Friday, August 30, 2013

Why Democrats Love Failing Schools: Because Unions Pay Them To

It is now official. For all their talk about education’s failings, and all their feigned interest in bettering the educational system, liberals once again have proven that they hate giving the disadvantaged the same opportunities as the privileged. According to Fox News, the Justice Department is trying to stop a school vouchers program in Louisiana that attempts to place children in independent schools instead of under-performing public schools. So, apparently it’s all about “the kids”. . . Unless Teacher’s Unions are set to lose a dollar.

Louisiana is one of a few states that have implemented a very limited voucher program. Vouchers, on their own merit, should be a championed idea for underprivileged minorities and low income families. With educational dollars meant to better the learning process for students throughout the state, vouchers were given to 570 public school students so that children in impoverished and underperforming schools might reap the same benefited education as some of the most privileged in the state. However, in papers filed in US District Court, the Justice Department said that the vouchers “impeded the desegregation process."

Right. Imagine the horror on Martin Luther King Jr.’s face when he learned that low-income students were given the opportunity to attend some of the most exclusive and impressive academies in the state. The federal government is arguing that allowing students to attend independent schools under the voucher system “could create a racial imbalance in public school systems protected by desegregation orders.”

Anyone else find it ironic that the first black President’s administration is blocking a reform effort that is poised to dis-proportionately benefit minority communities?

According to Fox News: The Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal -- who last year expanded the program that started in 2008 -- said this weekend that the department's action is "shameful" and said President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder "are trying to keep kids trapped in failing public schools against the wishes of their parents."

Tough words. . . And accurate.

The Louisiana Supreme Court already found, earlier this year, that the state could not use the allotted voucher money. As a result the Republican governor had to find the $40 million in other public funds to move the project forward and help the 8,000 students already enrolled in the program.

The objection by the DOJ is just one more case where Democrats and Liberal groups have tried to limit the ability of minorities to move out of failing schools. A hypocritical maneuver for a group that claims the mantel of moral superiority on the issue.

The reason is far more simple, and insidious, than most would think. The Liberal/ Democratic agenda is closely aligned with Teacher’s unions. And like all unions, they are working to protect due paying positions above all else. And yes: That means the Unions would rather preserve their jobs than work for the betterment of your child’s educational experience. After all, over 95 percent of political donations from Teacher’s Unions went to Democrats; and based off of Democrat run cities like Chicago, New York, LA, and Detroit, that’s a horrible investment. On a purely economic analysis, it would seem the Democrat Party is far more dedicated to keeping the Union happy, than honestly improving student education. As a consequence, the lobbying arm of the union is not focused on the interests of students. . . But don’t take my word for it:

So. . . Apparently losing a teacher’s tenure is “too high a price to pay” for a more effective educational system for our youth. And to think they act like it’s “all for the children.”

The most terrifying part of the story: The case is scheduled to be heard by a judge who has already ruled that parts of Jindal's 2012 expansion were unconstitutional. So, we have a Judge who is opposed to using public education monies for the purpose of educating the public (as opposed to feeding Teacher’s Unions), about to rule on a law that runs contrary to the fundamental concerns of the Obama Administration. If the Judge, or the DOJ, were actually interested in improving education, they would applaud any attempt to move students from failing schools. They, instead, seem far more interested in preserving the failing status quo.

After all, our ruling elite don’t send their kids to underperforming schools. So, really, why should they promote opportunities for the rest of America’s youth without first bowing to politically connected Unions?


Obama Plan Encourages College Admissions to Discriminate Against Families Earning $60,000+

President Barack Obama’s college reform plan, released by the White House on Thursday, would encourage colleges to discriminate against applicants who come from families with total incomes of $60,000 or more by awarding colleges higher federal ratings and increased federal aid for admitting a higher “percentage” of students who receive federal Pell Grants, which the Department of Education says are for "low-income" students.

According to a study by the Congressional Research Service, in the 2007-2008 school year, only 2.3 percent of undergraduates who were still dependent on their parents, and whose total family income was $60,000 or more, received Federal Pell Grants.

According to the College Board, in the 2010-2011 school year, only 5 percent of all Pell Grants were distributed to dependent students whose total family income was $60,000 or more.

Colleges that admit and graduate a higher “percentage” of students on Pell Grants--as the Obama plan would encourage them to do--will necessarily admit and graduate a lower percentage of students who are not on Pell Grants.

A college that based its admissions policies solely on the merit of the individual applicant--and did not consider the applicant’s family income or eligibility for a Pell Grant in deciding whether to offer the applicant a place at the school--could be penalized under the Obama plan with less federal aid for itself and for its students if its merit-only admissions policy resulted in a student body with a lower percentage of Pell Grant recipients than other schools.

The Obama plan also would reward colleges for having higher overall graduation "rates" and for graduating a higher "number" of students on Pell Grants--which could provide colleges with an incentive to lower the academic standards for earning a diploma.

"The Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain postbaccalaureate students to promote access to postsecondary education," says the Department of Education. "A Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid."

“In FY 2009,” the CRS reported, “an estimated 76 percent of all Pell Grant recipients had a total family income at or below $30,000.”

If a family of three included a father and a mother, who both worked 40 hours a week for the minimum federal wage of $7.25 an hour, and an 18-year-old son going off to college who did not work a single hour the entire year, the total annual income of that family would be $30,160. That would put them slightly above the income level of three-quarters of Federal Pell Grant recipients.

The fact sheet released by the White House on President Obama’s college-reform plan says Obama wants to establish a federal rating system for colleges and then tie federal aid to colleges to that rating system. The fact sheet lists as the first criteria Obama wants to use in rating colleges the “percentage of students receiving Pell Grants.”

The fact sheet also says Obama wants “to give colleges a bonus based on the number of Pell students they graduate.”

“His plan will measure college performance through a new rating system so students and families have the information to select schools that provide the best value,” say the White House fact sheet. “And after this ratings system is well established, Congress can tie federal student aid to college performance so that students maximize their federal aid at institutions providing the best value.”

“These ratings will compare colleges with similar missions and identify colleges that do the most to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as colleges that are improving their performance,” says the Fact Sheet.

“The Department [of Education] will develop these ratings through public hearings around the country to gather input of students and parents, state leaders, college presidents, and others with ideas on how to publish excellent ratings that put a fundamental premium on measuring value and ensure that access for those with economic or other disadvantages are encouraged, not discouraged,” says the fact sheet.

“These ratings will be based upon such measures as: Access, such as percentage of students receiving Pell grants; affordability, such as average tuition, scholarships, and loan debt; and outcomes, such as graduation and transfer rates, graduate earnings, and advanced degrees of college graduates.”

President Obama’s plan would give more federal money to the student and to the school he or she attends if that school scores highly on the new government rating system that will be based in part on the percentage of Pell Grant students enrolled and graduated.

“The Administration will seek legislation using this new rating system to transform the way federal aid is awarded to colleges once the ratings are well developed,” says the Fact Sheet. “Students attending high-performing colleges would receive larger Pell Grants and more affordable student loans.”

“To encourage colleges to enroll and graduate low- and moderate-income students, the president will propose legislation to give colleges a bonus based upon the number of Pell Grant students they graduate.”


Australia: Push to end expulsion of homosexual students from private schools

Seems a pity that there can be no refuge from them

Controversial laws that allow private schools to expel students because they are gay could be abolished if the two main parties are allowed a conscience vote on the issue, the MP seeking to overturn the laws says.

Under the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act, it is unlawful for public schools and educational institutions to discriminate against or expel students on the basis of homosexuality, transgender status and other traits, but private schools and colleges are explicitly exempt from these provisions.

Independent MP for Sydney Alex Greenwich will introduce the private member's bill to the NSW Parliament on Wednesday to remove the exemptions, and said he hoped a conscience vote would be granted if the two main parties did not back the bill outright. "I have spoken to a number of government members and opposition members who are keen on it," he said.

Though few, if any, cases of students actually being expelled under the laws are known, students at religious schools say their complaints about homophobic bullying are sometimes ignored by staff and have been told they should convert to heterosexuality, according to a recent senate submission by Dr Tiffany Jones from the University of New England's School of Education

Mr Greenwich said schoolchildren should be free from harassment and discrimination.

"Students suffering from bullying by their peers because of their [lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual or intersex] status are less likely to report the matter to teachers if they know they could be expelled," he wrote in a discussion paper on the issue.

"A school that can by law discriminate is less likely to have processes in place to deal with this type of bullying if it is reported."

Both the Coalition and Labor said they would examine the details of the bill before taking a position.

Labor's education spokeswoman, Carmel Tebbutt, said she had '"sympathy" for what Mr Greenwich was trying to achieve.

"I respect the religious beliefs of faith-based schools, however, it is important that all students are treated fairly and are not subject to discrimination," she said.

But several authorities representing private and religious schools have already voiced opposition to removing the exemptions.

Ian Baker, then-acting executive director of the NSW Catholic Education Commission, told Fairfax Media in July that the fact that so few, if any, cases of students being expelled were widely known was testament to the fact schools tended to treat such students with sensitivity.

"It speaks for itself,’’ he said at the time. "It’s exercised with great caution and consideration. The objective is not to punish, but to protect the rights of those families who send their child to a school based on a religious faith.’’

The executive director of the Association for Independent Schools NSW, Geoff Newcombe, also defended the right of schools to decide who they enrolled, provided they were operating within the law.

Greens MP John Kaye said his party strongly supported Mr Greenwich’s move and pointed out private schools received significant government funding: "The least they could do is obey the common standards that apply to the rest of society.’’


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