Sunday, May 06, 2018

American University orders students to agree women can revoke consent after sex

If a man and a woman are both drunk and they have sex, the man is the rapist if the woman decides he is at some point, regardless of how she felt in the moment.

This is what American University is teaching students in a required sexual consent module, according to Red Alert Politics.

The module “asks students personal behavioral questions like how many sexual partners they’ve had and how often they drink,” according to Red Alert, which says the program is called “Campus Clarity: Think About It.”

That appears to refer to CampusClarity (since acquired by training provider EverFi), whose invasive questions were pulled from mandatory student training by Clemson University in 2014 after they drew outside scrutiny.

Former AU student Sydney Jacobs said she was threatened with academic probation if she didn’t complete the training a year ago, and when she did, the module called her a “N00B” (gamer slang for “newbie”) because her answers were wrong:

“I was shocked,” said Jacobs. “The program explicitly says they’re both too drunk to give consent but then says the man coerced the woman into a dangerous situation. The hypothetical specifically says neither gave consent but then says the woman can take certain steps towards legal options. It concludes the man likely committed sexual assault.” …

“Ultimately my problem with the whole thing is it’s creating a culture on campus that it’s okay to re-write history and rescind your consent when you’re not happy with the outcome. People are scared to hook up without facing repercussions that aren’t warranted.”

Jacobs is further incensed because the same training is used at public universities including the University of Florida and Kansas State University, meaning taxpayers are funding the message that “it is okay to rescind consent and then [the] man is always at fault.”

CampusClarity owner EverFi admitted to The College Fix in 2014 that some of the statistics in its sexual consent training were questionable.

It relied on a survey that that included attempted and completed “forced kissing” as sexual assault and identified every admission of drunk sex as rape, even though consent is only negated by incapacitation, a much higher threshold. (In a due-process lawsuit against Ohio State University, recently validated by a federal judge, the university’s own pharmacology professor said even a “blackout” state doesn’t in and of itself negate consent.)

EverFi’s “impact report” for the University of Oregon in 2013-2014 disclosed that it was lumping together “yes” and “not sure” answers to boost the numbers in response to a survey question on whether “someone pressured me into a sexual experience without my explicit consent.”


Can We Make American Education Great Again? Not With Teacher Walkouts

The National Assessment of Educational Progress is known as the nation's report card. So what kind of grades are our nation's schools getting? Not passing, we're afraid. And that goes for the teachers, too.

The results released a couple of weeks ago were disappointing, showing that scores on reading and math tests for fourth and eight graders remained flat in 2017. Meanwhile, as those results were coming out, across the nation, in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona and Colorado, schools were hit with teacher walkouts and strikes. The bad test scores and the walkouts are not unrelated.

The weak test scores say a lot. After a brief burst of improvements in the early 2000s, test scores have shown little change or improvement for nearly a decade — essentially the Obama years until today. For all their talk, the Obama administration was a huge failure at continuing early-2000 improvements in 8-12 education.

More damning, however, is that few test-takers are considered by the testing standard to be "proficient." When it comes to reading, just 37% of fourth-graders and 36% of eighth-graders tested high enough to be considered proficient. In math, only 40% of fourth-graders and 33% of eighth graders were proficient.

These are the future citizens, voters and taxpayers in this country, the people who will inherit the greatest and wealthiest country in history. We're failing these young people by not preparing them adequately to care for the great gift that will be bequeathed them.

What's wrong? Whole books have been written about this subject. But the fact is, many things have gone wrong. They all contribute to the problem.

Sure, parents deserve part of the blame. And, in some cases, as teachers often argue, individual schools do need more funding.

But the problems are far broader and more profound. And as cross-country comparisons clearly show, there is no link — none — between more spending per student and performance. It's a myth.

Truth is, as others have said, the U.S. education system struggles with a host of problems, including the federal government's meddling in local schools through Common Core and other failed initiatives, ineffective spending by schools, the ongoing attacks on school choice and charters, a loss of classroom discipline and a refusal to link teacher performance to higher pay, to name a few.

Education As Indoctrination

And thanks to the intrusion of far left ideology by unions and progressive "curriculum experts" into our education system, we have turned our public schools into academies of political correctness that poorly teach the tough subjects and rigorous thinking that kids need to thrive in an increasingly competitive world.

Yet today, even as the country faces more union-fomented teacher walkouts and unrest, we're being asked by these very same unionized teachers to spend more on them — which, they assure us, will benefit the students.

Unfortunately, the evidence for that is nonexistent. But that doesn't mean they won't win their fight.

Teachers' unions have immense political clout, and can demonize anyone who disagrees with their agenda. They've been tremendously successful, becoming one of largest contributor to Democratic and left-wing political candidates to get their generally hard-left union agenda past local legislatures and through our nation's Congress.

As the web site notes, "From 2004 to 2016, (teachers' unions) donations grew from $4.3 million to more than $32 million — an all-time high. Even more than most labor unions, they have little use for Republicans, giving Democrats at least 94% of the funds they contributed to candidates" since 1990.

The problem with this is simple: The union is more interested in getting money for its members than in student learning. That's a fact, despite the school unions' non-stop propaganda. They control the schools and the classrooms, and test scores have gone nowhere. They must be accountable, as everyone else is. They're not.

Pay For Performance

The best thing that could possibly happen would be to link teacher pay to clearly measurable student improvements. Unions should welcome the competition from home schooling and charters, rather than treating them as mortal enemies. Meanwhile, rewarding excellent teachers and requiring less certification — something that adds little to teaching skills — would attract better teachers with deeper knowledge of their subjects.

That's something that really does work when it comes to improving student skills and test scores.

U.S. teachers, for instance, often claim that they're paid less and treated with less respect than teachers abroad. That's sometimes true. But why?

One big reason why teachers abroad have such tremendous respect is because their students tend to perform better than ours. A recent McKinsey report on global education noted that "the top-performing systems we studied recruit their teachers from the top third of each cohort graduate from their schools system."

In the case of highly excellent schools in Singapore, Finland and Korea, for instance, they recruit all of their teachers from the top-third of their university classes. In the U.S., it's just 23%. They get the cream, we often get the dregs.

It is true that many teachers in the U.S. have faced stagnant wages, for which unions often blame "stingy" taxpayers. Not true. While teacher salaries adjusted for inflation fell by 2% from 1992 to 2014, spending per pupil actually grew by 27%. How can that be?

Much of the money spent on schools went to hiring more administrators and non-teaching staff. The result: top-heavy bureaucracies that add nothing to students' learning, but do add to union membership rolls and make teachers' jobs easier. That, too, is a union problem.

And while teachers take-home pay has fallen, overall compensation hasn't. It's risen sharply. From 2003 to 2014, while take-home pay shrank slightly in real terms, average benefits paid to teachers rose 50%, from $14,000 to $21,000, notes American Enterprise Institute education expert Fredrick Hess.

As Chad Aldeman, an official in the Obama administration, recently noted in a report, "While the average civilian employee receives $1.78 for retirement benefits per hour of work, public school teachers receive $6.22 per hour in retirement compensation." That's a huge difference.

The point is, the recent teacher strikes make a few valid points, as we said. But they miss the far bigger picture. Because unions make everything about money, not results, they are doomed to failure.

Teachers' unions reject and actively sabotage reasonable reforms that would loosen their grip on public school education and require teachers to strive for excellence. Despite their slick PR campaigns, this at the heart of our nation's failed education system, as evidenced by our abysmal test scores.

America led the world in innovation and economic growth for generations without teachers' unions. Maybe it's time for Americans to ask the question: Do we really need unions running our schools?


Australia: New education plan skims over key indicators such as discipline in schools

“Not good enough.” That’s what Malcolm Turnbull said this week about Australia’s declining results in international school tests.

As noted in the Gonski 2.0 report, Australia has fallen in absolute performance and relative to other countries in the three Program for International Student Assessment tests run by the OECD. These assess the science, maths and reading abilities of 15-year-old students.

The factors linked to good outcomes are well known: they have to do with the quality of teaching, including classroom management. Yet they barely rate a mention in Gonski 2.0.

The OECD notes the five strongest factors associated with student performance, for good or for ill. Those associated with higher achievement are teacher-­directed instruction, adaptive instruction and school disciplinary climate. Those associated with lower achievement are inquiry-based instruction and perceived feedback.

What comes through loud and clear is that four of the top five factors influencing student achievement are about instruction: that is, methods of teaching.

The fifth factor is the level of disruption in the classroom, which indirectly is also associated with instruction. Gonski 2.0 has little to say about this well-established body of evidence.

The OECD factors in play need some explanation. Teacher-direc­ted instruction is defined as the teacher explaining and demonstrating ideas, leading whole-class discussions and responding to student questions. Consistent with decades of research, the OECD findings indicate that teacher-­directed instruction is highly bene­ficial for student learning.

Inquiry-based teaching, which in some ways is the opposite of teacher-directed instruction, is characterised by class-led learning activities and encouragement of discovery through group collaboration. This style of teaching is ­associated with less student achievement.

On the surface, adaptive instruction sounds similar to one of the main recommendations of the Gonski 2.0 report, adaptive learning. This refers to teachers adjusting their teaching to cater for the needs of their class and individual students.

Most teachers try to do this as much as they can, with varying degrees of success. For teachers to know the levels and range of ability in their classes, and to calibrate their teaching accordingly, is an important skill.

However, Gonski 2.0 went much further. It recommended students be assessed based on their growth in learning rather than according to age-based or year-based curriculums. The idea is to give teachers an online assessment tool to continuously measure learning growth, with the expectation they would provide “tailored teaching” for individual stu­dents depending on their ability.

Adaptive learning as described by the OECD is much simpler. It means teachers adapt lessons, provide individual help to struggling students and change the structure of lessons when covering difficult topics. It does not mean going to the great lengths of using a continuous online assessment tool or coming up with an individual learning plan for every student.

Taking the OECD data as a guide, the task of teachers adapting to the needs of students is much simpler than the Gonski panel’s proposal and Australian students think teachers are already doing this reasonably well.

This is where Gonski 2.0 could have made a valuable practical contribution — an objective and detailed investigation of the factors that have the biggest impact on student learning, and an analysis of how to deploy them in Australian classrooms.

Discipline is the other key issue that Gonski could have tackled. School disciplinary climate is the factor that most clearly differentiates Australia from the top 10 performing countries, and not in a good way. According to students themselves, Australian classrooms are unsettled and disruptive to learning. The data is clear.

The “disciplinary climate index” is based on how often these things happen in class: students don’t listen to what the teacher says; there is noise and disorder; the teacher has to wait a long time for students to quiet down; students cannot work well; and students don’t start working for a long time after the lesson begins.

This PISA data on student behaviour and school discipline in Australia is corroborated by the most recent results from two other international education datasets — the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and the Teaching and Learning International Survey — which both indicate Australia has relatively high levels of student misbehaviour relative to other countries.

These results are not surprising, given a series of recent studies showing Australian university teacher education degrees in the main do not adequately equip new teachers with classroom management techniques based on evidence.

And recent research from Macquarie University researchers found school discipline is far more important than school funding in determining a country’s educa­tional performance.

The OECD has found that for developed, high-income countries such as Australia there is no clear relationship between school funding and student outcomes. This should give us pause for thought as the federal government puts an extra $23.5 billion of taxpayer money into schools across the next 10 years.

But on the factors that do make a difference — teaching method and school discipline — the Gonski 2.0 report stayed almost silent.

As a coda, some qualifications of our argument are necessary.

The PISA 2015 analysis of the factors in student achievement deals specifically with science classes — so we need to be cautious about generalisation — but the results correspond with similar analyses in previous years and with other educational research.

Also, the data is based on self-reporting, thereby limiting the conclusions that can be made.

However, the PISA result involves a large sample size and there are no obvious biases in the survey and assessment instruments.

It’s true that Australia performs above the international average on adaptive and teacher-directed instruction, which are both associated with high student achievement. But there are question marks over the categories and descriptions of instruction at issue.

Notwithstanding these caveats, instruction — or teaching method — is clearly the big-ticket item for student achievement and should have been a major focus of the Gonski 2.0 report.


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