Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The No Child Left Behind Reauthorization Is a Mixed Bag

Sen. Lamar Alexander and Sen. Patty Murray have announced that they’ve reached a compromise on reauthorizing No Child Left Behind. When a moderate Republican and a not-so-moderate Democrat cooperate on legislation, there’s reason to be nervous, but in this case there may be a silver lining among the clouds.

First the bad news. The reauthorization, under the name of “The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015,” maintains testing requirements, and requires state standards that prevent more local control of education. Tests are required to be the same in every school in the state, and any plans submitted by the states for how to structure their education programs must be reviewed and approved by a panel representing a wide cross-section of states, rather than letting each state determine its own policies.

All of this is anathema to the advocates of local control of education, but all the way down in Title IX of the bill is some language that conservatives can get behind. It’s the section dealing with Common Core education standards, and the ability of the Secretary of Education to bully states into doing his bidding through the threat of withholding funds. The bill says, in section 9527,

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize an officer or employee of the Federal Government, through grants, contracts, or other cooperative agreements (including as a condition of any waiver provided under section 9401) to—

(A) mandate, direct, or control a State, local educational agency, or school’s curriculum, program of instruction, instructional content, specific academic standards or assessments, or allocation of State or local resources, or mandate a State or any subdivision thereof to spend any funds or incur any costs not paid for under this Act;

(B) incentivize a State, local educational agency, or school to adopt any specific instructional content, academic standards, academic assessments, curriculum, or program of instruction, including by providing any priority, preference, or special consideration during the application process for any grant, contract, or cooperative agreement that is based on the adoption of any specific instructional content, academic standards, academic assessments, curriculum, or program of instruction; or

(C) make financial support available in a manner that is conditioned upon a State, local educational agency, or school’s adoption of any specific instructional content, academic standards, academic assessments, curriculum, or program of instruction (such as the Common Core State Standards developed under the Common Core State Standards Initiative, any other standards common to a significant number of States, or any specific assessment, instructional content, or curriculum aligned to such standards).

This language is functionally identical to that of Senator Pat Roberts’ standalone bill, The Local Level Act, for which FreedomWorks issued a letter of support earlier this year. This is important because until now, states have been unable to effectively repeal Common Core because of the Secretary of Education’s power to strip them of education funding. This bill would prevent that, and allow states to regain control of their own standards.

There’s a lot not to like about the Every Student Achieves Act, but the Common Core language, at least, is a victory for conservatives.


Can the Left Come Up With One True Story?

Yesterday, up on the stair,

I saw a rape that wasn’t there,

It wasn’t there again today!

Oh why, oh why did it go away …

From the Duke lacrosse team, the Columbia mattress girl and the University of Virginia, the left has not been able to produce one actual rape on a college campus. It’s beginning to look as if the rape of the Sabine women never happened, either. Someone’s going to have to go back and investigate.

The big finale to the latest college rape fable, Rolling Stone’s whimsical “A Rape on Campus,” about a fraternity gang rape at the University of Virginia that never happened, is the Columbia Journalism Review’s “investigation” of the story, released Sunday night. It’s more of a house of mirrors than a finale, inasmuch as CJR’s report is so preposterous that it demands its own investigation.

The CJR treats “reporting” as if it is some sort of learned craft, requiring years of study, as opposed to basic common sense. For example, if someone has an incredible story that he’s dying for you to publicize, but loses interest every time you try to confirm any of the facts, a normal person would say: Oh, that’s because it’s probably a lie.

Without even knowing that the rape accuser, “Jackie,” had refused to let Rolling Stone check the most basic elements of her narrative, every human being who read Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s piece knew it was nonsense by around the second paragraph. It was like a Lifetime TV version of a fraternity rape.

The Washington Post knew. Slate magazine knew. Much-maligned journalist Richard Bradley knew.

But the CJR diligently ticks off Rolling Stone’s failures to follow the “essential practices of reporting,” including “editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking.” Rolling Stone’s Reporter of the Year, Erdely told CJR, “I wish somebody had pushed me harder.” Her managing editor, Will Dana, admitted that he should have “pull(ed) the strings a little harder … question(ed) things a little more deeply.”

Yes, maybe the editors were just not pushing hard enough.

It’s as if a doctor attacked his patient with an ax, and the Columbia Medical Review responded with a forensic report concluding that the procedure failed to follow clinical protocols on hand hygiene, scrubs and restricted areas, while the doctor gallantly admitted that mistakes were made.

How about not allowing reporters to go off on politically driven crusades against liberal hate-objects, like fraternities, the military and athletes? How about not basing entire stories on the uncorroborated dream sequences of fantasists?

The false rape accuser, Jackie, had been trying to get the attention of a guy she liked by inventing a fake boyfriend. His name was “Haven Monahan.” Wouldn’t a person in his right mind drop the story right there?

Jackie had developed a whole online presence for her imaginary boyfriend, using the photo of some guy from her high school who had never spoken to her, and creating a fictitious text message account for her nonexistent boyfriend, replete with dialogue lifted directly from the TV show “Dawson’s Creek.”

For these among other reasons, the entire world has known the truth about the Rolling Stone rape since about eight minutes after the story was published. The CJR’s report was only necessary for The New York Times to find out the truth.

The report lamented that Rolling Stone’s “journalistic failure” would encourage “the idea that many women invent rape allegations.” To dispel this danger, the CJR quickly cited a handout from a Violence Against Women symposium alleging only 2 to 8 percent of rape claims are false. In fact, all serious studies of false rape claims put that figure at 27 percent to 40 percent.

If the CJR followed its own recommendations of “fact-checking,” they’d know that.

Erdely’s editor, Sean Woods, bemoaned the “disservice” Rolling Stone’s article had done to Jackie – the woman who made up the story about being raped.

You know who else Rolling Stone’s story kind of did a disservice to? I think, personally – as long as we’re ranking victims – a very close second to the woman who lied about being raped, as well as all the unnamed college rape victims who might have their claims taken less seriously in the future, are THE INNOCENT FRATERNITY MEMBERS WHO WERE FALSELY ACCUSED OF A VIOLENT GANG RAPE.

The UVA fake rape is even worse than the Duke lacrosse team fake rape. The accused fraternity hadn’t even courted danger by hiring a stripper. They were going about their lives, minding their own business, when, out of the blue, Rolling Stone, the president of their university, and a fiendish coed decided to accuse them of a monstrous crime.

If UVA’s much vaunted “honor code” means anything, it ought to mean the permanent expulsion of a girl who was willing to ruin the lives of men she had never met by accusing them of gang-rape – just to get the attention of a guy she liked.

To the contrary, even after this unprovoked attack on blameless UVA students, the associate dean of students, Nicole Eramo, said that college rape accusations required “balancing respect for the wishes of survivors while also providing for the safety of our communities.”

Again, isn’t someone missing from all that delicate “balancing”? I’m thinking of: the men falsely accused of rape. Colleges might want to consider adopting a concept that’s been around since the second century: “innocent until proved guilty.”


UK: Extremists are setting up anti-British schools, report claims

Nearly 50 unregulated schools set up by extremists are being investigated for being anti-British, it has been claimed.

Education authorities are looking into allegations that these schools impart teachings that go against British values.

Many of these schools were set up by a teacher embroiled in the Trojan Horse scandal that saw radical Muslims infiltrating school governing bodies in Birmingham, it was alleged.

Based around the UK – including Luton, Birmingham, and London, these schools manage to scape prying eyes by operating outside the traditional education system, it was claimed.

Many of the students have been pulled out of the mainstream education system, which is overseen by the schools’ watchdog, Ofsted, and the Department for Education (DfE), and are being home schooled without proper regulation or oversight.

Children of Somali, Bengali and Pakistani origins are thought to be at risk of being radicalised in their own homes, it was reported.

It is a criminal offence to run unregulated schools, which must be registered with the DfE. However, local authorities are responsible to make sure home schooling in their area is providing suitable education for youngsters.

Set up as private tutorial centres, unregulated schools find it easier to remain under the radar by teaching only a limited amount of hours per week.

It was reported the DfE has launched a number of investigations into the rising number of unregulated schools as some expressed concerns they are too easy to set up and are not being monitored properly to ensure they teach British values.

One of the schools at the centre of the controversy is Siddeeq Academy in Tower Hamlets, which closed down earlier this year following revelations it was being run by a convicted Islamist extremist by the name of Mizanur Rahman. Mr Rahman allegedly claimed Taliban gunmen who murdered more than 130 students at a school in Pakistan were “unfairly demonised”.

An unnamed Whitehall official, quoted by the Sunday Times, said unregulated schools are led by people who are against “democracy, equality, and tolerance”.

“If you are a Salafi Muslim or an Islamist, that means you don’t believe in British values because they go against your ideologies and set of beliefs. The problem is anyone can set up one of these schools and there are no regulations for it and they can then go on to brainwash children,” the source was reported as saying.

The DfE refused to comment on the allegations.

Small Heath, a previously “outstanding” non-faith state secondary, was downgraded to “inadequate” in January, following fears of a resurgence of the “Trojan Horse” plot

Last summer, Michael Gove, then Education Secretary, announced that all schools would have to actively promote British values as part of the curriculum, following the Trojan Horse plot.

However, there have been recent calls for teachers to snub the rules on teaching the so-called fundamental British values. Robin Bevan, head of Southend High School for Boys, said last month that a specific emphasis on British values was not necessary as they were already part of a “broad and balanced curriculum”.

News of possible radicalisation of children in supplementary schools followed a pledge by Home Secretary, Theresa May, to act quickly to investigate unregulated schools that could be breaking rules if the Conservative Party was elected next month.

The reports also followed news earlier this month that as many as 100 teachers and teaching assistants could face bans from working in schools for life as their Trojan Horse links were being investigated.

A recent report by MPs said academies were at greater risk of Trojan Horse-style extremism because their expanded freedoms leave them targets of infiltration. The report called on education bureaucrats to be vigilant of “the risks of abuse of academy freedoms” and be quick to react when concerns are brought to their attention.


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