Friday, September 23, 2016

Latest ranking of U.S. colleges

Our own bespoke US college ranking launches later this year. However, we thought you might like to know which are the top universities in the US based on the highly respected Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016-2017.

The best universities and colleges in the US number almost 150, and wherever you want to study in America, a top university will not be far away. Almost all the states are represented in the best US universities list. In total, 128 different cities appear in the ranking.

California and New York are the two most represented states among the best American universities with 12 universities each in the ranking, followed by Texas and Massachusetts with nine universities each.

The universities at the very top of the ranking are concentrated in these popular destinations that are well known for their higher education opportunities; the top five are based in California, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Top 5 universities in the US

1. California Institute of Technology

Relative to the tiny size of the student population, CalTech has an impressive number of successful graduates and affiliates, including 34 Nobel prizewinners, six Turing Award winners, five Fields Medalists and a number of national awards.

There are only 2,243 students at CalTech, and the primary campus in Pasadena, near Los Angeles, covers 124 acres. Almost all undergraduates live on campus.

Across the six faculties there is a focus on science and engineering; the university appears in the top 5 for engineering and technology (#2), physical sciences (#1), and life sciences (#5) rankings in 2016.

In addition to Nobel laureates and top researchers, the CalTech alumni community also includes a number of politicians and public advisers, particularly in positions that deal with science, technology and energy.

All first-year students belong to one of four houses as part of the university’s alternative model to fraternities. There are a number of house traditions and events associated with each house.

The university has the highest proportion of students who continue on to pursue a PhD, and the trope of the CalTech postgraduate has filtered into popular culture; all the main characters in the TV comedy The Big Bang Theory work or study at CalTech.

2. Stanford University

Based right next to Silicon Valley – or Palo Alto – Stanford has had a prominent role in encouraging the high-tech industry to develop in the area.

Many faculty members, students and alumni have founded successful technology companies and start-ups, including Google, Snapchat and Hewlett-Packard.

In total, companies founded by Stanford alumni make $2.7 trillion each year.

The university is often referred to as “the Farm”, as the campus was built on the site of the Stanford family’s Palo Alto Stock Farm. The campus covers 8,180 acres, but more than half the land is not yet developed.

With distinctive sand-coloured, red-roofed buildings, Stanford’s campus is thought to be one of the most beautiful in the world. It contains a number of sculpture gardens and art museums in addition to faculty buildings and a public meditation centre.

As might be expected from one of the best universities in the world, Stanford is highly competitive. The admission rate currently stands at just over 5 per cent.

Of the 15,596 students – most of whom live on campus – 22 per cent are international.

3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

A long-standing rival of CalTech, MIT also cultivates a strong entrepreneurial culture, which has seen many alumni found notable companies such as Intel and Dropbox.

Unusually, the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at MIT are not wholly separate; many courses can be taken at either level.

The undergraduate programme is one of the country’s most selective, admitting only 8 per cent of applicants. Engineering and computer science programmes are the most popular among undergraduates.

Thirty-three per cent of the 11,000 students are international, hailing from 154 different countries around the world.

Famous alumni include astronaut Buzz Aldrin, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and physicist Richard Feynman. Graduates are prevalent throughout science, politics, economics, business and media.

The university appears in the top 5 list in the Engineering and technology, physical sciences, social sciences and arts and humanities rankings published by Times Higher Education.

4. Harvard University

Harvard University is probably the best-known university in the world, coming top in the reputation rankings most years.

It was founded in 1636, and is the oldest higher education institution in the US.

There are currently 20,152 students enrolled, a quarter of whom are international. Although the cost of tuition is expensive, Harvard’s financial endowment allows for plenty of financial aid for students.

The Harvard Library system is made up of 79 different libraries and counts as the largest academic library in the world.

Among many famous alumni, Harvard can count eight US presidents, about 150 Nobel laureates, 13 Turing Award winners and 62 living billionaires.

Unlike some other universities at the top of the list, Harvard is at least equally as reputed for arts and humanities as it is for science and technology, if not more so. In the 2016 arts and humanities ranking, Harvard takes the second position, and secures top 10 positions for physical sciences, social sciences and engineering and technology.

5. Princeton University

Like Harvard, Princeton is a prestigious Ivy League university with a history stretching back more than 200 years.

Princeton’s distinctive social environment includes private “eating clubs” – which function as both social houses and dining halls. Many of the clubs are selective and competitive, but others simply require undergraduates to sign up.

There are fewer than 8,000 students enrolled at Princeton, and just over a quarter are international.

Princeton’s campuses, in New Jersey, are located about an hour away from both New York City and Philadelphia.

Degree courses have strictly specified requirements. All students are required to do independent research as part of their degrees, and some must take a foreign language course.

The application process is highly selective. Unlike most US universities, Princeton does not now offer an early decision application route.

Renowned Princeton alumni include US presidents, astronauts, businessmen, Olympians and numerous award-winners. Physicist Richard Feynman attended as a graduate student, as did mathematicians John Nash and Alan Turing.


UK: Biggest wave yet of free schools is announced as 77 new ones get the go-ahead

The latest wave of free schools approved to open in England include one backed by Saracens rugby club, the government announced yesterday.

The Department for Education said 77 new state-funded schools have been given the go-ahead, which will create more than 45,000 additional pupil places.

It is the biggest wave of free school approvals this parliament, contributing to Ministers’ goals of opening 500 new free schools by 2020.

Saracens High School, a new secondary in Barnet, North London, is the result of a partnership between rugby Premiership and European Cup winners, Saracens, and Ashmole Academy, a secondary school rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.

The Department for Education said the combination of ‘high academic standards and the distinctive Saracens ethos will encourage pupils to excel in education, in sport and in life’.

Nigel Wray, chairman of Saracens rugby club, said approval of the new school created a ‘marvellous opportunity’.

He said: ‘At the Saracens High School we will combine our sporting beliefs to create a unique school environment where every individual student matters, academic achievement is important and a real emphasis is placed on teamwork and the creation of great memories.’

The school plans to open next September, with an initial intake of 180 pupils. It was launched in response to a shortage of places in Barnet.

Other projects approved yesterday included Cumbria Academy for Autism – a new special school – led by a group of local parents of autistic children.

More than a quarter of the 77 schools will be opened by the REAch2 Academy Trust, which has been given permission to launch a further 21 primary schools. It is the largest primary-only academy trust in the country.

The Department for Education also revealed that 56 new schools opened this month, including 42 free schools, 11 university technical colleges and three studio schools, creating around 35,000 more places.

Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA) sixth form, which welcomed pupils for the first time this term, boasts Sir Paul McCartney as patron.

The 16-19 free school offers a ‘creative and performing arts-focused education’.

Education Secretary Justine Greening said yesterday: ‘Our country needs more good school places for children.

‘The next wave of free schools means more options for parents so they can choose a place that really works for their child’s talents and needs.’

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, welcomed ‘additional school places in a system crying out for greater capacity’.

He added: ‘Free schools can add much needed capacity, and are increasingly run by established school groups, but where they set up can be a random combination of desire and drive, rather than a strategic plan to create school places exactly where they are needed.

‘We have continually stressed the need for local oversight over school places. The government has neglected strategic oversight in one of the most basic areas - creating enough school places for local children.


Video of Muslim aggression on Australian campus censored

THE man who filmed an altercation between a Muslim university student and a man wearing a Pauline Hanson T-shirt has been revealed as the leader of a far-right group.

The furious encounter occurred on Curtin University’s campus in Perth when a woman in a headscarf confronted the man with the T-shirt featuring the One Nation leader. “You have no right to be on this campus, you’re not welcome here,” she shouts.

The man in the Hanson top responds: “I have an appointment here, I’m a former student. I have as much right to be here as you or anyone else.”

Yahoo 7 revealed the man who filmed the encounter was Dennis Huts, the leader of the Perth wing of the far-right group United Patriots Front (UPF).

On Thursday morning, Huts took to the Facebook page of the UPF, which has been involved with Reclaim Australia rallies, claiming to be the person filming.

“Yesterday I had an appointment on the university campus (and) I was attacked by a Muslim woman and her Marxist friends,” he says in the video.

“They’re regulars at Reclaim (Australia) rallies. They recognised me that’s what set them off. They don’t like it, so I was attacked. I did nothing wrong, I wasn’t the aggressor.”

He said he had been banned from Facebook for 30 days and his original video was removed.

“It staggers me they would do that given the stuff they allow to be on there, it seems like such as double standard,” the man claimed calling for people to rally at Facebook offices.

It is not clear what happened prior to the altercation between the pair on the university campus.

In the video, the man in the Hanson top says he has an appointment at the university and is a former student. “I have as much right to be here as you or anyone else,” he says.

The woman responds: “Why are you wearing a Pauline Hanson shirt? What, do you want to punch me in the face?”

He replies: “Because I support her. I don’t have to answer to you.”

Turning to other students, she points at the man and shouts. “He’s a fascist; he has no right to be here; all he wants to do is demonise us. “Muslims have had enough get off this campus you are not welcome here.”

Another student then gets involved. “I’ve seen you on this campus harassing women, harassing Muslims,” she says. “F**k off.”

The man then replies: “I’m an ex-student I have a complete degree and I have a right to here in relation to my degree. F**k you.”


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Hillary's ‘Free’ College Plan Comes with $350 Billion Price Tag

Hillary Clinton’s free college plan is long on promises but short on specifics - like who’ll pay for it.

Maybe the Clinton Foundation could foot the bill. After all, it received at least $500,000 from Arizona State University, not to mention tens of millions more from 180 other donors who lobbied the State Department when Clinton was in charge. If there’s one thing the Clintons understand, it’s how to generate free cash.

But not even the Clinton Foundation, with nearly $333 million in reported net assets, could afford Clinton’s college give-away, which she projects will cost $350 billion over the next 10 years.

Under the plan, officially dubbed the New College Compact, in-state tuition at public two-year and four-year colleges and universities would be free for students whose families earn $125,000 or less annually, roughly 80 percent of all American families.

The remaining 20 percent of American families, the supposed rich under Clinton’s plan, would foot the bill.

Additional tax funds, interest rate cuts, repayment caps and loan forgiveness schemes would be used to make college a virtually debt-free experience.

The projected cost of Clinton’s higher education free-for-all is bad enough. But it is probably just a down payment.

In reality, the plan doesn’t come close to covering public tuition and fees, which now total more than $70 billion annually - twice the projected yearly cost of Clinton’s plan. Nor would it fix the staggering student loan debt problem, which currently exceeds $1.3 trillion.

One of the worst elements of the plan is that college degrees will become about as meaningless as free high school diplomas.

Some 75 percent of U.S. high school graduates are not deemed college-ready in English, reading, math and science.

Many of those who go on to college have to enroll in remedial classes, increasing the likelihood they’ll drop out. The proposed Clinton subsidies will encourage more of the same.

If the past six decades have taught us anything, it’s that we can’t subsidize our way to college affordability, much less quality. The federal government’s reach into education has grown steadily since 1958, and with it, college costs that have increased at about twice the general inflation rate.

That’s because federal subsidies allow colleges and universities to increase prices with impunity. For all of Washington’s finger-wagging, few politicians are going to support withholding - much less cutting - federal aid. And colleges know it.

Perhaps the greatest cost of all to Clinton’s free college plan is nurturing the notion that a college degree is an entitlement, not something earned.

At most public colleges and universities, the majority of undergraduates already receive financial aid. And what are taxpayers getting for their investment?

In the past year or so alone, students at the University of California at San Diego had time for a topless “Free the Nipple” rally.

California Polytechnic State University students organized a three-day “Shit In” to promote gender-neutral bathrooms.

Students at the University of Texas at Austin traded in their longhorns for sex toys to protest a new campus carry law.

Such activities are taking place on campuses nationwide, largely on the taxpayers’ dime, at a time when an alarming majority of professors report their first-year college students can’t distinguish between fact and opinion, and at least 20 percent of undergraduates won’t complete their four-year degrees in six years.

With federal debt quickly approaching $20 trillion, Clinton’s proposed give-away is something our country can’t afford.

Yet the full cost of the Clinton plan can’t be measured entirely in dollars and cents.

Indeed, the full cost is incalculable because Clinton is trying to satisfy an insatiable appetite for entitlements that feeds off the hard work and sacrifice of others and is constantly demanding more.


Cruelty to Black Students

Last year's college news was about demands for safe spaces, trigger warnings and bans on insensitivity. This year's college news is about black student demands for segregated campus housing and other racially segregated campus spaces and programs. I totally disagree with these calls by black students. It's a gross dereliction of duty for college administrators to cave to these demands, but I truly sympathize with the problems that many black college students face. For college administrators and leftist faculty, the actual fate of black students is not nearly so important as the good feelings they receive from a black presence on campus. Let's examine some of the problem.

A very large percentage of all incoming freshmen have no business being admitted to college. According to College Board's 2015 report, the average combined SAT score for white students was 1576 out of a possible 2400. Black student SAT scores, at 1277, were the lowest of the seven reported racial groups. The College Board considers an SAT score of 1550 as the benchmark that indicates a readiness for college-level work. Only 32 percent of white students scored at or above proficient in math, and just 7 percent of black students did. Forty-six percent of white test takers scored proficient in reading, and 17 percent of blacks did. The ACT, another test used for admission to college, produced similar results. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education reports, in an article titled "A Major Crisis in College Readiness for Black Students," that 34 percent of whites who took the ACT were deemed college-ready in all four areas — English, mathematics, reading and science. For blacks, it was only 6 percent.

These are significant differences in academic preparation between white and black students. I am sure that the differences give black students feelings of inferiority and being out of place. Black college students across the country have demanded segregated housing and other "safe spaces" on campuses designated for students of color. Students calling for segregated spaces do so because they allege their campuses are oppressive, are discriminatory and represent institutionalized racism. For decades, colleges have purchased peace by creating whole departments of ethnic, diversity and multicultural studies. All too often, these "studies" are about propaganda and not serious education. Plus, they provide students with an opportunity to get an easy A.

The most pervasive form of racial discrimination at most colleges is affirmative action. In the name of helping people from groups that have suffered past discrimination, colleges admit black students whose academic preparation differs significantly with that of their white peers. Those differences are not subtle. It should not come as a surprise that the intended beneficiaries of that "benign" discrimination feel themselves ridiculed, isolated and treated differently. As a result, students who might be successes in a less competitive environment are turned into failures. One faculty member at a historically black college put it this way: "The way we see it, the majority schools are wasting large numbers of good students. They have black students with admissions statistics (that are) very high, tops. But these students wind up majoring in sociology or recreation or get wiped out altogether."

The problem of black education begins long before college. The National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as The Nation's Report Card, shows that nationally in 2015, only 7 percent of black 12th-graders scored proficient in math, and only 17 percent did so in reading. This suggests that the average black 12th-grader has the academic proficiency of a white eighth- or ninth-grader. Consider the following question: If one admits 1,000 randomly selected eighth- and ninth-graders to college and admits 1,000 randomly selected 12th-graders, who do you think is going to come out on top? Who would be surprised if the eighth- and ninth-graders felt inferiority, oppression and insensitivity?

The academic elite feel righteous seeing blacks on campus, even if they are severely mismatched. Black people must ask: Are we going to sacrifice our youngsters so that white liberals can feel good about themselves?


Do Not Rely on Schools to Protect Your Children: Do It Yourself

One day when my daughter was only nine, I had a business appointment that would get me home a bit after school ended. But she had a Girl Scout meeting that afternoon at the school and that would give me an extra hour. I arranged for my two sons to stay in the after school program so I could pick them all up at once.

After my meeting, I was driving home when my cell phone rang. It was my daughter. "Mommy, where are you?"

"Where are you?" I asked her, feeling slightly panicked.

She was home. She'd felt a bit sick and told her teacher she was going to get on the bus and go home instead of attending her scout meeting.

No one called to check with me. The bus driver did not wait to see that an adult was home. There was no car in the driveway. My daughter entered the house and the bus took off.

She was a little scared so I asked her if she wanted to go next door to the neighbors. She wanted to stay on the phone with me and I told her to lock the doors and keep the dog near her and I would talk until I got there. I was only a few minutes away but there was a traffic tie up.

Needless to say, my husband and I were both at school that afternoon talking in heightened tones to the principal and our daughter's teacher. The bottom line was the school and bus companies had made a fairly serious error. It was uncharacteristic of both and our outrage re-upped their commitment to be diligent about the kids' safety and whereabouts.

Unfortunately, emergency preparedness for schools is not as simple as one child gone temporarily astray in the suburbs.

In Beslan, where terrorists attacked a school in Southern Russia, once again, the rules changed and the unthinkable happened. Terrorists using civilians, including hundreds of children, to make their hateful points -- in this case, demanding that Russian troops get out of Chechnya.

The hostage situation went from bad to worse with a ten-hour gun fight, explosion and fire in which over 300 people perished, 176 of them children.

Americans, taken by surprise on 9-11 by terrorist attacks on our shores previously thought unimaginable, were in shock once again along with the rest of the world. A school full of children and their families...

Could it happen here?

The appalling massacre at Newtown, Connecticut proves that not only could it happen here, it has already happened!  Our primary and secondary school children are not yet safe - neither are the students on our universities.

This is our vulnerability: the safety of our children.

Threat assessment expert and author Gavin de Becker proposes some good questions for parents to ask school administrators. My husband and I used these questions, from de Becker's book "Protecting the Gift," when we first enrolled our kids at their elementary school. I was surprised to hear there had been lockdown situations in the past - once when an inmate escaped from a nearby penitentiary. There was also an emergency plan in place in case of the need to evacuate.

According to de Becker, "Rather than relying on government, you can make at least as vigorous an inquiry of your child's school as you would of your child's babysitter. Below is a list of questions that can guide your evaluation of a school. The school should have a ready answer to every one of these questions. If they don't, the mere fact of your asking (which can be done in writing) will compel them to consider the issues. There may be resources the school feels would improve the safety of children, possibly even resources they have long wanted, and your own participation in the process can help them implement those improvements."

He suggests parents ask these questions:

    Do you have a policy manual or teacher's handbook? May I have a copy or review it here?
    Is the safety of students the first item addressed in the policy or handbook? If not, why not?
    Is the safety of students addressed at all?
    Are there policies addressing violence, weapons, drug use, sexual abuse, child-on-child sexual abuse, unauthorized visitors?
    Are background investigations performed on all staff?
    What areas are reviewed during these background inquiries?
    Who gathers the information?
    Who in the administration reviews the information and determines the suitability for employment?
    What are the criteria for disqualifying an applicant?
    Does the screening process apply to all employees (teachers, janitors, lunchroom staff, security personnel, part-time employees, bus drivers, etc.)?
    Is there a nurse on site at all times while children are present (including before and after school)?
    What is the nurse's education or training?
    Can my child call me at any time?
    May I visit my child at any time?
    What is your policy for when to contact parents?
    What are the parent notification procedures?
    What are the student pick-up procedures?
    How is it determined that someone other than me can pick up my child?
    How does the school address special situations (custody disputes, child kidnapping concerns, etc.)?
    Are older children separated from younger children during recess, lunch, rest-room breaks, etc.?
    Are acts of violence or criminality at the school documented? Are statistics maintained?
    May I review the statistics?
    What violence or criminality has occurred at the school during the last three years?
    Is there a regular briefing of teachers and administrators to discuss safety and security issues?
    Are teachers formally notified when a child with a history of serious misconduct is introduced to their class?
    What is the student-to-teacher ratio in class? During recess? During meals?
    How are students supervised during visits to the rest-room?
    Will I be informed of teacher misconduct that might have an impact on the safety or well-being of my child?
    Are there security personnel on the premises?
    Are security personnel provided with written policies and guidelines?
    Is student safety the first issue addressed in the security policy and guidelines material? If not, why not?
    Is there a special background investigation conducted on security personnel, and what does it encompass?
    Is there any control over who can enter the grounds?
    If there is an emergency in a classroom, how does the teacher summon help?
    If there is an emergency on the playground, how does the teacher summon help?
    What are the policies and procedures covering emergencies (fire, civil unrest, earthquake, violent intruder, etc.)?
    How often are emergency drills performed?
    What procedures are followed when a child is injured?
    What hospital would my child be transported to in the event of a serious injury?
    Can I designate a different hospital? A specific family doctor?
    What police station responds to the school?
    Who is the school's liaison at the police department?

De Becker refers to not relying on the government. Parents in search of information on school emergency preparedness will find the going tough when using the U.S. Department of Education or Centers for Disease Control Web sites, as the information is not easily accessible. It is better to use your county as a jumping off point. Most have emergency management brochures that can be downloaded from the Internet.

But when it comes down to the details, it is up to parents and schools to connect, to communicate, and to know what the plan is. After the Virginia Tech University massacre and the killings that continue to happen sporadically throughout the country, isn't it now time to focus on a thorough reorganization of all official programs which must be designed, then activated in order to secure the safety of our children?


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Why Are Taxpayers on the Hook for Student Loans?

We recently relayed the story of Barack Obama’s efforts to pick winners and losers in the for-profit college market. Obama yanked federal aid from ITT Tech, leading to the entire operation shutting down — leaving 40,000 students and 8,000 teachers out in the cold. Our aim was primarily to note that Obama attacks the private sector at every opportunity, but that isn’t the only angle. The Washington Post reports, “Former students at ITT Technical Institutes are refusing to repay their federal student loans in a protest designed to pressure the government into canceling the debt of everyone who alleges they were defrauded by the now-defunct for-profit chain.” The Post quoted one 39-year-old graduate with $80,000 in student loans who said, “We’re not irresponsible brats whining about our loans. ITT lied to us. It’s fraud.”

Simply being a for-profit company doesn’t make a business the good guy, and if the accusers are correct, then the college network didn’t deserve to survive. The Post reports that “ITT spent years battling allegations of fraud, deceptive marketing and steering students into predatory loans.” Indeed, by the accounts of many former students, ITT provided a terrible education, handed out a worthless piece of paper, and charged ridiculous rates for it. ITT is hardly alone either. Corinthian Colleges went out of business in 2014 after evidently running a similar scam, and last year Obama agreed to forgive millions in student debt for that institution. We warned last week that the government may end up forgiving as much as $500 million in federal student loans to ITT students. ITT has about $90 million on hand to cover loan forgiveness. Who will be stuck with the bill for the remaining $410 million? Got a mirror handy?

Indeed, that’s just it. The larger problem is guaranteed access to federal money for education, which puts taxpayers on the hook. Guaranteed access means every education entity public or private is going to do whatever’s necessary to get a slice of the pie. Nowhere does the Constitution enumerate such a federal power or individual right to the fruits of someone else’s labor. Americans now owe $1.3 trillion in student debt, of which $1 trillion is held by the federal government. The policy consequences of the federal government’s massive role could be a greater fraud than anything ITT or Corinthian ever dreamed of.


Ireland: Teachers defy union ban on assessing their students

The difficulties for the ASTI in securing compliance with directives has been compounded in recent weeks by the decision of a significant number of non-union or former ASTI teachers in voluntary secondary schools to transfer to membership of the TUI
Junior Cert results issued this morning indicate that a significant number of members of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) are defying a prohibition by their union on engaging in assessing their own students in oral Irish.

A total of 20,220 students, or 38 per cent of candidates studying Irish this year, took the optional oral component in 2016 compared to 16,529 in 2015. These were spread across 357 schools, representing almost half of all second level schools.

There are within the Irish education system 360 schools either managed by Education Training Boards (ETB) or falling under the Communality and Comprehensive (C&C) bracket.

Collective bargaining within these schools falls to the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI), which has no objection to teachers assessing their own students for oral components of languages. The state’s other 375 post-primary schools, known as voluntary secondary schools, fall within the ambit of the ASTI.

A spokesperson for the State Examinations Commission told The Irish Times it was “aware that the optional Irish orals are sat across all three sectors” – ETB, C&C and voluntary.


At a meeting last June, the ASTI standing committee stepped up its campaign against self-assessment by teachers in schools by issuing a revised directive to members.


Education Fat Cats No Joke for Taxpayers

Chris Evans, superintendent of the Natomas Unified School District, bears a strong resemblance to the late Chris Farley of “Saturday Night Live,” but for students, parents and taxpayers, Evans’ latest happy meal is no joke. As Diana Lambert notes in the Sacramento Bee, the district’s board just boosted Evans’ pay by $46,130, a raise of more than 20 percent bringing Evans salary to $270,000, almost $100,000 more than the $182,791 Jerry Brown pulls down as governor of California. Evans’ lucrative deal now extends to 2020 and includes a $500 monthly car allowance, $1,500 per year “to pay for technology” and a $12,000 annual annuity. It was less clear what superintendent Evans had done, if anything, to deserve all that, plus his new raise of $46,130.

Natomas school board president Teri Burns issued a statement citing Evans’ “continuity in leadership, stability in administration” and “a clear vision for the district.” Burns cited no increase in student achievement during Evans’ five years with the district, no reduction in truancy, nor any savings he might have achieved in administrative costs. To calculate the raise, Lambert wrote, the district “used data from other school districts in the state.” The only one cited was the Twin Rivers School District, also in the Sacramento region, where superintendent Steven Martinez makes, $260,000 a year. As we noted, that raise was not tied to any achievements by Martinez, and the district has seen more than its share of troubles.

This dynamic models the entire government monopoly K-12 system, the state’s collective farm of ignorance and mediocrity. If schools fail, the money keeps coming. The educrats keep crying for more, and they get it, regardless of achievement or accountability. The education establishment resists reform, particularly parental choice. Their latest quest is to make schools more difficult to evaluate, which Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee describes as “at worst a cynical maneuver to evade true accountability.”


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

UK: Gender gap in higher education is bigger than ever as 25% more girls than boys now go to university

The gender gap in higher education is now at its largest since records began.  The figure for young women in higher education is now almost 25 per cent higher than that for men, according to the Department for Education.

It says that 53.5 per cent of women aged 17 to 30 were in higher education in 2014/15. The equivalent proportion for men was just 43.4 per cent.

This gap represents a 25 per cent difference and is the biggest since comparable records began in 2006.

The rise is being driven by a faster growth in the number of women entering higher education. While the rate for males rose by 2.9 per cent year-on-year, the rate for females jumped by 4.5 per cent.

The figures also suggest that a total of 48.3 per cent of young people in England were in higher education in 2014/15.

This number has risen steadily since 2006, apart from a dip between 2011/12 and 2012/13 which coincided with the introduction of higher tuition fees.

The DfE’s statistics cover 17 to 30-year-old residents of England who are studying in UK higher education institutions, along with English, Welsh and Scottish further education colleges.

Meanwhile, a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development yesterday revealed that 56 per cent of graduates taking their first (bachelor) degree in the UK are women – close to the OECD average of 57 per cent.

Its notes on the United Kingdom say: ‘As in most countries, there are large gender differences in the distribution of graduates by field of education.’

Last month, Mary Curnock Cook, head of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) urged teenage boys getting their A-level results, who had not decided what to do, to sign up to higher education. She said: ‘Whatever you study, you’ll come out of the experience with a clearer sense of your future self and full of ideas about how to make the most of your life and career.’

Her appeal came amid the problem of ‘missing men’ in higher education. About 90,000 more women than men applied to take a degree in England this autumn and for the first time in recent years the number of university applications from 18-year-old boys fell.

 * Graduates in this country have the second highest average debt in the world, a report revealed. University leavers in England in 2014/15 had debts from student loans averaging £22,919. The OECD warned that the UK ‘will need to watch out that it remains the smartest and not the wealthiest students who get the best educational opportunities’.

The OECD believes the figure is only beaten by US gradutes because of the high level of fees charged by private institutions. The US did not contribute to the analysis but the figure is put at around £25,000.

The graduate debt burden in the UK is more than double that in Canada (£9,381) and Denmark (£11,219). Japanese students had similar debt levels of £22,611.

The study comes after most English inversities revealed they will raise fees to £9,250 next year.

Andreas Schleicher, education and skills director at the OECD, said governments and universities must recognise that there is a ‘price limit’ where tuition fee rises will start to hit student access, even in those nations with income-contingent loans.


Political Correctness Doesn't Only Threaten Speech

By David Limbaugh

Many, including me, have lamented that political correctness, especially on university campuses, is undermining free speech. That's true, but I'm not sure that political correctness is the only culprit or that free speech is the only casualty.

Most of us have heard about "white privilege," "trigger warnings," "microaggressions" and "safe spaces." Let me provide rough definitions from an online dictionary and other websites. I'm sure that I could be accused of a microaggression for failing to be more precise, but I'm trying.

White privilege is the notion that whites have an advantage in getting societal benefits in Western countries, to the disadvantage of nonwhite people under the same social, political or economic circumstances.

Trigger warnings are communications warning that the content of a text, video, etc., might upset or offend some people, especially those who have previously experienced a related trauma.

Microaggressions are subtle but offensive comments or actions directed at a minority or other non-dominant group, often unintentionally or unconsciously reinforcing a stereotype.

The original idea of safe spaces was that educational institutions should not tolerate anti-LGBT violence, harassment or hate speech. Therefore, certain places were designated as safe for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. The term has been expanded to protect all minorities.

Last year, just a few days before Halloween, there was a firestorm involving these concepts when a Yale University professor responded to an email sent to students by the university's Intercultural Affairs Council. The council had advised students not to wear costumes that would "threaten (the) sense of community" there.

Some students and faculty members took umbrage to the email because they considered it patronizing and also unnecessary because, in their view, it "had no applicability to the culture and the actual history" at Yale. But when professor Erika Christakis — who was also an associate master of Silliman, one of Yale's residential colleges — took exception to the email in her own email to Silliman students, many students, sadly, didn't receive Christakis' message with good cheer. Christakis wrote, "Have we lost faith in young people's capacity — in your capacity — to exercise self-censure, through social norming, and also in your capacity to ignore or reject things that trouble you?"

Instead of applauding her for vouching for their maturity, they interpreted it as inviting insensitivity to the experience of minorities. Some 700 people, including students, faculty and alumni, fired off an open letter in response to Christakis' email, saying, "In your email, you ask students to 'look away' if costumes are offensive, as if the degradation of our cultures and people, and the violence that grows out of it is something that we can ignore."

Christakis' husband, Nicholas, who was the master of Silliman, made the mistake of meeting with students and not sufficiently throwing his wife (and himself) under the bus for her email. Nicholas met with a large group of students, who surrounded him in the residential college quad. The encounter was captured on four videos, totaling some 24 minutes, and I watched the entire thing (titled "Yale Students and Nicholas Kristachis" on YouTube). To me, it is appalling and horrifying.

Christakis calmly, respectfully and cordially responded to one student after another, most of whom treated him with utter contempt and disrespect, used invectives, and demanded an apology for his wife's email. Several rebuked him for not remembering their first names from his previous interactions with them. When he acceded to their demands to say he was sorry for hurting their feelings and the pain it had caused them, they were unmoved. When they further demanded that he also acknowledge that the email created "space for violence to happen" and apologize for it, he drew the line, saying, "That I disagree with."

One student then said, "It doesn't matter whether you disagree." Another launched into an endless rude diatribe, and when Christakis tried to calmly respond when she'd paused, she cut him off, saying he shouldn't get to speak.

You will have to watch the video to get the full flavor of how hateful it was, how unreasonable the mob of students was and how patiently and calmly Christakis tolerated their bullying.

Shortly thereafter, about 1,000 students conducted a "March of Resilience" against an "inhospitable climate for people of color on campus." Then a smaller group submitted a list of demands to the university's president. It said the school must immediately implement "lasting policies that will reduce the intolerable racism that students of color experience on campus every day."

Among other specific demands were that all undergraduates be required to take courses in the "Ethnicity, Race, and Migration" program, that mental health professionals be permanently established in each of the four cultural centers with discretionary funds, that the annual operational budget for each such center be increased by $2 million and that the Christakises be removed from their positions as master and associate master of Silliman College.

Believe it or not, despite the fact that there were no documented examples of racism giving rise to their complaints, the university surrendered and granted most of their demands.

Much has been written about the danger to free speech such events represent. There is no question that is the case. But I am far more concerned with what they reveal about the state of race relations in this country — at least on college campuses — and the messages we are sending to young people, namely:

—They are too fragile to deal with perceived, let alone actual, adversity.

—If a charge of racism is leveled against a "non-minority," it must be presumed valid, and the accused won't even be allowed, in some cases, to explain or deny it.

—Any perceived slight must be addressed, and all demands must be satisfied, no matter how unreasonable.

—We must be forever obsessed with race, gender and sexual preferences.

—Rudeness and disrespect will not be punished but will be rewarded.

The atmosphere on many college campuses on these issues is toxic. Those engaging in the indoctrination don't appear to seek improvement in race relations and don't appear to seek resolution.

Is it not obvious that a flagrant contradiction underlies these complaints? Those crying "racism" and "sexism" demand that they be treated equally and nondiscriminatorily, yet virtually every demand they make screams just the opposite. How can we be colorblind and color-obsessed at the same time?

Many people don't have the courage to address these issues, because they fear the mob would descend on them if they dared to challenge its claims. Yes, but if we keep pretending that the mob's claims are true and rolling over, things will only get worse. When can it possibly end?


Gender theory taught in Australian schools is a matter of faith’, says family law expert

A leading family law and child-protection expert has criticised the teaching of radical gender theory in classrooms across the country, likening the “odd and unscientific” beliefs promoted by groups such as the Safe Schools Coalition to those espoused by Scientology.

Sydney University law profes­sor Patrick Parkinson has called for an extensive overhaul of the Safe Schools program, having taken issue with its ­promotion of “exaggerated statistics” on the prevalence of transgender and intersex conditions in the community to support its creators’ “belief that gender is fluid and can even be chosen”.

In a research paper to be published today, Professor Parkinson notes that gender ideology, which lies at the heart of Safe Schools, has become a widespread belief system, particularly in Western countries.

With its origins in university philosophy departments rather than science, it has no place in the primary or secondary school curriculum, which is required to be evidence-based, he argues.

“There would be an uproar if the beliefs of Scientologists ... were being taught in state schools through state-funded programs,” he says, referring to the controversial religion.

“Yet the belief system that what gender you are is a matter for you to determine without ­reference to your physical and ­reproductive attribu­tes might not be dissimilar.”

Professor Parkinson’s damn­ing review comes as the NSW Education Department investig­ates the inclusion of gender ­theory in its own official curriculum, including its mandatory sex education program for Years 11 and 12.

Last week state Education Minister Adrian Piccoli asked his departmental secretary, former ABC boss Mark Scott, to look into whether there was a scient­ific basis for claims made through­out the Crossroads program that gender was “a social construct”, neither fixed nor ­binary.

A spokesman for the Education Department said Mr Scott would report back to the minister’s office “as soon as possible”.

Professor Parkinson’s report, The Controversy over the Safe Schools Program — Finding the Sensible Centre, which is available via the Social Science ­Research Network, has added further weight to concerns about the program.

While originally touted as a program designed to stamp out homophobia in the schoolyard, it has divided parents, politicians, religious groups and even the LGBTI community.

Prominent transgender advocate Catherine McGregor faced a backlash when she recently spoke out against Safe Schools, claiming that it would not have helped her as a young person grappling with gender ­issues. Professor Parkinson is also concerned that its teachings may harm some young people.

The former member of the NSW Child Protection Council, who has advised government and other organisations on ­matters related to child safety, says a school-wide program that normalises transitioning from one gender to another creates a risk that some children will ­become confused unnecessarily.

“Gender dysphoria in childhood and adolescence is far too complex to be addressed by pop psychology or internet-based self-help materials,” he says.

“While a program of this kind may offer benefits for some young people, there is reason to be concerned that it may cause harm to other young people who experience same-sex attraction or gender confusion.

“This is not good enough for an educational resource.”

Professor Parkinson believes it is unlikely that concerns raised by the community will go away.

He says politicians who have supported it based on its origins as an anti-bullying program would likely face a backlash from their constituencies unless the program was reviewed and significantly reformed.

More than 500 schools across the country have signed up to be Safe Schools members, and the program has attracted federal and state funds.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Student Forced to Remove Trump Hat, ‘You’re Not Allowed to Share Hate Language’

Students at a Canadian university confronted another student who was wearing a "Make American Great Again" hat—when he refused their demands to remove his hat, the students grabbed it off his head.

You've got to take it off," insisted one female student, later identified as Zoe Slusar, a former vice president of Mount Royal University's student life program.

The student wearing the hat—Matt Linder, according to CBC—argued that he was exercising his free speech rights. "I'm not allowed to support a political candidate?" he asked.

"You aren't allowed to share hate language in the university," Slusar replied.

She didn't back down. Eventually she even threatened to report Linder to university authorities. "You got to take the hat off or I'm going to write the president of the university and he's going to come talk to you," she said.

Before that could happen, another student grabbed the hat off Linder's head. You can see a video of the encounter here.

MRU subsequently affirmed Linder's right to wear the hat in a statement: "Mount Royal University respects individuals who exercise their constitutionally-protected right to freedom of expression."

Slusar later admitted that Linder did indeed have a right to wear the hat:

"He is allowed to wear the hat. As a student, I disagree with what the hat represents. I have diverse friends (culturally and sexually) who would drop a class if the person wearing the hat was sitting in the room with them, because they would feel unsafe. Given the deeper issues of intolerance and oppression represented by the hat, I disagree with it."

I disagree with the sentiment behind the hat, too (although I would dispute that it's mere presence makes a room less safe). A university is a place where people with different views should challenge each other, and Slusar had every right to call out Linder for supporting a hateful, fascistic charlatan. I applaud her for doing so. But when she denied Linder the right to express his views, she succumbed to the same authoritarian impulse that animates Trump.

And look—Trump supporters love this kind of thing. They are out there, on college campuses, waiting for an excuse to claim their free speech rights were violated. This is a clear case of an entitled student, drunk on her moral righteousness, giving Team Trump the ammunition it needs to continuing making its case against political correctness.


Colleges’ War on Free Speech Continues

The University of Chicago’s president, Robert J. Zimmer, wrote a Wall Street Journal article, titled “Free Speech Is the Basis of a True Education.” In it, he wrote:

Free speech is at risk at the very institution where it should be assured: the university. Invited speakers are disinvited because a segment of a university community deems them offensive, while other orators are shouted down for similar reasons. Demands are made to eliminate readings that might make some students uncomfortable. Individuals are forced to apologize for expressing views that conflict with prevailing perceptions. In many cases, these efforts have been supported by university administrators.

Sharing the president’s vision, the University of Chicago’s dean of students, John Ellison, sent a letter to freshmen students that read, in part:

Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.

Those are hardly the sentiments of dishonest and spineless administrators at other colleges. At DePaul University, a visit by conservative journalist Milo Yiannopoulos was disrupted by student activists. School security refused to restore order and later banned Yiannopoulos from returning.

Conservative Ben Shapiro was invited by Young America’s Foundation to California State University-Los Angeles to deliver a speech titled “When Diversity Becomes a Problem.”

University President William Covino wrote an email that read, “After careful consideration, I have decided that it will be best for our campus community if we reschedule Ben Shapiro’s appearance for a later date, so that we can arrange for him to appear as part of a group of speakers with differing viewpoints on diversity. Such an event will better represent our university’s dedication to the free exchange of ideas.”

But note that the university invited leftists such as Cornel West, Angela Davis, and Tim Wise without feeling a need for differing viewpoints.

Sociologist Barry Glassner is the president of Lewis & Clark College. Morton Schapiro is the president of and a professor of economics at Northwestern University.

Schapiro wrote in The Washington Post: “I’m an economist, not a sociologist or psychologist, but those experts tell me that students don’t fully embrace uncomfortable learning unless they are themselves comfortable. Safe spaces provide that comfort.”

Both presidents, in a Los Angeles Times op-ed, said campus protests are a “sign of progress” toward diversity and inclusion and are “noble” methods of change, as opposed to the opining of “pundits and politicians … from gated communities and segregated offices.” They added, “Students are coming of age in a time of political, social and economic turbulence unseen in a generation.”

Many college administrators have generalized contempt for American values. Here’s just a bit of the evidence. A reporter from Project Veritas covertly recorded an administrator at Vassar College following through on her request to shred the Constitution.

Carol Lasser, professor of history and director of gender, sexuality, and feminist studies at Oberlin College, said that “the Constitution is an oppressive document” because it intentionally makes change a slow process. Wendy Kozol, chair of comparative American studies at Oberlin, agreed, saying, “the Constitution in everyday life causes people pain,” and added that she rarely discusses the Constitution in class and that when she does, she tends to focus on specific amendments.

The University of Michigan and Case Western Reserve University have announced safe spaces to protect students from unwelcome opinions. University of California-Santa Barbara students want trigger warnings for all classes and the right to be excused from any lessons that might “trigger” them.

The courage shown by University of Chicago administrators is relatively rare. The academic tyranny seen on many college campuses reflects a dereliction of duty by those who are charged with the ultimate control—the boards of trustees.

Trustees have the power to fire a president and his key administrators for yielding to campus tyrants. College administrators buy into today’s nonsense because they lack backbone and are cowards. Worse yet, they may see merit in safe spaces, trigger warnings, and student disruption of speakers with uncomfortable ideas.


Schools Crack down on "USA, USA" Chant, Ban Flags

By Todd Starnes

Patriotism is under fire in Western Michigan. The OK Conference, representing 50 schools, has announced a crackdown on fans chanting, “USA” at football games. They are also implementing strict rules on flags and political banners.

“Coaches and fans are irate,” said Bill Simonson, the host of a statewide sports radio show. “People are tired of being told what flag to fly or what political side to lean towards.”

Mr. Simonson, who hosts “The Huge Show”, was the first to break this insane story.

The athletic conference’s crackdown comes after fans from a predominantly black school took offense after fans from a predominantly white school displayed a Betsy Ross flag and a “Make America Great Again” banner.

Critics called the flag racist and a local superintendent said it symbolized hate.

“To wave a historical version of our flag, that to some symbolizes exclusion and hate, injects hostility and confusion to an event where no one intended to do so,” wrote Forest Hills Public Schools Superintendent Daniel Behm in a letter to parents.

Simonson, host of The Huge Show, told me local residents are furious.

“He painted a picture that the school is filled with insensitive people,” he said. ‘If Colin Kaepernick can have his freedom of speech and freedom of expression – guess what – it’s a two-way street.”

OK Commissioner Jim Haskins said their executive board decided that moving forward fans will only be allowed to chant “USA, USA” after the National Anthem.

He told that it has nothing to do with banning patriotism. He said students are using the chant in a derogatory manner – such as “U Suck (bleep) and those type of things.”

“That’s what we have the problems with,” he told the newspaper.

But television station WOOD reports the Michigan High School Athletics Association has not received any official complaints about fans “repurposing ‘USA’ to mean anything derogatory.”

The athletic conference is also cracking down on signs and banners and flags.

“Any signs, flags, banners, cheers, or promotional material that carry questionable implications or are degrading are prohibited at any OK Conference venue,” he told WOOD.

Mike Shibler, the superintendent of Rockford Public Schools, supports the crackdown.

“We will certainly inform our students that this type of behavior when done in a derogatory and insulting way will not be accepted and will not occur,” he told WOOD.

But what happens if a student argues that the chant is in fact patriotic?

“I don’t believe that,” the superintendent told the television station.

It sounds like Western Michigan is dealing with a severe infestation of liberal educators.

“This is the United States of America,” Simonson told me. “What happens if someone walks in with a military uniform and the kids want to chant, ‘USA’? You can’t do that? Are we living in Communist Russia?”

Instead of punishing all the fans, why not just identify the troublemakers and yank them out of the stands?

One thing I cannot abide is stupidity and ignorance. And there’s a whole mess of it in Western Michigan’s school system.

I hope every person reading this column in Western Michigan will show up at tonight’s football games waving Old Glory. Post your photos on our Facebook page.

And if the Spirit moves, inhale a big gulp of air and belt out a patriotic cheer – one that we’ll be able to hear from sea to shining sea.



Sunday, September 18, 2016

Grammar schools: we need knowledge, not nostalgia (?)

Joanna Williams, the British author below writes for a normally conservative organization but her angry rant below is thoroughly Leftist and poorly founded in fact.  Her belief that IQ is unimportant to educational achievement flies in the face of over 100 years of research findings.  And she doesn't even argue her case.  She just dismisses the influence of hereditary intelligence with a wave of her hand. 

And she seems very confused about the worth of traditional subjects.  On the one hand she calls them "pale, male and stale" but she ends up lauding such academic knowledge. 

And her alternative to grammar schools is laughable.  She says that what is needed is "teachers who are sufficiently passionate about the subjects they teach".  Who could disagree?  But where are you going to find a big new crop of them?

And she seems very hostile to social mobility.  Both Left and Right see it as desirable and there is no doubt in the world that Grammar schools have been a major force in enabling it -- so what is wrong with that?  She is very hard to understand.  I think her progesterone levels must have been very high when she wrote the confused nonsense below

Re-introducing grammar schools, or academic selection for children aged 11, has rivalled Brexit as the main political talking point this summer. Last week, on the same day Theresa May’s proposals were finally confirmed, my daughter took the 11-plus exam, or ‘Kent Test’ as it’s known locally. We’d spent months preparing for the big day and that morning she hugged me a little tighter than usual and bravely fought back tears. Fortunately, she pulled herself together for the test and has, I’m pleased to report, been dining out on her efforts ever since with pizzas, sleepover parties and ritual book burnings.

At the moment, Kent is one of only a handful of places in the UK that has selective secondary schools, a throwback to the educational beliefs of a bygone era. Some, like the school my sons attend, date back centuries. The nostalgia currently driving government policy is for something comparatively more recent: the grammar schools brought into existence by the 1944 Education Act. This legislation enshrined the right of all children to secondary education through a tripartite system of grammar, technical and secondary-modern schools. In reality, few technical schools existed and, for most children, success or failure in the 11-plus led to roughly 20 per cent of each age group attending grammar schools, where pupils enjoyed a traditional academic curriculum, while the majority attended secondary moderns, where pupils received lessons considered more ‘relevant’ to their future lives.

Grammar schools did not take off in earnest until after the Second World War. Academic selection epitomised education policy of the 1950s, but was already being called into question by the end of that decade. In 1965, the then Labour education secretary, Anthony Crosland, issued a circular requesting the closure of grammar schools. But it was Margaret Thatcher, a few years later, who, as education secretary, introduced an unprecedented number of comprehensive schools, where children of all abilities would be educated together.

Grammar schools are a product of a particular and very short-lived era. Their existence was premised on two fundamental assumptions; first, a conviction that intelligence was innate, differently distributed throughout the population and measurable through a simple test; and, second, a belief in the value of a classical liberal education. The continued fondness for grammars is driven for the most part by their perceived connection to social mobility. In the 1950s, a small number of bright kids from poor families did indeed have their life chances transformed by education. But, again, this needs to be placed in the context of the time. The era of grammar schools coincided with a period of economic growth, when more ‘middle-class’ and better paid jobs were being created. Academic selection may have determined who filled those jobs, but it did not bring them into existence.

However much May and a section of the Conservative Party may wish it were otherwise, the 1950s cannot be legislated back into existence, and neither can grammar schools. Of course, selection based on exam performance can be reintroduced, but even here the differences between the cultural attitudes of the 1950s and today are striking. Nowadays, parents and teachers alike are quick to bemoan the pressure children are put under at school. A few months ago, some parents kept their children off school for a day for a ‘kids’ strike’ in protest at the stress of testing. When children are considered to be so vulnerable to mental-health problems, a high-stakes, pass-or-fail test for 10-year-olds takes on a far greater significance than it would have done in the past.

Bringing together children who successfully jump through the 11-plus hoop does not necessarily create a grammar school. Changing the law is a blunt means of promoting values and changing educational culture. The ethos of many existing grammar schools is based on tradition, and built into their architecture. Mostly, it stems from a curriculum that privileges academic subjects over vocational ones, and scholarly success over social inclusion. For this reason, grammar schools tend to attract teachers who are first and foremost subject specialists.

When grammar schools were introduced in the years after the Second World War, teachers largely shared a belief in the content of a classical liberal education. Few questioned whether material needed to be ‘relevant’ to the lives of 14-year-olds. Rarely was the curriculum criticised for being pale, male and stale. Teachers and parents accepted the merit of knowledge taught at school and the values presented in the curriculum.

It is certainly not impossible to offer children this academic, knowledge-based education today. In fact, many schools – both grammar and non-selective – already do. What’s needed is not a change in the law, but school leaders and teachers who are sufficiently passionate about the subjects they teach. Only then will schools be prepared to go beyond the strictures of the exam syllabus, and, at the same time, minimise the myriad other demands placed on them to teach everything from relationships to how to open a bank account. This requires teachers with sufficient subject knowledge, and a firm conviction that this knowledge is worth children mastering. Only then will schools be able to resist the pressure to succumb to a culture of low expectations.

When I’ve talked with other parents at my daughter’s school over the past few months, bemoaning the stress of the Kent Test, grammar schools have been the No1 topic of conversation. However, despite the additional pressure the 11-plus puts on family life, it’s easy to see why grammar schools are still popular: parents want their children to be challenged; they want them to learn academic subjects; and they want them to leave school knowing considerably more than they did when they started. In my experience, this is an aspiration that all parents share. Few parents say they want selection for the sake of it. If we believe that intelligence is neither fixed nor innate and that all children are capable of being educated, then there is no reason why a rigorous, academic curriculum can’t be introduced in all schools. But this will require a cultural shift, an appreciation of knowledge and learning for its own sake, and a determination to put children under pressure rather than seeing them as too vulnerable to learn. Tinkering with education policy may provide a different set of incentives and a few quick fixes, but it is unlikely to change the dominant ethos surrounding education today.

That May is arguing for grammar schools primarily on the basis of social mobility shows exactly how far we are from a culture that values academic knowledge. Placing social mobility at the heart of education reduces academic subjects to skills that might aid employability. It implies an instrumentalisation of knowledge that completely undercuts any belief in learning for its own sake. If May’s proposals come to fruition, we risk importing the worst element of grammar schools – selection – without reaping their greatest benefit: the privileging of subject knowledge. What would be better for all children is a return to the founding ethos of the comprehensive system: namely, that of ‘grammar schools for all’.


Title IX abuse

Throughout his time in office, Barack Obama has sought means by which to unilaterally orchestrate his desired leftist transformation of American culture. One of his most effective tools has been novel use of the Title IX portion of the 1972 Education Amendment of the Civil Rights Act. Obama and team have essentially limited freedom of speech on college campuses through their radical interpretations and applications of the law. Examples of this have been seen in the administration’s approach to combating problems of campus sexual assaults. The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) under Obama recently took Fostburg State University to task stating that the university’s sexual harassment policy fell short of Title IX standards. The university’s policy used “common sense” and “reason” as the measurement by which to establish whether or not an incident was to be identified as sexual harassment.

The OCR sees this standard of determining what constitutes sexual harassment as too limiting. So what standard does the OCR suggest as liberal enough to meet Title IX demands? For the OCR, any claim of sexual harassment is the standard — no matter how innocent or unintentional the words or actions of an accused individual may be. In other words, if sexual harassment is claimed, then it has occurred. What of due process and the concept of innocent until proven guilty? Evidentially, there is no room for these roadblocks as leftists pursue their goal of radicalized gender “equality.” No wonder they’re attacking “common sense” and “reason.”

Having such a subjective standard for determining what constitutes sexual harassment accomplishes two things. First it helps to further the leftist narrative that America’s colleges and universities are plagued with a “rape culture” beyond what conservatives would argue is one of sexually promiscuity. Secondly, it creates another convenient excuse for the government to justify dictating even more policies and practices to which schools will be bound. Another problem, more government power.


College Athletics Censored in North Carolina

The whole point of athletics is to showcase talent and provide a platform for entertainment, character building and personal achievement. But today’s heads of sports are more interested in promoting activism than they are in giving fans who support them a friendly, fun and, most importantly, non-partisan environment. North Carolina is ground zero right now for the Rainbow Mafia. The state made what leftists view as an unfathomable decision to force individuals to use facilities based not on which sex they “identify” with but on their biological makeup. The backlash was remarkable. For example, the NBA discriminated against the Tar Heels in July by moving next year’s All-Star game. Now the NCAA is following suit.

The association just announced it has nixed plans to host seven championships in North Carolina in 2017. Instead, college finals related to soccer, basketball, golf, tennis, lacrosse and baseball will be to moved to more politically correct environments. NCAA president Mark Emmert explained, “Fairness is about more than the opportunity to participate in college sports, or even compete for championships. We believe in providing a safe and respectful environment at our events and are committed to providing the best experience possible for college athletes, fans and everyone taking part in our championships.” Since when is keeping a male out of the women’s restroom and vice versa giving fans a bad experience?

Sadly, such disillusionment is the culmination of progressivism, which inevitably leads to attacks on religious liberty and doctrine. Take “Catholic” vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine. He stated over the weekend, “My full, complete, unconditional support for marriage equality is at odds with the current doctrine of the church that I still attend. But I think that’s going to change, too.” The problem isn’t conservatives' lack of “inclusion.” It’s guys like Kaine who have an insatiable drive to normalize things that aren’t — all in the name of “progress.” We live in an age during which so-called progressives are increasingly bowing to political correctness. Literally. Just look at Colin Kaepernick and some of his fellow NFL players.