Friday, February 08, 2013
University of Michigan Christian club discriminated against
Clashes between Christian clubs and college campuses have been heating up across the country, with numerous schools telling evangelical groups that they cannot require their members and leaders be believers. The latest debate is erupting at the University of Michigan, where the college is being accused of booting an InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter off campus for requiring its leaders to be Christians.
According to Greg Jao, InterVarsity’s field director, the university gave the Asian chapter of the group two options — either reverse its constitution to be in compliance or leave campus. The problem apparently began last December when group members were brought before officials to discuss a problematic part of the Asian InterVarsity group’s constitution. The document required club leaders to sign a statement affirming their Christian faith — something the university said was a violation of its non-discrimination policy.
While students were given an option to submit a new constitution that complied with these rules, they decided to refrain from doing so and to stick with their values. From a practical standpoint, it is understandable why a faith-based club would want its leaders to share theological values, something that a statement of faith would ensure.
“The university is sending the message that religious voices are suspect and should be marginalized,” Jao told Fox News’ Todd Starnes. “I think it sends the message that the university does not understand the nature of religious beliefs and the convictions of religious students.”
As a result of its decision to stick to its convictions, the Asian InterVarsity group was de-recognized by the school and forced to relocate off-campus. Jao noted that this isn’t just a Christian problem, as other faiths will also be impacted.
“I can’t imagine the Muslim Student Association saying you don’t have to be a Muslim to help lead our group,” he noted. “I think the university’s decision will impact any religious group that’s being honest about their leadership criteria.”
When a University of Michigan spokesperson was contacted by Fox News’ Todd Starnes, a statement was released noting that all registered student groups are required to agree to and sign a standard non-discrimination agreement. Additionally, club constitutions must be reviewed. The response also noted that the Asian InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has not complied with these mandates, but did not get into specifics about the debate between the two parties.
The club plans to use the university’s appeals process to overturn the decision. For now, students are meeting in an alternative location.
This is yet another example of a club embroiled in a battle with a prominent university over a non-discrimination policy. Vanderbilt University, Yale and Tufts, among others, have had similar faith-based wars over the same subject.
S&M at WCU
I think the time has come for a line item veto in higher education. The people of North Carolina are being bankrupted by higher education spending that is simply not academic in nature. The problem was once confined to UNC’s flagship campus in Chapel Hill. But now it has spread like a cancer throughout the entire UNC system.
For example, this week (February 4-8, 2013) at Western Carolina University, the Women’s Studies Program is sponsoring Sexual Empowerment Week. Each day will feature an event funded by North Carolina taxpayers. Here is the scheduled lineup:
February 4. In the Multi-purpose Room, between 7 and 9 p.m., an “All You Ever Wanted to Know about Sex but Didn’t Learn in High School” panel was assembled. The panel featured two professors - one in Psychology (Hal Herzog) and one in Women’s Studies (Marilyn Chamberlin).
In case you didn’t know, Hal Herzog is an expert on animal behavior. He once wrote a book asking profound questions such as “Is it Okay to kill animals just because they taste good?” and “Why is it Okay to feed a mouse but not a kitten to your pet boa constrictor?” and, finally, “Can dogs read people’s minds?” The learned professor even developed a personality test for baby snakes.
Dr. Herzog later studied chickens, and as part of his research interviewed and observed people who engaged in cockfighting. Maybe that’s how he got to be a sexual health expert. Let’s just hope he doesn’t integrate his interest in human sexual behavior with his interest in animal/human relationships.
February 5. In the Multi-purpose Room, between 6 and 8 p.m., sex therapist Marsha Rand lectured on “how to have an emotionally and spiritually healthy sexual relationship.” The flier says “First 50 people only.” It is unclear whether that was meant to limit seating to fifty people or whether her advice is only good for one’s first fifty sex partners. Oh well, I guess sexual ambiguity is just another form of diversity.
February 6. In the Multi-purpose Room, between 7 and 9 p.m., there will be an event called “Safe Sex” led by Barbara Starnes. Since it was dubbed an “interactive session” it is unclear whether students will merely talk about – or actually engage in - safe sex during the session. So hopefully the attendance will be limited to fifty people in this session, too. Otherwise, that would be one serious fire code violating orgy!
February 7. Sexual Empowerment Week moves to the Grand Ballroom to accommodate the climax of the week’s events (bad pun, sorry), which is a Sexuality Exploration Fair. Information will include how to masturbate (which is something no one can learn to do without a college education) and how to engage in BDSM sexual practices. BTW, BDSM stands for “bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism.” BTW, BTW stands for “by the way.” I know a lot about acronyms. I went to college.
February 7. Sexual Empowerment Week will be completed in the Multi-purpose Room between 8 and 9 p.m. with a book discussion. The topic is “the realities of dominant/submissive relationships.” I would submit that S&M is a dominant theme in the week of events.
I would also like to submit a series of public records requests to Dr. Marilyn Chamberlin, the morally confused individual who organized this absurd week of events at taxpayer expense. Specifically, I would like to know how much this cost and what plans she has to fund events that counter her advocacy of sexual permissiveness. You know, in the name of sexual diversity.
British grade school tells parents to stop children using slang phrases as it is preventing them from learning 'standard' English
Particularly in England, pronunciation and grammar matter hugely, so this school is just doing its job
Parents have been sent letters from a school urging them to stop their children using phrases such as 'it's nowt' and 'gizit ere'.
Sacred Heart Primary School, a Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided school, warned against 'problem' phrases and criticised children using pronunciations, such as 'free' and 'butta' instead of 'three' and 'butter'.
The letter spells out 11 'incorrect' phrases. 'I done that' and 'I seen that' were blacklisted, and parents were reminded that 'yous' should not be permitted because 'you is never a plural'.
Sacred Heart School sends grammar and pronunciation letter
SACRED HEART'S BLACKLISTED LOCAL LANGUAGE
It's nowt - it's nothing
Letta, butta etc - letter, butter
Gizit ere - please give me it
Yous - the word you is never a plural
I seen that - I have seen that or I saw that
I done that - I have done that or I did that
Carol Walker, Sacred Heart's headteacher, defended the letter, saying: 'We would like to equip our children to go into the world of work and not be disadvantaged. 'We need the children to know there is a difference between dialect, accent and standard English. 'The literacy framework asks children to write in standard English.
'I am not asking the children to change their dialect or accent but I don't want them to enter the world of work without knowing about standard English.'
Parents seemed broadly in favour of the language initiative, though they were taken aback to receive the letter.
Cheryl Fortune, 35, a school escort for Middlesbrough Council and parent at Sacred Heart, said: 'When I saw it I was a bit shocked. I thought my kids are only eight and five, so it is a bit extreme.
'If I am honest though my eldest son said "yeah" last night and my youngest said "it's yes", so he corrected him. I can understand why the school has done it, to encourage people to speak properly.'
Another parent, engineer Chris Allinson, 31, hadn't seen the letter but thought it was a good idea. He said: 'I try to correct my daughter Jasmine's speech if she says things wrongly. I want her to get the best start in life.'
Sacred Heart is not the only school where accent is an issue.
Essex school children at the Cherry Tree Primary School in Basildon are being offered elocution lessons after teachers complained that the accent was affecting their grammar and spelling.
Famous Essex girl Billie Faiers [known principally for very large breasts] from TOWIE was less than impressed, saying: ‘I think it is ridiculous that kids so young are being forced to act a certain way. 'Both me and my sister have never had any sort of elocution lessons and it did not do us any harm.'
Sheffield's Springs Academy banned slang and 'text speak' last year in the hope of giving its pupils a better chance of getting a job.
Kathy August, deputy chief executive of the trust that runs the school, explained: 'When you are going for interviews you need to be confident in using standard English.'
However this angered local MP Angela Smith, who said: 'Who is going to adjudicate? Who is going to say slang, dialect or accent? And which one is right and which one is wrong?'
On the other end of the spectrum, parents in Ceredigion complained their children were not learning enough 'standard English'.
They set up a campaign group in West Wales last year, making a formal complaint to Keith Towler, Children’s Commissioner for Wales, that their children were being 'forced' to speak Welsh.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:08 AM
Thursday, February 07, 2013
British Labour Party is the elite 'Downton Abbey party', Michael Gove claims in row over who is on the side of working class students
Labour is today cast as the ‘Downton Abbey party’ which refuses to back opportunities for poorer people which have been enjoyed by the political elite.
Education Secretary Michael Gove is to use a speech to accuse Ed Miliband of reacting to the idea of increasing the aspirations of students with the ‘horror’ of the Earl of Grantham in the ITV drama to the news that a chauffeur wanted to marry his daughter.
In a surprise reversal of class-based political attacks, Mr Gove will claim Labour believes working class pupils should ‘stick to their station in life’ and not enjoy the elite Oxford education enjoyed by the party’s leadership.
Labour leader Ed Miliband's reaction to raising aspirations for working class students is likened to when Downton's Earl of Grantham learned his daughter wanted to marry a chauffeur
In a speech to the Social Market Foundation tonight, Mr Gove will defend the Government’s English Baccalaureate measure, which recognised students who secured at least a C grade in English, Maths, two sciences, a language and a humanities subject.
The measurement, introduced two years ago, had been greeted with ‘visceral horror’ from the Labour party and the unions, he is expected to say.
‘How dare anyone - let alone the Department for Education - reveal how many state school students were getting the sort of education that enables the children of the rich to dominate British life?’
The eBacc inspired opposition ‘because it revealed how poorly served so many state students were’, he will say.
Mr Gove claims the attitude among the Labour leadership is like that of the landed gentry in ITV’s landed gentry, who do not believe that the working classes and the servants should enjoy the same privileges that they do.
He will contrast the privileged education of Mr Miliband, shadow chancellor Ed Balls and shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg who all studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford with the lack of ambition for students from poorer backgrounds.
And he will draw on the explosive storyline when the Earl of Grantham discovered Lady Sybil was running away to marry Irish chauffeur Tom Branson.
‘At the moment just 16 per cent of students in the state sector secure the EBacc. Only 23 per cent are even entered for it. More than three-quarters of state school students have been denied access to the qualifications which will empower them to choose their own path,’ he will say.
‘But for Labour that’s not only no cause for concern – it’s a truth which should be suppressed.
‘The current leadership of the Labour Party react to the idea that working class students might study the subjects they studied with the same horror that the Earl of Grantham showed when a chauffeur wanted to marry his daughter.
‘Labour, under their current leadership, want to be the Downton Abbey party when it comes to educational opportunity.
‘They think working class children should stick to the station in life they were born into – they should be happy to be recognised for being good with their hands and not presume to get above themselves.’
Mr Gove will say that claims of ‘rapid and relentless educational improvement’ under Labour which saw GCSE results soar have been ‘shown up as a far more complex narrative of inequality and untapped potential’.
He will add: ‘But instead of using this information to demand that poorer children at last enjoy the education expected by the privileged, far too many on the left attacked the very idea that poor children might aspire to such an entitlement.’
Labour hit back tonight, insisting there remains widespread opposition to the plans.
Mr Twigg said: 'Michael Gove is clearly rattled by the widespread opposition to his EBacc exams. Instead of lecturing others, he should listen to business leaders, entrepreneurs, headteachers and parents who think his plans are backward looking and narrow.
'We need to get young people ready for a challenging and competitive world of work, not just dwell on the past.'
MD: Copyright policy makes school board owner of student work
ard to own all students’ work with copyright policy
A county school board in Maryland has proposed a copyright policy that would allow it to take ownership of all work produced by students and faculty — even work created off campus during personal time.
A Prince George’s County Board of Education proposal obtained by WTOP says that “any works” created by students or employees “are properties of the Board of Education even if created on the employee’s or student’s time and with the use of their materials.”
University of Missouri law professor David Rein told The Washington Post that some universities have “sharing agreements” with students and faculty, but he had never heard of a local school board of trying to profit from a student’s work.
“The way this policy is written, it essentially says if a student writes a paper, goes home and polishes it up and expands it, the school district can knock on the door and say, ‘We want a piece of that,’” Rein observed. “I can’t imagine that.”
Board Chair Verjeana M. Jacobs explained to the Post that the policy was meant to make it clear that the school owns the rights to any software — such as iPad apps — written by teachers, but the board never had any “intention to declare ownership” of students’ work.
“Counsel needs to restructure the language,” she admitted. “We want the district to get the recognition … not take their work.”
National Education Policy Center director Kevin Welner reviewed the policy and said that the board appeared to be trying to generate extra revenue from lesson plans developed by teachers.
“I think it’s just the district saying, ‘If there is some brilliant idea that one of our teachers comes up with, we want be in on that. Not only be in on that, but to have it all,’” he remarked.
In an 8-to-1 vote last month, the board approved the policy for consideration, but it was recently removed from agenda of Thursday’s meeting. If the policy is approved, Prince George’s County would become the first district in the area to claim ownership of work produced by employees and students.
Many new to trades lack basics, say Australian employers
BAKERS who can't bake bread, butchers who can't make sausages and hairdressers who can't shampoo hair - welcome to a new generation of qualified professionals.
Tradespeople have slammed the current apprenticeship system, with a national skills shortage leading to newly qualified butchers, bakers, hairdressers and chefs who are unable to complete basic tasks.
Many trades have moved from requiring long-term work experience and compulsory TAFE time to flexible systems with on-site training and competency tests, with some bakers now qualifying in 12 months.
Old Fernvale Bakery owner Bill Rose said the skill level of qualified bakers was "ridiculously embarrassing", and many couldn't even bake a loaf of bread.
"Trying to employ a baker who can bake is the most difficult thing to do in this country," he said. "I can get 60 resumes from people who are qualified and simply can't even bake a white loaf of bread." "They have no idea how to make a pie and I can't remember the last time a baker applied for a job who could bake a cake."
Mr Rose said bakers who completed their apprenticeships through supermarket chains often did little baking and were "unemployable" in a traditional hot bread shop.
Uncle Bob's Bakery owner Brett Noy said many qualified bakers now didn't know how to follow a recipe, mix dough or use a thermometer. "They can't even make scones," Mr Noy said. "There are many housewives in Brisbane who have a greater baking knowledge and talent than what's coming out of our apprentice system," he said.
The baker - who is captain of the Australian Baking Team and operates four branches in the southeast - said reduced training could affect food safety standards. He said he had taken his concerns to the government but with nil effect.
The problems are not limited to the baking industry.
Super Butcher general manager Terry O'Hagan said qualified butchers coming through the supermarket system needed retraining and often had little to no experience sausage making, meat boning or breaking down lamb and beef.
"There are people that have a butcher's certificate that you can't call butchers," he said. "It really annoys me that those certificates can be handed out just like that, because they just don't have the skills."
He said the current system was failing apprentices as well as the industry, and needed to be changed at a government level.
Victoria Point's Beautify Hair Design manager Dana Kovacic said the salon industry had similar problems, and she had fielded job applications from qualified hairdressers who didn't know how to shampoo hair or do a basic children's haircut. "We can't employ someone and we've been looking for six months because they can't even do the basics," she said.
Ms Kovacic said in one demonstration a fully qualified hairdresser had bleached her hair so badly that it melted off in the applicant's hands.
She said the lack of knowledge in combination with the chemicals used in the industry could be dangerous, and hairdressers should have to pass an independent examination before becoming qualified.
Belmont-based School of Culinary Excellence owner, chef and trainer Alison Taafe said she had met qualified chefs who were unable to make basic sauces, run a service properly or prepare meat, despite having passed skills tests. "It's very obvious that some of them have been put through their apprenticeship and are not competent in certain things," she said.
She said the apprenticeship system needed to go back to basics to ensure people with the qualifications could actually do the job.
Queensland Education, Training and Employment Minister John-Paul Langbroek said that he was confident in the quality assurance framework. "The Newman Government is committed to ensuring training qualifications are of industry standard," Mr Langbroek said.
He said oversight of qualifications and training providers was regulated by the Australian Skills Quality Authority, and encouraged those with concerns to contact them.
ASQA chief commissioner Chris Robinson said since its inception in mid-2011, the body had received more than 600 complaints against training providers, and 184 training providers had been refused registration or had their registration cancelled or suspended.
"The quality of Australian training is pretty good, overall, but there are some real issues in the system where people are not providing adequate quality and not doing assessment properly, and there are people coming through and getting assessed as having competencies they don't have," he said.
But, he said, problems in the apprenticeship system were not endemic, and said the body had found only about 5 per cent of providers had serious issues in training provision from the country's 4900 training organisations. "We are highly concerned with what is a minority of providers who are not providing training that meets the national standard and we're aiming to deal with them," he said.
Outgoing Federal Skills Minister Senator Chris Evans said the State Government was responsible for the arrangements between apprentices, businesses and training providers, and the Federal Government had made a record investment of almost $1.5 billion in the Queensland training system.
"Unfortunately, our investment in quality training hasn't been matched by the Newman Government which has announced plans to slash its investment and cut the number of TAFE campuses by half," he said.
A National Skills Standards Council spokesman said a review was under way into vocational education and training standards. He said learner outcomes were a significant issue in the review, and new standards were set to be implemented from 2015.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:14 AM
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
School Choice: Making the Grade
More than 200 organizations across the country are staging some 3,600 events to mark this year’s School Choice Week. But many grateful parents have reason to celebrate every week.
Just ask Joseph Kelley. A single father living in Washington, D.C., Kelley was shocked when his son Rashawn failed the first grade. Worse, his teachers didn’t even realize that he knew how to read. But rather than work to improve his vocabulary and get him up to grade level, the D.C. Public School System placed Rashawn in special-education classes.
Kelley knew his son was smart but wasn’t being well-served by his assigned public school. He heard about the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides vouchers to low-income children in the nation’s capitol to attend a private school of choice, and he knew what it meant: a second chance for his son.
Rashawn applied and was enrolled in the program. After two years in his new private school, he caught back up to grade level. Today Rashawn is in college, attending the University of the District of Columbia. That wouldn’t have been possible if 1) he didn’t have a parent who cared, and 2) he didn’t have a school-choice option available to him.
It’s not hard to find the first part of the formula. There are plenty of parents who care about their children’s education. It’s the second part that’s tricky. School choice remains beyond the reach of far too many other children just like Rashawn: smart, but ill-served by a broken system.
We’re now spending an average of nearly $11,000 per student, a record amount. Yet test scores and other measurements of academic achievement continue to lag behind.
Yes, there are many good public schools nationwide, with dedicated teachers who deserve praise. Unfortunately, far too many students are languishing in bad schools. And when you consider the damage they inflict, making it nearly impossible for students to learn and fulfill their potential -- you wonder why anyone would settle for such a deplorable status quo.
But that’s been changing in recent years. Support for school choice is at an all-time high, in fact. Forty-four percent of Americans favor allowing students to choose a private school to attend at public expense. School choice favorability has jumped 10 percentage points since last year.
Today, 17 states and Washington, D.C., have some form of school choice. Some states provide school choice through scholarships, or vouchers, which go directly to students to be used at a school of the family’s choice. Other states provide tax credits to individuals or corporations that contribute money toward scholarships. Some states provide both types of programs.
Education savings accounts -- currently available only in Arizona -- are a particularly innovative approach to school choice, allowing families of special needs children to use a portion of the dollars that would have been spent on their children in their assigned public schools for a variety of other education options, including private-school tuition, online education, and special-education services.
The benefits are undeniable. For one thing, students in school-choice programs are more likely to finish school. For example, students who spend all four years of high school in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, the nation’s longest running school-choice program, had a 94 percent graduation rate. Their peers who attended four years of public high school had a 75 percent graduation rate.
School-choice students also tend to do better academically. A comprehensive study by the Foundation for Educational Choice notes that nine out of 10 empirical studies using random assignment to assess vouchers found that they improve student outcomes. (The 10th one found no impact.)
With school choice on the march, we have good reason to believe that the status quo in education won’t remain the status quo much longer. The trend is flowing away from government control -- and toward parental control.
In nearly every area of life, from iPads to insurance, Americans can decide what works best for them. Why shouldn’t the same principle apply to something as important as our children’s education?
Watch your language ladies: US school asks girls to take a 'no swearing' vow
A US school has implemented a "no swearing" rule but only for girls.
Female students at a Catholic high school in northern New Jersey have taken a ‘no swearing’ pledge at the request of school administrators.
The girls were asked to stand and raise their right hands and vow, “I do solemnly swear not to use profanities of any kind within the walls and properties of Queen of Peace High School. In other words, I swear not to swear. So help me God.”
But some people are questioning why male students weren’t required to do likewise.
The teacher who organized the pledge says that while males weren't asked to take the vow, they have been asked not to curse when girls are near.
Teacher Lori Flynn told a local reporter at The Record there was no double-standard. Ms Flynn says school officials want ‘ladies to act like ladies’
And school principal, Brother Larry Lavallee, said girls have the foulest language.
Apparently many female students said they would try to follow the pledge they took last Friday morning, even though they believe it should apply to all students.
Teachers said they hoped that if the girls cleaned up their language at school for a month, their improved manners would rub off on the boys.
The rewards for ditching foul language? Lollipops and pins featuring pink lips.
Australia: Language policy gone loco
For every story of sovereign debt risks in Europe and US fiscal woes, there is a reminder of Asia’s bullish economic ascension.
The Liberal Party’s latest policy document, Our Plan – Real Solutions for all Australians, reflects this shift in the world’s centre of economic gravity. Noting that the Asia-Pacific region will be home to 66 per cent of the global middle-class by 2030, the Liberal Party wants Australia to ‘develop more Asia-capable talent.’
As well as a two-way ‘Colombo Plan’ redux that will send Australian students to Asian universities, the policy sets a target of 40 per cent of Year 12 students studying Languages Other Than English (LOTE)—with particular emphasis placed on Asian languages.
Like the discontinued Keating and Rudd government-era initiatives, this latest proposal to increase the number of students studying LOTE flies in the face of the practical considerations at the forefront of students’ minds.
As edifying as learning another language might be, it is unlikely to be an appealing choice for many students trying to edge out their peers in tight ATAR competitions.
On top of the great challenges of absorbing a new and incredibly complex system of communication, many students suffer the added disadvantage of not having the trump card of a native-speaking parent.
Battling through years of tortuous tones or confusing conjugations will hardly seem worth it when their likely competition is exposed to the language every night at the dinner table.
Many students will also conclude that the long-term career benefits of LOTE study are often exaggerated by language study advocates.
As I have argued elsewhere, English will probably remain the global lingua franca in the Asian Century.
There are approximately 2 billion English speakers worldwide; 800 million of which are in Asia—far more than the entire Anglosphere.
One-third of the world’s population is already studying English, and by 2050, four of the six most populous countries in the world (India, the United States, Nigeria and Pakistan) will have English as an official language.
To be sure, studying LOTE is by no means a waste of time. Learning another language provides a rewarding entrée into another culture and is a useful tool for leveraging oneself into careers in diplomacy, business, hospitality, and a host of other fields.
Nevertheless, the difficulty of language learning and the global dominance of English suggest that the target of 40 per cent of Year 12 students studying LOTE is loco.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:09 AM
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Eat More Chicken and Your Skin Will Thicken
Campus Reform is reporting that Chick-fil-A, the popular fast food restaurant chain, has now been dubbed a "symbol of hate," by a professor at Eastern Illinois University (EIU). Lisa Moyer, who teaches in the Family Studies Department at EIU, apparently made the comment with a straight face, although some have suggested that the term "straight face" reinforces heterosexist oppression. Regardless, her comment reinforces my belief that it is always a mistake to choose a major ending in the word "studies."
Moyer made her strangely uninclusive remarks in response to questions about a faculty resolution at EIU. The resolution proposed expelling a Chick-fil-A restaurant from campus in order for the university to be more inclusive. Because of the franchise's alleged opposition to homosexuals, some faculty decided that getting rid of them would promote diversity by producing complete uniformity of thought on issues related to sexual orientation. Talk about queer reasoning!
Moyer, in typical liberal fashion, has projected her hatred of Chick-fil-A onto the restaurant itself and has characterized their company logo as a symbol of hate. I suppose it's now in the same category as a burning cross or a Nazi swastika. In her recent interview with Campus Reform, she elevated hypersensitivity to a Zen art by arguing that her efforts to censor this "symbol of hate" are justified because Chick-fil-A makes a lot of students, particularly in the LGBT community, "feel uncomfortable.” (See www.CampusReform.org for additional details).
Although the Faculty Senate resolution to remove Chick-fil-A from campus was defeated 3-6, the LGBTXYZPDQ community won anyway. That is all because the discussion resulted in the school opening an office for LGBTQ outreach. When they win they win and when they lose they still win - so long as they keep reminding everyone they feel uncomfortable and need special protection.
So I've been thinking about it and I've decided that our LGBTQIA Office here on my campus makes me feel uncomfortable. In fact, the rainbow is a symbol of hate. So, next week, I plan to introduce a resolution to ban them from campus. I expect the resolution to be defeated because it is idiotic. I'm just hoping I get a special office as a consolation prize - simply for being a narrow minded bigot.
Make no mistake about it: the best way to get money in higher education is to be a thin skinned bigot. African American centers reward racial hypersensitivity, Women's Centers reward gender hypersensitivity, and ABC-LGBT-XYZ-PDQ Centers reward unmitigated religious intolerance.
So what exactly is the motivation for all of this thin-skinned hyper-ventilating? Just follow the money. At the end of every rainbow flag, there's a pot of gold - and usually a few burned out professors smoking pot as well.
It is true that Chick-fil-A initially came under fire last summer after CEO, Dan Cathy, indicated personal opposition to marriage. But that wasn't the real issue. The real outrage was over Cathy's personal donations to pro-family conservative groups such as the Family Research Council. The attempt to organize a boycott of the chain was simply an effort to cut off the flow of money to those organizations.
So those of us who support traditional marriage must borrow a page from the pink play book and do the same. If you are donating to a school that houses one of these LGBTQ outreach centers, then shame on you. Give your money to a pro-family "hate group" instead. They tend to be more inclusive anyway.
Oh, yes, and buy more chicken with the money you save from those withheld donations. It'll keep you from having a cow whenever you encounter a divergent viewpoint.
Eliminating feminist teacher bias erases boys' falling grades, study finds
Has the Sexual Revolution, and the feminist ideology that drives it, pushed men out of universities by undermining boys in school as early as kindergarten? Some writers are beginning to connect the dots between the shift over the last few decades in educational practices from fact-based grading to evaluation based on “non-cognitive” and “emotional skills” and the drop in school performance of boys.
In the 1970s, feminist critics regularly complained that the school system favored “male thinking.” Facts, dates, rote learning, and math skills that were seen as “too masculine” for girls. In the intervening decades, feminists have made huge strides throughout the Western world, and education – particularly in the training of teachers – has been transformed as a result.
That most government policy makers and academics accept this as an unqualified success has left bewilderment as to how the new, more “fair” teaching styles have resulted in poor outcomes for boys and ultimately for the men they must become.
A five-year research project, funded by the Departments of Education and Justice in Northern Ireland, has just been released that found “systemic flaws” in the way students are evaluated that leave boys disadvantaged. Boys from poor neighbourhoods in Belfast and other cities are especially vulnerable to learning underachievement and health problems.
Dr. Ken Harland and Sam McCready from the University of Ulster said that the problem has been clear for “several decades,” but that “it was extremely difficult for the research team to find specific strategies addressing boys’ underachievement.”
“Although teachers who were interviewed as part of this study recognised the predominance of boys with lower academic achievement, they generally did not take this into account in terms of learning styles or teaching approaches,” he said.
The Belfast Telegraph quoted a pupil who told the researchers, “Teachers should understand better the way boys think and why they do some things. They’re out of touch.”
The problem of boys’ underachievement in primary and secondary school follows them into their later lives. Research from 2006 has tracked the decline in male academic performance over the same period as the rise of feminist-dominated ideologies in academia and policymaking.
The ratio of males to females graduating from a four-year college stood at 1.60 in 1960, fell to parity by 1980, and continued its decline until by 2003, there were 135 females for every 100 males who graduated from a four-year college. Another study found that half of the current gender gap in college attendance can be linked to lower rates of high-school graduation among males, particularly for young black men.
The work of one American researcher may offer clues to the question of why and how. Professor Christopher Cornwell at the University of Georgia has found that a heavily feminist-driven education paradigm systematically favours girls and disadvantages boys from their first days in school.
Examining student test scores and grades of children in kindergarten through fifth grade, Cornwell found that boys in all racial categories are not being “commensurately graded by their teachers” in any subject “as their test scores would predict.”
The answer lies in the way teachers, who are statistically mostly women, evaluate students without reference to objective test scores. Boys are regularly graded well below their actual academic performance.
Boys are falling significantly behind in grades, “despite performing as least as well as girls on math tests, and significantly better on science tests.”
After fifth grade, he found, student assessment becomes a matter of “a teacher’s subjective assessment of the student’s performance,” and is further removed from the guidance of objective test results. Teachers, he says, tend to assess students on non-cognitive, “socio-emotional skills.” This has had a significant impact on boys’ later achievement because, while objective test scores are important, it is teacher-assigned grades that determine a child’s future with class placement, high school graduation and college admissibility.
Eliminating the factor of “non-cognitive skills…almost eliminates the estimated gender gap in reading grades,” Cornwell found. He said he found it “surprising” that although boys out-perform girls on math and science test scores, girls out-perform boys on teacher-assigned grades.
In science and general knowledge, as in math skills, the data showed that kindergarten and first grade white boys’ grades “are lower by 0.11 and 0.06 standard deviations, even though their test scores are higher.” This disparity continues and grows through to the fifth grade, with white boys and girls being graded similarly, “but the disparity between their test performance and teacher assessment grows.”
The disparity between the sexes in school achievement also far outstrips the disparity between ethnicities. Cornwell notes that “the girl-boy gap in reading grades is over 300 percent larger than the white-black reading gap,” and boy-girl gap is about 40 percent larger than the white-black grade gaps.
“From kindergarten to fifth grade,” he found, “the top half of the test-score distribution” among whites is increasingly populated by boys, “while the grade distribution provides no corresponding evidence that boys are out-performing girls”.
These disparities are “even sharper for black and Hispanic children” with the “misalignment of grades with test scores steadily increases as black and Hispanic students advance in school.”
The study, he said, shows that “teachers’ assessments are not aligned with test-score data, with greater gender disparities in appearing in grading than testing outcomes”. And the “gender disparity” always favours girls.
The American thinker Christina Hoff Sommers, author of the book The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men, wrote that “the idea that schools and society grind girls down has given rise to an array of laws and policies intended to curtail the advantage boys have and to redress the harm done to girls.”
Sommers wrote in The Atlantic,“These are things everyone is presumed to know. But they are not true.” She notes an incident at New York’s tony Scarsdale High School in which, at a conference on student achievement, a male student presented evidence from the school’s own records showing that far from being pressed down, girls were far outstripping boys.
When the teachers checked the student’s data, “they found little or no difference in the grades of boys and girls in advanced-placement social-studies classes. But in standard classes the girls were doing a lot better.” The revelations, she said, were not well received. Scarsdale is a school that has thoroughly accepted the received wisdom that that girls are systematically deprived, and this belief has led their gender-equity committee to offer a special senior elective on gender equity that continues to preach the message.
“Why has that belief persisted, enshrined in law, encoded in governmental and school policies, despite overwhelming evidence against it?” Sommers traces it back to the work of one academic feminist, Carol Gilligan, a pioneer of “gender studies” at Harvard University. Gilligan’s speculations launched a veritable industry of feminist writers, citing little or no reviewable data, lamenting the plight of girls “drowning or disappearing” in the “sea of Western culture”
“Most of Gilligan’s published research, however,” Sommers points out, “consists of anecdotes based on a small number of interviews.”
Sommers has identified the work of Gilligan and her followers as “politics dressed up as science” and points out that she has never released any of the data supporting her main theses. Nevertheless, the idea that girls are lagging behind boys continues to lead the discussion at nearly every level of public policy on education, and not only in the U.S.
The global reach of American left-wing feminism has led to similar changes, and similar outcomes, in nearly every Western nation.
British children bullied because of their wealthy backgrounds, study finds
British class hatred smoulders on. Not even Britain's vast political correctness can erase it
Youngsters from affluent backgrounds are being targeted because of their accents, their parents “flashy” houses and cars and their hobbies, according to an anti-bullying charity. Some teenagers even reported trying to change the way they speak to stop being accused of being “posh”.
The poll of almost 2,000 students has revealed that those from wealth families are in a “high risk” category for being bullied.
Some 12 per cent from high-income homes said they had been targeted because of their wealth, with those from the £200,001 plus bracket most likely to say they had been persecuted.
The findings come as leading head teachers warn of a growing “posh prejudice” which is leading to “jealousy and hostility”.
In last week’s Sunday Telegraph, an Oxford University don revealed that admission tutors “crave a Geordie or Scouse accent after a few days interviewing the next generation of Borises and Daves.”
The study polled 1,800 16 to 26 year olds in about 20 state sixth form and further education colleges across the country. Most of those questioned were teenagers.
Seven in 10 respondents reported they experienced bullying before their 18th birthday: sixty per cent for their appearance, 36 per cent for their interests, 11 per cent for their sexuality and 2 per cent because of their wealth.
“Wealth has an impact on susceptibility to bullying,” said Liam Hackett, founder of the anti-bullying organisation Ditch the Label which carried out the survey.
“We found that students from the £200,001 plus household income bracket were more vulnerable to bullying than students from lower income backgrounds.
“Other young people may well be jealous of their backgrounds and lifestyle. There may be noticeable differences that young people from wealthier backgrounds can sometimes exhibit and others can target, such as accents. Differences in their interests, hobbies and lifestyles might be attacked - if their parents drive luxury cars, if they live in a big house, if they go on nice holidays to exotic places, go horse riding or sailing at the weekend, for instance.”
Jon Cross, 20, from Hampshire, who moved from independent school to a state school when he was 12, said he tried to change his accent to fit in. “I experienced a lot of verbal bullying and was targeted because of my voice and the way I pronounced words. I spoke “posh” and felt like I stood out and was called “posh boy”.”
Other pupils at the school tried to force him to behave badly to get him in to trouble.
“They once asked me to call a teacher fat and ask her who ate all the pies and I refused so the bullying got worse,” said Mr Cross, who is now at university. “I would occasionally get pens thrown at me and there were a lot of taunts. I didn’t want to tell a teacher because I felt embarrassed and thought the bullying would get worse. As time went on it became less frequent and eventually ended when I started college.”
One teenager posted on an education website recently that he was being bullied because his dad was a doctor and drove expensive cars.
“I get bullied because I’m “rich”. I live in a small village and my dad owns a GP practice and drives quite “flashy” cars (Audi R8, Range Rover and Mercedes S Class). I don’t want to tell my parents because it’s the only school in this village so my family will need to move somewhere else. My mum and dad love living in the house that were in now. I get called “rich kid” and get pushed around and all that stuff.”
Last week, Frances King, the headmistress of Roedean School, in Sussex, complained of hostility towards independent schools. She said that private schools had received a “bruising time” and that it was “hard working” being on “negative side of public opinion”. She is leaving the £30,000 a year boarding school to head a school in Switzerland.
Anthony Seldon, the master of Wellington College in Berkshire, said last month of “jealousy and hostility” towards private schools, saying positive discrimination in university admissions to favour state school pupils was “the hatred that dare not speak its name”.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:23 AM
Monday, February 04, 2013
AZ: Freshman suspended over gun photo: 3-day suspension issued
The usual hysteria. Schools will do anything rather than do what would really protect their students: Abolish "gun free" zones and arm some of their staff
On Feb. 1, ABC 15 reported that a teenager at Poston Butte High School in Florence, Ariz. used the gun photo as the desktop background on his school-issued computer. Daniel McClaine Jr. chose a photo of an AK-47 on top of a flag and when a teacher noticed it she "turned him in."
"Since the laptop belongs to the school, the district policy states students are prohibited from 'sending or displaying offensive messages or pictures,' and cannot access, send, create or forward pictures that are considered 'harassing, threatening, or illegal.' McClaine said he read the guidelines but does not consider the picture threatening to anyone," reports ABC 15.
The freshman was suspended for 3 days over gun photo. He defended himself by saying that the photo wasn't showing anything violent. He expressed an interest in the military -- saying that he wanted to join -- and that he found the photo on the internet and decided to save it as his background picture.
"This gun wallpaper does not show anything that’s violent. It's not showing anybody getting shot in any way. It's just a picture of a gun. It's nothing -- nobody getting shot, nobody getting it pointed at them, it's nothing," explained McClaine.
His parents support him and don't think that he should have been suspended. "To me it's ridiculous. Three days for a picture? It wasn't like he was standing in front of the school holding the gun. He should have got a warning. He shouldn't have ever been suspended. Not for something so frivolous," said McClaine's dad.
More privately-educated pupils win British university offers
And so they should. Elite people are smarter -- and so are their kids
More pupils from top private schools are winning places at elite universities despite a Government drive to widen access to higher education, according to research.
More than three-quarters of applications made by pupils from Britain’s best independent schools last year resulted in the offer a place, it emerged.
The success rate was up from just over seven-in-10 in each of the previous two years.
Some 95 per cent of applications to one Russell Group university – Exeter – led to the award of a place, while numbers were well over 80 per cent at other leading institutions.
The disclosure – in data published by two of the leading private school organisations – comes despite the introduction of tough new targets designed to force top universities to take in more pupils from “under-represented” groups.
Controversially, around half of Russell Group universities have set themselves a benchmark to increase the proportion of places awarded to state school students under deals signed with the Government’s Office for Fair Access.
Last week, Anthony Seldon, the Master of Wellington College, Berkshire, warned that privately-educated pupils were being "discriminated against at the final hurdle" when they make university applications.
But the latest figures suggest that more pupils from Britain’s leading independent schools are actually winning higher education places.
Chris Ramsey, universities spokesman for the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, said: “No-one should face discrimination on account of school type and this evidence suggests that highly-selective universities are still giving a very high number of offers to our candidates.”
HMC and the Girls’ Schools Association surveyed members across Britain as part of an annual report on university applications.
Some 75.8 per cent of applications made to universities in 2012 resulted in an offer of a place, it emerged. This compared with 72 per cent in 2011 and 71.7 per cent a year earlier.
Figures show that 95 per cent of applications to Exeter resulted in an offer, while numbers were between 80 and 90 per cent at other Russell Group universities such as Leeds, Nottingham, Manchester, Newcastle Birmingham and Southampton.
Almost four-in-10 applications to Cambridge and three-in-10 to Oxford resulted in an offer, figures show.
Students can traditionally apply to up to five courses through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).
In all, 97.3 per cent of pupils gained at least one offer – up from 96.9 per cent a year earlier.
Separate figures suggest the upward trend may continue into 2013. Some 55 teenagers from King’s College School, Wimbledon, have Oxbridge offers for courses starting this autumn, while numbers are as high as 40 at North London Collegiate School and 29 at Cheltenham Ladies’ College.
Keith Budge, headmaster of Bedales School, Hampshire, which sent 26 students to Oxbridge in recent years, said: “Universities are interested in attracting pupils with the greatest potential to succeed and most independent schools are taking advantage of the freedoms they have to help their pupils achieve this.”
Britain hands over £100m to Polish students
More than £100 million of taxpayers’ money has been awarded to Polish students over the last five years to allow them to take degree courses in the UK, official figures show.
Some 23,500 students have successfully applied for Government-backed loans to cover tuition fees or living expenses under EU rules that give Europeans access to the same funding as British students.
Data from the Student Loans Company suggests that average loans awarded to Poles have soared by almost 50 per cent this year to coincide with a sharp hike in university fees.
But it is feared that many students may return to Poland after graduating and fail to pay the money back – leaving a multi-million pound black-hole in the public finances.
It comes just days after it emerged that Polish had officially become England’s second language after an influx in the number of workers from Eastern Europe over the last decade.
The latest disclosure sparked claims that students from outside Britain were accounting for an increasingly large share of the universities budget despite severe cutbacks across the public sector.
Andrew Percy, the Conservative MP for Brigg and Goole, said: “It is unacceptable at a time when British students are paying increased tuition fees that £100m is being used to provide loans to Polish students. A large number of them will never pay it back.
“This demonstrates why the Government needs to reopen negotiations with the EU on these issues.”
Data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by students at Westminster University showed that £102.8m worth of loans had been provisionally awarded to Polish nationals between 2008/9 and 2012/13.
Some 23,500 separate applications for loans had been made over the period, although many students may have applied in more than one year.
Of those, around six-in-10 borrowers were living in Poland or elsewhere in Europe, while the remainder were already in the UK.
In total, £21.5m was awarded to 3,580 Poles in the current academic year – an average of just over £6,000 per student.
By comparison, the equivalent of £4,200 was awarded to each applicant a year earlier.
Under European law, students from EU member states can apply for the same Government-backed loans as British students. They also count towards strict controls on the overall number of students that each university can recruit – limiting costs to the taxpayer.
But it is feared that the system used to reclaim money from those returning to their own country after graduating is not robust enough.
Separate figures show 2,400 EU students failed to provide the Student Loans Company with details of their income and were “placed in arrears” in 2010/11, while another 400 defaulted on their repayments.
The annual repayment threshold for Poland is currently £9,480, rising to £9,825 in April this year.
The Student Loans Company insisted the figures covered the amount of money awarded to students after a successful application for funding, but pointed out that loans were dependent on them taking up a course place.
Kevin O’Connor, SLC head of repayment, said: “The Student Loans Company expects to receive payments from all customers in repayment. Depending on status and circumstances we adopt various collection methods to recover outstanding payments.
“If you fail to make repayments, your account will start to accrue an arrears balance and SLC will chase that as an arrears account.”
Posted by jonjayray at 12:10 AM
Sunday, February 03, 2013
British nursery education changes won't benefit children or parents (?)
The mother below quite misses the point. She complains of the high cost of childcare but opposes what the government has just done to reduce that cost: Allow somewhat fewer teachers per child. And the imposition of an educational qualification is extremely modest. A GCSE (junior High School) pass is very low level. It will keep out the illiterate but not many others
My four-year-old daughter won a major award at school last Friday. She attends the nursery at her primary school, which is rated as “outstanding” by Ofsted, so the staff there clearly know a thing or two about laying the foundations for academic success.
My little girl stood up in front of all the other children at assembly and marched to the stage to collect her “Star of the Week” certificate from the headteacher. But what was it for, I hear the competitive mothers of Britain cry. After all, a shake-up of nursery care has just been announced, so lessons, quite literally, need to be learnt.
Presumably my daughter was given recognition for reading? Reading independently? For reading À la recherche du temps perdu in the original French? Or for writing, perhaps? Penning poetry, or inking her name in Mandarin?
Let us remember that education minister Liz Truss has just announced that child-care workers must have a PhD in non-Euclidean geometry (all right, a GCSE in maths) so that their pre-school charges can be given a proper grounding in the three Rs before they can walk.
By way of an incentive to nursery bosses, staff who have a grade C or above in maths and English at GCSE will be allowed to look after more children than those without these qualifications, as everyone knows that a sound working knowledge of Great Expectations is fundamental to finger-painting and the effective teaching of Hairy Maclary studies.
It would be funny if it weren’t so serious. It is an exceedingly rare working mother – even in these egalitarian times, guilt is still the preserve of the distaff side – who doesn’t agonise over her child-care choice at some point. Concerns about cost, quality, the calibre of staff, the consumption of vegetables, the exposure to books and the access to out-of-doors play areas come together in a Gordian knot (usually, located deep in the pit of the stomach).
Of these, the financial outlay is often the most pressing anxiety. And the truth is that, despite the fact that many nurseries employ teenagers with a level two child-care qualification on as little as £7 an hour, the cost to parents can run to £1,000 or more a month for a full-time place.
In Europe, on average, a family spends 13 per cent of its income on child care; in Britain that burden stands at 27 per cent. No wonder then, that a study by the politically independent think tank the Resolution Foundation, published in October last year, found women were being unwillingly forced out of the labour market; figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development show that the UK ranks 16th in the league table of mothers going back to work, with 67.1 per cent, compared with 73.6 per cent in France and 84 per cent in Denmark.
“It’s hardly worth a typical second earner going out to work more than a couple of days a week, because the family will be barely better off,” is the verdict of Vidhya Alakeson, deputy chief executive of the Resolution Foundation.
“This is a serious concern because increasing the level of female employment is one of the key routes through which family living standards have increased. We need major change in our child-care system to ensure that work is always worthwhile – and that working more hours or a pay rise results in higher take-home pay.”
If the Government really wants mothers to get back to work – and clearly it does – it is going entirely the wrong way about it. Although there has been much talk of child-care tax breaks for working parents, the logical thing would be for the Government to pump money directly into the supply side of child care, so that costs plummet. That might not be ideologically palatable to a Conservative-led coalition, but it would be a genuine vote-winner among women, for whom having to pay most of their salary to a nursery or childminder sticks in the craw.
On the networking site Mumsnet, the Government’s suggestion that its proposed overhaul of nursery provision will make child-care cheaper has been met with blanket scepticism – and six pages of posts.
“I hear the idea is only nurseries with well- qualified staff will be able to raise ratios. That’s good,” writes Mumsnetter TiggyD. “Good staff will be more sought after, meaning their wages should go up. That’s good. Wonder how the wages will be paid? By not reducing fees, at a guess.”
Whether the girls who work at the nation’s nurseries have a couple of GCSEs to their name or not is a less immediate worry to British parents than the changes to staff ratios; the current one staff member for every four two-year-olds will change to one carer for every six, while one adult will be allowed to look after four babies instead of three.
Clearly no slouch at maths herself, TiggyD goes on to share the following calculation with other users. “There are times when numbers of staff count. Cuddles and hugs will drop by 12 per cent for a baby, as they will have 25 per cent of a staff member each as opposed to 33 per cent,” she says. “It’s harder to keep an eye on more children so bites, pushes and toy-snatching will increase. Eighteen toddlers will have to be led out of a burning building by just three staff instead of five.”
If that has an alarmist ring, an even shriller note is being sounded warning of the danger that “child-care will go the way of nursing”. Just as nursing graduates have been accused of balking at the messier, more hands-on aspects of patient care, so there is a fear that requiring higher qualifications may attract candidates into child care who do not necessarily have the emotional skills crucial to caring for babies and toddlers.
“I want a child carer with compassion, common sense, patience, kindness in abundance and a loving caring and warm personality,” says stormforce10. “If they have an A in GCSE maths, I really do not care. I want them to have enough time to give DS [my dear son] the love and security he needs. I want his nappy changed regularly and as required. I want him not to be battling with other babies for affection.
“I want him to be fed and cuddled. I want his tears wiped if he falls and his face wiped after he eats. I want him to be secure, happy and safe. Please drop these silly plans for the sake of our children.”
No sensible mother will be motivated to return to the office if the price is dropping her baby off in a super-nursery where reading, writing and numeracy are promoted at the expense of a 12 per cent reduction in cuddle time.
Some infants, of course, enjoy letters and numbers at an early age. It’s a rare youngster who doesn’t love a cracking good story about a fire engine or a kindly tree or a Gruffalo. But let them discover these things at their own pace; to effectively rob them of their childhood at the age of two by pushing them towards a school curriculum would be unforgivable.
The age of four, however, is an excellent point at which to show promise, as attested by my own daughter. Her state school nursery most definitely has its priorities right. Which is why she won her “Star of the Week” award for “Learning How to Skip From One Foot To Another”.
And hand on heart, Mrs Truss, I couldn’t be prouder if she’d bagged a Baccalaureate.
OH: Students’ duct tape joke could get teacher fired
I have been waiting for an update on this piece of pettiness but nothing has appeared since late last month
A middle school teacher in Ohio could be fired for posting a picture of what she calls a shared joke with her students online.
WEWS-TV reported on Tuesday that Melissa Cairns has been placed on leave without pay for posting a picture last October of her students with duct tape over their mouths on Facebook with the caption, “Finally found a way to get them to be quiet!!!”
Cairns said the picture was the result of one students’ playfully putting tape over her mouth after Cairns offered her some to help fix a broken binder. Some of the girl’s classmates, Cairns said, were amused by the display and joined in. But a colleague reportedly saw the picture on Cairns’ Facebook page and alerted management.
“Do I feel that this one, stupid mistake should cost me the last 10 years of all the good I’ve done? Absolutely not,” said Cairns.
Despite taking the picture down at the request of her school’s principal, the Akron School Board voted to fire Cairns earlier this month.
“Students are protected under federal law and they have certain protections,” said board President Jason Haas. “Not knowing all the circumstances, it looked like that potentially violates those protections.”
Her attorney told the station she would file an appeal on Tuesday.
Student loans: Another federal debacle
Even if you aren’t considering going back to school, you’re about to pick up the tab for a college education. The same cast of characters that brought you the housing crisis, a post office hemorrhaging billions, and a school system that gets more expensive as it gets worse has now brought us a student loan crisis.
A recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says the value of student loans outstanding is now close to $1 trillion, making it the largest and fastest-growing share of non-mortgage consumer borrowing. Unlike other forms of consumer debt, which have fallen, total student loans have grown by 75 percent since 2007.
The federal government has pushed relentlessly to expand access to college by cutting out the private sector in loan programs and by altering repayment terms for borrowers via executive order. It bears an eerie resemblance to the obsession with homeownership that got us into our current straits.
Like potential homeowners, students have been encouraged to borrow with impunity. It continues to intensify: The Department of Education lent $133 billion in 2010 and $157 billion in 2011. Late payment trends are also following a similar pattern to the subprime mortgage crisis. With new programs geared toward “income based” repayment plans and forbearance timetables, it is increasingly likely that the federal government and thus the taxpayer will eventually be on the hook for tens of billions of dollars of loans that will never be repaid.
This phenomenon has real social consequences. With two-thirds of college graduates possessing student loan debt of at least $25,000 and 53 percent of recent college graduates either unemployed or acutely underemployed, unproductive economic dislocations—putting off the purchase of a home or delaying marriage, for example—are rampant.
This misguided policy approach has produced more than a student loan bubble that could damage the economy. It has also triggered an inflationary spiral in tuition costs and provided college bureaucracies with incentives to become bloated and inefficient. As one critical report recently stated, “In no other industry would overhead costs be allowed to grow at this rate—executives would lose their jobs.”
The billions of dollars sloshing around the system have triggered the classic definition of inflation: Too much money is chasing too few goods. It has also lent further credence to Milton Friedman’s claim that inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon. Since 2000, tuition at public, four-year colleges has risen by an inflation-adjusted 72 percent, and over the past 25 years, it has increased at an annual rate 6 percentage points higher than the cost of living. When prices rise, government loans increase to effectively subsidize the difference, allowing colleges to continue increasing tuition, thus completing the cycle.
One beneficiary is online education. While it will never completely replace the college campus, current economic realities make it a legitimate alternative. It provides an avenue of highly individualized instruction at a fraction of the cost of the traditional model.
Overspending on higher education has reached a tipping point. Just as aggressive government intervention in the housing market led to a variety of economic distortions and ultimately cost the taxpayers billions, the student loan problem is destined for similar results unless substantial reforms are implemented.
The government must exit the lending arena and be replaced by an active and innovative private market with legitimate underwriting standards. A variety of arrangements would be possible in this environment, including contractual agreements between businesses and students that revolve around the future employment and cash flows of the borrower.
Before we can get to that point, however, it is essential that we grasp as a nation how unproductive and costly it is when federal authorities try to dictate outcomes by aggressively intervening in the marketplace.
We must return to first principles and continuously ask ourselves what the proper role of government is in a free society.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:30 AM