Friday, May 20, 2016

UK: Affirmative action for MEN?

That fewer men are going to university is totally desirable in an age of credentialism.  It shows they have wised up to useless degrees

Universities should set targets to boost male student numbers, a think-tank is suggesting.

The Higher Education Policy Institute said institutions are letting young men down as the proportion of male students continues to shrink at a worrying pace.

Researchers suggested ‘targets’ for the number of young men admitted, which could be reached by tailoring ‘official sources of information’ for male pupils.

They advocated a ‘Take Our Sons To University Day’, in which parents would take boys to see what campus life is like.

The report comes after the main Ucas deadline in mid-January, by which 343,930 girls and 249,790 boys had applied for university – a difference of 94,140 and the largest gap on record.

The report warned girls born this year will be 75 per cent more likely to study for a degree than their male classmates on current trends.

Nick Hillman, co-author of the report and the director of the HEPI, said: ‘Nearly everyone seems to have a vague sense that our education system is letting young men down, but there are few detailed studies of the problem and almost no clear policy recommendations on what to do about it.

‘Young men are much less likely to enter higher education, are more likely to drop out and are less likely to secure a top degree than women.

‘Yet, aside from initial teacher training, only two higher education institutions currently have a specific target to recruit more male students. That is a serious problem that we need to tackle.’

The HEPI said the gender gap could be down to a range of reasons, such as a higher graduate earnings premium for women than men. It said boys may be working less hard at school but also more women could be enrolling thanks to a shift to graduate entry for female-dominated careers, such as nursing and teaching.

The report noted over 80 per cent of institutions have more female than male students, yet only two have targets for recruiting more male students – excluding teacher training schemes. It called for more male role models in widening participation schemes and the creation of ‘foundation years’ aimed at boys to help them catch up with peers before starting courses.

Mr Hillman said targets for recruitment of boys should be set by individual universities and not imposed by ministers. He said taking on more boys would not disadvantage girls because the recent lifting of the numbers cap means there is no limit on how many students can be recruited from either gender.

He added: ‘Of course women face substantial challenges too. Female graduates earn lower salaries than male graduates. Lad culture can make life uncomfortable for female students.

‘But policymaking is not a zero-sum game in which you have to choose between caring for one group or the other.’

The HEPI said the gap was largest among the most deprived, with girls from poor families 51 per cent more likely to enter university than their male counterparts. And it said race was a factor too – with only 8.9 per cent of white boys from poor families enrolling compared with 50 per cent of boys of Indian heritage with the same financial disadvantage.

Universities must prove they are doing enough to encourage disadvantaged groups to apply by sending annual ‘access agreements’ to the Office for Fair Access. OFFA’s director, Professor Les Ebdon, said yesterday: ‘I welcome this important report. Participation rates in higher education of white men from disadvantaged backgrounds remain stubbornly low.’

Universities minister Jo Johnson said: ‘While we are seeing record application rates from disadvantaged backgrounds, this report shows that too many are still missing out.’


Note that shows a day in the life of a substitute teacher in a  modern class not used to discipline

SOMETIMES being a substitute teacher can be a hard slog.  It can be hard to get a room full of unruly children to respect you, when they don’t know you from a bar of soap.

A recent photo submitted to Reddit gives a beautiful snapshot of a substitute teacher’s day. The teacher was obviously asked to submit a report on how things went throughout the day, and the resulting tale involves spilt milk, fake farts, many bouts of hysterical laughter and wild dancing.

8:30am: Jackson won’t stop yelling “peanuts,” Janelle has spilt her milk and fruity pebbles everywhere, everyone won’t stop laughing, I can see her about to explode. I fear for the safety of these children.

9:15am: Dylan has started a dance party in the corner, at first it was just the boys, after Geneva joined, it’s taken over half the class.

10:00am: The fart noises haven’t stopped for 30 minutes. It started with a real fart. I suspect Hugo. Now they’re arguing which one of their fake farts would smell worse. It’s almost time for specials. I’m scared that once I drop them off I won’t find the will to pick them up.

1:00pm: The decibel level in this room has reached an unhealthy level. I’ve fashioned ear plugs out of broken crayons. Please let me survive this.

2:00pm: The end is in sight. I said the words “free time” and it was as if this room was hit by a bomb.

3:00pm: They’re gone, finally. I spent the second half of my day drafting my letter of resignation. The name Jasmin appears no less than eight times.


Hillel’s moment of truth

Two wars today are being waged against Jewish students on American university campuses. One is substantive, the other is institutional. The plight of the Jews at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island is emblematic of both.

The purpose of the substantive war is to deny Jews their freedom as Jews. As the guarantor of Jewish freedom, Israel is the subject of a systematic, multidimensional assault, carried out everywhere on campuses.

On a growing number of campuses in the United States, the only Jews who can safely express their views on Israel are those who champion Israel's destruction.
Those who support Israel are subjected to continuous harassment by their fellow students.

The substantive battle is being led by Students for Justice in Palestine. SJP is a phantom organization with no national organization. As Jonathan Schanzer from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies testified before the US Congress last month, it is directed by former officials from non-profits including the Holy Foundation, KindHearts and the Islamic Association for Palestine that were forced to shut down after they were implicated in financing terrorist groups including Hamas and al-Qaida.

At Brown, SJP seeks to make it impossible for Jewish students to organize as Jews.  

For instance, in late January, Brown Hillel hosted a discussion of Jewish identity featuring actor Michael Douglas and Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky.

SJP protested the event arguing that since both men supported Israel, the event stood in opposition to "social justice."

As Ira Stoll reported in the New York Sun, during the event, protesters outside the hall calling for Israel's destruction made it hard for the audience of several hundred people to hear what Sharansky and Douglas were saying.

Stoll added that rather than protect the audience's freedom of assembly and the speakers' freedom of speech, an assistant dean stood with the protesters and "offered to provide further support for students who had missed class to be involved in activism or who were upset by the evening's events."

In March, a consortium of student groups at Brown, including a Jewish group affiliated with Hillel, cosponsored a talk by Janet Mock, an African American transsexual activist.

In light of the Jewish group's co-sponsorship, SJP launched a petition to boycott the speech. Not wanting the protest to eclipse the substance of her remarks, which, of course had nothing whatsoever to do with Israel, Mock canceled her lecture.

These events make clear that for SJP and its allies, it isn't just Jewish life on campus that must be destroyed.

Jews as Jews must not be permitted to participate with non-Jews in organizing or hosting campus events related to issues of common concern.

In both of its substantive anti-Jewish actions, SJP tipped its hat to the institutional battle against Jewish freedom that its Jewish allies are leading.

In both cases, SJP used the fact that Hillel International - the national organization responsible for Hillel chapters throughout the US - has a policy of banning substantively anti-Jewish events from the premises of Hillel buildings, as one of its justifications for its anti-Jewish actions.

The goal of the institutional war SJP referred to is to destroy Jewish support for Israel by throwing Jewish organizations into disarray in order to destroy Jewish organizational support for Israel and through it, for Jewish civil rights.

This war is led by Jewish anti-Zionists and anti-Semites who not only reject Israel's right to exist, but reject the right of their fellow Jews to support its right to exist.

The institutional war against Jewish freedom scored a great victory last week at Brown. At Brown, the war is being led by the Open Hillel group.

Open Hillel's purpose is to deny Jews on campus the right to express their support for Israel free of molestation, on campus generally and at Hillel specifically.

As a general principle, Open Hillel demonstrated its opposition to freedom of Jewish speech in March when it condemned a StandWithUs member for attending an anti-Israel event on campus. The pro-Israel student attended the event with a robot. He did not disrupt the event. He merely stood at the back of the room with a robot and asked a question at the appropriate time.

Following the event, Open Hillel announced that it "opposes the attempts of groups like StandWithUs to monitor students and faculty."

In other words, the group rejects the right of pro-Israel students to participate in anti-Israel events.

Open Hillel's main target is Hillel. Its openly stated goal is to deny pro-Israel students the ability to promote Israel freely at Hillel.

Last week, on Remembrance Day, Open Hillel organized a film festival in which three short films produced by the anti-Israel NGO Zochrot were shown.

The films promoted the libelous claim that Israel's birth and continued existence are a crime against humanity.

The event was deliberately scheduled to take place at Hillel. The provocation was clear. If Hillel hosted the event on Remembrance Day, then it would have abandoned its resolve to prevent the substantive war against the Jews from being waged within its walls.

Jews at Brown would have lost their final bastion of free expression.

When word of the event got out, Brown Students for Israel announced its opposition to the event.

Hillel International was deluged with protests from community members and supporters.

Brown's Hillel announced that the event was canceled.

Brown Students for Israel publicly thanked their Hillel for canceling the event. Among other things, they stated, "Whereas there is an abundance of anti-Zionist spaces at Brown, ...Hillel provides a rare and small safe space for students who believe in the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. The campus atmosphere around Israel/Palestine is so repressive that most Zionist students do not feel able to... discuss Israel in public spaces. Those of us who do choose to defend the single Jewish State are subject to harassment, name-calling, derision from students and teachers' assistants, and even direct threats to our personal safety. Only in Hillel are we able to speak freely...."

But as it turned out, Hillel betrayed them.

As both pro-Israel activist Alexandra Markus and Open Hillel itself revealed, the event did take place.

Contrary to the direct instructions of Hillel International, Brown Hillel's executive director Marshall Einhorn was present at the event, which was closed to the public.

In its jubilant statement following the event, Open Hillel declared that its success in holding the event at Hillel is a sign that Brown's Hillel is now a battlefield in the substantive war against Jewish freedom.

In its words, "This event was a success... because it challenged Brown RISD Hillel to reflect on its ability to facilitate and provide space for [anti-Zionists].

Ultimately, the process of planning this event forced our Hillel to recognize its own lack of openness and to begin reworking its guidelines on Israel/Palestine programming. These guidelines will not be in keeping with the guidelines published and enforced by Hillel International in their ‘Standards of Partnership,' which have been used time and again to silence critical Jewish voices on Israel/Palestine."

The ball is now in Hillel International's court. Brown Hillel defrauded Hillel International. It lied to Hillel CEO Eric Fingerhut. It used Hillel's facility to host a group that wishes to destroy Hillel as part of its institutional war against Jewish freedom in the US. This institutional war goes hand in hand with the substantive war against the Jews.

Hillel International and its CEO Eric Fingerhut have two choices. They can throw Brown Hillel out of the organization, deny it funding, eject it from the facility and take civil action against it in court for its commission of fraud.

Or they can surrender to Open Hillel and its SJP allies and throw Hillel International into disarray, denying Jews their last bastion of freedom on college campuses.

If it takes the latter approach, then the wider Jewish community must abandon Hillel International. Its sponsors must withhold their funding and start a new student organization that will do the job of defending Jewish freedom on US campuses.                        


On the anniversary of Brown v. Board, new evidence that US schools are resegregating

Poor, black, and Hispanic children are becoming increasingly isolated from their white, affluent peers in the nation’s public schools, according to new federal data released Tuesday, 62 years after the Supreme Court decided that segregated schools are “inherently unequal” and therefore unconstitutional.

That landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education began the dismantling of the dual school systems — one for white kids, one for black students — that characterized so many communities across the country. It also became a touchstone for the ideal of public education as a great equalizer, an American birthright meant to give every child a fair shot at success.

But that ideal appears to be unraveling, according to the report from the Government Accountability Office.

The number of high-poverty schools that serve primarily minority students more than doubled between 2001 and 2014, the GAO found. The proportion of such schools — where more than 75 percent of children receive free or reduced-price lunch, and more than 75 percent are black or Hispanic — climbed from 9 percent to 16 percent during the same period.

The problem is not just that students are more isolated, according to the GAO, but that minority students who are concentrated in high-poverty schools don’t have the same access to opportunities as students in other schools.

High-poverty, majority-black and Hispanic schools were less likely to offer a full range of math and science courses than other schools, for example, and more likely to use expulsion and suspension as disciplinary tools, according to the GAO.

The GAO conducted its study during the past two years at the request of Democratic lawmakers including Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee, and Representative John Conyers of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

Scott said the GAO report provided evidence of an “overwhelming failure to fulfill the promise of Brown.”

“Segregation in public K-12 schools isn’t getting better; it’s getting worse, and getting worse quickly, with more than 20 million students of color now attending racially and socioeconomically isolated public schools,” he said in a statement Tuesday.

The resegregation of schools during the past two decades has for the most part happened quietly, in the shadows of loud battles over standardized testing, teacher evaluations, charter schools, and Common Core academic standards.

Segregation has returned to the forefront of education policy discussions only recently, amid broad public debates about race, racism, and widening inequality.

The persistence of racial divisions in the nation’s public schools was underscored Friday when a federal judge ordered a Mississippi district to integrate its middle and high schools, capping a legal battle that had dragged on for five decades.

As the US District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi put it, Cleveland, Miss. — a town of 12,000 bisected by railroad tracks that divided white families from black — has been running an illegal dual system for its children, failing year after year to reach the “greatest degree of desegregation possible.”

Now Cleveland must consolidate its schools, integrating all its students into one middle school and one high school.

The Rev. Edward Duvall, an African-American parent of two children in Cleveland’s public schools, said he favored consolidation because it would save money, leaving more funding for classrooms and programs. But that wasn’t the only reason: “We can break down this wall of racism that divides us and keeps us separated,” he said, according to court documents. “And we could create a new culture in our school system that’s going to unite us and unite our whole city.”

While schools in Cleveland have never fully desegregated, many other school districts did integrate following the decision in Brown v. Board. But since the 1990s, hundreds of school districts have been released from court-ordered desegregation plans, making way for renewed divisions by race and class.

In 1972, just 25 percent of black students in the South attended the most segregated schools, in which more than 90 percent of students were minorities, according to a 2014 ProPublica investigation. But in districts that emerged from court oversight between 1990 and 2011, more than half of students now attend such segregated schools, ProPublica found.

The investigation found fault with a Justice Department that, starting with the Reagan administration, pulled back from pressuring districts on desegregation and was “no longer committed to fighting for the civil rights aims it had once championed.”


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Rep. Black: Administration ‘Now Directly Responsible for Endangering Our Students’

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) reacted to guidance issued Friday by the Obama administration that public schools must allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their “gender identity” - not their biological sex - if they expect to receive federal funding.

Black called the Dear Colleague letter from the Department of Education and Department of Justice an “attempt to bully our local schools into submission to the Obama Administration’s agenda” and added that she believed “the Obama Administration is now directly responsible for endangering our students.”

“This attempt to bully our local schools into submission to the Obama Administration’s agenda is shameful and a gross abuse of the federal government’s power,” Black said in a statement. “It has nothing to do with compassion for minority student populations and everything to do with political opportunism for the next election.

“We all agree on the rights of students to be treated with dignity and respect,” Black emphasized, “but that right must also exist alongside the rights of students to maintain their privacy and safety in their own schools.”

Black added that as a grandmother of young girls, she believes “the Obama Administration is now directly responsible for endangering our students.”

“It is worth noting that this directive does not carry the force of law and I would encourage Tennessee school officials to continue following their consciences,” she said.

“When our appropriations bills come to the House floor,” Black concluded, “I plan to introduce an amendment barring the Department of Education from withholding funds from states that pass commonsense legislation protecting our children from sharing a bathroom with students of the opposite sex.”

Black was joined by many of her Republican colleagues in the House in criticizing the new guidance.

"I oppose that piece of policy. I think ... it is an executive overreach," Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” on Friday, adding that “it's a topic we're likely to bring up in a future hearing before the task force that I chair,” referring to the House Task Force on Executive Overreach.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), an outspoken critic of the Department of Education, also issued a statement condemning the DOE guidance, calling it “another example of how they have continued to create law out of thin air with Dear Colleague letters, threats and intimidation.”

“The proposal in today's guidance is so significant and groundbreaking, it should only be considered by legislation, preferably at the local level, instead of through a Department of Education guidance letter,” Lankford said.

“Even though the Department will say that guidance does not have the force of law, every school district in the country will be terrified of going against a federal agenda. This is threatening and intimidating and has no place in our government,” he said.

Lankford said that the proposal “has many unintended consequences for safety and gender fairness, which are completely being ignored in this conversation.”

“This type of policy change has major implications for safety, the use of school locker rooms, and participation of sports teams in school,” Lankford added. “No student should feel unwelcome at school, but we cannot ignore the fact that this policy will make the majority of American families unwelcome in their own school.

“The people of Oklahoma are welcoming to all, but they deserve the right to make their own choices on how to honor and protect each child," he added.


Former English teacher admits she FAILED British grade school exam

A children's author and former English teacher has divided opinion with a Facebook post telling youngsters not to worry about their SATs scores.

Scottish writer Abi Elphinstone posted an image of herself holding up a sign explaining she'd tested herself with current SATs papers and failed, adding: 'Kids, you don't need to know what a modal verb or a subordinating conjunctive is to get where you want to go in life.'

Her post received 166,000 likes and was praised by parents of children who are currently feeling stressed about their exams - but others felt she was sending out the wrong message.

The full text on Abi's sign read: 'I just took the 2016 SATs tests. I faliled. 25 per cent in maths. 40 per cent in English.

'Kids, you don't need to know what a modal verb or a subordinating conjunctive is to get where you want to go in life.

'You need ideas and passion - so go on adventures, dream BIG and don't worry about your SATs scores.'

She posted the picture along with an explanation of her past, saying that she used to be an English teacher and now visits school every week in her capacity as an author. 

'I talk to the kids about resilience, determination and grit, not just in regards to exams but in regards to life, too,' she explained.

'I'm dyslexic and I had 96 rejections from literary agents on my previous unpublished books so I know a fair bit about courage and perseverance.

'I'm very much on side with telling kids to work hard. But I am not on side with the English SATs test.

'It contains irrelevant and obscure information that does little to enrich a child's learning. Kids need to know the basic parts of speech - nouns, verbs, adjectives etc - to talk about a text analytically at GCSE.

'But time spent ramming modal verbs & subordinating conjunctives down their throats in Year 6 is time wasted.

'We run the risk of re-creating Dickens' Gradgrindian education system and a system that champions modal verbs over creativity and imaginative flair will never be a system that I can get behind.'

Her comments won praise from many of her Facebook followers, especially parents of children currently struggling with exam stress.

Jane Pritchard shared comments from her 11-year-old daughter Emily who she'd shown Abi's message to.

'I came home today really upset because I found my maths papers so hard,' she said. 'I cried at school because I felt that i hadn't done well enough. 'When I got home my mum showed me your post and it made me much happier and confident about my future.  'So thank you for the lovely message! I am sure that it helped other children too.'

Christina Stainton said she was going to show Abi's post to her 11-year-old who has been stressed and not sleeping because she feels under so much pressure to do well in her tests.

'Children can only do what they are capable of and no more. I told my daughter not to worry, just to do her best,' she explained.

'Childhood is too short to worry about exams. Not every child wants to be a doctor, lawyer, banker etc.

'Some kids want to have a home and family, part time job on a checkout, care assistant, or filling supermarket shelves. 'It's a job, it's money, and we need these people to keep our shops etc going.' 

'Hundreds of successful, happy adults have achieved great things without having a clue what a subordinating conjunctive is. We have managed, so why do we think it is essential for 11 year olds to know this?'

Lara Jayne Busby shared her story explaining that she went to university and has built a successful career, despite not having a GCSE in English.

Lee Layton posted a strongly worded comment saying Abi's message was 'dangerous' and that children should learn toughen up
Lee Layton posted a strongly worded comment saying Abi's message was 'dangerous' and that children should learn to toughen up

'I feel for the kids that are like me who aren't good at taking tests and struggle with pressure of it all,' she said.

'Don't get me wrong tests are a way of seeing where kids need to improve as such but it shouldn't be the only thing schools use to measure children's ability because what a mark says on a test paper can be very different to a childs participation in class.

However, not everyone was impressed by Abi's message including Thomas Beesley who commented: 'Teach kids to not care about exams and school? Great idea.'  He added that he agreed that passion and imagination are important, but added: 'I also think that working hard at school should be supported and when supported in the right way the "evil" SATs can become less scary.'

Lee Layton was even more passionate in his opposition saying Abi's advice was 'dangerous'. 'You are now promoting a generation of dumb crying babies. It was tough, you get over it. Crying over a f****** test - get a grip, telling them it doesn't matter.


Texas Can’t Afford to Miss Out on School Choice

Jim DeMint

Last week I had the good fortune to be in Texas discussing conservative policy solutions with hundreds of dedicated men and women in San Antonio, Austin, and Houston.

One of the big topics of conversation was freedom in education: How can we offer young Americans the best education possible, while ensuring that each family can freely choose and afford the schooling that fits its needs?

This gives families flexibility, and saves tax dollars for other projects—or just keeps them in our wallets. It’s a win-win.

Publicly funded education savings accounts provide a promising path forward. Through an education savings account, parents would receive 90 percent of the state per-pupil funds that would have been spent on their child in the public school system. They can then use those funds to pay for private school tuition, online learning, special education services and therapies, textbooks, curricula, and a host of other education-related services, products, and providers.

This gives families flexibility, and saves tax dollars for other projects—or just keeps them in our wallets. It’s a win-win.

As one of our panelists in Houston explained, Texas can’t afford not to embrace education savings accounts.

Matthew Ladner, of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, explained that by the year 2030, the population of K-12 students in Texas schools will grow from about 4.7 million students to nearly 6.4 million, while at the same time, the population of Texas residents aged 65 and older will boom from 2.5 million individuals to over 5 million people.

These populations are less likely to be in the workforce (because they may either be in school or retired), and are more likely to use services (such as the K-12 education system). This could be a major strain on the Texas budget, and only hastens the need to find ways to make K-12 dollars work better for students.

Importantly, parents can even roll over unused funds from year-to-year, and can save for college.

That’s what the Ashtons were able to do for their son Max. The Ashtons live in Arizona, which pioneered the concept of publicly funded education savings accounts in 2011. Max is legally blind, and was able to use his education savings account to pay for private school tuition, and also purchase all his braille materials, his talking computer, and all of his other assistive technology.

The Ashtons were even able to save thousands of dollars a year, and roll those unused funds into a college savings account that they use to pay Max’s tuition at Loyola Marymount University. For 90 percent of what the state was spending on Max, he was able to attend Brophy College Preparatory, purchase all the assistive technologies he needed to be successful, and still have money left over to pay his college tuition.

This is what’s possible when we fund the student instead of the system, and allow education dollars to be completely portable. Education savings accounts are the way forward, and the citizens of Texas should be eager for their state to be the next to adopt publicly funded education savings accounts. And they should make them universally available to every student in the Lone Star State.

Most of the Texans I spoke to agreed. They look forward to setting an example to the rest of the nation, and joining the growing number of states that put students and families first.


Black Albany Students Booted for Hate Crime Hoax

Two fewer students are enrolled at the University at Albany following an investigation of an attack earlier this year in which three young black women claimed they were racially targeted. Last week, the institution kicked out two of the girls and gave another a two-year suspension because, as it turns out, they are actually the ones at fault.

As Fox News recounts, “The women, all 20 years old, claimed they were attacked early on the morning of Jan. 30 while riding a bus. They claimed they were called racial slurs and were physically attacked while bystanders looked on. Investigators say a review of multiple videos of the incident showed no evidence the women were victims of a crime or subjected to racial slurs. In fact, police said the women were the aggressors, assaulting a 19-year-old white woman.” Moreover, “The white men [they] claimed assaulted them were actually trying to break up the fight.”

But that’s not the least of their worries. The women who were expelled “were charged with misdemeanor assault and falsely reporting an incident,” while the other “was charged with misdemeanor assault,” according to Fox.

This isn’t just an embarrassment for these young women, but also for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In February, referring specifically to the University at Albany incident, Clinton tweeted, “There is no excuse for racism and violence on a college campus.” There is also no excuse for conjuring up lies. Is this what Obama means when he says blacks' success in life is based on luck?


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

For the Love of Teaching and Economics

As a former High School economics teacher myself, I heartily agree with the thoughts below -- JR

By Abigail R. Hall

I love teaching economic principles. There is something truly exciting about introducing students to the economic way of thinking for the first time. It’s a privilege and honor I take very seriously. It seems to me, if more people understood basic economics, we could avoid a lot of patently backward policies.

However, I also find teaching principles to be frustrating on some level. This is not because of my students, who consistently make my job abundantly rewarding, but is a result of current events. In an effort to keep my classes relevant and interesting to my students, I try as often as possible to bring news stories into the classroom. Why does this frustrate me? It’s because there are always stories of terrible economic policies. Moreover, they are terrible policies that have been repeated over and over and over.

Take, for example, the minimum wage. I always analyze minimum wage policies with my students when we discuss price controls. After learning the important role prices play in the economy, we learn about the unintended consequences that result from interfering with market prices.

The minimum wage is as easy as it gets. If we (meaning government) set wages, or the price of labor, above what the market will bear, several things will happen. First, the promise of higher wages will induce more people to seek minimum wage jobs. In other words, more people will be willing to supply their labor at that price. Second, seeing the increase in the price of labor, employers will be less willing to hire low-skill workers. They will demand less labor. This results in a surplus of labor—otherwise known as unemployment.

But the story doesn’t end there. I ask my students,

“Who do you think this helps? Who does it hurt?”

The answer is always the same. “The poor workers,” one will inevitably reply. “They are now getting higher wages.”

“It’s true that workers who retain these jobs will earn higher wages,” I tell them. “These people win. But are they really the people we (government) want to help?”

We then discuss how, when faced with the choice between a relatively skilled worker and a relatively low-skilled worker, employers will choose the skilled worker. The skilled worker, who bring more to the table in terms of what they can do, are more likely to be worth the higher wage. The low-skill worker simply doesn’t bring enough to the company to make their labor worth the higher wage. I ask them to put themselves in the shoes of an employer. Every time, they say the same thing, that they would fire the low-skill worker.

This is precisely what happened recently at UC Berkeley. After spending quite some time “fighting for $15,” California Governor Jerry Brown signed the higher wage into law. A week later, UC Berkeley cut some 500 low-wage jobs. (Granted, the University had announced it would independently raise wages prior to the law being passed, but it makes no practical difference.)

Most of my students understand. I’ve had several tell me that the class has made them think differently about how they think about policy. Whether that’s a change in how they view the world, or just openness to thinking about things critically, I consider this a great success.

The sad fact of the matter is that these stories are bound to continue. People will still advocate for the minimum wage, rent controls, trade restrictions, mandates on businesses, and laws that will limit and erode our personal freedoms.

But teaching economics is my passion. I know countless other wonderful teachers in schools all over the world who, like me, believe that economics is key to understanding the world around us. Like Sisyphus, we keep pushing the “economic thinking boulder” up the hill. It will roll back down. We’ll push it up again.

I’m optimistic, though, that the more we teach our students to think about these issues, we won’t always be pushing alone.



Due Process Is Being Kicked Off Campus

Academia’s descent into perpetual hysteria and incipient tyranny is partly fueled by the fiction that one in five college students is sexually assaulted and that campuses require minute federal supervision to cure this. Encouraged by the government’s misuse of discredited social science (one survey supposedly proving this one-in-five fiction), colleges and universities are implementing unconstitutional procedures mandated by the government.

The 2006 Duke lacrosse rape case fit the narrative about campuses permeated by a “rape culture.” Except there was no rape. In 2014, the University of Virginia was convulsed by a magazine’s lurid report of a rape that buttressed the narrative that fraternities foment the sexual predation supposedly pandemic in “male supremacist” America. Except there was no rape. Now, Colorado State University-Pueblo has punished the supposed rapist of a woman who says she was not raped.

Grant Neal, a CSU Pueblo pre-med major and athlete, began a relationship with Jane Doe (as identified in Neal’s lawsuit), although she, as a student in the Athletic Training Program, was not supposed to fraternize with athletes. Jane Doe texted an invitation to Neal to come to her apartment. The following is from Neal’s complaint against CSU Pueblo:

“As the intimacy progressed, knowing that they both wanted to engage in sexual intercourse, Jane Doe advised Plaintiff that she was not on birth control. Accordingly, Plaintiff asked if he should put on a condom. Jane Doe clearly and unequivocally responded ‘yes.’ … They proceeded to engage in consensual sexual intercourse, during which Jane Doe … demonstrated her enjoyment both verbally and non-verbally.”

The next day, one of Jane Doe’s classmates, who neither witnessed nor was told of any assault, noticed a hickey on the woman’s neck. Assuming an assault must have happened, the classmate told school officials that an assault had occurred. Jane Doe told school officials the sex was consensual: “I’m fine and I wasn’t raped.” Neal’s lawsuit says she told an administrator: “Our stories are the same and he’s a good guy. He’s not a rapist, he’s not a criminal, it’s not even worth any of this hoopla!” Neal recorded on his cellphone Jane Doe saying that nothing improper had transpired, and soon the two again had intercourse.

Undeterred, CSU Pueblo mixed hearsay evidence with multiple due process violations, thereby ruining a young man’s present (he has been suspended from the school for as long as Jane Doe is there) and blighting his future (his prospects for admission to another school are bleak).

Title IX of the Education Amendments enacted in 1972 merely says no person at an institution receiving federal funds shall be subjected to discrimination on the basis of sex. From this the government has concocted a right to micromanage schools' disciplinary procedures, mandating obvious violations of due process.

In 2011, the Education Department’s civil rights office sent “dear colleague” letters to schools directing them to convict accused persons on a mere “preponderance” of evidence rather than “clear and convincing” evidence. Schools were instructed to not allow accused students to cross-examine their accusers, but to allow accusers to appeal not-guilty verdicts, a form of double jeopardy.

Although a “dear colleague” letter is supposedly a mere “guidance document,” it employs the word “must” in effectively mandating policies. While purporting to just “interpret” Title IX, these letters shred constitutional guarantees. And the letters evade the legal requirement that such significant rulemaking must be subject to comment hearings open to a properly notified public. Even were CSU Pueblo inclined to resist such dictates — academic administrators nowadays are frequently supine when challenged — it would risk a costly investigation and the potential loss of the 11 percent of its budget that comes from Washington.

The Chronicle of Higher Education says the case raises this “intriguing” question: “What responsibility does a college have to move ahead with a third-party complaint if the supposed victim says she consented?” This question, which in a calmer time would have a self-evident answer, will be explored in Neal’s lawsuit. It should reveal what the school thought of Jane Doe’s statement exculpating Neal, who says a school official “brushed off” the recording and said that Jane Doe said what she said “just because she was scared of you.” Neal’s lawyer says he suspects that Jane Doe might now be intimating something “inappropriate” and is perhaps scared of losing her place in the Athletic Training Program.

CSU Pueblo should be scared of joining those schools that have lost lawsuits filed by students denied due process. Such suits are remedial education for educators ignorant of constitutional guarantees.


Against the censored Study of History and Literature

The educational establishment seems to be expending a great deal of effort these days to excise “offensive” material from the curricula of history and literature. For example, Mark Twain’s great anti-racist novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been removed from the study materials in many schools because of its use of the word “nigger” in the dialogue—as if any accurate representation of the time and place Twain portrays in this book could have been written without this key word. Recently this censorial campaign has reached such heights of stupidity that new editions of Twain’s books The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are being published with the word “nigger” replaced by the word “slave.” With friends like this misguided editor, anti-racists need no enemies. One is not likely to produce an intelligent end by the use of foolish means.

More generally, the wrongheaded effort to produce feel-good instruction in history and literature undermines the entire purpose of studying these subjects as part of a liberal education; it aims to make the students feel comfortable and unchallenged rather than to help them acquire knowledge and understanding of the human past and human nature with all its potential for both good and evil. A well-warranted study of history and literature certainly will on many occasions leave the students feeling very bad indeed, as they gain knowledge and understanding of the horrible deeds that people have done and of the twists and turns of human motivations, actions, and—all too often—crimes against their fellows, frequently founded on the most brutal and senseless rationalizations.

Yet the study of true history and an unfettered immersion in great literature can also reveal mankind in its most splendid and shining moments. Rising like beacons above the monstrous ideas and savage mayhem have been individuals who resisted the mob, who defended the defenseless, who gave sustenance and protection to the victims, who put decency before popularity, who rebelled against the inhumane dominant ideologies, religions, and prejudices of elites and masses alike. But the comprehensiveness that permits a real liberal education to become uplifting as well as depressing cannot find a place in a feel-good curriculum in which avoidance of hurting someone’s feelings receives priority.

Human beings and their historical record, viewed with warts and all, give any serious student ample reason for taking offense and feeling dismayed by what people have believed, said, and done. But unless we face these aspects of our species and its actions frankly and fearlessly, we will never be able to appreciate in stark contrast the true heights to which people at their best can rise and actually have risen in the past—and we will thereby deprive ourselves of the most inspiring models we can have for carrying on our own struggles for a more humane world.


UK: Students vote to split from hard-left NUS: Lincoln University becomes first to break ties following referendum with Oxford, Cambridge and others set to follow

The National Union of Students suffered a bitter blow yesterday when a university became the first to resolve on breaking ties over its hard-left policies.  The student union at the University of Lincoln will formally disaffiliate with the NUS after a campus-wide referendum on leaving the national body.

It is the first in a string of student bodies to vote on the issue after the controversial election of radical activist Malia Bouattia last month.

The 28-year-old has prompted disquiet among Jewish students after calling Birmingham University a ‘Zionist outpost’ and decrying the influence of the ‘Zionist-led media’.

More generally, the NUS has been ridiculed for banning ‘intimidating’ clapping at meetings and ‘no-platforming’ a wide range of speakers which they consider ‘offensive’.

Lincoln student union leaders said yesterday that their students no longer felt the NUS was focussed on the issues they face ‘every day on campus’.

The move could spark a snowball effect as other unions at elite universities across the country adopt similar referendums.

Exeter student union is currently in the process of a campus-wide vote, while Oxford and Cambridge are expected to do the same later this month.

Losing lots regional branches would be a major blow to the NUS, which is almost a century old relies on its 600 member unions for funding.

Announcing the referendum last month, Lincoln student union wrote that four representatives ‘returned from the recent NUS conference disillusioned with the direction that NUS are taking the student movement.’

The decision to hold a referendum was not connected to election of Miss Bouattia but rather the ‘general direction’ the union is headed, they added.

Yesterday, Lincoln student union president Hayley Jayne Wilkinson said: ‘As a group of elected officers, we no longer felt confident that the NUS represented the views of our students.

‘We agreed it was necessary to ask our members themselves if they wanted to remain affiliated with the NUS.

‘This debate has been about what students want from the organisation that represents them nationally and, for some time, we have felt that the focus of debate within the NUS has been far removed from the issues that our students tell us are important to them every day on campus.’

Just over half of the 12 per cent who turned out to vote at Lincoln voted to disaffiliate.

The union said there would be ‘no noticeable difference’ and that there would be ‘no impact on the quality and level of services’.

However, the NUS said the move would cost Lincoln’s union more than £150,000, and cause prices to go up on campus. Members will also lose their NUS discount cards.

Megan Dunn, NUS national president, said: ‘NUS has always campaigned tirelessly on issues that affect students every day, most recently the cost of living crisis, housing, NHS bursaries, maintenance grants and college closures.

‘The student movement is stronger when we stand together, and NUS is disappointed to see University of Lincoln Students’ Union go.

‘By choosing to disaffiliate, Lincoln students have lost their collective voice and won’t be part of programmes that make a real difference on campus.’

Other institutions with campaigns to disaffiliate include Hull, Loughborough, Warwick, Belfast Met, Bangor, Nottingham and Newcastle.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016


I have not lived a year of school in memory without standardized testing, nor have I experienced a strong individualized curriculum. A vast majority of students 20-years old and younger feel the same way, because we are the first generation to live completely under federal education governed by No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which was signed into law in Jan. 2002.

NCLB set up a system wherein, contingent on receiving federal funds, schools had to use test based accountability with the goal of ensuring students and teachers meet basic proficiency standards, judged based on Adequate Yearly Progress reports. This introduced new rhetorical guidelines for public education with the use of vague, politicized terms such as “high quality teaching”, “standards of learning”, and “high stakes testing”. These vague terms are backed by threats of the loss of funds when schools are seen as underperforming; placing extreme responsibility on teachers and state government, while giving extreme authority to the federal government.

In order to be waived from compliance, states had to meet near impossible standards, such as, compiling data from students tests throughout the school and using scores to generate evaluations on teachers, a task which would cost states as much as 2 billion dollars annually.

A Nov. 2011 Los Angeles Times report detailing the prerequisites to be waived from NCLB explains, for most states waiving NCLB is necessary to prevent schools from failure due to an inability to comply; however, with even stricter laws in place for receiving a waiver, this becomes a grueling action as well. 42 states risked their financial security in order to receive waivers away from the bill, making it one of the largest bills to opt out of the modern era.

NCLB did not just force states into submission using federal funds as leverage, but placed unrealistic expectations that set a clear precedent for federal overreach into education. By placing so much pressure on testing to receive the funds, schools are told to aim for 100 percent pass rates, an impossible standard.

In an attempt to avoid a rejection of future funds due to failure status, schools focus too much on the “middle performers” or students with the most promising test scores, just shy of passing. A 2006 analysis from the Davidson Institute for Talent Development entitled “Does No Child Left Behind Require that No Child Can Get Ahead?” explains that no programs are put in place to ensure that gifted students are adequately advanced as well; by only allowing for focus on the middle range of students, low performing students are prevented from having an opportunity and high performers have their growth stifled.

The neglect of both schools’ brightest students and most attention seeking students directly correlates with school failure, as they are unable to meet the standards NCLB enforces. A Review of Higher Education and Self-Learning study from Sept. 2014 explained, in 2013, only 35 percent of eighth grade students met proficiency levels in math and reading, this is a consistent trend, as two-thirds of schools continue to fail to meet Adequate Yearly Progress standards under the law.

The message has been consistently clear, when the federal government steps into the territory of local and state governments, it does so with the altruistic goal of assisting all, but reality demands only few benefit, while the rest continue to be shuffled along.

In Chapter 9 of the 2014 research book “Handbook of Education Politics and Policy,” Kenneth Wong explains how the federal government has generated a resource gap which debilitated states and neglected those in need. Wong writes, “The lack of full federal funding to be able to meet mandated standards can be a source of intergovernmental contention. The federal government, for example, promised to provide 40 percent of funds for special education, but in reality, its funding seldom went over 25 percent of the program cost. Local and state agencies were then unable to change any practices to meet federal focus.”

This dichotomy has continued into educational legislation of today, where Common Core State Standards has been seen an extension to NCLB, still reinforcing federal control. Even now with the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act, on the ground change will not be common, because the state government is still required to meet standards approved by the federal government in order to receive funding. State governments are not empowered but rather provided a false sense of liberation, wherein states are invited to promulgate their own standards only to have them revised by the federal government.

In reality, the act still provides all funding power to the federal government and fails to address the role of local governments creating their own curricula. It just continues the No Child Left Behind regime.

Upon attending a school board meeting in my own district, a teacher representative spoke on behalf of local teachers. The constant theme of each critique made by teachers was a lack of resources and a lack of action by the board itself, I thought surely this would inspire the board to act to reprioritize resources, but the result was quite different. When action steps were announced at the end of the meeting they related to policies such as individual student disciplines and extending lunch periods by seven minutes, another spectator explained to me that each week the teacher representative speaks in the same manner and each week gets ignored, not because the school board isn’t interested in assisting but there’s simply no action that can be taken on this level.

The federal, top-down system paralyzes school boards and deprives teachers of an adequate support system, and this is clear in school district after school district, who are bound to follow the federal rules just to have the funds to function.

No Child Left Behind was formulated with the goal of making the United States more competitive internationally by raising our educational standing.  But 14 years later the results have not matched the rhetoric. The National Center for Education Statistics Program for International Student Assessment shows that consistently in 2003, 2009, and 2012 the U.S. ranked equal or lower than average scores in math, reading, science and computer based assessments; while nations like China and Singapore ranked as many as 50 points above the average.

No Child Left behind failed the country internationally, continues to fail states due to a precedent of federal overreach, and for students who have known nothing but the standardized system, it has certainly failed us as well. It’s time to put local school boards basck in charge of their schools.


British Universities with too few ethnic or poor students to be named and shamed

Universities will be forced to publish diversity data under plans to shame the ones which recruit low numbers of poorer and ethnic minority students.

In a huge shake-up of higher education, the Government wants to ‘shine a spotlight’ on institutions that need to go ‘further and faster’ in reaching out to disadvantaged youngsters.

But the initiative is likely to prove controversial with some vice chancellors, who have said it is wrong to recruit on the basis of social profile rather than academic capability.

In a White Paper published today – and expected to be a centrepiece of the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday – universities are told they should publish information about application, offer and progression rates, broken down by ethnicity, gender and socio-economic background.

The proposals also include a plan to help new institutions enter the market and a system to assess teaching standards, with well-performing institutions able to raise fees in line with inflation.

The plans, part of the Government’s higher education Bill, come after David Cameron accused universities of institutional racism, noting that his former university Oxford had accepted just 27 black British students in a single year.

Before the Prime Minister’s intervention, Lord Patten, chancellor
of Oxford, said the university should not be ‘harried into ill-considered actions’ which may cast doubt on whether students had gained places on their own merits.

Announcing the plans, universities minister Jo Johnson said it was important to address the problem of students from the most advantaged backgrounds being six times more likely to go to the most selective universities.

He said: ‘We don’t want groups to feel that university isn’t for them when they’ve got the potential to have the sort of life-enhancing experience that higher education can offer.

So equality of opportunity is a really important goal of this Government. Social mobility is a way of expressing that.’

Mr Johnson said the Government aimed to double the proportion of disadvantaged students entering higher education and increase the number of black and minority ethnic students by 20 per cent by 2020.

He said universities could encourage more applicants from deprived areas by visiting schools and engaging with children. And for the first time, universities will be expected to demonstrate that they have helped disadvantaged students ‘participate’ after gaining entry. This includes efforts to stop them dropping out and help them gain meaningful employment.

Responding to the White Paper last night, an Oxford University spokesman said: ‘Oxford has published detailed information on our access and admissions performance for two decades, and would welcome similar transparency across higher education.

‘We continue to make strong and sustained progress on access. For entry in 2016, the proportion of offers going to UK state school candidates rose to more than 59 per cent.’ Cambridge University declined to comment.

Alan Smithers, professor of education at the University of Buckingham, said: ‘Universities should be left alone to concentrate on identifying and admitting the best and brightest whatever their backgrounds.

‘It makes no sense for the Government to pressurize universities to take in students from particular backgrounds.

‘The right way to tackle inequality is to ensure that all children get equivalent chances of developing their abilities whilst at school.’


How rough and tumble teaches kids to handle their anger

It helps burn off boisterous youngsters' excess energy – but rough and tumble play can also be good for children emotionally, researchers say.

Four-year-olds who enjoyed 'high quality' physical play with their fathers had fewer emotional difficulties and better behaviour, a study found.

The scientists believe that this is because it allows children to release their competitive instincts while learning to control their aggression.

It can also provide a 'real-world opportunity for a child to observe and practice important social skills such as recognising emotions, suppressing impulse and aggression, and sustaining reciprocal play,' they said.

Lead researcher Jennifer St George, a senior lecturer in family studies at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia, added: 'We know both girls and boys enjoy physical play with dads, but we were interested to see it also pointed to good outcomes for children.

'Children whose fathers engage in rough and tumble play that was warm and playful are also children with better emotional and behavioural outcomes.'

Dr St George and her team watched 24 pairs of fathers and four-year-olds engage in games such as trying to get each other's socks off, and youngsters trying to stop fathers from standing up.

Limits on the games were set to prevent aggression or injury and to allow children to enjoy themselves – including sometimes being given the upper hand.

Dr St George said: 'This play involves competitiveness, restraint, role reversal where the child is the strong one, and lots of laughter. It's not aggressive, it's playful and often involves letting the kids win.'

Dr St George said some parents thought rough and tumble play would make it harder for children to be able to play quietly too, but this was not the case.

She added: 'When kids engage in this kind of play in the playground it can mean they are more ready for other, more quiet games at other times. 'It can provide a real-world opportunity for a child to observe and practise important social skills such as recognising emotions, suppressing impulse and aggression, and sustaining reciprocal play.'


Australia: Leftist Victorian govt to preach homosexuality in Schools

If you are concerned about children being given instruction on "penis tucking" & "chest binding" you are a "bigot".

Victoria won't take advice from bigots about changing the Safe Schools anti-bullying program so it no longer includes controversial information on gender and sexuality issues, the premier says.

The Victorian education department on Sunday launched a web page containing the original material used to teach students about sexual diversity that has been removed from the federal government's amended version.

Premier Daniel Andrews has defended the move while taking aim at the Commonwealth.

"I get my advice on policy from experts, not from bigots, not from people who really ought to be ashamed of themselves in terms of their views and their tampering with a program that actually works," he told reporters on Sunday.

The premier in March vowed to keep Safe Schools running in Victoria, saying it would have a place in the state's secondary schools "long after Cory Bernardi and the rest of his dinosaurs eventually disappear".

Mr Andrews says the prime minister has failed to show leadership on the issue.

"The journey that the prime minister has been on - you know, talk a good game, pretend that you're a progressive and then either do nothing, or do nothing good - that is not national leadership Mr Turnbull," he said.

The state government says it won't tell teachers what to do but is there to provide them with the resources they need to help students.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Plotting Jihad in the Poconos - Who the Hell is Fethullah Gulen?

Fethullah Gulen is a proponent of stealth jihad. In one of his sermons, the fiery imam said that in order to reach the ideal Muslim society "every method and path is acceptable, [including] lying to people."

In another  he instructed his followers: "You must move in the arteries of the system without anyone noticing your existence until you reach all the power centers ... until the conditions are ripe, they [the followers] must continue like this. If they do something prematurely, the world will crush our heads, and Muslims will suffer everywhere."

His instructions have been well-heeded.  Gulen's tentacles now extend into "all the power centers" of the U. S. government, including the Oval Office.

Dalia Mogahed, President Obama's Muslim advisor, has endorsed the Gulen movement which critics believe seeks to restore the Ottoman Empire and to establish a universal caliphate.

Recently Ms. Mogahed, the first woman to wear a veil in the White House, said: "I think the Gülen movement offers people a model of what is possible if a dedicated group of people work together for the good of the society. I also think that it is an inspiration for other people and Muslims for what they can accomplish."

Asked about the movement's hidden agenda, Ms. Mogahed told Sunday's Zaman, a Turkish newspaper owned by Gulen, that she usually does not attach any importance to such allegations.

Gulen and his millions of minions have helped to topple Turkey's secular government, establish thousands of madrassahs (Muslim religious schools) throughout Central Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, and form a new country known as East Turkistan, a radical Islamic state.

His schools serve to indoctrinate students in Turkish language, culture and religion so that they may take part in the restoration of the Ottoman Empire.

Nurettin Veren, a top administrator of the Gulen schools says: "These schools are like shop windows. Recruitment and Islamization activities are carried out through night classes."

Rachel Sharon-Krespin, MEMRI's chief Turkey analyst, writes: "His (Gulen's) followers target youth in the eighth through twelfth grades, mentor and indoctrinate them in the ışıkevi, educate them in the Fethullah schools, and prepare them for future careers in legal, political, and educational professions in order to create the ruling classes of the future Islamist, Turkish state."

Over 150 Gulen schools have been established throughout the United States - - and all receive full funding from US taxpayers.

The schools are manned, for the most part, by Turkish administrators and teachers who arrive in the US with H1B visas - - visas for individuals who are needed to occupy positions that cannot be filled by domestic workers. In truth, many of these imported educators teach in subject areas, such as elementary education, where unemployed and fully certified American teachers are standing in the unemployment lines.

Most of the imported Turkish educators are expected to kick-back 60% of their salaries to the Gulen movement.

The Gulen schools are so radical in their political and religious objectives that they have been outlawed in Russia and Uzbekistan .  Even the Netherlands, a nation that embraces pluralism and tolerance, has moved to cut funding to the Gulen schools because of their imminent threat to the social order.

Yet the Gulen schools continue to open at the monumental rate of eight to ten a year throughout the U.S. and leading politicians - - both Democratic and Republicans - - regularly appear at Gulen gatherings to offer their endorsement of the militant imam's educational endeavors.

The new spokeswomen for the Cosmos Foundation, a non-profit Gulen enterprise that operates thirty-three charter schools in Texas, is Karen Hughes, who previously served as President George W. Bush's Under-Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy.

Ms. Hughes has declined to state how much money she is receiving for her efforts to further the Gulen schools.

The Texas Education Agency shelled out $68 million in 2010 to the Cosmos Foundation. Few Texas tax-payers have uttered a word of protest.

Thanks, in part, to friends like Senator Bob Casey, the Gulen movement recently has opened several charter schools in Pennsylvania, including the Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania in State College, the now-failing Truebright Science Academy in Philadelphia, and the Young Scholars of Western Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh.


Isolating political thought in higher education

Immediately upon entering adulthood, students are forced to make the largest decision of their adult life, barely 18-year-old students must decide the higher education institute of their choice, or if they want to go at all. Common considerations include cost, location, and notoriety, but for many a key consideration is far less obvious — the politics of individual schools.

While many colleges tout open-mindedness and diversity, this is done on a superficial level, where diversity is defined by characteristics of race, socioeconomic status, and language. To clarify, these are extremely important margins for ensuring an inclusive educational environment, but what about intellectual diversity?

Often colleges neglect the ideological barriers they themselves are creating. For conservative students, these forms of isolation and lack of opportunity are common.

Harvard University’s own Crimson newspaper embarrassingly had to explain in an Oct. 2015 report, “The Elephant in the Room: Conservatives at Harvard,” that conservative students on campus often feel overwhelmed by the liberal presence of students and faculty. This isolation prevents students from working on political campaigns and silences students in classrooms.

But the effects are significantly more far reaching than this. Self-identifying conservative students are less likely than ever to attend ivy league schools due to the schools’ liberal bias. The American Conservative’s Rod Dreher in the July 2014 piece, “To Hell With Ivy League Schools” tells the story of students who attend years of ivy league college and never understand the deeper value of their experience, because their positions have drove them into silence. One student explains upon visiting an ivy league campus, he realized students were not openly discussing issues and finding common ground as hoped, but instead only reestablishing and pressuring views he did not agree with, fear of alienation pushed him to decide on a school far less notable but significantly more depoliticized.

As conservative students refrain from the elite class of colleges or select schools with less political leaning, the voices of conservatives in academia are consistently silenced. While the easy attack is to say that these students are letting their own fears prevent their success, the reality is much more impactful.

The conservative Leadership Institute tells stories of students given zeros on assignments consistently because they refused to write papers questioning their religious and political views. Or, of students who openly espoused conservative views in classrooms had professors ignore their input or allow a team of liberal students to attack their views-not constructively but oppressively. Fear does not simply come from isolation by other students, but getting bad grades due to political beliefs.

The problem stems from a confusion of open mindedness being inherently linked to contemporary liberal ideals, a fiction that educators often perpetuate. As professor emeritus at State University of New York at New Paltz Mark Sherman elucidated in March 2011 Psychology Today piece, “Does liberal truly mean open-minded?” the common problem with associating “liberal” with “inclusive” is that it immediately discredits the opportunity for conservatives to be seen as inclusive as well, silencing their philosophy as wrong.

Sherman wrote, “if you are a strong believer in both science and social change, it is more than reasonable to be a liberal. But to a good academic, the science — data evidence, and, when possible, experimentation — should come first.” Sherman explained that for liberal professors, such as himself, in an academic setting there is a necessity to provide balance for students.Red_Guards

As the university system pushes for an “open” and “inclusive” campus, but only defines this in a liberal context, they achieve the exact opposite — a campus which isolates and rejects those who do not conform to the liberal mindset. Sherman provides a positive example of how educators can rise above that bias.

Professors take an active role in perpetuating this stigma by pushing conservative students into a singular characteristic, while giving liberal students many points of identification. While liberal students can be seen as “activists” for an array of causes and issues and often have clubs on campus which represent the span of these advocacies, conservatives are limited to having a “Young Republicans Club” and experience strong push back from professors, students, and the university system when an attempt is made to expand past this. Essentially, conservative students are allowed to advocate for one “wrong” view, usually accused as racist and classist, while liberal students can advocate for a range of views, seen as inclusive and scholarly.

A lack of accountability in universities toward professors and school administrators discriminating against conservative students is having a direct impact on educational success and the environment within campuses. By neglecting the position of conservative students, universities are effectively silencing student ideas and preventing their development, the exact opposite of the goals of education and academic inquiry.

Being a conservative should not mean your educational advancement is less significant, and luckily some institutions do work to counter this by supporting conservative clubs, focusing on variety in course options, and hosting events which open the door for political participation. My own university has held student forums and invited presidential candidates to campus from both sides of the aisle; the opportunity for dialogue unites students by allowing students to share viewpoints and gain understanding.

Similarly, these forums force professors to discuss political theory in the context of both conservative and liberal views, because they are unavoidably close to campus. However, despite some clear successes, the compulsory liberalization of the educational system seems to have created the perception that conservatives on campus are less meaningful. Sadly, this impression only silences the goal of open communication in academia, rather than promoting it.


UK: Sexism row as £10,500-a-year private schools introduce uniform rules that make boys wear business suits and girls dress 'like secretaries'

Two £10,500-a-year private schools have been accused of sexism after boys were told to wear pinstriped business suits while girls say they have been forced to dress 'like secretaries'.

Bablake and King Henry VIII schools in Coventry have been criticised after introducing new uniforms for sixth formers that some parents and pupils say promote 'gender stereotyping'.

The new dress code, which will come into force in September and will cost as much as £230, was revealed in a glossy brochure, produced by corporate suit-maker Brook Taverner.

Photographs in the catalogue show men power-dressed in pinstriped suits complete with waistcoats while women model secretarial outfits with many skirts cut above the knee.

There are both trouser and skirt options for girls, but pupils from the schools - run by Coventry School Foundation - have expressed outrage on social media, branding the new uniform policy 'out-dated sexist rubbish.'

Deeps Sinha tweeted: 'This issue with uniforms isn't just us being petulant or anything, we have genuine cause for concern.

'The uniforms seem mainly directed towards girls, as the boys' uniforms are mostly generic and already what they wear.'

Hannah Rose added: 'A school that apparently celebrates diversity, but wants to shun individuality with a sixth form uniform well done.'

Another said: 'So the boys wear business suits straight out of Wall Street while the girls totter about on high heels in secretary skirts. When did Bablake turn into Mad Men?  'A truly shocking example of an out-dated sexist set of gender stereotypes. Rubbish.'

However, pupil Adam Keir defended the policy, and wrote: 'People confusing rights with rules.  'We have the right to education, so many children don't. How's that for oppression of rights? Open your eyes.'

Nick Payne added: 'The reason they're doing this is because for years girls have disobeyed the much more lenient dress code that they had in place.'

Mark Woodward, head of careers at Bablake, tweeted: 'The Bablake I am so proud of encourages free debate and is fiercely supportive of feminism and equality.

Parents have also expressed their anger over the changes.  'I am outraged,' said one. 'They are letting the boys dress like high-flying CEOs while forcing the girls to dress like secretaries.

'Parents pay a not inconsiderable amount of money to send their daughters to this school. The vast majority would certainly not expect the school to tell them to dress like a woman from the 1950s.' Another parent added: 'We paid for our children to go to a progressive school, but this is like the bad old days. 'It seems sexism is still rife amongst the powers that be. It's a disgrace.'

Currently Bablake sixth form pupils are told they have 'flexibility' when it comes to clothing, 'with the expectation that they will exercise this greater freedom responsibly', while it is expected that Henry VIII students will have a 'professional, clean and smart appearance'.

Coventry School Foundation has said the move to review the sixth form dress code is about maintaining standards in both schools, and there are plenty of options to satisfy pupils.

A spokesman for Coventry School Foundation said: 'We have been looking at our sixth form dress code for a while to ensure our standards are maintained.

'Both King Henry VIII and Bablake Schools have either consulted or are in the process of consulting with parents, pupils, staff and governors about the possibility of introducing a selection of standardised suits for both boys and girls rather than the current vaguer interpretation of smart business wear. 'There is quite a range - with several different styles and jackets.

'We have had an external supplier let us have samples, which some pupils within the Foundation have been shown and tried out.'


ACER sees big problems with Australian schools

Comparing Australians with East Asian students is absurd.  East Asians have a known IQ advantage, which is particularly strong in mathematics.  Comparisons with other Caucasian populations alone make sense.  And on the 2013 PISA figures for reading ability (the most recent I could find), Australia in fact scored above most European countries. 

And the idea of raising standards for teachers is also absurd. In Australia's discipline-deprived schools few people with any  alternative would take up teaching.  Teaching is now for dummies.  Raising standards would just lead to a teacher shortage. 

Australian schools are in deep trouble and students will continue to slip behind in reading, maths and science unless there is urgent action from all governments, a new report has warned.

It's a grim picture of the country's education system, where high school students lag behind global standards, there is growing inequity and teaching has become an increasingly unattractive career.

Australia was "drifting backwards", said the author of the report Geoff Masters, chief executive of the Australian Council for Educational Research.

"We ignore these warning signs at our peril ... Unless we can arrest and reverse those trends we will continue to see a decline in the quality and equity of schooling in this country," he said.

The decline in the maths skills of students was particularly alarming, Professor Masters said.

Australia's results in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) – an international survey that pits the world's education systems against each other – has steadily declined over the past decade.

The top 10 per cent of Australian 15-year-olds now perform at about the same level in maths as the top 40 to 50 per cent of students in Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

It coincides with a declining proportion of year 12 students taking up advanced maths and science subjects.

"It means we won't have the supply of people who are highly trained in mathematics and science that we are likely to need in the future," Professor Masters said. 

The report comes at a critical time, with education shaping up as a key election issue. The federal government has promised an extra $1.2 billion for schools and Labor has pledged $4.5 billion.

But the report, which was released on Thursday,  found that increased spending on education had not led to better outcomes. It said funding needed to target "evidence-based strategies".

"A decline in outcomes has often occurred in parallel with increased spending," Professor Masters said.

"Money alone is not the answer, but to turn around current trends we may need more money."

It also raised concerns about the drop in ATARs required for teaching courses.

In 2015, just 42 per cent of Australian students embarking on a teaching course had an ATAR above 70.

It recommended that teaching courses become highly selective, and make the bulk of their offers to students with ATARs above 70.

"The world's highest-performing nations in international achievement studies consistently attract more able people into teaching, resulting in better student outcomes," the report said.

"In some of the world's highest-performing countries, entry to teaching is now as competitive as entry to courses such as engineering, science, law and medicine."

In Victoria, the government is considering a similar model to New South Wales where future teachers are sourced from the top 30 per cent of school leavers.

Professor Masters said federal and state governments needed to agree to a national action plan to halt these "worrying trends".

He also took aim at "passive, reproductive learning" in schools which did not promote creativity.

Federal education minister Simon Birmingham said the report supported the Coalition's approach.

"The Turnbull government's back to basics Student Achievement Plan focuses on what ACER has called for, the better use of resources to target evidence-based initiatives," he said.

"Our once-in-a-generation plan to lift school student achievement provides more money than ever before for Australian schools but most importantly it focuses on measures that improve student results through clear and targeted action."

Victorian government spokesman David McNamara said many government initiatives were addressing concerns raised in this report - including the new Victorian Curriculum which teaches coding.

"The government knows that great teaching is the single most important factor for schools in improving student outcomes. It is always considering ways to ensure we attract and recruit the best teachers, including from among high achieving VCE students."


Sunday, May 15, 2016

An elitist university condemns elitism

EARLIER THIS week, Harvard President Drew Faust announced that students who participate in unrecognized single-gender social organizations will be ineligible for official leadership positions, and will not receive college endorsement for fellowships such as the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships. The policy is aimed at final clubs, technically unaffiliated groups whose presence plays a large role in shaping undergraduate social life.

Most critiques of the new policy are disingenuous and intellectually lazy. “Free association,” its detractors cry, as though Harvard, too, weren’t an association with a responsibility to its students. In this case, that amounts to not bestowing honors upon adults who choose to associate themselves with groups whose values are indefensible.

Gender discrimination is, of course, precisely that. Faust wrote earlier this year that clubs uphold arcane notions of “gender discrimination, gender assumptions, privilege, and exclusivity,” a premise no one can, in good faith, deny. Privilege and exclusivity are final clubs’ very allure. That they frequently grant men the power to control women’s access to social spaces is part of their draw.

But while Faust was right not to limit her critique to the clubs’ single-sex membership policies, to do so was also, ultimately, disingenuous. The university’s attempt to coerce clubs into going coed only addresses the first two problems on her list. If anything, it threatens to socially insulate club members further, since they will no longer have to look outside of their organizations to develop cross-gender relationships. And much as it’s important that cross-gender socialization occur on an equal playing field, cross-class socialization must happen on similar terms. The latter is uniquely important during college, the first time most students have meaningful exposure to peers whose class background differs from their own.

In some respects, Harvard recognizes the importance, on its face, of class mingling. Freshmen are required to live in on-campus dorms, and upperclass housing is randomized. But in other respects, Harvard’s admissions policies benefit the students whose presence keeps the privately funded clubs alive: wealthy children of alumni. The clubs are not the crux of the problem, but reflective of it — the rich are overrepresented at Harvard.

There are any number of concrete steps Harvard could take that would deliver stronger blows than this sanction. It could cease to limit opportunities for less affluent students who qualify for financial aid with its paternalistic expectations that they make contributions with summer job earnings, expectations which “cannot be waived for students choosing to volunteer or participate in unpaid internships.” It could forgo its need-blind admissions policy and instead commit to one of active class-based affirmative action to supplement its commitment to racial diversity. It could stop privileging the already privileged by instituting a legacy-blind admission policy or doing away with its z-list, a mechanism for offering rich students and legacies deferred admission.

As norms are continuously shifting and evolving in favor of greater inclusivity, Harvard is right to stay ahead of the curve, to demand that its student leaders live up to certain moral standards. But the institution needs to live up to the standards put forth in its own lofty rhetoric as well. If Harvard truly wants to put an end to the toxic campus culture created by final clubs, perhaps it should start not by censuring the clubs’ membership policies, but by reconsidering its own.


BDS: boycotting academic freedom

College leaders need to stand up to this illiberal and bigoted campaign

Virtue-signalling academics are rushing to side with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. At the University of Massachusetts (UMass), Amherst, the graduate-students’ union, the Graduate Employee Organization (GEO), recently voted to adopt a pro-BDS resolution. This means that the GEO calls on UMass to divest from Israeli institutions and boycott Israeli businesses, and on the US government to cease aiding Israel militarily.

Six faculty members opposed the proposal, saying that taking an official position on BDS will impose an ideological ‘loyalty oath’ on all of the GEO’s members, effectively overruling individuals’ rights to their own opinions on political matters.

Of the GEO’s 2,000 members, only 203 voted – 195 for and eight against. Since then, 27 faculty members from 10 departments have endorsed the decision, saying that, ‘As evidenced by the 95 per cent vote in favour of the resolution, the graduate students were not intimidated’.

It would appear from the lopsided vote that at least some students were intimidated, but according to Levi Adelman, a PhD student in social psychology, it is rare for GEO votes ever to have more than 10 per cent participation. Furthermore, the International Executive Board (IEB) overseeing the United Automobile Workers (UAW) union, of which the GEO is part, has already ruled that BDS resolutions violate the ethical-practices code of the UAW constitution.

At a GEO general-membership meeting, another measure was put to the members: a resolution to condemn ‘anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism’. This was voted down, according to Adelman, ‘on the grounds that it would inhibit BDS and other criticism of Israel, which I take to be a tacit acknowledgement that BDS is fundamentally discriminatory’.

So far UMass president Marty Meehan has not weighed in, and UMass chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, when asked, simply referred journalists to a statement he made in January 2014. In that statement, Subbaswamy confirmed UMass’s opposition to all academic boycotts, including BDS, saying that they ‘undermine the fundamental principles of free expression and inquiry that are central to our mission of teaching, research and service’. By merely referring to his old statement, while the champions of the resolution are touting a misleading ‘95 per cent’ majority, Subbaswamy dodged his responsibility to exercise leadership on this issue. Could he be intimidated?

Meanwhile, New York University’s graduate-students’ union last week voted 66.5 per cent in favour of a BDS motion calling on the university to divest from and boycott Israeli institutions, and to shut down its Tel Aviv programme. NYU president Andrew Hamilton’s response was firm: ‘A boycott of Israeli academics and institutions is contrary to our core principles of academic freedom, antithetical to the free exchange of ideas, and at odds with the university’s position on this matter, as well as the position of [the graduate-students’ union’s] parent union. NYU will not be closing its academic programme in Tel Aviv, and divestment from Israeli-related investments is not under consideration. And to be clear: whatever “pledges” union members may or may not have taken does not free them from their responsibilities as employees of NYU, which rejects this boycott.’

It is heartening that Hamilton and Subbaswamy are resisting the political fads of the day – Hamilton stoutly, and Subbaswamy at least in principle.  Adhering to the ideals of intellectual freedom ought to be the first job of a college leader. The University of Chicago’s 1967 Kalven Committee report puts it well: ‘[The university] cannot insist that all of its members favour a given view of social policy; if it takes collective action, therefore, it does so at the price of censuring any minority who does not agree with the view adopted. In brief, it is a community which cannot resort to majority vote to reach positions on public issues.’

It is inappropriate for a university to play an activist role precisely because doing so takes away individuals’ freedom to advocate for beliefs they personally hold. Again, the Kalven Committee report puts it eloquently: ‘The neutrality of the university as an institution arises, then, not from a lack of courage nor out of indifference and insensitivity. It arises out of respect for free inquiry and the obligation to cherish a diversity of viewpoints.’

The graduate students and faculty members supporting BDS need to understand this. But understanding is not enough. Many of these academics do not care whether minority views are censured. They care only about enforcing top-down groupthink in accordance with their own views. Certainly if the ideology was on the other side of the political spectrum (a resolution in favour of, say, boycotting gay weddings), faculty would begin to worry about minority views.

When it comes to compelling their institutions to take up causes such as BDS, graduate student unions have little leverage. They do have the power of persistent pressure, to which we’ve seen college presidents bow over and over again when faced with other illiberal demands, such as those of the student protesters at the University of Missouri, Brown and Georgetown, or the fossil-fuel sitters-in at UMass and Yale. The immediate effect of the UMass BDS resolution was to embolden faculty members who are eager to join the bashing of Israel.

For now, NYU and UMass administrators aren’t caving to the pressure on the BDS front. But college presidents everywhere will need a solid foundation of core principles if they are to resist these hurricane winds of self-righteous outrage in the future.


UK: Playground game of football? You’ll have to sign a contract first (and don’t even think about celebrating a goal)

For generations of children a playground kickabout has been the highlight of the school day.

But now teachers at one primary school are clamping down on playtime football – by making pupils sign contracts to try to enforce good behaviour.

Youngsters at Dundee’s Forthill Primary have to agree to an incredible 17 clauses and get the document co-signed by a parent before being allowed to play football at break.

One of the clauses stipulates: ‘I will not chant, use banter or wahoys!’ Others include: ‘I will not, if scorekeeping, be a sore loser,’ ‘I will not hog the ball’ and ‘I will not deliberately chase on the pitch or swipe the ball from people’.

There is also an extensive list of musts, including ‘I will use supportive and encouraging language’.

The contract says that if any of the rules are broken the pupil in question will be banned from playing football for three days. The second time a rule is broken this will be extended to a week, and if the child gets a third strike they will face a ban for the rest of the term.

The contracts adds: ‘If appropriate, work around fair play may be required to be done to demonstrate initiative to be allowed back on the pitch.’

Ryan Finnegan, whose son Jamie, 12, attends the school, described the contract as ‘political correctness gone mad’.

The trained SFA coach said: ‘We couldn’t believe what we were reading. The staff have taken this totally out of proportion. Some children might be a bit over-boisterous but they’re just kids.

‘I showed a friend of mine, who works for Dundee United, and he said it was ludicrous – it basically says that children can’t tackle each other. It also says “don’t hog the ball”. Could you imagine if Messi or Ronaldo had that in their contracts?’

Dr Amanda Gummer, founder of Fundamentally Children and an expert on child development and play, said the contracts could hinder children’s learning.

She said: ‘It is depriving them of the opportunity to learn some really important lessons about team work and getting on with people, social skills, compromise and self-control.’

Dr Gummer was also startled the punishment for breaking the contract would be to ban children from physical activity.

She said: ‘Given the obesity crisis and the fact that children need to be outside and getting as much exercise as they can, the idea of stopping kids playing football seems really silly.’

Scottish Tory young people spokesman Liz Smith said: ‘It seems most parents have already given their verdict which makes plain that they see this ruling as health and safety bureaucracy at its very worst.’

No one from the school was available for comment yesterday.

A Dundee City Council spokesman said: ‘The letter has been issued following a number of issues that have occurred this school year during break and lunchtime football games.

‘These then, at times, have been carried into the general playground or into teaching time. Children were directly involved with staff in suggesting the contents of the agreement.’

The council’s convener of children and families services, Stewart Hunter, said he would be speaking to the education director about the contracts.

‘It’s not a council-wide policy,’ he said. ‘We give head teachers autonomy to make these types of decisions and to run our schools. There may have been a series of events leading up to this.’

The contract says that if any of the rules are broken the pupil in question will be banned from playing football for three days


China’s kids excel at school — at half the cost of an Australian student

Not too surprising.  They study harder and are brighter to start with.  Australia could still do better, though

Chinese students are trouncing their Australian counterparts in literacy and maths but cost half as much to educate, the latest data shows, as schools funding becomes a key election issue.

Australia spends $132,945, on average, to educate a student from primary school to Year 10 — double the $66,463 spent on students in Shanghai and 40 per cent more than the $93,630 cost in South Korea, the latest comparative OECD data shows. More than half the students in Shanghai and nearly a third of Korean students top the class internationally in maths — compared with just one in seven Australian students.

One in five Australian students failed the minimum standard in maths in the OECD’s 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), compared with 3 per cent of Shanghai students and 9 per cent of Korean teenagers.

As Bill Shorten talked up Labor’s $3.8 billion cash splash for schools in 2018-19 yesterday, a new report warned that Australia’s students had fallen behind Asian countries despite record spending on education. The Australian Council for Educational Research criticised a widening gap between the performance of rich and poor students, and a ­“residualisation’’ of struggling students in the poorest government schools.

“Australia has increased spending on schools and seen standards decline,’’ council chief executive Geoff Masters said yesterday. “It is of concern that so many Australian 15-year-olds are failing to achieve minimally ­adequate levels of reading and mathematical literacy.

“We cannot keep doing what we have been doing and expect performances to improve. The ­answer is to target resources on effective strategies for arresting the drift in Australia’s schools.’’

Professor Masters said it was too soon to tell if the needs-based schools funding model devised by business leader David Gonski — a long-time friend of Malcolm Turnbull — was making a difference. “It’s possible that if funding is better targeted (through Gonski) to where it will make a difference, performance will improve,’’ he said yesterday.

“High-performing countries are focused on trying to reduce disparity between schools so it matters much less what schools students go to. “In Australia the concern is we can see an increase in disparity ­between schools — we’re ending up with low-achieving disadvantaged students being concentrated in particular types of schools.’’

The previous Labor government signed a six-year Gonski funding deal with most states and territories in 2013, worth an extra $9.4bn in federal funding and $5.1bn in extra state funding. The Abbott government cancelled the last two years of the agreement, worth $4.5bn in federal funding.

Labor is promising to spend the missing $4.5bn, while the Coalition promised $1.2bn in extra funding between 2017 and 2019 in last week’s federal budget.

Disadvantaged schools only began receiving their Gonski funds in 2014 and the results of last year’s PISA exam — which tested half a million 15-year-old students in 70 industrialised countries — will not be known until December.

Labor last night began sending out emails with an in-built calculator for voters to work out “how much Turnbull cut from your school’’, based on the difference between Labor and Coalition spending promises.

The Opposition Leader declared yesterday that Australia’s plummeting performance was “not good enough’’.

“If you look at the success of the emerging nations of our region, they are increasing investment in schools,’’ Mr Shorten said. “If we want to be a smart and successful nation, we need to be an educated nation.”

Opposition education spokeswoman Kate Ellis said a Labor government would spend $4.8m on “targeted teaching’’.

The council report says fewer Australian students are studying advanced maths and science subjects in high school, while 40,000 teenagers failed the minimum international standard for reading at the age of 15. It says teachers are required to teach too much content in a “crowded curriculum”.

The federal and state governments approved a pared-back national curriculum, with a greater focus on phonics-based literacy, for primary school late last year but it has yet to take effect in most classrooms.

The Australian’s analysis of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development data shows a strong link between attending preschool and success in high school.

Barely half the Australian teenagers who took the PISA test in 2012 had attended preschool for more than a year, compared to 88 per cent of students in Shanghai, 90 per cent in Singapore, 97 per cent in Japan and 83 per cent in Korea.

The OECD data reveals that a third of Australian teenagers skip classes or wag school — 10 times the rate in Shanghai.

The US spends even more than Australia — $157,270 to educate a child to Year 10 — yet its students performed even worse.

Singapore spends slightly less than Australia — $115,665 per child — yet its students are twice as likely to top the tests in maths and reading.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham yesterday said the council report “smacks down’’ Labor’s big-spending approach to education.

“We need to focus on what actually makes a difference for our students because, while spending on Australian schools has increased, the results of our students has gone backwards,’’ he said. Senator Birmingham said the Coalition’s “back to basics’’ education policy would improve outcomes in literacy, numeracy, the STEM.