Friday, November 08, 2013

Obama sends kids to the back of the bus on education

Decades-old desegregation orders on Louisiana school districts, the center of a federal government case against Louisiana’s school choice program, are now emerging as a major distraction for the Department of Justice bringing the case.

The Justice Department is arguing that allowing students to leave public schools for private schools will somehow undermine desegregation of schools in Louisiana.

Yet, when the state in discovery asked for the desegregation orders, the administration responded by stalling. “[S]ome of the Discovery Requests seek documents that may be available only in federal archives and may require significant time to retrieve; the United States will then need to review and evaluate those documents, determine what to produce, and prepare any related objections.”

How embarrassing. Republican Governor Bobby Jindal noted the irony in a statement, saying the Obama administration in its filing had admitted “that it sued the state based on documents the Department of Justice is not able to readily produce.”

Perhaps the reason for that is the case actually has nothing to do with racial segregation. As even the Washington Post editorial board recently noted about the school choice program in Louisiana, “most of the students using vouchers are black.” Meaning, the effect was to boost black enrollment in private schools where they are underserved, not to reimpose segregation.

Since the vouchers are available regardless of race, they cannot serve to segregate at all on the basis of race. The argument put forth by the administration simply cannot follow. It is a non-sequitur.

Instead, there is ample evidence this has everything to do with keeping taxpayer funding flowing to public teachers unions and Democrat Party causes. Indeed, the only thing that might be undermined by the program is enrollment in public schools across the board if school vouchers should become more widely available.

In that sense, the true segregation in education being enforced today is not based on racial quotas, but on the monopoly public schools teachers unions insist on imposing.

“This is the Obama administration, this is Washington D.C., putting the needs of government unions over the needs of our children,” Jindal declared in a recent speech at an Americans for Prosperity gathering.

Gov. Jindal is right. School vouchers take dollars out of public schools, and the unions hate it. It forces them to compete. They care more about pocketing those tax dollars than helping kids get a better education.

So beholden is the Obama Administration and Holder Justice Department to the unions like that National Education Association, they are willing to gut a school choice program that black students disproportionately benefit from. They’re willing to send those kids to the back of the bus by leaving them in failing schools.


Scandal! Tory cabinet minister met distinguished scientist

Thus, from the leftist Independent:  Michael Gove held talks with 'IQ genes' professor

Michael Gove held talks with a leading scientist who believes that genetics, not teaching, plays a major part in the intelligence of schoolchildren, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.

Professor Robert Plomin, the world's leading behavioural geneticist, met the Secretary of State for Education and ministers at the Department for Education in the summer. Mr Gove's policy adviser, Dominic Cummings, provoked outcry yesterday when it emerged he had backed Professor Plomin's research that genes accounted for up to 70 per cent of a child's cognitive abilities.

Mr Cummings, in a 250-page "private thesis", said the link between intelligence and genetics had been overlooked in the education system and wanted to introduce Professor Plomin to ministers to redress the balance.

A spokesman for Mr Gove refused to respond when asked three times whether the Education Secretary also believed intelligence was genetic. "Professor Plomin has given a few talks to different groups including ministers," the spokesman said.

"[He] suggested lots of different things, for example, that genetic research might allow us to help those with learning difficulties much earlier and more effectively."

Linking intelligence to genes has long been controversial, but Professor Plomin has conducted research showing up to 70 per cent heritability for reading and maths tests at age seven, nine and 12, while scores for English, Maths and science GCSEs show up to 60 per cent heritability in a twin study.

The research is contentious because ministers and educationalists have long believed that any child, from whatever background, can achieve the highest academic ability.

In his document, leaked to The Guardian, Mr Cummings cited at length research by Professor Plomin, including the studies showing up to 70 per cent of a child's performance is genetically derived.

Mr Cummings said: "There is strong resistance across the political spectrum to accepting scientific evidence on genetics. Most of those that now dominate discussions on issues such as social mobility entirely ignore genetics and therefore their arguments are at best misleading and often worthless."

In the document, effectively a lengthy and detailed parting shot before he leaves the Department for Education at the end of this year, Mr Cummings also claimed that mediocrity is ubiquitous in education and criticised the amount of money the Labour government spent on Sure Start and other measures to improve social mobility, claiming billions had been spent "with no real gains". He added: "The education of the majority even in rich countries is between awful and mediocre." ...

Kevin Brennan, the shadow schools minister, said: "His claim that most variation in performance is due to genetics rather than teaching quality will send a chill down the spine of every parent – we need to know if these views are shared by Michael Gove."


Parents Slam Pro-Islam Slant in Florida School Textbook

Hundreds of parents, angry at what they say is a biased student textbook with a decided pro-Islam slant, have launched a campaign demanding equal religious representation and planned a protest at the school board meeting this week.

The book, "World History," devotes fully 32 pages - an entire chapter - on "Muslim Civilizations," including descriptions of the Koran and a listing of the Five Pillars of Islam, The Daily Caller reported. But noticeably missing is information on any other religion.

Protesters are demanding that students tear out the Islam chapter until the school, in Volusia County, provide a like number of pages on other religions, the local WFTV reported.

"The problem is there needs to be balance," said District 2 Deltona commissioner Webster Barnaby, in The Daily Caller. "In America today, Christianity is being relegated to the trash heap. Why relegate Christianity to a footnote in an entire history book, and you give an entire chapter on the teachings of Islam? To suggest that everybody knows about Christianity, that is total ignorance."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, meanwhile, has sent out a statement in opposition to the protest.


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