Friday, April 18, 2014

'Crisis' warning as up to four in 10 British children refused first choice primary school

Up to four in 10 children missed out on their first choice primary school in parts of England while hundreds of pupils were not allocated places at all.

There were warnings of a mounting admissions "crisis" as figures show that almost 40 per cent of infants in parts of the country failed to secure places at the main school of their choice.

Officials were also warned to brace themselves for a surge in the number of official appeals.

In some areas pupils were not allocated any places at all, including 75 infants in one area alone, it emerged.

One admissions expert told how some parents were being forced to make do with schools two or three miles away despite living within a few hundred metres of the gates of a state primary, leaving them “distraught”.

For the first time, allocations for 600,000 children entering reception classes were published at the same time on Wednesday as part of national “offer day” for primaries.

Data obtained by the Telegraph showed an overall rise in the number of four-year-olds entering the education system this year. It has been put down to a spike in the birth rate combined with the effect of immigration in some areas.

Nationally, more than half of local authorities reported a decline in the number of parents securing their preferred school for children this year compared with 2013, with parts of the south hit hardest.

The disclosure prompted warnings that more parents were preparing to lodge official appeals against allocations. Numbers are expected to dramatically eclipse the 31,150 made in 2010/11, when the last national figures were published.

The Government insists £5 billion will spent over the course of this parliament to expand primary schools, with 260,000 extra places being created to date.

Ministers have blamed Labour for the shortfall, insisting the party failed to address the looming crisis when it was in power.

But Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said an increase in the number of academies and free schools – state-funded institutions run free of local authority control – made it harder for councils to plan primary provision.

“We know that there is a present and growing crisis in primary school places,” she said. “We know that the government – for all the money they are throwing at the problem – haven’t got the mechanism or ability to plan school provision where it is needed.”

Graham Jones, an education consultant, who helps families challenge admissions rulings, said: “It’s been my busiest day ever.

“We’ve had parents shocked and distraught to miss out on the school 500 metres away only to be allocated one two or three miles down the road. You expect to travel for a secondary school, but not a primary.”

John Chard, head of School Appeals, said: “I would imagine that we’re going to see an increase in appeals, particularly in these pinch points where there’s not enough primary school places.”

Research by the Telegraph found that:

- Nationally, around one-in-seven pupils – 86,000 – is likely to have missed out on their first choice school;

- The squeeze on places was more pronounced in the south, with fewer pupils who secured their first choice school in Brighton, Bristol, East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Milton Keynes, North Somerset, Poole and Wiltshire;

- In Poole, Dorset, the number of pupils rejected from their first choice school more than doubled from seven to 16 per cent in just a year after application numbers surged by just over 11 per cent to almost 1,700;

- Overall, the rejection rate was highest in London where 19 per cent of pupils failed to get their first choice – the same as last year, despite applications rising by 3,000 overall. In Kensington and Chelsea, west London, 38 per cent failed to get into their first choice primary this year, up from 35 per cent in 2013, while 23 per cent were rejected from at least three favoured schools;

- In the Midlands, Derbyshire, Dudley, Solihull, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire also reported fewer first choice allocations, while numbers also fell in some northern authorities such as Liverpool, Wakefield, Knowsley and County Durham.

- Some areas confirmed a number of children had been given no place at all, including 75 in Richmond upon Thames, 26 in Camden and 10 in Somerset;

- But more children gained places at their preferred primary school in several council areas – particularly in the north and Midlands – including Stoke, Rutland, North East Lincolnshire, Middlesbrough, Darlington and Bury.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "We are increasing the number of good school places by tackling underperformance and opening new free schools and academies. We have also more than doubled to £5bn the funding available to councils to create new school places, and are allowing good schools to expand without the restrictions and bureaucracy they faced in the past.

"This has already led to the creation of 260,000 new school places - all of which are in areas where there is a shortage of places.”

He added: "In addition we are making the admissions process far simpler for parents. For the first time we have introduced a single national offer day for primary schools so parents will no longer have to negotiate with different councils deciding on places on different days.”

Tristram Hunt, Labour Shadow Education Secretary, said: “David Cameron is failing in his first duty in education: to provide enough good places for every child.

“He has prioritised his free school programme, which has diverted two-thirds of new places away from areas most in need of primary school places.”


British children are battling for best primary school places from age of TWO as record numbers of youngsters are denied chosen schools

Parents are placing their children in attached nurseries from the age of two in a bid to get them into the best primary schools, says a new report.

Toddlers are being enrolled in school nurseries so they will be prioritised over other children when it comes to gaining a place at over-subscribed institutions.

This effectively imposes a lower school starting age on children and discriminates against those sent elsewhere or kept at home as toddlers, warns the schools regulator.

It comes as record numbers of children will be denied their chosen primary schools today as desperate parents lobby teachers in the hope of winning places.

Fewer pupils in many areas will be awarded their first-choice schools amid a surge in applications driven by a baby boom.

As many as one in three children in some parts of the country - and about one in eight overall - are expected to miss out on the schools they wanted to attend in September.

More than a fifth of parents surveyed about the school admissions process said they visit schools and ‘try to be friendly to the staff’ in a bid to gain an advantage.

The figures emerged as the Children’s Commissioner highlighted controversial admissions practices used by schools, including giving priority to pupils placed in their own nurseries.

In a report published today, Dr Maggie Atkinson lifted the lid on tactics which allow schools to cream off the brightest or wealthiest pupils and deter more troublesome youngsters.

These include charging £300 for uniforms and telling parents not to bother applying because their children wouldn’t ‘fit in’ or failing to return phone calls to book visits.

She particularly voiced concerns over instances of primary schools ‘giving preference to children who have attended their nursery provision’.

‘In some cases, it could be argued that using this admissions criterion imposes a de facto age of compulsory schooling for a child of two years of age, on parents who want to send their child to that school at 4, the usual age of entry to reception year,' she said.

‘In addition, some of the relevant nursery provision has a paid element, which adjudicators have reasoned discriminates against those who are either unable or unwilling to pay.’

The findings came as research among dozens of local councils by the Mail shows that fewer pupils than last year in many areas are being offered their first-choice school amid a surge in applications.

In Kent, the country’s biggest education authority, the proportion of offers to first-choice schools has dropped from 86.5 per cent last year to 85 per cent.

A survey by parenting website Netmums into parents’ experiences of the admissions system found that seven per cent start thinking about their children’s schooling before they even fall pregnant.

But two thirds - 65 per cent - found the process ‘fraught’ because some schools are ‘awful’ while others are ‘excellent’.

Tactics to improve their chances of getting places include putting pupils into schools’ own nurseries - tried by 46 per cent - and buying houses close to their favoured school, cited by 21 per cent.

Twenty-two per cent said they use friendliness to try to win over teachers.

Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard said: ‘Competition for what parents perceive to be the best schools is now so tough they will do almost anything to gain their child a place.

‘Some ways like moving house to be close to the school can cost tens of thousands of pounds, while others such as applying for a nursery place at the school in a bid to boost their chances are bending the rules - but determined mums and dads will do what it takes.

‘It’s a real sign of the times that people now begin thinking about which school to send their child to before they are even pregnant.’

Schools must allocate their places according to strict criteria rather than allowing ingratiation by parents to influence them.

But testimonies of parents interviewed for the Children’s Commissioner’s report suggested some schools ‘potentially “game” the system by simply not being encouraging of admissions of particular groups or types of vulnerable children’.

The research aimed to investigate claims from heads that some schools use loopholes in admissions rules to ‘improve’ their intake and weed out pupils with behaviour problems, special needs or low academic ability.

It suggested some evidence of the practices, although it was not thought to be widespread.

Dr Atkinson also criticised vague ‘points’ systems used by some faith schools to allocate places. Some rewarded parents for giving practical support to a church or place of worship, it was claimed.

This ‘could be viewed as amounting to charging a fee to apply to the school, albeit “in kind” rather than in cash’.


Win: VA Community College System to Change 'Free Speech Zone' Policy

A system of 23 community colleges in Virginia is about to become more in line with the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Virginia Community College System (VCCS) is seeking to alter its policy on free-speech zones in response to a lawsuit brought by student Christian Parks.

    Last September, Thomas Nelson Community College prohibited Christian Parks from expressing his Christian beliefs in a large courtyard of the college. An officer from the college’s police department told him he must stop preaching because the content of his speech might offend someone. School officials then told Parks that his speech violated the Student Code of Conduct and VCCS policies.

    The Alliance Defending Freedom lawsuit, Parks v. The Members of the State Board of the Virginia Community College System, explains that sidewalks and open spaces on campus are areas where students have broad free speech rights, including the right to express their views anonymously and spontaneously.

The First Amendment prohibits laws which limit free speech and the free exercise of religion; however, many college campuses put in place codes which violate the U.S. Constitution.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) recently surveyed 427 schools across the nation and found that more than 58 percent “substantially prohibit protected speech.” The good news is that these restrictive policies have been declining for six consecutive years, and this recent lawsuit sparked yet another victory:

    In a court filing last week in support of a motion from both sides to put the lawsuit on hold, the community college system said it would not enforce its current policy as it works to develop a new student policy.

    "Both parties desire to suspend the … current policy in order to allow (Parks) and all other students to speak freely on campus" until a new policy is adopted, the joint filing said. With continuing talks between the Alliance and the state's attorney general's office, "counsel for the parties believe that they may be able to reach an amicable settlement in this case."

A proposed settlement is expected by early May.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Private school in UAE held 15 pupils as young as seven hostage in the classroom until parents paid their overdue school fees

An investigation has been launched following claims a private primary school in the United Arab Emirates held 15 of its pupils hostage until their parents paid their fees. 

The children, who are pupils at Nibras Al Iman School, in Sharjah and are seven and eight years old, will give evidence to a three member committee next Monday at a hearing which is expected to take two days.

The school's principal will be interviewed as well as the teacher who was with the pupils in the classroom at the time and an administrative member of staff who called the parents to tell them their children were being kept, an official at the Sharjah Educational Zone said.

The alleged incident came to light after the mother of a girl being held called a radio station in Sharjah and told them what had happened.

She said she was not allowed to take her daughter home until she had paid the school fees which were late.

The committee investigating the allegations will be made up of two education zone officials and one person from the legal affairs section.

This is not the first time allegations have been made about a school punishing children whose parents have not their paid fees.

A Palestinian mother accused a school in  Sharjah of banning her son from getting the school bus unless his fees were paid.

Meanwhile a Jordanian mother Mariama Saleem told The National that her son, 10, said a member of staff goes into each class and reads the names aloud of all the children who parents have not paid.

She said: 'It’s embarrassing to the child. I know some parents can’t care less sometimes but this is no excuse for scarring a child’s emotions.'

This week a government school in Ajman withheld exam results of 10 of its pupils and sent text messages to parents to pay the late fees if they wanted to see their children's results. 

Schools are allowed to withhold results, keep official documents needed for pupils to move schools or temporarily suspend the child if parents have been warned three or more times, according to article 52 of the federal law.

Lawyer Salem Sahoh has said that parents of the 15 children could report the school to the police for 'limiting one's freedom' and 'endangering another's life'

If the school was found guilty a fine could be imposed and each parent could claim compensation in a civil court.

Sheikha Deemas, the principal of Sharjah British International School, said the value of bounced cheques received by her school from parents amounts to half a million dirhams.


Equality in Discipline

By Walter E. Williams

George Leef, director of research for the North Carolina-based John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, authored a Forbes op-ed article titled "Obama Administration Takes Groupthink To Absurd Lengths." The subtitle is "School Discipline Rates Must Be 'Proportionate.'" ( Let's examine some of the absurdity of the Obama administration's take on student discipline.

Last January, the departments of Justice and Education published a "guidance" letter describing how schools can meet their obligations under federal law to administer student discipline without discriminating on the basis of race, color or national origin. Its underlying threat is that if federal bureaucrats learn of racial disproportionality in the punishments meted out for misbehavior, they will descend upon a school's administrators. If schools cannot justify differentials in rates of punishment by race or ethnic group, they will face the loss of federal funds and be forced to undertake costly diversity training.

The nation's educators can avoid sanctions by adopting a racial quota system for student discipline. So as Roger Clegg, president and general counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity, predicts, "school officials will either start disciplining students who shouldn't be, or, more likely, will not discipline some students who ought to be."

I can imagine school administrators reasoning this way: "Blacks are 20 percent of our student body, and 20 percent of suspensions this year have been of black students. In order to discipline another black student while maintaining our suspension quota, we will have to suspend some white students, whether they're guilty or not." Some administrators might see some injustice in that approach and simply ignore the misbehavior of black students.

Leef cites Manhattan Institute's Heather Mac Donald, who wrote in City Journal ( that "the Departments of Education and Justice have launched a campaign against disproportionate minority discipline rates, which show up in virtually every school district with significant numbers of black and Hispanic students.

The possibility that students' behavior, not educators' racism, drives those rates lies outside the Obama administration's conceptual universe." She quoted Aaron Benner, a black teacher in a St. Paul, Minn., school who abhors the idea that school officials should go easy on black students who act up because (as a "facilitator" said) that's what black culture is. "They're trying to pull one over on us. Black folks are drinking the Kool-Aid; this 'let-them-clown' philosophy could have been devised by the KKK." Benner is right. I can't think of a more racist argument than one that holds that disruptive, rude behavior and foul language are a part of black culture.

If Barack Obama's Department of Justice thinks that disproportionality in school punishments is probative of racial discrimination, what about our criminal justice system, in which a disproportionate number of blacks are imprisoned, on parole or probation, and executed? According to the NAACP's criminal justice fact sheet, blacks now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million people who are incarcerated. Blacks are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites. The NAACP goes on to report that if blacks and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rate as whites, today's prison and jail populations would decline by approximately 50 percent (

So what to do? For example, blacks are 13 percent of the population but over 50 percent of homicide victims and about 46 percent of convicted murderers. Seeing as the Obama administration is concerned about punishment disproportionality, should black convicts be released so that only 13 percent of incarcerated murderers are black? Or should the Department of Justice order the conviction of whites, whether they're guilty or not, so that the number of people convicted of murder by race is equal to their number in the general population?

You say, "Williams, that not only is a stupid suggestion but violates all concepts of justice!" You're absolutely right, but isn't it just as stupid and unjust for the Obama administration to seek punishment equality in schools?


Did Professor Advocate Censorship of Conservative Student Newspaper?

University of Minnesota at Morris biology professor Dr. Paul Zachary Myers doesn’t like young Republicans. In fact, he called them “a**holes.”  “That’s what they are,” Myers told me in a telephone interview on Friday. “I think they’ve amply demonstrated it is accurate.”

And he also doesn’t like The Morris North Star, a conservative student publication that routinely draws the ire of liberals at the University Minnesota at Morris.

“I said it was a terrible, terrible paper and they university should not be endorsing it,” Myers said.

But attorneys for the student newspaper are alleging Myers broke the law when they say he wrote a blog post on his personal blog urging people to throw away the publication.

The Alliance Defending Freedom has accused Myers, an associate professor in the school’s biology program, of encouraging people to steal and throw away a copy of the November 22nd edition of the newspaper.

That particular edition included a satire on affirmative action. The professor said the paper was mocking minority students.

“I would advocate the disposal of their flyers if the Ku Klux Klan started papering our campus, and likewise, the North Star has worn out its welcome and must go,” the professor wrote. “Treat their scattered papers as hate-filled trash and dispose of it appropriately.”

Myers went on to call the student editors of the publication “wingnutty” and even took a swipe at Fox News.

“We do have conservative students here – I expect that the majority are more conservative than I am – but they also trend towards being more the reasonable, rational, educate sort of conservative,” he wrote. “Not the kind you’ll see on Fox News, and most unfortunately, not the kind who are likely to get elected to the Republican party.”

Oh yeah – he also called the conservative youngsters “assholes-in-training.”

After the professor’s diatribe was published, approximately 350 copies of The North Star were stolen from campus distribution bins, the Alliance Defending Freedom alleges. They estimate the theft cost the newspaper $1,750.

Myers told me he had nothing to do with the disappearance of the newspapers.

“I suggested the university needed to get rid of them,” he said. “I have done absolutely nothing to squelch their ability to publish their terrible little rag.”

And last January, The North Star published an issue that included a pro-life story. As many as 100 copies of the newspaper were later found defaced.

The newspaper staff contacted university officials about both incidents –but so far – the university has remained silent.

ADF attorney Kevin Theriot is calling on the university to not only condemn the theft and destruction, but also investigate the incidents.

“The university must take steps to protect The North Star and all other student publications from such viewpoint-based censorship in the future,” Theriot said in a prepared statement.

Theriot also had some choice words to say about Professor Myers.  “Professor Myers has betrayed that public trust by his advocacy of censorship,” he said, accusing the professor of chilling free speech by “advocating that people steal the paper and throw it in the trash.”

For the record, no one has been charged with a crime. And the university sent me a two-sentence statement saying they were reviewing ADF’s claims and “will respond in due course.”

ADF said the most troubling aspect of the incident is UMM’s silence.

“A public university is supposed to be a marketplace of ideas, where free thought and discourse flourish,” ADF wrote in a letter to the university. “By failing to take swift action to denounce the theft and defacing of a newspaper, UMM is teaching students that the appropriate response to ideas you disagree with is to censor or destroy those ideas.”

One would think that a university campus would be a bit more tolerant of opposing viewpoints. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine UMM professors advocating for an old-fashioned book burning. They could use a copy of the First Amendment as fire starter.

ADF said Professor Myers may express his opinion about the newspaper. However, the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments do not protect government officials when they incite illegal activity, “engage in viewpoint discrimination, confiscate property without notice, and seize The North Star’s property.”

Perhaps Professor Myers should remember that – the next time he decides to open his orifice.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Aiming High

Mona Charen

There's an MRCTV video circulating on the Internet that features a man with a microphone asking college students in Washington, D.C., to name just one member of the United States Senate. At least half a dozen are stumped. When he asks how many senators each state has, the same crew is equally flummoxed. One hundred percent of the students could name the hit song from the movie "Frozen," though.

These surveys about how ignorant Americans are have become hardy perennials. Survey data confirm that large numbers of Americans lack even rudimentary knowledge of what used to be called "eighth-grade civics." A survey by Common Core found that 25 percent of American high school students thought Christopher Columbus sailed after the year 1750, and about a third of them did not know the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech and religion.

We can all have a good laugh at the expense of the ignorant kids, but, of course, if they are truly undereducated (and these surveys can exaggerate), it's largely the fault of our schools.

It's nice to be reminded, from time to time, about what good schools and good teachers can achieve.

In McLean, Va., a suburb of the District of Columbia, Langley High School has for the past 22 years conducted a program called "Case Day." The brainchild of teacher Steven Catlett and former clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court General William Suter, Case Day involves the entire school (but most intensively the seniors in government class) in studying a pending Supreme Court case. Government teachers Allison Cohen and Micah Herzig, both former lawyers, try to choose cases that will engage teenagers. In past years, students have argued District of Columbia v. Heller (the gun control challenge), Morse v. Frederick (the "bong hits for Jesus" case), and Grutter v. Bollinger (an affirmative action question).

Four students were assigned to argue the cases before a panel of nine "justices," which included two students and also law professors, practicing lawyers and members of the school board. Suter played the role of chief justice.

This year's oral argument was Riley v. California, a Fourth Amendment case contesting the police search of a cellphone. The students familiarized themselves with a dozen or so Supreme Court precedents. As one explained, "We were told that in six weeks we were going to get a crash course in college, law school, and 20 years of practice." All agreed that studying the precedents changed their initial impression of the proper outcome of the case. They were also unanimous in saying that they now hope to be lawyers -- with their teacher acknowledging a little sheepishly that she may have conveyed the misimpression that law school is fun.

Before the drama of the mock oral argument, guest speakers elucidated the issues by offering some context on common law privacy, search-and-seizure cases and the facts of Riley v. California. Then, as the robed justices entered the chamber (well, school library), all rose. A student clerk intoned the "oyez," saying, "All persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting ... "

Sparks flew! The arguments featured exactly the sort of thrust and parry that characterizes the actual Supreme Court. Student advocates were challenged by justices attempting to probe the weaknesses of their arguments (while much of the school watched on monitors). Grace Sununu and Anna Cox, representing Riley, were asked why the digital contents of a phone deserve any different consideration from ordinary papers that the court has held may be searched incident to arrest. Was it the sheer amount of data? What if someone were carrying a paper diary with tiny printing? Of William Miner and Ben Parker, appearing for California, it was demanded, "Suppose someone is arrested for jaywalking? Does that mean their entire private life (which can be accessed on a cellphone) is open to search?"

Though they could scarcely complete a full sentence without being interrupted, the students dropped case names and legal doctrines with impressive poise and confidence. The student justices (Natalie Fahlberg and Myunghoon Kim) drilled their colleagues mercilessly.

The Langley court ruled 5-4 in favor of Riley. That other court a few miles east will hear oral argument in the case on April 29, when the six students who participated will sit in the audience as the guests of Justice Antonin Scalia, a loyal supporter of Case Day.

This is not a high-tech, expensive program. Any school with good teachers and access to a library could do it -- and should. It's amazing what students are capable of, when asked.


CA: Schoolkids compare MLK to Mumia Abu-Jamal

A lesson plan asking students to draw parallels between late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal is an “absolute disgrace,” the widow of the fallen officer told

Maureen Faulkner, whose husband Daniel was gunned down in Philadelphia on Dec. 9, 1981, said the latest effort to glorify Abu-Jamal’s past using a lesson plan posted on the Oakland (Calif.) Unified School District’s website is akin to advocating violence to young students.

“It’s a travesty,” Faulkner told by phone early Thursday. “You’re going to teach children about a man who murdered a police officer? That’s not a good lesson to be teaching children. He was a radical, a militant. My question is: Are our tax dollars paying for this?”

The lesson plan, which was authored by teacher Craig Gordon for 11th-graders  within the 37,000-student district, suggests to “critically examine a possible parallel” between King and “someone else many believe is currently targeted by the U.S. government, Mumia Abu-Jamal.”

It also asks students to consider the following statement: “The media, prison system and law enforcement organizations have censored Mumia Abu-Jamal. On one hand, there have been occasional stories in print and broadcast media about Mumia Abu-Jamal. On the other, despite the widespread support for Abu-Jamal that has made his case the most renown and controversial of death penalty cases in the world today, these stories are extremely rare and always refer to him as a ‘convicted cop-killer.’”

Despite Abu-Jamal’s “prolific writings” in several books, none of his work can be found in mainstream media, according to the lesson plan.

“My first take on this was: There’s a lot more educational things you could be teaching children about than a cold-blooded murderer,” Faulkner told “It’s an absolute disgrace that they’re trying to make any comparison.”

Faulkner noted that Abu-Jamal — a former Black Panther who has garnered worldwide support by some who believe he was victimized by a biased judicial system — will turn 60 later this month while imprisoned in Pennsylvania. Faulkner's late husband, however, won’t be so fortunate.

“What about my husband’s 60th birthday? He’s been in the ground for the past 32 years,” Faulkner said. “My husband has missed 32 birthdays, 32 Christmases and 32 anniversaries. It’s an abomination.”

Troy Flint, director of public relations for the Oakland Unified School District, said the lesson plan is no longer part of the district's curriculum and was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

"The fact that a website documenting Urban Dreams remains accessible is an oversight related to technology management; it does not speak to current instructional practice in OUSD," Flint wrote in an e-mail. "To avoid any confusion in the future, we will conduct an inventory of the numerous websites created to support learning districtwide to ensure they conform with our present academic philosophy and do not inadvertently misrepresent Oakland schools."

Some academics contacted by, however, said King and Abu-Jamal are “fundamentally similar” since both have committed their lives to challenging systemic racism in the United States.

Mark Lewis Taylor, a professor of theology and culture at the Princeton Theological Seminary and a longtime Mumia supporter, identified two major differences between Abu-Jamal and King, saying the former radio journalist has worked more obviously than the assassinated civil rights leader within an “international framework of justice struggle.”

Abu-Jamal, according to Taylor, also worked more than King to “mobilize grassroots organizations” and movements. King had a tendency, Taylor said, to privilege black church organizations and, at times, espouse a certain sense of black middle-class advantage and leadership.

“But what King and Abu-Jamal shared should not be overlooked,” Taylor wrote in an email. “One shouldn’t juxtapose a respectable ‘cuddly’ Martin Luther King over and against a more radical and supposedly ‘villainous’ Abu-Jamal — as the media hype often has it when they relentlessly misrepresent him as a ‘cop-killer.’ In fact, authorities have had the wrong man on death row and in prison these 32 years, not the man who actually shot Officer Faulkner.”

In 2011, Philadelphia’s district attorney announced that prosecutors would no longer pursue the death penalty against Abu-Jamal. Instead, he will spend the rest of his life in prison for killing Faulkner, a 25-year-old patrolman who scuffled with Abu-Jamal’s brother during an early morning traffic stop. Abu-Jamal, whose real name is Wesley Cook, was wounded by a round from Faulkner’s gun and a .38-caliber revolver registered to Abu-Jamal was found at the scene with five spent shell casings, according to trial testimony.

In 1995, Abu-Jamal authored “Live From Death Row” and has been the subject of numerous documentaries and books. The onetime journalist has also enjoyed support from, among others, actor Tim Robbins and from as far away as France, where a street bears his name in a Paris suburb.

Most recently, Abu-Jamal appeared in national headlines in February when his link to President Obama's nominee for a top Justice Department post, Debo Adegbile, was revealed. Adegbile faced criticism for his role in getting Abu-Jamal's death sentence overturned during his time as acting director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Adebile's confirmation was blocked in early March.

King’s niece, Alveda, said she wasn’t very familiar with Abu-Jamal’s case, but said any comparison to her uncle should begin with a thorough understanding of his nonviolent philosophy.

“Students should be required to know Martin Luther King, Jr., before comparing anyone to him,” she told by phone. “I believe that law enforcement officials, those who find themselves at odds with the law, and anyone who has a conflict for any reason would be best served by embracing the nonviolent philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr.”


Universities are not Walmart

Just recently, the e-zine ran a piece bearing the provocative title, “The Walmart-ization of higher education: How young professors are getting screwed.” It wins my prize for the most bizarre think-piece of the year.

The author, Keith Hoeller, considers the move in higher education to replace tenure-track professors with lowly adjuncts. To him, this is apparently as shocking as it is surprising.

He begins by noting that various surveys of workers show that tenured professors are a pretty happy bunch. They average over $90,000 a year in total compensation, for only nine months work, and they report low levels of job stress, high levels of job satisfaction, and so on. This is hardly a surprise. Getting tenure means never having to hear “you’re fired.” Tenured professors are virtually immune from termination, no matter how poor their job performance.

The first strange thing about Hoeller’s article is that it isn’t reporting anything new. The shift from highly-paid tenured professors to lowly-paid adjuncts has been going on for decades. The article’s deeper flaw its author’s use of Walmart as a slur.

Yes, Walmart uses a lot of part-time labor, as do most other retail and service industries. (The frequency of part-time work is increasing rapidly as the full implementation of that crazy-quilt law called ObamaCare grows nigh). But the resemblance ends there. Walmart, so despised by bien pensant literati, has succeeded in lowering its prices dramatically, on a vast array of consumer goods, and has done so since its inception. Walmart saves the average American family — all American families, including those of elitists who refuse to shop there — something like $2,300 per year. Its costcutting measures, including of course labor-saving measures — which go way beyond using part-time labor — have benefitted all consumers with lower prices and better goods, and Walmart investors with a good return on their money.

In stark contrast, colleges have systematically screwed their consumers and investors. Consider first the consumers, i.e. students. During the past few decades, they have seen their tuition rise much faster than inflation — while the service rendered has steadily deteriorated. The deterioration takes the form of watered-down courses, degrees in vacuous subjects, and rampant grade inflation. Over the past decade in particular, students have had to run up huge amounts of loan debt getting degrees that have proven worthless in terms of career placement.

The investors in these colleges, the taxpayers (for public schools) and the donors (for private ones), who have seen graduation rates dwindle and the employability of recent college grads — only 56% of whom are in jobs appropriate to their training — plummet, are also being swindled.

The Hoeller piece doesn’t address the damning context of the increased use of academic part-timers: the fact that such savings in labor costs have not even slowed the explosion of costs to the students, and the fact that the services rendered have dropped in quality. The proximate cause is, of course, administrative bloat.

Bloat is the focus of a recent article by Jon Marcus of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting. Marcus reviews a report from the Delta Cost Project (also reviewed by the Chronicle of Higher Education) on the rapid growth in college administrative staff. Marcus reports that the growth in the number of college administrators has greatly exceeded the growth in both the number of students and the number of faculty. Over the past 25 years, colleges and universities have increased the number of their administrative staff by 517,636. During that time, the ratio of nonacademic employees to faculty has doubled. We now see two non-academics for every tenure-track or tenured professor at public universities, and a ratio of two and a half to one at private colleges.

Growth in this area is especially strong at the central offices of public college and university systems. For example, the headquarters of the California State University system has a separate budget that exceeds the budget of three of its campuses!

Marcus cites economist Robert Martin making the point that so eluded Hoeller: “While the rest of the economy was shrinking overhead, higher education was investing heavily in more overhead.” Walmart, Target, Costco and so on continue to deliver more for less, while the higher education system business only continues to deliver less for more.

Marcus notes that in constant dollars, tuition and fees have nearly doubled at private four-colleges, and nearly tripled at public four-year colleges, over the last quarter-century. And during this period, the ratio of part-time to full-time faculty has gone from about one-third to about one-half.

Naturally, administrators have a reply: they claim they are delivering more value to the consumers (students) and principals (taxpayers and donors) by creating and expanding offices for security, counseling, technology services, “sustainability,” disabled student services, and especially “diversity.” But skeptics rightly reply that these services don’t seem to have resulted in objectively measurable favorable outcomes. For example, over the past decade, Marcus notes, the percentage of students pursuing bachelor’s degrees — which can be completed in four years — and actually getting their degrees within six years has risen only slightly (from 55% in 2002 to 58% in 2012).

And several economists cited in Marcus’ piece made the obvious point that universities, to the extent they even need many of these services, could easily outsource them. As Robert Martin put it, “You can hire outside firms, on a contract basis, with competitive bidding. All these activities are a distraction from what the institution is supposed to be doing.”

What is causing the exploitation of adjuncts and the explosion in student fees is at base the same thing: a severe case of the principal-agent problem.

The managerial agents at American universities — the administrators — have achieved virtually total power over the institutions they manage, so much so that they view themselves as the true principals (owners). Of course, they’re not — the principals are the taxpayers, the donors, and the tuition-payers. But the administrators seldom see it that way.

Until this problem is solved, you can expect to see administrative bloat continue apace, enabled by the burgeoning ranks of the adjuncts — and by higher tuition, which is in turn fueled by the federal student loan program, a government program run amuck.

In fine, the American university system is as dissimilar to Walmart as you can get. Walmart has not been shafting its customers through management bloat, higher prices, poorer service, and lousier products, all fueled by massive federal subsidies. The American university system has.



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

They want me silenced. Brandeis complies

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has just released (as of 4:30 p.m. E.T. Wednesday, April 9) this statement in response to Brandeis University’s decision to rescind her invitation to receive an honorary degree:

“Yesterday Brandeis University decided to withdraw an honorary degree they were to confer upon me next month during their Commencement exercises. I wish to dissociate myself from the university’s statement, which implies that I was in any way consulted about this decision. On the contrary, I was completely shocked when President Frederick Lawrence called me—just a few hours before issuing a public statement—to say that such a decision had been made.

“When Brandeis approached me with the offer of an honorary degree, I accepted partly because of the institution’s distinguished history; it was founded in 1948, in the wake of World War II and the Holocaust, as a co-educational, nonsectarian university at a time when many American universities still imposed rigid admission quotas on Jewish students.

“I assumed that Brandeis intended to honor me for my work as a defender of the rights of women against abuses that are often religious in origin. For over a decade, I have spoken out against such practices as female genital mutilation, so-called ‘honor killings,’ and applications of Sharia Law that justify such forms of domestic abuse as wife beating or child beating. Part of my work has been to question the role of Islam in legitimizing such abhorrent practices. So I was not surprised when my usual critics, notably the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), protested against my being honored in this way.

“What did surprise me was the behavior of Brandeis. Having spent many months planning for me to speak to its students at Commencement, the university yesterday announced that it could not “overlook certain of my past statements,” which it had not previously been aware of. Yet my critics have long specialized in selective quotation – lines from interviews taken out of context – designed to misrepresent me and my work. It is scarcely credible that Brandeis did not know this when they initially offered me the degree.

“What was initially intended as an honor has now devolved into a moment of shaming. Yet the slur on my reputation is not the worst aspect of this episode. More deplorable is that an institution set up on the basis of religious freedom should today so deeply betray its own founding principles. The ‘spirit of free expression’ referred to in the Brandeis statement has been stifled here, as my critics have achieved their objective of preventing me from addressing the graduating Class of 2014. Neither Brandeis nor my critics knew or even inquired as to what I might say. They simply wanted me to be silenced. I regret that very much.

“Not content with a public disavowal, Brandeis has invited me ‘to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues.’ Sadly, in words and deeds, the university has already spoken its piece. I have no wish to ‘engage’ in such one-sided dialogue. I can only wish the Class of 2014 the best of luck—and hope that they will go forth to be better advocates for free expression and free thought than their alma mater.

“I take this opportunity to thank all those who have supported me and my work on behalf of oppressed woman and girls everywhere.”


Get ‘Em While They’re Young: Promoting Homosexuality In Public Schools

The Obama administration and the NEA continue using taxpayer money to push their outrageous agenda

Funded by our tax dollars, every year, the National Education Association promotes what most consider sinful behavior in schools across the country. This year, the Day of Silence (DOS) will be today, April 11. Under the guise of “Anti-bullying” education, thousands of public schools allow students to participate by remaining silent through­out an entire day, even during instructional time.

The DOS is sponsored by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and is a politi­cal action in public schools that promotes the homosexual movement.

Flashback to May 23, 2011, when the resigna­tion of [Obama appointee] Kevin Jennings was completely ignored by the media. Jennings was (no joke) the “Safe Schools Czar” for the Obama administration; and after I read what he promoted in public schools, it almost made me sick to my stomach.

Jennings was the founder of GLSEN, and one look at their recommended reading list should cause alarm. There are books encouraging the sexualization of children (regardless of “orientation”) and a sexed-up reading list for teachers on down to grade schoolers. Kevin Jennings had been known to encourage sex between adults and minors. CNS News reported:

    “In April, he spoke at an assembly at a public school in Mary­land where he compared those who oppose homosexuality to supporters of slavery and racial segregation.”

During his fourteen-year tenure at GLSEN, Jennings touted his homosexual activism and included the fact that since 1995, he increased the number of public school-based and student-led pro-homosexual clubs, such as Gay-Straight Alliances, from 50 to 4,300 today. With the NEA’s cooperation, Jennings was responsible for adding more than 4,200 new clubs in America’s public schools that promote homosexuality.

GLSEN’s goal for the Day Of Silence is to encourage sympathy and support for not only homosexual and lesbian students, but also those involved in cross-dressing behaviors. Behind the veil, DOS is not led by students at all.

Linda Harvey of Mission America writes:

    “GLSEN describes itself as ‘championing LGBT issues in K-12 education since 1990.’ Did you catch that – ‘K through 12’? Younger and younger students are the target of this group. The younger, the better because they are easier to manipulate.”

Of course, any activity considered sinful by biblical standards should not be promoted in public schools in any way. The DOS seems to justify immoral behavior under the blanket of tolerance, yet prevents Christian students from sharing their faith with peers caught up in gender confu­sion. Amazingly, the DOS requires that teachers create activities around the students who are silent. Sadly, those students who choose not to go with the homosexual flow are a captive audience, while an agenda they may disagree with is implemented in their classroom.

Attorney Robert Tyler, founder of Advocates for Faith and Freedom, warns that the new tolerant terminology coming to public schools is “gender liberation.” Evidently, this will be used to ‘liberate children’ from stereotypes and to eliminate our God-given distinctions between male and female. One of their solutions is gender neutral restrooms.

Conservative and Pro-family groups have been warning that this assault on Christian values has been increasing. They even support gender change for elementary age children while suppressing objections by Christian parents. Calling it “blatant indoctrination,” Linda Harvey also wrote “The Sleazy History of GLSEN,” questioning how they achieve the “sexual enticement” of children.

    “Behind GLSEN’s window-dressing rhetoric about safe schools, bigotry, ‘homophobia’, oppression, and concerns about harass­ment, lies the reality: advocacy of actual homosexual sex, sometimes very explicit even for young kids. And sometimes it’s with adults…. How can they get away with … even soliciting the opinions of minors for sketchy, internally-constructed and analyzed school climate surveys, where no parental permis­sion is needed to interview a sixth-grader about homosexual identity via the Internet?”

With access to kids, GLSEN will use children to normalize homo­sexuality as long as parents and public schools continue letting them do it. Harvey said “The gatekeepers are not watching.”

Jennings (appointed by President Obama in 2009) was finally forced to resign from his position in the Obama administration. What other radicals has the president appointed in the Department of Education and other cabinet positions? It should not surprise us that President Obama would appoint homosexuals to his administration as there are a record number, more than any other president in our history. It’s been clear where Obama stands since he was elected president. But how in the world did such a dangerous man like Jennings remain in the Obama administra­tion for two years?

Kevin Jennings has said that “twenty percent of people are hard-core, fair-minded, pro-homosexual people.” However, he ridiculed Christians and discussed what he called “his strategy” at a speaking engagement a few years back and stated that:

    “Twenty percent are hard-core [anti-homosexual] bigots. We need to ignore the hard-core bigots, get more of the hard-core fair-minded people to speak up, and we’ll pull that 60 percent [of people in the middle] … over to our side.“We have to quit being afraid of the religious right. …I’m try­ing to find a way to say this. I’m trying not to say, ‘F*ck ‘em!’ – which is what I want to say, because I don’t care what they think! [audience laughter] Drop dead!”

I can see why Obama liked him. Kevin Jennings wrote the foreword of the book Queering Elementary Education. One of six books Kevin Jennings wrote to promote homosexuality was Becoming Visible: A Reader in Gay and Lesbian History for High School and College Students. Jennings also founded the nation’s first “gay/straight alliance” in Massachusetts. Harry Hay “inspired” Kevin Jennings to become a homosexual activist.

We all have our mentors; but since Jennings had access and influence on public school kids across America for two years, and Hay was such an infamous radical, we should probably take a closer look. Harry Hay, a known Marxist, was a founder of the homosexual movement, an open supporter of NAMBLA, and a prominent member of the Communist Party USA. Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the Center for Investigative Journalism at Accuracy in Media. In his article “NAMBLA-gate: the Strange Case of Kevin Jennings,” Kincaid stated:

    “This is the real scandal – the degree to which the homosexual movement tolerates pedophiles in its midst and regards a cham­pion of pedophilia as a hero.”

In 2011, President Obama awarded Kevin Jennings $410 million to promote homosexuality in the public schools. National recession? No problem; this was important! Jennings received an increase of $45 million for his work to push through his agenda on school children regardless of the fact that America has massive federal budget deficits.

As it happens with a Democratic administration, people are appointed to positions before the media reports on their backgrounds, if they ever do report on them. Shortly after Jennings was appointed, The Washington Times attempted to get more facts by questioning the Obama administration, including Education Secretary Arne Duncan. They made “serious inquiries about the filth propagated by a senior presidential appointee,” but were being stonewalled.

It was alarming that someone like Kevin Jennings was put in a posi­tion responsible for implementing federal education policy. There was clear evidence from various sources that Jennings helped promote a “reading list for children thirteen years old” that made explicit adult-child sex appear normal and acceptable. This was under the guise of pro­moting so-called alternative lifestyles. The Washington Times reported:

    “Democrats clearly are terrified of ruffling the feathers of their activist homosexual supporters, who are an influential part of the Democratic Party’s base. This scandal, however, is not merely about homosexual behavior; it is about promoting sex between children and adults.”

Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact some homosexual activists aren’t just happy with being accepted, welcomed, and even given special rights in our society; they are now working to squelch the free speech of others. The Obama administration and the NEA continue using taxpayer money to push their outrageous agenda.
What is ‘normal’ has been redefined, and we’ve allowed it to happen. Fifty years ago, this was unheard of in America. Moreover, America has forgotten how to blush; and even Christians have forgotten how to stand up for truth. We’ve reached a tipping point. Opponents of biblical Christianity used to simply disagree with us; today, they’re working to silence us.


You Aren't Invited

Officials with the Olathe, Kansas, school system have apologized after inviting only black students on a field trip that included visits to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and an exhibit on the Civil Rights movement at a local museum. Well, actually, they say it was all a "misunderstanding" and that the invitation mistakenly "suggested" the trip was open only to blacks. But the actual invitation specified that it was for "our African-American sophomores and juniors."


Monday, April 14, 2014

Study: No connection between spending, student outcomes

For decades, it’s probably the most troublesome question facing education: Why are results for U.S. public school students so mediocre, despite the billions of taxpayer dollars spent?

Andrew Coulson thinks he’s got the answer: Because there is no discernible correlation between spending and outcomes.

“The takeaway from this study is that what we’ve done over the past 40 years hasn’t worked,” said Coulson, director of the Center For Educational Freedom at the CATO Institute. “The average performance change nationwide has declined 3 percent in mathematical and verbal skills. Moreover, there’s been no relationship, effectively, between spending and academic outcomes.”

The CATO Institute is a free-market think-tank based in Washington, D.C.

Coulson just released his study, “State Education Trends: Academic Performance and Spending over the Past 40 Years,” and he points to this chart that incorporates costs and the number of public school employees with student enrollment and test scores:

While spending has just about tripled in inflation-adjusted dollars and the number of school employees has almost doubled since 1970, reading, math and science scores for students have remained stagnant.

“That is remarkably unusual,” Coulson wrote in his study. “In virtually every other field, productivity has risen over this period thanks to the adoption of countless technological advances — advances that, in many cases, would seem ideally suited to facilitating learning. And yet, surrounded by this torrent of progress, education has remained anchored to the riverbed, watching the rest of the world rush past it.”

Coulson also looked at Scholastic Aptitude Test scores since 1972 and the numbers hold in each of the 50 states, including New Mexico:

“It’s really impressive how disconnected spending and achievement have been in our state public systems,” Coulson said in a telephone interview with New Mexico Watchdog.

Correlations are based on a scale between zero and one, with the higher the number approaching 1.0 suggesting a perfect correlation between spending and results. Coulson’s figures came out well below 1.0 — at .0075. In other words, the numbers Coulson worked with would have to be more than 13 times stronger to suggest a perfect correlation.

“The 0.075 figure reported here suggests that there is essentially no link between state education spending (which has exploded) and the performance of students at the end of high school (which has generally stagnated or declined),” Coulson wrote in the 60-page report.

Coulson also says that not only is there no evidence that spending increases improve scores, he says the statistics show that decreases in spending have no discernible effect in negatively influencing student scores.

“At one time or another over the past four decades, Alaska, California, Florida and New York all experienced multi-year periods over which real spending fell substantially (20 percent or more of their 1972 expenditure levels),” he wrote. “And yet, none of these states experienced noticeable declines in adjusted SAT scores.”

But if spending has no affect, then why do students at private schools, which charge tuition, perform better than students in public schools?

“Actually, the average per-pupil spending in private schools is substantially below the average per-pupil spending in government schools,” Coulson said.

He pointed to a  study he conducted in New Mexico’s neighboring state of Arizona in which Coulson said average per-pupil spending at private schools was about 66 percent of the cost of public schools.

National studies have shown the average per-pupil spending in the U.S. exceeds $11,000.

“There are many states in which you can find very many private schools for half that amount, certainly many for three-quarters of that,” Coulson said.

New Mexico Voices for Children, which has long advocated for increased spending for public schools, dismissed Coulson’s study.

“The Cato report assumes that education money is spent the same way it was in the 1960s and ’70s,” the organization said in an email to New Mexico Watchdog. “In fact, schools have been mandated to provide many more services—special education, after-school programs, computer sciences, etc.—and today’s classrooms require much more technology than they did in the days of the mimeograph. Ignoring this would be like looking at the rising cost of the automobile without taking into account the fact that modern cars have safety systems and technology that didn’t exist in the days of the Model T.”

Other critics of Coulson’s study point to his use of SAT numbers. Since 1986, the number of students taking the SAT has more than doubled. Since more students are taking the test because more students are attending college than in the past, the numbers would flatten.

Coulson said he adjusted and controlled for the test scores.

“It does seem that it is quite readily possible to control SAT scores for the participation rate and variations in demographics to get an estimate of real, representative state performance,” he said.


California's Brownshirt Anti-Semitism Comes to Vassar

California is the lifestyle incubator of the nation. And now the trendy anti-Semitic thuggery that debuted at California's public universities has metastasized across America, all the way to the elite halls of Vassar.

Before we discuss the fashionable pogrom that just took place on the Vassar campus where Jackie Kennedy once strolled in pearls, let's look back at May 7, 2002. On that day, Professor Laurie Zoloth, Director of the Jewish Studies program at San Francisco State University, attended a "Peace in the Middle East" campus rally, organized by Hillel students, where they sang songs and prayed for peace in Israel. Wrote Professor Zoloth:

    "As soon as the community supporters left, the 50 students who remained praying in a minyan for the traditional afternoon prayers, or chatting, or cleaning up after the rally, talking -- were surrounded by a large, angry crowd of Palestinians and their supporters. But they were not calling for peace. They screamed at us to ‘go back to Russia' and they screamed that they would kill us all, and other terrible things. They surrounded the praying students, and the elderly women who are our elder college participants, who survived the Shoah, who helped shape the Bay Area peace movement, only to watch as a threatening crowd shoved the Hillel students against the wall of the plaza.

    "As the counter demonstrators poured into the plaza, screaming at the Jews to ‘Get out or we will kill you' and ‘Hitler did not finish the job,' I turned to the police and to every administrator I could find and asked them to remove the counter demonstrators from the Plaza, to maintain the separation of 100 feet that we had been promised. The police told me that they had been told not to arrest anyone, and that if they did, "it would start a riot." I told them that it already was a riot."

Eventually, the terrified Jewish students gathered under the flag of Israel and were led by armed police guard back to the Hillel House. "This was neither free speech nor discourse, but raw, physical assault," wrote Professor Zoloth, who noted with sadness, "Not one administrator came to stand with us."

May 7, 2002 turned out to be a grand day for Jew-haters, because things only got better from there. Threatening, harassing, intimidating and assaulting Jews is now a venerable tradition on California's public campuses, protected by taxpayer-funded administrators and enshrined by public indifference.

Let's flash forward to San Francisco State University today. Mohammad Hammad, president of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS), has recently enjoyed organizing campus art projects that read "My heroes have always killed colonizers," posing on social media sites with a knife that he claims "makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier," and vowing to use his GUPS presidency "to radicalize half of our population and bring them back with me as fighters."

Upon being informed of these threats by a Jewish group called AMCHA Initiative, SFSU President Leslie Wong took decisive action by yawning, shrugging and sticking his fingers in his ears. After the police intervened, Mohammad Hammad disappeared from campus, presumably with his weapons collection intact. But the radical student group that elected him president still has free reign.

AMCHA Initiative, led by the politely relentless Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, documents the anti-Semitic tsunami on University of California's campuses. At UC Berkeley, a Jewish girl holding an "Israel Wants Peace" sign was ramrodded with a shopping cart by the head of Students for Justice in Palestine. At UC Irvine, eleven Muslim students disrupted the speech of the Israeli Ambassador with such ferocity they were convicted of disturbing the peace. And on and on and on.

The regal disinterest of UC's Board of Regents has allowed the cancer to spread. If these characters can get away with it in California, they can pull it off in Michigan, Boston, and Brooklyn, too.  As Caroline Glick explains, anti-Israel student activists at the University of Michigan recently hurled death threats at Jewish student council members and called them "dirty Jew" and "kike."  Michigan university administrators aggressively intervened -- on behalf of the anti-Semites.

Last February, Brooklyn College campus police forcibly removed four Jewish students who were peacefully monitoring an anti-Israel event. Brooklyn College administrators then lied about the Jewish students, claiming they were disruptive. Karen Gould, the college president, was forced to apologize to the students after a video exonerated them.

And at Northeastern University in Boston, a pressure campaign finally goaded administrators into suspending Students for Justice in Palestine's campus affiliation for a year, after a series of vicious provocations. Students defaced a menorah on campus, disrupted Jewish events, and frightened Jews by placing mock eviction notices on their dormitory rooms.

Now it's Vassar's turn. Long gone are the days chronicled in Mary McCarthy's famous novel, "The Group," in which aristocratic young women clad in sweater sets gained a little academic polish while searching for husbands. Now Vassar is all about multiculturalism, with one notable exception: It's edgy, it's cool, it's hip to hate Israel.   Thirty-nine Vassar faculty members  (including, tragically, Joshua Schreier, Director of Jewish Studies) signed a libelous letter supporting an academic boycott of Israel, in which they accused the Jewish state of cartoonish evils. As on the other campuses, the road to physically intimidating Jews was paved with academic corruption.

A planned trip to Israel with Earth Sciences Professor Jill Schneiderman and Greek and Roman Studies Professor Rachel Friedman has set off a firestorm of anti-Semitic fury. In late February, Students for Justice in Palestine activists physically intimidated students going into Professor Friedman's class to discuss the upcoming trip. According to William Jacobson's invaluable reporting at the Legal Insurrection blog, Professor Friedman was "shocked" and "in 17 years at Vassar never experienced anything like this."

Vassar's administration then convened a campus-wide forum to discuss "the ethics of the travel trip." On March 3rd, 200 people gathered for an "open conversation" which quickly degenerated into what Schneiderman described as a "very toxic atmosphere" in which "rage against Israel was the theme." "I was knocked off-center by a belligerent academic community dedicated to vilifying anyone who dares set foot in Israel," wrote Schneiderman on her blog. Friedman said that Jewish students who spoke in defense of Israel were heckled, drowned out with finger-snapping noises and loudly laughed at.

So far, Vassar president Catharine Bond Hill has refused to comment. But Vassar's national reputation has taken a serious hit, and a newly formed group of parents and alumni called Fairness to Israel may continue to press the issue.

The anti-Semitism weaponized at California universities has now infected campuses around the country. The academic community bears the blame for its studied indifference to this ugliness and its outright enthusiasm for tormenting Jewish students and faculty.

But the Jewish community must also acknowledge its failure to effectively combat this dangerous trend. Mainstream Jewish institutions have been AWOL from the battle. Now that Abe Foxman is finally retiring from the Anti-Defamation League, it's time to replace him with someone who knows how to start winning.


Why is Israel Losing the PR Battle At American Campuses?

From the birth of the state of Israel in 1948 to the 1980's, comments about this Jewish nation were uniformly and reflexively positive. Jews and non-Jews alike took pride in the resourcefulness of a people who could make the desert bloom and who had the backbone and will to defend themselves against Arab invaders.

Somewhere along the way this view changed. It wasn't a sudden event, albeit the astonishing alacrity of an Israeli victory over its enemies in 1967 seemed to turn the underdog into a dominant force. It was a shift borne of economic, cultural and political factors.

On the economics front, the reliance of the West on Middle Eastern oil to run their industries gave Arab states leverage they did not possess at any time in the past. Israel became a target and a refuge. On the one hand, the argument was made that Israel is an occupying nation that had displaced Palestinian refugees; on the other hand, the Arab states could hide behind the claim of Nakba or "the catastrophe" as they violated human rights in their own nations. Israel became a useful source of hostility even though Arab states did almost nothing to mitigate the plight of the refugees they claimed to represent.

Oil money also allowed for the promotion of these misguided historical interpretations in madrassas around the world. Israel was considered colonial, exploitive and imperialistic. Buttressing these claims, was a book, Orientalism, that captured the spirit of this Arab Zeitgeist. The author, Edward Said, was handsome, charming and persuasive. He was also a fabricator. His contention that he was born in the Palestinian territory and was forcibly displaced by Israeli troops, is a complete fabrication. That, however, didn't matter. His book became essential reading material for any student interested in Middle East studies. As Chairman Mao noted a lie repeated a thousand times becomes the truth.

Not only did Said have a well endowed chair at Columbia, he was the architect of the university's Middle East Studies Program which is notoriously anti-Israel. Of course, Columbia is not alone. Saudi money was given to Georgetown, Yale, UCLA, and others - all with the understanding that the Arab narrative would be given a fair hearing. Without a countervailing argument the "fair" became, in large measure, "the one sided." The well funded Muslim Student Organization (MSO) described in the Holy Land Foundation case as a front for the Muslim Brotherhood - was launched at campuses across the nation with an agenda that demonizes Israel and recruits impressionable teenagers into its ranks. MSO was described in the Holy Land Foundation case, that dealt with contributions in the U.S. solicited for terrorist organizations like Hamas, as a front for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Many Muslim groups sponsor "interfaith" seminars designed, it is said, to develop an understanding with Islam. What actually occurs is a form of proselytizing since principles of the West and the history of Israel are not conveyed to Arab students. Interfaith is usually a one way street.

The same might be said of the United Nations. Despite the heroic campaign to beat back the "Zionism is racism" proposal of the 57 Muslim states and their allies, Israel is the most vilified nation in General Assembly deliberations. In fact, Israel is cast as a rogue state, notwithstanding the medical assistance Israel provides whenever there is a global natural disaster.

So pervasive is the Arab narrative that even Jewish groups, e.g. "J-Street" and several Hillels, espouse this line or, at least, assume the grievance has legitimacy. As a consequence, Israel is not only opposed by foes, but by so-called friends. This is somewhat akin to the Pogo position: "I have seen the enemy and it is us."

To suggest that pro-Israeli sentiment needs a boost, is to maintain the obvious. Without it, however, the road ahead is littered with dangerous metaphorical mines each intent on blowing up pro-Israeli attitudes and delegitimizing the home of the Jews.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pushing Back Against Common Core Lobbyists

Michelle Malkin

Attention, class: A Common Core mouthpiece wants to rap my knuckles with his Gates Foundation-funded ruler. In response to my column two weeks ago about the marketing overlords pushing the Fed Ed racket, Chad Colby of Achieve Inc. demanded corrections. Let's go to school.

"I wanted to take a moment to highlight two points that were incorrect regarding Achieve," Colby complained. "Contrary to Ms. Malkin's assertion, Achieve employs no lobbyists and we never have."

No? Never? Someone didn't do his homework. Mr. Colby, meet Patricia Sullivan. She's the founding executive director of Achieve and a career lobbyist who has bounced around D.C. for the past quarter-century in influence-peddling positions for the Gates Foundation-funded National Governors Association, Council for Chief State School Officers and Center on Education Policy. She has "advocated" for trade groups, a teachers union and her own "consulting firm." That's Washington-speak for "lobbying."

And let me introduce Mr. Colby to Ronn Robinson, a founding senior vice president of Achieve and veteran Democratic and corporate education lobbyist for former Washington Gov. Booth Gardner and Boeing. According to The Hill newspaper's column titled, ahem, "Lobbying World," Not-a-Lobbyist Robinson left Achieve several years ago to lobby for the D.C.-based National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE).

NCEE is the multimillion-dollar Gates Foundation-funded advocacy (read: "lobbying") group founded by Marc Tucker, the godfather of Common Core-style schemes and top-down control masquerading as "reform." He has dominated the D.C. education-lobbying scene since before Bill Clinton was in office. Like Achieve, Tucker's NCEE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that crusades for ever-increasing federal involvement in every aspect of education while denying its brazen lobbying activities.

In the early 1990s, NCEE (established with $5 million in New York taxpayer-funded seed grants) paid Hillary Clinton more than $100,000 to direct the group's "Workforce Skills Program" while she worked at the Rose Law Firm in Arkansas. After the Clintons moved into the White House, Tucker sent a now-infamous letter to Mrs. Clinton outlining a radical progressive plan "to remold the entire American system" through a centralized national-standards Trojan Horse.

Tucker's proposal represented "a new approach to government" by elitist bureaucrats to "create a seamless web" that "literally extends from cradle to grave." The Clinton White House soon after delivered federal Goals 2000 and School-to-Work laws. Tucker has explicitly advocated that the United States "largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control." Today, his acolytes hail the creation of a "P20W" system to groom students from "prenatal" ("P") through graduate school ("20") and into the workplace (W").

Tucker's close ally, Mike Cohen, was one of the cadre of education radicals called on to shape his plan and was name-checked in his letter to Hillary. Cohen served as a top education adviser to Bill Clinton and his Education Secretary Richard Riley, and as a Don't-Call-Me-A-Lobbyist lobbyist for the NGA before becoming president of Achieve Inc. in 2003.

And that brings us back to Mr. Chad Colby and Achieve Inc.'s second complaint. As I reported in my column, the incestuous relationships among these lobbying groups and their Common Core boondoggle partners are deep and wide. I noted that in addition to staffing the Common Core standards writing committee and leading the public relations campaign, Achieve Inc. "is the 'project management partner' of the Common Core-aligned, tax-subsidized PARCC testing conglomerate."

Colby protested that "Achieve is no longer affiliated with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)" and that its "contract ended with them in December of last year." Clean break? Hah. Achieve and PARCC are inextricably intertwined.

Don't take my word for it. Take PARCC's. Though the contract with Achieve "ended" last year, a PARCC letter to Arizona education officials explains that no one's really going anywhere:

"The Achieve staff members that have conducted the work of PARCC over the last several years are transitioning to PARCC, Inc. so that they can continue to maintain the leadership and programmatic expertise that will see the project through the end of the development period, as well as the sustainment of the assessment moving beyond the grant. Many of them have been involved in work surrounding student assessment and academic standards for 15 or more years..."

Moreover, PARCC makes crystal clear that "the Achieve staff members that will make up PARCC, Inc. ... have been intimately involved in the development of each of PARCC's procurements, subsequent contracts and contract management."

Despite spending tens of millions of dollars on advocacy along with millions more in federal and state taxpayer grants and subsidies, the Beltway educrats' propaganda machine is crumbling. Tens of thousands of parents and students are now boycotting the racket's PARCC/Achieve field tests. States are withdrawing from standards, technology and data-collection plans in droves.

Looks like it's time to ask the Gates Foundation to pour more money down the Common Core/Fed Ed Not Lobbying vortex, Mr. Colby. Class dismissed


English teenagers are among best at solving  practical problems

English teenagers are among the best in Europe at solving practical problems, a league table revealed yesterday.  The nation’s 15-year-olds came 11th in the world in a new test – ahead of their peers in the United States and all other European countries except Finland.

The results are welcome news following England’s demotion from the top 20 nations in maths and reading.

However Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong, which all have strong academic records, did better.

The rankings, based on a test taken by 85,000 pupils across 44 jurisdictions, show that English teenagers are better at solving real-life problems – such as adjusting a thermostat or selecting the cheapest rail tickets – than they are at tackling academic subjects.

England is one of only a handful of countries where teenagers are better at problem-solving than maths, reading and science.

Experts said the finding suggested GCSEs may be ‘unfair’ to boys.
The OECD, which produced the league table, insisted the difference in performance between boys and girls was not statistically significant.

The computer-based 40-minute test was the first of its kind run by the OECD, which regularly examines pupils’ performance in richer nations.

Pupils in England scored 517, against an OECD average of 500.   Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland didn’t take part.

The highest score was achieved by Singapore, with 562.

Outside East Asia, the highest marks were achieved by Canada, Australia and Finland, with England coming 11th.

‘In England, students perform significantly better, on average, in problem solving than students in other countries who show similar performance in mathematics, reading and science,’ the OECD report said.

‘This is particularly true among strong performers in mathematics, which suggests that these students, in particular, have access to learning opportunities that prepare them well for handling complex, real-life problems.’

A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘Our young people are strong in problem-solving. This is a skill we should build on.’


Women Now 33% More Likely Than Men to Earn College Degrees

 American women born in the early 1980s are 33 percent more likely to have earned a college degree by the time they reach 27 years of age than their male contemporaries, according to the results of a longitudinal study published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The study also showed that women in that age group who started college were more likely to have completed it.

“Thirty-two percent of women had earned a bachelor's degree, compared with 24 percent of men,” said the BLS. The 32 percent of women with college degrees was 8 points--or 33.3 percent--more than the 24 percent of men.

Women 33% More Likely Than Men to Have College Degrees
“In total, 70 percent of women had either attended some college or received a bachelor's degree, compared to 61 percent of men,” BLS said. “In addition to being more likely to attend college, women were more likely to have finished their college degree. Of the 70 percent of women who started college, 46 percent completed their bachelor's degree by age 27. In comparison, of the 61 percent of men who started college, 39 percent had completed their bachelor's degree.”

The study is based on a series of surveys conducted among 9,000 men and women who were born in the years from 1980 through 1984. They were first surveyed in 1997, when they were 12 to 17 years old. In 2011-2012, they were interviewed for the fifteenth time, when they were between the ages of 26 and 32.

The survey also found that men in this age group were slightly more likely than women to have dropped out of high school. “Nine percent of men were high school dropouts compared to 8 percent of women.”