Sunday, January 07, 2018

Education in 2018 - Three major challenges facing America's schools and students

Now that President Trump has signed tax cuts into law to strengthen our economy, there’s much more to be done, starting with education reform. Three glaring problems need fixing: our underperforming K-12 schools, our politicized universities, and the enormous student debt burden.

Candidate Trump promised to revive the American Dream – the idea that whoever you are, you can get ahead, and that your kids will have it better than you did. If the dream is broken, our schools are a big reason.

We throw more money at our schools than just about any other country, and what do we get? For our K-12 school system, an honorary membership in the Third World.

Not so long ago, we had a superb public school system, but now we trail most countries. In math, we’re 38th in the world among developed countries in terms of how15 year-olds perform. And it’s getting worse, not better.

Our public schools don’t lack for defenders in the Democratic Party and the mainstream media, but the defenders can’t explain away our mediocrity.

The problem is not that we spend too little, and it’s not because of what are delicately called our “demographics.” Instead, that problem is what you would expect when an educational blob resists state-support for private schools and for schools run by religious groups.

Government funding for non-public schools plays a large part in the educational success of students in other countries, but our nation has refused to emulate the practice, even though other countries are beating the pants off of us when it comes to student performance.

Government funding for non-public schools plays a large part in the educational success of students in other countries, but our nation has refused to emulate the practice, even though other countries are beating the pants off of us when it comes to student performance.

The Democrats who tell us they’re the party of equality have thrown in their lot with teachers unions who are the main obstacle to reform. Cruel hypocrites!

Happily, President Trump has called school choice the great civil rights issue of our time. At the 2017 Value Voters Summit the president told religious conservatives that “my plan will break the government monopoly and make schools compete to provide the best services for our children. The money will follow the student to the public, private or religious school that is best for them and their family.”

The budget President Trump submitted to Congress called for $1.4 billion to be allocated to voucher programs that parents could use to pay for tuition at private or religious schools. And in time, this might be ramped up to a $20 billion program.

In another area, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has reversed one of the more idiotic “Dear Colleague” letters that President Obama’s Education Department sent to university administrators. In a 19-page missive, the department forced universities to comply with a detailed code of quasi-criminal procedure to respond to the “deeply troubling” atmosphere of sexual misconduct and violence.

The letter encouraged the appointment of compliance officers and lowered the standard to proof of misconduct to a preponderance of evidence. It was so tilted towards prosecutions, and so very intrusive, that college administrators began to hope for a Republican administration. When DeVos rescinded the letter, even the New York Times recognized that President Obama had gone too far.

That’s a good start, but it’s time for a few new “Dear Colleague” letters. At too many colleges, conservative faculty, students and speakers are bullied and shouted down. Real education has taken a back seat to the most oppressive forms of political indoctrination.

Course catalogues have also been littered with idiotic offerings on tree-climbing and selfies. If parents want to pay for this, that’s fine. But I see no reason why such colleges should receive a cent of federal money.

Finally, there’s the student loan crisis. Like us, other countries stepped in to guarantee student loans. But unlike us, they told the universities they’d have to cap their tuition increases. We didn’t do that, so our institutions of higher learning ran up the cost of tuition way in excess of inflation.

Then colleges failed to educate the students, or worse yet still taught them radical chic courses that left them unfit for real jobs. Not that the jobs were there anyway in President Obama’s economy.

The answer is obvious. Graduates used to have the right to discharge their student loans in bankruptcy, but that right was taken from them in 1978. Back then, tuition was cheap and there were plenty of jobs. That’s no longer the case, and now the total student debt load is $1.5 trillion, with an average student debt of nearly $40,000.

Debt loads in excess of $100,000 are not uncommon. We’ve let colleges run up tuition, made debt slaves of millions of young Americans, and then we’re surprised when they’re radicalized. Let’s bring back the discharge of student debt in bankruptcy.


California Democrat Wants to Mandate State Colleges Have Abortion Pills Ready for Students

California lawmakers are debating whether to adopt a bill that would require California’s public universities and colleges to offer abortion drugs at their health centers.

Senate Bill 320, sponsored by state Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, will mandate that the state’s community colleges and public universities provide women with abortion pills for up to 10 weeks of pregnancy so they don’t face the “burden” of traveling to obtain an abortion.

While the bill—if passed—isn’t set to take effect until 2020, it would also require the state’s public university health centers that don’t already offer abortion pills to provide transportation to an abortion facility or to arrange an abortion for students requesting the procedure.

“If a UC, CSU, or community college already has a student health center, it makes sense that they provide this health care service within that facility so that students do not have to travel many miles away from their work and school commitments in order to [have an abortion],” Leyva said, according to LifeNews. She claims the bill is a necessity so that young collegiate women don’t have to foot the cost of abortions themselves or travel long distances to have abortions.

The state’s health centers already provide reproductive services like birth control, condoms, and STD testing, but this bill seeks to stretch its offerings to a whole new level. The bill would also require the schools to cover the cost of the abortions.

“Not only will this bill destroy the lives of innocent children, but the chemical abortion medication being mandated has a notorious reputation for being very painful and traumatic,” California Family Council CEO Jonathan Keller said, LifeNews reports. “These drugs are known for not just causing physical pain to the mother, but psychological anguish that could last a lifetime,” he added.

“These pills will hurt our daughters and end the lives of our grandchildren by forcefully inducing a miscarriage up to 10 weeks of pregnancy, with hemorrhaging and delivery of the baby into the dorm room toilet,” said Californians for Life, according to LifeNews. The pro-life group is made up of a diverse coalition of students, educators, legislative advocates, churches, families, business owners, and citizens who are united together to end abortion in California, according to its website.

Pro-lifers are also displeased that the already taxpayer-funded colleges would require citizens against abortion to fund those procedures at the state’s public higher education institutions.


West Australia: Leftist State government cuts back education assistance for disadvantaged children

They need the money to hire more bureaucrats, presumably

THE decision to close the five Schools of the Air is short-sighted, showing an alarming mix of hubris and ignorance, and must be reversed.

At a time of year when families celebrate and relax, parents, teachers and children in regional WA have been left feeling anxious, isolated and vulnerable.

School of the Air delivers online lessons to children aged four to 11 in remote WA. The schools are housed in standalone buildings in Port Hedland, Kalgoorlie, Geraldton, Derby and Carnarvon.

The day before school broke up for 2017, staff, parents and students were told that their schools would be closed at the end of 2018. Just like that. The ramifications have been immediate.

Teachers are being offered redundancies, and those who take them will not return for 2018. Families have been thrown into a state of flux, unsure of what they will find at the start of the new school year. Teachers, afraid to speak publicly for fear of career-ending reprisals, are devastated.

The State Government argues the School of Isolated and Distance Education and SOTA duplicate services. Parents reject that assertion.

The issue is not the educational material. The significance of SOTA is the access to teachers who live in, and understand their region, and importantly, know the children.

When families go into town, the children can attend the school. Parents say that teaching isolated children can be stressful for tutors, often mothers, and that the option to drive into town when things get dire is invaluable. Even if it is a 400km round trip.

Kirsty Forshaw, of Nita Downs Station, near Broome, says that wearing the unique uniforms gives children a sense of belonging.

“Kids need to see a physical building; a school in Perth like SIDE is too foreign and far away,” she says. “Some of these little kids have never even heard of Perth.”

During a radio interview, Education Minister Sue Ellery told me the schools were iconic. So why close them? If SIDE is to become more like SOTA, what is the rationale for the closures?

How much money will the Government save by the time SIDE replicates the most valuable parts of SOTA?

Seven-year-old Harry lives near Wiluna and is so worried he asked his mother if his teacher and principal would be out of work, and if so, “could they come and work here?”

The devastation in the bush is palpable and the pain and mental stress that has been inflicted is unnecessary. This is an own goal.

And what of the push to develop the beef industry? How can cattle producers lure families and permanent staff with education under a cloud? Lest the Government think there are not enough votes in the regions, there are plenty of Labor voters in the city with ties to the bush, who also care about core Labor values like universal education.

At hastily convened rallies to protest the closures, Labor MPs illustrated a lack of knowledge about the schools and regional education, further upsetting an already wounded community.

Raelene Hall runs the Save Our Schools of the Air Facebook group, teeming with past SOTA students and supporters. “It takes a lot to get us angry,” she says of the 4000-plus followers, “but we’re not going away.”

Her commitment is reiterated by Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association president Tash Johns, who is adamant the rallies will continue in 2018.

In an open letter to Premier Mark McGowan, and ministers Sue Ellery and Alannah MacTiernan, Gina Rinehart has called for the decision to be reversed.

She asked: “What Government could do this with any regard for innocent children, families, or even any conscience?” I’d like an answer to that.


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