Monday, May 06, 2013

Hoosiers are right to be wary about Common Core

Indiana has just shot into the spotlight of the education world, with the legislature voting over the weekend to hit the pause button on the Common Core national curriculum standards. But this action is just the loudest strike in a growing backlash against the core, a revolt set off by the arrival of the federally backed standards into schools across the country. And people are right to be wary, especially since core supporters have too often ridiculed dissenters instead of engaging in honest debate.

While 45 states have adopted the Common Core, don’t mistake that for enthusiastic, nationwide support. States were essentially coerced into adopting by the President’s Race to the Top program, which tied federal dough to signing on. Even if policymakers in recession-hobbled states would have preferred open debate, there was no time. Blink, and the money would be gone. Which isn’t to say there wasn’t opposition — there certainly was among policy wonks — but most people hadn’t ever heard of the standards at adoption time and their effects wouldn’t be felt for several years.

Today, the effects are here, and so is the opposition. Indiana is arguably the highest-profile rebel, with its new legislation set to halt implementation of the core so Hoosiers can, at the very least, learn about what they’re getting into. Nationally, the Republican National Committee has officially condemned the standards, while several states are in the process of potentially withdrawing from the core. Finally, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has requested that a Senate subcommittee handling education end federal meddling in standards and assessment.

What have Common Core supporters done in response to this groundswell of concern? Rather than address worries and evidence that the Common Core is empirically ungrounded, moves the country closer to a federal education monopoly, and treats unique children like identical cogs, supporters have often smeared opponents and dodged constructive debate.

In Indiana, Democrats for Education Reform State Director Larry Grau wrote a blog post and blast email that said, “it’s growing late and some of us have spent the night canoodling with far-right opponents of the Common Core State Standards. If that sounds like you, it’s time you ask yourself this question: ‘Am I going to hate myself for this in the morning?’” Of course the post included not one argument against the standards — just smears.

In response to the RNC’s resolution, Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, complained that the move “will bestow a degree of legitimacy upon the anti-standards coalition.” As if the people who have been decrying the absence of research support for national standards, potential flaws in its content, or other logic and evidence-based concerns have all somehow been illegitimate.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — a leading Common Core spokesperson — elected to dismiss the RNC as ignorant for resisting the core. “I don’t really care if the RNC, based on no information, is going to oppose this because of some emotional pitch,” he said. This despite the RNC resolution offering several valid reasons for opposing the Core, including the indisputable fact of federal coercion.

To be sure, there are some specious arguments being made against the Common Core, such as the claim that it requires schools to ditch Emerson in favor of reading EPA regulations. Such assertions should be refuted by people on both sides. But those are hardly the only concerns of core opponents, and many standards supporters are guilty of no lesser deception when they insist, for instance, that the Common Core is “state-led” and “voluntary.”

The vast majority of Common Core supporters, no doubt, are motivated by what they think is best for the country and its children. Unfortunately, many also seem happy to ignore the logic and evidence arrayed against their plan, and to slime instead of honestly debate their equally well-intentioned opponents. Let’s hope that’s not because they think an honest debate is one they’d lose.

As Common Core continues to be implemented, the chorus of opposition is likely to grow, and it is critical that supporters and opponents alike keep sight of their truly common goal: improving American education. Dodging honest discussion is no way to get there.


Time to Ban High Capacity Liberals From Campus

Mike Adams

Not all liberals are created equal. Some make an occasional stupid remark. Others have the capacity to make a lot of stupid remarks without reloading. An example of the latter is my boss, UNC Chancellor Thomas Ross. As a former Professor of Public Law and Government, he cannot be accused of mere bias when he makes demonstrably false statements about matters of public policy. Instead, the public must recognize that he is not just biased but also grossly incompetent. Because his incompetence threatens the safety of all people who come to UNC campuses, including small children, he should be replaced immediately.

Ross recently made a public statement in response to new NC House legislation that would ease restrictions on concealed carry (CCW) permits on our college campuses. One change in the CCW law would allow the permit holder to keep a weapon in the trunk of his car while on university property. Although the bill does not fully remove all campus restrictions on permit holders, Ross had the audacity to say the following:

“We have an obligation to provide a safe environment for our students and employees, and every UNC campus has a trained police force charged with promoting the safety of all people who come onto our campuses. All UNC Chancellors and Chiefs of Police believe allowing guns on campus would increase the risk to public safety and hamper our ability to protect not only our students, staff ,and faculty, but also campus visitors, including parents, siblings of students, and summer camp participants. Vehicle break-ins are one of the leading crimes on college campuses, and even guns brought lawfully onto campus, as contemplated by this bill, could fall into the wrong hands and result in serious injury or death."

We do indeed have an obligation to provide a safe environment for students and employees. That is why we need to relax totalitarian policies that selectively violate the Second Amendment by stripping the rights of law abiding adult students to protect themselves and others by carrying a concealed weapon. They should not be sitting ducks just because they chose to further their education on campuses made dangerous by progressive ideology.

Sixteen refereed publications show that CCW laws reduce violence. Zero refereed publications show that they increase violence. In other words, the laws are good for the public. Shouldn't Tom Ross, a former Professor of Public Law, know what laws are good for the public? Of course, Ross probably does know the research but refuses to share it with the public. In other words, he does not want others to conceal weapons while he conceals the truth. It elevates hypocrisy to a Zen art when a university system president decides to lead by feigning ignorance and suppressing his knowledge of academic research.

Students should not be made vulnerable to rape in order to preserve the ideological purity of overpaid public servants. Of course, the self-serving propagandist has no real interest in serving the public.

While we are on the subject of rape, all university Police Chiefs believe that most campus rape accusations are false. But they won't say that because college campuses are the most politically charged workplaces in America. Put simply, a university police chief will lose his job if he speaks his mind. And that is relevant to the present debate. Many UNC law enforcement officers support the right to carry on campus. I spoke to one last night and he was simply aghast at Ross' statement. But he knows that anyone who opposes Ross will lose his job. Clearly, Ross knows he does not have the unanimous support of the campus law enforcement community. He is simply misleading the public that pays his salary.

I'm glad Ross brought children into the debate. Summer camp participants need protection, too. If the data show that CCW laws reduce crime then we must take the data seriously. Other than having homosexual camp leaders in the Boy Scouts, I can't imagine a better way to protect young campers than having capable guardians with CCW permits. When Ross plays the summer camp card, he is begging the question. He simply assumes CCW laws increase crime or, more accurately, assumes we are ignorant of the fact that they decrease crime.

Now is a good time to recall that a few years ago our campus hosted the rapper Ludicris who sang about shooting b*tches and hoes with his 9mm. In fact, he was paid $130,000 to sing about killing b*tches and hoes. Surely, we can let CCW permit holders on campus for free. Research shows that they seldom shoot their b*tches.

I am also glad Ross brought up burglary. Break-ins do occur on campus. But that is no reason to ban guns from campus. Burglary is one of the crimes reduced by having CCW laws. It cannot be used as an excuse to negate CCW laws on campus. That would be like killing both your parents and asking the court to show you mercy because you are an orphan. If we allowed CCW laws to be fully operative on campus, those burglars would be far more likely to be apprehended, convicted, and imprisoned. Then crime would go down and Ross would probably issue a statement lamenting the fact that "so many people are in prison despite the fact that crime is down."

But Ross continues his mendacity – and I'll respond, after you read the following:

“In addition, a number of UNC campuses house early college high schools, middle schools, or summer camps for younger children. The presence of these young people further heightens our concerns about the safety risks that come with guns getting into the wrong hands. Moreover, when responding to an armed robbery or active shooter incident, our officers would often be hard pressed to distinguish between a criminal suspect and well-intentioned bystanders with weapons drawn, particularly in the heat of the moment. The potential for tragedy far outweighs any potential benefit or convenience to concealed-carry permit holders. We encourage the General Assembly to remove the provision that would allow guns to be brought onto UNC and other college and university campuses.”

Children should not be used as human political shields unless the cause is liberal. I mean, liberals have always cared more about children. That's why they abort them by the millions. They don't want them to be born into a world where they could get shot at a UNC summer camp because some Tea Bagger forgot to lock his Glock in the glove box of his Ford F150. Seriously, Tom Ross, if you cared about children, you would shut down all the UNC Women's Centers that “center” on pro-abortion politics. And, while you’re at it, get your anti-gun laws off my body!

Shoot outs last a really long time. In fact, the average shootout takes about an hour, which is long enough for most UNC police officers to finish eating their donuts, flirting with coeds, and finally arrive at the scene of the crime. And then its mayhem! Barney Fife can't tell the good guy from the bad guy. He's shaking like a suspected Christian in a UNC student conduct hearing! (Sarcasm = off. Now back to reality).

As a professor who teaches criminal law, I use hypotheticals all the time. But they need to be at least somewhat realistic in order to be persuasive. When the police are not around and a permit holder encounters a shooter the incident is typically over in seconds and long before the UNC officer finishes writing a traffic ticket in order to raise money for the new Gay and Lesbian Resource Center.

But Ross is right when he says that the current controversy involves an important trade off. He is willing to trade the safety of students in exchange for preserving the dreams of children. Of course, I'm talking about the children who teach at universities and refuse to grow up and face the reality that we live in a fallen world where utopia is impossible and guns are necessary.


Gun paranoia leads to injustice in NC school

Cole Withrow was just a few weeks from graduating with honors at North Carolina’s Princeton High School. But on Monday, the Eagle Scout and active church member was expelled and arrested after he accidentally left a shotgun in his pickup truck.

The 18-year-old is now facing a felony weapons charge and a precarious future for what most people in the community believe was an honest-to-goodness mistake. “I think it’s an injustice for this young man,” family friend Kimberly Boykin said. “He’s a good guy. He’s loved by his classmates and his teachers. You don’t become an Eagle Scout by being a bad seed.”

She said the school district is sending a very bad message to students. “You teach your kids if you’re in trouble or if you see you’ve done something wrong, go ahead and admit it,” she said. “Be a man and it’ll be fixed. In this case, that’s what he did and he’s being punished for it. That’s not the lesson we need to teach our kids.”

Withrow had spent the weekend camping with a group of his friends, including Boykin’s son. The boys went fishing for catfish on Saturday and skeet shooting on Sunday.

He realized he had left his shotgun in his truck on Monday morning as he reached to grab his book bag, said Boykin.

“He didn’t know what to do,” she told Fox News. “If you jump in the truck and leave, then they get you for skipping school. Once you are there you have to say.”

So the teenager, who did his senior class project on gun safety, locked his truck, walked to the front office and called his mother. That’s when the trouble started.

“He was overheard in a private conversation with his mother explaining what happened,” Boykin said. “He could have told a story, but he told the truth.” A spokesperson for Johnston County Schools confirmed to Fox News that they found the shotgun in Withrow’s locked vehicle.

“The law is very clear when a person knowingly and willingly brings a weapon onto educational property,” spokesperson Tracey Peedin Jones said. “The situation was turned over to law enforcement immediately.”

Boykin said he was also expelled for 365 days – meaning that he will not be able to graduate from high school.

“He cannot go back on the campus,” Boykin said. “If that happens he won’t get a diploma. He won’t get to walk across the stage with the kids he’s known since birth. He won’t get to start college in the fall.”

Withrow’s arrest has sparked outrage across this small town, southeast of Raleigh. A Facebook page has been launched to generate support for the boy – and students have launched a Twitter hash-tag “#FREECOLE.”

“He is very honest and respectable and would never intentionally try to hurt anyone,” said classmate Kelcie Thomas. “It was an honest mistake and my whole school is backing him up and supporting him fully.”

The Withrow family is not talking to the media on the advice of their attorney – but Boykin said the family is just heartbroken.

“It’s almost like they are in a fog – something so innocent has turned into this big to-do,” she said. “When you try to do the right thing, you get in trouble.”

The school system is standing by their decision.

“Administration reacted promptly and the proper procedures and protocol were followed,” Jones said. “The situation was turned over to law enforcement immediately. As a result of our investigation, it is our best determination that students and staff were safe at all times.”

Boykin said the problem is that the laws are black and white.

“There’s no room for grey area,” she said. “There’s no room for discretion for human error.”

While his future remains unclear, Boykin said an encounter last week sums up the character of Cole Withrow.

“The kids got their caps and gowns on Friday and after school a group of them went to a local Mexican restaurant,” she recounted. “They were being loud teenagers and carrying on – but when the waiter brought their food – the table got quiet. They all bowed their heads and they said the blessing. Cole was one of those kids.”

Boykin said she cried when another mom told her that story.

“They don’t always make the right decisions,” she said. “But I don’t know what other kind of decision he could have made at that point.”

Like many in this town of 1,000 residents, Boykin is dumbfounded.

“Honestly, my heart just broke,” she said. “I know that it was just an honest mistake.”


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