Wednesday, August 28, 2013

U.S. government sues to block vouchers in some Louisiana school systems

The U.S. Justice Department is suing Louisiana in New Orleans federal court to block 2014-15 vouchers for students in public school systems that are under federal desegregation orders. The first year of private school vouchers "impeded the desegregation process," the federal government says.

Thirty-four school systems could be affected, including those of Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. John the Baptist and St. Tammany parishes. Under the lawsuit, the state would be barred from assigning students in those systems  to private schools unless a federal judge agreed to it. A court hearing is tentatively set for Sept. 19.

The statewide voucher program, officially called the Louisiana Scholarship Program, lets low-income students in public schools graded C, D or F attend private schools at taxpayer expense. This year, 22 of the 34 systems under desegregation orders are sending some students to private schools on vouchers.

Last year, at least 570 students were affected; the program has expanded since then. The federal petition would require the state to analyze this year's vouchers to see how they affected school desegregation. (Read the petition.)

The Justice Department's primary argument is that letting students leave for vouchered private schools can disrupt the racial balance in public school systems that desegregation orders are meant to protect. Those orders almost  always set rules for student transfers with the school system.

Federal analysis found that last year's Louisiana vouchers increased racial imbalance in 34 historically segregated public schools in 13 systems. The Justice Department goes so far as to charge that in some of those schools, "the loss of students through the voucher program reversed much of the progress made toward integration."

In Tangipahoa Parish, for instance, Independence Elementary School lost five white students to voucher schools, the petition states. The consequent change in the percent of enrolled white students "reinforc(ed) the racial identity of the school as a black school."

While the federal petition would let courts approve vouchers in those school systems next year, Brian Blackwell, attorney for the Louisiana Association of Educators, said it likely would take a lot of time, effort and evidence to persuade the judges.

State Education Superintendent John White took issue with the suit's primary argument and its characterization of the program. Almost all the students using vouchers are black, he said. Given that framework, "it's a little ridiculous" to argue that students' departure to voucher schools makes their home school systems less white, he said. He also thought it ironic that rules set up to combat racism were being called on to keep black students in failing schools.

The voucher program started in New Orleans in 2008. A large number of participants still live in the city.

White also pointed out that the schools in the voucher program must comply with the terms of 1975 court case, Brumfield v. Dodd, that prohibits the state from giving public money to private schools that uphold segregation or discrimination.

The voucher program has been controversial since its inception last year, with multiple suits filed to block it. After the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled in May that the state could not use the money it allots for each student in public schools, Gov. Bobby Jindal found about $40 million in public money elsewhere to cover the almost 8,000 2013-14 enrollees.

Jindal blasted the Justice Department's suit Saturday.  "After generations of being denied a choice, parents finally can choose a school for their child, but now the federal government is stepping in to prevent parents from exercising this right. Shame on them," he said. "Parents should have the ability to decide where to send their child to school."

The case has been assigned to Judge Ivan Lemelle. He ruled in November that elements of Jindal's 2012 education overhaul were unconstitutional,  because paying to implement the voucher program would hurt Tangipahoa Parish's ability to pay for the programs it uses to comply with its federal desegregation order. The state's appeal in that case is pending.


Average U.S. Public School Teacher Paid More in School Year Than Median Household Earned in Full Year

The average public school teacher in the United States is paid more in base salary alone for just the work he or she does during the school year than the median U.S. household earns in an entire year.

In the 2011-2012 school year, according to a newly released report by the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, the average base salary for a full-time public school teacher in the United States was $53,100 for the regular school year—not counting any earnings made for summer work.

In 2011, the latest year estimated by the Census Bureau, median household income in the United States was $50,054.

Thus, the average base salary paid to a public school teacher for the regular school year was $3,064 more than the income the median household made in an entire year.

According to the NCES, many public school teachers are paid additional money—over and above their base salaries—by the public school systems that employ them. For example, 41.8 percent are paid an average of $2,500 during the school year to work in extracurricular activities; 4.4 percent get an average of $1,400 during the school year in compensation based on their students’ performance; and 7.9 percent get an average of $2,100 during the school year from other school-system sources.

Also, 16.1 percent of public school teachers have a second job outside the school system that employs them as a teacher. These teachers earn an average of $4,800 during the school year from those outside jobs.

When all sources of teacher income are taken into account, according to the NCES, the average teacher income during the 2011-2012 school year was $55,100.

If two public school teachers were married to one another, and each earned only a public school teacher’s average base salary of $53,100; their combined income would be $106,200. That is 212 percent of the nation’s median household income.

A teacher’s average earnings, as calculated by NCES, excluded any income from retirement pensions.


The biggest embarrassment to higher education in America

It seems a student complained to Prof. Adams that he is “the biggest embarrassment to higher education in America.”  Prof. Adams’s reply to the student is reproduced here in total, so you can enjoy every splendid syllable of his smack down:

Dear Edward:

I want to take the time to thank you for writing and telling me that I should be fired from my position as a tenured professor because I am “the biggest embarrassment to higher education in America.” I also want to thank you for responding when I asked you exactly how you arrived at that conclusion. Your response, “because you insist that marriage requires one man and one woman,” was both helpful and concise.

While I respect your right to conclude that I am the biggest embarrassment to higher education in America, I think you’re wrong. In fact, I don’t even think I’m the biggest embarrassment to higher education in the state of North Carolina. But since you’re a liberal and you support “choice” – provided we’re talking about dismembering children and not school vouchers for those who weren’t dismembered – I want to give you some options. In fact, I’m going to describe the antics of ten professors, official campus groups, and invited campus speakers in North Carolina and let you decide which constitutes the biggest embarrassment to higher education.

1. In the early spring semester of 2013, a women’s studies professor and a psychology professor at Western Carolina University co-sponsored a panel on bondage and S&M. The purpose of the panel was to teach college students how to inflict pain on themselves and others for sexual pleasure. When you called me the biggest embarrassment in higher education, you must not have known about their bondage panel. Maybe you were tied up that evening and couldn’t make it.

2. At UNC Chapel Hill, there is a feminist professor who believes that women can lead happy lives without men. That’s nothing new. But what’s different is that she thinks women can form lifelong domestic partnerships with dogs and that those relationships will actually be fulfilling enough to replace marital relationships with men. I can’t make this stuff up, Ed. I don’t drop acid. Well, at least not since the late 1980s. But I promise this story is real and not an LSD flashback.

3. At Duke University, feminists hired a “sex worker” (read: prostitute) to speak as part of an event called the Sex Workers Art Show. After his speech, the male prostitute pulled down his pants, got down on his knees, and inserted a burning sparkler into his rectum. While it burned, he sang a verse of “the Star Spangled Banner.” I believe that stripping incident was almost as embarrassing as the other one involving the Duke Lacrosse team.

4. A porn star was once paid to give a speech at UNCG. The topic was “safe sodomy.” After her speech, the feminist pornographer sold autographed butt plugs to students in attendance. I’m not sure whether the ink could contribute to rectal cancer. I’m no health expert. But I do know it was pretty darned embarrassing when the media picked up on the story.

5. A few years ago at UNC-Chapel Hill, a feminist group built a large vibrator museum in the middle of the campus quad as a part of their “orgasm awareness week.” I think that was probably the climax of the semester, academically speaking. But they certainly weren’t too embarrassed to display a vibrator that was made out of wood back in the 1920s. Keep your batteries charged, Ed. We’re about halfway done.

6. A feminist administrator at UNC-Wilmington sponsored a pro-abortion event. During the event they sold tee shirts saying “I had an abortion” to students who … well, had abortions. That’s right, Ed. The students were encouraged to boast about the fact that they had killed their own children. That’s how the UNC system is preserving the future of our great Tar Heel state.

7. The following semester, that same UNCW administrator sponsored a workshop teaching students how to appreciate their orgasms. I learned art appreciation in college. Today, college kids are taught orgasm appreciation. I will let you decide whether that’s an embarrassment to higher ed., Ed.

8 A few years ago, a UNCW English professor posted nude pictures of under-aged girls as a part of an “art exhibit” in the university library. The Provost then ordered the nude pictures to be moved away from the library and into the university union. This decision was made after several pedophiles had previous been caught downloading child pornography in the university library just a few yards away from the location of the display. The English professor was incensed so she asked the Faculty Senate to censure the provost for violating her “academic freedom.” The faculty senate sided with the feminist professor. The provost was later pressured to leave the university.

9. A different feminist professor at UNCW accused a male professor of putting tear gas in her office. She was later caught putting her mail in a microwave oven. She did this because she thought people were trying to poison her with anthrax and that the oven would neutralize the toxins. She was not placed on leave for psychiatric reasons. Instead, she was designated as the university’s official “counter terrorism” expert.

10 And then there is Mike Adams. He thinks marriage is between a man and a woman.

So those are the choices, Ed. You can simply write back and tell me which of these professors, groups, or guest speakers has caused “the biggest embarrassment to higher education” – either in North Carolina or in America altogether. Or you can just concede that our system of hire education is the real embarrassment because it has been hijacked by radical feminism. And please pardon any puns – especially those that take the form of ms-spelled words.


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