Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Why Military Families Overwhelmingly Support Education Choice

While protecting American freedom, the active-duty men and women of our armed forces want education freedom as well.

That’s the general finding of a new report by EdChoice, a nonprofit organization that promotes educational choice through research and advocacy.

The report includes results of a survey of nearly 1,300 current members of the U.S. military and their spouses, noting their impressions of military life and their preferences related to K-12 education.

According to the report, service members encounter frequent stress and separation, and concerns about educating their children amid so much change can weigh on them.

Education choice can help to reduce the uncertainty and apprehension associated with frequent moves and deployments. Having options other than an assigned district school in an appointed location can put military families more at ease.

Indeed, the education of their children is of utmost importance to military families. The report notes that a majority of military parents say that they “significantly changed their routine” because of their child’s education, at a rate 18 percentage points higher than the national average.

Education is a big deal for military parents, and they want education options that offer more freedom and flexibility.

One of the EdChoice report’s lead authors, Lindsey Burke, director of the Center for Education Policy at The Heritage Foundation, told me:

Military families overwhelmingly support education choice.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) support education savings accounts (ESAs); two-thirds (66%) support vouchers; and over two-thirds (67%) support charter schools.

The strongest support was for education savings accounts, which makes sense, considering the type of flexibility ESAs would provide military families, who face unique challenges—not the least of which are frequent moves.

Education savings accounts may be particularly appealing to military families because they enable parents to access a portion of a student’s education tax dollars from a government-authorized savings account with an array of education options, ranging from classes and tutoring to special-needs services and school tuition or future college fees, and books and supplies.

Education savings accounts provide more choice and flexibility to families than standard voucher programs, which target only school tuition.

Additionally, more military families are choosing to bypass outside schooling altogether in favor of homeschooling, which can offer a consistent, family-centered approach to learning.

As PBS reported: “For active-duty military families juggling frequent moves and long deployments that may take a parent away for more than a year at a time, home schooling appears to be growing in popularity as a means of providing stability in their children’s education.”

In the EdChoice survey results, the researchers also found homeschooling to be a big draw for military families, citing data indicating that service members homeschool their children at roughly double the rate of nonmilitary personnel.

In this survey, safety was a primary motivator for military parents who chose to homeschool their children.

As Burke told me:

One of the things that really stood out to us in this study was that some 40% of military parents ranked a safe learning environment in their top three factors when looking for a school.

And notably, among military families choosing to homeschool, safety was their top reason for doing so.

Beyond safety, homeschooling provides the flexibility and customization military families need, as they move from assignment to assignment.

Military parents, like all other parents, want what is best for their children. They want to be empowered to make the best choices for their kids’ education and to ensure their safety and well-being.

Expanding education choice options to all parents frees them of unsatisfactory school assignments and broadens learning possibilities for all children.


Coming to a school near you:  Teachers who can't spell and can't add up

In England

Standard maths and English tests for trainee teachers are set to be scrapped.

The move is aimed at boosting recruitment – but seems certain to spark fears of dumbing down.

At present, trainees must pass national tests in literacy and numeracy before being awarded Qualified Teacher Status. At least 3,500 applicants – or about 10 per cent – have failed them every year since 2012.

Schools minister Nick Gibb wrote last year that the exams ‘reassure parents and schools leaders’ that teachers ‘can demonstrate a high standard of numeracy and literacy when they enter the classroom’.

However, training providers have long called for the tests to be scrapped. They say they already work with trainees to fill in any gaps in knowledge.

Initially, anyone who failed the tests three times was locked out of training for two years before he or she could retake them – but this limit was removed last February. The Government is now expected to scrap the tests, with training providers allowed to use their own methods to measure skills. This could involve coursework or practical assessments.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the centre for education and employment research at the University of Buckingham, said: ‘They’re taking away a very important safety check. A national test is different from that led by providers who, to survive financially, are having to fill their places... they will be less likely to test as thoroughly.’

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: ‘We expect graduates entering the profession to have the literacy and numeracy skills that parents and pupils rightly expect... but we’ve heard from both training providers and applicants that the skills tests could be improved upon.

‘That’s why we are working with universities, schools and school leaders to analyse... the most effective way to assess the skills required.’


Bring back bankruptcy for college debt

For generations, the Republican Party has struggled with the youth vote and much time has been devoted to hand-wringing over this fact. One thing that does not help is when conservatives are unable to empathize with college graduates staggering under the weight of student debt. Some solely blame these students for their debt, ignoring the roles that other people and the government have played. One way that conservatives might begin to make some appreciable progress with Millennials and now Generation Z would be to advocate for reforming bankruptcy laws to make it easier for students to discharge college debt — legal changes over the past few decades have made it very difficult to do so.

After all, why should college debt be treated any differently than credit card debt? In the past, credit card companies received substantial criticism for luring young people into applying for credit cards with high interest rates. But which is worse, giving students a high-interest credit card with a $500 limit or selling them on a four-to-six-year education at a third-rate school that costs $35,000 a year?

While making it easier to discharge college debt, other policy changes should be made as well. Of course, there should be limits on bankruptcy to discourage students from acting in bad faith; but when graduates cannot find decent jobs seven to ten years after leaving college, then maybe the college either made a mistake in admitting the students or failed to adequately educate them. Furthermore, college loans should be reprivatized, and colleges should be forced to share losses with lenders when a former student discharges debt.

By making these changes, colleges and lenders would be incentivized to change their behavior. Colleges would likely rein in unnecessary expenditures, offer fewer frivolous majors, and raise admissions standards. Lenders would likely take a greater interest in students’ academic backgrounds, college selections, and choices of college majors. Rather than wave as many students through the campus gates as possible, colleges and lenders would suddenly have a reason to make sure that students are a good fit for the school and are pursuing a degree that will likely enable them to repay their loans.

To be sure, students do deserve some responsibility for their poor choices, and even if college debts were dischargeable under bankruptcy law and lenders were privatized, they would be. The choice of what to study, whether they completed their degree program are all decisions that employers will hold them accountable for later when they apply for a job.

But there is plenty of blame to go around. Students do not make their unwise decisions in a vacuum. Too often, these students have been ill-advised by parents, grandparents, peers, teachers, guidance counselors, academic advisors, politicians, etc.

Beyond changes in government policies, society should change the way it treats young people.

Schools should stop assuming that virtually all students should go to college and pressuring them to do so. For example, when you talk to high schoolers, ask them about their plans for the future — not which college they plan to attend.

Students should be given time to make college and career decisions. If they are unsure of what they want to do, students should be encouraged to get a job, acquire some experience, figure out where their talents lie, and then, perhaps, further their education.

High school graduates who start their own businesses, take apprenticeships, or pursue vocational educations should be applauded too, not just those rushing off to college.

Employers should be more willing to consider non-college graduates for entry-level jobs. This is critical to changing the culture pushes young people into colleges. The unemployment rate for those with college degrees 25 years old or older in June was 2.1 percent, 3.0 percent for those with some college and 3.9 percent for those with no college. Yet many of the jobs being applied for do not require a college education.

College is a major decision for young people, and we should not be surprised when they sometimes make a mistake. Just as the law allows people to discharge credit card debt after foolish spending binges or business debt after a business fails, the law should allow graduates to discharge college debt if they are unable to find a decent job years after graduation. Advocating for such reform just might help conservatives win Millennial votes — and keep them from embracing the socialist promises of “free college.”


Monday, July 15, 2019

Fed Chair: Wealth Gap Stems From 'Stagnation in Educational Attainment'

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday that the nation's education system is contributing to the growing wealth gap.

Powell was asked how the top one percent of American families came to own 40 percent of the wealth in this country.

Powell agreed that lower incomes have "stagnated" compared to higher incomes, and he said the gap between those two has never been this large.

He also said upward mobility in the U.S. is less likely than it is in other countries.

"It comes down to the education system needs to produce people who can take advantage of advancing technology and globalization," Powell said.

"And what you've seen is a stagnation in educational attainment in the United States relative to other countries, beginning about 40 years ago and that has been I think the--an underlying force that is driving this phenomenon."

Powell said the Federal Reserve doesn't "have the tools" to directly address income inequality:

My underlying model of the problem is that there is no shortage in the world of good jobs. We just--we just have to produce qualified people--qualified workers who--who can live at the standard of--of a wealthy country and do the work they can do.

And that means better education. It's easy to say. It's very hard to do.

But we need workers who can compete with the other advanced economies for the good jobs. It's manufacturing jobs. It's a lot of service economy jobs. And you know, it's not easy to do. Fixing the educational system and improving it is a very challenging thing. I spent no small amount of time on that earlier in my life.

But I think that's ultimately -- that is it. At the end of the day, the country is its educational system and the people who, you know, the people who are in the country they are a product of that system, and we need to--we need to get ours producing people who can compete in the global economy and--and I think that's at the bottom of the pile, that's an important driver.


Holocaust 'Neutrality' Equals Educational Bankruptcy

"We have let our public education fall into the hands of people with frightening agendas."

Apparently some well-deserved light and heat was too much for the Palm Beach County School District to resist. The firestorm generated by Spanish River Community High School principal William Latson’s refusal to acknowledge that the Holocaust actually happened — because being a school employee requires him to remain “politically neutral” — could no longer be swept under the rug. On Monday, the school district announced that Latson is being reassigned “out of an abundance of concern and respect for the students and staff of Spanish River Community High School.”

Sounds good, but the timeline reveals otherwise. That’s because the email exchange on the subject between a concerned parent and Latson took place more than a year ago. As the Palm Beach Post explains, a concerned mother wanted “to make sure that her child’s school was making Holocaust education a ‘priority.’ The response she received five days later, in April 2018, was anything but routine.”

That’s because while Latson assured her that the school had “a variety of activities” for Holocaust education, those lessons are “not forced upon individuals as we all have the same rights but not all the same beliefs.”

The mother, who didn’t want to be named to protect her child’s identity, was taken aback. But she gave Latson the benefit of the doubt, hoping he had expressed himself poorly. She wrote another email asking him to clarify his position. “The Holocaust is a factual, historical event,” she wrote. “It is not a right or a belief.”

Much to her shock, Latson dug himself a deeper hole in an email dated April 18, 2018:

The clarification is that the Holocaust happened and you have your thoughts but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs so they will react differently, my thoughts or beliefs have nothing to do with this because I am a public servant… I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual history event because I am not in a position to do so as a school district employee… I do the same with information about slavery…

Ordinarily, the astounding admission that reality itself is being held hostage to political sensibilities would been seen as the wholesale corruption of a public school’s core mission it truly is. But as Latson reveals, we are not living in ordinary times. Much of the American Left embraces “my truth,” as well as the “tailoring” of history, most of which is about making sure students understand that America is an inherently flawed nation requiring fundamental transformation.

This has been going on for decades, yet somehow people remain surprised. “It would be shocking anywhere in the United States for a public high school principal to embrace Holocaust denial, but for it to happen in a majority-Jewish city in the most heavily-Jewish county in the country defies belief,” writes columnist Thomas Lifson. “Yet, it not only happened in Boca Raton, Florida, and it took over a year of discussion for the principal to back down and apologize for embracing a crackpot belief that is favored by Jew-haters of all stripes, from the mullahs of Iran to the neo-Nazis of Europe and America.”

The principal? If anyone thinks Latson was acting alone, think again. After the email exchange, the mother pushed for a face-to-face meeting. In May of 2018 Latson obliged, and she, along with a second concerned mother, met with Latson and a group of school-district administrators who supervise him. Latson presented them with a list of educational efforts undertaken at Spanish River HS with regard to Holocaust. Yet the mother told Latson her child had informed her many of those efforts never reached the classroom. And yet again during the meeting, Latson refused to state the Holocaust was an actual event.

His position angered the second mother. “I came out of there feeling so much worse,” she said. “How do you pick and choose history?”

One PC-filtered choice after another, while hiding from accountability for more than a year, that’s how.

In a follow-up meeting with district administrators, the mother proposed two changes. One was to have all 10th-grade English students read Night, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel’s Holocaust memoir. Second, she proposed convening assemblies about the Holocaust for every grade level. According to the mother, Latson agreed to the first request, and district administrators agreed to second — but failed to follow through. Deputy Schools Superintendent Keith Oswald said the assemblies weren’t put in place this past year due to time constraints, but they will take place in the upcoming one.

Regardless, Latson is out. “Mr. Latson made a grave error in judgment in the verbiage he wrote,” a school district spokesperson stated. “In addition to being offensive, the principal’s statement is not supported by either the School District Administration or the School Board.”

Really? As Oswald revealed, administrators counseled Latson about the impropriety of his emails, but he was not formally disciplined. And as revealed in the opening paragraph, Latson still hasn’t been fired, but rather reassigned, despite several petitions, including one that garnered more than 6,000 signatures, asking the School Board to fire him.

Oswald insisted Latson shouldn’t be judged solely by a couple of emails. “It was a hastily, poorly written email that he apologized for,” Oswald declared. “That’s some of the challenge that we face when we email back and forth instead of picking up the phone.”

How about the face-to-face meeting where he ostensibly remained steadfast, Mr. Oswald?

School Board Chairman Frank Barbieri Jr. was equally duplicitous, issuing a statement affirming the school district’s commitment to Holocaust education, while insisting school leaders are reviewing the incident. “As Board Chairman, I assure you that this situation is being investigated at the highest levels of the District Administration,” he wrote.

Since when? Has there been a 14-month investigation dating back to the original exchange, or a hastily convened one, now that the national spotlight has been turned on a county where a number of Holocaust survivors and their descendants reside?

“We have let our public education fall into the hands of people with frightening agendas,” Lifson asserts.

It is far, far worse than that. Decent Americans are standing by while the Left is corrupting our education system to the point where people like William Latson — and his enablers — can insulate themselves from genuine accountability, shielded by school unions and their bureaucratic and legislative collaborators.

Moreover, as the crackpot ideas now openly espoused by Democrat candidates for president reveal, at least one of our two major political parties believe the entire edifice of American exceptionalism can be swept aside — by an electoral majority. That is only possible if the leftist indoctrination that passes for education has reached critical mass.

Once again: The Senate should initiate nationally televised hearings on the state of American schooling. When a “Holocaust-neutral” principal in a large Jewish community can remain on the payroll, we are in uncharted waters — for a constitutional republic.

For a history-eliminating totalitarian gulag? Not so much.


School segregation has soared but has been ignored — until recently

The article below fails to recognize that busing was a gross abuse of civil liberties.  How is it just for governments to take your child and use him/her for the benefit of another?

Nearly 50 years have passed since Kamala Harris joined the legions of children bused to schools in distant neighborhoods as the United States attempted to integrate its racially segregated public schools.

Yet the consequences of racial and economic segregation remain a fact of daily life for millions of black and Latino children.

Harris’ attack on her Democratic rival Joe Biden over his opposition to federally mandated busing in the 1970s was a rare case of school segregation emerging as a flashpoint in a recent presidential race.

The emotionally raw clash on a Miami debate stage between a black U.S. senator and a white former vice president raised the question of what, if anything, the Democratic candidates would do to promote racial integration of America’s schools.

In the aftermath of the social upheaval wrought by the forced busing of the 1970s, the federal government all but walked away from school desegregation, with only lax enforcement of court-ordered integration and token programs to encourage voluntary desegregation.

“For more than a generation, little has been done to address the issue,” said Gary Orfield, the co-director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA. “It is crucial that we act.”

In recent elections, candidates have been largely silent about segregation, a posture that experts say is not surprising given the unease of many Americans with discussions about race and inequity, particularly when it involves their children.

“The scars of the busing era are still pretty deep,” said Bruce Fuller, an education and public policy professor at UC Berkeley.

The effect of segregation is profound. Children in integrated schools are more likely to graduate high school and attend college, and they get jobs with higher incomes, studies show. There is also a societal benefit when young people interact with peers of different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, scholars say.

“It’s important to have public schools play a role in helping young people and the broader community develop the capacity and commitment to live together in productive ways,” said John Rogers, director of UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education and Access.

Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s Education secretary, has chipped away at desegregation efforts, which were already a relatively low priority in the Obama administration.

“I would give myself a pretty low grade on that,” President Obama’s Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the 74, a nonprofit education news outlet, after he left office in late 2015.

The largest current federal effort is a roughly $100-million competitive grant program for magnet schools that began under President Nixon. By drawing students from diverse neighborhoods, magnet schools play an important role in desegregation.

But civil rights advocates have long called for more action, starting with the repeal of a 1974 sectionof an education law that bars spending of federal dollars on transportation for the purpose of racial integration.

The federal government could also fund competitive grants for school districts that pursue voluntary desegregation and step up its enforcement of court orders to integrate, said Erica Frankenberg, director of Penn State’s Center for Education and Civil Rights.

“It’s a really important role the federal government can play to provide political support for local school districts who may want to do it but for various political reasons may find it’s a hard lift,” she said.

Even though more than 150 school districts across the country are subject to court-ordered desegregation, civil rights groups have not pressed the federal government to return more broadly to the mandatory busing that outraged many parents in the 1960s and ’70s.

Progress toward school integration stalled in the late 1980s. In the three decades since then, racial and economic segregation has steadily increased. In some parts of the country, including the South, it has returned to levels last seen in the 1960s.

But the nature of the segregation has changed dramatically, due to a surge in the Latino population driven by relatively high birthrates and immigration.

Between 1969 and 2016, enrollment of white students in the U.S. dropped by 11 million as that of Latinos increased by the same amount, according to a May report by UCLA and Penn State. Whites remain the largest racial group in public schools, but are no longer the majority.

Now, many black and Latino students attend schools segregated by both race and poverty, the report found. Black children are again increasingly isolated from white and middle-class students, but are also often a minority in majority-Latino schools.

In California, 58% of Latinos attend “intensely segregated schools,” the report found. Nationwide, “segregation of Latino students is now the most severe of any group and typically involves a very high concentration of poverty,” the report concluded.

Another fundamental change is the emergence of intense racial segregation in the suburbs. The mandatory busing of the ’70s was typically an exchange of students among segregated neighborhoods of large urban school districts.

Now, many suburban school districts are islands of segregation. To integrate those districts requires cooperation across school district lines, which the federal government can provide incentives to encourage, experts say.

“The idea that schools would be associated with a geographic area like a neighborhood is anachronistic,” said Roslyn Arlin Mickelson, an expert on school segregation at the University of North Carolina. “We can’t have a 20th century solution to a 21st century problem.”

Though education is largely a state and local matter, the federal government has led the nation’s advances on integration since 1954, when the Supreme Court ruled in Brown vs. Board of Education that the segregation of public schools based solely on race was unconstitutional.

“The federal government is not the agency on the ground doing the hard work of making it happen, but the role of federal incentives is huge,” said Philip Tegeler, executive director of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, a civil rights group. Over the next few years, “the most important thing the federal government can do is provide funding incentives for school integration at the state and local level.”

Candidates in the 2020 presidential race — and many others before — were mostly silent about the issue until Harris raised it in the June 27 debate. The California senator spoke of being bused in the early 1970s from a mainly black neighborhood in Berkeley to an elementary school in a white section of the city as part of a voluntary program. She faulted Biden foropposing federally mandated busingin that era.

But few candidates have put desegregation on their campaign agenda. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has proposed higher spending on voluntary busing and magnet schools and vowed to name judges who would enforce desegregation orders.

He and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts are cosponsors of legislation that would provide $120 million in grants for voluntary desegregation. Biden also supports such grants.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro says his housing policy would decrease segregation. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed giving $500 million to needy school districts for integration.

Harris’ education plan is focused on increasing teacher pay.

In the days since the debate, Harris and Biden have continued to spar over 1970s busing.

Harris says busing should be one of many tools to desegregate schools, but would not need to be federally mandated unless local officials were blocking integration. She has continued to criticize Biden for opposing federal busing requirements in the ’70s.

“He has yet to agree that his position on this, which was to work with segregationists and oppose busing, was wrong,” Harris told reporters Thursday in Iowa.

Biden says his position in the 1970s was more nuanced than what Harris has suggested. He says he supported court-ordered busing when districts refused to desegregate. He also says he backed voluntary integration, but not busing mandated by the U.S. Department of Education.

In the past, however, he has denounced racial integration of schools in general as “a racist concept.”

In the days following the debate, Biden repeatedly bristled at being questioned about views he held decades ago rather than his legacy of supporting civil rights and his plans for the future. But on Saturday, speaking to African American voters in South Carolina, Biden apologized for comments he made about working civilly with segregationists in the U.S. Senate.

“Was I wrong a few weeks ago to somehow give the impression to people that I was praising those men who I successfully opposed time and again? Yes, I was. I regret it,” he said. “And I’m sorry for any of the pain or misconception they may have caused anybody.”

The question now, experts say, is whether the sort of political will that advanced school integration in the ’70s will reemerge to address the new variations of segregation that affect millions of children today.


Sunday, July 14, 2019

New Boston schools superintendent says her focus is on racial equity

Boston Leftists are doing their best to destroy an historic school.  Boston Latin school was established in 1635, making it both the oldest school in America and the first public school in the United States. It still has a reputation for academic excellence, partly because applicants have to show a high level of academic ability before they are admitted.  The achievements of its past pupils make it very prestigious so many parents seek admission for their kids but few are chosen.

That selectivity jars with the Leftist dogma that all men are equal. It particularly jars with the claim that blacks and whites are academically equal in potential. The academic achievements of black students are abysmal throughout the United States but Leftists manage to draw no inferences from that.

So they want more blacks in Boston Latin school even though few blacks can handle its academic standards.  The ones there already struggle and complain.  There just isn't much high level academic talent among blacks so bringing in more of them will tend to produce more dropouts and pull down standards across the board as the teaching is dumbed down to give them a chance of graduating.  Eventually it will be just another low standard multiracial school.  Its specialness will have been destroyed.

You can only have a high standards school if the students are capable of handling high standard teaching.  The pressures described below show no recognition of that.  Only skin color seems to matter

Boston Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius said Thursday that she is committed to helping disadvantaged students succeed, speaking a day after a civil rights group accused her of being out of touch with the issues many black and Latino students encounter in trying to secure seats at the city's exam schools.

"I think talking about equity is always a sensitive topic," said Cassellius, who is African-American and noted that she grew up in poverty. "It is my hope the community will come together and put children at the center, so we can create great schools in every neighborhood."

Lawyers for Civil Rights said Cassellius missed the mark on Wednesday when she expressed shock on a radio program over the high cost of administering the Independent School Entrance Exam - $140 per student. In the WGBH interview, she questioned whether there was a less expensive entrance exam the city could use for Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy, and the O'Bryant School of Math and Science.

The civil rights group, which is pushing Cassellius to change the admission requirements, contends she should have focused instead on the inherent inequities in relying on an admission test that is not aligned with the school system's curriculum. The group says affluent families have an edge because they can spend thousands of dollars on private test preparation programs.

The controversy has underscored the perilous local politics awaiting the superintendent as she learns her way in a new job. Who gets admitted to the city's exam schools - and how - has been an incendiary issue in Boston for several years, and one that has eluded public consensus.

In an interview with the Globe Thursday, Cassellius said she has no immediate plans to explore replacing the exam. But she added that discussions will eventually come up because the contract with the vendor for the ISEE expires this year, and the school system will need to go on the market to seek a new round of bids, a move that could result in a different test.

The school system expects to spend about $600,000 this year administering the ISEE to both public and private school students who live in Boston and who are seeking exam-school admission. The system also is planning to spend about $200,000 on programs to help students do well on the exam.

Cassellius said she has a duty as superintendent to ensure that every dollar is spent appropriately and noted that the per-student cost of the ISEE is three times more expensive than the college placement test used in her former state of Minnesota. But she said she is not immediately recommending replacing the ISEE.

She also said that it was premature for her to respond to a letter the NAACP and Lawyers for Civil Rights sent to her three weeks ago asking her to make specific commitments to change the exam school admission requirements. The groups wanted a response last week and are now exploring legal options.

"These issues are deep and complex and require a lot of thought, and I haven't had an opportunity to meet with everyone in the community and understand the community's needs and desires," said Cassellius, who started the job on July 1. "I have been promising authentic community engagement."

Neil Sullivan, executive director of the Boston Private Industry Council, a nonprofit focused on youth labor market development, said he empathizes with the predicament that Cassellius is in - having to address a controversial issue like exam-school admission policies less than two weeks on the job under a cloud of potential litigation.

"I just fear that litigation will actually stifle public conversation and the potential for collaboration and compromise," he said. "We need to give our new superintendent the space necessary to lead."

Many activists and political leaders said the time is right to talk about change.

"If we truly care about equity and we truly care about eliminating the opportunity and achievement gap, then we have to be willing to have conversations about changing the admission policy," said City Councilor Kim Janey. "We know the admission policy is not serving students of color well, and there are good policy recommendations on the table and we should be exploring those."

The civil rights groups have put forward several ideas, including guaranteeing admission to the top-performing students from every ZIP code or every elementary and middle school and relying on more holistic measures that would include a student's special skills in such areas as the arts or athletics.

None of those proposals has the support of the Boston Latin School Association, although the influential alumni group is open to exploring a change in admission tests.

"The association believes a test is a critical component for merit-based access to the exam schools but regards the ISEE as just one among several tests that may be used for determining the students who are the best candidates for admission to the exam schools," said Peter Kelly, the association's president.

City Council President Andrea Campbell, a Latin School graduate, said it is imperative that all students, especially black and Latino students who make up the vast majority of the district's enrollment, have equitable access to that institution and be prepared for its academic rigor. Black and Latino students account for only 20 percent of Latin School's enrollment, the least diverse of the three exam schools.

"It's not a meritocracy if a large percentage of our students attend elementary and middle schools that are not teaching and preparing them for exam school access," Campbell said. "Instead, it's a system based on how much money your family has for prep or private coursework, and what ZIP code your family lives in thus affording you access to a quality pre-k through sixth-grade experience that will ensure you get into Latin."

But she added equal attention needs to be paid to bolstering the quality of the city's open-enrollment high schools and its only vocational high school, Madison Park.

City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George, who chairs the council's Education Committee, also stressed the need for a two-pronged approach in boosting exam-school diversity and the academic quality of the other high schools.

"I am a proponent of having a test for entrance to exam schools in Boston, but I'm open to a conversation about which is the best test for students to take," Essaibi George said, adding that a test should ideally align with the school system's curriculum and that "it is also important to look at the cost."

Cassellius has expressed a strong desire to overhaul the city's high schools and to boost the quality of the lower-grade schools so more students of all backgrounds are on a better footing to get into exam schools.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh voiced his support for Cassellius.

"Superintendent Cassellius was chosen to lead Boston Public Schools because of her focus on equity and her proven track record of listening to everyone in the community in an effort to build broad consensus," he said in a statement. "We share the goal of ensuring our exam schools maintain their incredible tradition of excellence, and I have full confidence in her ability to navigate this district on a path that ensures every single student has access to an excellent school."


This Christian Student Group Was Discriminated Against. It Could Soon Be Vindicated

A Christian student group at Wayne State University will ask a federal court on Wednesday to require public universities to treat religious student groups equally to other campus groups.

This particular case, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship v. Wayne State University, demonstrates the many ways progressives twist the concept of discrimination to serve their own purposes.

In 2017, Wayne State University revoked InterVarsity’s status as a student organization because the group expressly required its leaders to embrace the Christian faith in alignment with the group’s purpose. Up to that point, the group had been operating alongside dozens of other student groups for 75 years.

No matter. The university said InterVarsity’s leadership requirements violated school policy—that they were, in essence, discriminatory.

To the ordinary observer, it would seem obvious for Christians to require Christian leadership in a Christian group. That’s hardly discriminatory, but in fact a normal standard, just as sororities requiring members to be women isn’t discriminatory—it’s just a requirement.

But that’s not the stance Wayne State chose to take in 2017. The school’s shift prompted InterVarsity, along with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, to seek intervention through the legal system, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

As the case proceeded, InterVarsity learned that Wayne State allows at least 90 student groups to make their own rules for leaders—groups ranging from fraternities to the Quidditch Club. All of these student groups select their own criteria for membership and are still free to meet as a group anywhere on campus.

In the spring of 2018, Becket filed a motion for partial summary judgment, hoping to force Wayne to allow InterVarsity to host events on campus permanently.

Earlier this year, Wayne filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, saying that while the group could continue its on-campus activities, it wouldn’t officially recognize InterVarsity if it continued to “discriminate” by requiring group leaders to be Christians.

In the motion, Wayne State said InterVarsity was seeking its “approval—and the privileges that come with it—to enforce an openly discriminatory leadership requirement in clear violation of the school’s non-discrimination policy.”

Wayne State also blasted InterVarsity’s faith requirements as somehow treating non-Christian students as “second-class citizens.”

In light of the lawsuit, the school briefly decided it would allow the student group back on campus, but that didn’t last. On Wednesday, Becket will ask for a permanent federal ruling to ensure InterVarsity receives equal treatment under the law.

Wayne State’s claim of discrimination simply doesn’t hold water for any reasonable person. It seems more like an attempt to twist a popular buzzword to excuse the university’s own bigotry against a Christian group.

Unfortunately, discrimination of religious groups on college campuses is increasingly common.

Last year, for instance, a Christian student group at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs brought a lawsuit because the school refused to grant it registered status for the same reason: It required its leadership to hold Christian beliefs.

The university ultimately agreed to make policy changes that included granting Ratio Christi registered status and allowing student clubs to require their leadership to promote the club’s purposes and hold beliefs consistent with the group’s mission.

In another case, Chike Uzuegbunam, a student at Georgia Gwinnett College, had been sharing his faith with his peers by handing out religious literature on campus. A couple of campus employees informed him he had to stop because he was outside the speech zone.

When he tried to reserve the speech zone, however, students complained, and the campus stopped him again, informing him that his speech was “disorderly conduct.” Attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom have filed a lawsuit, but there hasn’t yet been a resolution.

This is a concerning trend on college campuses. The irony is that if anyone is discriminating at Wayne State, it’s the university, which is discriminating against InterVarsity for its religious values.

As a student group, it, too, has a right to free speech and free exercise under the First Amendment, just like every other student group. Wayne State must not be allowed to discriminate.


Student Debt Crisis, Not Caring for Our Young Men and Women Is a National Disgrace

College students have racked up $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. These students take on staggering debt and blindly head off to college, hoping for the best. For many college students, this is a formula for disaster. These leaders of tomorrow have been abandoned to fend for themselves. They are told, “You’ll figure it out.” Really? Students going off to college are receiving little or no counseling on this significant – possibly life-changing – financial encumbrance, which is compounded by virtually no investment in their career development: knowing what to major in based on their unique design. Students are grossly uninformed financially and unprepared to think critically about who they are, which is crucial to knowing which career paths to pursue that “fit.” This is a lethal combination which potentially cancels out academic and life success.

The statistics are staggering of how many lives are devastated each year by this blindness. Students are dropping out after a year or two of study with little to show for it, but now are saddled with huge, life-altering debt. Some finish college but are unable to pursue the career that they are passionate about because the salary in that field will not suffice considering their monthly $400 to $500 loan payment. Many are defaulting on these massive student loans, and the debt collectors are going after the assets and pensions of co-signing family members. The impact of loan defaulting is having a ripple effect not just on the next generation of employees, mom and dads, home buyers, and community members, but also on the whole nation, which potentially faces a national financial catastrophe. Dr. Barmak Nassirian, from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, stated that this looming debt crisis – which I believe is compounded by a lack of clear career direction for college students – is “going to be very consequential for the future of our country.” Shouldn’t we be informing, investing in, caring for, and protecting our young men and women? We are not.  This is a national disgrace.

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos shared her thoughts on student-loan debts and college students’ career preparation. She spoke of her sincere concern regarding mounting student debt and its implications. A number of initiatives were cited as remedies for this problem, such as reforming the Federal Student Loan Aid Platform, increasing available information about college program costs and earning potential by major, and reviewing accreditation in higher education. These changes by the Department of Education will not significantly impact this national crisis. These actions are certainly well intended, but they will not solve the problem.

Then she landed on the real issue! DeVos made the case for encouraging young people much earlier in life to explore “what they are wired up to do” vocationally. She said that “students need to think about their innate aptitudes and not wait until they graduate.” She also said that “communities have to take responsibility for this in a major way.” The seemingly illusive concept that DeVos is trying to identify is calling. Vocational calling is the key to unlocking a valid approach to attacking this national failure. It is a bold statement to make, but helping students to establish a firm understanding of their calling and design will make a college education pay off and help solve the student-debt issue.

DeVos has identified the core problem but has not provided a viable solution. Saying it is a community’s responsibility to increase career development earlier in a student’s life is true, but the specifics are lacking. As the director of a nationally ranked career-services program for over 20 years, I have advised thousands of college students. Most students put on a good face, but truth be known, most of them have no idea about their design, vocational calling, and what that all means for choosing a major and a career. So I affirm DeVos’ appraisal.

Each person has been uniquely crafted – or as DeVos said, “wired” – to find meaning, purpose, and satisfaction in the world of work and career. This “fit” will be discovered by investing time into identifying that uniqueness and then connecting it to the world of work. The facilitation of a student’s self-knowledge and assessment is the starting point for this process. This is the framework for designing a blueprint of the individual’s calling DNA. Knowing one’s design, transferable skills, aptitude, abilities, interests, personality, and characteristics will lay the foundation for solid career development. This must start in the home.

Parents need to take the lead in encouraging self-assessment– the cornerstone of good career development– which will help identify all these unique and wonderful attributes of a son or daughter.  Parents, who know their children better than anyone, can help them reflect on who they are and what that potentially means for them with college major and career interests. Other influencers – such as teachers, coaches and youth pastors– can also contribute to this awareness of gifting.

Guidance counseling also must be in place as this crucial process continues. For private school, homeschooling, and Christian schools, this counseling must be sought out and secured.  Within the public system, we must get back to guidance counselors having the primary role of personally mentoring and guiding students in self-awareness and career exploration. This is not happening currently. Having talked with countless guidance professionals over the years, staffs have been cut, and they are now responsible for school duties that have nothing to do with the core objectives of their profession.

Finally, college career-services offices have to do their job. Over 60% of college students have never stepped into their career-services office or have only visited once or twice. Something is terribly wrong with that picture. Many career offices are not effectively meeting the needs of their students. This must change.

The understanding of calling revolutionizes career development. Students must be personally assisted in helping to confirm a major and to realize and pursue their own distinguishing and individual callings. Then they need to be directed and led in connecting who they are to their “fit” in the marketplace. This is the charge for a career-services professional. The role of these three indispensable components of the career-development process cannot be overstated.

If students are actively engaged and invested in the right philosophy and resources regarding calling and career development, the student loan and default rates will be significantly reduced, college retention and graduation rates will increase, and students will have a much better opportunity for career and life success.


Friday, July 12, 2019

Report: Teachers Inserting Climate Change into Curriculum Without Training, Textbooks

Despite the unsettled science and evidence to the contrary, teachers without training or textbooks are giving lessons to U.S. public school students on the threat of manmade climate change.
An article from the Hechinger Report picked up by the Washington Post reports:

Teaching global warming in a charged political climate. … Their training doesn’t cover it and many textbooks don’t touch it but teachers are taking on climate change anyway.

The article focuses on a school in Oklahoma, where many students have parents who have good jobs in the flourishing oil and gas industry in the state, that promotes environmentalists’ belief that fossil fuels are the main culprit causing climate change.

Melissa Lau is a sixth-grade teacher in the classroom profiled in the reporter’s story, which was documented before the start of summer vacation. According to the report:

Ms. Lau, 42, has taught science for seven years at Piedmont Intermediate School, which is housed in an airy, modern building overlooking a wheat field and serves predominantly middle-class families, many of whom work in the oil and gas industry. For much of that time, she has sought to acquaint students with the basics of the planet’s warming.

On this next-to-last week of the school year, she was squeezing in a lesson exploring the link between increased carbon emissions and extreme weather events such as floods and hurricanes.

The article cites the “politics” in “ruby-red Oklahoma” and notes that teachers do get questions and “pushback” from parents over climate change lessons.

And it claims the oil and gas industry funds the promotion of fossil fuels in the schools and accuses lawmakers in the state of introducing legislation that “critics say would encourage teachers to spread misinformation on evolution and climate change.”

“Every year, we have to fight one or two bills,” said Lau, who was wearing a denim jacket and a “I teach climate change” button, according to the article. “I don’t get the resistance I got at the beginning of my career because it’s getting harder and harder to deny.”

On this particular day, the teacher showed the students a video that made an analogy between sports doping and climate change.

“Steroids can make it easier for players to hit home runs,” the video explained. “But it’s impossible to know if any single home run is due to doping.”

“So to assess the effects of the drugs, one has to observe a player’s performance over time. Same with climate change: Some extreme weather events occur regardless of whether humans are pumping extra carbon into the atmosphere.”

“Scientists can determine if these emissions are affecting the climate only by following patterns over time,” the video continued.

The article explains that in 2013, teaching climate change in schools got a “boost” when states could incorporate the Next Generation Science Standards into their curriculum, which includes introducing children to climate change and its human causes, starting in middle school.

“To date, 20 states plus the District of Columbia have adopted the standards, and many other states have embraced a modified version,” the article says.

At least one science education advocate confirms the lack of training teachers have to teach climate change.

“Climate and earth sciences more generally have been historically neglected in American science education,” said Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Center for Science Education, a group devoted to tracking down “anti-science education legislation.”

“Lots of teachers feel they don’t have the content knowledge or pedagogical know-how to teach climate change effectively,” Branch said in the article.

And while Lau said she wants her students to have “hope” about the future, they sound less than hopeful in the article.

“Now that I know more about the facts of climate change, it’s a little bit easier to believe,” student Jewel Horn said. “It feels like more of a threat.”

“Now, I’m thinking that we’re in a crisis,” Horn’s classmate Dan Nguyen said, adding that he was a “little angry” because people “should be more careful of what they are doing, what they are using.”


Betsy DeVos Is Right about Gainful Employment

Last Friday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced she was killing off gainful employment rules governing for-profit colleges. These Obama Administration era regulations deny federal student financial aid to individuals attending institutions considered not having enough attendees “gainfully employed” after attending school.

On the face of it, this seems like reasonable regulation. Let’s direct federal aid to institutions where there are positive vocational outcomes for most students. However, the devil is in the details, and I believe DeVos made the right decision, for two reasons.

First, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that, as of March 2019, 41.3% of recent college graduates are “underemployed,” meaning they are working in jobs that are relatively low-skilled and filled usually by those with lesser education, such as high school graduates. The underemployment rate of all college graduates is also a very high 34.1%. Some of these folks are making a pretty good income (as some relatively lowly educated persons get good paying jobs), but most are not.

The supposition that college has or should have a primary purpose of preparing persons for jobs is debatable, and beyond that there are respected economists (e.g, Bryan Caplan at George Mason University) who have argued exhaustively that little of the higher typical earnings of college graduates is actually attributable to employable skills gained while in college. College degrees are screening devices enabling employers to identify the best, brightest, most reliable and productive potential workers from the rest.

Given this, the whole concept of “gainful employment” is flawed. A school taking in high-performing high school graduates will likely have most of them “gainfully employed” a few years later, even if the college itself added little to the individual’s productivity. Moreover, many would argue that the “bottom line” of college is far more than getting good jobs. Good universities teach virtue, civic responsibility, and other things. Moreover, as Mike Rowe (of “Dirty Jobs” TV fame) and others have demonstrated, many persons with not necessarily high-paying blue collar jobs lead very satisfying lives.

But there is a second reason why gainful employment rules as constituted during the Obama years were inappropriate. They only applied to for-profit schools. They created an uneven playing field among schools competing for students. Public and not-for-profit private universities, constituting 90% or more of enrollments, were exempt from the regulations. Why? The real reason, I feel sure, is that the gainful employment rules were targeted at putting the for-profit institutions out of business, because of a progressive view that “people should not profit off of learning—education is an ennobling activity that should not be sullied by those with the selfish motive of trying to make a profit.”

To be sure, there were a fair number of “bad actors” in for-profit higher education, delivering little of value to students hoodwinked into enrolling in their programs and mounting sizable federal student loan debts. But the same thing can be said of those attending many public universities. Using U.S. Department of Education data, I quickly found three public universities where fewer than one-third of their students graduate within six years, less than one-third had paid down at least one dollar of their outstanding student debt, and where those attending averaged at least 20% less in annual earnings than what the Census Bureau says is the average of full-time adult high school graduates. If public universities were subjected to the same gainful employment rules, there would be an uproar as taxpayer supported institutions were effectively put out of business by the federal government.

The U.S. Constitution says nothing about education, but proclaims (Tenth Amendment) that “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution...are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Constitutionally, the feds should not be regulating universities. The immediate solution, however, is to find new, non-governmental ways of financing college, such as privately funded Income Share Agreements, and/or to make schools accountable for student loan debt defaults (make them have “skin in the game.”) Then there would be little need for gainful employment rules, and a level playing field would be reestablished. Who cares about the profit status of colleges? What is important are results.


Busing, No; School Choice, Yes

In the first Democratic presidential debates, Sen. Kamala Harris of California defended forced busing back in the 1970s as a civil rights triumph and criticized former Vice President Joe Biden for racial insensitivity for once opposing the policy.

We all want great schools for children of all racial groups and all income levels. But those of us who lived through this era know the reality of forced busing was quite different from the depiction of a civil rights triumph that Harris now says it was.

In the 1970s, this heavy-handed school integration policy — implemented across the country in cities from Boston to Milwaukee — was wildly unpopular with white and black parents. Fewer than 10% of parents of either race supported cramming 7- and 8-year-olds in crowded yellow buses and zigzagging them across cities and suburbs far away from their neighborhood schools.

You can Google busing maps in major cities in this era and you will see that the routes go here, there and everywhere as if they were designed by a drunken Soviet Politburo central planner.

The purpose was to ensure that black children in terrible neighborhoods could sit next to white kids in public schools. But it turned out the white inner-city schools that black children were shipped off to weren't too good either. And white parents were none too happy that the courts were busing their kids out of their neighborhoods as if they were laboratory rats in a social science experiment.

At that time, the social engineers — judges, politicians and political activists — thought that the quality of the school, the level of community involvement and the excellence of the teachers were less important than the racial composition of the classrooms. When you really think about it, that's a pretty racist position in and of itself.

Amazingly, and as is typical with liberal social planning, no one in government ever bothered to ask the families and communities affected what they thought about the policy.

But it soon became abundantly clear what people thought of the idea. This tumultuous era of forced busing caused widespread protests in the streets, a worsening of racial tensions and no improvement in student achievement or inner-city school performance. In my hometown of Chicago, race relations deteriorated, and the issue became a powder keg.

The goal, racial equality in education, was well-meaning, but the real-life policy outcomes were a setback for racial integration.

Today, some 40 years later, we know there is a better way to make schools colorblind — and improve student learning — without forcing kids to attend schools they don't want to. That is to expand parental choice options that include public, private and parochial schools and let the education dollars follow the children. I have visited and seen firsthand school voucher programs in Washington, D.C., and other cities benefit thousands of mostly black and Hispanic children. It is a glorious sight to see happy kids of different races and income groups together in schools that perform.

Sadly, many of the same politicians who still defend mandatory desegregation through busing of children also vehemently oppose allowing kids to get on a bus and attend schools — public or parochial or private — that parents do want for their kids. Isn't voluntary busing superior to forced busing?

Most liberals now oppose school vouchers, tax credit scholarship programs and even charter schools that allow the parents to have far more options in what schools their children attend. The political clout wielded by teachers unions has blocked school choice programs that would let minority parents have the choices that wealthier white parents do.

My former Wall Street Journal colleague Holman Jenkins reminds us in his latest column that during the height of the school busing experiment, rich white liberals pulled their kids out of the public schools entirely to avoid the turmoil that the politicians they voted for caused. Busing was for other parents' kids.

Herein lies the hypocrisy. Liberal politicians keep promising to give voice to the poor, the disadvantaged, the people of color, but they won't trust them to make decisions for themselves. They sing "power to the people" at their rallies, but they resist policies that would empower them. That is the real problem with our school system, and it is so easy to have superior and integrated classrooms if we would just give choice a chance.


Thursday, July 11, 2019

How the Obama Administration Harmed Survivors of Campus Sexual Assault

Last week, the legal unraveling of the Obama-era campus sexual-assault guidelines entered a new phase. A student accused of sexual assault and subject to an unlawful, unconstitutional adjudication process filed a motion seeking class-action certification in his pre-existing lawsuit against Michigan State University. Rather than seeking to void the results only of his own flawed adjudication, he’s now seeking to void every adjudication where accused students were punished “without first being afforded a live hearing and opportunity for cross examination.”

This new motion comes after a wave of cases across the country that have invalidated and reversed the results of campus kangaroo courts — and these rulings are coming from judges across the political/judicial spectrum. In California, progressive state-court judges issued rulings that effectively halted proceedings in 75 campus sexual-misconduct cases, while California universities reworked their processes. Earlier this month, Amy Coney Barrett and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals joined dozens of other courts in ruling that university processes should face exacting legal scrutiny.

In fact, it’s hard to think of a modern legal policy more thoroughly repudiated than the Obama administration’s 2011 “Dear colleague” letter , which required every single public and private college that received federal funds (except for the few religious colleges that had opted out of Title IX) to adjudicate sexual-misconduct complaints under streamlined procedures that mandated lower burdens of proof, implemented a form of double jeopardy, and discouraged basic elements of due process, such as cross-examination.

Acting under intense internal and external pressure — and empowered by a #BelieveWomen ideology that dogmatically asserted that it is extremely rare for women to file false sexual-assault claims — universities encouraged women to report and prosecute cases under a system that was built from the ground up in defiance of generations of jurisprudence defining appropriate due process and in defiance of clear legal standards that prevent both anti-male and anti-female discrimination.

Much of the critique of university processes has focused on the plight of falsely accused students, and many of the cases contain facts so bizarre and extreme that it’s hard to believe that any fact-finder anywhere could have imposed punishment.

For example, in the Seventh Circuit case mentioned above, the accused student alleged that he was “not provided with any of the evidence on which decision-makers relied in determining his guilt and punishment,” his ex-girlfriend didn’t even appear before the hearing committee, he had “no opportunity to cross-examine” his accuser, the committee found his accuser credible even though it did not talk to her in person, the accuser did not even write her own statement or provide a sworn allegation, and the committee did not allow the accused student “to present any evidence, including witnesses.”

But as sexual-assault adjudications fall apart, it’s now clear that countless women have been victimized by the lawless Obama-era processes. The remedy for a lawless process is typically voiding the result of the adjudication, regardless of the veracity of the underlying claim. Even when a new proceeding is mandated, accusers are put through the immense challenge of an entirely new hearing. To put it bluntly, as courts properly sweep aside flawed adjudications, they are allowing guilty men to escape consequences for their actions.

That’s how law-enforcement scandals work. And make no mistake, the Title IX disaster is a form of law-enforcement scandal. When law enforcement cuts corners and violates the Constitution in its zeal to prosecute those it has already presumed to be guilty, courts can and do set aside convictions even when guilty men go free. There is no other effective remedy for systematic due-process violations. Perversely, that’s the dynamic the Obama administration helped create on campus. When it mandated campus prosecution without meaningful due process, it fatally undermined its own policy.

Due process, one of the greatest and most vital legal developments in the entire history of civilization, is not a mere inconvenience to be cast aside in the face of the ideological demands of strident activists. Basic elements — such as the right to see the evidence against you, the right to cross-examination, and the right to legal counsel — are indispensable to finding the facts when claims are disputed. They grant us a degree of confidence that real justice has been done.

While many statistics on campus sexual assault are flawed and exaggerated, there is a sexual-assault problem on college campuses. It’s heartbreaking to think that our university establishment, acting under federal mandates, has channeled real victims into a lawless process, ostensibly for their own good. It’s heartbreaking to realize, in spite of dozens upon dozens of adverse court decisions and in spite of proposed Trump-administration regulations that would mandate much-improved due-process protections, that young men and women are still being channeled into fundamentally flawed proceedings.

Until those flawed proceedings are eradicated once and for all, we will see all too many innocent students face punishment for alleged crimes that they did not commit. At the same time, as flawed adjudications are overturned en masse, guilty students will be relieved of responsibility for their terrible misdeeds. We’ll see more women face the trauma of relitigating the worst day of their lives through absolutely no fault of their own.

Make no mistake, due process is hard. It requires courage and resolve from litigants. It requires all parties to walk an arduous path to the truth. And even under the best of circumstances it’s imperfect. But there is no better way. It’s a deep shame that young women across this country have been taught otherwise. It’s a deep shame that many of these women will now see their abusers vindicated in part because their “allies” tossed aside centuries of hard-earned wisdom. They thought they knew better. But they did not. And we can now see that both accused and accusers have paid a steep price.


Corruption over admissions at Harvard: Update

Harvard is firing its longtime fencing coach, Peter Brand, finding that he violated the university’s conflict-of-interest policy by selling his home to a wealthy businessman whose son was looking to apply to the university.

The Globe first reported in April that Brand sold his home in May 2016 to Jie “Jack” Zhao, whose son, then a high school junior, was interested in fencing for Harvard.

The property, a modest three-bedroom Colonial in Needham, was assessed at $549,300 and sold for $989,500.


Australia-first study highlights benefits of early education for school children now and later in life

It does no such thing.  It is just the latest propaganda effort by a lobby group to get governments to pay for the child-minding of little kids.  The "study" is not a survey or experiment of any kind.  It is an economic analysis of previously agreed facts about early childcare.  The economists who did the report headed it up with fierce warnings that it was done for the lobbyists only and should not be used by anyone else.  They knew its severe limitations

The overwhelming evidence on the subject is that early education confers no lasting benefit at all.  Let me quote just a small excerpt from someone who has surveyed the evidence on the question:

    "University studies are often quoted to support the perceived academic benefits of preschool. What is not often mentioned is that whilst these studies demonstrate preschool in a favourable light when compared with an impoverished home environment; preschool environments and results do not compare favourably with the average home environment.

    Even Professor Edward Zigler, credited as “the father of Head Start” a well-respected American preschool program admits “there is a large body of evidence that there is little to be gained by exposing middle class children to early education…(and) evidence that indicates early schooling is inappropriate for many four-year-olds, and that it may be harmful to their development.”

    So what about the long-term academic effects of preschool? The longitudinal studies, often quoted to argue an academic advantage provided by preschool for lower socio-economic groups, actually also show that this “advantage” disappears by grade three.

    If preschool were truly beneficial in terms of giving children a head start, those places with some form of compulsory preschool should do demonstrably better academically. The evidence does not bear this out. The two states of America which have compulsory preschool, Georgia and Oklahoma, have the lowest results for fourth grade reading tests in the country."

Children who attend one year of early childhood education are more likely to achieve higher NAPLAN scores, which influences higher education outcomes and employment opportunities.

That’s the verdict from a new study into the economic impact of early childhood education, which highlights the academic and developmental benefits it gives to school children now and later in life.

The study, commissioned by The Front Project, and conducted by PwC, finds improved cognitive abilities that result from participating in early learning can be measured in later school achievement, educational attainment and employment.

The Front Project CEO, Jane Hunt said the findings highlighted the vitally important role early learning plays in the development of children in the short-term and in the longer-term.

“We all want our children to be more and have more than we had, and this report demonstrates that early learning is a vital part of making this possible,” Ms Hunt said.

“One year of quality early learning before school can hold the key to unlocking a wealth of opportunity for our young people as they develop and eventually enter the workforce.

“Finally, we have the research that shows that quality early learning is a key economic enabler that will allow our children to seize opportunities as the world of work becomes more complex.

“We know that 65 per cent of children today will do jobs that have not been invented yet, so the reality is that our children will need to learn how to learn – early education does this, and this research proves it.”

The landmark report finds that improved skills and abilities in children who attend early education was associated with improved NAPLAN results in Year 3.

Children with higher scores at Year 3 NAPLAN continue to do better all the way through to Year 9 NAPLAN, and then to high school graduation.

Ms Hunt said the data highlights the importance of quality early learning and the need for greater funding certainty from governments.

“This report emphasises the importance of governments committing to ongoing funding for the National Partnership Agreement,” Ms Hunt said.

“The report also highlights the need to address the variability of quality in early childhood education, particularly the quarter of services not yet meeting the National Quality Standard.

“As well as that, the report bolsters the argument quality early education should be expanded to children two years out from school.”

PwC Chief Economist Jeremy Thorpe said the research demonstrates the substantial impact early learning has on children’s development.

“Using the best available Australian and international research we were able to estimate the impact of early childhood education on early school achievement, and then the likely uplift in achievement at Year 3 and throughout the rest of their education,” Mr Thorpe said.

“The evidence suggests that if early childhood education puts students ahead at the start of primary school, the benefits will increase as they progress through the education system.”

Lisa Chung, Chair of The Front Project’s Board said the report reveals the enormous opportunities created later in life when we invest in the early years.

“Succeeding in future workplaces will require agile, lifelong learners, who are comfortable with continuous adaptation and a willingness to change industries or sectors,” Ms Chung said.

“It’s possible to train people in new information and contexts, but without teams who can learn and re-learn, innovation and efficiency suffer.”

Zac Hatzantonis, PwC's early childhood practice leader, added: “The report demonstrates that better investment in early childhood education will also help reduce escalating social welfare, health and justice costs.”

Via email. Media contact: Kate Hickey 0423 700 290

The full report: here

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Department Of Education Is Not A National School Board

Last week, Joe Biden joined the bandwagon of Democrats (started by Elizabeth Warren this year) promising to name a public-school teacher to be Secretary of Education if he wins the presidency. It’s an easy commitment to make in front of a teachers’ union audience, and it wouldn’t be all that odd to do it—several past presidents of both parties have named former public-school teachers to the job.

But the promise is another example of a thoroughly bipartisan misconception about the work of the federal education department. Even if they haven’t been former teachers, nearly every education secretary since the Department of Education was created in the Carter years has been someone with expertise or experience in K-12 education—whether as an educator, administrator, reformer, or policymaker. But the Department of Education actually has a lot more say over higher education than primary or secondary schooling, and its work has suffered from the lack of focus on higher ed over the years. If we must have a Department of Education, it could at least be run by someone who knows something about higher education.

The American system of primary and secondary schools is gloriously decentralized. There are about 130,000 K-12 schools in America, about three-quarters of which are public schools. The latter are governed by about 13,000 different school districts across the 50 states. These districts have enormous power over curriculum and staffing decisions, and the states have most of the remaining power over education policy.

The federal role in K-12 education is strongest in circumstances where racial or other discrimination triggers legally-mandated responses. Otherwise, the federal government uses some levers of conditional funding under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—a Great Society law that has been updated every few years since. Recent updates include the No Child Left Behind Act and the Every Student Succeeds Act. These have given the federal government more leverage over time, but its power is still greatest at the margins. Federal dollars are about 8 percent of K-12 education funding, and the Department of Education doesn’t really shape primary and secondary education policy.

We should all be glad about that. And a teacher who wants to influence education policy would be better advised to run for school board or for the state legislature than to go to Washington.

But unfortunately, the federal Department of Education does play a critical role in setting the direction of American higher education. Here too, its power comes mostly from the leverage created by federal dollars, but that leverage is immense, especially because of the student-loan system. And it has meant that the federal government has played a central role in driving the tuition inflation that plagues higher ed and in creating all manner of policy trouble besides.

Price inflation in higher education has been massively exacerbated by the basic structure of federal policy in this area, which might be best described as simultaneously subsidizing demand and restricting supply.

The subsidization of demand is done through student aid, which has been too open-ended and has risen with tuition, thereby creating upward pressure on costs. This leverage over funds has also given the Department of Education lots of informal power to drive policy through nudges and “suggestions” in a variety of areas. The Obama administration’s notorious “Dear Colleague” letters are a prominent example.

The restriction of supply, meanwhile, has been a function of accreditation, which the incumbent players in American higher education have used to restrict new entrants and new uses of technology. Accreditation is technically a private process, run by a group of NGOs, but because it is the means by which schools become eligible for students with federal loans and grants, the Department of Education has enormous power over it, essentially accrediting the accreditors.

All of this gives the Secretary of Education a lot of opportunities to improve (or to worsen) higher-ed policy—both by working with Congress to change the law and by working directly to change the department’s policies. Higher-ed policy is badly in need of reforms, getting those right could make a huge difference, and the Secretary of Education would be a key figure in making that happen. The Trump administration has taken some useful steps in this direction, but there is lots more to be done.

So a president who wanted to do something useful in education policy would be wise to appoint an education secretary who knows something about higher education, rather than just one who will say nice things about primary and secondary schools.


Nation’s Largest Teachers’ Union Embraces ‘Fundamental Right to Abortion’

Over the weekend, the National Education Association adopted a new “business item” declaring its support for “the fundamental right to abortion under Roe v. Wade.” The NEA is the most influential teachers’ union in the United States, and with more than three million members is also the nation’s largest labor union of any kind.

Here’s more from Business Item 56:

The NEA will honor the leadership of women, non-binary, and trans people, and other survivors who have come forward to publicly name their rapists and attackers in the growing, international, #MeToo movement.

Furthermore, the NEA will include an assertion of our defense of a person’s right to control their own body, especially for women, youth, and sexually marginalized people. The NEA vigorously opposes all attacks on the right to choose and stands on the fundamental right to abortion under Roe v. Wade.

The statement goes on to assert that this new stance is necessary because “the most misogynistic forces, under Trump, want to abolish the gains of the women’s right movement.” The NEA’s change in rhetoric on abortion is a departure from several decades of couching its stance in terms of “reproductive freedom.”

In a document that aims to debunk the claims of its critics, the group once called the assertion “NEA supports abortion” a “deception,” and stated that it “does not have a pro-abortion policy.” Here’s more from that document:

[The NEA’s] stance on this issue is often misinterpreted and misunderstood. NEA’s policy statement reads: “The National Education Association supports family planning, including the right to reproductive freedom.” What this means is that NEA supports the current protections guaranteed under the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. This decision allows women to decide for themselves if they should have children—or not have children—and protects the constitutional rights of all women, whether they are pro-choice or anti-abortion.

Though in practice such a mindset would likely lead to supporting nearly unlimited abortion rights, this weekend’s sudden change in rhetoric indicates a desire to explicitly redefine abortion on demand as a fundamental right. Even more interesting is the fact that the NEA — a teachers’ union that ostensibly has no obvious reason to care about abortion policy or advocacy — evidently feels pressure to adopt a more radical stance as the Left becomes more dogmatic on the issue.

The statement outlining Business Item 56 doesn’t even make an attempt to articulate why the NEA has a stake in the abortion debate at all. It merely takes for granted that, as an influential left-wing organization, the group must necessarily champion the entire progressive agenda. This is a growing tendency on the Left, as “intersectional” thinking takes hold — the idea that each interest group within the broader progressive movement has a responsibility to embrace and advocate the particular interests of the rest.

If the National Rifle Association were to suddenly issue a statement declaring its belief that life begins at conception, and every human being has the right to life, it would be a cause for confusion and surely for immense criticism from the group’s opponents. But on the Left, such “allyship” among progressive interests is increasingly required as a measure of devotion to the greater cause.


Supreme Court Set to Hear School Choice Case Next Term

Before hitting the road for their summer vacations, the justices of the Supreme Court announced last week that they would hear a major school choice case in the next term.

If the court rules in favor of the families that brought this case, it could pave the way for educational freedom and opportunity for millions of children across the country.

The case, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, deals with Montana’s tax credit of up to $150 per year for donations taxpayers make to a scholarship-granting organization.

The scholarship-granting organization then provides scholarships to income-eligible children to attend a private school of their choice.

Recipients may use the funds at qualified schools, which initially included religiously affiliated private schools. Then the Montana Department of Revenue enacted a rule excluding religious schools, citing the state constitution’s “no aid” provision (known as a Blaine Amendment) that prohibits public money from going to churches.

Families with children at religious schools challenged that rule, arguing that it violates their federal constitutional right to free exercise of religion.

Religiously affiliated schools make up 69% of private schools in Montana. If this rule were to be allowed to stand, it would shut out a large percentage of schools from the scholarship program, limiting the options of families that relied on this assistance to send their children to the school of their choice.

The good news is that the Supreme Court set the stage for the Espinoza case with its 2017 ruling in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer.

In that decision, the high court held that the state of Missouri violated the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause when it barred a church-run day care center from receiving a grant to resurface its playground.

The state of Missouri argued that it was trying to avoid running afoul of the Establishment Clause, which prohibits states from recognizing an official state church. In doing so, Missouri trampled on Trinity Lutheran’s free exercise rights.

To be sure, there is some “play in the joints” between what the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses require of states.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts explained that by singling out the day care center for disfavored treatment and “denying a qualified religious entity a public benefit because of its religious character,” Missouri went “too far.”

Roberts wrote in a footnote that the decision was limited to “express discrimination based on religious identity with respect to playground resurfacing” and stressed that the decision “do[es] not address religious uses of funding or other forms of discrimination.”

Justice Neil Gorsuch disagreed that the ruling was limited.

In a concurring opinion, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, Gorsuch concluded that the “general principles” of this decision “do not permit discrimination against religious exercise—whether on the playground or anywhere else.”

Shortly after issuing this decision, the justices instructed courts in Colorado and New Mexico to square their rulings in cases dealing with a school voucher program and a textbook-lending program with the Trinity Lutheran decision.

Thus, the scope of the Trinity Lutheran ruling remains unclear, and now the high court has the opportunity in the Espinoza case to make clear that states may not require religious organizations to check their beliefs at the door before entering the secular world.

If allowing a church-run day care center to compete for state grant money does not violate the Establishment Clause, then surely there aren’t Establishment Clause concerns raised by allowing families to use scholarship money at religious schools, for which donors receive a modest tax credit.

Indeed, in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002), the court noted the “consistent distinction” it has drawn between “government programs that provide aid directly to religious schools … and programs of true private choice, in which government aid reaches religious schools only as a result of the genuine and independent choices of private individuals.”

On several occasions, the high court has rejected Establishment Clause challenges to “neutral government programs that provide aid directly to a broad class of individuals, who, in turn, direct the aid to religious schools … of their own choosing.”

The state’s Blaine Amendment also should not provide cover for preventing families from choosing to use these scholarship funds at religious schools.

More than three dozen states have Blaine Amendments, named for Sen. James G. Blaine, R-Maine, who in the late 1800s pushed for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting aid to “sectarian” schools.

As Thomas explained in the 2000 decision Mitchell v. Helms, “Consideration of the amendment arose at a time of pervasive hostility to the Catholic Church and to Catholics in general, and it was an open secret that sectarian was code for Catholic.”

Although Blaine failed in his bid to amend the Constitution, many states—some on condition of statehood—adopted their own Blaine Amendments.

Today, these ignoble 19th-century amendments often thwart modern-day school choice efforts as more and more states move toward systems that enable families to direct their child’s education funding to education options that work for them.

With any luck, the court will use the Espinoza case to heed Thomas’ advice that “this doctrine, born of bigotry, should be buried” and pave the way for school choice across the country.

The justices will hear oral argument in the Espinoza case during their next term, starting in October, and release a decision by the end of June 2020.


Tuesday, July 09, 2019

10-Year-Olds Say They Were Suspended After Asking To Be Excused from LGBT Lesson

The thought police are on the prowl once more, reducing independent thinkers and religious individuals to a pile of embarrassment and shame — even if their targets are only children.

In South London, two 10-year-old Christian students say they were suspended after they asked their Heavers Farm Primary School headteacher if they could forgo participation in a lesson about LGBT topics during “Pride Month.”

Headteacher Susan Papas allegedly told both kids, who are of African heritage, that their opposition to the LGBT activity made them “a disappointment to the school,” Christian Concern reported.

The students, Farrell Spence and Kaysey Francis, were given five hours of detention and were suspended for a week

Kaysey was manipulated, bullied & unlawfully excluded by her headteacher for alleged anti-LGBT comments. Kaysey categorically denies the allegations and she is backed by children in her class.

The debacle started on June 20, after Farrell received propaganda-like LGBT coloring material from his teacher Alex Smith. When asked if he could skip the activity, Smith denied Farell’s request and told him it was part of the curriculum.

Later, Smith accused Farrell of saying “LGBT sucks and LGBT’s dumb,” however, the pre-teen denies ever using “homophobic language.”

During his next class, Farrell told a different teacher that he couldn’t “accept LGBT” because of his Catholic faith. He said this while sitting beside Kaysey Francis, a Pentecostal Christian classmate who shared his sentiment.

“Do you want LGBT people to die?” the teacher reportedly asked.

The two students responded “no,” but added that same-sex couples would be punished if they lived in their countries of origin. Farrell told the teacher that he was of “African Jamaican” descent and that “everybody is Christian and Catholic, so they don’t accept LGBT.”

Word spread quickly about the students, prompting headteacher Papas to allegedly harass the students and give them five hours of detention that day. “How dare you? You are a disappointment to the school,” Papas said, according to the two students.

Papas — whose daughter is lesbian and the School Manager — reportedly reamed Kaysey after the kids were put in separate rooms, saying, “How dare you say that you want to kill LGBT people?”

‘I didn’t say kill.” Kaysey responded. Papas shouted back “Yes, you did, and don’t lie” before beginning the detention.

The mothers of Farrell and Kaysey are fighting the suspension, noting that students cannot be suspended for “a non-disciplinary reason,” per the school’s own regulations.

Conservative Tribune, a section of The Western Journal, has reached out to Heavers Farm Primary School for comment but has not yet received a response.


Vindictive student wants police banned from Texas State University

Liberals are still doing everything possible to make life hard not only on conservatives and Christians but police officers, as well.

Texas State University student senate basically just voted to allow future bad guys with guns free reign on their campus.

Texas State University’s student senate recently held an “emergency meeting” to vote on a resolution calling on the school to ban its police department. The resolution was authored by one student senator who was arrested last week during an incident on campus involving the assault of a student wearing a MAGA hat, but appears to have not passed a student senate vote.

Texas State University student senator Claudia Gasponi — who authored a resolution last month to ban the school’s Turning Point USA group from campus — has now authored a new resolution to ban the university police from campus.

The resolution was drafted following the student senator’s arrest last week, along with three other students, during a counter-protest gone haywire.

The proposed legislation, entitled, “The Removal of Excessive and Abusive Policing Resolution,” calls for “the dissolution of the University Police Department,” due to the alleged “over-policing” on campus that “specifically targets and endangers people of color.”

“Texas State University’s student population is mostly people of color,” states the resolution obtained by Breitbart News, “and in order to be truly inclusive, the needs of people of color must be set as a priority and not an afterthought, especially in an institution that historically has disenfranchised people of color.”

“I’m not retaliating because I was arrested, I’m retaliating because I was violently assaulted and I saw several of my friends get violently assaulted,” said Gasponi at the emergency meeting on Wednesday. The student senator had referred to her arrest as an “assault.”

“I know that the university police department hasn’t done jack to correct these assaults that are happening,” continued Gasponi, “So — I wrote this [resolution], not because I’m upset I got arrested. I’m upset that we have a violent group on campus that is mandated and paid for by our administration to do the administration’s bidding.”


Haters attack student for wearing MAGA hat on Fourth of July

When 22-year-old University of Florida student Daniel Weldon sent a Snapchat to his girlfriend of his Fourth of July outfit — a Make America Great Again hat, American flag tank top, Trump pin and other patriotic regalia — she predicted he would get attacked.

Turns out, she was right. As Weldon grabbed a late-night snack on July Fourth across the street from campus he said he was surrounded by a group of college-aged peers who verbally harassed him, pushed him, ripped a Trump pin off his shirt, and tried to swipe his MAGA hat.

“It just goes to show there is a lot of people on the Left that don’t care or know anything about you, but they see one aspect of who you are and instantly have this blind hatred for you,” Weldon told The College Fix in a telephone interview Sunday. “It’s extremely disappointing.”

On the evening of July Fourth, Weldon hung out with a buddy in a college-area bar called the Rowdy Reptile without incident, but then they parted ways and he went to grab a bite at the Pita Pit on University Avenue. As soon as he walked in, he said, a group of about seven college-aged customers started taunting him.

The females of the group mainly led the charge, calling him a racist and hurling other insults, he said. Things also got physical. He said one female pushed him, another ripped his Trump pin off his shirt, and someone tried to swipe his hat off his head.

Weldon, who played as a linebacker for the Gators and is 6’1 and 230 pounds, said in response he only grabbed his hat so it stayed on his head and picked his pin off the ground. “My mamma raised me right, I am not going to touch a girl,” he said.

He did, however, tell the taunters that Trump will win re-election in 2020. The exchange lasted several minutes, while the physical interaction was fairly brief, he said.

“I have been doing politics on campus for four years, so it’s not like I am not used to people making comments,” said Weldon, a proactive campus conservative and chairman of the Florida Federation of College Republicans. “I wasn’t physically harmed. I was like, ‘Yo, that was kind of messed up.'”

“I ended up going to use the restroom and they were waiting outside the door for me when I got out, still making comments about me and flipping me off from outside the window.”

After the incident he spoke to a police officer stationed in Midtown, the college hangout area next to campus where this took place. Weldon said the officer told him it’s not the first time a student has been harassed for wearing pro-Trump gear.

The next day, Weldon posted about his experience on Facebook. He received a lot of supportive feedback, but was also questioned about filing a police report. At first he didn’t, because he was not hurt, he said.

But then he said he thought about it some more, especially the argument that while he was a “big guy” and could handle the situation, what if the next person couldn’t?

With that, Weldon filed a police report on Sunday. He provided photos of the perpetrators and encouraged officers to obtain footage of the incident from Pita Pit cameras and trace their identities through their purchases