Sunday, April 03, 2016

Cruz: Abolish Dept of Education, Block-Grant Money to States, End Common Core, Allow School Choice

In response to a question about how to help U.S. companies find “talented and qualified” employees for growing companies, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said one place to start is education reform, by getting the federal government out of it, abolishing the Department of Education, block-granting money to the states, ending Common Core, and allowing more school choice.

“Now, in terms of getting new and able workers, we need to do several things,” said Sen. Cruz during CNN’s town hall program in Wisconsin on Tuesday evening.  “Number one, we need to reform education. You know, the step to having well-trained workers is having a strong education program.”

“And if you look at education right now, number one, I think the federal government needs to get the heck out of it,” he said.

“It's one of the reasons I promised on the very first day in office that I'm going to direct the Department of Education that Common Core ends that day,” said the senator.

Cruz continued, “And I think what we ought to be doing is abolishing the federal Department of Education and block-granting that money to send it back to Wisconsin. I think the people of Wisconsin know much better what to do with that money.”

“And part of that money, I think, should be directed at school choice programs, and allowing people who are trapped in failing schools to have the option of going to private schools, going to parochial schools, injecting competition in failing schools to empower parents and empower students,” he said.

“I think school choice is the civil rights issue of the 21st Century,” Cruz added.
Commenting further, the senator said.  “And part of that money as well in Wisconsin ought to be directed to vocational training, ought to be directed to different nontraditional ways where people can earn skills, whether it's distance learning, whether it is using the Internet, using options where your only option isn't spending $50,000 a year at a four-year college but expanding the options for people to get education.”


Hundreds of Stanford Students Want Western Civilization Requirement Back

Some millennials might be spurring a comeback of Western civilization at one of the nation’s premier universities.

Stanford University students will vote April 7 and 8 on whether to reinstate a two-quarter Western civilization requirement after the success of a campus-wide campaign.

A petition, emailed  to Stanford undergraduates by conservative student newspaper The Stanford Review, reads:

"In accordance with Stanford’s commitment to educating its students, and in recognition of the unique role Western culture has had in shaping our political, economic, and social institutions, Stanford University should mandate that freshmen complete a two-quarter Western civilization requirement covering the politics, history, philosophy, and culture of the Western world."

After gaining over 370 signatures, it qualified to be featured in the Associated Students of Stanford University elections ballot.

Harry Elliott, editor-in-chief of The Stanford Review, told The Daily Signal in an email that their efforts have “already accomplished the first meaningful discussion on Stanford’s humanities core in years.”

Two campus discussion events about the initiative, including one led by university faculty and students, were held on campus earlier this month.

Elliott said the array of courses offered to fulfill the university’s Thinking Matters undergraduate requirements has created a “race to the bottom.” The 2015-16 catalog lists courses such as “Food Talks: The Language of Food” and “The Science of Mythbusters.”

“I was lucky enough to be selected for Structured Liberal Education, a year-long residential humanities program teaching the Western canon; I think all students should be afforded that opportunity,” Elliott, an economics major, said.

Even if a vote is successful, the initiative would still require faculty approval.

“We hope to get a positive vote to push the Faculty Senate to discuss seriously the need for a civilization requirement, and the reasons the student body want that requirement to be focused around the West,” Elliott said.

Elliott says he has “had a number of people in person thank me for bringing this discourse to Stanford, but also a number of fairly unpleasant encounters, in the last few weeks.”

In an opinion piece published by The Stanford Daily, Mara Chin Loy claims that the initiative “actively participates in my dehumanization and the dehumanization of my communities.” Loy is an undergraduate student at the university and self-described “social activist.” 

“We don’t need to learn about Western civilization and its ideals, because we have spent every moment of our lives resisting and fighting to live and love ourselves, so that we can transcend Western values,” Loy wrote.

A Stanford Review editorial claims that a “common civilization requirement” is essential for students if they wish to understand the society in which they live.

Social awareness arises from a common set of values and norms. Societies neither function nor prosper without shared beliefs, values, or customs. Even if one disagrees with these principles and traditions, reform cannot occur without understanding the historical context in which they arose.


University Of North Carolina Diversity Workshop Brands Band-Aids As ‘White Privilege’

A “cultural competency workshop” at the taxpayer-funded University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is assigning scores to students based on how much “white privilege” they allegedly have.

The “cultural competency” workshop, which appears to be mandatory for certain students, requires participants to “examine white privilege and how it is more powerful than other types of benefits afforded by society” by completing surveys, reports Campus Reform.

“I can choose blemish cover or bandages in ‘flesh’ color and have them more or less match the color of my skin,” one statement on the surveys says.

Students are then supposed to choose a number between zero and five based on how closely their skin color matches the peachy color of many adhesive bandages.

(Presumably, “white privilege” survey makers at UNC-Chapel Hill are blissfully unaware of Ebon-Aide first aid bandage strips.)

“I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the newspaper and see people of my race widely and positively represented,” reads another question on the University of North Carolina “white privilege” survey.

“I can swear, dress in secondhand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my races,” reads a third statement.

The workshop, which could last many long hours, students are warned, also includes a separate “cultural competency” survey designed to determine how rich or poor students are.

A handbook for workshop proctors reveals that some students are “mandated to attend” the “cultural competency” workshop, notes Campus Reform.

“Be aware that some members of the audience may not want to be there (e.g., they were mandated to attend),” the handbook for proctors indicates. “Try to encourage them to participate and change their feelings about the workshop.”

It’s not clear which students must attend the workshop or how those students are chosen.

The concept of white privilege was popularized in academic circles by a 1987 essay entitled “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” The author was Peggy McIntosh, an inconsequential white feminist.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is famous, of course, for a sickening athletic scam involving 18 years of rampant academic fraud.

The shocking con involved dozens of athletes who for years were deliberately enrolled in fake classes and awarded passing grades to keep them eligible for sports. Deans, coaches and professors within certain sham academic departments of the prestigious, public school were complicit in placing basketball and football players with underdeveloped learning skills in classes that didn’t exist and never actually met. Still, the players all received grades of either A or B.


Australia: Sydney University Catholic Society faces ban for Catholic-only board

The 88-year-old Catholic Society at the University of ­Sydney is facing deregis­tration on the grounds that it ­requires senior members to be Catholic.

In a move that has startled many of the university’s Catholic students, the society, formed in 1928, has been told that its membership requirements are discriminatory, and further funding could be denied if the Catholic stipulation is not ­removed.

“It’s a surreal situation,” ­society president Francis Tamer said. “We have been told we are discriminating against people ­because you have to be Catholic to be on the executive. Of course you do — we are the Catholic ­Society.”

One of the university’s best known Catholic alumni, Tony Abbott, agrees, saying “it seems like a hell of a double standard” given that Sydney University has long offered both a “women’s room” and a Koori Centre for ­indigenous students. The Catholic issue came to a head after the University of Sydney Union, which funds social clubs, this year decided to ­enforce a longstanding requirement that they be free of discrimination on the grounds of race, gender and religion.

Other clubs caught in the mire include the Evangelical Union, which requires members to pledge allegiance to Jesus Christ, but not the Wom*n’s Revue ­Society, which freely ­admits to producing a stand-up comedy show comprised only of “female-­identifying students”.

The USU president, Alisha Aitken-Radburn, said the issue had “turned into an argument over whether we are discriminating against Catholics or whether we are anti-Christian, which ­simply isn’t true”.

“We value religious clubs, but we don’t understand why they need to force their members to say this or sign that,” she said.

“We don’t mind if it’s voluntary, but we don’t want clubs to force members to have to do anything to join.”

Mr Tamer and fellow Cath­olics lodged a formal protest against the planned deregis­tration during a USU board meeting yesterday and after much discussion, the USU promised to “address the complex issues identified in this matter” and to seek legal advice, “because the law surrounding this matter is complex”, before axing the club.

“It’s a relief, ­although we’d still like more clarity because we don’t know if they’re putting it on hold forever, or for a day, or for what,’’ Mr Tamer said.

He said anyone could join the Catholic Society. “We get all kinds of people — Muslim, Jews, atheists — coming along, who might be curious,” he said, “but if you want to be on the executive ... you do have to be Catholic.”

Mr Abbott said the requirement was “sensible, because I’d assume that if you are the gymnastics club, you don’t want ­people coming along who have no particular enthusiasm or passion for gymnastics”.

The Catholic Society has won the support of other religious groups on campus, including the Sydney University Muslim Students Association, whose president Shahad Nomani said: “We have been toeing the line, saying you don’t have to be Muslim to join our executive, but it’s actually ridiculous. All members of our executive are Muslim but we are not allowed to say they must be Muslim.”

University Liberal Club president William Dawes said his club was also sympathetic to the Catholic Society’s cause: “We don’t force you to join the Liberal Party, but what would be the point of joining our club if you didn’t support the ... party?”

The president of the univer­sity’s ALP Club, Dylan Williams, said his club “doesn’t say you have to be a member of the ALP to join our club, but we exist to promote the ideals of ­social democracy, so it would be weird if a Liberal wanted to join”.

Ms Aitken-Radburn said the issue was “about the mandatory requirement for membership. I really don’t understand why clubs can’t ask members to stand up on a voluntary basis and swear ­allegiance to whatever, without forcing them to do it. What is the practical difference?”


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