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.


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