Sunday, March 04, 2018

Taxing college endowments will make higher education less affordable

What George J. Mitchell says below is broadly reasonable but he fails to address the fact that many  colleges have become Madrassas of the Left.  That is a considerable betrayal of their mission and Republican legislatures have noticed. So special treatment of the colleges is harder to justify -- and taxing them is a sign of that.  The tax is small so far but colleges would be wise to see it as a shot across the bows

Growing up in a small town in Maine, I never thought we would arrive at a time where the value of a college education — long the hope of everyone who wanted more for their children — would be questioned by some Americans, including by some of our government officials.

Nothing was more important to my parents, who had no education themselves and very little in the way of material resources. My mother was an immigrant. My father was the orphan son of immigrants. They were right about the power of education, and because of them and because of the openness of American society, all five of their children graduated from college; I was able to become majority leader of the US Senate and to engage in activities of which they could not possibly have ever dreamed.

My path in life is linked directly to my education and to the people who assisted me along the way. That’s why, since leaving the Senate, I have worked to ensure that students in Maine with the talent and ambition to go to college have a helping hand that will allow them to get there and to thrive. It’s also why the current doubt by some about the value of higher education is so deeply troubling.

Today, our colleges and universities — the engines of opportunity, economic growth, and scientific discovery in America — are under fire for any number of asserted transgressions. Most of all, they are criticized for being too expensive and for not controlling costs. Tuition and fees have certainly increased, and that is a legitimate concern. But so have the funds set aside by our nation’s strongest colleges and universities for financial aid. In fact, during the past decade, the actual price at many of these institutions — the amount paid by students after financial aid is factored in — has closely tracked inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index.

These colleges and universities are following through on their commitment to low-income and first-generation college students and to diversity of all kinds. And they are doing it with endowment resources provided by donors who understand the immense value of higher education and who restrict their gifts for this purpose.

Concerns about cost were clearly behind the recent move by Congress to impose an unprecedented and self-defeating new tax on the endowment earnings of our most respected colleges and universities. But this tax makes no sense. It hampers efforts to make college affordable for students who would be unable to attend without financial aid.

I was one of those students when I was admitted to Bowdoin College. I graduated from high school at the age of 16, insecure, uncertain, and as naive as a human being can be. It was only because of the generosity of others that I was able to enroll and graduate four years later. I have no doubt that Bowdoin changed my life. In addition to learning from great professors across the curriculum, I gained resilience, the ability to think critically, empathy for others, how to adapt to change, and how to take advantage of new opportunities — abilities that are considerably more important today. Most important, for the first time in my life I gained a measure of self-confidence.

There is nothing wrong with holding our institutions accountable, and some recent criticism of our colleges and universities is surely warranted. But reasonable accountability is a far cry from the astonishing views, revealed in recent polls, that these institutions are having a negative effect on America or that a college degree isn’t worth the cost. Without our colleges and universities and the opportunity they provide, America would be unrecognizable.

The good news is that these schools are seeing record applications, partially because of the aid and opportunity they provide and also because Americans from every corner of our country and from every circumstance know — as my parents did — that higher education changes lives. Rather than disparaging our colleges and universities and imposing new taxes, we should acknowledge and celebrate the central role they continue to play in the American dream and in the strength of American society. We can do so by making college available to more of the talented young men and women who want to improve themselves and their country.


Repealing Gun-Free School Zones Act Would Make Schools Safer, Kentucky Lawmaker Says

Schools would be better protected from mass shootings if federal legislation enacted in 1990 that bans guns from school zones is repealed, a Kentucky congressman says.

“I have used the statistic on ‘Meet the Press’ Sunday that 98 percent of mass public shootings happen in gun-free zones, and I believe that we should put our children in the category of the 2 percent, instead of the 98 percent,” Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., told The Daily Signal in a phone interview Thursday. “We should put them in the category which is much less likely for them to be engaged by a shooter.”

The Crime Prevention Research Center found that from the 1950s through July 10, 2016, 98.4 percent of mass shootings have happened in gun-free zones, The Blaze reported.

Massie, who was first elected to the House in 2012, says he has introduced his repeal bill the first week of Congress of each term he has served and says it would help solve the school shooting epidemic.

“All of the naysayers don’t even look at the data that we already have, because if they did, they would see that the scenarios they are worried about—for instance, a teacher shooting a student, or a student taking a teacher’s gun, or a cop showing up and shooting a teacher—those don’t happen,” Massie said, “but what does happen is that these kids are safer, and these mass shootings don’t happen in the schools where the teachers carry and the public knows that the teachers carry.”

The 1990 law, called the Gun-Free School Zones Act, makes it “unlawful for any individual knowingly to possess a firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone,” according to Massie’s website.

The Kentucky lawmaker hopes his legislation, the Safe Students Act, will gain traction as the gun control debate heats up in the wake of the Feb. 14 Parkland, Florida, high school shooting that left 17 dead.

President Donald Trump voiced support Wednesday at a bipartisan meeting of lawmakers for arming teachers.

“I was mostly appalled by the meeting yesterday, and the president’s comments, but at least he did repeat that statistic that 98 percent of mass public shootings happen in gun-free zones, and I mean, there’s no better argument for repealing the 1990 Gun-Free Zone Act than that statistic,” Massie said.

The Kentucky lawmaker said his state is leading the way on gun measures that keep students safe.

“They’re not a problem in the private schools in Kentucky that allow teachers to carry. I talked to a Kentuckian who was in D.C. this week, and he said that he is so glad that his child’s school allows teachers to carry, and they can do that because they are a private school,” Massie said. “And we just had our first public school in Kentucky vote this week to allow teachers to carry in their schools.”

Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an email that he recognizes why Massie thinks the Gun-Free School Zones Act should be repealed.

“I understand the sentiment and purpose behind this bill,” von Spakovsky said. “Gun-free zones stop law-abiding citizens from being able to defend themselves. They don’t stop criminals.”


New Poll Shows Major Backing For Teachers Being Armed at School

Over the past two weeks, President Trump and a number of lawmakers have magnified the idea of trained teachers being able to carry concealed firearms inside their classrooms.

"We have to take steps to harden our schools so that they are less vulnerable to attack.  This includes allowing well-trained and certified school personnel to carry concealed firearms.  At some point, you need volume.  I don't know that a school is going to be able to hire a hundred security guards that are armed," Trump said during a meeting with the nation's governors at the White House earlier this week.

Now according to a new Morning Consult/POLITICO poll, the concept has significant backing.

Hundreds of school districts across the country already allow for staff and teachers to carry firearms on campus. In 18 states, adults with legal carry permits are also allowed to carry into schools after being granted permission from administrators.

"Texas authorized schools to adopt policies to implement a school marshal program where individuals would be trained to have a weapon and to be able to use that weapon.  And we now have well over a hundred school districts in the state of Texas where teachers or other people who work in the school do carry a weapon, and are trained to be able to respond to an attack that occurs," Texas Governor Greg Abbott said during the White House meeting.

"Now, it's not always a schoolteacher.  It could be a coach, it could be an administrator, it could be anybody who works in that school.  But it's a well-thought-out program with a lot of training in advance.  And, candidly, some school districts, they promote it.  Because they will have signs out front -- a warning sign: "Be aware, there are armed personnel on campus" --  warning anybody coming on there that they -- if they attempt to cause any harm, they're going to be in trouble," he continued.

For years, the Ohio based organization Faster Saves Lives has been providing firearms training for teachers free of charge.

    FASTER stands for Faculty / Administrator Safety Training & Emergency Response.

    Created by concerned parents, law enforcement, and nationally-recognized safety and medical experts, FASTER is a groundbreaking, nonprofit program that gives educators practical violence response training.

    Funded by donations, classes are provided at NO COST to your school district!

    The program offers a carefully-structured curriculum offering over 26 hours of hands-on training over a 3-day class that exceeds the requirements of the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy.

    The purpose is not to replace police and EMT, but to allow teachers, administrators, and other personnel on-site to stop school violence rapidly and render medical aid immediately.

    When violence strikes and students’ lives are on the line, every second matters. Faster response is better response.


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