America’s Public Schools

America’s K-12 public education system has experienced tremendous historical growth in employment, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Between fiscal year (FY) 1950 and FY 2009, the number of K-12 public school students in the United States increased by 96 percent, while the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) school employees grew 386 percent. Public schools grew staffing at a rate four times faster than the increase in students over that time period. Of those personnel, teachers’ numbers increased 252 percent, while administrators and other non-teaching staff experienced growth of 702 percent, more than seven times the increase in students.

That hiring pattern has persisted in more recent years as well. Between FY 1992 and FY 2009, the number of K-12 public school students nationwide grew 17 percent, while the number of FTE school employees increased 39 percent. Among school personnel, teachers’ staffing numbers rose 32 percent, while administrators and other non-teaching staff experienced growth of 46 percent, 2.3 times greater than the increase in students over that 18-year period; the growth in the number of teachers was almost twice that of students.

The two aforementioned figures come from “The School Staffing Surge: Decades of Employment Growth in America’s Public Schools.” This companion report contains more state-specific information about public school staffing. Specifically, this report contains:

    Each state’s percentage change among students and administrators and other non-teaching personnel from FY 1992 to FY 2009 (Table 1).

    The actual and “extra” number of administrators and non-teaching staff in each state. “Extra” is defined as the excess non-teaching staff hired beyond the rate of change in each state’s student population over the past generation, FY 1992 to FY 2009 (Table 2).

    Each state’s cost savings if the increase/decrease in administrators and other non-teaching staff had been the same as the increase/decrease in students from FY 1992 to FY 2009 (Table 3).

    Each state’s cost savings per 25 students if the increase/decrease in administrators and other nonteaching staff had been the same as the increase/ decrease in students from FY 1992 to FY 2009 (Table 4).

    The increase in teacher salaries that would be possible if the change in employment in non-teaching personnel had not exceeded the change in the student population from FY 1992 to FY 2009 (Table 5).

    Each state’s ratio of students to non-teaching staff in FY 2009 (Table 6).

    A comparison of the ratio of students to non-teaching staff and the ratio of students to teachers in each state in FY 2009 (Table 7). The 21 “Top-Heavy States” that employ fewer teachers than other non-teaching personnel are highlighted in Table 7.

    For the 21 “Top-Heavy States,” the difference between the number of other staff and teachers in FY 2009 (Table 8).

    The actual ratio of students to all public school employees in FY 2009 (Table 9).

This report also contains a response to criticisms of the 2012 report. It is worth noting that the critics do not dispute that Long-Term Trend scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) have remained the same or have fallen since 1992 and employment growth has surged in America’s public schools.

Highlights of this report’s findings include:

    Nationally, states could have saved—and could continue to save—more than $24 billion annually if they had increased/decreased the employment of administrators and other non-teaching staff at the same rate as students between FY 1992 and FY 2009.

    Fully one-fourth of those savings come from Texas, where public schools would have saved almost $6.4 billion if they had not increased the employment of administrators and other non-teaching staff more so than their increase in students. Texas public schools hired 159,228 additional non-teaching personnel, above and beyond its growth in student enrollment during FY 1992 to FY 2009.

    Virginia would have had an extra $29,007 to spend per teacher if it had limited the growth of administrators and other non-teaching staff to its growth in students from FY 1992 to FY 2009. Maine would have had an extra $25,505 per teacher, and the District of Columbia would have had an extra $20,472. Those funds could have been spent on salary increases for teachers or some other worthy purpose.

    There are very large differences in the employment of non-teaching personnel across states. For example, whereas Vermont has only 8.8 students for every administrator or other non-teaching employee and Maine has only 9.4 students per non-teaching employee, Rhode Island has 20 students per every administrator or other non-teaching employee. Wyoming has 9.9 students per every non-teaching employee, whereas Idaho has 22.7 students per nonteaching employee. Those differences are much larger than the differences in the employment of teachers.

    Twenty-one “Top-Heavy States” employ fewer teachers than other non-teaching personnel. Thus, those 21 states have more administrators and other non-teaching staff on the public payroll than teachers. Virginia “leads the way” with 60,737 more administrators and other non-teaching staff than teachers in its public schools.

    There are significant differences in total employment ratios across states. Vermont, Maine, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia each have fewer than six students per public school employee. That compares to more than 10 students per public school employee in Idaho, South Carolina, Arizona, California, Utah, and Nevada.

As was discussed in the original “Staffing Surge” report, the increases in public school employment since 1992 do not appear to have had any positive returns to students as measured by test scores and graduation rates. Some likely will try to cherry-pick an individual state and point out that a particular measure of student achievement increased at the same time that public school employment grew dramatically; however, such an approach is misleading because, across all states, public school employment surged, while student achievement did not measurably increase. If student achievement increased in a certain state, why did it not increase—or why did it decrease—in other states when public school employment increased? Perhaps there were other reasons student achievement increased in any particular state.

Readers should keep in mind the concept of opportunity cost when making determinations for their individual states. One should ask whether the significant resources used to finance employment increases could have been spent better elsewhere. Would those taxpayer funds have gone further via vouchers or taxcredit scholarships, which enable students to attend schools better suited to their needs? Would raises for teachers have been a wiser investment? Perhaps letting taxpayers keep those funds may have been more effective. Those questions need to be asked and analyzed in every state capitol—inside by lawmakers and outside by parents, education reformers, the business community, and others. The burden of proof is now on those who still want to maintain or even increase the dramatically larger staffing levels in public schools.


Educational Rot

Walter E. Williams

American education is in a sorry state of affairs, and there's enough blame for all participants to have their fair share. They include students who are hostile and alien to the education process, uninterested parents, teachers and administrators who either are incompetent or have been beaten down by the system, and politicians who've become handmaidens for teachers unions. There's another education issue that's neither flattering nor comfortable to confront and talk about. That's the low academic preparation of many teachers. That's an issue that must be confronted and dealt with if we're to improve the quality of education. Let's look at it.

Schools of education, whether graduate or undergraduate, tend to represent the academic slums of most college campuses. They tend to be home to students who have the lowest academic achievement test scores when they enter college, such as SAT scores. They have the lowest scores when they graduate and choose to take postgraduate admissions tests -- such as the GRE, the MCAT and the LSAT.

The California Basic Educational Skills Test, or CBEST, is mandatory for teacher certification in California. It's a joke. Here's a multiple-choice question on its practice math test: "Rob uses 1 box of cat food every 5 days to feed his cats. Approximately how many boxes of cat food does he use per month? A. 2 boxes, B. 4 boxes, C. 5 boxes, D. 6 boxes, E. 7 boxes."

Here's another: "Which of the following is the most appropriate unit for expressing the weight of a pencil? A. pounds, B. ounces, C. quarts, D. pints, E. tons." I'd venture to predict that the average reader's sixth-grader could answer each question. Here's a question that is a bit more challenging; call your eighth-grader: "Solve for y: y - 2 + 3y = 10, A. 2, B. 3, C. 4, D. 5, E. 6."

Some years ago, the Association of Mexican American Educators, the California Association for Asian-Pacific Bilingual Education and the Oakland Alliance of Black Educators brought suit against the state of California and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, charging that the CBEST was racially discriminatory. Plaintiff "evidence" was the fact that the first-time passing rate for whites was 80 percent, about 50 percent for Mexican-Americans, Filipinos and Southeast Asians, and 46 percent for blacks. In 2000, in a stroke of rare common sense, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit found CBEST not to be racial discriminatory.

Poor teacher preparation is not a problem restricted to California. In Massachusetts, only 27 percent of new teachers could pass the math test needed to be certified as a teacher. A 2011 investigation by Atlanta's Channel 2 Action News found that more than 700 Georgia teachers repeatedly failed at least one portion of the certification test they are required to pass before receiving a teaching certificate. Nearly 60 teachers failed the test more than 10 times, and one teacher failed the test 18 times. They also found that there were 297 teachers on the Atlanta school system's payroll even though they had failed the state certification test five times or more.

Textbooks used in schools of education might explain some teacher ineptitude. A passage in Marilyn Burns' text About Teaching Mathematics reads, "There is no place for requiring students to practice tedious calculations that are more efficiently and accurately done by using calculators."

New Designs for Teaching and Learning, by Dennis Adams and Mary Hamm, says, "Content knowledge is not seen to be as important as possessing teaching skills and knowledge about the students being taught."

Harvey Daniels and Marilyn Bizar's text Methods that Matter reads, "Students can no longer be viewed as cognitive living rooms into which the furniture of knowledge is moved in and arranged by teachers, and teachers cannot invariably act as subject-matter experts." The authors explain, "The main use of standardized tests in America is to justify the distribution of certain goodies to certain people."

With but a few exceptions, schools of education represent the academic slums of most any college. American education could benefit from slum removal, eliminating schools of education.


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