Sunday, July 22, 2018

Michelle Malkin: Boston University's Fake-O-Nomics Darling

The annual list price to attend Boston University — including tuition, fees, room and board — currently rounds out to $70,000. To acquire a degree in economics from this tony institution of higher learning, an undergrad must complete courses in calculus, microeconomic and macroeconomic analysis, empirical economics, statistics and assorted electives.

Four years, 52 credits and nearly $300,000 later, the school promises that BU economics majors will depart "with a firm understanding of core microeconomic and macroeconomic theory" and the "empirical skills that are essential to applying economic reasoning in our increasingly data-driven world."

How, then, to explain the abject economic illiteracy of meteoric media darling and democratic socialist "political rock star" Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? The 28-year-old BU alumna graduated with an economics and international relations degree in 2011. She calls herself a "nerd" and bragged about her academic credentials, tweeting earlier this month:

"How many other House Democrats have a degree in Economics like I do? Trying to find who out here is going to be in the Gini Coefficient Appreciation Squad."

The upstart New York congressional candidate has been hailed by pundits, newspapers and pols as "sharp," "smart" and "extraordinary." BU's Associate Provost and Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore gushed that Ocasio-Cortez is "brilliant — she is boldly curious and always present. She makes me think and could always see multiple sides of any issue. ... I can't wait to see what happens when her time truly comes."

But when the time came to put her BU economics education to work, Ocasio-Cortez flunked. On PBS last week, she asserted that "unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs." Moreover, the erudite B.A. holder in economics posited, "unemployment is low because people are working 60, 70, 80 hours a week and can barely feed their kids."

Egad. This nonsense needs more unpacking than a cross-country Mayflower moving truck.

The unemployment rate, which stands at a historically low 4 percent, is calculated by extrapolating and dividing the number of people out of work by the total number of individuals in the American work force.

If you have one job, two jobs, three jobs or more, you don't count as unemployed. Whether you are working 40 hours or 80 hours or 120 hours a week, if you're working, that has no effect on the unemployment rate, either. The number of workers moonlighting and the number of hours they moonlight have zero, zip and nada effect on the unemployment rate.

Ocasio-Cortez's claim that "everyone has two jobs" is more fake-o-nomics. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of Americans holding down multiple jobs is less than 5 percent and has been declining for nearly 30 years. Pew Research adds that both "in terms of raw numbers and as a share of all employed people, fewer Americans are working more than one job than in the mid-1990s."

As for starving children, government statistics show that hunger has dropped to its lowest levels in a decade as unemployment and food inflation have declined. Federal food stamp usage has also plunged to historic lows.

Instead of hitting the books, Ocasio-Cortez appears to have spent most of her college days pounding the social justice pavement. The Boston Globe reports approvingly that she "was active at BU in organizations that empower minorities," including a stint as president of Alianza Latina, BU's largest Latin American student organization, and as a student ambassador at the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground, "which aims to foster inclusiveness among students of all backgrounds."

Ms. Diversity-ConArtista may be able to blow hot air about Gini coefficients while tweeting anti-capitalist platitudes. But the numbers don't lie. She's everything that's wrong with overpriced liberal ivory towers, radical identity politics and left-wing media ideologues pining for their next savior.


Betsy DeVos Should Get Feds Out of School Discipline Policy, Withdraw Obama-Era Guidance

Sometimes in a compromise, both sides walk away unhappy.

That’s exactly what would happen if the Trump administration accepts a compromise measure on school discipline policy proposed by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The proposal is a non-starter, particularly for those who value local control over federal overreach.

Here’s what’s at stake.

In 2014, the Obama administration issued a “Dear Colleague” letter on school safety and student discipline that represented a significant executive overreach. That letter should be rescinded, but some advocacy groups want it to remain in place.

The letter tells schools they may not discipline minority students at higher rates than their peers, even if the school’s policies are “facially neutral” with regard to race.

No reasonable person thinks students should be punished for the color of their skin, and fortunately, federal civil rights laws support common sense here. But this guidance document goes much further. It says the Office for Civil Rights will proactively investigate school districts to root out policies that suspend or expel minority students at higher rates than white students, an effect called “disparate impact.” Even if such discipline is warranted, the letter warns that the Office for Civil Rights will come calling:

Schools … violate federal law when they evenhandedly implement facially neutral policies and practices that, although not adopted with the intent to discriminate, nonetheless have an unjustified effect of discriminating against students on the basis of race.

Advocates of this federal guidance say it’s necessary because of ongoing discrimination against minority students. “The federal government has an important role to play in upholding students’ civil rights and can do so without stifling important local autonomy,” says a recent coalition letter in favor of the guidance.

No doubt, the federal government should uphold civil rights law as it currently exists. But the 2014 letter goes beyond that. The federal government went so far as to tell schools how to discipline students and how to design school safety rules.

As Heritage Foundation research explains, the 2014 letter contains an appendix that micromanages school codes of conduct. The letter outlines restorative justice practices, saying schools should sign memoranda of agreement with law enforcement to limit student interaction with police, and tells schools to use suspension and expulsion as a last resort.

It’s noteworthy that ideas such as this were spearheaded in 2013 by school officials in Broward County, Florida, and did not prevent the tragic massacre in February 2018. The Obama administration cited Broward County as a model for the policy, which was then implemented in dozens of school districts across the country.

The Fordham Institute suggests doing away with the “disparate impact” portion of the document. It argues that Washington should keep all the directives about best practices in school safety plans and the threats of investigation, but rescind the section on schools implementing “facially neutral policies” that have discriminatory effects.

Yet this still assumes that federal regulators know more about maintaining order in a classroom than school personnel.

To keep students of all backgrounds safe and create an effective learning environment, a teacher must be able to remove a student from class if the circumstances call for it—regardless of the student’s race. Not doing so jeopardizes the safety of all students in a classroom.

Officials in Washington should return to teachers and school leaders the freedom to maintain order in schools without fear of federal reprisal.

After the Parkland massacre, the White House asked Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to lead a commission that would consider rescinding the 2014 letter. DeVos can leave her mark on school safety by returning to teachers and school leaders the freedom to make decisions about student discipline.

The Fordham Institute admits getting rid of the “disparate impact” portion of the letter “won’t make either side entirely happy.” Yet neither side should be happy, because such a compromise would leave Washington’s heavy-handed directives in place.

DeVos should remind Washington of its limited role and leave student welfare and school operations to those who know their schools best: parents, teachers, and principals.


Australia: Teachers are being encouraged to show LGBT movies to students to increase 'diversity' - as 'concerned' education expert warns schools will have to be 'very careful'

Teachers have been encouraged to show LGBT movies to students as a measure to increase diversity in the classroom.

The New South Wales Teachers Federation released a list of approved films which feature lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) themes deemed 'appropriate to study in class'.

Films include Love, Simon, Gayby Baby, Pride, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Battle of the Sexes, according to the NSW Teachers Federation.

Some of the selected movies, including The Danish Girl and Perks of Being a Wallflower, are classified mature (M) and are advised for audiences older than 15-years.

However, Gayby Baby, Pride and Battle of the Sexes are classified under Parental Guidance (PG).

'There is now an array of films available with LGBTIQ characters and research indicates that when students see themselves in the content studied in class, they are more likely to be engaged and feel part of the school community and culture,' the organisation wrote online.

'This has positive implications for LGBTIQ students' wellbeing and educational outcomes. It also provides non LGBTIQ students with a broader range of experience and can assist with empathy and understanding of others.'

None of the films are prescribed under the NSW curriculum, but the federation said teachers are encouraged to use the movies so students can learn to 'connect and collaborate with a diverse group of people'.

Love, Simon, which was released earlier this year, focuses on issues of identity, consent, respectful relationships and cyber-bullying.

It features a gay male lead character.

The 'bold' film has been described as a 'poignant, coming of age teenage movie with a difference', however, 'not suitable for younger viewers', according to the Australian Council on Children and the Media.

The council president Elizabeth Handsley said while it was possible to show adult themed movies in classrooms, it is a 'concern'.

None of the films (The Danish Girl, left, and Battle of the Sexes, right) are prescribed under the NSW curriculum but the federation said teachers are encouraged to use the movies so students can learn to 'connect and collaborate with a diverse group of people'

'It is an interesting proposition to be showing M films in schools: that would concern me as it has the tendency of undermining the classification message,' Professor Handsley told The Australian.

'You need to be very careful doing so in a school setting ... where there's a whole range of students with a range of maturity levels and background experiences.'

The NSW Education Department spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia schools were required to acknowledge the diverse views held by parents and the community about what was suitable for students to study.

'Parents have the right to remove their children from any school activity or NSW curriculum learning that they are concerned about,' the spokesperson said.

'Films or TV programs rated M or M15+ may be shown to some students in circumstances where the material is determined by the principal to be age-appropriate and contributing materially to learning under the NSW curriculum.'

The department said principals had to inform parents about the content of an activity beforehand. 


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