Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Ted Cruz Introduces Legislation Expanding School Choice

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas introduced legislation Thursday that would expand school choice and give access to tax-free savings plans.

The Student Empowerment Act further broadens 529 accounts, also known as college savings plans, to include “K-12 elementary and secondary school expenses for public, private, and religious schools, including homeschool students.”

These expenses can include things such as tutoring costs, books, fees associated with standardized tests and educational therapies for students with disabilities.

The bill amends the Student Opportunity Amendment, which was signed into law in December 2017 as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and expanded 529 accounts to include tuition for the aforementioned institutions.

A 529 account is a versatile tax-free savings plan sponsored by the federal government, states, state agencies, or other educational institutions designed to incentivize savings for forthcoming education costs.

“By investing in the next generation of students and expanding school choice, we’re able to allow more students to have access to an education that truly fits their child’s needs, and to escape the one-size-fits-all approach to education. #EmpowerOurStudents”, Cruz tweeted on the issue.


First, They Came for the Biologists

The postmodernist left on campus is intolerant not only of opposing views, but of science itself

Who would have guessed that when America cleaved, the left would get the National Football League and the right would get uncontested custody of science?

The revolution on college campuses, which seeks to eradicate individuals and ideas that are considered unsavory, constitutes a hostile takeover by fringe elements on the extreme left. Last spring at the Evergreen State College, where I was a professor for 15 years, the revolution was televised—proudly and intentionally—by the radicals. Opinions not fitting with the currently accepted dogma—that all white people are racist, that questioning policy changes aimed at achieving “equity” is itself an act of white supremacy—would not be tolerated, and those who disagreed were shouted down, hunted, assaulted, even battered. Similar eruptions have happened all over the country.

What may not be obvious from outside academia is that this revolution is an attack on Enlightenment values: reason, inquiry and dissent. Extremists on the left are going after science. Why? Because science seeks truth, and truth isn’t always convenient.

The left has long pointed to deniers of climate change and evolution to demonstrate that over here, science is a core value. But increasingly, that’s patently not true.

The battle on our campuses—and ever more, in K-12 schools, in cubicles and in meetings, and on the streets—is being framed as a battle for equity, but that’s a false front. True, there are real grievances. Gaps between populations exist, for historical and modern reasons that are neither honorable nor acceptable, and they must be addressed. But what is going on at institutions across the country is—yes—a culture war between science and postmodernism. The extreme left has embraced a facile fiction.

Postmodernism, and specifically its offspring, critical race theory, have abandoned rigor and replaced it with “lived experience” as the primary source of knowledge. Little credence is given to the idea of objective reality. Science has long understood that observation can never be perfectly objective, but it also provides the ultimate tool kit with which to distinguish signal from noise—and from bias. Scientists generate complete lists of alternative hypotheses, with testable predictions, and we try to falsify our own cherished ideas.

Science is imperfect: It is slow and methodical, and it makes errors. But it does work. We have microchips, airplanes and streetlights to show for it.

In a meeting with administrators at Evergreen last May, protesters called, on camera, for college president George Bridges to target STEM faculty in particular for “antibias” training, on the theory that scientists are particularly prone to racism. That’s obvious to them because scientists persist in using terms like “genetic” and “phenotype” when discussing humans. Mr. Bridges offers: “[What] we are working towards is, bring ’em in, train ’em, and if they don’t get it, sanction them.”

Despite the benevolent-sounding label, the equity movement is a highly virulent social pathogen, an autoimmune disease of the academy. Diversity offices, the very places that were supposed to address bigotry and harassment, have been weaponized and repurposed to catch and cull all who disagree. And the attack on STEM is no accident. Once scientists are silenced, narratives can be fully unhooked from any expectation that they be put to the test of evidence. Last month, Evergreen made it clear that they wanted two of its scientists gone—my husband, Bret Weinstein, and me, despite our stellar reputations with the students they claimed to be protecting. First, they came for the biologists . . .

Science has sometimes been used to rationalize both atrocity and inaction in its face. But conflating science with its abuse has become a favorite trope of extremists on the left. It’s a cheap rhetorical trick, and not, dare I say, very logical.

Science creates space for the free exchange of ideas, for discovery, for progress. What has postmodernism done for you lately


Survey: Men Spend a Measly 15 Minutes Per Day Reading

So not much hope of self-education either

Several months ago, I  wrote an article explaining why people (specifically Christians) should dump Facebook. One reason is that Facebook is a very skilled waster of people's time, as are all other social media sites. I've also written an article about many Americans' inability to separate opinions from facts. Today, I write about a possible result of Americans being addicted to the great time waster called social media and a possible cause of "American's inability to separate opinions from facts." You see, the latest American Time Use Survey has been released and I have yet to cease sadly saying "Wow!" whenever I think about what the survey reveals about Americans' reading habits.

Under the auspices of the United States Department of Labor, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the results of the survey every year. The report contains boring yet useful information like:

Among workers age 25 and over, those with an advanced degree were more likely to work at home than were persons with lower levels of educational attainment--46 percent of those with an advanced degree performed some work at home on days worked, compared with 12 percent of those with a high school diploma. Workers with an advanced degree also were more likely to work on an average day than were those with a high school diploma--73 percent, compared with 68 percent.

The American Time Survey doesn't just focus on work-related activities, though. The survey also reveals how Americans spend their leisure hours, which is a separate category from household activities. For example, under household activities, "On an average day, 19 percent of men did housework--such as cleaning or laundry--compared with 49 percent of women. Forty-six percent of men did food preparation or cleanup, compared with 69 percent of women. Men were slightly more likely to engage in lawn and garden care than were women--11 percent, compared with 8 percent."

However, leisure activities are a little more democratic, if you will. "On an average day, nearly everyone age 15 and over (96 percent) engaged in some sort of leisure activity, such as watching TV, socializing, or exercising. Men spent 33 minutes per day more in these activities than did women (5.5 hours, compared with 5.0 hours)."

As expected, watching TV takes up the most of Americans' time spent in leisure with the average American spending just under three hours a day watching TV. The leisure activity engaged in the least appears to be reading. "Time spent reading for personal interest varied greatly by age. Individuals age 75 and over averaged 51 minutes of reading per day whereas individuals ages 15 to 44 read for an average of 10 minutes or less per day."

According to table 11A, men spend less time a day reading than do women. Not by much, mind you. Taking into account that the much higher time spent reading by seniors skews the overall average, men spend on average fewer than a quarter of an hour a day reading while women spend on average around a third of an hour a day reading. (If you go to table 11A you should note that the numbers are percentages of an hour and not minutes.)

The average adult reads around 300 words per minute. That means that Americans between the ages of 15-44 read on average 3,000 words or less a day. It truly boggles my mind how little my fellow Americans read. If I wasn't cynical about the future of this country before the release of the American Time Survey, I am now. The dismally low amount of time spent reading by Americans is shameful!


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