Thursday, January 25, 2018

Sacramento Should Celebrate National School Choice Week with Bold, Student-Centered Thinking

By Vicki Alger 

Just in time for National School Choice Week, a new national poll finds that close to two-thirds of Americans favor school choice and bold reforms. Hopefully, California lawmakers are listening.

The American Federation for Children’s Fourth Annual School Choice Survey polled 1,100 likely November 2018 voters and found 63 percent of respondents support the concept of school choice, including 41 percent who “strongly” support it.

The survey was conducted by Beck Research, a respected Democratic polling firm whose previous clients include the National Education Association (see here, here, and here), the country’s largest teachers union and the parent organization of the California Teachers Association—both staunch opponents of school choice (see here and here).

The survey results show strong support for school choice across the political spectrum. Among those favoring school choice are:

Democrats, 54 percent
Independents, 62 percent
Republicans, 75 percent

Fully 61 percent of white Americans support school choice, but support is especially strong among minorities, including:

African-Americans, 66 percent
Latinos, 72 percent

What’s more, survey findings help shatter some prevailing myths about school choice support among targeted constituencies. For example, it is commonly assumed that school choice isn’t needed or wanted beyond urban, inner-city areas. Not so.

Majorities of likely voters support school choice regardless of their locale, including respondents living in areas that are designated:

Large Metro, 56 percent
Small Metro, 62 percent
Suburban, 64 percent
Fringe/Exurban, 70 percent
Rural, 67 percent

These findings suggest that parents, regardless of their zip codes, want an array of choices so they can find the options they think will work best for their children.

Perhaps that’s why nearly two out of three parents (64 percent), including public school parents (63 percent), support school choice.

And what types of school choice do Americans favor most? In most cases, the choice programs the California legislature has refused to enact, including:

Special needs scholarships, 83 percent
Scholarships for military dependents, 77 percent
Education Savings Accounts, 75 percent
Tax-credit Scholarships, 65 percent

When it comes to education reform, most Americans want “major changes” not tinkering around the edges—and their ranks have swelled to 65 percent this year up from 58 percent last year. The desire for major reform also enjoys widespread, diverse support, including voters who are:

African-Americans, 77 percent
Latinos, 69 percent
Millennials, 67 percent
Rural/Fringe residents, 63 percent
Democrats, 61 percent
Independents, 62 percent
Republicans, 69 percent

According to the Beck pollsters:

Over the past year, school choice has become more of a hot-button issue. Despite sustained attacks, school choice has made significant progress on the state level and nationally support remains strong and consistent. … Voters remain enthusiastic about school choice and back a broad range of educational choice programs.

Commenting on the survey findings, John Schilling, President of the American Federation for Children, notes that:

This year’s National School Choice Poll shows that families want educational opportunity and freedom when it comes to their child’s education. Almost all voters want private school choice options available in some form, public charter schools remain quite popular, and the concept of school choice is favorable across the nation’s ideological, geographic, and racial and ethnic backgrounds like no other issue in 2018. This is the time for policymakers to think boldly about putting students first and providing more and better educational options to ensure every child has access to a great education.

One example of bold, student-centered thinking would be for California lawmakers to enact tax-credit financed education savings accounts, or ESAs, for preschool, elementary, middle, and high-school students.

Think this idea’s just California dreamin’? Think again.

Like the American Federation for Children national survey, a recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found that most Californians across political and socio-economic lines support tax-credit scholarships—including two-thirds of public school parents. ESAs funded through tax-credit contributions would go a long way toward satisfying Californians’ demand for more education options and more responsible education spending.

California’s current education system, which largely rations education based on where a child’s parents can afford to live, is a relic of a bygone era. Such a system cannot provide the customized preparation students need. In contrast, tax-credit ESAs would empower parents and guardians to personalize their child’s education, and would foster an educational landscape that can quickly adapt to meet the diverse needs of students and their families.


Male Sexual Nature: A Primer for the College-Educated

Dennis Prager
Few subjects elicit as much confused, or even nonsensical, commentary as sex. There are three major reasons for this.

First, few forces are as powerful as the sexual drive, yet in no area of human life are the sexes so different. If they try hard, men and women can understand almost everything about one another. But regarding male sexual nature, unless girls and women are taught about male sexual nature — and few are, especially in our time — there is no way they can understand male sexual nature. It may be the one area of life wherein men are more capable of understanding women.

The second reason is modern feminism — and leftist doctrine in general. Each has contributed to an unprecedented female ignorance — denial, actually — of male sexuality. And that is the result of a basic impulse of feminists and leftists: the denial of truths that make them uncomfortable.

And third, an unprecedented number of Americans have attended college where feminist and left-wing thought are the reigning orthodoxies.

The Visual

Perhaps the biggest difference between the sexes is the sexual power of the visual. Men are aroused by — they don’t just “find attractive” — seeing a woman, or just a part of a woman they find physically attractive. Whenever women counter that they, too, are aroused by looking at attractive men, it only reaffirms how difficult it is for women to fully comprehend this aspect of male sexual nature. Because there is no comparison. It is not their fault; it is as hard for a woman to understand the power of the visual on men as it is for human beings to understand orangutans.

Women may be aroused by looking at a particularly handsome man, or by looking at a male celebrity, but otherwise it takes much more than mere looking to turn women on. That’s why images of naked and semi-naked women are, and always will be, immeasurably more popular among men than images of naked or semi-naked men are among women.

Which brings us to “sexual objectification.”

Largely because of the power of the visual, men sexually objectify women. This means that men’s initial reaction to a woman’s body is to see it as a sex object. Women’s breasts, thighs, legs and buttocks arouse men — even without seeing the women’s faces. For other men, it can be women’s feet. There are websites dedicated to pictures of women’s feet, armpits, legs, crossed legs, thighs, buttocks and breasts. There are no commensurate websites for women to stare at men’s thighs or crossed legs, let alone men’s feet or armpits.

All of which means that sexual objectification of women is natural to men. It is not the product of a patriarchal, “Playboy,” sexist or misogynist society.

Nor does it mean that objectification is “misogynistic.”

It is repeatedly said — primarily by the college-educated — that the male sexual objectification of women is an expression of misogyny. This is nonsense. The single greatest proof is that gay men sexually objectify men. If heterosexual men are women haters because they sexually objectify women, then gay men are man haters because they sexually objectify men.

It is male nature — the homosexual male’s as much as the heterosexual male’s — for a man to objectify the object of his sexual desire. Not only does this have nothing to do with hatred of women but in the ideal circumstance — marriage — a man’s periodic sexual objectification of his wife is a wonderful thing. That’s why a woman will wear sexy clothing in the bedroom: to render herself — the woman who, 99 percent of the time, is his wife, his friend, his partner, the mother of his children, the successful businesswoman, the accomplished homemaker — a sexual object. The longer a marriage can sustain the ability of the husband to periodically see his wife as a “sex object,” the happier that marriage will be. If you don’t believe me, ask divorce lawyers how good that is for a marriage, and how destructive its absence can be to a marriage.

It is also helpful to note that men who put their hand on a woman’s buttocks are not necessarily misogynists. They lack the requisite self-control of a gentleman. But lacking self-control is not the same as misogyny. And haven’t progressives gotten rid of the term “gentleman”?

That I have felt it necessary to write this brief primer on male sexuality for the college-educated is nothing less than a tragedy. My mother, who never attended college, knew everything written here. It is even likely that my Polish-Jewish grandmother, who never attended high school, knew everything written here. But for college graduates of the last 50 years — or even worse, graduate-school graduates — much of if this is new — and, therefore, controversial.

If this does not convince you how much of an intellectual wasteland universities have become, nothing will.


Australia:  Conservatives pledge school curriculum overhaul

Schoolkids should be taught Australian values and "the principles of Western enlightenment" in a simplified curriculum, Victoria's coalition opposition says.

School kids will focus more on reading, writing and maths instead of learning "a politically correct gender and sexuality agenda" if the Victorian opposition wins power.

The opposition also plans to scrap cross-curriculum priorities afforded to Indigenous history, Asian engagement and sustainability, and place a greater emphasis on "the principles of Western enlightenment" if it wins the November state election.

A coalition government would ask senior research fellow with the right-leaning Centre for Independent Studies, Dr Jennifer Buckingham, to review the curriculum.

"Foundational events that occurred in Europe and North America before 1788 that underpin our national and state institutions are barely spoken of," the coalition's School Education Values Statement released on Wednesday said.

"Concepts like the inherent dignity of the individual, religious tolerance, the principles of the Western enlightenment - such as freedom of speech, equality before the law and government by consent.

"Of course, there are aspects of this nation's history we are not proud of, particularly the shameful treatment of the Indigenous peoples, and that must be taught in depth as well."

Opposition education spokesman Tim Smith said the current curriculum was "over-cluttered" while literacy and numeracy standards were dropping.

He also said young people were leaving school without an adequate understanding of how democracy worked.

"I wouldn't call it (the current curriculum) un-Australian, I just think that ... the working knowledge of our democracy should be improved," Mr Smith told reporters.

The opposition also wants to scrap the Safe Schools program designed to reduce bullying of LGBTI students, and replace it with an anti-bullying program particularly focused on cyber-bullying.

"Programs like Safe Schools add to curriculum clutter and impose a politically correct gender and sexuality agenda on schools," the statement says.

Premier Daniel Andrews is a long-time defender of Safe Schools and told journalists Victorian students were already being taught Australian values.

He said the Liberals cut education funding when they were in power.


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