Friday, February 10, 2017
Why the Demos Dissed DeVos
The Senate Tuesday finally cleared the way for Betsy DeVos to take over as head of the Department of Education — but just barely. Last week, DeVos' nomination fell in danger after two teacher union-supported Republicans (Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine) opted to join Democrat obstructionists. This put the Senate in a 50/50 split, leaving absolutely no room to spare, which always opens the door for backroom deals being cut over future legislation. Vice President Mike Pence cast the pivotal tie-breaker vote in the Senate.
Never before has a cabinet confirmation come down to a tie-breaker, and the reason this one did is because DeVos is a threat to the Democrats' stranglehold on shaping the worldview of the next generation of Americans. Not only is the vote historic, but the role DeVos will play in America’s future may well be too. She stands ready to upend the Democrats' government school status quo, especially their urban poverty plantation schools. The situation is so crucial that public policy protagonist Thomas Sowell temporarily came out of retirement to lobby on her behalf. He warned, “American education is at a crossroads. If the teachers' unions and their allies can defeat the nomination of Mrs. DeVos, and the Republicans substitute someone else more acceptable to the education establishment, a historic opportunity will be lost, and may never come again in this generation.” Republicans (most of them anyway) should be applauded for not wasting this opportunity.
“What matters is what families and students think about having a change agent in this position,” Janine Yass argues in a Washington Examiner op-ed. “If you judge from the tens of thousands of families on waiting lists for charter schools and for scholarships in private schools it is apparent that poor families are desperate for someone who will fight for them for a change.” Yass also scolded the media for ignoring “the faces of the millions of families and students who have been the victims of bad education policy.” Sadly, Democrats and their media cohorts are more interested in protecting what they accurately consider the Holy Grail, because indoctrination masquerading as education is the pathway to statism. And Americans are fed up with it. Thankfully, with the help of DeVos' agenda, they will be ignored no more.
University report finds ‘unacceptably high’ rates of Alaska public school students enrolling in remedial classes
A University of Alaska report found that an average of 74 percent of students who graduated from a subgroup of five state high schools had to take at least one remedial class when they enrolled at UA, even after many had already passed a comparative class in high school.
The two-page report, with an accompanying joint statement from Alaska university and public school system officials, said the findings highlighted shortcomings in high school students' readiness for college-level work. Students requiring remediation must pay for the developmental credits that don't count toward their degrees and can face delays in college graduation to fit in the classes, if they graduate at all.
"The students come and take remedial courses, and then they fail these remedial courses and leave," said Herb Schroeder, vice provost and founder of the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program at the University of Alaska Anchorage campus.
"If you're put into a developmental course, the chances that you'll ever get a degree are very low, and that's just wrong," UA President Jim Johnsen said last month.
Schroeder spearheaded the recent report, which was provided to Alaska Dispatch News last month. His ANSEP program works with students starting in middle school. For the past two decades, he said, he has encountered students "woefully underprepared for college work."
Over the past year, Schroeder said the Office of Institutional Research at UAA studied transcripts for Alaska students who enrolled in UA between fall 2006 and fall 2015. ANSEP compiled the data to determine how many students had to take remedial classes in college and which high schools they had graduated from.
"We were shocked," Schroeder said of the report's findings. "We knew it was bad, but it's worse than we expected."
The report is limited in scope, which some school superintendents criticized. It only examined Alaska schools with 10 years of graduation data and with 10 or more graduates enrolling at one of the UA's campuses in fall 2015. That whittled the total down to 37 high schools, eliminating small rural schools from the analysis.
The report found that an average of 61 percent of students at the 37 high schools had to take at least one developmental class at UA. The rates ranged from 31 percent at Valdez High School to 78 percent at the Galena Interior Learning Academy.
The report then further drilled down into data from five high schools with the highest average rate of developmental coursework over those 10 years: Galena Interior Learning Academy, a district-run boarding school; Juneau-Douglas High School; Ketchikan High School; Kodiak High School; and Mt. Edgecumbe High School, a state-run boarding school.
About 74 percent of the 1,550 students who graduated from those five high schools and enrolled at UA within a year had to take at least one remedial class in math or English, the report said.
Overall, the 1,550 students had an average, cumulative high school grade point average of 3.16.
Schroeder said the students' strong grade point averages suggested that they were pushed through the school system and received diplomas without learning the material.
"That's the thing that's most disturbing about the whole situation," Schroeder said. "The schools are telling the state that these kids are ready for college and they have this high GPA and their parents are being told that they have this high GPA, but then when they show up at the university, they're not ready."
However, the superintendents that oversee the five high schools questioned Schroeder's findings. They said recent improvements weren't reflected in the 10 years of data that the study summarized into a single percentage point.
"I wouldn't call it a study, it's more of a simple data pull," said Mt. Edgecumbe Superintendent Janelle Vanasse. "I think there are some risks when you do a simple data pull and you draw conclusions and you don't consider variables."
Vanasse and other superintendents said the schools measure success by taking into account a number of factors including ACT and SAT scores, college scholarships, attendance rates, GPAs and more. Plus, some superintendents noted that a student's grade in a high school class also accounted for participation, homework completion and work on group projects — more than just results from an exam.
A New Definition of Free Speech
The Left's intolerance of free speech is reaching new levels on college campuses.
Many of you reading this may be the first college graduates in your family. Until the passage of the GI Bill in the wake of World War II, college graduates were a rarity. But those who obtained their degree received a well-rounded education in classical knowledge and were often the elite in their community. While millions in the wartime era did valuable blue-collar work, it was often those white-collar college graduates who were the upper management or the financial backers and investors. Once the campus gates were opened to returning servicemen, though, a college degree became more commonplace, and for the first couple of decades after these veterans returned they used their knowledge and experience to build the America that, among many other achievements, conquered disease and took men to the moon and back.
Alas, the generation spawned by those veterans, dubbed the Baby Boomers, embarked for their own college educations in the late 1960s while chanting, “Hey hey, ho ho, Western Civ has got to go.” Slowly but surely, the classical education that their forefathers had for generations received was replaced by a politically correct plethora of classes and majors that redefined liberal arts as, well, ultra-liberal. Over time, those who protested in the 1960s became the administration of the very institutions they threatened to burn down during their protests, and the entire experience has been watered down: Campuses that used to invite vigorous debate now have “free speech zones,” and co-eds that used to thirst for knowledge have become “snowflakes” who need a “safe space” when they’re confronted by opinions other than their own or an election that doesn’t go their way.
With this in mind, on Wednesday night a planned appearance by Breitbart contributor and Donald Trump backer Milo Yiannopoulos was canceled due to rioting at the University of California, Berkeley. Yiannopoulos, whose planned tour of campuses around the country was already cut short by one stop when UCLA pulled the plug on what was supposed to be his last speech, had his Berkeley event halted when a crowd of rioters estimated at 1,500 broke a barricade and entered the building where he was slated to speak. The Left, said Yiannopoulos on social media, “is absolutely terrified of free speech and will do literally anything to shut it down.”
Given Milo’s status as a foreign national (he’s Greek-born, raised in Great Britain), his career in writing on technology and his homosexuality, one would think colleges would welcome his unique perspective with open arms. But being a vocal backer of Trump and stating that “it’s time to get back in the closet” for gay men makes Milo persona non grata on campus.
But Yiannopoulos is just one example of the rapidly developing information silo on college campuses. Another conservative speaker, Ben Shapiro — who also draws controversy as an Orthodox Jew — has seen Marquette University faculty attempt to sandbag his upcoming speaking engagement by posing as students and drying up the ticket supply. (At least this would be a protest without the need for “black bloc” miscreants such as those who destroyed property in Berkeley.) Shapiro also had a run-in last year on a college speaking tour over abortion as he debated two pro-choice students at Maryland’s Salisbury University.
The situation on campus has become so extreme that even inanimate statues are now being sent packing. At California’s Pepperdine University, a statue of Christopher Columbus that has stood for nearly 25 years will be taken down and relocated to the school’s campus in Italy.
University president Andrew Benton explained in an e-mail to students, “For years the story of Columbus and the fascinating exploration that brought him to the new world was taught in schools across America … Later, as the impact of the arrival of explorers was assessed more fully, especially as those impacts related to indigenous people, a different view formed. Today, for many, including those within our campus community, stories of conquest and the art associated therewith are painful reminders of loss and human tragedy.”
Oh, dear. We wouldn’t want to offend the snowflakes with the idea that Columbus paved the way for Western civilization to come to what’s now considered the West, would we?
For the past 30 years, the concepts of inclusion and tolerance have been used to bully those who hold a Christian, pro-American or moralist worldview. And the bullies are ostensibly the inclusive and tolerant ones — those who believe all cultures are equal, promote political actions like unfettered immigration and admittance of Islamic refugees, endorse marriage that goes beyond just same-sex to include plural arrangements, and loudly demand recognition of gender flavors that put Baskin-Robbins to shame. Those who prefer secure borders, consider American exceptionalism to be a reality, believe marriage is between one man and one woman and think restrooms should be safe spaces for those of the gender to which they were born are dubbed as discriminatory and intolerant. Freedom of speech, it seems, doesn’t apply for them.
Consider where we’ve gone in 70 years. Back in the days after World War II, the government paid fighting men to educate themselves about the greatness of their Western heritage, exposing them to the entire spectrum of thought from Aristotle to Zechariah. Today, our waif-like college students demand safe spaces and trigger warnings, beggar themselves for a college degree and learn more and more about less and less, leaving them no better enlightened than they were when they arrived. The concept of higher education just isn’t what it used to be, and freedom of speech was long ago a casualty in that culture war.
UK: Super‑selective grammars to take brightest 10 per cent
The new generation of grammar schools will be highly selective and cater only for the brightest 10 per cent of children.
While the country’s 163 grammars typically aim to admit the top 25 per cent of pupils by academic ability, Theresa May’s planned expansion of the system is expected to be more elite in an attempt to reassure local schools that not all top pupils will be selected. This will make the new grammars more selective than all but the top private schools.
Under the plans, a standardised 11-plus exam could be drawn up to prevent “test tourism”, when parents travel long distances to sit exams where their children are most likely to receive a grammar place, the prime minister’s advisers suggested.
Thursday, February 09, 2017
Ceding to demands, Pepperdine will remove Christopher Columbus statue
Pepperdine University will remove a statue of Christopher Columbus from its main campus after students at the Southern California Christian school made multiple demands to take it down.
Currently located above the university’s amphitheater, the statue will be relocated to Pepperdine’s campus in Florence, Italy, President Andrew Benton told the university’s liberal arts undergraduates in a Monday email.
Relocation will take time but the process has already started, Benton wrote. In an email to The College Fix, the university confirmed the relocation but didn’t provide further comment.
The statue, donated to the university in 1992 by a group representing the Columbus 500 Congress, has drawn pushback recently from Pepperdine students. Benton has previously described the group that funded the statue as “Italian-American friends” of the university.
Pepperdine’s student newspaper, The Graphic, reported that around two dozen students took to the statue’s location on Columbus Day last semester and chanted “take it down.” A written statement from the protest group, “Waves Against Columbus,” claimed the statue is “a celebration of genocide and racial oppression.”
The document also claimed the statue of the Italian explorer constitutes “a prioritization of nominally esteemed university donors above the cultural acceptance and personal experience of marginalized students.”
The statue also drew the ire of protesters at a demonstration in “solidarity” with University of Missouri black students in November 2015. In a list of demands, protesters called for the sculpture of Columbus to be removed “from any University location open to any students and/or general public.”
It’s the second art-related victory in the past year for the school’s racial activists over the administration.
Last summer, The Graphic reported, Benton removed a wooden mural that was targeted by the November 2015 protesters. Hung in the campus cafe, it depicted “Father [Junipero] Serra next to a mission, wildlife and conquistadors and a Spanish colonel prominent in the center of the piece alongside a group of Native Americans in the lower right corner.”
In his Monday email, Benton told students that “stories of conquest and the art associated therewith are painful reminders of loss and human tragedy” for many, including those at the university, which is affiliated with the Churches of Christ tradition.
Columbus’s exploration was taught for many years in American schools as “heroic and exciting,” he wrote: “Later, as the impact of the arrival of explorers was assessed more fully, especially as those impacts related to indigenous people, a different view formed.”
Those who donated the sculpture “meant to honor the good attributes of [Columbus’s] life” and “they did not mean to offend,” Benton wrote, saying the removal decision came after reflection and consultation with university stakeholders.
Benton said a campus forum will be scheduled this month to discuss the decision and “consider other national issues” relevant to campus diversity.
In a statement to The College Fix, the university’s Black Student Association extolled the president’s decision.
“We are happy to finally see this come to fruition. We thank everyone involved in this movement for their hard work and dedication towards fighting for this cause,” the organization said. “We are humbled to contribute to this work of justice.”
In response to the news, one student tweeted “Pepperdine is getting rid of our Christopher Columbus statue! Progress!” Another student replied back “I am so excited about this!”
Budget Solution of the Week: School Choice
Earlier this month, House Majority Leader Dave Reed challenged his colleagues to change the way Harrisburg operates: “Now is the time to reimagine and redesign government, our state and our future.” A change in Harrisburg’s culture is surely needed. Decades of high taxes, wasteful spending, and poorly designed policies have sunk the commonwealth’s finances and stymied economic progress.
What's most devastating is when poor policies impact the future of our children—which is why reimagining our education system is so critical. Too often, Pennsylvania’s education model prioritizes systems over students. School officials—rather than parents—are given precedent to make consequential decisions affecting the education of more than 1.7 million students. This top-down management style has produced subpar outcomes in too many schools, forcing parents to seek alternatives to traditional public schools.
Unfortunately, not every family is lucky enough to send their son or daughter to a high-performing school. The education establishment will place the blame on funding shortages, but as my colleague James has noted, education spending is at its highest level ever. School districts spend, on average, $15,800 per student. This figure could always grow higher, but inflating school budgets will only add to Pennsylvania’s high tax burden, without guaranteeing any improvement in academic achievement.
The solution to the state’s educational woes doesn’t require more political control. It requires more parental control. To a limited extent, Pennsylvania encourages parental control with programs like the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC). But more needs to be done.
Every student deserves a quality education. And every family deserves to determine what a quality education looks like. Expanding school choice programs can help make these goals a reality. Putting parents firmly in control of educational decisions has led to improved student outcomes and savings for taxpayers. The latter is especially relevant in the context of the state’s fiscal outlook.
Pennsylvania is staring down a $600 million shortfall for the year, and will need to deal with a projected $1.7 billion projected shortfall in 2017-18. To address these challenges, CF released Embracing Innovation in State Government, detailing how policymakers can reduce state government’s cost to avoid another round of tax increases.
School choice is one of the cost-saving measures included in the report. The costs of the EITC and OSTC represent just a fraction of student funding in a traditional public school. For example, in 2013-2014, the average EITC scholarship was $1,587 per student, whereas funding in a traditional public school exceeded $15,000 per student. Moving students to the less expensive, more effective alternative nets taxpayers significant savings.
Taking a hard look at how Pennsylvania funds education will play a critical role in controlling spending and truly reimaging government.
Support for Jihad in Western universities
Since the rise of ISIS as an Islamic extremist group, and certainly since its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared the official creation of the caliphate, researchers and intelligence groups worldwide have noted its popularity with Muslim women, even in the West. Unlike other terrorist groups, ISIS has pointedly recruited women. And many women have, on their own, found the promise of life in the Islamic State particularly appealing.
Along the way, researchers and intelligence agencies have argued that the Muslim women who join ISIS, especially those who travel to Syria from the West, take active roles in ISIS's jihad. While they are largely barred from fighting on the battlefield, women have enrolled in the al-Khansaa brigade, the women's moral police force which enforces strict codes of dress and public behavior. Al-Khansaa officers regularly arrest and beat women who violate sharia-based modesty laws or who appear in public without a male companion. Other women raise their sons to be jihadists, or bring their children with them from the West in the hopes that they, too, will grow up to support the Islamic State and its jihad.
Now a young Dutch researcher, Aysha Navest, has come out with a different theory based on interviews she held with over 22 women now living in the caliphate. Navest, who is affiliated with the University of Amsterdam (UvA), says she knows several of those women. They reveal a very different portrait of the so-called "ISIS brides:" girls who are not recruited for jihad, but who willingly and eagerly make the perilous trip to Syria, where they live peaceful, happy lives as homemakers, mothers, and wives. Her findings appeared last April in the journal Anthropology Today, a peer-reviewed publication of the Royal Anthropological Institute.
There is just one problem: Aysha Navest allegedly also recruits women for the Islamic State.
This is the conclusion of journalists at the Dutch national daily NRC Handelsblad, who matched Navest's birthdate, hometown, children's first names and other identifying details with those of "Ought-Aisha," a woman posting messages on the Dutch-Muslim website Marokko.nl. And according to "Ought-Aisha" (or "Sister Aisha"), life in the Islamic State is simply grand. In various posts, she has praised suicide bombers, honored Osama bin Laden, and insisted that jihadists will find rewards in Paradise. Additionally, the NRC reports, in Facebook posts she has referred to Shiites and apostates as "people who rape our women, torture our men, and kill our children."
Unsurprisingly, the NRC's findings put renewed focus on Navest's reports and the nature of her research, which was performed under the tutelage of two well-known UvA professors - anthropologist Martijn de Koning and Modern Islamic Culture professor Annelies Moors. Both De Koning and Moors now admit that Navest's subjects were interviewed anonymously, largely via WhatsApp, and that she did not share the women's names even with them - a departure from standard research practices that call for transparency. Even so, according to Elsevier, they stand behind her research.
Others, however, voice considerable skepticism. The Dutch intelligence agency AIVD dismissed Navest's report from the outset, noting that her conclusions stood in stark conflict not only with their own, but with other studies by UvA scholars. The UvA has now called for an independent investigation into Navest's background and the reliability of her work.
Even fellow academics have been scathingly critical. In his column for Elsevier, Leiden University Professor of Jurisprudence Afshin Ellian observed that as a result of Navest's online postings, "in normal situations, she would end up in prison for incitement to violence and hate with terrorist intentions." Instead, the conclusions of her "research" showing that women do not join directly in jihad but simply enjoy idyllic lives as wives and mothers in the Caliphate, represent "the manner in which she pursues her own jihad: by pulling a smokescreen before the eyes of the unbelievers."
But the situation also exposes a larger problem within academia internationally. In many institutions, subjectivity clouds social research, while students' minds are too-frequently shaped by anti-democratic, anti-Western, and - worse - truth-challenged ideologues. For example, at UvA, De Koning has long been accused of sympathizing with Islamic extremists. Among other things, he co-authored a book describing Salafism as a "utopian idealism."
Likewise, at Kent State University, the FBI is reportedly investigating history professor Julio Pino for ties to the Islamic State. A Muslim convert, Pino has made provocative comments on campus and in university-based newspapers, including shouting "Death to Israel" during a lecture by a former Israeli diplomat. In a letter to a campus publication, he declared "jihad until victory!" On Facebook, Pino once described Osama bin Laden as "the greatest." He also posted a photograph of himself in front of the U.S. Capitol Building, adding the caption "I come to bury D.C., not to praise it," Fox News reports.
Kent State officials say they "distanced" themselves from Professor Pino, whose tenured position poses legal challenges to dismissing him from the faculty.
In contrast, at nearby Oberlin, Assistant Professor Joy Karega's Facebook posts calling ISIS an arm of American and Israeli intelligence agencies and blaming Israel for the attacks of 9/11 were enough to get her fired from her job teaching Rhetoric and Composition. As the industry newspaper Inside Higher Ed reported, despite initially defending her right to academic freedom, Oberlin officials ultimately determined that, "Beyond concerns about anti-Semitism, which fit into larger complaints about escalating anti-Jewish rhetoric on campus, Karega's case has raised questions about whether academic freedom covers statements that have no basis in fact."
Then there is John Esposito, Georgetown University's professor of Religion and International Affairs and Islamic Studies. An extensive Investigative Project on Terrorism investigation into Esposito's activities found that he has used his position to "defend radical Islam and promote its ideology- including defending terrorist organizations and those who support them, advocating for Islamist regimes, praising radical Islamists and their apologists, and downplaying the threat of Islamist violence." He refuses to condemn Hamas and, according to the report, "remains a close friend and defender of Palestinian Islamic Jihad board member Sami Al-Arian."
Al-Arian ran the PIJ's "active arm" in America while working as a University of South Florida professor.
Like Navesh, Esposito seems to want to aim his work beyond the ivory towers. He has spoken on Islam to the State Department, the FBI, the CIA, Homeland Security and other government offices. Similarly, Navesh hoped that her "research" would help shape policy in the Netherlands, encouraging courts to issue lighter sentences on women who returned home from the Islamic State. After all, they hadn't engaged in terrorism. They'd only lived in domestic bliss abroad. Where's the crime in that?
None, of course, if it were true. But it is not.
There is nothing new, of course, in respected journals publishing flawed research by people who aim to shape public policy or opinion - the infamous and now-debunked Andrew Wakefield study that claimed to link autism to vaccines is a prime example. But such examples only underscore the challenges, and the need to investigate better the accuracy of scholarly reports as well as the integrity of those who write them. Islamic jihad, after all, is not just about destroying our lives, but about destroying our culture. In the face of the "smokescreens" of that jihad, intellectual vigilance will be our strongest shield.
Posted by jonjayray at 3:59 AM
Tuesday, February 07, 2017
How Trump's refugee order targets educational injustice
Public schools beleaguered by waves of refugees will get a breather thanks to President Trump's executive order suspending refugee entry for 120 days. And under Trump's new policy, when the US reopens its doors to refugees, local communities will be consulted. That beats the Obama administration's dictatorial approach, which has overwhelmed many school districts.
Until now, refugee children have been placed in districts with little or no advance notice. Arriving from countries like Congo, Burma, Somalia and Syria, they speak no English and bear the signs of trauma from their ordeals. They need interpreters, counselors and attention. But often they're placed in the poorest school districts - which can least afford them.
School authorities try to be welcoming, but no good deed goes unpunished. The American Civil Liberties Union is targeting these communities, claiming they're not doing enough for refugees. On top of the costs of educating the refugees, towns are getting slapped with lawsuits and legal fees.
The State Department decides where refugees are settled. The feds pay nonprofits such as Catholic Charities to rent and furnish apartments for refugees, enroll them in English class and put their children in public school.
In New York, upstate cities like Buffalo, Syracuse and Utica are magnets for resettlement because the $900-a-month housing stipend goes a lot farther than in New York City or on Long Island.
Buffalo has absorbed 10,000 refugees in the last decade. At Lafayette High School there, 45 languages are spoken, 70 percent of students are just learning English and nearly 40 percent missed years of schooling before arriving.
Educators report that refugee students are highly motivated. Sending them to Lafayette isn't doing them any favors: It's one of the state's poorest performing schools, with only 16 percent of students graduating on time. Requiring resource-strapped schools to take in large numbers of refugee children is a raw deal for the refugees and locals.
Refugee youngsters would be better off settled in the well-to-do communities that are bashing Trump's travel ban - liberal havens like Hollywood and the Beltway suburbs around Washington, DC. But don't count on that happening. These kids will continue landing in economically stressed cities like Chicago, whose schools can't afford extensive language programs.
Or Utica, another tapped-out city in upstate New York, where nearly one out of six residents is a refugee. Schools there have been "very supportive of diversity" explains Christoper Salatino, head of Utica's Board of Education. But it's coming with a "pretty large price tag."
Adding refugees to the district amounts to an "unfunded mandate," he adds. The State Department's "school impact grants" pale beside the actual costs. Utica has laid off large numbers of teachers and cut art, music and other extras to pay for translators and special instructors for the refugees.
Even that wasn't enough for the New York Civil Liberties Union. It sued Utica - the fifth-poorest school district in the state - for sending older teens to a separate Newcomer Program that offered English immersion instead of traditional high-school subjects.
"Some students were not being successful when placed in traditional" classes because they'd been out of school so long, explained a local school official. But rather than spend money fighting, the school district settled and got socked with $80,000 in legal fees from the civil-rights group.
The same scenario played out in Lancaster, Pa. Educators initially placed newly arrived 19- and 20-year-old refugees in a separate program to learn English before mainstreaming them in high school. The idea was to minimize disruption. But the trigger-happy ACLU sued, insisting a separate program violated the refugees' rights. So much for common sense.
That's what's behind Trump's revamping of the refugee-resettlement program - common sense. Not heavy-handed orders from Washington and its litigation-industry allies.
British schools are supposed to teach kids HOW to think for themselves, not WHAT to think. So why are so many liberal teachers bullying and brain-washing children with their own intolerant views?
By Katie Hopkins
Are you sitting comfortably, children? Then I have a creative task for you. Tell me, is this poem from the Bush era, still relevant today?
'When the president talks to god/Does he ever think that maybe he's not? /That that voice is just inside his head /When he kneels next to the presidential bed /Does he ever smell his own bulls**t When the president talks to god/ I doubt it. I doubt it.'
This, ladies and gentlemen, is what is being taught in British schools. Teachers asking children to think about Trump and his bulls**t. And whether he smells it. Do they smell their own I wonder? I doubt it, I doubt it.
Another teacher made protest banners with her class of twelve-year-olds (I repeat: twelve-year-olds) whom she took along to the protest against Trump outside Westminster. She even had a pathetic picture taken to commemorate the occasion.
Tell me: would you be happy if this was the teacher of your twelve-year-old?
Even as my suspicions have been growing about the indoctrination of our young children by so-called liberals, so has the number of stories arriving in my inbox.
Worried parents whose little kids come home repeating opinions they have been taught in school, rather than lessons, wondering how they should talk to the school about it without getting their kids into trouble.
Children being taught that Trump is a bad man and a racist. That Brexit is wrong. That the correct answer is Clinton.
A young man aged 17 from Hertfordshire was ostracised from his politics class for daring to admit he supported Trump. He was told by the teacher to have 'less strong views' and was isolated by his class. Eventually he dropped the subject completely because no one would sit with him or talk to him.
A child isolated for his opinion and hounded for his views.
Another worried mother, Rachel from Solihull recounts that her eight-year-old came home from primary school and asked her why she liked Trump when he is a racist and hates women.
The child had been shown the news, told by his teacher that Trump hates women, Muslims and Mexicans and is a Bad Man.
Elsewhere, a headmaster of a secondary school in Chester gave a lecture featuring his own brand of politics, alarming the kids about the state of the world. He said he hoped to see his pupils again next week 'if Trump has not pressed the nuclear button by then', and sent them home with a newsletter reinforcing his point.
And then this from a mum in Bournemouth: 'My seven-year-old daughter came home from school saying she had been learning Donald Trump's job is to take care of all the people but he doesn't because he is a nasty evil man.
'I asked her why, and she said ... in school they had been shown a newspaper of a little girl holding up a sign saying 'not my President' because Trump had held a book and sworn to take care of all people but he lied.
'Because American people don't have newspapers, they cannot see what a horrible man he really is and what he is really like. And a lady wanted to be president and she actually got more votes than him. But they still let him win. And that's not fair.'
Other parents also told of assemblies for twelve-year-olds in Swindon in which Donald Trump's ban on refugees entering the country had been compared to the Holocaust.
Small children in Chelmsford were taught in morning assembly on June 24 following the vote for Leave that 'your parents will be very sad tonight. They might even be crying. Because people who do not want us to be friends with Europe voted the wrong way'.
Clearly, children need to be aware of the news and current affairs. I buy my own children a children's newspaper so they can form their own views.
I am not arguing teachers shouldn't offer up the facts of the world and allow children to form a view.
I can accept that many teachers believe Trump to be an odious individual and/or that Trump equals hate.
And I have heard the argument that it is right that teachers should teach children to be inclusive and to stand against hate, and by this logic teachers have a duty to speak out against Trump. But this is a sleight of hand. Deductive reasoning that has lost its way. The opinion that Trump equals hate is not a fact. It is a view.
Schools are doing exactly what Remainers did when they tried to foist hate on to Leave voters by claiming ownership of the phrase 'hope not hate'. As if they had rights to the word hope, and everything else was hate.
Many teachers seem to believe their opinions are right and, therefore, all other viewpoints are wrong. And they are are indoctrinating our children with their beliefs.
This is not teaching children how to think. This is teaching children what to think.
I spoke to a teacher earlier who called me to confirm categorically that this is what she is seeing inside schools, too. She can be honest with her students about the fact that she supported Leave — she would never lie to them, after all — but she does not dare repeat her views in the staff room, where prescribed-think prevails.
What is going on inside our schools is a disgrace. It needs blowing wide open.
It is wrong to teach children what to think. It is wrong, if not professionally incompetent, to have young school kids make banners, then take them out on a protest and be photographed doing so.
And it is truly terrifying that adult teachers are willing to humiliate children because of their beliefs, or to isolate young people with their hands in the air to support Trump when an entire assembly full other kids AND their teachers thrust their hands up in opposition.
Being a minority voice is still brave. Even if the minority voice is from the right wing.
It's more frightening still to bully a child into giving up a subject altogether because their opinions and views are 'too strong', and quite blatantly too 'wrong'.
If you wonder why young people often seem so weak, perhaps it is because in school they were never allowed to think strong or to stand strong for their own beliefs — only for the beliefs of their so-called teachers.
I urge young people to stand strong for what you believe. And I implore parents, to stand strong for your children. Surely they deserve the opportunity to learn how to think, before a teacher tries to tell them what to think as well.
Politics does not bear the whole blame for the crisis at American Colleges
Campus life has been increasingly riled by controversies over perceived offenses. An administrative culture is partly responsible.
Between 1932 and 1934, the Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco toiled away on the masterwork that would christen the basement of Dartmouth College’s new library. The resulting mural—3,200 square feet of arresting visual narrative that maps out, as its title declares, “The Epic of American Civilization”—is more than a grand showpiece. Orozco’s work is most striking today as a testament to the intellectual self-confidence that once characterized American colleges, and which has waned over the past decades with disastrous effects.
Orozco had a flair for political boldness. His murals shout in a kind of proto-post-colonial language that piqued the interest of American artists, but clashed with the bourgeois ethos of mid-twentieth century colleges. The suspicion that his work would be at odds with the prevailing values of Dartmouth was not lost on anyone involved in the project, from the pair of art professors who recruited him for the job, to the philanthropist (and staunch anti-communist) Abby Rockefeller who financed the commission.
And true to expectation, the mural was vicious—particularly in its panel titled “Gods of the Modern World,” which depicts academia as a corpse of dead knowledge, birthing intellectually stillborn graduates each year as the world burns in the backdrop. But as Jacquelynn Baas, the former director of Dartmouth’s Hood Museum of Art, recalled in an interview, “No one ever told [Orozco] that he couldn’t do what he was doing.” The mural inevitably spurred a minor backlash among the most conservative alumni—who responded by sponsoring a new work with a whimsical portrayal of the college’s historical relationship to nearby Native American tribes. The trustees in favor of permitting Orozco’s provocative work prevailed, however, and did so with ease. Baas summarized the view of Dartmouth’s then-President Ernest Martin Hopkins on the matter, praising his insistence that “students should be exposed to the best, no matter what.”
Times have changed. Today, college campuses are regularly riled by controversies over art and architecture that clash with modern values. Students and faculty have organized to wipe away outdated or offending artifacts, and administrators have typically responded with sympathy, followed by acquiescence. Yale has become the epicenter of the trend with its struggle over Calhoun College, the residential college named for the pro-slavery Vice President John C. Calhoun. In August, Yale President Peter Salovey established a “Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming”—the title of which is so flatly Orwellian that the tension between the group and the school’s commitment to free inquiry is impossible to ignore.
The growing resistance to ideas that grate against popular values extends beyond the visual realm of buildings and art works. The past few years have seen a sharp rise in “disinvitations” of campus speakers and school-sanctioned task forces to investigate students’ speech. Last spring at Hampshire College, President Jonathan Lash agreed to disinvite commencement speaker Emily Wong, a physician who, despite having no record of offensive remarks, was condemned by students for being insufficiently concerned with the struggle for social justice.
This new, fervent insistence on cleansing campuses of contradictions is usually attributed to politics. Watchdog organizations like Turning Point USA report on the mistreatment of conservative students by liberal professors, suggesting that the academy has become so uniformly progressive that it can no longer tolerate a single word or thought that strays from its new orthodoxy. The dominance of progressive politics on campus is undeniable. A 2014 study by the social psychologists Yoel Inbar and Joris Lammers found not only that liberal professors now dominate every corner of the social sciences, but also that universities often express an open reluctance to hire conservative professors.
In focusing on this political cartel effect, however, critics tend to underemphasize the increasing fragility of the universities themselves—the second great factor that has wiped away tolerance for “dangerous” ideas on college campuses since the mid-twentieth century. The schools of a half-century ago were much leaner, with comparatively tiny budgets and administrative staffs, meaning they felt no itch to raise ever-higher funds with each passing minute and no need to keep their image so squeakily clean for the donors. Today, every controversy that arises on campus has the potential to tarnish the image that generations’ worth of administrators have crafted to keep admissions numbers high and donations pouring in—that is, the banner shot of carefree students, tossing a Frisbee on a well-kept lawn with a preternaturally diverse group of their classmates. The president of Yale may find the sight of John Calhoun’s name emblazoned above a dorm building to be offensive. Of more immediate concern, though, would be the drop in applications and tightening of Yale’s famous endowment that would follow from a reinvigorated protest, spurred by his reluctance to chisel Calhoun’s name away.
This crisis of confidence at colleges—driven by conflict-shy administrators and self-effacing professors—has come to a head in the culture of protest that has developed on American campuses.
In the balance between encouraging a clash of ideas and prioritizing stability, the rise in power of college administrators has tipped the scales immeasurably. Dr. Jonathan Zimmerman of the University of Pennsylvania, an education historian, told me that the “number of full-time faculty members has consistently declined” since the mid-1960s. He added that administrative growth took off during the same era, with non-teaching staff outnumbering professors from the 1990s onward.
Predictably, the administrator-run campus has transitioned from imparting essential knowledge to students toward treating students as customers. Zimmerman took note of the most visible element of the customer-service college: the surge of pricey construction projects such as “climbing gyms and luxury dorms” (although he noted that beneficial services such as mental health counseling have also grown from the same impulse to cater to students).
Putting aside these costly services of all sorts, however, the more dangerous development in campus consumerism has taken place in the classroom. In The Dumbest Generation, a 2008 book that is mostly a critique of millennial ignorance, the writer and English professor Mark Bauerlein turns his sights on his fellow members of the academy in a chapter called “The Betrayal of the Mentors.” Bauerlein describes the increasingly common practice of treating students as customers who are always right, rather than offering new perspectives that might expand their worldviews: “If mentors are so keen to recant their expertise, why should students strain to acquire it themselves?” This type of professorial restraint, which lecturers adopt under the pretense of encouraging dialogue, actually diminishes intellection. With no real arguments being made in the classroom, today’s students are likelier to rest upon the easiest reading of any particular subject, never developing a tolerance for unconventional perspectives.
This crisis of confidence at colleges—driven by conflict-shy administrators and self-effacing professors—has come to a head in the culture of protest that has developed on American campuses. Once again, political polarization is only one part of the story. Today’s college students are certainly more liberal and more ideologically uniform than their counterparts of the mid-twentieth century. But the focus on the little things that we see in campus protests—as in the movement to suppress insensitive Halloween costumes at Yale in 2015—shows the extent to which the political fervor is being driven by the absence of bigger, richer ideas to seize students’ attention. The New York Times columnist Ross Douthat made this case in a column during the same outburst of protests, which swept through dozens of campuses that fall. “The protesters at Yale and Missouri,” he pointed out, are “dealing with a university system that’s genuinely corrupt, and that’s long relied on rote appeals to the activists’ own left-wing pieties to cloak its utter lack of higher purpose.” In other words, if hollowing out collegiate culture of all of its challenging substance really was just a ploy to dodge controversy and keep the money coming in, then it looks like the strategy has decidedly backfired.
Meanwhile, studies are beginning to pile up that show that students are not merely made restless by the lack of challenging substance, but are also left intellectually stunted, never learning to discuss politics, economics, or culture in any terms outside of the narrow lexicon of social justice. Richard E. Redding and William O’Donahue pushed back against the PC curriculum with a 2010 study that challenged the value of identity-centric teaching, and Columbia professor Mark Lilla articulated the same case to a broader audience last November in a New York Times op-ed that called for “The End of Identity Liberalism.”
Just like all forms of controversial opinion—hypotheses, theories, and even works of art—the value of Orozco’s mural was not that its content was certifiably true. Even the professors who commissioned it did not see America as quite the decadent cesspool that Orozco portrayed, but hoped that their students might be jarred out of complacent thinking by his perspective. Ironically, however, the American academy has moved closer to Orozco’s depiction of it by shirking their mission to provoke: repositories of dead knowledge, giving birth to fragile ideas.
For colleges to re-adopt intellectual openness would require them to take on a great degree of risk, and they could never succeed without the hard-won cooperation of individual professors and administrators. But with more and more research emerging about the value of a challenging curriculum—and with a hunger for thought-provoking substance still growing on America’s campuses—the incentives may soon begin to align for a renaissance of heterodoxy.
Monday, February 06, 2017
Democrat Subjects Education Commissioner Nominee to ‘Inquisition’ Over His Christian Beliefs
Newly installed New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu’s nominee for the post of Commissioner of Education is being subjected to what some in the state are calling an “inquisition” and a “bigoted witch hunt” at the hands of a Democrat member of the state’s Executive Council.
At a packed public hearing of the Council Tuesday night in Concord, Republican Frank Edelblut was subjected to what education liaison Ann Marie Banfield of Cornerstone says was nothing less than an “inquisition” by Democrat councilor Andru Volinsky, an attorney.
Banfield provided video of the Executive Council meeting to Breitbart News, showing Volinsky grilling Edelblut over his religious beliefs and the fact that he sat on the board of a Christian college.
Edelblut, who served as a state representative and was a candidate for governor in 2016, has been a vocal critic of the Common Core State Standards, the Smarter Balanced Common Core-aligned tests, and the Obama administration’s “guidance” on transgender bathrooms in schools.
During his campaign for governor, he came in a close second to Sununu, who maintained only an 800-vote lead over Edelblut in the end.
According to the Concord Monitor, Edelblut is a businessman from Wilton who states his business background will help in updating the state’s public education system. A parent who has homeschooled his seven children, Edelblut supports the creation of academic standards at the local level.
“Testimony by those who opposed this nomination spoke about how they feared what would happen if Frank were to be confirmed,” Banfield tells Breitbart News. “They feared what he would do with his views on Creationism. They feared what he would do since he supports school choice.”
Excerpts from Volinsky’s questioning of Edelblut about his Christian beliefs and his service at Patrick Henry College, a Christian school that apparently requires faculty and staff to adhere to Christian principles, is as follows:
[D]o you subscribe to this description of God’s creative works that I’ve just shared with you, whether you did it as an agent or do it otherwise?
Patrick Henry College has a required oath of faith for its agents, and I assume, as either a board member or curriculum developer, you had to sign onto that oath of faith…the oath of faith is tied to a biblical worldview that also requires its agents to subscribe to – and, again, I wouldn’t even begin to ask you about this if it wasn’t relevant to what we’re doing here…in the biblical worldview “God’s creative works”…
When objection to Volinsky’s questions about Edelblut’s religious views was voiced, he responded that the nominee “will be in charge of religious, non-religious people, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, atheists, and we, I think, are entitled to consider whether it will impact his work as a commissioner…”
Banfield adds that Steven Muzzi, who testified against Edelblut, said he was fearful of Edelblut’s approval because of concern he may push his political ideology onto public schools.
“Did he read the text of the Next Generation Science Standards that were just approved by the New Hampshire Board of Education?” she asks. “There are political ideologies in our new Common Core Next Generation Science Standards.”
Writing at New Hampshire Political Buzz, Kimberly Morin says Volinsky, a member of the “status quo in public education” and recipient of support from “one of the biggest teachers’ unions in the country” was on a “bigoted witch hunt.”
“It was egregious to see the horrifying religious bigotry that was rampant from the left,” she writes. “A few different Edelblut supporters wanted to know if one’s personal religion was going to now be a ‘litmus test’ for all future nominees.”
“I asked them to show me one bit of evidence where he’s pushed his religious views on the public schools,” Banfield says, adding that another criticism launched at Edelblut is his lack of experience or a degree in the field of education.
“It’s important to note that five of the seven board of education members serving in New Hampshire do not have degrees in education and have never taught in a public school,” Banfield observes, noting as well that all those with degrees and education experience in the state ended up promoting the nationalized Common Core.
She adds that Edelblut – in his opening statement to the council – said he supports giving flexibility and autonomy to teachers, and invites local school boards and teachers to make curriculum choices.
“This is a commitment to untie the hands of teachers and school boards instead of continuing down a path that restricts them,” Banfield says.
On Wednesday, the Executive Council tabled Edelblut’s nomination after Volinsky raised yet another “concern,” this time based on procedure. According to the Union Leader:
The motion to confirm Edelblut had been seconded as the council convened on Wednesday when Volinsky raised his point of order, asking if Gov. Chris Sununu had consulted with the state Board of Education prior to the nomination, as required by state statute.
Attorney General Joseph Foster was consulted and agreed with Volinsky’s interpretation of the statute. Sununu recessed the meeting and returned to say the vote should be tabled.
Edelblut, however, appears to have the votes necessary on the Republican-led council to secure the post.
“There was a divide between the providers of education and the consumers of education,” said councilor David Wheeler. “Those who were consumers wanted Frank Edelblut, and those who were providers of education clearly did not. I represent the customer as well as the provider, but I think the customer comes first.”
Marquette’s Faculty Tries to Sabotage Ben Shapiro Event
University’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom will host conservative political pundit Ben Shapiro in just over a week, and while the club anticipates a sold-out 500-person lecture hall, club members made a startling discovery: Marquette University’s faculty is attempting to sabotage the event.
Young America’s Foundation, the parent organization to Young Americans for Freedom chapters, has obtained screenshots from club members that show a Marquette faculty member explaining her plan to block students from hearing Shapiro speak.
“I just got off the phone with one of the directors of diversity on campus,” wrote Chrissy Nelson, a program assistant at Marquette’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies. “The suggestion I received and will be promoting is to go to the mission week events that day, reserve a seat through Eventbrite as a student (to take a seat away from someone who actually would go) and not protest the day of.”
Predictable result of poor discipline in Israeli schools
Within Israel’s start-up culture the conventional wisdom is that certain Israeli character traits — our impatience, ability to improvise, and a tendency to defy rules and challenge authority — have contributed to the country’s impressive high-tech success.
Israel is booming in terms of entrepreneurship because “you don’t follow the rules,” Google’s Eric Schmidt once told an audience at the Weizmann Institute in 2015.
Not so fast, says Noam Gruber, an economist and senior researcher at Israel’s Shoresh Institution for Socioeconomic Research. In his recently published study, “Why are Israel’s PISA Achievements So Low?” [Hebrew link], Gruber analyzes the factors that lead to relatively poor Israeli performance on international math tests and concludes that students’ lack of discipline — the very quality praised by Eric Schmidt and other Start-Up Nation enthusiasts — is a significant factor behind the lackluster PISA scores.
“Israel has an advantage compared to other developed countries,” Gruber told The Times of Israel, noting a relatively high percentage of kids whose parents are educated and whose parents understand the importance of education.
But much of this great potential is wasted, she lamented, when Israeli students enter an education system that is of poor quality and suffers from a pathological lack of discipline. Gruber cites high levels of truancy and tardiness as well as classrooms abuzz with background noise and student disruptions as indicators of a lack of discipline.
“Discipline in Israeli schools is far below what is normative in the West,” she said. “If we don’t address this problem it will be hard for the Israeli workforce to remain competitive.”
PISA is an acronym for the Program for International Student Assessment, a global test administered by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) measuring 15-year-olds’ performance in mathematics, science and reading.
“PISA is a unified test and it’s a way to assess the achievements of our education system compared to those of other countries,” said Gruber. “Mathematical ability is proven to be a major predictor of students’ future success in the labor market.”
PISA math scores are also highly correlated with PISA reading scores, explained Gruber, so they’re a good stand-in for overall student achievement.
Gruber surveyed all 34 OECD countries along with Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong. He found that Israel’s math PISA scores (in 2012) were the fifth lowest in this group, worse than every country except for Mexico, Chile, Turkey and Greece. The original PISA test was scaled so that the OECD average score would be 500 and the standard deviation 100. In 2012, the 5,000 Israeli students who took the PISA math exam scored an average of 466. If you break this result down still further, those Israelis who took the test in Arabic scored 388 on average while those who took it in Hebrew scored 489.
Unfortunately, even Israel’s best students are not that stellar compared to top students in other developed countries, the study showed.
“Some people may think that Israel’s average PISA scores are low because of certain weaker groups in the population, like Arab Israelis and Haredim,” explained Gruber. “They think that certainly our top-performing students must be equal to their counterparts in the West.”
But this is not the case. If you look at students who took the PISA exam in Hebrew and scored in the 91st percentile, their score is 13 points lower than the average OECD score for the 91st percentile. If you look at Israel’s 99th percentile, the top 1 percent of scorers in the country, their scores are 39 points behind the top 1 percent of scorers of the OECD.
If Israeli schools are not doing much to boost students’ PISA scores, what do those Israeli students who do perform relatively well have in common?
Educated mothers, said Gruber.
Parents’ education is a very strong indicator of a child’s academic success, but the mother’s level of education is an even stronger indicator. This is true worldwide and particularly true among Israeli Jews, said Gruber
Asked why the mother’s education is an indicator of academic success, Gruber said he can only speculate.
“It may be because mothers spend more time with their kids. Also, if a mother is educated, the chances are the father is as well. If a father is educated, it’s not certain the mother is. So a family with an educated mother often has two educated parents as opposed to one. Also, if the mother has an academic degree, perhaps the family places a higher value on educating girls.”
If Israeli mothers are more educated than the OECD average and parents here are among the most motivated to see their children succeed, why do Israeli teenagers nevertheless perform so poorly?
The answer, said Gruber, is the sorry state of formal education in Israel. And the central cause of poor schools, according to his study, is their lack of discipline.
“In an estimate based on tardiness and truancy statistics, Israel is in the third to last place in the developed world in terms of discipline, with the problem made even worse by large classroom sizes,” Gruber wrote in his study.
Gruber goes on to quote the Ethics of the Fathers: “There is no Torah without good manners. Teaching kids to come to class on time, teaching them to pay attention and not disrupt, is good manners. It’s the foundation on which the learning process is built. When this foundation is shaky, no wonder that the ‘Torah,’ — the learning, the achievements, are poor.”
Gruber added that a strong education system would be able to instill discipline in children whose behavior is unruly. But the opposite often occurs. An unruly child will often set the tone for other children. The fact that the Israeli education system has a much higher tardiness and truancy rate than the rest of the developed world, said Gruber, demonstrates that the education system is weak.
“It starts at a young age. If you send your kid to a municipal preschool, they tend to be understaffed, they’re a bit of a jungle. Kids learn to look out for themselves. They don’t learn how to stand in line or wait for their turn or be quiet when someone else is speaking. Children take that with them to first grade and then to 10th grade and then to the army and then to the university. And that’s how Israeli adults behave on the street and on the roads and in politics.”
What’s interesting is that this disinclination to follow the rules is often a point of pride for Israelis, the “secret sauce,” many believe, that accounts for Israel’s status as the Start-Up Nation.
“There is some truth to this notion,” said Gruber, “because the world of elite high tech is all about disruption, you need people who are willing to destroy what exists and replace it with something better, so there’s an advantage to not being too disciplined and to being a bit of a wild person with a big ego.”
Still, said Gruber, when you look at Israel’s high-tech entrepreneurs they tend to come from relatively advantaged backgrounds and good schools.
“Besides,” he said, “Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan [countries leading in PISA math scores] have nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to technological achievements.”
Asked if there is any subgroup in Israeli society whose PISA scores are significantly higher than the rest, Gruber points to the children of North American immigrants to Israel whose average score is above 520, compared to the average for Israelis as a whole, which is 466. Other subgroups, like children of Russians or French immigrants, or national religious students, do not have scores that differ from the Israeli average.
Asked to explain this, Gruber could once again only speculate.
“North Americans in Israel tend to be better educated, have a better socioeconomic situation and live in well-off cities like Ra’anana, Modiin or Jerusalem.” Gruber also speculated that the fact that many Americans in Israel live near each other and socialize with one another creates an alternative subculture that is characterized by higher educational attainment among other things.
As for Israeli society as a whole, Gruber said that raising the discipline level in schools (as measured by tardiness and truancy) to the OECD average would likely raise Israeli PISA scores by at least 20 points.
“If we started today, then in 20 years Israeli society would be different. Better discipline would also attract better teachers to the profession. The world is competitive. If we continue on the current path, it will restrict the Israeli economy because not enough people will have the skills to be successful in high-tech or science.”
Posted by jonjayray at 1:55 AM
Sunday, February 05, 2017
Americans Should Not Have to Subsidize Campus Lawlessness
In 1964, students at the University of California, Berkeley joined together to fight for their right to free speech.
Last night, a group of over 1,500 protestors showed up on that same campus to shut down a speaker with whom they disagreed, and about 150 of them started a riot.
Clearly, the culture of tolerance on college campuses has changed quite a bit since 1964.
Last night, Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos stopped by the UC Berkeley campus on his college tour to talk about the importance of free speech, yet was met with shocking hostility that led to violence.
He is well known for criticizing the “social justice left” in a very provocative manner that elicits a strong response from the campuses he visits. He is no stranger to disruptive protests outside his events.
However, the new violent nature of these protests prompts a discussion over whether or not the school should be a recipient of federal funds.
Videos have surfaced of a crowd of protestors beating a man unconscious and lighting a massive fire, which led to the cancellation of Yiannopoulos’ speaking engagement by the university.
Yet as of last night, campus police remained minimally involved in containing the riots, with the police chief saying she was not aware of any arrests made.
This soft response seems odd in light of UC Berkeley’s statement this morning, which affirmed the importance of free speech:
Campus officials [said] that they regret that the threats and unlawful actions of a few have interfered with the exercise of First Amendment rights on a campus that is proud of its history and legacy as the home of the Free Speech Movement.
If UC Berkeley is so dedicated to protecting Yiannopoulos’ free speech, why the weak response?
The riots were violent enough to elicit a response from President Donald Trump, who tweeted out, “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”
Indeed, American taxpayers should be well aware of where their money is going.
UC Berkeley is a public institution that receives federal dollars, yet it appears to allow violence, censorship, and holds contempt for the Constitution and the rule of law.
UC Berkeley is a public institution that receives federal dollars.
Yet on Jan. 26, the university’s chancellor issued a statement saying that Yiannopoulos had “been widely and rightly condemned for engaging in hate speech” and added that “Mr. Yiannopoulos’s opinions and behavior can elicit strong reactions and his attacks can be extremely hurtful and disturbing.”
Hardly impartial statements.
This is not the first time lawmakers have called for federal funds to be withheld from Berkeley, California.
In 2008, Heritage Foundation President and former Sen. Jim DeMint called for federal funding to be revoked from the city after the Berkeley City Council voted to remove a Marine Corps recruiting center from the city.
As DeMint said, “The First Amendment gives the city of Berkeley the right to be idiotic, but from now on they should do it with their own money.”
No city and no university campus should turn a blind eye to the rule of law in order to promote their political agendas. Indeed, the acceptance of federal funds should require an adherence to the basic rights guaranteed Americans in the Constitution—and that includes the First Amendment.
The threats to freedom of speech on college campuses are disturbing and warrant a response.
On Tuesday, Stanley Kurtz along with Jim Manley and Jonathan Butcher of the Goldwater Institute presented model state legislation at The Heritage Foundation to combat censorship and restriction of free speech on college campuses, which is intended to silence any dissenting views on political and social issues.
If adopted, this state-level legislation would require universities to open their doors to all invited speakers and reaffirm their commitment to free speech.
This is an important first step in restoring respect for constitutional rights in our university systems, something that is essential to preserving the free flow and vigorous debate of ideas that is fundamental to thriving academic institutions.
On the federal level, lawmakers should consider policies that limit federal subsidies to institutions that are hostile to free speech and who allow violence, threats, and intimidation of speakers and students to occur without consequence.
Taxpayers, who are already on the hook for $1.3 trillion in outstanding student loan debt should not continue to provide funding for universities that do not offer First Amendment protections to their students and guests.
Hopefully, such legislative responses will restore our universities to being places of thoughtful debate, where opposing views are met with respect and civil debate, rather than riots.
Rethink School Accountability
In many Eastern religions, practitioners use mantras to calm and center themselves while meditating. If the school choice movement needs a mantra right now, it just might be: Regulating a market is not the same as regulating a monopoly.
I say this because of the huge outcry around the putative beliefs of Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump's nominee for education secretary, on how to bring accountability to charter schools and schools that participate in voucher programs.
Differing conceptions of accountability have become equated with being "for" or "against" the idea, in toto. But which is more strict? Requiring that schools be evaluated on an A-to-F scale and automatically kicked out of a charter program if they fail? Or establishing a mayorally-appointed commission to decide what schools should and shouldn't stay open? I actually don't know.
I do know that as an increasing numbers of our schools move to a more market-like arrangement, we need to rethink what we mean by accountability and regulation. I say "market-like" just to reinforce that even the most generous voucher programs or the charter programs with the lightest regulatory touch are not in any true sense a "market." There are regulations around who can participate and who cannot; there are rules that fix prices; and government picks up the tab.
But given this quasi-market arrangement (a term popularized by Blair-ites across the pond), we must change our expectations of schools that receive public dollars. Because we're looking to manage functions differently, we need different tools in our toolbox. Here are just a few examples:
Academic accountability. In a school system with little to no parental choice, creating standardized, state-level accountability and teacher evaluation systems makes intuitive sense. We require families to send their children to school, so we should do something to ensure that the school is of sufficient quality.
But when we have parents actively choosing, accountability needs to take a different form. We shouldn't cram the square pegs of unique private and charter schools into the round holes of current accountability systems. Schools have vastly different curricula and methods (compare Great Hearts' classical learning approach to Academie Lafayette's French immersion to Carpe Diem's technology-blended classrooms) that no single set of indicators will be able to capture.
We should require transparency and program-wide evaluations made available to legislators and taxpayers. If, and only if, there is strong evidence for some kind of market failure should we intervene and override the wishes of parents and forcibly shut down schools. Market failures happen, but many advocates seem to have a hair trigger in identifying them.
Financial accountability. Arizona's Education Savings Account law requires "random, quarterly and annual audits of empowerment scholarship accounts." This seems appropriate and in line with how financial institutions audit their operations.
Interestingly, it seems more likely to spot malfeasance than our current system. Here in the Kansas City area alone, in the last year, we found out that the Belton School District had been getting shorted up to $500,000 per year since 1991 by improperly calculated property taxes, and, if it weren't for a brave whistleblower, we still might not know that the former superintendent of the St. Joseph public schools had improperly inflated his salary and bilked Missouri taxpayers for over $600,000. Quasi-market or not, random, quarterly, and annual audits are looking a lot more robust now, aren't they?
Data on public schools paints a complicated picture, and our policy discussions should reflect that.
Location and start-ups. Ex ante, we don't know which schools are going to be good and which schools are going to be bad. Even the rigorous vetting processes we see from many charter school authorizers still authorize and establish schools that don't end up working out. This shouldn't shock us. Research shows that as many as 3 in 4 firms backed by venture capital firms (which have their own rigorous vetting processes and are investing their own money) never return investors' capital. Predicting the future is hard. As a result, continuing to centralize power over who can and cannot start schools, or where schools can or cannot locate, seems like a fool's errand. If there is a case for accountability, it is much stronger for the back end, rather than the front.
The past several weeks have been nasty. That is unfortunate and avoidable. A bit of charity and reflection before dismissing someone with a slightly different conception of how schools should be funded or regulated would go a long way toward promoting civil discourse. If we in the education world can't model it, who do we think will?
Amherst Walks Out Over Trump, Ignores Fellow Student Punished Without Trial
The students at Amherst College need to recalibrate their injustice meters. An Amherst student finds himself unable to exonerate himself from a rape charge because it might traumatize his accuser, and they go silent. Yet students jumped at the idea of a walk-out protesting President Donald Trump's immigration executive order:
Hundreds of students, faculty and community members participated in a walkout and march on Wednesday, Feb. 1, to protest President Donald Trump’s recent executive order restricting U.S. entry and to demonstrate solidarity with members of the college community who were affected by the order. A smaller group of students also staged a sit-in in President Biddy Martin’s office.
The order, signed by the president on Jan. 27, temporarily restricts entry for nationals and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries, suspends all refugee admission for 120 days and indefinitely halts the movement of Syrian refugees to the U.S. The Trump administration has claimed that the act will reduce the threat of terrorism in the U.S., though most experts and other public officials who have commented on the ban disagreed.....
The size of the crowd grew as protesters marched at noon from Valentine Dining Hall to Converse Hall, where student speakers waited to give speeches. Led by organizer Ana Ascencio ’18, they shouted chants such as “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here” and “No ban, no wall, protection for all.”
Organizer Aubrey Grube ’18E denounced Martin’s statement regarding the executive order, which was emailed to students, faculty and staff on Jan. 29, calling it “abstract.”
Martin’s statement advised people from the affected countries not to travel outside of the U.S. “[We] are committed to doing everything we can within the limits of the law to protect those who will be affected by this order,” the statement read.
Where Black Lives Don't Matter — Campus 'Rape Culture' Tribunals
So, let's get this straight. A male student can be completely screwed over by the system at Amherst, and it doesn't matter to anyone at the school. After all, he's just a ... man. After all, rape victims deserve to be believed, even if there's evidence they lied.
Yet an executive order that the president can legally make that curtails immigrants temporarily -- even if one disagrees with it -- warrants an effort that could shut down operations.
Heaven forbid these students step up for one of their own being robbed of due process.
Posted by jonjayray at 1:40 AM