Sunday, December 31, 2017

'Controversial' professor who was sent death threats after blaming the Las Vegas massacre on 'white patriarchy' resigns from Philadelphia University

A Pennsylvania college professor who received death threats after linking the Las Vegas and Texas massacres to 'white supremacist patriarchy' and 'whiteness' has resigned.

Associate professor George Ciccariello-Maher said in a statement that he was leaving Drexel University as his situation had become 'unsustainable' due to harassment and death threats.

Ciccariello-Maher, 38, said the threats had come from 'right-wing, white supremacist media outlets and internet mobs' in the wake of his tweets about the terror attacks.

Writing in a statement on his Facebook, The political science and global studies professor writes: 'This is not a decision I take lightly.

'After nearly a year of harassment by right-wing, white supremacist media outlets and internet mobs, after death threats and threats of violence directed against me and my family, my situation has become unsustainable.

'Staying at Drexel in the eye of this storm has become detrimental to my own writing, speaking, and organizing.'

He also highlights the legitimization of white supremacy in the U.S. during the Trump presidency, saying 'the forces of resurgent white supremacy have tasted blood and are howling for more.

He added: 'In the face of aggression from the racist Right and impending global catastrophe, we must defend our universities, our students, and ourselves by defending the most vulnerable among us and by making our campuses unsafe spaces for white supremacists.'

Ciccariello-Maher, was put on leave by Drexel in October, after a series of tweets about the Las Vegas massacre, which saw 58 people killed and 546 injured.

He posted a tweet reading, "It's the white supremacist patriarchy, stupid." That tweet was followed by a series of similar statements.

Writing in an op-ed for the Washington Post, he that threats had started coming in after conservative media outlets highlighted his tweets.

A few weeks later, when 26 people were shot and killed at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, he claimed in an interview that 'white' entitlement' was a factor in the killings.

Speaking to at the time, he further explained: 'Many white males are raised with a double sense of entitlement, since being both white and male are structures of power and dominance over (non-white and female) others.

'When that power is perceived to be threatened, as Donald Trump and other racist misogynists encourage people to believe, the results can be incredibly dangerous,' he added. 

The 38-year-old has found himself mired in controversy several times in recent years.

In 2016, he tweeted that all he wanted for Christmas was 'White genocide.'  He was also heavily criticized after posting that he was 'trying not to vomit or yell about Mosul' when he witnessed someone relinquish their first-class seat on an airplane for a soldier earlier this year.

The incident occurred two days after American forces accidentally killed 200 civilians after bombing the Iraqi city.


Keep the Federal Government Out of School Choice

School choice has many benefits. It frees people to select the type of education that will best serve their families. It makes educators accountable to the people they are supposed to work for. And study after study proves it typically leads to improved academic outcomes. But despite these advantages, that does not mean the federal government should push choice in a nationwide program. The dangers may be too great.

The Trump administration has made clear that it wants to support school choice. In his February address to Congress, the president called education “the civil rights issue of our time,” and he has pledged to direct $20 billion to advance choice. He also picked school choice stalwart Betsy DeVos as his education secretary.

Trump deserves credit for seeing the need to weaken a government monopoly, let parents choose the best education for their unique children and leave educators free to teach as they see fit. But there is great risk in federalizing choice: He who pays the piper calls the tune, and federal control could ultimately impose the same regulations on once-independent schools that have stifled public institutions.

We can glimpse what that might look like in higher education, where federal student aid makes schools and students dependent on Washington and drives the federal government’s regulatory tentacles deep into the education system.

In the 1970-1971 academic year, total federal aid for higher education was just $16 billion. Today it is around $158 billion. In 1992-1993, 45 percent of full-time, full-year undergraduates used some form of federal aid. By 2011-2012, that share had jumped to nearly 73 percent.

Attached to all that aid are volumes of regulations that have increased in scope and intrusiveness for years. There are rules eroding core legal protections for students accused of sexual misconduct and blunt measures of school quality that fail to account for even basic variables such as the composition of a school’s student body or big state subsidies. And colleges deal with a student body of adults—imagine the rules that could be instituted for children, who are not assumed to be capable of caring for themselves.

Of course, lots of college aid comes in the form of grants and loans, while the K-12 proposal getting the most attention is a tax credit for donating to organizations that provide scholarships. It’s appealing because it could fulfill Trump’s $20 billion promise without technically increasing the debt-ridden federal budget.

But that setup would not be protected from regulation. College tax credits can be claimed only for expenditures on accredited institutions, and the federal government regulates the accreditors. It is likely that a federal K-12 tax credit would start with a similar thicket of requirements for accreditation or eventually end up there. If something were to go wrong at even one or two schools accepting scholarship students, choice opponents and “accountability” hawks would likely head right to the regulatory presses.

Of course, such regulation can happen at the state level. But that is where federalism—states and Washington controlling different matters—can help. States are “laboratories of democracy.” They can try different policies, and do so without exposing everyone to possible failure. States also compete for residents and businesses, creating a much greater incentive to care about efficient and effective policy than Washington has.

If the federal government delivered choice through a new nationwide model, it would likely swamp these democratic labs and snuff out competition among differing choice policies, including vouchers, education savings accounts and other ideas of which no one has yet dreamt.

That does not mean the Trump administration can do nothing helpful. It can put the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program on a permanent and expanding footing. During nearly every budget cycle over the past eight years, the Obama administration attempted to zero out funding for choice in the District, a place where the feds actually do have constitutional authority to govern education. Thousands of low-income children could finally feel assured of their places in safe, effective, chosen schools.

The administration could also propose expanding choice to military families and children attending Bureau of Indian Education schools—the latter deemed the worst-performing schools in the United States.

Those offer major opportunities to create choices where few or none exist. Along with use of the bully pulpit to promote state-level choice, they would go far to advance the cause of educational freedom and opportunity.


The Low Academic Quality of Too Many Teachers

Walter E. Williams   

My recent columns have focused on the extremely poor educational outcomes for black students. There’s enough blame for all involved to have their fair share. That includes students who are hostile and alien to the educational process and have derelict, uninterested home environments.

After all, if there is not someone in the home to ensure that a youngster does his homework, has wholesome meals, gets eight to 10 hours of sleep, and behaves in school, educational dollars won’t produce much.

There’s another educational issue that’s neither flattering nor comfortable to confront. That’s the low academic quality of so many teachers. It’s an issue that must be confronted and dealt with if we’re to improve the quality of education. Most states require prospective teachers to pass a certification test. How about a sample of some of the test questions.

Here’s a question from a recent test given to college students in Michigan planning to become teachers: “Which of the following is largest? a. 1/4, b. 3/5, c. 1/2, d. 9/20.” Another question: “A town planning committee must decide how to use a 115-acre piece of land. The committee sets aside 20 acres of the land for watershed protection and an additional 37.4 acres for recreation. How much of the land is set aside for watershed protection and recreation? a. 43.15 acres, b. 54.6 acres, c. 57.4 acres, d. 60.4 acres”.

The Arizona teacher certification test asks: “Janet can type 250 words in 5 minutes, what is her typing rate per minute? a. 50wpm, b. 66wpm, c. 55wpm, d. 45wpm.”

The California Basic Educational Skills Test asks the test taker to find the verb in the following sentence: “The interior temperatures of even the coolest stars are measured in millions of degrees. a. Coolest, b. Of even, c. Are measured, d. In millions.”

A California Basic Educational Skills Test math question is: “You purchase a car making a down payment of $3,000 and 6 monthly payments of $225. How much have you paid so far for the car? a. $3225, b. $4350, c. $5375, d. $6550, e. $6398.”

My guess is that these are questions that an eighth- or ninth-grader with a good education ought to be able to answer. Such test questions demonstrate the low bar that states set in order for one to become a certified teacher. Even with such low expectations, college graduates have failed these and similarly constructed teacher certification tests. Recently, New York, after being tied up in court for years, dropped its teacher literacy test amid claims of racism.

A 2011 investigation by WSB-TV found that more than 700 Georgia teachers had repeatedly failed at least one portion of the certification test they were required to pass before receiving a teaching certificate. Nearly 60 teachers had failed the test more than 10 times, and one teacher had failed the test 18 times. There were 297 teachers on the Atlanta school system’s payroll who had failed the state certification test five times or more.

With but a few exceptions, schools of education represent the academic slums of colleges. They tend to be home to students who have the lowest academic test scores—for example, SAT scores—when they enter college. They also tend to have the lowest scores when they graduate and choose to take postgraduate admissions tests—such as the GRE, the MCAT, and the LSAT. Professors at schools of education tend to have the lowest level of academic respectability. American education could benefit from eliminating schools of education.

You might ask: Without schools of education, how would teachers be trained? I think that we ought to adopt a practice whereby teachers are hired according to their undergraduate major.

I learned this talking to a headmistress of a private school. She said she doesn’t hire education majors. She said that if she hires a teacher to teach chemistry, math, English, or any other subject, the person must have a bachelor’s degree in the discipline. Pedagogical techniques can be learned through short formal training, coaching, and experience.


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