Sunday, June 11, 2017

DeVos on Obama’s ‘Race to the Top’ Program: ‘We’ve Seen That Movie; We’re Not Going to Do That Again’

Testifying in front of Congress on President Donald Trump’s new budget for education, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said Tuesday that she will not follow the footsteps of Obama’s “Race to the Top” grant program.

James Lankford (R-Ok) asked Devos whether the $1 billion increase in Title I funds she proposed, dedicated to “furthering options for children to unlock success,” will be different from Race to the Top, a grant announced in 2009 by Former President Barack Obama and Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

According to the website of the U.S. Department of Education, Title I provides financial assistance to local educational agencies and schools highly attended by children from low-come families to ensure that every child meet state standards.

“There was a concern in this dais that [the program] was really a requirement from the government that, if you want these dollars, then you’ll have to do these curricula.” Lankford said. “Do it our way and, if you don’t do it our way, you can’t get the dollars that came out of your state to come back to your state.”

But according to DeVos, her proposal will allow individual states more flexibility on educational procedures.

“It’s only if states want to, and local education agencies and authorities want to, attempt an experiment to allow students to attend other public schools in their region,” she said. “It is, no way, going to be mandated from the top that this has to happen or how it has to happen.”

The increase, Devos said, will serve as a financial aid if the students choose to utilize it. That is the framework around which states or local districts would be able to opt into or adopt, she said.

Lankford asked if the proposal would give instructions to those states or those entities on how to do curriculum, how to do teacher evaluations, how to do testing requirements.

“Not at all,” DeVos replied. “No, we’ve seen that movie; we’re not going to do that one again.”

A report by the Education Department on American’s schools under Race to the Top reveals that although the program was voluntary, 46 states and the District of Columbia applied.

“The administration used the money to encourage – Obama’s critics would say coerce – states to embrace its education policies, including charter schools, college and career-ready standards and evaluations of teachers using student test scores,” NPR Ed reported.


Scottish universities slip down the global rankings under socialist rule

St Andrews, Edinburgh and Glasgow in top 100.  That is very good for such a small nation as Scotland but very sad against the traditional reverence for education that has long marked the Scots

Scotland’s universities have plummeted down a global league table, leading to fears that underfunding is putting the country’s reputation for excellence in higher education at risk.

In the respected international survey, the University of Edinburgh dropped out of the top 20, while the University of Aberdeen and University of St Andrews fell significantly in 12 months.

Of the ten Scottish universities ranked by QS analysts who consider factors such as views of academics, employers, graduate job prospects and quality of research, only one recorded an improvement in their performance, with Heriot-Watt, in Edinburgh, rising from 327th to 312th in the world.

St Andrews kept its place in the top 100, but fell 15 places, to 92nd. Aberdeen fell 17 places, to 158th. The University of Edinburgh dropped four places, to 23rd, and the University of Glasgow fell two places, to 65th.

Across the UK, two thirds of universities recorded a drop in their ranking, compared with 90 per cent north of the border, while universities in other countries overtook them.

Ben Sowter, head of research at QS, warned against blaming Brexit for the UK-wide decline in performance, saying “continued strain on university resources” is a more significant factor.

Alistair Sim, director of the Universities Scotland umbrella group, said that there were some positives to take from league tables that showed four Scottish universities in the global top 200, but he admitted that declines in rankings were “disappointing”.

He added: “Scotland cannot afford to let this become a pattern. Higher education is a global sector and our competition is not other universities in Scotland, or even the rest of the UK, it is the rest of the world.

“The rankings focus on excellence, and protecting that excellence will be what determines whether we can continue to attract the best international students, greater inward investment into Scotland, the biggest research contracts and the smartest minds to work on them. This drives universities’ contribution to Scotland’s success.”

Mr Sim has warned before that current funding levels for higher education are unsustainable. His organisation has claimed that universities have been subject to a 12 per cent cut in public funding since 2010.

Caps are imposed on the number of Scottish and non-UK EU students universities can recruit, because of the SNP’s policy of offering free tuition fees.

He added: “Scotland’s universities have a deserved international reputation for excellence. We look to the Scottish government to support us to build that further.” In the rankings, released today, the University of Dundee dropped 23 places, to 267th, while the University of Strathclyde fell from 272nd to 277th.

Iain Gray, Scottish Labour’s education spokesman, said the drop in university league rankings followed similar declines in the performance of Scottish schoolchildren in international surveys in areas such as maths, science and literacy. He said: “Falling down global league tables is becoming a theme for the SNP and education. A Tory hard Brexit will be a blow too for higher education in Scotland, but the initial problems in this report can be traced back to chronic underfunding of the sector under the SNP.”

Massachusetts Institute of Technology maintained its place as the world’s leading university, according to QS. Cambridge, the top UK institution, is ranked fifth, down from fourth, one place ahead of Oxford in sixth.


Lawmaker raises bill to defund The Evergreen State College

Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, is fed up with what is going on at The Evergreen State College in Olympia and recently introduced a bill to pull state funding from the school.

The Evergreen State College has been embroiled in controversy following biology professor Brett Weinstein’s decision to oppose an optional event that asked white students to leave campus, in order to discuss race relations. The event was intended to be a reversal of the institution’s annual “Day of Absence,” which encourages minorities to attend off-campus programs, according to the Associated Press.

Weinstein’s decision led to a firestorm of criticism from Evergreen students and the public, with the college shutting down for a couple of days due to threats.

“These so-called campus activists want to set us back 50 years to the days of segregation. Threats have been made and it is deeply concerning, especially when the college president said he is ‘grateful’ for the ‘passion and courage’ demonstrated by students responsible for what is happening,” Manweller said.

House Bill 2221 would require The Evergreen State College to work with the Office of Financial Management to develop a plan by Dec. 1, 2018 to transition the college to a private institution over five years. If passed, the bill would require the Evergreen Board of Trustees to start implementing the plan July 1, 2019. In turn, state lawmakers would then start reducing state support for the college by 20 percent a year for five years, until the college receives no state financial support.

“We should not be spending taxpayer dollars on a public institution that condones and encourages this type of behavior,” Manweller said. “The state has plenty of other higher education institutions we can focus our resources on where students are interested in learning and the faculty is committed to actual academics.”

In addition, Manweller sent a letter to the Washington State Human Rights Commission requesting a formal investigation into what is going on at the college.


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