Friday, January 27, 2017

Mass.: State's public colleges see rise in hunger, homelessness

What??  The "caring" Leftists who run Mass. have allowed  this?  Leftists care only about themselves

The state's colleges and universities are reporting that hunger and homelessness among students have increased over the past year, an alarming new disclosure that makes clear that many low-income students have far more to worry about than just exams and extracurricular activities.

The findings, released Tuesday, come from a survey of administrators at the 29 state colleges and universities, 24 of which operate their own food pantries or have partnerships with community food banks.

Forty-five percent of the colleges reported a rise in student homelessness over the last year. Thirty-eight percent saw an increase in students living with "food insecurity," roughly defined as a lack of consistent access to food. And 34 percent saw a rise in students being served by food pantries.

"Quite frankly, it's heartbreaking to know the kind of challenges they're facing, and they still come to school, and they still try to succeed," said Patricia A. Gentile, president of North Shore Community College in Danvers, which has a higher percentage of students experiencing hunger than its peers nationally.

The results were included in a report presented to the state Board of Higher Education, which is weighing how to respond. The next step may be to survey students, not just administrators.

"The larger picture here is we should do everything we can within our power to support those students who are demonstrating an extraordinary commitment to their studies," said Fernando M. Reimers, a board member and professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. "They need a little helping hand."

Most colleges reported they have students living in shelters, cars, or "couch surfing," and some described students living in 24-hour businesses such as Dunkin' Donuts and McDonald's, or outside in warmer weather.

All told, 1,020 students at Massachusetts' public colleges and universities are homeless or at risk of homelessness, according to federal data. State colleges and universities serve more than 290,000 students.

The administrators blamed the problem of hunger and homelessness on lack of family support, student debt, the rising cost of living, and insufficient financial aid, among other reasons.

Last November, North Shore Community College surveyed its students about hunger and homelessness, after noticing that many were taking fewer courses per semester because of financial - not academic - pressures.

The results indicate that 32 percent of the 6,500 students at North Shore Community College are "hungry," compared with 20 percent of community college students nationwide. Nineteen percent are homeless, compared with 13 percent of community college students nationally.

Bunker Hill Community College and the Greater Boston Food Bank have teamed up to give out food to those in need.

"That was disturbing to know that our students face a disproportionate challenge to staying in school and completing their education due to hunger and homelessness," Gentile said.

When the survey asked North Shore Community College students to describe where they live, the responses included: "shelter for 3 years with kids;" "in my car," and, "I live with friends and family - whoever has room for me at the time."

Gentile emphasized that average age of a student on her campus is 27, meaning many are mothers and fathers, and not the typical 19-year-old who might attend a private four-year college.

She said the college has sought to raise awareness of a campus fund that provides low-income students with $7 vouchers for the college cafeteria.

At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, meanwhile, administrators said the school may create supply closets with toiletries and other household items for needy students.

Salem State University said its students and alumni are holding a "Grilled Cheese for Giving" event to raise money for the campus food pantry.

Christopher Aguirre, a 20-year-old student at Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown, is among those who have confronted homelessness and hunger while working toward a degree. He told the Board of Higher Education his story Tuesday, bringing at least one member to tears.

According to a copy of his testimony, Aguirre was working full time as a bank teller and living in Revere when his rent increased and he could no longer afford the bills.  Determined to attend college, he applied to Bunker Hill and started sleeping between Terminals B and C at Logan Airport in July 2015.

In September of that year, just as he was preparing to start classes, he landed a job at a bookstore in the airport, he said, and was able to afford one meal per day.

He continued to sleep in the airport until December 2015, he said, until he managed to find housing through a shelter program.

At Bunker Hill, he said, he qualified for the dean's list, and saved money through scholarships and federal financial aid grants. He said he expects to graduate this year, and is preparing to transfer to a four-year college. He hopes to become a molecular biologist.

He credited his success to his professor and advisers as well as to Single Stop USA, a program at Bunker Hill that connects students to a mobile food pantry, financial aid, legal assistance, and other essential services.

Aguirre urged the board to work urgently to help other students like him.  "While housing and food insecurity may be most visible on the sidewalk, it strikes far too many of this state's young men and women who understand that their education can lead them to success," he told the board. "That benefits not only them, but the Commonwealth as a whole."


Christian university to send students to mosque for `religious experience'

Students enrolled in a world religions course this semester at Texas Christian University must attend a mosque service as part of the class.

The field trip was scheduled to take place on Good Friday - one of the most holy days for Christians - observed as the day Jesus Christ was crucified.

"Every student is expected to attend this service," states the syllabus, a copy of which was obtained by The College Fix. "This visit is part of your participation in class. Many other students from our department will join us. It is a religious experience visit. No student is required to participate in mosque's service during our visit."

Reached for comment, a campus spokesperson said the field trip's date was assigned in error, that the university is closed on Good Friday, and the professor is working to reschedule the mosque visit.

"Texas Christian University is actually closed on Good Friday," spokeswoman Holly Ellman told The College Fix in an email. "The date on the syllabus was inaccurate, which the professor is aware of and is modifying. He will notify his students accordingly to ensure that they have accurate, up-to-date information about the course."

Asked for further clarification on the field trip, and the course and its content, Ellman referred to the class' one-sentence online description.

Spring semester launched in mid-January at the private university, located in Fort Worth. The course, "Understanding Diverse Faith Communities," is taught by Associate Professor of Islamic and Religious Studies Yushau Sodiq, whose faculty page states he earned his bachelor's degree in Islamic Studies and master's degree in Islamic law at University of Medina in Saudi Arabia, and his PhD in Islamic Studies from Temple University. He also taught at a university in Nigeria before his post at Texas Christian University, which he has held since 1992.

Sodiq did not respond to emails from The College Fix asking whether there is an alternative assignment for students who do not wish to observe the Islamic service, and well as for more general information on the course and its academic aims.

According to the syllabus, the intention of the mosque visit is to "understand the ritual and tradition of other religions in their own context."

"You can also invite your friends to join in this visit," the syllabus states. ". If you do not attend the mosque, you will not be able to do the quiz and as you know, there is not make-up for quizzes."

The 90-minute visit will include an address by the "leader of the Muslim community" and an observation of the sunset prayer, it adds.

One option for extra credit in the class is called "Being Muslim for a Day," in which students can dress as a Muslim or tell their family they've become Muslim and document the reactions.

The syllabus was provided to The College Fix by Pamela Geller, who obtained it from a campus source.

Geller is president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a nonprofit "dedicated to freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, individual rights and equality for all before the law." Geller is known for, among other things, her activism against the encroachment of Sharia Law in the United States and her defiant stance against Islam's strict and unconstitutional religious tenets, such as the law that the prophet Mohammad must not be drawn.

In a statement to The Fix, Geller expressed concern about the course at Texas Christian University:

"Sodiq's syllabus for his `Understanding Diverse Faith Communities' states that the course is meant `to enable our students comprehend the meanings and nature of world religions' . Yet while the class discusses Islam, Judaism, African traditional religions, and Buddhism (apparently Sodiq assumes that students at Texas Christian University know all they need to know about Christianity already), Sodiq's syllabus plans for five sessions on Islam, plus two more on The Kite Runner, a novel about Muslims in Afghanistan, and another for the mosque visit, for a total of eight on Islam and related themes," Geller stated. "Meanwhile, only four class sessions are planned on Buddhism, three on Judaism, and two on African traditional religions."

Geller also takes issue with the mosque trip: "Sodiq implies that the visit has a proselytizing intent as he writes: `You can also invite your friends to join in this visit' - and ominously, `If you do not attend the mosque, you will not be able to do the quiz and as you know, there is not make-up for quizzes."

"The syllabus does not explain why there is no visit to a synagogue, church, Buddhist temple, or any other house of worship - only to a mosque," Geller told The Fix. "Sodiq also requires that students complete a journal entry on `Islamophobia.' He asks for no journal entry on anti-Semitism or prejudice or hatred against any other group."

"What is most disturbing about all this is the threat that lies behind it," she added. "The people who passed this information on to me refused to be identified because they were certain there would be reprisals if their identities were known. Just as disturbing as that is the fact that in contemporary American academia, Yushau Sodiq's university class of thinly veiled Islamic proselytizing isn't unusual at all. It's all too common."


Speaker Ryan: `Every Parent Should Have The Chance To Choose a Decent School'

At a rally to celebrate National School Choice Week, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) said every parent should have the right to send their children to the school of their choice.

"Every parent should have the chance to choose a decent school for your child," Ryan said, surrounded by children from Sacred Heart Catholic School in D.C. who carried signs emblazoned with messages such as "Put Kids First" and "Got Choice?"

Ryan said that attending school should not be limited by one's zip code. "That is just wrong," Ryan said. "In America, we think much, much bigger than that.  In America, we believe that the condition of your birth does not affect the outcome of your life."

Ryan praised President Donald Trump's pick for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, and said the scholarship program to allow low-income children in the District of Columbia to attend private and religious schools, which was ended by President Barack Obama, would be expanded by the Republican-led Congress.

"We finally have a president and vice president who believe in school choice," said the House Speaker. "And soon we will have a new education secretary who believes in school choice."


Thursday, January 26, 2017

End state monopolies in education!

Donald Trump's Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos is getting flak from both sides - from the left because she is not fully committed to unionized public education, from the right because she appears at least neutral on the "Common Core" national standards mandated by the Obama administration. Education is important - it is how we pass on our civilization. Accordingly, we should fight monopolies, whether structural from the public sector or intellectual from the "treasonous clerks" of academia. It is to be hoped that Ms. DeVos both understands this and does something substantial about it.

Education is in many ways our most vital function: it is how we pass on our history, our values and our civilization. That being so, why would you attempt to turn it into a monopoly? It must surely be obvious even to the left, after centuries of bureaucrat failure, that there is no central body of "experts" capable of defining what history, values and civilization we should be passing on.

That is not to say there are no other means by which we pass things on to the young. Parents, obviously, are in many but not all cases a more important source of information, values and culture than the school system. In traditional societies, churches also passed on many of the society's values, together with their views on how citizens should lead a good life. Books, too, have always been a good source of primarily information and to a lesser extent values, for those young people who can be brought to read them. More recently, Hollywood, television and the internet impart their own set of values and culture, frequently violently at odds with what schools, parents, churches and even books are attempting to teach.

Given the extraordinary disparate richness of our history, our values and our culture, it is immediately clear that no single curriculum can possibly pass it all on, or be regarded as satisfactory by any but a small minority of parents. A little of the necessary diversity can be gained by some parents "home schooling" their children, but this is very difficult. Even with two degrees I am not confident in my ability to home-school a child beyond elementary school level in most subjects, and in any case I have a full-time occupation which would prevent my giving appropriate time both to the actual teaching and to the preparation, as I stumbled my way through Middle School French or biology. Clearly only a small minority of parents are even as well equipped to do this as I am, however much they may want to.

It is therefore necessary for educational provision and curricula to be as decentralized as possible, in order that, in any given area, a wide variety of teaching systems are available, from the most traditional to the most eclectic, with even the poorest family having access to a range of possibilities for educating its children. No "common core" national curriculum is either necessary or desirable. Any such curriculum will inevitably reflect the fads of a centralized educational bureaucracy, and will thus be hopelessly unfitted for the diversity of education's two sets of consumers: the hugely diverse parent body and the equally diverse and very rapidly changing working world.

The solution lies in both localization and diversification. Localize the provision of education, so that local lifestyles, moral beliefs and potential job opportunities are better reflected in what local children are taught. Second, diversify the providers of education, so that the teachers' unions can no longer impose a uniform leftist bias upon the curriculum and its implementation. The obvious way to achieve this is a system of local control and vouchers, ensuring that poor students have as much educational choice as rich ones.

Skeptics will say that this will result in students being taught creationism in some areas of the Deep South, but so what? Students are taught global warming in almost all schools today, and that belief is no more proven and no less faith-based. There is no reason whatever why the irrational beliefs of the left should be the only ones inculcated through the school system. Students taught creationism will have difficulty achieving successful careers in some areas of biology, but there plenty of other fields of endeavor in which a belief in creationism would be no handicap. And after all, students fully indoctrinated in the global warming hysteria would probably not find success as geophysicists.

Parents will no doubt have some nutty ideas about what they want their children taught (rich, progressive parents generally the nuttiest of all), but the children themselves as they grow older and the demands of the job market will correct the worst foolishness. However, just as local variation will produce some schools with low standards and eccentric curricula, so also it will produce some schools with superior, more rigorous curricula, and in particular with a brisker, less dilatory pace through the early years in e.g. mathematics. With some children taught calculus at 11, as I was, the United States will no longer come 37th in every international comparison of high school achievement.

It would also be both possible and very likely popular to set up "insulated schools" in which by agreement with the parents the most loathsome aspects of popular culture were blocked from the students' school and home environments and appropriate high culture inculcated instead. Opera-lovers have rights, too!

A program of localization and vouchers would very likely go far to solving the problem of school education, but it would not address the almost equal malaise affecting colleges. Here, in the United States at least, the problem is not excessive centralized control. The Federal government provides funding for student loan schemes, themselves a monstrous drain on taxpayers who are very often poorer and less educated than the college students being financed, but it does not prescribe a "common core" of college curricula.

Instead, the colleges themselves have devalued college education, especially at the top schools, to the extent that increasing numbers of the best students are deciding to skip the college experience. The blight of political correctness in elite college faculties, which has got worse as the Baby Boomers have increased in seniority, become even more set in their views and recruited like-minded lunatics to the faculty, makes college a pretty unattractive prospect for any young person with intelligence and an open mind. Four years of political correctness and indoctrination are not worth $300,000 of anyone's money - almost the entire value gained is the brand name on the diploma, and that is inevitably a wasting asset as educational quality declines.

Apart from the mind-numbing political slant, there are three disadvantages to four-year colleges in the current system. First, their cost has been allowed to escalate beyond all reason, so that any reasonable risk-reward analysis by an 18-year-old without wealthy parents suggests avoiding them.

Second, they cram all the expensive education into the beginning of a career. This does not matter too much with a liberal arts degree (though the value of a "Feminist Studies" major by 2060 must be seriously questioned) but any science or mathematics degree, or even a degree in economics or business, is almost worthless 20 years out, at which point the student is faced with the difficulty of self-reeducation or a severe career downgrading in the early 40s.

Finally, colleges make students take all kinds of irrelevant courses, to satisfy the prejudices of their professors or transient academic fashions. Students are not able to pursue a course of study that truly reflects their interests, and are thus paying a great deal of money for education they do not want. However, of the three problems, this is the easiest to solve. Innumerable services are now making individual courses available to interested students, and awarding "nanodegrees" to those passing them.

One objection to this is that it only works for highly self-motivated students who have already acquired the ability to learn independently. However, a Coursera offering "Learning how to Learn" addresses this problem, and there is no doubt that all except the least motivated and those completely failed by their school education will be able to pick up knowledge on an a la carte basis in the future, with the aid of a few foundational courses on learning itself.

The availability of individual course modules of high quality through the Internet removes most of the difficulties to a student who does not wish to spend four years in college. It also enables students who wish to retrain in middle life to do so, thus greatly increasing career flexibility. Employers will need to adapt also, accepting an appropriate portfolio of nanodegrees as qualification for a particular post, and rejecting the current snobbish credentialism that places barriers in front of able students.

As the above discussion suggests, the Federal government's main potential contribution to education is to get out of the way. It should provide funding where necessary to impoverished districts, allowing them to set up generous voucher schemes whereby their residents can take advantage of a broad range of educational opportunities, but it should no longer attempt to set standards or interfere in schools' running. At the college level, it must cease subsidizing the outmoded model of the four-year college. In particular, it must cease encouraging the acquisition of college debt, which leaves students penurious and financially inflexible for much of their working lives.

Ms. DeVos, if she is to achieve what is needed, has a great deal of work ahead of her. But most of it will consist of undoing past mistakes.


Diversity for the Sake of Democracy

“Stand up if you identify as Caucasian.”

The minister’s voice was solemn. I paused so that I wouldn’t be the first one standing, and then slowly rose to my feet. “Look at your community,” he said. I glanced around the auditorium obediently. The other students looked as uncomfortable as I felt, and as white. ¨Thank you,” the minister said finally. After we sat down, he went on to repeat the exercise for over an hour with different adjectives in place of “Caucasian”: black, wealthy, first-generation, socially conservative. Each time he introduced a new label, he paused so that a new group of students could stand and take note of one another. By the time he was finished, every member of Princeton University’s freshman class had been branded with a demographic.

This mandatory orientation event was designed to help us appreciate our diversity as a student body during the first week of classes. But what did it really accomplish? In compressing us into isolated communities based on our race, religion or gender, the minister belittled every other piece of our identities. He faced a crowd of singular young adults and essentially told them that their heritage outweighed their humanity.  The message was clear: know your kind and stick to it. Don’t risk offending people from other backgrounds by trying to understand their worldviews.

Why were the university administrators, who speak so highly of diversity, choosing to strip us of our individuality?  No doubt their intentions were good. In an effort to appear enlightened and progressive, they wanted to show their appreciation for the distinctions between various cultures. Unfortunately, this is hard to do without forcing members of each culture to assimilate to the most extreme stereotypes of their group. And so the administration chose to celebrate our cultural diversity as a student body, at the cost of our individual diversity as students.

Like many other schools, Princeton has become disturbingly homogeneous because of this phenomenon. Not only that, but the pressure to respect other groups on and off campus is pushing my generation into left-wing uniformity. We are encouraged to mind our own business by mimicking politically correct values without ever thinking them through on our own.  No one questioned the students and faculty members who disrespectfully walked out of Charles Murray’s lecture hall after he was invited to speak on campus this winter.

My teachers and classmates openly referred to Trump’s voters as uneducated bigots throughout the election season, while taking any criticism of Clinton as an attack against women. Anyone who dares to voice a religious opinion is regarded as unintelligent. The fear of being called racist draws our attention to a black woman’s skin instead of her character, and the fear of being called homophobic emphasizes a gay man’s sexuality over his personality. We have been trained to tiptoe around each other and distribute trigger warnings with generosity.

We’ve forgotten how to look past the extremist values of the groups we identify with, and instead celebrate our nuanced differences as individuals. Walt Whitman wrote: “I am less the reminder of property or qualities, and more the reminder of life.”

The point of diversity is not that each culture is different, but that each person must live his own life and develop his own worldview.  As Whitman eloquently noted, “Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you. You must travel it by yourself.” But instead of letting us travel it by ourselves, Princeton limits us by constantly pressuring us to behave and think like others in our demographic.

This concerns not only my university and others like it, but the future of our nation as a democracy.  The less we respect our individuality, the more likely we are to blindly follow partisan values. This prompts an extremist us-vs-them mentality that builds barriers between Republicans and Democrats, African-Americans and Caucasians, and the wealthy and the poor. Because we’re afraid of considering any opinion that is foreign to our demographic, we can’t hear any voices except those that agree with us.  This is especially true in light of the recent election. Trump’s supporters ask each other who could possibly trust Clinton, and Clinton’s supporters ask each other who would dare validate Trump; but neither group finds answers because of the wall between them.

Embracing our singularity would allow us to see past these walls and genuinely consider each other’s ideas. For the sake of democracy, we should take the spotlight off our various backgrounds and focus instead on our personal and idiosyncratic worldviews. Though our minds crave different knowledge, our bodies explore different feelings and our hearts beat to different rhythms, we all share the gift and burden of citizenship. There is a beautiful history of personal sacrifice in the relationship between diversity and democracy.

Diversity is the celebration of individuality and nonconformity, and democracy is most precious when it allows three hundred million individuals to reach a compromise out of love for their country.  As Whitman wrote in his Democratic Vistas, “there is nothing grander… than a well-contested American national election.”

Let’s not lose sight of that grandeur.


Australia Day Address orator Michelle Simmons horrified at 'feminised' physics curriculum

The inherent problems of "affirmative action" rear their heads yet again.  If women really are equal, why do they need special accomodations?  They are not lacking opportunity.  They are a majority on most university campuses

Professor Michelle Simmons, a professor of quantum physics at the University of NSW, has expressed her horror at the "feminised" nature of the HSC physics curriculum.

Delivering the 2017 Australia Day address on Tuesday, Professor Simmons said it was a "disaster" to try to make physics more appealing to girls by substituting rigorous mathematical problem-solving with qualitative responses.

During her Australia Day Address, Professor Michelle Simmons, a world expert in quantum physics and computing challenged Australians "to be known as people who do the hard things".

"There is a big cost in this type of thinking," she said to an audience that included Premier Gladys Berejiklian. "When we reduce the quality of education that anyone receives we reduce the expectations we have of them," she said.

A spokesman for the NSW Education Standards Authority (formerly BOSTES) said the new HSC science curriculum will commence in 2018.  He said: "The new courses address the exact concerns expressed by Professor Simmons. "The physics and chemistry courses will have a greater focus on mathematical applications."

He also said there will be a reduction in the sociology-based content and an emphasis on practical investigations.

Professor Simmons' Australia Day speech focused on the need for Australians to attempt the difficult things in life. "It is better to do the things that have the greatest reward; things that are hard, not easy," she said.

"If we want people to be the best they can be we must set the bar high and tell them we expect them to jump over it," she said. "My strong belief is that we need to be teaching all students – girls and boys – to have high expectations of themselves."

Professor Simmons has certainly set the bar high for herself. She wants to realise her dream to build a working quantum computer, here, in Australia.

For her Cambridge was "too hierarchical and esoteric". The American culture, she said, restricts early-career researchers. When she arrived, people asked her "Why on Earth did you come?"

But for Professor Simmons the choice was easy. "Australia offers a culture of academic freedom, openness to ideas and an amazing willingness to pursue ambitious goals," she said.

Professor Simmons is so proud of the one-way ticket to Australia she bought 18 years ago that she had it framed and sent to her brother for his 50th birthday.

From what she said was a "pretty rough" part of south-east London, she moved to Australia in 1999 after studying at Cambridge. Her big brother Gary went to the United States.

In her Australia Day Address on Tuesday, she said she often jokes with him that she got the better deal. "Only I'm not joking," she told an audience, including NSW Governor David Hurley and Premier Berejiklian. "It's the truth. I genuinely believe it is better here."

Ms Berejiklian introduced Professor Simmons in what was her first official function as Premier.

Professor Simmons said: "On occasions like this, we tend to emphasise the beauty of our natural environment, our great lifestyle and the easygoing character of our people. "This is a mistake ... it encourages us to shy away from difficult challenges. It will stop us from being as ambitious as we might be," she said.

Professor Simmons leads a storied team of dedicated scientists trying to do what many think impossible: build a new type of computer – a quantum computer – based on individual phosphorous atoms in silicon.

She said said: "Quantum physics is hard. Technology at the forefront of human endeavour is hard. But that's what makes it worthwhile."

Building a quantum computer is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Professor Simmons calls it the "space race of the computing era". There are three dedicated centres of excellence in Australia working on quantum technology, with a strong presence across Sydney's universities.

"Australia, for some reason, is disproportionately strong in quantum science. And, with billions of dollars of investment coming into this field from across the world, our challenge is to see if we can translate our international lead into high-technology industries," she said.

A working quantum computer would make currently impossible computing tasks possible. "Instead of performing calculations one after the other like a conventional computer, quantum computers work in parallel, looking at all possible outcomes at the same time," she said. This would allow us "to solve problems in minutes that could otherwise take many thousands of years".

Australia, she said, is a great place to discover things. "I am grateful for that Australian spirit to give things a go and our enduring sense of possibility."

Professor Simmons said: "I want Australians above all to be known as people who do the hard things."


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

England: Elementary errors force maths guides to be pulped

A total of 90 errors were found in one book aimed at teenagers studying for maths GCSE exams

They were supposed to test the maths skills of 16-year-olds but revision guides and homework books written by experts for new GCSEs were strewn with errors, it has been revealed.

Two guides produced by leading publishers to complement maths qualifications created by exam boards have been pulped, with teenagers and teachers offered refunds. Other publishers apologised, saying mistakes would be corrected in future editions.

Errors included incorrect answers to multiplication questions, a plus instead of a minus symbol in an algebra equation and a missing bracket that made a calculation incorrect.

The blunders raise questions about the quality and accuracy of other textbooks, revision guides and homework materials by educational publishers.

They also highlight the strain placed on the exam system by reforms


Education Department Bureaucrats Bail After $7 Billion in Waste Exposed

President Obama dedicated some $7 billion for the express purpose of improving academically failing schools through School Improvement Grants (SIG). In order to be eligible to receive a grant, the failing schools had to adopt one of four models for improvement that had been approved by the U.S. Department of Education.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education released a report than concludes that money was wasted, especially in terms of either improving student test scores or graduation rates:

    There were no significant impacts of SIG-funded models on math or reading test scores, high school graduation, or college enrollment of students in schools at the SIG eligibility cutoff... For 2012-2013, the impact on math test scores was 0.01 standard deviations, the impact on reading test scores was 0.08 standard deviations, and the impact on high school graduation was -5 percentage points, but these impacts were not statistically significant.

John Sexton of Hot Air interprets the report's basic findings:

    So the graduation rate actually went down, just not in a statistically significant way.

The Washington Post`s Emma Brown echoes that conclusion:

    One of the Obama administration's signature efforts in education, which pumped billions of federal dollars into overhauling the nation's worst schools, failed to produce meaningful results, according to a federal analysis.

    Test scores, graduation rates and college enrollment were no different in schools that received money through the School Improvement Grants program-the largest federal investment ever targeted to failing schools-than in schools that did not.

    The Education Department published the findings on the website of its research division on Wednesday, hours before President Obama's political appointees walked out the door.

Such is the way of Washington D.C. bureaucrats, where failures are covered up for as long as needed before they escape to avoid personal accountability.


How to Deal with Trump Derangement Syndrome on Campus

By Roger Kimball

I think people on all sides of the political divide are expecting big things from the incoming Trump administration.  Some of us are looking forward to lower taxes, a less burdensome regulatory environment, the enforcement of the country's immigration laws, the harnessing of all the country's energy resources in the service of a pro-growth agenda, a pro-American foreign policy and upgraded military to back it up, and the appointment of judges and Supreme Court justices who understand that their primary task is to interpret the law in light of the Constitution, not to use the court to reshape society.

It's difficult to say what the other side is looking forward to.  The difficulty comes from the incredible nature of what they say about the prospect of a Trump presidency.  By "incredible," I mean "not believable."  Does David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, really believe (as he wrote in the immediate aftermath of Trump's victory) that "the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism"?

Does he really believe that the fact that his candidate did not win in a free, open, democratic election is "a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy"?  On November 9, Mr. Remnick wrote that "Trump is vulgarity unbounded, a knowledge-free national leader who will not only set markets tumbling but will strike fear into the hearts of the vulnerable, the weak, and, above all, the many varieties of Other whom he has so deeply insulted."  Has he looked at the stock market recently? On November 1, the Dow Jones IndustrialAverage closed at 18,037. Friday, January 13, it closed at 19,885. 19,885 - 18,037 = 1,848. So, the market gained almost 2000 points in two and a half months. How do you define "tumble"?

But what about Trump "strik[ing] fear into the hearts of the vulnerable, the weak, and, above all, the many varieties of Other whom he has so deeply insulted"?  ("[T]he many other variety of Other"? Alas, yes. And in The New Yorker.)

I suspect that Mr. Remnick's overheated verbiage is just calculated hyperbole. I suspect, that is to say, that he doesn't believe a word of it. He doesn't like Donald Trump. He wanted the Dowager Empress of Chappaqua, the Guardian of Benghazi, the Friend of the Syrians, and the Keeper of State Secrets to win. I understand that.  But where does all that "striking fear" into the hearts of people come from? I believe it's fabricated, make-pretend melodrama.

It's a popular entertainment, though, especially on college campuses, where cheap melodrama can usually be indulged in without consequence and chalked up as a "learning experience." ("That will be $300,000, please.")  Like many other commentators from the knuckle-dragging, Neanderthal precincts of humanity, I have had some jolly fun at the expense of our overbred campus snowflakes.

There have been many inventories of academic hysterics over the Trump victory, and I won't go through all of them now, other than to mention the latest that has come to my attention. "Teach! Organize! Resist!" intends to stage a number of on-campus protests and consciousness-raising events between Martin Luther King Jr. Day tomorrow and Mr. Trump's inauguration Friday. 

Although fomented at UCLA, this enterprise has, at last count, attracted the involvement of nearly twenty other institutions, including Princeton University and the University of California at Berkeley, i.e., some of the most prestigious institutions in the country. As Campus Reform reports,  "nine of the participating schools are public, and a total of 46 teach-ins are currently scheduled to take place." I hope the legislators who approve the budgets for the public institutions will sit up and take notice, since one of the immediate goals of "Teach! Organize! Resist!" is to encourage professors to "use your regular class time to attend a panel with your students." Your tax dollars at work, Comrade, and for what?

The organizers of these sideshows are admirably clear about that. "We intend to organize," their web site informs the world,  "against the proposed expansion of state violence targeting people of color, undocumented people, queer communities, women, Muslims, and many others." What "state violence" would that be?  While you wonder about that, note too that the organizers "intend to resist the institutionalization of ideologies of separation and subordination, including white supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, Islamophobia, and virulent nationalism." Oh, I see.

Now some of this is just adolescent play-acting, even if many of those involved, being professors, are far beyond the chronological limits of adolescence.  Academia has an infantilizing effect. I understand that. Many professors dress and act like adolescents right up to the time they are ready to hand in their tenure and live off their generous pensions. The Peter-Pan aspect of academia is not entirely the professors' fault. 

After all, the points at which the real world intrudes upon academia are so few and so tenuous that academics may be forgiven for some of their hyperbole and inadvertently comic displays of self-importance.  They exist, like kept women of yore, entirely at the pleasure of an affluent society they despise. So in a way it is not surprising that they endeavor to transform their entire campus into a sort of existential boudoir, which is French for "room for pouting in."

But behind or alongside the childishness of these academic histrionics there is something more malevolent going on.  If the students and professors who pretend to be frightened of Donald Trump could be sequestered into the "safe spaces" they say they desire, that would be one thing.  But they can't. They have a deleterious effect on the larger academic environment and, beyond that, on the national conversation about the future of America. Something must be done. But what?

I have an idea. Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal advocated some original, organic, and environmentally conscious proposals to alleviate poverty, hunger, and over-population in eighteenth-century Ireland. Just so,  I'd like to offer a "modest disposal" to deal with some of the intellectual poverty, the hunger for genuine knowledge, and the clear reality of over-population at our nation's universities.

As a first step, I propose the creation of a University Exchange Commission.  Just as the SEC was created in the 1930s to police fraud and chicanery in the stock market that had contributed to the market crash of 1929, so the UEC would police the integrity of university life in the wake of the collapse of academic standards and the proliferation of fraudulent and ideologically motivated campaigners.

I am still formulating the precise duties of this beneficent organization, but I believe that many recent initiatives could be turned from a bad to a good purpose by restaffing. For example, the totalitarian Title IX offices, which, taking a page from Orwell's 1984, encourage anonymous reporting of students and faculty for saying or doing, or not saying or not doing, something that someone doesn't like -- this entire apparatus, I suspect, could be restaffed and employed to help dismantle all the bogus, intellectually vacuous programs, departments, and initiatives whose sole purpose is to foster an atmosphere of permanent grievance against free markets, the tradition of free inquiry and free speech, the achievements of America, or anyone associated with the male sex or ethnic and racial heritages not susceptible to preferential discrimination ("affirmative action") by government entities and academic administrators.

That's one thing.  The UEC will also see to it that no university will employ more than three deans, none of whom may be charged with promoting the spurious "diversity" on racial or sexual lines that has so disfigured academic life in recent years.

Women's Studies departments and programs will be disbanded on the grounds that they are invidious: why, after all, should the study of women's accomplishments be ghettoized by being segregated from the achievements of the rest of mankind?  Black or "African-American" Departments will be disbanded for the same reason, their legitimate subjects, as distinct from their organized opportunities for whining and complaining about how badly they are being treated, will be distributed into appropriate traditional categories: history, for example, or literature. (Also, the term "African-American will be deprecated in favor of "Black American" or, even better, "American" since the phrase "African-American" is frequently misapplied and is always divisive.) The whole industry of sexual exoticism - LGBTNONSENSE-will either be disbanded or consigned to the newly created Krafft-Ebing Institutes of Sexual Perversion.  No classes there will be eligible for academic credit.

This is just the beginning, of course.  The UEC will clearly have its work cut out for it if it is to make headway in reclaiming the university from those set on destroying it from within. But I am confident that a great deal of good work can be accomplished in a very short period if the UEC is given proper authority to enforce its determinations.  As an added inducement, I hereby volunteer to fill the slot of executive director for an entire academic year for the token sum of $1. I feel it is my public duty.  I'll be waiting by the phone for the call from Trump Tower


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Why do liberals need days off of school and safe spaces with coloring books and puppies when they lose elections while conservatives manage without them?

Chris Bast gives a big part of the explanation below

A conservative writer (whose name I don't recall) once made an observation about the left that I think explains this phenomenon. He said (rough quote) “Progressives have rejected religion as the basis of their morality and replaced it with politics.”

Now of course this is a generalization. There are (probably) some progressives out there who are sincerely religious, but that's not the point. The point is that the left has elevated politics to an emotional level far above where it ought to be. They now regard politics with the kind of fervor and devotion that normal men reserve only for deeply held religious beliefs.

This explains so much about the left's antics in recent years. This certainly isn't the first time that progressives have suffered emotional breakdowns after losing an election. When George W Bush was reelected I distinctly remember seeing news reports of Democrats who ran straight to their therapists' couches to help them cope with the abject horror of John Kerry not being President.

It all makes sense when you realize that the left has turned politics into their new religion. When politics is that important to you, suddenly a lost election is a major crisis of faith. Suddenly your opponents aren't just fellow Americans who disagree with you, they are a horde of Godless Heathens led by an Anti-Christ. And your own candidate is no longer merely a public servant that you trust to enact your will, but a Savior sent by Heaven to lead the faithful to the Promised Land.

This is why we saw Hillary supporters literally crying when the election results came in last November. They weren't just watching their cadidate lose, they were watching Satan overcome their Divine Goddess. No wonder they broke down into weeping hysterics.

Any rational person should be able to see why this is such a dangerous trend. No politician should ever command such devotion. No movement should so dehumanize their opponents. This is the sort of scary shit you see in places like North Korea, Soviet Russia or, dare I say it, Nazi Germany.


How Left-wing and Racist Radicals Are Infiltrating Our Children’s Minds

Once upon a time in America, parents could send their children off to school—even to public schools—and presume accurately their little ones were being taught simply “the three Rs.” No longer. In modern America, it’s more likely one of the three Rs students will be taught is “racism,” perhaps even more likely than adequate reading, “riting,” and “rithmetic.”

A radical progressive political agenda has replaced the pursuit of truth and objectivity in our nation’s classrooms, and it’s time parents and responsible citizens put an end to it.

At New Trier High School, a public school in Winnetka, Illinois, students will be subjected in February to an “All-School Seminar Day” aimed at “understanding today’s struggles for racial civil rights.” The entire day is chock-full of race-baiting discussion topics, left-wing speakers, and one-sided, indoctrinating ideologies.

One of the workshops scheduled is the “21st Century Voter Suppression” workshop (no, that’s not a typo; “suppression” is misspelled multiple times on the school’s agenda). On “Vote Suppression” day, students will discuss “the methods and regulations used in the U.S. to deny or limit the voting rights of various minority groups.”

Another workshop is the “Advancing Civil Rights or Reverse Discrimination?: Affirmative Action in Elite College Admissions,” during which students will learn how affirmative action policies “often unnecessarily incite racial tensions and anxiety.”

Don’t forget about the “Appropriate Alliances: Working in White Spaces” workshops. On “White Spaces” day, students will talk about “how white students can help break down stereotypes and other types of structural racism in white spaces” and “address why white guilt is an ineffective form of acknowledging racism.”

There isn’t enough space here to mention all the absurd, bigoted material that will be forced on Winnetka students come February 28. “Race” and “racism” are mentioned in the 25-page program 82 times (not counting the misspelled versions my word-find tool failed to pick up); “black” is mentioned 37 times; and “white” 26 times—this from the same set of people who claim to be “color blind.”

What place does the discussion of “identifying biases and challenging stereotypes” or “trans-people of color navigating the U.S.” have in our public schools? It isn’t as though students and teachers are simply acknowledging current events and the various mindsets associated with them.

I would argue it’s not even possible to talk about such inherently subjective topics without infusing the discussion with some form of bias, regardless of one’s personal or political beliefs—and when it comes to government entities, if they don’t have something neutral to say, they shouldn’t say anything at all.

What is happening at New Trier is an obvious, systematic brainwashing, going so far as to goad students who don’t observe racism in their daily lives into believing they do, as the Seminar Day agenda reads: “Most systemic racism is invisible … often to both ‘sides’… until you know it’s there.

Once you know it’s there, you can’t stop seeing it. In this workshop, you’ll participate in an activity that will help you see the unseen, and possibly recognize some systematic biases that you see every day without realizing they are there.”

Despite claiming to be open to “diversity,” these molders of young minds are the same people who fight tooth and nail to prevent school choice programs from flourishing, apparently because parents might choose to send their children somewhere other than to the local failing school.

They might even, God forbid, send them to religious schools. They are the same folks who rally against prayer in school and any mention of the Bible while they inject one-sided, liberal-fueled propaganda about how to think and feel on moral issues into every facet of our children’s public educations. I guess it’s ok to indoctrinate kids about “right” and “wrong” so long as God isn’t involved.

The progressive left is proud of its infiltration into the school system and truly believes it has a right and duty to force its “superior” viewpoints on everyone else. Breitbart reported on New Trier’s similar stunt in 2016, in which the school forced students to attend a “Racial Identity” day.

The Huffington Post took Breitbart to task for reporting New Trier parents feared the curriculum contained a “political agenda.” Huffington Post writer Celia Buckman mocked Breitbart and defended New Trier, because, according to Buckman, “Our learning environment never was neutral. … New Trier is overwhelmingly white and affluent—over 80 percent of students are caucasian, and just 3 percent of the student body is low-income … New Trier students live in a bubble that needs to be popped.”

How’s that for racist?

 New Trier is an extreme example, of course, but this type of shameless indoctrination is happening in government schools all across the country.

Teaching “just the facts” goes against the nature of government schools and their employees, because it is in their best interests to produce wards of the state who love big government as much as they do.

In theory, the products of public schools will perpetuate government’s growth and influence so those in its employ gain the power and prosperity they so salaciously desire.

Though I’m curious to see what happens when students “examine the lyrics of several contemporary rap songs,” explore their “deeper meanings, historical context, cultural impact, and their intersections with race,” and “analyze a song of their choosing,” I know the exercise will be more than just a waste of time.

Government employees can’t be trusted to leave their political ideologies at home, and so they, and teachers especially, should never venture from them.


Why Betsy DeVos’ Support for School Choice Will Help America’s Schoolchildren

According to her opponents during Wednesday’s Senate confirmation hearing, Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of education, is guilty of wanting to privatize the public schools.

To be sure, the nominee’s critics are entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.

Here are the facts: DeVos believes that all children are entitled to the same educational opportunities regardless of income or ZIP code.

If you want a more accurate picture of DeVos, some journalists in her home state are more likely to paint it for you.

A Detroit News op-ed praised her record of compassionate interest in the individual welfare of children, calling her “a woman devoted to helping kids succeed regardless of their socio-economic background.”

And for this, certain members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee attempted to paint her as an enemy of public schools.

DeVos’ crime is that she, along with a majority of Americans, favors school choice. But solid research demonstrates why DeVos’ views are not only consistent with those of most parents, but also upheld by facts, evidence, and common sense.


School choice programs put power back into the hands of parents, who are best equipped to decide what type of education their children receive. Impersonal bureaucratic agencies cannot do this adequately.

School choice levels the socio-economic playing field by giving low-income families the same educational opportunities that high-income families have. A Harvard study of a New York City initiative found that minority students who received a school scholarship  “to attend private elementary schools in 1997 were, as of 2013, 10 percent more likely to enroll in college and 35 percent more likely than their peers in public school to obtain a bachelor’s degree.”

Similarly, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which awards need-based annual scholarships for private schools to D.C. schoolchildren, has empowered thousands of low-income and minority students to escape underperforming, failing, or unsafe schools. A study commissioned by the Department of Education found that participants saw a 21 percentage point increase in graduation rates.

A nationally representative survey by Education Next of parents in charter, district, and private schools found that private and charter parents are more satisfied with their children’s schooling than parents whose children attend district schools.

A study conducted by John Merrifield of the University of Texas at San Antonio on school choice scholarships in San Antonio’s Edgewood School District found an approximately 17 percent increase in public school graduation rates that could be attributable to the scholarship program. The improvement appeared to be one of the responses to increased competition in the education sphere.

It’s clear that school choice does not undermine the public school system economically or rob resources from it. In fact, it has proven to be more cost-effective.

School choice empowers economically underprivileged kids and encourages racial diversity. And it simply does a better job of equipping parents to put their children in the best school environment suited to their children’s unique needs—whether traditional public, charter, or private school.

Isn’t that what this discussion is all about?

It is immoral for us as a people to lock children into a life of poverty because we lock them into severely underperforming schools.

Nevertheless, we are likely to see a heated battle take place next week when it comes to DeVos’ confirmation vote.

Here’s something to keep in mind, though: More than half of the Senate Democrats on the education committee considering her nomination either attended private or parochial schools themselves, or have children or grandchildren who do.

Why the opposition?

High school seniors’ reading achievement scores have not improved for at least two decades and have even dropped five points compared to 1992. Likewise, seniors’ math performance has also stagnated for at least a decade and has dropped since 2013.

In discussing the state of public education in America, U.S. News & World Report offered a bleak and candid assessment. “In urban school districts across the country,” an education reporter wrote in 2015, “student performance is flat, poor, and minority students are experiencing staggering inequalities, and the picture is especially troubling for black students.”

And this is the status quo we’re trying to protect?

It’s been pointed out that in the 1960s, there were low moments in education policy where individuals once stood in front of the schoolhouse door trying to keep minority children out. Now, there are some who would stand in front of the doors of failing schools to keep minority and other children in.

It’s time for a new way of thinking, and DeVos represents that. She has been a successful champion of school choice in Michigan and has helped bring similar opportunities to Florida, Louisiana, and other states.

She has what it takes to guide our nation’s education policy.

It’s time to stop playing politics with our nation’s children. Let’s work together for the reform that’s needed to do something big and bold to help our nation’s greatest treasure—the next generation.


Monday, January 23, 2017

UK: Secondary school league tables 2016: Grammar school [charter school] children excel while comprehensives fall behind, figures show

Grammar schools allow children to achieve their potential, new Government figures reveal, while the brightest 150,000 state school children do not excel at comprehensives.

Official data released by the Department for Education (DfE) shows that 94 per cent of children at grammar schools have made good progress by the time they are 16, compared to less than half (49 per cent) of students at non-selective schools.

The figures will come as a boost for Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans to overturn the ban on grammar schools imposed by Labour some 20 years ago.

Under the Government’s new ranking system – called Progress 8 – the 157,627 children who are classed as “high” achievers when they leave primary school are not exceeding by the time they reach GCSEs.

Gareth Johnson MP, who is leading the campaign for grammars, said the figures “highlight very clearly the strengths of grammar schools” and show that academic children “flourish” in selective schools.

“We shouldn’t try to pretend that all children are the same. We need diversity in education and grammars play an important part in this,” he said.

Dominic Raab MP, a former minister, said that academically gifted children must not be “held back by the dogmatic objections of the left-leaning educational establishment."

Fellow backbencher Chris Philip said the figures are a “massive boost" for the argument in favour of grammar schools, and will "silence critics”.

“I think it is very hard to see how the opponents of grammar schools can make their case when these figures show so clearly grammars help children develop ad fulfil potential," he said.

It comes after Education Secretary Justine Greening gave a strong indication that the Government will  press ahead with grammar school plans in the face of stiff opposition.

A consultation on expanding selective education closed before Christmas and the responses are being analysed by officials.

The policy has divided Conservatives and angered teaching unions. But Ms Greening said this week education reforms cannot be put "on one side because people feel that there are things we shouldn't be looking at".

This year is the first time that schools have been measured for progress as well as attainment.

In previous years, the DfE has ranked schools according to the proportion of pupils achieving at least five grade A* to Cs at GCSE, including English and maths.

This measure has now been scrapped in favour of Progress 8, which measures progress of each pupil from the end of primary school up to GCSEs.

It compares pupils' results with the achievements of other pupils that have the same prior attainment and measures performance across eight qualifications.

The eight “core” subjects measured by Progress 8 are English, maths, history or geography, the sciences, and a language.

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said that it is not a fair comparison to look at grammar school progress versus comprehensives. “Grammars cream off those who can pass exams at an early age,” she said.

“But these are a tiny minority of children, invariably from better off families who can afford private tuition to cram them.

“More new grammar schools with the Tories will just widen the attainment gap between the better off and the rest – and our country will ultimately be the poorer.”

The figures, published on Thursday, also revealed a clear north-south divide with one in six secondary schools in the North West of England is under-performing.

Every single school in Knowsley, Merseyside, was failing, as were 90 per cent of schools in Redcar and Cleveland, North Yorkshire.  Meanwhile, London has the lowest proportion of under-performing schools.

Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said "it would be a mistake to think that Progress 8 is a trustworthy measure of progress”.

He said the majority of teachers question its validity as the results for 11-year-olds are “narrowly based and notoriously unreliable".

Nick Gibb, the schools standard minister, said the figures “confirm the hard work of teachers and pupils across the country is leading to higher standards”. 


Congress looks to punish ‘sanctuary campus’ colleges that protect illegal immigrants

Forget sanctuary cities: The next heated congressional battle on immigration could be over “sanctuary campuses” — the dozens of colleges and universities that say they will resist any cooperation with federal immigration agents, unless they are forced to by law.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, introduced legislation this month to do just that, saying Congress should strip schools of billions of dollars in federal financial aid unless they start cooperating with authorities.

Mr. Hunter’s legislation would require the Department of Homeland Security to keep a list of sanctuary campuses and send it to the Education Department, which would cancel federal payments for student loans and financial aid, potentially costing schools billions of dollars.

“This effort is not about telling colleges who they can and can’t accept for enrollment, but whatever decision they make will either mean they receive federal money or they don’t — it’s that simple,” Mr. Hunter said.

His bill has the backing of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which said schools that refuse to cooperate with federal agents are putting students’ security at risk.

“Affording public benefits to illegal aliens not only serves as a magnet to future illegal immigration but is a slap in the face to the thousands of disadvantaged Americans and legal immigrant students competing for those same college slots and funding,” FAIR said in a statement.

The University of California system of schools is perhaps the biggest target of the new legislation.

System President Janet Napolitano announced in November that she ordered schools and their police departments not to undertake any efforts to enforce federal immigration laws. That means refusing to disclose any information about students unless ordered by a court.

Her move was aimed squarely at President-elect Donald Trump, who has vowed to step up deportations.

“We felt it necessary to reaffirm that UC will act upon its deeply held conviction that all members of our community have the right to work, study and live safely and without fear at all UC locations,” Ms. Napolitano said.

Illegal immigrants nationwide are grappling with the looming Trump presidency, unsure of how quickly he will make good on his campaign promises of stiffer enforcement and how deeply he will delve into the unauthorized population.

Mr. Trump’s nominee to head the Homeland Security Department, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, said last week that young adult illegal immigrants known as Dreamers would not be high priorities for deportation.

Most illegal immigrants on college campuses are Dreamers. President Obama declared a deportation amnesty for them in 2012, granting them tentative legal status and work permits, which enabled them to obtain driver’s licenses and some taxpayer benefits, including enrolling in public colleges and universities at in-state tuition rates.

Mr. Trump has said he would rescind the 2012 policy as soon as he takes office — though it’s unclear whether he would also immediately cancel all of the permits already issued by the Obama administration.

Schools are moving to try to counter that as best they can. Arizona State University, for example, is looking to enlist donors to pony up cash to provide scholarships for Dreamers to keep attending at in-state rates.

It’s unclear whether schools would be willing to accept the loss of federal money envisioned in Mr. Hunter’s bill.

Ms. Napolitano’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment about how the University of California system would respond.

A number of cities and counties faced with the loss of federal policing money because of their sanctuary policies have said they will accept the penalty to maintain their status.

But schools rely heavily on federal money. FAIR said the federal government spent $128.7 billion in 2015 on student loans and grants — money that would be denied under the Hunter bill.

Mr. Hunter’s legislation specifically carves out an exception for victims of crimes, saying colleges can shield them without being deemed sanctuaries.

The University of California estimates it has about 2,500 illegal immigrant students on its campuses. Under California law, students who attended high school in the state for three years qualify for in-state tuition at public colleges, regardless of their legal status.

More than a dozen other states have similar laws helping illegal immigrant students.

Mr. Hunter’s bill doesn’t prohibit in-state tuition, but it does put colleges on notice saying that kind of perk serves as a magnet for more illegal immigration.


It's the first school year most parents have heard about Common Core. And they don't like it one bit

This is the year new national Common Core tests kick in, replacing state tests in most locales, courtesy of an eager Obama administration and the future generation’s tax dollars. It’s also the first year a majority of people interviewed tell pollsters they’ve actually heard of Common Core, four years after bureaucrats signed our kids onto this complete overhaul of U.S. education.

Common Core has impressed everyone from Bill Gates to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. So why do 62 percent of parents think it’s a bad idea? For one, they can count. But their kids can’t.

1. The Senseless, Infuriating Math

Common Core math, how do we hate thee? We would count the ways, if Common Core hadn’t deformed even the most elementary of our math abilities so that simple addition now takes dots, dashes, boxes, hashmarks, and foam cubes, plus an inordinate amount of time, to not get the right answer.

There are so many examples of this, it’s hard to pick, but a recent one boomeranging the Internet has a teacher showing how to solve 9 + 6 the Common Core way. Yes, it takes nearly a minute.

Despite claims to the contrary, Common Core does require bad math like this. The Brookings Institution’s Tom Loveless says the curriculum mandates contain “dog whistles” for fuzzy math proponents, the people who keep pushing ineffective, devastating, and research-decimated math instruction on U.S. kids for ideological reasons. The mandates also explicitly require kids to learn the least efficient ways of solving basic problems one, two, and even three grade levels before they are to learn the traditional, efficient ways. There are ways for teachers to fill in the gaps and fix this, but this means a kid’s ability to get good math instruction depends on the luck of having an extra-savvy teacher. That’s especially a downer for poor and minority kids, who already get the greenest and lowest-quality teachers.

2. The Lies

The American Enterprise Institute’s Rick Hess recently wrote about Common Core’s “half-truths,” which Greg Forster pointedly demonstrated he should have called “lies.” These include talking points essential to selling governors and other state leaders on the project, such as that Common Core is: “internationally benchmarked” (“well, we sorta looked at what other nations do but that didn’t necessarily change anything we did”); “evidence based” (“we know there is not enough research to undergird any standards, so we just polled some people and that’s our evidence“); “college- and career-ready” (“only if you mean community-college ready“); “rigorous” (as long as rigorous indicates “rigid”); and “high-performing nations nationalize education” (so do low-performing nations).

3. Obliterating Parent Rights

Common Core has revealed the contempt public “servants” have for the people they are supposedly ruled by—that’d be you and me. Indiana firebrand Heather Crossin, a mom whose encounter with Common Core math turned her into a nationally known activist, went with other parents to their private-school principal in an attempt to get their school’s new Common Core textbooks replaced. “Our principal in frustration threw up his hands and said, ‘Look, I know parents don’t like this type of math because none of us were taught this way, but we have to teach it this way because this is how it’s going to be on the new [standardized] assessment,” she says. “And that was the moment when I realized control of what was being taught in my child’s classroom — in a parochial Catholic school  —  had not only left the building, it had left the state of Indiana.”

A Maryland dad who stood up to complain that Common Core dumbed down his kids’ instruction was arrested and thrown out of a public meeting.

Parents regularly fill my inbox, frustrated that even when they do go to their local school boards, often all they get are disgusted looks and a bored thumb-twiddling during their two-minute public comment allowance. A New Hampshire dad was also arrested for going over his two-minute comment limit in a local school board meeting parents packed to complain about graphic-sex-filled literature assignments. The way the board treats him and his fellow parents is repulsive.

The bottom line is, parents have no choice about whether their kids will learn Common Core, no matter what school they put them in, if they want them to go to college, because the SAT and ACT are being redesigned to fit the new national program for education. Elected school boards pay parents no heed, and neither do state departments of education, because the feds deliberately use our tax dollars to put themselves in the education driver’s seat, at our expense. So much for “by the people, for the people, of the people.”

4. Dirty Reading Assignments

A red-haired mother of four kids read to our Indiana legislature selections from a Common Core-recommended book called “The Bluest Eyes,” by Toni Morrison. I’m a grown, married woman who enjoys sex just fine, thank you, but I sincerely wish I hadn’t heard her read those passages. I guess some people don’t find sympathetically portrayed rape scenes offensive, but I do. So I won’t quote them at you. If you have a perv-wish, Google will fill you in. Other objectionable books on the Common Core-recommended list include “Make Lemonade” by Virginia Euwer Wolff, “Black Swan Green” by David Mitchell, and “Dreaming in Cuban” by Cristina Garcia.

There are so many excellent, classic works of literature available for children and young adults that schools can’t possibly fit all the good ones into their curriculum. So why did Common Core’s creators feel the need to recommend trash? Either they want kids to read trash or they don’t think these are trash, and both are disturbing.

5. Turning Kids Into Corporate Cogs

The workforce-prep mentality of Common Core is written into its DNA. Start with its slogan, which is now written into federal mandates on state education systems: “College and career readiness.” That is the entire Common Core conception of education’s purpose: Careers. Job training. Workforce skills. There’s not a word about the reasons our state constitutions give for establishing public education, in which economic advancement is largely considered a person’s personal affair. (Milton Friedman takes the same tack, by the way.) State constitutions typically mimic the Northwest Ordinance’s vision for public education (the ordinance was the first U.S. law to discuss education): “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

Common Core makes no promises about fulfilling public education’s purpose of producing citizens capable of self-government. Instead, it focuses entirely on the materialistic benefits of education, although human civilization has instead long considered education a part of acculturating children and passing down a people’s knowledge, heritage, and morals. The workforce talk certainly tickles the ears of Common Core’s corporate supporters. Maybe that was the intent all along. But in what world do corporations get to dictate what kids learn, instead of the parents and kids themselves? Ours, apparently.

6. The Data Collection and Populace Management

Speaking of corporate cronyism, let’s talk about how Common Core enables the continued theft of kids’ and teachers’ information at the behest of governments and businesses, furthering their bottom lines and populace-control fantasies at the expense of private property and self-determination.Well, I coauthored a 400-footnote paper on this very topic. I’ll just summarize the list of direct connections between intrusive data-mining and Common Core from my favorite passage (in the section starting on page 52):

The documents that ‘created the (dubious) authorization for Common Core define the initative as curriculum mandates plus tests. The tests are the key instrument of data collection.
Common Core architect David Coleman has confirmed that special-interests deliberately packaged data mining into Common Core.
Common Core creates an enormous system of data classification for education. It’s probably easiest to think of it as an enormous filing system, like the equivalent of the Dewey Decimal System for lessons, textbooks, apps, and everything else kids learn. That’s by design.

States using the national, federally funded Common Core tests have essentially turned over control of what data they collect on children to private organizations that are overseen by no elected officials. Those organizations have promised complete access to kids’ data to the federal government.

Common Core and data vacuuming are philosophically aligned—they both justify themselves as technocratic, progressive solutions to human problems. The ultimate goal is using data to “seamlessly integrate” education and the economy. In other words, we learned nothing from the USSR.

7. Distancing Parents and Children

A recent study found that the Common Core model of education results in parents who are less engaged in their kids’ education and express more negative attitudes about schools and government. Does it need to be noted that kids desperately need their pre-existing, natural bond with their parents to get a good start in life, and anything that attacks this is bad for both the kids and society?

In addition, math even highly educated engineers and math professors can’t understand obviously has the effect of placing a teacher and school between a child and his parent. Parents are rife with stories about how they tried to teach their kids “normal” math, but it put pressure on the tots because teacher demanded one thing and mom demanded another, which ended up in frustration, confusion, and resentment. That won’t make a kid hate school, right?

8. Making Little Kids Cry

It’s one thing to teach a child to endure life’s inevitable suffering for a higher purpose. It’s another thing to inflict children with needless suffering because you’ve got a society to remake, and “it takes a few broken eggs to make an omelet.” One is perhaps the essence of character. The other is perhaps the essence of cruelty.

There have been reports nationwide from both teachers and a litany of child psychologists that Common Core inflicts poorly designed instruction on children, thus stressing them out and turning them off academics.The video below, courtesy of Truth in American Education and a Louisiana mother, shows a second grader crying over her math homework. A SECOND GRADER. You know, when the little people are still learning addition?

9. The Arrogance

So imagine you’re a mom or dad whose small child is sobbing at the table trying to add two-digit numbers. Then you hear your elected representatives talking about Common Core. And it’s not to offer relief. It’s to ridicule your pain—no, worse. It’s to ridicule your child’s pain.

Florida Senate President Don Gaetz said of Common Core: “You can’t dip [Common Core mandates] in milk and hold them over a candle and see the United Nations flag or Barack Obama’s face. They’re not some federal conspiracy.” Ohio House Education Chairman Gerald Stebelton (R-Lancaster) called Common Core opposition a “conspiracy theory.” Wisconsin state Sen. John Lehman (D-Racine) told a packed audience state hearings on the topic were “crazy” and “a show.” Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) has called opponents a “distract[ing]” “fringe movement.” Missouri Rep. Mike Lair put $8 into the state budget for tinfoil hats for Common Core supporters.

Since when is it okay for lawmakers to ridicule their employers? Aren’t they supposed to be “public servants”? What part of “this math is from hell” sounds like “I think Barack Obama wrote this math curriculum”? Those lawmakers must have encountered an early form of Common Core in school, because they can’t comprehend their way out of a paper bag.

It gets even worse. I thought racial slurs were wrong, but Education Secretary Arne Duncan has no problems slinging those around in his disdain for people who disagree with him on Common Core. You may recall that he dismissed them as “white suburban moms who—all of a sudden—their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were.” So only white moms hate crappy curriculum?

And then parents have to endure a litany of pompous, sickeningly well-paid experts all over the airwaves telling us it’s a) good for them that our babies are crying at the kitchen table or b) not really Common Core’s fault or 3) they don’t really get what’s going on because this newfangled way of adding 8 + 6 is so far above the average parent’s ability to understand.

10. The Collectivism

It’s easy to see Common Core appeals to those anal-retentive types who cannot function unless U.S. education has some sort of all-encompassing organizing principle.

But there’s more. Common Core supporters will admit that several states had better curriculum requirements than Common Core. Then they typically say it’s still better for those states to have lowered their expectations to Common Core’s level, because that way we have more curricular unity. That’s what the Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrilli told Indiana legislators when he came to our state to explain why, even though Fordham graded Indiana’s former curriculum requirements higher than Common Core, Indiana should remain a step below its previous level. One main reason was that we’d be able to use all the curriculum and lesson plans other teachers in other states were tailoring (to lower academic expectations, natch). Yay, we get to be worse than we were, but it’s okay, because now we’re the same as everyone else!

Tech companies are uber excited about Common Core because it facilitates a nationwide market for their products. Basically every other education vendor feels the same way, except those who already had nationwide markets because they accessed pockets of the population not subject to mind-numbing state regulations such as home and private schools. But the diversity of the unregulated private market far, far outstrips that of the Common Core market. There are, you know, actual niches, and education styles, and varying philosophies, rather than a flood of companies all trying to package the same product differently. The variety is one of substance, not just branding. In other words, it’s true diversity, not fake diversity.

What would you rather have: Fake freedom, where others choose your end goal and end product, but lets you decide some things about how to achieve someone else’s vision for education, which by the way has to be the same for everyone everywhere; or genuine freedom, where you both pick your goals and how to achieve them, and you’re the one responsible for the results? Whoops, that’s a trick question, moms and dads. In education, no one can pick the latter, because our overlords have already picked for us. Common Core or the door, baby.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

University Gives Kids Juice Boxes, Legos to Deal With Inauguration

How about diapers too?

Most millennial snowflakes have already evacuated the nation’s capital well in advance of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration. But for those young people were were unable to escape reality, hope is not lost. GUPride, an LGBTQ student organization at Georgetown University, is setting up a safe space to help young people deal with the aftermath of making America great again.

“Join GUPride for a night of self-care after a long week. We will have Legos, juice boxes and more,” the Facebook invitation reads. It’s unclear if sippy cups will be provided or if students should bring their own. GUPride did not return my calls.

The good folks over at Campus Reform got their hands on an email sent to club members with all the juicy details of what they called “Post-inauguration self-care.” “There will be legos and stuffed animals and coloring books — come to embrace the inner child,” the LGBTQ club declared. The club invited its members to the event in a “welcome back” email, which was obtained by Campus Reform and included a section on “Post-inauguration self-care,” where GUPride urged its members to “embrace the inner child.”

And for those truly traumatized by the inauguration, I’m certain GUPride will have an adequate supply of diapers — just in case.


Trump’s Inaugural Address Banned from Classroom

A Michigan teacher has decided that Donald J. Trump’s inaugural speech on Friday will be unfit for his fourth graders — even though he hasn’t a clue what the president-elect will say.

Brett Meteyer, who teaches at the Explorer Elementary School in Williamston, Michigan, sent an email to parents that has since gone viral. He said he will not allow children in his class to watch or listen to Trump’s inaugural speech on Friday.

“Because I am concerned about my students and your children being exposed to language and behavior that is not in concert with the most conservative social and family values, I have decided to show the inauguration of Donald Trump this Friday, but we will not view Mr. Trump’s inauguration speech,” he wrote in his email, as World Net Daily and other outlets reported.

“I showed the speeches of Presidents Obama and Bush in 2009 and 2005, respectively, but I am anxious about showing Mr. Trump’s inaugural address, given his past inflammatory and degrading comments about minorities, women, and the disabled. I am also uneasy about Mr. Trump’s casual use of profanity, so I sought an assurance that as their teacher, I would not be exposing children to language that would not appear in G- or PG-rated movies.”

Steve Gruber, a conservative radio host who posted the teacher’s email to Facebook, said the response from the internet was swift and angry. One Facebook commenter chose a sly response, posting, “No sweat. They can catch it as 8th graders …”

“She told me that news happens every day and they won’t be stopping class to watch [it],” said one mom after talking to the school principal.

“What kind of message does this send to kids? ‘This president is a bad guy and kids should not watch him?’ This is a piece of history and the kids should be allowed to watch,” Gruber told

“As the son of a fifth-grade teacher, it infuriates me when those in charge of our kids are trying to train them instead of teaching them,” Gruber added. “I found the letter to be outrageous!”

Gruber also found and posted to Facebook another snowflake missive that Meteyer sent to parents the day after the presidential election, assuring them that “Kumbaya” was alive and well in his classroom.

“Dear Parents, no matter your opinion of our president-elect, I would like to share some thoughts that I expressed to the class this morning during a discussion of these current events. My goal was to comfort those who were worried about where this election leaves us … It was clear to me from the start of the day that a few of the children were deeply disturbed by yesterday’s election,” the email continued, “so I finished our morning talk by quoting Bob Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’: ‘Don’t worry about a thing ’cause every little thing gonna be alright.’”

Erin Reynolds, who has a daughter in the 3rd grade at the Williamston school, said she doesn’t believe any harm could come from watching Trump’s inaugural address, and that Meteyer’s decision cuts students off from an educational experience.

“It makes me sad that the kids would be shielded from that rather than giving them the opportunity to rise to the occasion and to tackle those things,” Reynolds told WLNS Channel 6. She added, “Turning our back on the political process I think sends the wrong message.”

Meteyer said he had reached out to the Trump transition team for an advanced copy of the speech, telling parents, “Plans may change if I hear back from them.”

The madness continues in Rhode Island, where a Classical High School in Providence, Rhode Island, has rescheduled midterm exams from Friday to Monday to accommodate a planned student walkout organized by a larger network protesting Trump’s inauguration. Students who leave class will be given unexcused absences but will not be punished.

And in Williamson County, Tennessee, students at Independence High School will not be permitted to watch Trump’s inauguration during class on Friday, Fox News reported. A mother of one of the students called the principal about it. The response? “She told me that news happens every day in this country and they won’t be stopping class to watch the news,” mom Suzanne Roberts told Fox News.

On top of all this, The College Fix is reporting that student socialist group Socialist Students, a campus branch of the group Socialist Alternative, is organizing a nationwide walkout Friday — fearing Trump will “unleash a storm of attacks” on various segments of Americans.


The Democrats' Fight Against School Choice Is Immoral

There’s something perverse about an ideology that views the disposing of an unborn child in the third trimester of pregnancy as an indisputable right but the desire of parents to choose a school for their kids as zealotry. Watching President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, answer an array of frivolous questions this week was just another reminder of how irrational liberalism has become.

Democrats often tell us that racism is one of the most pressing problems in America. And yet, few things have hurt African-Americans more over the past 40 years than inner-city public school systems. If President Obama is correct and educational attainment is the key to breaking out of a lower economic stratum, then no institution is driving inequality quite as effectively as public schools.

Actually, teachers unions are the only organizations in America that openly support segregated schools. In districts across the country — even ones in cities with some form of limited movement for kids — poor parents, typically those who are black or Hispanic, are forced to enroll their kids in underperforming schools when there are good ones nearby, sometimes just blocks away.

The National Education Association spent $23 million during the last election cycle alone to elect politicians to keep low-income Americans right where they are. Public service unions use tax dollars to fund politicians who then turn around and vote for more funding. The worse the schools perform, the more money they demand. In the real world, we call this racketeering.

Yet according to Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, it is people like DeVos who are “a grave threat” to the public schools “that made America great.”

Well, studies consistently show that minority groups in America’s largest cities are lagging in proficiency in reading and math. Most of them attend schools that are at the bottom 5 percent of schools in their state. There is only so much an education secretary can accomplish, but the accusation of being a “grave threat” to this system is a magnificent endorsement.

With what are Democrats on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions most concerned? Preserving the status quo. Sen. Elizabeth Warren forced DeVos, who’s a billionaire, to admit that she’d never filled out financial aid forms. The Daily Caller News Foundation found that 6 of the 10 Democrats on the committee have attended private or parochial schools, or have children and grandchildren who attend. So what?

Sen. Patty Murray, who has absolutely no understanding or regard for the constitutional limitation on the Department of Education, pushed DeVos to say whether she would personally defund public schools. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a tireless adversary of the first five amendments of the Constitution (at least), asked DeVos whether she thinks firearms have any place in or around schools.

“I think that’s best left to locales and states to decide,” she replied, before offering a specific concern about a local rural district in Wyoming. Cue mocking left-wing punditry.

In case you were unaware, Democrats on the committee stressed that DeVos is a Republican who has given money to Republican organizations and was appointed by a Republican president-elect. They further pointed out that DeVos is a Christian whose family has given money to Christian organizations that don’t meet their moral approval.

Mostly, though, the liberals on the committee attacked DeVos because she has a history of contributing her own money to help private and Christian schools expand their reach. She has also supported school-vouchers proponents and public charter schools that open doors to poor kids. Those dollars have likely done more to help minority students than all the committee members' efforts combined.

As many Americans surely know, rich and middle-class Americans already have school choice. In most places, the whiter the neighborhood, the better the school system; and the better the school system, the higher the prices of homes, making it impossible for those who aren’t wealthy to escape substandard schools. (Rural schools also often suffer.) This is the status quo Warren, Murphy and Murray hope to preserve.

Yes, school reform is complicated, and challenges vary from place to place. Many reforms have shown improvement. But teachers unions and their allies opposed magnets, charters, home schooling, religious schooling and virtual schools long before data about the effectiveness of these choices was collected. And they do now, long after quality research has indicated the improvement of these options on the union-preferred system.

But by the parameters we often judge these sort of things, public schools are racist institutions, even if that’s unintentional. They have an even more destructive effect on communities than all the dumb words and racist comments (real and imagined) that regularly make headlines. It’s not surprising that poll after poll shows minority families support educational choice. Unfortunately, partisanship allows Democrats to take voters for granted and ignore the issue. For millions, this is a tragedy.