Thursday, August 09, 2018

California Parents Need Educational Choices, Not Court Battles

California fancies itself as a progressive paradise for the disadvantaged and the downtrodden. In reality, it’s more like Dante’s eighth circle of hell, based on a recent lawsuit filed on behalf of several public school students and taxpayers.

The lawsuit, Ella T. and Katie T. v State of California, was filed in December and alleges that after five years the state still has not implemented its plan to improve student literacy. Consequently, minority elementary students spent years in schools that allowed them to founder at sub-standard levels of literacy. Plaintiffs argue that not only did the state violate their 14th Amendment equal protection rights, the state also engaged in fraudulent spending of taxpayer dollars by financing a public-school system that discriminates against minority students.

The state fought to have the case dismissed, but in July Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Yvette M. Palazuelos overruled nearly all of its claims, which allows the case to proceed based on several compelling facts too glaring to ignore.

Nearly half of the country’s 26 lowest-performing districts are located in California, 11 in all (see p. 2 of the complaint). The next most populous states don’t come close to having so many failing districts. For example, Texas, the second most populous state, has just one of the country’s lowest-performing districts, while the fourth most populous, New York, has two. Meanwhile, the next most populous state, Florida, has none of the country’s worst-performing districts. (See also here, here, and here.)

The situation is particularly dire for the plaintiffs who’ve attended Los Angeles Unified School District’s La Salle Avenue Elementary School, Stockton Unified School District’s Van Buren Elementary, and Inglewood Unified School District’s Children of Promise Preparatory Academy charter school.

During the 2016-17 school year, for example, alarming majorities of students at these schools did not meet the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) English language arts/literacy standard: fully 82 percent of La Salle Avenue Elementary School students; 75 percent of Van Buren Elementary students; and 68 percent of Children of Promise Preparatory Academy students (see also pp. 20-22, 29-31, and 35-37).

But don’t blame such under-performance on under-funding.

The average California unified school district receives $12,229 per pupil in total local, state, and federal funding. The three districts the plaintiffs have attended receive significantly more average per-pupil funding: Stockton Unified School District, $13,468; Inglewood Unified School District $13,613; and Los Angeles Unified School District $14,645.

Yet the plaintiffs contend those funds were not used to provide students with the help they needed. Consider the outcomes of the student plaintiffs, all of whom are black, Latina, or multi-racial.

Despite having scored at the lowest level on the state test year after year (“standard not met”), none of the plaintiffs received the additional help they needed from their schools. As a result, these students are now performing years behind grade level, and in many cases, their performance puts them in the bottom 5 percent nationally.

Parents shouldn’t have to wait years at a time or have attorneys on speed dial just to ensure their children’s schools provide basic literacy instruction. Nor should taxpayers be on the hook for the state’s legal bills.

Expanding education options through education savings accounts would help students and taxpayers alike.

Under current ESA programs in Arizona, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, and North Carolina, parents who are dissatisfied with their child’s current public-school education may opt out, and their states deposit most or all of students’ associated state basic-formula funding into dedicated ESAs instead. Public schools keep the remaining associated non-formula local, state, and federal funding for at least one year.

With ESA funds, parents pay for tuition, tutoring, testing, and other approved education services that best meet their children’s unique needs. Under some ESA programs, the unused funds roll over for future education expenses, including college tuition. Quarterly expense reporting and independent audits help ensure ESA funds aren’t misspent—a win-win for students and taxpayers.

California could improve on existing ESA models by funding them with tax-credit contributions instead of state funding. Similar to the 23 tax-credit scholarship programs currently operating in 18 states, non-profit organizations would collect donations to fund student ESAs. Donors would receive credits against their state income taxes.

Right now California corporations are allowed to claim up to $1.5 billion in Research and Development Tax Credits annually, while Hollywood filmmakers can claim up to $330 million. There’s no good reason California taxpayers shouldn’t be allowed to make tax-credit donations to student ESAs as well.

More than 40 years ago, in its 1976 Serrano v Priest ruling, the California Supreme Court recommended publicly funded voucher scholarships as a constitutionally permissible remedy for disparities in education funding and performance. ESAs are an even better remedy because they empower parents to choose how, not just where, their children are educated, which customizes learning in ways that no one-size-fits-all system could ever match—no matter how lavishly funded.


Walter Williams: Colleges: A Force for Evil

Many of the nation's colleges have become a force for evil and a focal point for the destruction of traditional American values. The threat to our future lies in the fact that today's college students are tomorrow's teachers, professors, judges, attorneys, legislators and policymakers. A recent Brookings Institution poll suggests that nearly half of college students believe that hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment. Of course, it is. Fifty-one percent of students think that it's acceptable to shout down a speaker with whom they disagree. About 20 percent of students hold that it's acceptable to use violence to prevent a speaker from speaking. Over 50 percent say colleges should prohibit speech and viewpoints that might offend certain people. Contempt for the First Amendment and other constitutional guarantees is probably shared by the students' high school teachers, as well as many college professors.

Brainwashing and indoctrination of young people has produced some predictable results, as shown by a recent Gallup Poll. For the past 18 years, Gallup has asked adults how proud they are to be Americans. This year, only 47 percent say they are "extremely proud," well below the peak of 70 percent in 2003. The least proud to be Americans are nonwhites, young adults and college graduates. The proudest Americans are those older than 50 and those who did not graduate from college. The latter might be explained by their limited exposure to America's academic elite.

Johnetta Benton, a teacher at Hampton Middle School near Atlanta, was recorded telling her sixth-grade students, "America has never been great for minorities." In a tirade, she told her class: "Because Europeans came from Europe ... you are an immigrant. You are an illegal immigrant because you came and just took it. ... You are an immigrant. This is not your country." To exploit young, immature young people this way represents an act of supreme cowardice. The teacher should be fired, but I'm guessing that her colleagues share her sympathies. At the same school, students were given a homework assignment that required them to write a letter asking lawmakers for stricter gun control laws.

One might be tempted to argue that the growing contempt for liberty and the lack of civility stem from the election of Donald Trump. That's entirely wrong. The lack of civility and indoctrination of our young people have been going on for decades. UCLA history professor Mary Corey told her class: "Capitalism isn't a lie on purpose. It's just a lie." She added that capitalists "are swine. ... They're bastard people." An English professor at Montclair State University, in New Jersey, told his students, "Conservatism champions racism, exploitation and imperialist war." An ethnic studies professor at California State University, Northridge and Pasadena City College teaches that "the role of students and teachers in ethnic studies is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." The University of California, Santa Barbara's school of education emailed its faculty members to ask them to consider classroom options concerning the Iraq War, suggesting they excuse students from class to attend anti-war events and give them extra credit for writing about it. Rodney Swanson, a UCLA economics professor, told his class, "The United States of America, backed by facts, is the greediest and most selfish country in the world."

There is little question that colleges stand at the forefront of an attack on America and Western values. Leftists often say that the U.S. is the world's worst country. But here are some empirical facts they might explain. According to a recent Gallup Poll, about 13 percent of the world's adults — 630 million people — would like to move to another country. Roughly 138 million would like to live in the U.S. — making us the No. 1 destination, followed by the U.K., Canada and France. There's something exceptionally appealing about America and the Western world that leftists choose to ignore or lie about.


Do you know your foo foo from your joystick? How Australian university students are being forced to use bizarre, childish terms for their genitals in politically correct 'consent classes'

University students are being forced to take classes about consent during which they're told to use words like 'joystick' and 'vajayjay' rather than anatomically correct names for genitalia.

The Consent Matters class at the University of Technology, Sydney was brought in this year as a compulsory module that all students must complete in order to pass their course.

The class involves an online test in which students must score 100 per cent to pass. The test features slides of social scenarios, some involving drinking, and uses words such as 'hotdog' and 'vajayjay.'

A voiceover to the test informs the young adults that using slang like this instead of standard language makes it easier to discuss sex and consent.

The module is part of an initiative to deal with issues of sexual assault and harassment on campus.

'Our program of work is focused on a broader goal of bringing about a sustainable cultural change to enable a zero-tolerance approach to sexual violence in our community,' the University webpage says.

The Introduction to Diversity class at the University of Sydney is required for anyone who wants to minor in 'diversity' and is run by lecturer Dr Jane Park, who regularly brings her white poodle cross to class.

'It is not just about let's hate all men and white people, that can be fun for like five seconds and then it gets boring. Also my dog is white. It is about white dog privilege. The idea of divide and conquer which brought us here — colonisation, capitalism, patriarchy,' Dr Park told a packed lecture theatre, reported The Daily Telegraph.

'Our identity and our value is defined by our commodification as being valuable in a capitalist society that has to become something else, that has to become definable,' she said.

Australian Catholic University lecturer and education commentator Kevin Donnelly said he is concerned universities are no longer places of open debate where people can argue the evidence on certain topics.

'It is part of the PC movement, where we have safe spaces, victimhood, and students are no longer able to have robust debate because everyone is part of some victim group,' Mr Donnelly said.


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