Friday, May 24, 2019

American Colleges Are Now Just Left-Wing Seminaries

Most Americans are not aware how morally and intellectually destructive American colleges—and, increasingly, high schools and even elementary schools—have become. So, they spend tens of thousands after-tax dollars to send their sons and daughters to college.

But today, to send your child to college is to play Russian roulette with their values. There is a good chance your child will return from college alienated from you, from America, from Western civilization, and from whatever expression of any Bible-based religion in which you raised your child.

If you think this is in any way an exaggeration, here is some of what has happened on campuses in recent months:

Harvard University fired law professor Ron Sullivan from his position as faculty dean of Winthrop House, a student residential hall, because he was one of Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers. (He has since resigned from the Weinstein legal team.) Some female Harvard students said they felt “unsafe” with Sullivan as a faculty dean.

Alan Dershowitz, a professor emeritus at Harvard Law, said the decision “may be the worst violation of academic freedom during my 55 year association with Harvard.” Laurence Tribe, also a professor at Harvard Law, said he could not recall a “worse” blunder in his 50 years as a professor there.

Also at Harvard, all-black graduation exercises were initiated. And like most other colleges, Harvard has long allowed an all-black student dorm to exist on campus.

If nothing else, this provides additional proof of the vast difference between liberalism and leftism. That is why liberals such as Dershowitz, Tribe, and numerous liberal writers have condemned Harvard’s cowardly capitulation to a few female students.

Unfortunately for America, however, most liberals will not confront the fact that they have far more to fear from the left than from the right. Conservatives are not the enemy of liberalism; the left is.

In Minnesota, some students at South St. Paul Secondary petitioned the administration to allow students to wear sashes—stoles—with ethnic and LGBT colors to celebrate their identities. As one student said in leftist English, “I’m able to repurpose what was once an obstacle into a source of energy and pride.”

As reported in the Minneapolis Star Tribune: “If they’re not allowed to don the sashes, some students have talked about wearing them anyway, said Naomi Gedey, a Black Pride Organization leader. Gedey added that many immigrant students also hope to wear flags of their nations of origin.”

Other Minnesota schools already allow students “to don so-called ‘identity adornments.'”

Those who still believe that one of the primary purposes of American public (and most private) schools is to Americanize students should know this is no longer the case. On the contrary, most American high schools now celebrate every identity except American identity (which the left brands a euphemism for white supremacy).

Meanwhile, at its commencement next month, the City University of New York will award an honorary doctorate of humane letters to Al Sharpton.

Among the many nonhumane activities Sharpton has been involved in was the infamous Tawana Brawley hoax, in which he fabricated a charge that four white men had raped a young black woman named Tawana Brawley.

Sharpton also runs a phony civil rights organization called the National Action Network, which has collected many millions of dollars from corporations in what essentially amounts to an extortion racket that enables those corporations to buy racial peace.

And Sharpton helped stoke the Jew-hatred that sparked black anti-Jewish riots in 1991. In a book published in 2006, Edward S. Shapiro, a Brandeis University historian, described the riot as “the most serious anti-Semitic incident in American history.”

In Pennsylvania, the Sabold Elementary School in Springfield announced that its principal will no longer say “God bless America” after the Pledge of Allegiance. The school district released a statement two weeks ago stating that the principal saying “God bless America” “violated the law.”

And of course, college students across the country are increasingly taught, often from their first day at college, that being male and female is a choice, not a biological fact.

Other than Hillsdale and a handful of other colleges and religious colleges, the American university has become nothing more than a left-wing seminary.

Buyer beware.


The Myth of Free College

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, or free college. But that reality hasn’t stopped Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts from touting her trillion-dollar-plus plan.

Step one of her plan would cancel most or all of the student loan debt carried by nearly 45 million Americans, up to $50,000 per person as long as their household incomes don’t exceed $250,000. This step alone would result in a one-time cost of $640 billion.

Step two is ensuring students don’t accumulate loan debt ever again by making college “free” like K-12 public schools. Officially dubbed the Universal Free College program, the estimated cost of this part of her plan is a jaw-dropping $1.25 trillion over the next 10 years. But never fear: Warren will pay for it by imposing an Ultra-Millionaire Tax on the rich.

There are several flaws in Warren’s free college scheme, starting with the fiction that her proposed tax on “ultra-millionaires” will actually raise enough money to pay for it.

For example, most European countries have ditched their wealth taxes in large part because they generated so little revenue. So, when the free-college coffers come up short, average taxpayers will be stuck making up the balance—a very real possibility, especially since Warren also has vowed to bankroll her $70 billion-a-year “free” Universal Child Care and Early Learning plan with the same Ultra-Millionaire Tax.

One of the worst elements of Warren’s plan is that college degrees will become about as meaningless as many of today’s high school diplomas.

Americans already spend an average of more than $13,000 per pupil, per year, for every public elementary and secondary school student—almost as much as they spend for each student at public two-year colleges. That kind of money should buy a top-notch education. Yet nearly 75 percent of high school graduates are not deemed college-ready in English, reading, math and science.

If history teaches us anything it’s that we can’t subsidize our way to college affordability. The federal government’s reach into higher education has grown steadily over the past 60 years—and with it college inflation rates, which are about twice as high as general inflation rates. As a result, average tuition and required fees at public two- and four-year institutions have increased by more than 300% since 1963.

Contrary to what Senator Warren claims, the cause of these skyrocketing increases is too much government funding, not too little. Mounting evidence shows that colleges gobble up increases in federal funding, rather than use them to reduce the burden on families and students.

According to one estimate, if colleges actually did use financial aid to lower student costs, a typical four-year college degree would cost about $3,500 less, and overall higher education spending would be about $59 billion lower each year. Other research finds that tuition more than doubled from 1987 to 2010 in response to higher federal student loan limits. Absent those changes, net tuition would have increased by about 16 percent.

Perhaps the greatest cost inherent to Warren’s “free” college plan is nurturing the notion that attending college is an entitlement instead of something earned. Such an entitlement mentality helps explain much of the outrageous behavior transpiring on American college campuses largely on the taxpayers’ dime. No wonder Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman once quipped that higher education should be taxed instead of subsidized to help offset “its negative externalities.”

With federal debt exceeding $22 trillion, Warren’s proposed college free-for-all is another transparent attempt to buy votes by feeding the public’s insatiable appetite for entitlements.


Child Safety Accounts Would Protect School Children in Washington, DC

Thousands of public-school students in the nation’s capital could soon be a whole lot safer at school thanks to new legislation being considered in Congress.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) introduced a bill that would create Child Safety Accounts (CSAs) for public-school students in Washington, DC, which is the only school district under congressional authority.

The idea is a unique reform that Heartland Institute policy analyst Timothy Benson and I recommended in a policy report published last year, Protecting Students with Child Safety Accounts. As Congressman Banks explains:

School safety and the well-being of children is every parent’s number one concern. In today’s complex world, school safety problems have become more prevalent. Unfortunately, too many students are trapped in unsafe schools.

He’s correct. Today more than one in three parents are fearful about their child’s physical safety at school—up significantly since 2013 when just over one in 10 parents expressed such fear, based on results from Phi Delta Kappa’s 2018 national survey. Those fears are justified.

Consider Washington, DC. According to the latest available survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around one in 10 public district high-school students in the District reported that they were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property, bullied at school, electronically bullied, or forced to have sex. Even more, students reported carrying a weapon to school (19 percent), being in a physical fight at school at least once in the past year (16 percent), and attempting suicide (16 percent).

As a result, one in 10 students said they skipped at least one day of school during the previous month because they didn’t feel safe. If students regularly miss school, they put themselves at greater risk of lower academic performance and not graduating high school (see here, here, and here).

Students shouldn’t have to sacrifice their education because they’re afraid for their safety.

Congressman Banks’ legislation (H.R. 2538) would help by making CSAs available to elementary and secondary students facing the previously mentioned types safety issues and more, including gang activity, shootings, drug use, and food safety needs.

Similar to health savings accounts, or HSAs, CSAs are tax-free accounts that parents could use to pay for private-school tuition, tutoring, transportation, and other approved education-related expenses, including therapy to cope with a safety incident. Under Rep. Banks’ plan, students’ CSAs would be worth from 80 to 90 percent of the District’s uniform per student funding formula, depending on their families’ incomes. Based on current formula funding levels, CSAs could range from about $8,500 to $12,000 per student depending on their grade levels and other factors.

To help ensure parents can afford to pay for any eligible expenses above their children’s CSA amounts, Congressman Banks’ plan would also create a tax-credit donation program. Donors could take dollar-for-dollar credits against their District income taxes for contributions to help cover those expenses. Total annual donations would be capped at $100 million, and in any year that they reach 90 percent of the current cap, the limit would be increased by 25 percent the following year.

Last year, Florida became the first state to enact a student safety scholarship program, the Hope Scholarship Program. Yet if Congressman Banks’ CSA plan is enacted, Washington, DC, would be the first jurisdiction in the country to have a student safety education savings account (ESA) program.

Currently, six states have ESA programs, which allow parents of eligible students to use a portion of their children’s state education formula funding to pay for approved education expenses and services—including future expenses such as college tuition in some cases. Eligible students under those programs include children who are from low-income families, have special needs, are military dependents, are in or from the foster-care system, reside on Indian reservations, or who would otherwise have to attend a failing public school.

Unlike scholarships, which parents use to send their children to particular schools, most ESAs work like a type of dedicated-use debit card, which empowers parents to purchase the tutoring, curricula, courses, and other resources they believe best meet the unique educational needs of their children. All ESA programs, including Congressman Banks’ proposed CSAs for District students, have strong oversight to help prevent misspending. Such programs are also tremendously popular.

Nearly eight in 10 American voters favor ESAs, and three in five say they are more likely to vote for elected officials who support expanding education options. Research also finds that private-school students are much less likely than their public-school peers to experience a variety of safety issues, including bullying, fighting, gang activity, and student use of alcohol, drugs, or weapons. Additional research suggests that parental choice programs, including ones similar to Congressman Banks’ proposed CSA program, positively affect students’ mental health and are associated with lower student suicide rates. They also contribute to better, longer-term life outcomes, including lower incarceration rates and unplanned pregnancy rates for low-income urban students.

“This Child Safety Account program will give families choices to pursue educational opportunities that keep their children safe and secure,” says Congressman Banks. “While the scope of this bill is currently restricted to one city, it is my hope that the success of the program inspires more states to adopt similar policies and help children feel safe and free to learn at school.”

That hope could soon become a reality.

So far this year at least 11 pieces of CSA-style legislation have been introduced in nine states: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, Nevada, Oregon, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Add California to that list given the growing grassroots movement behind the School Choice 2020 initiative, which would amend the State Constitution to establish an ESA program for every elementary and secondary school student in the state.

No child should have to wait years at a time or be victimized before his or her parents are empowered to act. Congressman Banks’ proposed Child Safety Accounts program would help District of Columbia parents whose children are most at risk protect them right now.


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