Thursday, March 19, 2015

Obama: 'Critically Important' to Fund 'English-Learning for Large Portions of Our Student Population'

He's got a point

Improving public education "is a monumental task and it requires resources," President Obama said on Monday.

Millions of dollars should be spent on "special education and English-learning for large portions of our student population that may need extra help. That's going to be critically important," Obama told a gathering of school officials and educators at the White House.

The president announced in November that he will allow millions more illegal aliens to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation. This follows his 2012 decision to defer deportation for certain illegal aliens who came to the U.S. as children.

And it follows a summer-time influx of illegal immigrants from Central America, many of them children who are now enrolled in America's taxpayer-funded schools.

In his remarks on Monday, President Obama noted that Republicans are about to release their budget: "My hope is that their budget reflects the priorities of educating every child," he said.

"But I can tell you that if the budget maintains sequester-level funding, then we would actually be spending less on pre-K to 12th grade in America's schools in terms of federal support than we were back in 2000. And that's adjusting for inflation.

"The notion that we would be going backwards instead of forwards in how we're devoting resources to educating our kids makes absolutely no sense."

Obama outlined five "core principals" [principles?] that guide his thinking on public education:

-- Making sure that we continue to provide resources to the poorest school districts and not creating a situation where we can suddenly shift dollars from...poorer districts to wealthy districts;

-- Making sure that we continue to focus on low-performing schools and that they are getting additional resources;

-- Making sure that we are continuing to young people are performing (including specific "subgroups");

-- Making sure that we've got high standards and high expectations for all our kids, and making sure that we are providing the resources to teachers and principals to meet those high standards;

-- Making sure that we are investing in special education and English learning for large portions of our student population that may need extra help.

Obama said if those priorities are not reflected in the Republican budget, "then we're going to have to have a major debate."

In his fiscal year 2016 budget, Obama is requesting $773 million for English Language Acquisition grants, an increase of $36 million, to provide increased support to states as they help "the significant growing number of English learners in U.S. schools attain English language proficiency and become college- and career-ready."

Obama's Education Secretary Arne Duncan told CNN on Monday that "budgets have to reflect our values," and that requires spending money "at every level," from pre-K to higher education. (In January, President Obama proposed "free" community college for "responsible" students.)

Although high school graduation rates are improving among every group, Duncan warned against taking a step backwards:

"[S]o we have to challenge states to invest party in those communities where children have the greatest challenges. We've got to make sure Congress, through the budget process, understands that education is the best investment we can make in our children, our families and our nation, ultimately in our nation's economy.

"There's nothing political or ideological about this," Duncan insisted. "We have to work together to give our children a real chance for success in life."

The Obama administration's 2016 budget requests $70.7 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Education, an increase of $3.6 billion, or 5.4 percent, over the 2015 level.

That includes $131 million for the Office for Civil Rights, an increase of $30.7 million, for an additional 200 full-time employees to help ensure that the Department’s Office for Civil Rights has the resources to respond to complaints of discrimination and to ensure that Federal grantees follow civil rights laws.


UK: The non-virgin Sturgeon flashed her majorities: QUENTIN LETTS watches a leftie love-in at the LSE

Scots Nationalist leader Nicola Sturgeon, tickling the London Left’s underbelly, was subtle, wry – and, naturally, an economic lunatic. They loved her!

She made a speech at the London School of Economics, Labour’s equivalent of holy turf, and called for bigger welfare spending, an end to Trident and more money for Scotland.

The LSE is the sacred wigwam of Fabianism. Posh Islingtonian offspring here squat at the feet of grey-shoed Keynesians and learn that heady brew of snootery and egalitarianism, the distinctive stamp of brahmin Marxists.

Here at the LSE, while chanting ohmm and smoking peacepipes, they worship Sid and Beatrice Webb, the dotty duo of Victorian socialism. From birth they ingest sacred texts by Mother Toynbee and Citizen Aaronovitch and Brother Rusbridger – and believe them!

They denounce Thatcher, idolise Kinnock, as Chinese toddlers once saluted Mao before settling down to breakfast gobblings of garlicky porcupine giblets. The People’s Party is stencilled into their beings like laundry numbers on hotel sheets.

But yesterday, hearing a lime green-clad Sturgeon talk of an alliance of ‘progressives’ (regressives might be more accurate) they cheered this leader of the previously hated Scots Nats. They preferred her to Miliband by a mile.

Yesterday she might as well have been the leader of the opposition. She had the poise, the mischief, the neck.

In Leeds, as we all saw on telly, Leader Ed’s own head gave a wobb-let as he called the idea of a Labour-Scots Nat deal ‘nonsense’. He lifted his eyes – two mournful Duplex coach headlights – straight to camera, as politicians now feel they must when they are in sincere-emote mode.

Lifeless, nasal as a blocked drain, he said: ‘Labour will not go into coalition with the SNP. There will be no SNP ministers in any Government I lead.’

Anyone believe him? God, how depressing he is. He needs to start mainlining Haliborange. Here in London, a beaming, chirrupy Sturgeon (can sturgeon chirrup?) said, yep, she’d be on for a ‘working relationship’ with Labour.

‘We can lock the Tories out of Government,’ she chuckled. Cheers. Whoops. Applause. Her audience, a mix of students and older wonks in the Sheikh Zayed lecture hall, squeezed knees and oozed delight.

Salvation from the voters of England (rightwing dogs) was at hand. Labour could lose the popular vote in May yet still seize power. May the Ukip moustaches be praised!

In her speech, Miss Sturgeon twice mentioned Mrs Webb (‘Beetrice’). She made some reasonably sensible suggestions about how budget day at Westminster could be changed. She only slightly gloated about her party’s electoral success.

Alex Salmond, she was not. There was none of the Salmond smirking – the way he gives an English audience that fighty leer. She played little riffs of irony. The hairdo really is astounding. Does she use the same barber as wiggy Michael Fabricant?

After flashing her majorities at Mr Miliband, she came over all modest and said of course one had to wait until after polling day, for the voters must nae be taken for granted. Yeah yeah.

Miss Sturgeon said she would not do any coalition deal with the Tories. More cheers. Delighted squeals. They were equally cheerful when she said ‘the time had come for quotas’ for female MPs.

One bloke at the back had a bit of a go at her, accusing her of ‘banging on’. Miss Sturgeon, jesting: ‘Is that a technical term?’ Bloke at the back: ‘It’s technical enough for the SNP.’

Audience: Oooh! The next questioner, a joyless bluestocking with a better idea of LSE orthodoxies, apologised to Miss Sturgeon, saying ‘that was a slightly atypical LSE question’. Clapping from the audience.

The bloke at the back (who had asked a perfectly sensible question about Scottish oil revenues) was presumably later tried and shot. I, meanwhile, am off to the bookie to put a fiver on Scotland being independent by 2018.


UK: The White Student’s Burden: PC racialism on campus

Student officials who want to protect 'the weak' undermine universalism

If you are, at any point, unsure what race or gender you are, or which way you sexually swing, go to a university debate. About anything. Doesn’t matter if you’re taking about gender relations or Gaza, sooner or later you’ll have your privilege, or lack thereof, checked for you.

Speaking on a panel in Oxford this week, as part of spiked’s ongoing Down With Campus Censorship! tour, it wasn’t long before I heard the immortal non-rebuttal: ‘Well, that’s all very well for you to say, as a white-cis-heterosexual male.’ In Edinburgh the following night, we didn’t even have to wait to go out for questions before I was reminded of both the colour of my skin and the contents of my pants by one of my white-cis-heterosexual female opponents in the course of her opening remarks. For the rest of the evening, ‘speaking as a [insert multi-hyphenate identity here]…’ was, naturally, the preface to almost every audience contribution.

Privilege-checking has become a source of mockery for students who actually retain one foot in reality. But this trend, so popular among SU bods and blue-haired pseudo-radicals, hasn’t come out of nowhere. These are the children of multiculturalism. People who, from nursery on, have been constantly reminded just how different we all are, and how we’ve been placed into our own pre-packaged boxes.

It’s a tragedy that even a discussion of something as universal, as human, as freedom is so quickly divided up along racial or sexual lines. Sure, none of us think in abstract. Our ideas are inevitably informed by our experience. But even bothering to come together and talk about these things assumes that we can reach some sort of understanding: that the best ideas, and the most cogent arguments, will win out no matter who they come from. They can appeal to the reason of all of us. The rise of this new, PC-garbed racialism on campus – the eternal, whiny chorus of ‘check your privilege’ – rubbishes this universalist spirit. On some essential level, goes this toxic logic, we can never understand one another, let alone come together to pursue common goals.

This trend is writ large in student politics today. The NUS has an executive officer for black students, disabled students and women. Most individual students’ unions also have their own equivalents. And yet there appears to be little clamour for it. Engagement in students’ union politics is at an all-time low. And the obsession with black and minority ethnic (BME) and disabled ‘representation’, in particular, seems to be much more top-down than bottom up.

At Oxford University Students’ Union (OUSU), outgoing vice-president for welfare, Chris Pike, has made instituting so-called liberation officers within the individual colleges one of his top priorities. But, even though motions have been passed to install them in various junior common rooms (JCRs), many of the places have gone unfilled. Speaking to some Oxford students after the debate this week, they told me about one college in which BME students were rounded on in order to stand for the new position. They all refused. One eventually ran a campaign promising to ‘do nothing’ in order to show up how farcical the whole affair was.

Underneath all the talk of trying to redress white privilege, beyond all the white-cis-heterosexual-male self-flagellation, is a strangely neo-colonialist dynamic. Students’ unions, run, in the main, by the white middle classes, are taking it upon themselves to look after vulnerable black students. This is made most clear in the censorious climate on campus today – the main justification for which is the alleged vulnerability of ethnic minorities. Everything from Marine Le Pen to microaggressions are clamped down on in the name of protecting them from being somehow mortally offended.

The rise of this new racialism on campus speaks to the complete collapse, not only of the Enlightenment principles of freedom and tolerance, but also what has, for hundreds of years, sprung from those values: progressive politics. Throughout history, progressive movements have looked to extend freedom to those who were otherwise denied it. From the Suffragettes to the Civil Rights Movement, it was about refusing to believe that particular groups were somehow different – too weak, too brutish or too stupid – to play a role in how society was run. According to the patronising logic rampant on campus today, Sylvia Pankhurst or Martin Luther King would never have made it out of the house, let alone changed the world.

Currently, many are celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery voting-rights marches. The speech MLK gave in Montgomery, Alabama, should give pause for thought to the student radicals of today: ‘We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. And that will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man.’ On campuses today, this beautiful, universalist dream is far from becoming a reality.


Australia:  Radical tolerance for the Left but intolerance towards conservatives

THE intolerant Left was at it again on Wednesday, this time at the taxpayer-subsidised Univer­sity of Sydney where a group of demonstrators attempted to disrupt a lunchtime lecture by Richard Kemp on ethical dilemmas of military tactics.

Kemp, a retired British military officer and security consultant, is a former commander of British armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was the subject of a tough but fair interview by Fran Kelly on Radio National Breakfast on Wednesday before proceeding to Sydney University for a public event hosted by a couple of academics.

During his Radio National interview, Kemp supported the tactics used by the Israel Defence Forces in its recent war with Hamas-led Gaza.

Kemp’s point was that, by placing its rocket launchers and building its attack tunnels in heavily populated areas, Hamas essentially used the citizens of Gaza as human shields. Consequently, the legitimate actions of the IDF, in stopping the rockets and destroying the attack tunnels, inevitably would have the unintended consequence of killing and injuring civilians.

This was a tough-minded but valid point. No democratically elected government — whether based in London, Paris, Washington or Canberra — would do nothing while a declared enemy across a border fired rockets and planned military raids aimed at killing and kidnapping. Why should the democratically elected leaders of Israel be expected to act differently?

According to the report by Glen Falkenstein on the J-Wire website, Kemp had covered only non-state militant groups in Ireland and Afghanistan when a small group of demonstrators entered the lecture theatre. As is common with the extremes of Left and Right, demonstrators prefer slogans to argument. So this lot chanted in unison: “Richard Kemp / You can’t hide / You support genocide.”

Of course, Kemp has never advocated genocide. And he was not trying to hide. To the radical Left, however, such facts are of no moment. After all, “hide” rhymes with “genocide” and there was a lecture to disrupt.

A demonstrator, equipped with a megaphone, drowned out Kemp and the academic moderator.

Enter Jake Lynch, director of Sydney University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. He happens to be one of the leading activists in the Australian chapter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign aimed at disabling the Israeli economy. Lynch was present in the audience when the attempted disruption began.

On Thursday, I engaged in correspondence with Lynch and he provided me with some brief iPhone videos of the occasion, which he had filmed. The footage indicates that protesters physic­ally resisted attempts by security to remove them.

Lynch’s iPhone video indicates that a middle-aged woman threw water at some demonstrators. A still photo of the occasion shows Lynch thrusting a $5 note in the face of a person he called the “older lady”.

Lynch advised me that he did this to warn the woman in question that he “would have no option but to sue her for assault if she carried on — which would cost her a lot of money”.

This seems highly unprofessional behaviour on the part of one of Sydney University’s associate professors with respect to a member of the public visiting the campus.

You wonder what the vice-chancellor thinks about such action on the part of one of his senior academics.

In the event, Lynch’s legal threat was of no moment.

As Lynch conceded in his correspondence with me, he “emerged without injury” from the occasion.

But not without involvement. Lynch did not object to the attempt by the left-wing radicals to disrupt Kemp’s address.

In Lynch’s words: “I took a seat at the meeting, and left it only to remonstrate with University security guards when they used force to eject the demonstrators.”

In other words, Lynch’s position is that the demonstrators should have been allowed to prevent Kemp from speaking. According to Lynch, “The security guards’ sole remit in such circumstances should be to prevent harm being done.”

I asked Lynch whether he would accept protesters attempting to disrupt speeches at his Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies by opponents of Israel such as John Pilger and Hanan Ashrawi.

His response was the familiar “that’s different” argument.

Lynch wrote to me as follows: “I would dispute the parallel with John Pilger or Hanan Ashrawi. I have never heard either of them deliver a speech that was disingenuous or deceitful in the way of the remarks by Colonel Kemp.”

This rationalisation of intolerance overlooks the fact Kemp’s speech was disrupted before he even discussed Israel or the Hamas Islamists who run Gaza.

Lynch uses his influence to run campaigns against Israel. He is the poster-boy for the Left’s dominance of so many social science departments at so many Australian universities.

Born in 1965 to members of the British Communist Party, Lynch joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament when the middle-class radicals who comprised the CND believed the West should disarm.

This would have left the communist dictatorship in Moscow victorious in the Cold War.

As Lynch revealed in an ABC Classic FM interview with Margaret Throsby in April 2009, he criticises all Western leaders, but always from the Left. His targets include Barack Obama, Gordon Brown and Kevin Rudd, in addition to political conservatives.

The evidence suggests that what takes place at Lynch’s centre is little more than a left-wing stack. He believes that anti-Israel demonstrators have a right to disrupt lectures provided no physical harm is caused, but does not advocate such behaviour for his own functions.

This is a manifestation of what left-wing Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse once advocated. Marcuse called for tolerance for the Left but “intolerance towards the self-styled conservatives”.  It’s unlikely that the student demonstrators today have heard of Marcuse, but they practise his teachings, nevertheless.


No comments: