Friday, October 28, 2016

NAACP Denies Education Civil Rights

It’s a rare day when the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post are of one mind.

But it just happened. Each of these newspapers, with the largest circulations in the country, and with views on the right and the left, weighed in with unanimity, criticizing the recent resolution of the NAACP calling for a moratorium on expansion of charter schools.

The NAACP wants to freeze expansion of charter schools until, according to the resolution, they meet the same “transparency and accountability standards as public schools,” no longer compete for the same public funds as public schools, don’t reject students that public schools accept, and that evidence of segregation is no longer evident.

It is disappointing that the NAACP, which defines itself as a civil rights organization, wants to deny a right as fundamental as parents determining how and where to educate their children. But although disappointing, it not surprising.

It is not just charter schools that NAACP opposes, but all alternatives to public schools.

This new resolution notes that it is an extension of NAACP’s 2014 resolution “School Privatization Threat to Public Education,” in which NAACP opposes school choice and markets and competition in education.

NAACP has supported lawsuits challenging voucher programs that are funded via tax credits to businesses that contribute funding for vouchers. So NAACP’s opposition to charters is really not about, as they claim, their concern about siphoning taxpayer funds from public schools.

It is about opposition to competition in education, to competition to public schools, and competition to teacher unions.

Arguments that charters and other competitive alternatives to public schools siphon funds away from public schools that are critical for their success are simply bogus.

As Gerard Robinson of the American Enterprise Institute points out, “Since World War II, inflation-adjusted spending in American public schools has increased 663 percent.” Yet despite this, “public school national math scores have been flat (and national reading scores have declined slightly) since 1992.”

Where’s the money going?

According to Robinson, much of the money is going to hiring more teachers and bureaucracy. From 1950 to 2009, the number of teachers increased 2.5 times more than the increase in students, and the number of administrators and other staff increased seven times more than the increase in students.

So it comes as little surprise that teachers unions share NAACP’s distaste for competition in education. Or that the two major teachers unions, American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, have been generous contributors to both the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus.

One hundred and sixty black education leaders across the nation, including former education secretary Rod Paige, wrote to the NAACP urging that they not approve this resolution.

The letter states that these leaders write on behalf of “nearly 700,000 Black families choosing to send their children to charter public schools, and the tens of thousands more who are still on waiting lists.”

The letter cites a recent study from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes that concluded that black students in charter schools gained the equivalent of 14 extra days in learning in both reading and math, compared to their peers in traditional public schools.

The real discrimination that is taking place is taking education choice away from black parents and forcing black children to remain in failing schools that are disproportionately populated by black children from poor families.

The Wall Street Journal just reported that despite an increase in earnings of black workers exceeding that of white and Latino workers since the recession ended in 2009, median weekly pay for blacks still lags significantly, $685 compared to $854 for whites.

Education makes all the difference. Blacks need education freedom, and it is sad that the organization that claims to stand for civil rights opposes this.


Racist Berkeley students agitate for segregation

Students at the University of California, Berkeley held a violent protest on campus Friday to demand additional segregated “spaces of color” for non-white students.

The demonstration began at a key bridge on campus, where the protesters made a human chain to prevent white people from crossing, instead directing them to "go around" by trudging across the stream.

Later, the activists turned their ire against an on-campus store leased to a private company, posting a fake "eviction notice" on the building threatening that "community action will continue to escalate" if the space is not vacated immediately.

Students at the University of California, Berkeley held a violent protest on campus Friday to demand additional segregated “spaces of color” for non-white students.

A video of the protest shows demonstrators repeatedly heckling white passersby, barring them entry to a key bridge on campus by forming a human chain while simultaneously allowing students of color to pass unmolested.

At one point, the video even shows a protester refusing to allow an older white man to cross the bridge, eventually directing him to cross by way of a creek that flows underneath the bridge.

Just a few moments later, another white man attempted to cross the bridge by forcing his way through the crowd, only to be surrounded by a mob of students who began shouting expletives at him as they pushed him back in the direction he had come from.

Time and again, white students and professors were denied entry to the bridge as they were surrounded by aggressive protesters shouting “go around!”

Apparently, protesters were angered because one of their “safe spaces” was relocated to the basement of a building where it had previously occupied the fifth floor. When protesters were asked about the motive for their demonstration, though, they refused to be recorded, leaving little to no explanation for the rationale behind such an aggressive protest.

One protester did offer her take on the issue, however, when she was given the chance to speak to the crowd, shouting “Berkeley, why the fuck do you let UCPD do what they want with our bodies?” “I'm talking to you, UCPD,” she then asserts before declaring, “I don't give a fuck about you.”

The protest eventually made its way to an on-campus building that was apparently rented out to a private corporation, leading students to post an eviction notice on its doors alleging a “misallocation of space.”

“You are hereby notified by the students of the University of California, Berkeley to vacate the premises immediately,” it read, according to video footage of the demonstration.

“University administration wrongly allocated this two-story facility to a third-party corporation, keeping in line with its intensifying legacy of prioritizing financial profit over student needs.”

The mock eviction notice went on to demand that the building be converted into a “queer alliance resource center,” threatening that “community action will continue to escalate” if they “fail to vacate immediately.”

The protest then made its way through Berkeley’s student center, where the activists disrupted students from their studies with chants of “students over profit” before finally making their way to an off-campus intersection, where, naturally, they blocked the flow of traffic.


What's really behind Australia's declining international education results

Not mentioned below is that Australia has taken in a lot of Africans and Muslims recently.  Both groups have markedly lower IQs than the host population, so their children will too -- leading to poorer educational performance overall

Australian students' slide in the international benchmarks for reading and numeracy may not be the fault of the students, the teachers, or even the school system, says Finnish education expert Pasi Sahlberg.

He argues there is a key factor being overlooked, a shift so profound and complete we've almost forgotten life without it: the rise of the smartphone.

Finnish education guru Pasi Sahlberg explains how Finland built its highly regarded education system.

And Professor Sahlberg predicts a tobacco and big sugar-style marketing war between edutech-company-backed research and independent research in the next five years, over whether more technology in the classroom is beneficial or harmful to kids.

"We are not paying attention to the very rapidly increased use of screen technology," he said. "The first three PISAs were in 2000, 2003 and 2006, this thing didn't exist. There were no iPads or smartphones.

"So if you look at kids in Australia, they used a fraction of the time they use today with different types of smartphones and iPads and computer screens compared to the first three."

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests are run every three years by the OECD, comparing a sample of 15-year-olds in different countries on reading, maths and science.

As Australia's results have slipped against other countries, policy-makers and school systems have scrambled to figure out what's going wrong.

But Professor Sahlberg, who has recently returned with his family to Helsinki after three years working at Harvard in the US, said the decline in PISA performance is happening in all western countries.

"Reading performance has been drastically declining in Finland because of this. Our pedagogy and teaching has not changed, the curriculum has not changed. So how else can you explain this dramatic change?"

A second key factor, he said, is that the East Asian countries, which are rising strongly in the PISA rankings, drill their student populations and teach to the test.

"I go to Singapore, I do a lot of work in South Korea, it's all over the place. They have practice halls for the PISA. They practice using the PISA test items so the kids are familiar with that type of thing."

East Asian countries enrol the majority of students in "cram schools" or private tuition, where gadgets are banned while they study, he said. 

"It doesn't really tell you how good the overall system is. It tells you how good the system is at taking these particular tests. It's a different thing."

Professor Sahlberg has been a teacher, educator and policy adviser in Finland, and wrote the book Finnish Lessons 2.0: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland.

He told an audience of education leaders in Sydney on Thursday that it is just a theory, but research on the intrusion of digital technology is ramping up. Studies such as Growing Up Digital in Canada were reporting disturbing preliminary results, he said, with some making the argument that digital immersion changes the way children think and process information in a way that may make deeper learning difficult.

"We're going to see with in the future, a next five years, a war between these kind of research studies, trying to show that doing more screen time [in the classroom] at the time when it's already controlling the lives of young people doesn't make any sense; and then the tech companies will say if you build your teaching and learning around the technology you will decrease the dropout rate and increase the graduation rates - we' re going to see a lot of that in the future."

A frequent visitor to Australia, he is not here to sell the popular line that Finland is the perfect education system, and in fact argues that NSW could teach Finland a thing or two.

"I don't think that Finland has the magic answer to education or anything – no country whatsoever has that. In a way that's a myth."

What Finland does get right, he says, is its child-focused approach, with an emphasis on play, a later school starting age (7), and letting each child develop at their own pace.

"This conversation of having an extended childhood where children can play and be themselves, learn to be with other people – was recognised an important thing [in Finland].

"One thing that distinguishes Australia and Finland is we have much less concern about academic performance in the early years than you have here."

But he said Finland's student population was changing significantly due to increased migration, from almost zero immigrants 20 years ago to around 7 per cent and rising today.

"I think Finland can learn a great deal from Australia, NSW in particular. About what the system should do to be good for everybody, good for Aboriginal and minority children. This is something we are learning in my country right now."

Professor Sahlberg is in Sydney following a tour of regional and remote schools with Education Minister Adrian Piccoli, giving a speech on Thursday about the results of a study of the NSW school system that he supervised at Harvard. He said Australia has a far better system than the US.

An article by a US academic William Doyle who lived for six months in Finland published by Fairfax Media – Why Finland has the best schools – remains among the best read articles on the SMH website. Professor Sahlberg chuckled when I told him this.

"That was my friend," he said. "He's writing from the position of an American."


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