Sunday, January 19, 2014

Obama and the Left:  Enemies of black education

Why?  Keep blacks poor so they will keep voting Democrat

Kevin Chavous is a former District of Columbia Councilmember, mayoral candidate, and member of the Obama education advisory committee.  Now, he is an advocate for school vouchers.

The African-American Democrat points to what some would consider a shocking truth when it comes to which politicians support increasing opportunities for inner city underprivileged children when he talks about the constant fight over funding school vouchers in the District saying, “We have a 97 percent graduation rate for children in the Opportunity Scholarship Program in the District of Columbia, 92 percent college enrollment, and two valedictorians, and our biggest problem is fighting Obama." 

Chavous also extolls the House Republican Speaker John Boehner calling him, “… our biggest champion in Congress.”

The question is why would Obama seek to limit successful programs that allow inner city youth to enter a pathway to educational success when African-American voters are the one group that has overwhelmingly supported him?

Why would Obama seek to limit successful programs that allow inner city youth to enter a pathway to educational success?
And maybe an equally interesting question is why Speaker Boehner, who represents a largely white, rural Ohio district would care about breaking the failed education/poverty cycle in the District?

Boehner’s answer can be found back in 2003, when he served as the Chairman of the House Workforce and Education Committee. In introducing legislation to allow a voucher system in the District, the current Speaker issued a stirring call for change,

I am here today because I believe that all children, regardless of their economic background, deserve a safe and productive learning environment. I believe that we ought to trust parents to make the best decisions about their children's education. I believe that the current system in the District of Columbia is robbing both parents and children of the right to a quality education. And I believe that competition in the education system creates a culture of achievement that will improve the quality of every student's academic experience.

I refuse to accept the notion that some children are unable to learn, a notion that the President (George W. Bush) has called "the soft bigotry of low expectations."

Hard words to argue with, particularly as school choice and charter schools have been overwhelmingly proven to be successful in increasing kid’s future opportunities.

Obama and the left’s opposition is more troubling as it essentially is just an accession to teachers union fears that  public schools will lose the competition for students if their monopoly is broken. 

After all, what parent would voluntarily send their child to a crummy school, if they could choose a better alternative that increased their opportunities in the future?

In places like Hartford, Connecticut, there is a waiting list of hundreds of kids to attend the Capitol Prep Charter School due to its 97 percent graduation rate, with about two-thirds of graduates going to college.

Incredibly, rather than expand this successful program dramatically, the Hartford School District may choose to deny more students access to this success story as out of town left-wing activists have engaged in wholesale attacks on the school’s principal – Steve Perry.

You see, Perry, a public school employee, has become an outspoken national advocate for alternative education, and he scares the teacher union establishment which controls the school system. In true Saul Alinsky fashion, they are determined to crush him using any means necessary, the children be damned.

50 years ago, LBJ embarked on a liberal spending spree which called the “war on poverty”.  It has failed. Evidence of the failed welfare state is everywhere, with the fact that almost one in six Americans is on food stamps, serving as just one proof.

If our nation truly wanted to wage a compassionate war on poverty, it would fix the education system through vouchers, choice and charter schools. Reforms that have proven successful in elevating children out of the cycle of poverty and the government dependency it creates.

The cynical truth is that the left does not want children raised out of poverty, thriving because they have the education to move beyond the crumbling walls of economic despair.

Dependent voters are reliable voters, and self-sufficient voters are a threat.  How else can you explain why the first black president has consistently fought against providing funds to give the rest of the kids in D.C. the same opportunity to get a quality private school education that his own two children enjoy?

Obama has chosen to consign those at the bottom of the economic ladder to generational failure by opposing proven alternative education options.

By opposing giving people the ability to achieve the American dream by denying them the choice to get out of a failed education system, Obama has surrendered any and all moral authority to talk about income inequality. After all, his presidency relies upon the government dependency that poverty creates.


Obama Administration Mandates Racism in Schools

The Departments of Education and Justice have teamed up to make the lives of students in tough neighborhoods even tougher. Framed as a measure to combat discrimination against black and Hispanic children, the guidelines issued by the Obama administration about school discipline will actually encourage racial discrimination, undermine the learning environments of classrooms and contribute to an unjust race-consciousness in meting out discipline.

Claiming that African-American and Hispanic students are more harshly disciplined than whites for the same infractions, the Obama administration now advises that any disciplinary rule that results in a "disparate impact" on these groups will be challenged by the government.

"Disparate impact" analysis, as we've seen in employment law, does not require any intentional discrimination. It means, for example, that if an employer asks job seekers to take a test, and a larger percentage of one ethnic group fails the test than another, that the test is de facto discriminatory because it has a "disparate impact."

In the school context, the federal government is now arguing that if a disciplinary rule results in more black, Hispanic or special education kids being suspended or otherwise sanctioned, the rule must be suspect. The "Dear Colleague" letter explains that a disciplinary policy can be unlawful discrimination, even if the rule is "neutral on its face ... and is administered in an evenhanded manner," if it has a "disparate impact" on certain ethnic and other groups.

The inclusion of special education students is particularly perverse, as special ed students frequently get that designation because their emotional disturbances cause them to misbehave in various ways. So if a rule against, say, knocking over desks, is found to be violated more frequently by special ed than regular ed students, then the rule must be questioned? That's circular.

As the CATO Institute's Walter Olson notes, the federal guidelines pass over one example of disparate impact with no comment -- namely the dramatically more males than females who face disciplinary action nationwide. If we are to judge a rule's lawfulness by the disparate impact on males, no rule would survive the inquiry. Is it possible that more boys misbehave in the classroom than girls? To ask this question is to venture into an area the federal government would have us avoid. Actual infractions by individuals are not the issue. We must have group justice, not individual justice.

We've actually been down this road many times before. Various state and federal agencies have raised concerns about the large numbers of black and Hispanic students facing disciplinary action. Such concerns helped to generate the rigid "zero tolerance" policies the administration now condemns. Zero tolerance is a brainless approach to a subject that requires considerable finesse and deliberation, but the disparate impact rule is even more pernicious.

Under the new dispensation, teachers, principals and other officials will have to pause before they discipline, say, the fourth black student in a month. "How will this look to the feds?" they'll ask themselves. Will the student's family be able to sue us? A variety of solutions to the federally created problem will present themselves. School officials can search out offenses by white and Asian students to make the numbers come out right. Asian students are disciplined at rates far below any other ethnic group. Is this due to pro-Asian bias in our schools, or is it because Asians commit many fewer infractions? Oops, there we go into territory forbidden by the federal guidelines.

Another solution will be to ignore misbehavior by blacks and Hispanics. For classes with large numbers of minority students, this guarantees that the learning environment for the kids who actually want to learn will be impaired as teachers -- reluctant to remove troublesome students -- expend precious time on kids who are rude, threatening, loud or otherwise disruptive. Every minute of the school day taken up by bad kids is taken away from good kids. It's a true zero-sum game.

So the Obama administration's pursuit of group justice actually leads to injustice to individual students. Whites and Asians will be disciplined more than they merit it by their conduct, and fewer students of all groups will get the kind of classroom atmosphere that is conducive to learning. Even the students who get a pass on their bad conduct are disserved, as they will not have learned that disrespectful language, tardiness and even violence are unacceptable in society.

Everyone loses. Obama strikes again.


150,000 children in British schools that fall short on academic standards

More than 150,000 children are being taught in underperforming state secondary schools despite reforms designed to raise standards.  Around 180 comprehensives are failing to hit minimum targets imposed by the Coalition, data to be published next week will show.

Schools risk being turned into independent academies under new leadership for persistently failing to ensure that at least four in 10 pupils gain five good GCSEs.

Following a government drive to promote traditional subjects, official school league tables are expected to show that the number of teenagers taking GCSEs in a string of academic disciplines last summer was up by 72,000.

It is the first real evidence that controversial reforms of league tables have changed subject choices.

Just over a third of teenagers sat exams in the subjects required for the "English Baccalaureate": English, maths, science, a foreign language and history or geography. It was less than a quarter a year earlier. But the move to "tougher" disciplines is likely to have dragged some schools below the minimum GCSE target.

The prospect of taking them out of council control will place the Government on a collision course with local authorities. Barking and Dagenham council in east London gained an injunction this week preventing ministers turning a failing comprehensive there into an academy. The Department for Education said that academy status had improved results across the country.

Heath Monk, the chief executive of Future Leaders, a charity set up to train head teachers, said: "It is right to shine a spotlight on schools that aren't improving fast enough because children only get one chance at their education.

"Evidence does suggest that sponsored academies are improving faster than the national average but they are not a silver bullet. In the end, it's good teaching and leadership that matters."

In 2012, some 215 secondary schools fell below the floor target for GCSEs, although 20 were already being turned into academies led by a private sponsor.

Some 180 schools are believed still to have been below the minimum by the end of the 2012-2013 academic year - the results covered in next week's tables. In all, just over 150,000 children are taught at these schools.

Figures will also show that around six in 10 of the children considered brightest at age 11 failed to gain good GCSEs in academic subjects five years later.


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