Friday, October 10, 2014

ASU desperately wanted a black professor of history -- too bad  he is a fraud and a dunce

Blatant racism.  They surely don't think that this does any favors to blacks.  By appointing such a laggard they are proclaiming black intellectual inferiority

In the fall of 2010, the Arizona State University administration decided to push for the promotion of Associate Professor Matthew Whitaker to Full Professor of History.   Led by then Provost Betty Capaldi (who is now ASU Professor of Psychology Elizabeth Phillips), ASU’s leadership decided he was a worthy candidate for promotion despite a mediocre record of research and publication. Perhaps they thought his adroit speechmaking and guest editorials celebrating ASU as “The New American University” made him a first-rank historian.

In the period after being made associate professor in 2006, Whitaker’s public vitae showed that he had not produced a research-based monograph (the standard promotion criterion for ASU history faculty).  The vitae revealed no grants or fellowships, nor did it identify a single refereed article since he was tenured.  It must be admitted that his c.v. did claim and still claims as “refereed” an encyclopedia entry on Muhammad Ali. 

Whitaker had edited two encyclopedias, including the ABC-CLIO encyclopedia in which the Ali entry appeared--perhaps he peer-reviewed himself.  He had placed two chapters in collections of essays, drawn mainly from his previous, pre-tenure book, and had co-edited an essay collection in which he made minor collaborative contributions. Both this volume and one to which he contributed a chapter appeared in a series Whitaker edits for the University of Nebraska Press.

There was, in sum, little since his initial promotion and tenure showing a body of published, refereed work that made an original contribution to historical knowledge. Given the lack of production, the key component in the bid for promotion, though usually not accepted as a substitute for a monograph, was a textbook manuscript, “Over Jordan,” under contract with Harlan Davidson Press, which Whitaker said was “completed” and “in production,” with a release date of December 2011.  Despite this slim record, Capaldi, Vice-Provost Robert Page, and Dean of Humanities Neal Lester—none a trained historian--launched an expedited process of review, which only the administration can initiate.  Presumably, they provided Whitaker’s encyclopedia entries, book chapters, and the textbook manuscript to internal and external reviewers in order that these scholars might judge the quality of his historical work. In the face of objections from the ASU history faculty, in June of 2011 University President Michael Crow approved Whitaker’s appointment as a Full Professor. Indeed, he was to become an “ASU Foundation Professor of History,” and Crow made him Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, with an annual budget of $195,000. Before this promotion Whitaker made less than $95,000 per year. His annual salary is now $155,000.

There is evidence in the public record, redacted by ASU’s General Counsel, that the core component in the promotion file, the textbook manuscript sent to outside reviewers, had been extensively plagiarized, a considerable amount copied from the internet.  In August of 2011, a group made up of most of the Full Professors in the Department of History informed President Crow, the Provost, and Vice-Provost Page of repeated instances of plagiarism in the manuscript, often word for word across paragraphs, without citation.  Despite this advice and counsel, and citing an anonymous “pre-eminent historian who has led major universities,” Provost Capaldi rejected the charge of plagiarism. She defined plagiarism as only applying to work that was published, despite the severe sanctions applied to students’ papers and examinations in the plagiarism policy posted on her Provost web page. She described the textbook sent to outside reviewers as his own scholarly work, a manuscript which Whitaker said was ready to be published, as an “iterative” review, a “preliminary draft.”

When this broad plagiarism was ignored, a group of full professors then demonstrated that, even in the slim content of published work, material had been borrowed without citation from the original research and writing of other scholars.  Most egregiously, Whitaker had copied directly from Wikipedia and other internet sites.  In this case, by university policy, such charges required a hearing through a formally established review committee, the same that would review charges of financial irregularities in government grants to the University.  University procedures mandate that: “No member may have an actual conflict of interest or bias in the case. Committee members must be able to act impartially….”

Yet the composition of the committee was curious.  Its members had close relations with the administration. Two were from ASU: the first, Jane Maienschein played a prominent role in the School of Life Sciences, where Vice-Provost Page had been Founding Director and Dean. The second, Eduardo Pagán, then an Associate Professor at ASU West, has since been appointed by Crow as Vice Provost “for Academic Excellence and Inclusion.” The third, John Lombardi, had begun his career as a historian but had been an administrator for decades.  Though since terminated, he was at the time President of Louisiana State University.  Was he the “pre-eminent historian” and university administrator whom the Provost had relied on to clear Whitaker of the plagiarism charges for the textbook manuscript?  His appointment to the committee would seem to have come at Capaldi’s request, and his participation in its deliberations should have raised serious questions about conflicts of interest. Lombardi had been Provost Capaldi’s close colleague and collaborator for 20 years.  Indeed, as Florida newspaper coverage from 1999 demonstrates, when he was President of the University of Florida system, Lombardi had appointed Capaldi as his Provost. The generous salary and raises he provided her contributed to protests that soon led to his and her resignations.

This was the committee that exonerated Whitaker.  They admitted the “clear taking of the words of others,” and they judged these practices “unworthy of the standards of his profession,” but argued that the plagiarism in it was not “systematic.”  “Accepting Dr. Whitaker’s explanation,” as they stated, the committee members decided his copying was not intentional.  Although the university’s student policy does not allow lack of intent as a defense, they determined that Whitaker, a professor, had not really meant to deceive. At almost the same moment, the ASU administration listed as one of the chief justifications for dismissal of another professor was that she “had plagiarized the work of other authors” in her unpublished course syllabi.

Ironically, Whitaker himself admitted to plagiarism in his use of Wikipedia and other web sources, a practice perhaps most flagrant in the “Muhammad Ali” entry he still claims as a refereed essay.  (An analysis of this piece can be found at Cabinet of Plagiarism.) These “regrettable errors,” he explained, came about because he had hired a “freelance editor” to do his research and writing.  That paid worker had taken “verbatim sections from Wikipedia” without sufficiently “rewording them.” Somehow, Whitaker himself “did not carefully review” the entries before publishing them.  The committee accepted this explanation without further inquiry.  There is no indication from the committee’s report that members interviewed the editors Whitaker says he paid to do his work for him and whom he accused of plagiarism.

In assessing work that had not been digitized, the committee had Whitaker carry out scans to digitize text for plagiarism checking software; they asked him to run and present his own plagiarism checks, rather than conducting all these analyses themselves; indeed, they did not require that he scan the entirety of his work, nor the entirety of the texts from which plagiarism charges derived. From the public documents, it is not clear that the committee understood its own process well enough to realize that internet software searches would not suffice for analysis, nor that they were examining Whitaker’s checks.  Those said to have been done by ASU officials do not appear to be in the files, though perhaps they looked at these as well.

In their remarks on one major charge of use of another historian’s work, committee members asserted that Whitaker did at times cite primary sources, without noting that these were precisely those cited in the earlier work he depended on, extracted in the same way and in the same order. This method of using previous scholarship was noted independently by Dennis Preisler, who wrote a master’s thesis at ASU that treated a historical event common to both accounts. Preisler finds that Whitaker made the same reading and errors as the original work, repeating these “almost word for word.” (See comments by “DGP” in Inside Higher Ed, 13 May 2014.)

The committee did, however, work efficiently.  On 25 January 2012, the chair of the committee complained that she had not seen any of the evidence brought forth in the complaints, including the specific text comparisons and annotated plagiarized passages, although they had first been submitted by the complainants four months before (examples can be examined here and here). According to the public record, two days later, on 27 January, the committee met for the only time. On 2 February 2012, one week after its chair said she had not seen the vital documents, the committee issued its decision exonerating Whitaker.


British food dictatorship

The parents of a four-year-old girl who is allergic to school dinners say she is being forced to eat her packed lunch in an 'isolation room'.

The head teacher of Salusbury Primary School in Harlesden, north west London, allegedly told Lisa-Mbali McFarlane's parents it was 'anti-social' to eat her allergen-free meal around other pupils.

Free hot meals are compulsory for younger years, and Lisa's parents are now embroiled in a row with the school over the bizarre situation - which they have branded ridiculous.

Her mother Gina Wolhunter, a 36-year-old dance instructor, said: 'I couldn’t believe my ears. Why on Earth is it anti-social for my daughter to eat different food?

'We have a legitimate reason to not want her to eat school dinners. Her intolerances and allergies are still unclear, but we know which foods to keep her away from.

'I don’t think there’s anything wrong with school dinners there as a whole, but they are wrong for my daughter.'

Ms Wolhunter and Lisa's father Axel McFarlane, a plumber, say they are still going through the process of full allergy-testing for their daughter, whose problems began aged one.

That means they do not know the full extent of her allergies or what could be causing them.

However, they say she reacts the worst to sugar, dairy and artificial additives such as monosodium glutamate.

'It’s not the composition of the meals we have a problem with - it’s the mandatory nature of the school’s policy.

'If Lisa eats something that disagrees with her, she ends up with a horrific, hacking cough for as long as a week.  'The cough sounds very painful too - why ever would we want to put our daughter through that?

'Now they’re effectively giving her a lunchtime detention, punishment for eating something different. It’s not on.'

The couple say head teacher Linda Kiernan spoke to them on the first day of term last month and insisted Lisa would have to eat school meals because it was 'anti-social' to have different food.

After weeks of rowing, the family say they came to a tentative agreement where Lisa eats in a separate room accompanied by one other pupil and the school nurse.

Mr McFarlane: 'We allowed her to have just one ice-cream from the van this summer, because she said she wanted to be like all her friends.

'For a week afterwards she was up all night coughing, and her eczema flared up.'

The school provides free lunches to all children in the first three years as part of a flagship scheme by Nick Clegg, who said it would help improve concentration and raise learning standards.

Pupils in other years have the option of either eating school dinners or bringing in their own packed lunch, as long as it conforms to school health guidelines.

Ms Wolhunter added: 'Our son chooses whether he wants dinner or a packed lunch, and every time we make it for him, we have to conform to a series of very sensible nutritional guidelines.

'The school has banned chocolate, crisps and fizzy drinks, for example, which I think is absolutely fair enough.'

Salusbury Primary School's head teacher declined to comment on the parents' claims earlier today.

Mr McFarlane said: 'We are not food hippy parents, forcing our kids to only eat a vegan, whole food diet. We want to choose what our food-intolerant daughter eats, because she’s too young to control it herself.

'We have a legitimate reason - we’re not just being contrary for the sake of it.'


Counter-terror police raid Islamic academy in London with links to extremists that offers lessons to home-schooled Muslim children

An Islamic tuition centre in East London was raided by police as part of a counter-terrorism investigation after it was linked to a convicted extremist.

Mizanur Rahman, who was jailed for six years in 2007 after calling for British soldiers to be brought back from Iraq in bodybags, manages the Siddeeq Academy in Tower Hamlets.

The 'Islamic education and tuition centre' was among a number of residential and business adresses raided in an operation targeting leadership of the proscribed group once known as Al-Muhajiroun.

Police moved against the organisation, banned under anti-terror laws, on the eve of the first British airstrikes against Islamic State militants waging war in Iraq and Syria.

Rahman was arrested alongside prominent radical Islamists including Anjem Choudary, Trevor Brooks - who goes by the Arabic name Abu Izzadeen - and Abdul Muhid.

Brooks was charged with two counts of breaching his notification requirement and the rest were released on police bail.

The private Siddeeq academy, one of around 18 premises searched, provides courses in Arabic, the Koran and Islamic law, as well as national curriculum subjects including English, maths and science.

Its website promises 'an Islamic environment for your child', boasting: 'With quality, professional tutors, resources, equipment and small sizes, you can include us in your child`s education programme with confidence.'

Rahman took to Twitter to complain about his treatment by police after he was released on bail. 'The entire arrest was only an excuse to distrupt our lives, steal £10,000s property & restrict us from speaking against their foreign policy,' he tweeted.

He also claimed police snatched a LeapPad child's tablet computer today from his four-year-old daughter, joking bitterly: 'Dangerous terrorist equipment apparently.'

The Sunday Times claims that the children of at least two convicted terrorists attend classes at the academy. MailOnline has tried to contact Rahman for comment but received no reply by the time of publication.

Earlier this year, Rahman was investigated by police after a video showed him praising the Boko Haram militants who kidnapped more than 300 Nigerian schoolgirls.

He said in the video: ‘People want to make it out as though history began on the day these girls were taken from - sorry I should say these women - were taken from this high school in Nigeria.

‘They didn’t do to these girls what the Nigerian government had been doing to the Muslims all these years. ‘They didn’t rape anybody. They didn’t torture. They didn’t murder any of these girls.’

He told a crowd of around 300 near the Danish Embassy in central London in February last year that British and American troops should return in body bags.  The Old Bailey saw film of Rahman in which he said: 'We want to see them coming home in body bags. 'We want to see their blood running in the streets of Baghdad.'

He added: 'We want to see the Mujahideen shoot down their planes the way we shoot down birds, we want to see their tanks burn in the way we burn their flags.'

Rahman also had placards calling for the annihilation and beheading of those who insulted Islam.

Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, said: 'He incited or encouraged others to murder in the name of religion.'


Thursday, October 09, 2014

Federal Money Funding Anti-Semitism At Some of Our Nation’s Top Schools? Shamefully, the Answer is Yes

Title VI of the Higher Education Act was established to strengthen our nation's security by training future national security professionals and educating the public on international affairs. It currently provides millions of federal dollars to 129 international studies and foreign language centers at universities nationwide. One of the main requirements is that universities must present "diverse perspectives and a wide range of views." However, rather than doing just that and serving American national security interests, recipients often do quite the opposite.

From 2010-2013, the University of California Los Angeles Center for Near East Studies (CNES) was one of those recipients. During that period it received $1.5 million from the Department of Education under Title VI. But at UCLA, the federal dollars funded anti-Israel bias and anti-Semitism.

A recent study, Antisemitic Activity and Anti-Israel Bias at the Center for Near East Studies, University of California at Los Angeles 2010-2013, tracked anti-Semitic discourse and anti-Israel bias in public events sponsored by CNES over the three-year-period. The examination of outreach events during that time demonstrated that 93% of their Israel-related events were anti-Israel, and 75% contained anti-Semitic content. Hardly the "diverse perspectives" called for by the grant.

In addition, CNES had a disproportionate focus on Israel. Of all the public events pertaining to significant Middle East political conflicts, 61% focused on the Arab-Israeli conflict, significantly more than on any other Middle East conflict, including the historic turmoil raging in many countries in the region and the Iranian nuclear crisis. Indeed, despite the fact that CNES held events focusing on 14 Middle East countries, more than ¼ of them pertained to Israel, four times more than any other country except Iran. How can such a myopic focus on Israel serve our national needs and equip scholars to understand a region as complex and significant to our national interests as the Middle East?

To make matters worse, CNES favored speakers who have engaged in anti-Semitic activity. Of the 31 speakers at CNES Israel-related events, 84% had engaged in anti-Semitic activity, including the demonization and delegitimization of Israel, denying Jews the right to self-determination, comparing Israelis to Nazis and condoning terrorism.

Not surprisingly, each of the three CNES directors from 2010 - 2013 has shown egregious anti-Israel bias. Although the Center's federally mandated mission obliges the directors to maintain "linkages with overseas institutes of higher education...that may contribute to the teaching and research of the Center," all three of the directors have signed petitions endorsing the boycott of Israeli universities and scholars. One of the directors is even a founder of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel. In addition, all three directors have publicly opposed the UC Israel Abroad Program, despite touting the Israel Abroad Program as part of the Center's fulfillment of its Title VI funding requirement.

Another disturbing finding of the study is that CNES received a donation of $10,000 - $20,000 from the Saudi government-owned Arabian American Oil Company. A Saudi government website which showcases UCLA's Islamic Studies program also includes openly anti-Israel and anti-Semitic discourse.

It is appalling that UCLA is using taxpayer dollars to promote a one-sided, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic bias to impressionable students. This completely distorts UCLA's scholarly and educational mission and is a clear violation of the Higher Education Act. In addition, the fact that CNES is praised by the government of Saudi Arabia on its official website, and that CNES' anti-Israel bias and anti-Semitic discourse is consistent with the policies of the Saudi government is extremely worrisome.

What's happening at UCLA's CNES is another example of the corrupt way professors are gaming the system and manipulating their access to public funds and vulnerable students in order to promote their own personal political agendas, including their hatred of Israel. Reports suggest UCLA is not unique in this regard.

Congress is poised to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. The study on UCLA's Center for Near East Studies provides important evidence that the Higher Education Act is being dangerously abused. Congress must reform the legislation and ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent as they were intended - to contribute to our national security preparedness and protect America's best interests.


Chinese Immigrant Against Common Core

When I was growing up under Mao’s regime in China, we were told to chant everyday in the government run public schools, “Long Live Chairman Mao, Long Live Communist Party.” We were required to write in our dairies every day and turn them in for teachers to review. In the dairies, we were supposed to confess our incorrect thoughts to Mao or do self criticism, or report anything bad we heard or saw from other students, family, and friends. We would memorize Mao’s Quotations and recite them aloud during class. For school fun activities, we would dress up as Chinese minority people in their costumes to sing and dance, thanking Mao and Communist Party from saving them from poverty, or dressed up like soldiers to fight for new China. Mao was like a god to me. I would see him rising from the stove fire or talking to me from the clouds.

We all truly believed in Mao and Communism because we were completely indoctrinated and did not have any other information. We had nationalized curriculum and tests, one of the subjects we had to study was Politics (Communist Party’s history, Karl Marxism, Mao Zedong Thought, etc.). Our teachers had to comply with all the curriculum and testing requirements, or lose their jobs forever. Parents had no choice at all when it came to what we learned in school.

The government used the Household Registration and Personnel File system to keep track of its citizens from birth to death. This old photo of me in Mao’s Red Guard uniform was used in my Middle School Student File which documented everything: age, gender, parents, their jobs and political class, religion, siblings, home address, your grades, awards, punishments, politically incorrect speeches, bad behaviors, etc. Then, this file followed me to my high school, college, my first job, my future jobs, etc. It was shared by all the government agencies and employers.

Before I left for America to pursue a master’s degree, my communist boss made me to sign a paper to promise to return to my job after my graduate study or my file would be returned back to my hometown Chengdu in Sichuan Province. I was a law school assistant professor at Fudan University in Shanghai at that time, which is one of the top Chinese universities. Sending my file back to my hometown meant that I would lose my legal career forever and have a black spot in my file which would make it very hard to get another good job. I had to sign it in order for my employer to release me so I could apply for my passport with their consent papers. Even though I finally broke the tracking of Chinese government of me by coming to America, I still feel, sometimes, that I am haunted by my file. When I did not return, the file went back to my hometown, Chengdu, and is somewhere in a local security or police office today.

I want to use my story as a Chinese immigrant to wake up Americans because this country is the Shining City on the Hill I came here for. From the NSA keeping records on us in massive databases to Common Core nationalization of exams and curriculum; what is happening now is very unlike the America I came to find. The worst, I fear, is that Common Core could be used by the government and corporations to do data collection and data mining on our children. What else could come to take away more of our rights and privacy? Our freedom is very precious and we must fight to keep it. Without freedom, you are just a slave, no matter how much money you have. Trust me to say this because I have lived under tyranny before and will never want to live in it again. I took a long journey from tyranny to liberty. I don’t want to go back into tyranny.


Teachers lose one

It looks like the increased costs created by Obamacare were the last straw

The state panel that oversees Philadelphia’s cash-strapped public schools abruptly canceled a contract with teachers on Monday, despite nearly two years of labor negotiations, and said teachers would have to begin paying for healthcare benefits.

The move, which a labor expert said was likely unprecedented in the United States, would free up $43.8 million for the district this school year. Next year, it is facing a $71 million budget shortfall.

The system’s long-running financial woes have become a full-blown crisis over the past couple years, leading to thousands of layoffs, dozens of shuttered buildings and program cuts.

The move will affect the roughly 16,000 members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, which represents teachers, assistants, nurses, counselors and others.

“Bringing health benefits in line with those received by other district, city and state employees will drive tens of millions to our classrooms,” the chairman of the School Reform Commission, William Green, said in a statement.

The changes could save nearly $200 million in operating funds and $47 million in federal funds over the next four years, the commission said. Wages, work rules and other economic provisions of the PFT’s bargaining contract were not altered.

Most of Philadelphia’s teachers do not pay anything toward their health insurance. The new plan requires them to contribute between $27 and $71 from each bi-weekly paycheck, depending on salary, and goes into effect on Dec. 15.

Tom Juravich, a University of Massachusetts Amherst labor professor, said that canceling a public employee labor contract in such a manner is rare, if unprecedented.

“This idea of the state panel just simply canceling the teachers agreement, there is very little precedent in doing that,” he said. “This is violating the whole collective bargaining process.

“This is hard bargaining tough politics. You can’t send a stronger message than this,” Juravich said.

The changes are likely to be challenged in court. PFT’s president, Jerry Jordan, said the union would “pursue every legal recourse we have.”

The ability to cancel the existing contract and impose new terms is unique in Pennsylvania to the commission and Philadelphia’s schools, acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq said in a statement.

“This is not an expansion of state authority and will not impact collective bargaining agreements in other school districts,” she said.

Teachers, many of whom have seen their classroom support slashed and have paid for supplies out of their own pockets, have been working under their old contract, which expired in August 2013.

The president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, said the move was an “ambush” by Republican Governor Tom Corbett, who is fighting an uphill battle for re-election in November.

Corbett said in a statement that it was time for Philadelphia teachers to “join the thousands of public school employees across the state who already contribute to their health care costs.”

St. Louis labor lawyer Corey Franklin said that the sudden change was “likely a function of limited health insurance options available to the district upon its annual open enrollment.”


Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Controversial media personality Ezra Levant speaks on Canadian campus

Controversial media personality Ezra Levant was at Ryerson Thursday to speak on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign and about life for pro-Israel students on campus.

Levant was invited by campus group Students Supporting Israel (SSI) and ended up speaking about much more than just the BDS — a campaign that the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) voted on joining last April.

During the opening of Levant’s presentation, SSI president Hadas Hait read the RSU equity statement — which is required to be “read aloud during the opening address of all meetings and events,” according to the union’s policy manual. The statement says that, “hate speech rooted in, but not limited to, anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, anti-Semitic” will not be tolerated, and ends by asking the speaker if they agree.

Levant replied, “no,” prompting laughs from the audience. He went on to describe the statement as an “Orwellian command.”

“I believe in the freedom of speech, I even believe in the right to be racist or anti-semitic,” Levant told The Eyeopener after his speech.

Levant told the audience that he believes the BDS movement is a fundamentally racist approach and goes against what a student union should stand for.

“I think it’s disconcerting that they would think that they have a mandate to engage in anti-semitism for some foreign policy theme,” he said. “The real purpose of a students’ union is to attend to the needs of the students, which is the pretext with which they extract their fees, which is a way of saying student taxes.”

Levant also offered the room anecdotes on attempts at neutrality in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

“It is not appropriate to say, ‘ Well, between the fire and the fireman, I want to be neutral. The police and the robbers both have guns. Can we split the difference?’” Levant said. “I think some politically correct folks would like to say ‘can we split the difference between good and evil in the Middle East?’”

Levant also congratulated attendees for coming to the event.

“Pro-Israel voices are often outnumbered by pro-Hamas, pro-terrorist voices — simply because of the changing demographics in Canada,” said Levant.

His speech was well received, with the exception of one student.

“I was shocked and disappointed when I saw the level of hate in that room,” said Mohamed Zidane, a Ryerson student. “I definitely support the RSU, and I’m proud to be part of the RSU.”


Solving the "Gap"

Every Friday, a friend of the PowerLine blog whose screen name is “Ammo Grrrll” gets to weigh in there with comments (Thoughts From The Ammo Line) on the passing scene.

This week, her entry seems well-tuned for this readership, so here’s the relevant excerpt:

The last private gig of my standup career before retirement was in front of teachers at their late August in-service before the start of school. I was the final speaker of the day. I had listened to many administrators and the Keynoter who was a Diversity Drone from the state. She seemed a nice, sincere person, even though she arrived forty minutes late for her speech, keeping hundreds of people waiting. There was probably a diversity emergency somewhere.

The main thrust of the entire day’s remarks had been that there was an achievement gap between the white students and the students of color as they are called today. (Thank God it’s not the bad old days when they were called “colored students.”) SOMETHING — the teachers, society, racism, poverty — was responsible for this gap! Definitely not the students themselves. Gap, gap, gap, gap, gap. They were FAR more concerned about the GAP than about everyone’s simply mastering the material, perhaps by — oh, I don’t know — studying harder. Or at all.

There is a certain delicious freedom in knowing the gig is your last. I entertained the crowd and then ended with: “I have an idea. Since it’s the GAP between the white and minority students that you find so upsetting, why don’t you just encourage the white students to do WORSE?”

There was a brief stunned silence and then the room burst into laughter and applause. Maybe there is some hope yet for our country.


Seattle Schools Dump Columbus Day For ‘Indigenous People’s Day’

Slowly but surely our politically correct, left-wing schools are tearing down and eliminating every western hero from history. The Founding Fathers and everyone from the Civil War (except Harriet Tubman) have already been erased. This time they’ve erased New World Founder Christopher Columbus and replaced his holiday with “indigenous people’s day.”

Of course, the left has been out to kill Christopher Columbus for decades, but now they are getting serious by celebrating only the indigenous peoples.

The Seattle School system has made a resolution:

The resolution, in part, said the board “recognizes the fact that Seattle is built upon the homelands and villages of the Indigenous Peoples of this region, without whom the building of the City would not have been possible.”

The resolution also says the board “has a responsibility to oppose the systematic racism towards Indigenous people in the United States, which perpetuates high rates of poverty and income inequality, exacerbating disproportionate health, education and social crises.”

It urges district staff to “include the teaching of the history, culture and government of the indigenous peoples of our state.”


Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Education Incentives can Help End Low Expectations
Behavioral psychologists and economists long have considered incentives to be a normal part of human nature, but applying them to education still stokes controversy.

For example, some people recoil at the idea of  paying kids and their teachers for high scores on advanced-placement tests that get students college credit in high school, as some schools in Northern Virginia are doing,

It sounds so … mercenary. Exchanging money for good performance? Handing out filthy lucre to reward a personally fulfilling and enriching achievement? Why, it almost sounds like the Grammys, or the World Series, or even a job. Nobody except the most Puritan-minded thinks any of these occupations or rewards is anything but a celebration of excellence, or at the very least a job well done. Adults can accept money as a reward for high performance. There’s no reason children cannot do the same — except prejudice.

These low expectations are endemic in education, research confirms. It starts with the teachers.For several generations now, Americans have underestimated their children. Laws mostly bar children from taking even a small-time job until age 16. Kids can hardly ride their own bikes down to the park or corner store any more.

University of Missouri economist Cory Koedel has found education students get the highest grades but the easiest work of all college majors. A 2013 study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute found teachers typically assign books at their students’ reading level, not their grade level. This means teachers frequently assign too-easy books, a problem that compounds as children move up grades. If fourth-grader Suzy gets third-grade rather than fourth-grade books to read, and so on up through the grades, she likely is to remain behind in reading for the rest of her life.

Washington, D.C., mother Mary Riner became disgusted with the low expectations at her daughter’s supposedly well-performing grade school. Fifth-grade Latin homework, for example, didn’t involve memorizing vocabulary or practicing verb tenses, but coloring Latin words. Yes, coloring — with a crayon. Riner responded by helping start a truly demanding school, called BASIS DC.

Low expectations don’t occur in a vacuum. They result from a set of expectations in our society, and they reinforce and verify those expectations as a form of self-fulfilling prophecy. A smart use of incentives offers one way to address this problem.

In their new book “Rewards: How to Use Rewards to Help Children Learn—and Why Teachers Don’t Use Them Well,” authors Herbert Walberg and Joseph Bast illustrate how positive reinforcement can help lift expectations and thus raise student performance.

They discuss how the attitudes of many in the education establishment are a barrier to putting to work the science that shows kids respond to incentives just like adults. They also explain that rewards are about far more than money — good teachers use simple rewards, such as stickers or praise, to help instill in children the longer-lasting internal rewards of satisfaction in learning and pride in a job well done.

Perhaps the biggest shocker may be the realization that incentives always will be embedded in education, regardless of whether people acknowledge their existence. If teachers reinforce learning with encouragement, recognition and grades, that’s an incentive. If teachers give students too-easy work because they expect every real academic challenge to raise complaints, that creates a very different set of incentives for both teachers and students.

Incentives will always exist in education. The question is, will educators harness this power for the students’ good?


British schools told: cash bribes 'fail to improve High School grades'

Schools are wasting thousands of pounds each year attempting to bribe pupils to try harder in exams, according to government-funded research.

In the biggest study of its kind, it was claimed that promising children cash rewards in exchange for higher levels of attendance, behaviour and homework led to increased effort in the classroom.

But the use of incentives had little “direct impact” on pupils’ ability to learn and failed to actually improve their GCSE scores in core academic subjects, it emerged.

The research, by academics from Bristol University and the University of Chicago, suggested that cash would be better spent improving teaching standards, particularly for children from poor homes.

The conclusions raise serious questions over tactics employed by schools across Britain that spend tens of thousands of pounds each year on elaborate reward schemes.

One popular scheme - Vivo Miles - allows pupils to accumulate points for good work and behaviour before cashing them in for rewards such as iPods, iTunes vouchers, digital watches, bike equipment and clothes.

It is used by around 500 secondary schools in the UK, with more than nine-in-10 saying it has aided academic performance and improved student motivation and behaviour.

Many parents also make similar promises, with a survey this summer suggesting that 38 per cent of pupils were offered cash incentives by mothers and fathers. This includes those promised laptops, holidays and even cars.

The latest study, which was commissioned by the Education Endowment Foundation, a government-funded charity, said the use of incentives did lead to extra pupil effort in the classroom. The promise of one form of reward – an outing or school trip – also encouraged low-achieving pupils to score higher grades in maths.

But it said cash incentives generally led to “no significant improvements in GCSE results”.

Kevan Collins, chief executive of the EEF, which was established in 2011 with a £125m grant from the Department for Education, said: “The use of incentives in schools is not a new idea and can appear attractive to schools and parents who are trying to motivate their children.

“The study suggests that while incentives can increase effort in the classroom, their direct impact on learning is low. “

He added: “While incentives may change surface behaviours, what really makes the difference is how students are taught.

“The best evidence currently available suggests that the most powerful driver of achievement in schools is great teaching, particularly for students from low-income families.”

The research – evaluated by the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies – was based on a controlled trial of pupil incentives involving more than 10,000 pupils in 63 schools.

As part of the study, researchers ran two schemes with 15- and 16-year-old pupils studying for their GCSEs in English, maths and science. One involved pupils being promised £80 at the end of each half-term, which was reduced by £10 for poor attendance or behaviour and a further £30 if they underperformed in homework or in class.

In the second, pupils were given eight tickets up front for an outing or event each half-term and lost them for poor behaviour or work. A third set of pupils was denied both sets of incentives – acting as a control group.

The trial found no significant overall impact on GCSE results from either set of incentives. There was some improvement in classwork, but this did not translate into significantly better results in the three subjects measured.

The only small effect was associated to the use of trips for pupils with poor previous results in maths, who gained the equivalent of two months’ progress over the course of a year.

This suggested positive effects in relation to “loss aversion” – when pupils have money or promised activities given to them and then taken away, rather than simply being offered a prize at the end of the process.


Australia:  Federal district grabs chaplain funding for schools

The ACT government will be forced to accept religious-only conditions on school chaplain funding from the federal government.

This leaves the jobs of 25 secular school welfare workers in doubt, with the ACT government saying while it will try to absorb as many as possible under existing school funding arrangements, this cannot be guaranteed.

The federal government was forced to redesign its $244 million National School Chaplain Scheme after the High Court ruled it invalid in June. Under the new arrangements the federal government will fund state and territory governments to administer the scheme.

In August, ACT Education Minister Joy Burch said the ACT would demand secular workers were included and for the existing arrangements funding 56 school welfare workers and chaplains to be continued.

Victoria, WA, the Northern Territory and Tasmania, however, accepted the scheme as is in late September, somewhat scuttling chances of other states to negotiate to include secular welfare workers.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education Scott Ryan gave the rest of the state and territory education ministers until last Friday to accept the funding.

Ms Burch wrote to Mr Ryan on Friday saying the ACT would accept the funding and she was "disappointed" the Commonwealth did not agree to the inclusion of secular counsellors.

"Requiring that these schools apply for a religious-based chaplain without the option for a secular worker is inconsistent with the principles in which they are based," the letter read.

In a final effort to limit increased religious influence in public schools, Ms Burch is urging the federal government to not make provision for new religious chaplains to be appointed.

"It is the ACT government's position that...public schools participation will be limited to seeking funding to continue employing individual chaplains already in the program," Ms Burch wrote.

As of May there were 22 chaplains and 14 secular welfare workers funded in the federal chaplain program in ACT public schools.

Mr Burch said the territory would comply with the scheme's condition to form a cross-sector public, private and Catholic school panel to help administer the scheme.

The panel will be responsible for selecting the reduced number of 47 schools to receive religious chaplains.


Monday, October 06, 2014

University Admits 'Sex Week' Workshops Were ‘Sensational and Controversial’

 The University of New Mexico issued a statement on Wednesday after its strategy to fight sexual assaults on campus by offering workshops on group and oral sex and getting “laid” during Sex Week garnered national media attention.

Local television station KRQE in Albuquerque reported the school issued a statement saying the activities planned this week were “sensational and controversial.”

“The initiative didn’t have close enough supervision to prevent the inclusion of topics that are sensational and controversial,” Eliseo Torres, vice president of UNM Student Affairs, said in a prepared statement.

When contacted UNM Monday, a university official defended the week-long event, which was publicized on Facebook and Twitter and featured workshops publicized on a flier entitled “How to be a gentleman AND get Laid,” “Negotiating a Successful Threesome,” and “BJs and Beyond.”

“Our purpose is to provide medically accurate sex education, and information on healthy relationships, consent, healthy communication, as well as respect within relationships,” said Summer Little, director of UNM Women’s Resource Center, which planned Sex Week. “Our efforts are part of a larger strategy to reduce sexual violence on campus.”

KRQE interviewed a student at UNM about the Sex Week controversy.

“To be educated, to be safe – those are the things that really need to hit home,” senior Sean Tresise said.


UK: Lifelong Leftist and general ratbag Emma Thompson admits sending daughter to private school

She has been a renowned supporter of left-wing politics.  But when it comes to educating her daughter, it seems Emma Thompson is prepared to put her political leanings on the back burner.

The actress has revealed she sends 14-year-old Gaia – her child with husband Greg Wise – to a north London private school instead of entrusting her education to the state.

Once Gaia turns 16, her mother hopes to enrol her at a state school near their home in West Hampstead – however even that will be one of the UK’s most elite establishments.

Miss Thompson told The Times: ‘We’re not in the catchment area for Camden School for Girls, but she might go there for the sixth form.’

The 55-year-old, who is said to be worth £30million, was educated at the school herself when it was still a grammar.

It has long been a favourite of wealthy left-wing parents who can afford to live in its expensive catchment area, and inspectors regularly describe it as ‘outstanding’.

Other alumni include actress Tamsin Greig and the children of several Blairite cabinet ministers.

If Gaia does get in, it may improve her chances of being accepted by an elite university like her mother, who studied at Cambridge.

In recent years, ministers have encouraged admissions tutors to accept lower grades from state pupils if they show more ‘potential’ than their private school counterparts.

Thompson is regularly accompanied by her 14-year-old daughter Gaia at red carpet events

The actress hit out at US President Barack Obama for not 'changing things' and Tony Blair for 'accruing wealth'

Miss Thompson – who also has a 27-year-old adopted son Tindy – also used her interview to call for a ‘revolution’ to fix the world’s social and political problems.

And despite being pictured in a ‘celebrity selfie’ with Ed Miliband at a Labour drinks reception earlier this year, she said she is now so disillusioned by politics that she ‘cannot support any of it’.

She said: ‘I don’t think this is working, everybody! I’m in a red-hot phase of meltdown. We’re going to have to have a revolution.’


Contrary to Georgetown Prof's Claims, Dean Says Center Receives Taxpayer Support

Anti-Israel bigotry at work

Asked recently if Georgetown University's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) receives federal Title VI funds, director Osama Abi-Mershed answered, "we are not tax supported."

His dean, James Reardon-Anderson, begs to differ.

Following the revelation that the directors of six federally-funded Middle East studies centers signed a letter pledging "not to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli academic institutions" in spite of "assurances" each gave to "maintain linkages with overseas institutions of higher education," Foreign Policy Research Institute president Alan Luxenberg emailed each director and asked if their pledges were personal or apply to the centers they lead.

In response to an inquiry, Reardon-Anderson, acting dean of the Walsh School of Foreign Service, of which CCAS is a part, replied without commenting on Abi-Mershed's claim that:

Yes, we are very proud that the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies has been, and we hope will remain, a recipient of Title VI designation and support.

Reardon-Anderson stated that, "Of course, as an institution of higher learning, we respect the right of each member of our faculty, students or staff to exercise his or her freedom of speech." He also noted Georgetown president John DeGioia's official statement last December after the American Studies Association vote to boycott Israeli academic institutions, which he said "undermines the academic freedom that is essential to the mission of the Academy." Still, DeGioia affirmed, "While the position of our University remains opposed to any boycott, we will certainly defend the rights of those who disagree."

But will he defend the "rights" of those who, like Abi-Mershed, try to hide their federal support when faced with possible violations of federal policies? Does freedom of speech extend to freedom to one's own facts?

Reardon-Anderson's confirmation that CCAS receives taxpayer dollars exposes Abi-Mershed's dodgy answer, but information confirming the center's Title VI support is easily found on many Georgetown web pages.

CCAS's own website and Facebook page state:

Since 1997, CCAS has served as the core of Georgetown University's National Resource Center on the Middle East, funded by a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The Center's Newsletter stated in 2010 that:

CCAS is pleased announce that the National Resource Center on the Middle East (NRC) at Georgetown, of which CCAS is an integral part, has received $2 million in funding for the next four years from the U.S. Department of Education's Title VI program.

CCAS's K-14 Outreach page states:

The program is supported by the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, private sector grants, and the U.S. Department of Education.

And CCAS's 2013-2014 Student Handbook for the M.A. in Arab studies states "major components" of CCAS include "a Title VI grant from the Department of Education."

Abi-Mershed's claim that CCAS is "not tax supported" is clearly false. Why should taxpayers trust him to use their dollars wisely and in accord with federal policies?


Sunday, October 05, 2014

6 Steps to Subtract 2 Numbers: Common Core Homework in 1 Photo

For third-graders learning Common Core math in Georgia, there are four ways to subtract—and only four ways allowed. The picture above is just one of the methods for subtraction under Common Core straight from RedState editor in chief Erick Erickson’s third-grade daughter’s math book.

Missing from the four methods: borrowing and carrying numbers. You know, the old-fashioned-taught-the-same-way-for-decades-granny-method-not-approved-by-bureaucrats subtraction.

According to this third-grade textbook, students must take about six steps (at minimum, depending how you count) to subtract just two numbers. And if you don’t show your work, circle the right numbers and “count up” correctly, you haven’t proven that you’ve mastered the “why” of the problem.

In a previous post where I highlighted two “Homework Helper” videos a local news station broadcast because parents were struggling with their children’s Common Core homework, it’s clear memorization is out—explaining the “why” is in.

I’d love to see some more techniques for problems formerly referred to as “simple” math. Please leave your own pictures of Common Core homework in the comments and share this absurdity with your friends.


UK: Public school hypocrites! Leading headmaster blasts MPs who go to private schools... and then criticise them

Private schools are under attack from the ‘politics of envy’ and ‘class war dinosaurs’, a leading headmaster warns today.

Richard Harman will lambast the hypocrisy of critics who ‘lecture’ top fee-paying schools even though they benefited from a private education themselves or chose one for their children.

In a keynote speech, he will claim that private schools are being made ‘scapegoats’ for society’s problems instead of recognised for the ‘general good’ they do.

He will argue that many of those in power are ‘embarrassed’ to be seen talking to independent school heads, preferring to threaten them with more state control or the loss of their historic charitable status.

Mr Harman, head of £32,850-a-year Uppingham School and chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, representing 260 top private schools, will use his speech today to respond to attacks on private education.

It follows claims from Ofsted head Sir Michael Wilshaw that private schools are ‘bastions of privilege’ which should do more to justify their charitable status and tax breaks.

Addressing HMC’s annual conference in South Wales, Mr Harman will tell critics: ‘It is time to stop scapegoating and start celebrating our schools and their contribution. Stop using them as lazy shorthand for the social ills of our country.’ He will say that making school type ‘a proxy for advantage’ does little apart from stirring up ‘the politics of envy’.

Referring to the fact that many of those in power were privately educated, he will say: ‘Don’t lecture us... especially when many of you who do so, have yourselves benefited from or use the service we provide. Hypocrisy is out of tune with the times.’

Around 7 per cent of the UK population is privately educated but in Westminster this figure is much higher. A 2010 study showed 54 per cent of Tory MPs went to a fee paying school, as well as 40 per cent of Lib Dems and 15 per cent of Labour MPs.

Independent schools have ‘centuries of expertise to offer’, Mr Harman will say but ‘too often those in power are embarrassed to be seen talking with us, preferring instead to threaten us with the loss of charitable status or more state control.

‘Contrary to what some dinosaurs from the class war era would have you believe, we are not a drain on national resources; we add significant value to UK plc.’

Mr Harman will also point out that private schools are now more ethnically diverse than state schools and have forged many links with the state sector.

‘When it comes to social mobility we are part of the solution, not the root of the problem,’ he will say.

n Mixed-sex schools are the best way for children to be taught, according to Sir Michael Wilshaw.

He said that a mixed-school setting is far more ‘congenial’ and prepares children for work: ‘Girls and boys mix socially in the workplace. They should be educated together too.’


America's Education Battlefield

By Alan Caruba

The 2010 introduction of Common Core, a set of requirements for what elementary and secondary school children should know in math and English language arts, has turned schools in one state after another into battlefields as its complexity and other factors led to protests against it. Even so, by mid-2014, a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that very nearly half of those asked about it hadn’t even heard of it. A number of states, such as Missouri, Indiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina have withdrawn from it.

Schools today are often under fire for one reason or another. Ever since the 1960s when teachers unions began to secure more and more control, formerly the responsibility of individual and state school boards, Americans have been engaged in efforts to improve the elementary and secondary education systems. Many have elected to home school their children. Others have pushed for school choice to permit their children to attend a school that was clearly doing a better job than the one to which their children were assigned.

As youngsters settle into their classes, there are a number of trends worth noting.

Perhaps one of the most interesting trends is the expansion of online classes into K-12.  As Ashley Bateman noted in a recent issue of School Reform News, “In 2013 ten million students of all ages participated in more than 1,200 massive, open, online courses offered by more than 200 universities.”  Of value to self-motivated students in particular, online classes are sure to find a larger audience of students who have grown up in the virtual world of game playing.

Another trend was noted by Marcy C. Tillotson, an education reporter for It is the increasing demand for more and more data about each student who worry that things done at a very young age like a schoolyard fight or emotional problems will follow them into college when they have long outgrown the problems or behaviors of childhood. Parents want to know what data is being collected and who has access to it. As often as not, they cannot find out.

Increasingly, school choice, a parent’s right to enroll their child in a selected public school, a private or a parochial choice, has become an issue that makes it into state legislature’s where some support and some forbid it. In Louisiana and Texas, for example, school choice programs and scholarship credits have gained support as a political issue. In Florida, the teachers union has initiated a lawsuit “to eliminate school choice for many low-income students and effectively kill a program to help students with autism and other special needs.”  In North Carolina, its Supreme Court rendered a decision that permits more than 2,000 low-income parents to send their children to schools of their choice.

Attention to the quality of teachers, as opposed to letting tenure keep poorly performing ones in the classroom, is a growing trend. Last year in California, a first of its kind teacher quality lawsuit was decided in favor of the education reforms that brought it, striking down tenure and a similar lawsuit has been announced for New York. 

As Ms. Tillitson reported, “Vergara v. California struck down state laws that required teacher layoffs based solely on seniority with no regard to teacher effectiveness, gave teachers permanent status after two years on the job, and made it difficult for school administrators to dismiss ineffective teachers.” As this trend expands to other states, a major complaint regarding poor performance will be addressed.

At the heart of the issue of teacher quality are the programs that prepare them to teach. As Ms. Tillotson noted, “A week after a California judge ruled on a case involving teacher tenure, dismissals and layoffs, the National Council for Teacher Quality released its annual report on another fundamental problem, the poor quality of teacher preparation programs. The report found that, as a whole, the programs need improvement. “Only a quarter of the programs expect aspiring teachers to be in the top half of their college’s academic pool. On a 125-point scale, the NCTQ ranked most programs as earning fewer than 50 points.

Increasingly, the quality and content of various educational programs are being questioned and challenged.  One example is the College Board’s Advanced Placement U.S. History Framework (APUSH) and the questions about who wrote the curriculum that is taught to 500,000 students in more than 8,000 high schools every year.

When Larry Krieger, a retired College Board-praised teacher and Jane Robbins, a senior fellow at The American Principles Project asked the College Board who was the author or authors of the program, all they got as a reference to a web page listing 19 college professors and teachers who served on two College Board committees but where not listed as authors, but as “Acknowledgements.”  Kreiger and Robbins call the history program “biased, poorly written, and ineptly organized”; one that “has raised alarms from state and national leaders.” We keep hearing about the importance of “transparency” but apparently the College Board does not think it applies to them.

It has long been known that U.S. schools tend to perform more poorly than those in other nations. Joy Pullman, a research fellow of The Heartland Institute and managing editor of School Reform News reported that “According to two recently released studies, the schools middle-income families send their kids to are not as good as parents think.”

“A national study,” wrote Ms. Pullman, “found U.S. students whose parents have college degrees perform worse than peers from comparable families in other countries. In the United States, 43 percent of such children tested ‘proficient’ in math on an international test, compared to 71 percent of comparable students from Poland, 68 percent in Japan, and 64 percent in Germany.” Overall, U.S. students performed better than those in only six countries.

Not surprisingly, Ms. Bateman has reported that “Accepting federal mandates in exchange for funding is the crux of the problem” of ever-growing educational bureaucracies at the state level. “States report that 40 percent of the paperwork burden they deal with is to comply with federal regulations,” said Lindsey Burke, the Will Skillman Fellow in Education at The Heritage Foundation.

When one considers how much in tax revenue is collected for the purpose of educating our youth, one would hope for better results, but fortunately there are many individuals, parents, and organizations seeking to improve the quality of education and our schools are going to remain battlefields for many years to come.