Thursday, July 03, 2014

Group Files Suit to End Campus Speech Codes

FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, filed four lawsuits today against universities with restrictive speech codes on campus. The universities named in the suits are Ohio University, Chicago State University, Iowa State University, and Citrus College (Calif.).

“Unconstitutional campus speech codes have been a national scandal for decades. But today, 25 years after the first of the modern generation of speech codes was defeated in court, 58% of public campuses still hold onto shockingly illiberal codes,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “For 15 years, FIRE has fought for free speech on campus using public awareness as our main weapon, but more is needed.

Today, we announce the launch of the Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, an expansive new campaign to eliminate speech codes nationwide. We have already coordinated two lawsuits in the past nine months, and this morning we brought four more. The lawsuits will continue until campuses understand that time is finally up for unconstitutional speech codes in academia.”

The four schools each have a history of censoring student or faculty speech on campus. Citrus College, for example, has a "Free Speech Area" composed of 1.37 percent of its campus that is the only area on campus where free speech is actually permitted.

In 2013, FIRE filed a lawsuit against Modesto Junior College after a student was told he was not allowed to distribute copies of the U.S. Constitution on Constitution Day. The school settled for $50,000. A similar suit was filed against the University of Hawaii at Hilo, who also disciplined students for attempting to distribute the U.S. Constitution.

Free speech doesn't end the second one steps upon a college campus. Students deserve full free speech rights like any other citizen — good for FIRE for holding these schools accountable.


Radical Stupidity: Academics Endorse $20,000 Income for Everyone, Working or Not

If you made less than $20,000 annually, but were guaranteed $20,000 whether you worked at all, would you work?

Most wouldn't. And it should be obvious why: People like free time and they would gladly take more of it if they got paid for doing nothing (about $9.61 per hour).

Academics in wonderland need some remedial education because they have not figured out what should be blatantly obvious.

 A group of academics and activists is trying to drum up interest in an ambitious plan to provide every Canadian with a guaranteed minimum level of income — whether or not they have a job.

Rob Rainer, a campaign director for the Basic Income Canada Network, envisions a country where everyone is assured a minimum of $20,000 annually to make ends meet.

"For many of us, we think the goal is no one should be living in poverty," Rainer said at a conference on the issue over the weekend at McGill University.  "That's essentially what we're striving to achieve."

More than 100 speakers and participants were on hand for the conference, which focused on the merits of a guaranteed minimum income that would either replace or exist alongside existing social programs.

The idea is hardly new — the Canadian and Manitoba government conducted an experiment with the issue in the 1970s — but it has enjoyed a resurgence lately.

Switzerland is expected to hold a non-binding referendum this fall on whether to guarantee every citizen an annual income of $35,900 Cdn.  And in the United Sates, the idea has supporters on both sides of the political spectrum.

"The idea is not new, it's not really radical," Rainer said, pointing out that seniors and families with children receive a form of guaranteed income from the government.

"Where it does become more radical is when you get into the area of the working age population, and the idea that people should receive some income whether they are in the labour market or not. That's a fairly radical idea in our culture, because most of us were brought up to believe that in order to survive you have to work."

None of these geniuses have bothered to work out the tax implication math and the consequences of huge numbers of people who would prefer to watch TV, play games, or go fishing rather than work if the economic payback was the same.

Actually, because of transportation and meal costs, people working a $9.61 per hour job would be far worse off than those getting $9.61 for those sitting at home watching TV.

How many illegal aliens would such a scheme attract? And why would it stop at $20,000?

It wouldn't and couldn't. Companies would have to hike the minimum wage to $30,000 or $40,000 to attract any workers. Prices would go up accordingly, and the inflation aspects of a guaranteed "living income" would immediately make $20,000 too little to live on.

Someone with a 7th grade education should be able to figure this out. But academics in wonderland, with no common sense, and no real world experience can't.


New maths teachers to be offered £10,000 'hello', minister says

New maths teachers will be given £10,000 “golden hellos” under new government plan to improve standards, the skills and enterprise minister revealed.

Matthew Hancock announced the move as part of a wider scheme to drive up national standards in maths and English.

From September, all youngsters who fail to get a C-grade or above in maths and English will be forced to continue studying these two core subjects until they are 18.

Mr Hancock said: “Increasingly, all jobs need a combination of knowledge, skills, and the right behaviour to succeed.

“For that, a good grasp of English and maths is essential. For any job, in any industry – from professors to plumbers, and from artists to artisans - maths and English matter.”

Currently 27 per cent of pupils fail to gain a C in GCSE English while 26 per cent fail their Maths exam.

Fewer than one in ten of these school pupils go on to achieve an A* to C by the two subjects by the time they are 19, according to Mr Hancock.

He added: “Today I am announcing that from 2017 the new English and maths GCSEs, which are both more stretching and more relevant, will become the national standard qualifications for most students who failed to achieve a good pass in those subjects by age 16.

“We will work towards GCSE being the standard qualification for adults and Apprentices too, while retaining the important stepping stones like Functional Skills to help people reach that goal.”

He hopes the £10,000 incentive will attract talented graduates to teach maths in schools and colleges.

Writing in the Telegraph, he also hit out at the previous Labour Government for overlooking the importance of vocational qualifications and placing too much focus on getting pupils into university.

But he claimed the Coalition’s increased focus on putting vocational qualifications on an “equal footing” with academic achievements was paying off.

The new Technical Awards, announced last month, which will offer practical courses in subjects such as electronics and textiles from next year, will be “as rigorous and demanding as the new reformed GCSEs” he claimed.

Pupils wanting to study practical subjects will be able to go on and study Tech Levels which will be a “gold standard qualification that is finally as rigorous and respected as our A-levels” the minister added.

He said: “Britain's system of vocational education has long been seen as weak compared to some of our international competitors.

“Too much focus was put on a wrong headed target that 50 per cent of young people should go to University. The result was lack of focus on vocational education.

“Instead, we want all young people - from every background - to reach their potential.

“That means giving young people clear options for high quality education, academic, vocational, and combined, supporting our vision that it becomes the norm for young people to go either to University or into an Apprenticeship.

“Our job in Government is not to push one way or the other but to provide high quality option for both.”

The number of apprenticeships started in 2012 to 13 was almost double the number in 2009 to 10, he claimed, with applications for apprenticeships since August 2013 up 40 per cent on the previous 12 months.

Figures released last week show the number of 16 to 18-year-olds not in education, employment or training is at its lowest level for 20 years.


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