Friday, April 25, 2014

PC Common Core

You'll notice a rather important principle missing in New York state Common Core standards being drafted for grades K-8 – the concept of Liberty. Under the section “Civic Ideals and Practices,” the draft reads, “Students will explore democratic principles such as dignity for all, equality, fairness, and respect for authority and rules, and how those principles are applied to their community.”

However, as Education Action Group's Kyle Olson observes, “What happened to 'liberty'? You know, a word that actually appears in the Declaration of Independence? It's a word that means more than just about any other word in our national history. It refers to personal freedom, and the right of citizens to live their lives without the intrusion of tyrannical government.” Like the type of tyrannical government currently reigning over our vanishing republic.

The draft adds, “Students will examine … how citizens can demonstrate respect for authority.” In leftist speak, that means teaching students to relinquish their rights under the guise of “equality” and “fairness” to undermine Rule of Law.


91.9% of Louisiana Parents Approve of School Choice Program Holder Fought to End

Now, here's a revolutionary thought: school choice leads to happier families. In Louisiana, its school choice program withstood a challenge from Attorney General Eric Holder after a judge refused to side with the Department Of Justice on the issue.

Holder declared war on the state's education program in November of 2013. Now, a new survey shows that the program enjoys almost universal approval from families:

    "The Louisiana Federation for Children and the Black Alliance for Educational Options released their joint "Parental Satisfaction Survey" on Tuesday, which reported overwhelming praise from the program's participants.

    Of the parents surveyed, 91.9 percent of parents said they are satisfied with the program. In addition, 91.6 percent of parents said they are happy with their child's academic progress; 98.7 percent reported that their child feels safe; and 97.6 percent said they and their children feel welcome.....

    The Louisiana Scholarship Program recently survived a months-long legal battle with the Justice Department, following a federal judge's ruling that the program could continue. The DOJ had objected to vouchers on the grounds that they "impede desegregation," even though the majority of kids who receive vouchers are minority students."

Louisiana had become ground zero in the school choice battle - and it seems the side favoring choice is receiving high marks in satisfaction.


More British parents opt for boarding schools despite rise in fees

Rising numbers of British children are being enrolled in boarding schools as parents work longer hours to make ends meet, research has found.

Figures show more than 67,000 pupils are in private boarding schools this year – an increase of one per cent in the last 12 months.

In some cases, parents are being attracted by the appeal of “flexi-boarding” – when children stay at school for few nights a week without making a full-time commitment – particularly for the youngest pupils.

The increase was recorded despite a record rise in fees this year, with the average parent being required to pay almost £29,000, adding more than £1,000 to the annual bill.

It also emerged that the number of foreign pupils being educated in the UK dropped this year, suggesting the overall increase in demand for boarding was driven by British parents.

The disclosure, made in the Independent Schools Council’s 2014 annual census, shows a reverse of a long-term decline in the number of British children given a boarding education.

Experts said the increase reflected the fact that hardworking parents often see boarding as a means of securing a good education without forking out for full-time child care on top.

Janette Wallis, senior editor of The Good Schools Guide, said: “We see increasing numbers of parents with demanding jobs valuing boarding as it makes a teetering work/life balance a bit more manageable.

“Boarding has become much more local, with parents usually living less than 90 minutes from their child’s school.”

Hilary Moriarty, director of the Boarding Schools’ Association, said: “For parents, weekly and flexi-boarding is seen as the friendly and acceptable face of boarding; you still feel in touch with your children without feeling that you’re ‘sending them away’.”

The ISC census found that the overall number of pupils in private education increased from 508,601 to 511,928 this year, although more schools completed the survey this year.

Among those schools that supplied data in both 2013 and 2014, numbers largely “held steady” at 504,362 – down by just 200 pupils in a year.

On this basis, the number of boarding school pupils rose by one per cent – from 66,585 to 67,221 – although that includes a sharp drop in entrants from overseas.

Figures suggest the number of British children in boarding increased by around 4.6 per cent this year.

Nationally, some one-in-six boarders are registered as flexi- or weekly boarders, but that number increases to more than half among children aged 13 or under.

The census also showed:

* Average fees for all types of independent schools increased by 3.9 per cent to £14,994 this year – adding another £700 to most parents’ annual bill;

* Some eight per cent of pupils were given a bursary to attend private schools, up from 7.8 per cent last year, with a total of £324.4m being spent, leading to claims from the ISC that fee assistance made independent education more accessible for middle-income families;

* Private schools educate around seven per cent of pupils nationally, but numbers grow as high as 14 per cent among sixth-formers, rising to around a fifth of 16- to 18-year-olds in London and the south east,

* Independent schools are increasingly diverse, with 28 per cent of children coming from ethnic minorities, up from 26 per cent last year and 23 per cent in 2009;

* The number of children in UK private schools with parents living overseas dropped by more than 10 per cent this year to 23,139, probably as a result of a toughening up of visa requirements;

* Another 11,329 British-based foreigners also enrolled their children in the fee-paying sector – the first time this figure has been published;

* The largest source of foreign pupils was Hong Kong, followed by China, mainland Europe and Russia.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

SCOTUS rules against 'affirmative' action at US universities

The US Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that states can disregard race as a factor in university admissions, in a fresh blow to a legacy of the 1960s civil rights movement.

The 6-2 ruling upheld the constitutionality of a measure passed by referendum in Michigan that disallowed so-called "affirmative" action in college admissions.

Liberal justice Stephen Breyer voted with the conservative majority, and the fourth member of the court's liberal wing, Justice Elena Kagan, had recused herself.

The ruling was the latest to chip away at a practice used to promote racial and ethnic diversity of university student bodies while countering the effects of racial discrimination.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy argued that the case before the court was "not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it."

"There is no authority in the constitution of the United States or in this court's precedents for the judiciary to set aside Michigan laws that commit this policy determination to the voters," he said.

In 2006, Michigan voters approved a measure prohibiting the state's public universities and schools from "discriminating against or granting preferential treatment for any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, colour, ethnicity, or national origin."

Known as Proposition 2, the measure was struck down by an appeals court, and the case reached the Supreme Court.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who credits "affirmative" action for her own rise from her Puerto Rican family's limited circumstances, wrote the dissent, joined by Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Judge Sotomayor argued that the constitution guarantees minorities "meaningful and equal access" to the political process.

"It guarantees that the majority may not win by stacking the political process against minority groups permanently, forcing the minority alone to surmount unique obstacles in pursuit of its goals - here, educational diversity that cannot reasonably be accomplished through race-neutral measures."

By permitting a majority of voters to do just that in Michigan, she contended, "the court ends the debate over race-sensitive admissions policies in Michigan in a manner that contravenes constitutional protections long recognized in our precedents."

The Michigan case comes on the heels of a high court decision last year concerning "affirmative" action at the University of Texas.

In that case, the justices elected not to rule on the constitutionality of using race and ethnicity in admissions, instructing a lower court to take another look at the matter.

"Affirmative" action was first introduced in the early 1960s to combat racial discrimination in government hiring, but has since been the subject of numerous court challenges.


An open letter to the students of Azusa Pacific University

Charles Murray

I was scheduled to speak to you tomorrow. I was going to talk about my new book, “The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead,” and was looking forward to it. But it has been “postponed.” Why? An email from your president, Jon Wallace, to my employer, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), said “Given the lateness of the semester and the full record of Dr. Murray’s scholarship, I realized we needed more time to prepare for a visit and postponed Wednesday’s conversation.”

This, about an appearance that has been planned for months. I also understand from another faculty member that he and the provost were afraid of “hurting our faculty and students of color.”

You’re at college, right? Being at college is supposed to mean thinking for yourselves, right? Okay, then do it. Don’t be satisfied with links to websites that specialize in libeling people. Lose the secondary sources. Explore for yourself the “full range” of my scholarship and find out what it is that I’ve written or said that would hurt your faculty or students of color. It’s not hard. In fact, you can do it without moving from your chair if you’re in front of your computer.

You don’t have to buy my books. Instead, go to my web page at AEI. There you will find the full texts of dozens of articles I’ve written for the last quarter-century. Browse through them. Will you find anything that is controversial? That people disagree with? Yes, because (hang on to your hats) scholarship usually means writing about things on which people disagree.

The task of the scholar is to present a case for his or her position based on evidence and logic. Another task of the scholar is to do so in a way that invites everybody into the discussion rather than demonize those who disagree. Try to find anything under my name that is not written in that spirit. Try to find even a paragraph that is written in anger, takes a cheap shot, or attacks women, African Americans, Latinos, Asians, or anyone else.

But there’s another way to decide whether you would have been safe in my hands if I had spoken at Azusa Pacific. Go to YouTube and search “Charles Murray.” You will get links to dozens of lectures, panel discussions, and television interviews. You can watch Q&A sessions in which I field questions from students like you, including extremely hostile ones. Watch even for a few minutes. Ask yourself if I insult them or lash out. If I do anything except take their questions seriously and answer them accordingly. Ask yourself if I’m anything more dangerous than an earnest and nerdy old guy.

Azusa Pacific’s administration wants to protect you from earnest and nerdy old guys who have opinions that some of your faculty do not share. Ask if this is why you’re getting a college education.


Charles Murray


Meet the Stanford Senior Who Stood Up for Marriage and Against Intolerance

Despite attempts to silence her and like-minded friends, Stanford University senior Judy Romea refused to back down.

Romea, president of a campus group, had hoped to create a civil atmosphere during an all-day conference at Stanford that she helped organize to discuss “marriage, family, and sexual integrity.”  Then the school’s Student Graduate Council defunded the event and slapped her group, the Stanford Anscombe Society, with a hefty “security” fee in an attempt to quash the pro-marriage event.

Romea persevered, though, and led the Stanford Anscombe Society (SAS) to put on a successful conference April 5 called Communicating Values: Marriage, Family & the Media. In an exclusive interview with The Foundry, she discussed what motivated her to push forward while facing uncharitable resistance.

“The whole point of SAS is not to declare political victory when it comes to the issue of same-sex marriage,” Romea said. “That’s a very myopic view. The mission is really to engage each other and show the world what real and valuable relationships are [between] people who agree and disagree.”

Romea, who was born and grew up in Valencia, Calif., founded SAS as a college freshman. The group, named after British philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe, meets weekly to discuss the roles of family, marriage, and sexual integrity in the lives of Stanford students.

Romea says she never expected to be met with hostility by Stanford classmates and student leaders. Instead, she hoped the group would promote a culture of dialogue and tolerance on Stanford’s diverse campus. She hoped to see relationships and conversations thrive.

Romea’s interest in the study of marriage and family began early, she says. A conference held by the Ruth Institute in 2012 first sparked her interest in academic arguments regarding marriage and human sexuality. Even as a high school student, she says, she often talked to friends about the value of stable relationships.

One goal of her group’s conference was to “expose [students] to the intellectual and rational arguments for marriage, as well as [other] tools they have at their disposal with which to communicate their values,” Romea said.

These good intentions apparently didn’t matter to leaders of the Graduate Student Council. Romea, a business major, was buckling down for final exams when the student government group unexpectedly pulled funding for the conference—to her frustration and disappointment.

The student council expressed disapproval with the ideology of the scheduled speakers, several of whom were advocates of marriage as the union of a man and a woman—and oppose redefining marriage. Among them was Ryan T. Anderson, The Heritage Foundation’s William E. Simon fellow, whom the student council claimed March 5 would make some in the campus community “feel threatened.”

To counter the “unsafe space” the student council also said the marriage conference would create, it ordered Romea’s group to provide $5,600 for event security or cancel. After SAS garnered some media attention by publicly demanding the lifting of what Romea called a “tax on free speech,” the university administration “found” sufficient funds to cover security costs.

Romea was struck by the fact that some Stanford students seem to think marriage should be an off-limits topic for her group. The irony to her was that although the lecture forum is designed to be a place where diverse ideas can be expressed, some were disgruntled that invited speakers would oppose the redefinition of marriage. She said:

    "A void in the campus discourse exists regarding marriage, family, and human sexuality. At best, deviations from these values are viewed as strange, while at worst, they’re the result of bigotry and hatred — as we saw with the funding controversy regarding this conference.”

Romea didn’t press ahead alone, though. She attributes the success of the event to the hard work and courage of fellow SAS leaders Elisa Figueroa and James Capps, as well as planning committee members Irene Onyeneho and Josephine Romea (her sister).

Through it all, Romea says, her mother cheered her on. When she thought twice about holding the conference, her mother encouraged her, saying, “Why would you back down when anything that is good requires a lot of sacrifice and a lot of tenacity?” Romea felt her confidence return.

“Standing up for marriage [takes] a commitment to living your life according to your principles,” she said.

Marriage advocates need each other at a time when they are being tarred as bigots or worse, she told The Foundry.

“It’s beautiful to be able to collaborate with other individuals on something like this,” she said, adding: "If the whole controversy has taught me anything, it’s that the fight for marriage and family will be won, not by shouting down the other side, but through teamwork and friendship of the kind demonstrated by the Stanford Anscombe Society’s members and supporters.”


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Islamist plot in Britain: six schools face Ofsted special measures

At least six Birmingham schools at the centre of an alleged Islamic takeover plot are set to be placed in “special measures” by Ofsted in a move that could see their entire leadership removed.

The six schools are implicated in the so-called “Trojan Horse” plot by extremists to “Islamise” secular state education in Birmingham which has allegedly seen the illegal segregation of pupils and discrimination against non-Muslim pupils.

The Telegraph understands the six will be rated “inadequate” by the schools inspectorate after a series of snap inspections over the past few weeks. The label usually leads to “special measures”, which in turn give Ofsted the power to remove senior managers or even close the schools.

Ofsted will also take action, although less drastic, at a further nine schools in the city where the attempted Islamic takeover is less advanced, or where secular head teachers are resisting it. Only one of the 17 schools inspected by Ofsted so far in connection with the alleged plot has received a clean bill of health, although one report is yet to be completed.

One source said: “Almost all of the reports to a greater or lesser extent are pointing out flaws in leadership, management or safeguarding driven by an Islamist political ideology. Sometimes the flaws are light. In some cases they are very severe. Those to be put in special measures are those where [radical] governors are effectively running the school.”

Separately, senior sources at the Department for Education (DfE) say they have established an “overlapping web of connections” in the schools affected, with a “driving force which appears to be explicitly Islamist”. This is despite some prominent figures in Birmingham attempting to cast doubt on the credibility of the allegations.

In the reports, to be published at the same time next month, Ofsted will grade Park View; Golden Hillock; Nansen; Oldknow and Saltley schools in Birmingham as “inadequate” for leadership and management, the lowest possible ranking. A sixth school, Alston, is already in special measures.

Springfield; Adderley; Regents Park; Highfield; Gracelands; Ladypool; Marlborough; Montgomery and Waverley schools will be graded as “requiring improvement” in leadership and management, the second-lowest rank, and given enhanced monitoring and support. No concerns were found at Ninestiles. The report on one further school, Washwood Heath, is still being completed. A number of other schools in Birmingham are likely to be inspected after Easter.

One school on the list has confirmed that it had been targeted. In a message to parents, Adderley said several head teachers had informed the authorities of “malicious and targeted campaigns to remove them” and that attempts have been made “to destabilise the school by a very small but well organised group of individuals”.

It added: “The governors, head teacher, senior leadership team and staff have been robust in ensuring that Adderley remains a multicultural school providing a safe and positive learning environment for all of our 630 children.”

The verdicts of the Ofsted reports are almost certain to mean that Tahir Alam, the hardline Muslim Council of Britain activist accused of being the “Trojan Horse” plot’s ringleader, is removed from his roles as chairman of governors at Park View, chairman of the Park View Educational Trust, which also runs Nansen and Golden Hillock, and from his post as a governor of Highfield. His key allies at many of the schools affected are also likely to be removed. Mr Alam denies any involvement in any plot, calling it a “witch-hunt” and “fabrication”.

A separate report, by inspectors from the DfE, has substantiated many of the allegations. The report, disclosed in The Telegraph on Friday, accused Park View, Nansen and Golden Hillock of illegally segregating pupils, discriminating against non-Muslim students and “restricting” the GCSE syllabus to “comply with conservative Islamic teaching”.

The report said girls at Park View and Golden Hillock were made to sit at the back of the class; some Christian pupils at Golden Hillock were left to “teach themselves” and at Park View a supporter of al-Qaeda was invited to speak at assembly. Aspects of the GCSE curriculum were ignored as un-Islamic, even though needed by pupils for exams.

Lindsey Clark, Park View’s respected executive head, who retired last week, is one of five non-Muslim head teachers in a small area of Birmingham to leave her job in the past six months. The DfE report makes clear that Mrs Clark, who over 11 years took Park View to an Ofsted rating of “outstanding”, had been reduced to a figurehead.

At Oldknow, another school to be placed in special measures, Bhupinder Kondal, the non-Muslim head teacher, was forced from her job despite also achieving an “outstanding” Ofsted rating.

At Springfield, staff told The Telegraph Christopher Webb, the successful secular head teacher, is under “non-stop attack” by radical members of the governing body. Separately, Mr Webb has received death threats.

A small number of individuals linked to either Mr Alam, a Birmingham charity called the al-Hijrah Trust or an online group called Educational Activists are present in most of the schools affected. In messages leaked to The Sunday Telegraph, members of the Educational Activists group discussed how they would pursue an “Islamising agenda” in schools.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, last week controversially appointed Peter Clarke, the former head of counter-terrorism at Scotland Yard, to investigate the issue. Ministers and DfE officials were understood to be frustrated at what one senior figure called “the wilful attempt at every stage to minimise what is happening” by local leaders in Birmingham.

The city council was aware of growing pressure on head teachers almost six months ago, but only acted after an anonymous letter purporting to reveal details of the plot was published. Many teachers have told The Sunday Telegraph their complaints to the council were ignored.

Mark Rogers, the chief executive of the council, claimed only two weeks ago that there was no conspiracy, merely “new communities” raising “legitimate questions and challenges” to the “liberal education system”.

However, the council has now frozen the recruitment of school governors and set up an inquiry of its own.

Ofsted is understood to be highly critical of the council’s performance. However, parents and Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary, said Mr Gove’s policies were also to blame. Many of the schools affected have converted to academies, greatly limiting the local authority’s control over how they are run.


Town's schools urged to fly Union Jack to boost patriotism in pupils with campaign launched by grandson of Bolton's first Indian immigrant

Schools are being urged to fly the Union Jack and sing the national anthem at every assembly as part of a campaign to foster patriotism among the young.

The campaign in Bolton was launched by a Tory councillor whose grandfather was the town’s first Indian immigrant.

It was approved this week despite a Labour councillor questioning whether schools with tight budgets could afford flags and poles.

Schools in the area will also be asked to fly the St George’s cross on April 23, St George’s Day, and the Commonwealth flag in March.

Mudasir Dean said he wanted to seize the Union Flag back from the Far Right and show children it was a symbol people from all backgrounds could celebrate.

‘My grandfather came to Bolton in the 1920s from India,’ he said. ‘He lived here all his life and he was the first Asian to settle in Bolton.

‘Growing up in Bolton, I’ve seen less and less of the Union Flag. It’s been hijacked by the Far Right and it’s time we take that symbol back into mainstream British, Bolton life.’

Councillor Dean said complaints that new immigrants couldn’t settle in Britain was sometimes ‘our own fault’. ‘If we were more patriotic – if we sang our national anthem and flew our flag – and instilled it in our younger generations, they would do,’ he added.

Speaking before Wednesday’s vote, Labour councillor and school governor Chris Peacock questioned the plan on practical grounds.

‘Who will pay for these new flag poles and flags?’ he asked. ‘Schools’ budgets are already stretched. Raising the Union flag won’t raise standards – that should be our priority.’  However the Labour-controlled authority backed the motion, carried with 34 members in favour, four against and 11 abstentions.

The council will now write to all schools in the area and ask them to consider flying the flag and incorporating a performance of God Save the Queen into the school day.

But Mr Peacock said he remained opposed, telling the BBC: ‘If you want to inspire patriotism amongst our young people, show the clips from the Olympics again.’


The Asian ceiling in elite schools revisited

Charles Murray

Last December, I wrote at length in this space about Asian-Americans as the new Jews. My point, drawing on a detailed, data-driven analysis by Ron Unz, was that the Ivies have converged on about 16%, plus or minus a few percent, as the appropriate proportion of Asian-Americans in their institutions, even though collateral evidence tells us that a fair proportion based on their qualifications would be much higher. An article published last week in the New York Times drives this point home from a new perspective.

The title of the article is “Confessions of an Application Reader: Lifting the Veil on the Holistic Process at the University of California, Berkeley,” and it is required reading for anyone who wants to understand how admission to elite universities works. It reveals what everyone involved in the admissions offices of elite universities has long known: “Holistic admissions” is admirable in theory and corrupt in practice when a school has an underlying agenda. The subjectivity of the holistic process permits the school to produce whatever admissions outcomes it wants without the embarrassment of coming right out and saying what it’s doing.

The article is fascinating on its own, but what caught my attention was the contrast between the treatment of Asian-American applicants in the holistic process and the admissions results. By California state law, race and ethnicity are not supposed to be considered in the state’s university system. But as the article makes clear, the holistic process de facto downgrades the role of academic qualifications (where Asians have their greatest advantage) in the admissions decisions, so that “underrepresented minorities” (Latinos and African Americans) can get an edge. And yet, in 2012 Asian-Americans still constituted 43% of the freshman enrollment, about four times their representation in the California population of 15–19 year olds.

That a group can have the deck stacked against it and still produce the results that Asian-American applicants got is dazzling. What would have been the percentage of Asian-Americans in Berkeley’s freshman class if academic qualifications were decisive? Sixty percent? Eighty percent? There’s no way of knowing, but it would surely have been a lot higher than 43.

California has a higher concentration of Asians than the rest of the nation, so we shouldn’t expect the Ivies to have as high a proportion of Asian applicants. But the same is not true of Stanford, just forty miles down the road from Berkeley. Same region of the same state. Even more prestigious than Berkeley. Even more of a magnet for the most ambitious, academically superior students. And yet just 19% of its freshman in 2012 were Asian-Americans, barely higher than the Ivies’ average of 16% and less than half the percentage at Berkeley.

There is no benign explanation for this disparity, unless benign includes “We think a ceiling on Asian-Americans in our student body is appropriate.” That’s what America’s elite universities have decided, and it’s time to demand that they justify it publicly. So let’s have that much-touted conversation about race, but let’s do it about Asian-Americans. Here is the sub rosa rationale for the Asian-American ceiling:

“Yes, they get high test scores and grades in high school, because that’s all they and their ambitious parents care about. They aren’t intellectually curious. They don’t add to classroom discussions. They don’t have any interests outside academics or maybe music. They don’t come from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. They don’t add as much to the university environment as other kids whose test scores and grades aren’t as high.”

I didn’t write that down because I believe it, or because I think any admissions officer in any elite university in the country will defend it in public, but because something like that logic is the only justification for a ceiling on Asian-American admissions. Otherwise, it’s just discrimination against hard-working, high-achieving young people because of the color of their skin. And that would be despicable.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Professor suspended for Game Of Thrones shirt that threatened community college kingdom

Confirming yet again that the halls of academia are no place for interpreting things, a New Jersey professor was suspended over a Game Of Thrones T-shirt whose tagline—the Daenerys Targaryen quote, “I Will Take What Is Mine With Fire & Blood”—was interpreted by his colleague as a threat. The incident came about after Francis Schmidt, who teaches art and animation at Bergen Community College, posted a photo of his daughter doing a yoga pose in the shirt to his Google+ account, where it was seen by the people who actually use Google+, such as easily riled deans. Said dean reportedly called for an emergency meeting, concerned that this small, unsettlingly agile girl in a T-shirt was Schmidt’s way of announcing his intention to claim all the spoils a New Jersey community college has to offer, by force if necessary.

In an action reminiscent of the swift, decisive measures that saved so many Wisconsin students from being killed by a Firefly poster, Schmidt was immediately placed on leave without pay—thus giving him plenty of time to marshal an army and violently take his rightful place as the King of Bergen Community College. But, ever crafty in his machinations for power, Schmidt instead tried explaining that the “fire and blood” tagline is a popular one, demonstrating that it had more than 4 million hits online. He also demanded to know what, exactly, was threatening about it, only to be told that “fire” could be interpreted as an allusion to “AK-47s.” “But fire refers to dragons!” Schmidt wisely did not protest, valuing the element of surprise.

Schmidt was then told, before he could return, he would have to be cleared in a psychiatric exam, as has prevented so many a bloody coup. In the meantime, the college released a statement defending its actions by citing the number of school shootings that have happened in 2014 already, and reminding that it must investigate “all situations where a member of its community… expresses a safety or security concern.”

As of press time, Bergen Community College remains vulnerable to dragons… and Francis Schmidt waits.


British schools 'use open days to try and put off undesirables' from applying for a place

State schools are using open mornings to vet children and their parents in an attempt to discourage applications from potential troublemakers [blacks, mainly], according to a teaching union.

Senior staff are said to be judging families and deterring those they do not like the look of from putting their child’s name down for a place.

It is claimed they are applying subtle pressure to parents and suggesting ‘this might not be the school for you’.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said schools are increasingly using ‘backdoor selection’ techniques to try to improve classroom behaviour.

Some heads are weeding out potential undesirables – perhaps those who do not appear middle-class – before they apply, while others are persuading parents to withdraw unruly pupils instead of resorting to expulsions.

Speaking ahead of the union’s annual conference in Birmingham, Miss Keates described what she called ‘gaming in the system’.

She said some schools are deliberately identifying people ‘who are potentially going to be troublesome’ on open mornings.

‘We’ve come across practices at some schools when they’re vetting the new intake, as it were,’ she said. ‘They’re having events on two or three Saturday mornings and saying in order to get a place you’ll have to attend these. For some parents, for a start, that’s not possible to do.

‘When the parents are coming, we’ve had reports of schools identifying parents and families and then conversations being had by senior managers saying ‘‘this might not be the school for you’’.

‘They’re judging the family when they see them. They’re talking about ‘‘this is what the school will do, what are your expectations of the school? This is what we expect. We expect you to buy this, to be providing this for your child and to sign this (home/school) contract’’.

‘You’re getting some parents who just feel they can’t meet what they’re being expected to do.’

Miss Keates said complaints about the open day tactic had been growing. Referring to the conversations senior staff have with parents, she added: ‘The anecdotes we’ve got are that they’re along the lines of ‘‘you’re not from the right background for the school’’. That’s come from teachers who have been uncomfortable about the process.’

Miss Keates said heads are also carrying out ‘hidden exclusions’.

She added: ‘This is a sort of covert approach, where parents are called in and told ‘‘I don’t think this is really the school for your child, think about a move, your child’s going to have no success at this school because of their behaviour ... They’re put under pressure.

‘The accountability system means you have to say how many children you’ve excluded. If you’ve got high levels, that leads to a look at the whole of your behaviour management. What you’re getting is gaming in the system – not to meet the needs of pupils but to meet the needs of the accountability system.’


Santorum on Common Core

Rick Santorum

From its beginning, the Common Core State Standards initiative has flown under the radar. Its funding, its implementation, and the substance of the standards it proposes have received little public attention, but all of them are questionable.

What troubles me the most is how fast these standards were adopted and how little transparency there was in the process. Not one state legislature voted on the Common Core standards. In the forty-five states where they have been adopted, it was by an act of the governor, the state secretary of education, or the state board of education. The people most affected by this enormous policy change—parents and teachers—never had a chance to weigh in.

We have seen the failures of No Child Left Behind. Why would we hastily embrace a new set of national standards that further complicate education with little promise of improving our children’s chances at success?

The Home School Legal Defense Association points out that the U.S. Department of Education enticed states to jump on the Common Core train quickly by offering early adopters federal funds from the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program.

Diane Ravitch of NYU, a historian of education who has served as a policy analyst in both Republican and Democratic administrations, is a stern critic of Common Core. In a speech last January she voiced her concerns, which include the following:

- “From the outset, the Common Core standards were marked by the absence of public participation, transparency, or educator participation. In a democracy, transparency is crucial, because transparency and openness build trust. Those crucial ingredients were lacking.”

- “Some states—like Kentucky–adopted the Common Core standards sight unseen. Some—like Texas—refused to adopt them sight unseen. Some—like Massachusetts—adopted them even though their own standards were demonstrably better and had been proven over time.”

- “Early childhood educators are nearly unanimous in saying that no one who wrote the standards had any expertise in the education of very young children. More than 500 early childhood educators signed a joint statement complaining that the standards were developmentally inappropriate for children in the early grades. The standards, they said, emphasize academic skills and leave inadequate time for imaginative play.”

- “There is something about the Common Core standards and testing, about their demand for uniformity and standardization, that reeks of early twentieth century factory-line thinking. There is something about them that feels obsolete.”

While some states are beginning to retreat on implementation of these standards, many are not, and many more Americans don’t even know what the Common Core standards are since there was so little public debate in their adoption. I want to lend my voice to slowing this process down and stopping any more top-down, nationalized education standards.

If you want to stop Common Core, here’s what you can do right now:

- Read up on Common Core. Visit the Heritage Foundation and HSLDA websites, which offer lots of valuable information about Common Core.

- If you are a parent, call your school district administration and ask them if they are implementing Common Core standards. Ask for a copy of their Common Core standards policy.

- Attend a school board meeting in your community and ask about Common Core.

- Write to your state and federal legislators and tell them you oppose funding Common Core.

If you think Common Core is too big to stop, consider the story of two moms in Indiana—Heather Crossin and Erin Tuttle—who noticed a change in the difficulty of their children’s homework. They started paying more attention and took action—action that ultimately led to Indiana’s retreat from Common Core. Check out Hoosiers Against Common Core to learn more about their efforts.

We all know that our country’s public education system isn’t working, and we all want to improve opportunities for our children, but more government intervention is not the answer. Instead, parents, teachers, school districts, and local communities should be making the important decisions about education.

Our children need to finish school with the values and the knowledge to work hard, serve their communities, and prosper. Those values and that knowledge won’t be instilled by the federal government, Common Core, or No Child Left Behind. They won’t be instilled even by standards set at the state level. They come from parents, who should have control over the education of their children.

Let’s start a broad movement to put parents back in charge of the educational system. Fighting Common Core and other top-down education reforms is a good start.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Pushback Continues: States Grow Increasingly Wary of Common Core

Common Core is on the ropes. More and more states are pulling back from the national standards as the 2014–15 school year implementation deadline looms near.

In Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal (R)—formerly a Common Core supporter—is now encouraging the legislature to remove the state from the Common Core aligned Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers (PARCC) test. And if they don’t act, he will.

Jindal’s new stance comes after eight members of the Louisiana State House of Representatives sent him a letter, informing him of his prerogative to opt out of the standards and encouraging him to do so. As The New Orleans Advocate reported:

    "Gov. Bobby Jindal said Monday that a gubernatorial order for the state to drop controversial Common Core tests is a ‘very viable option’ if state lawmakers fail to act. Jindal made the comment in response to a letter from eight House members who said the governor can opt the state out of the exams and should do that… ‘We believe you have the authority, as governor, under the 2010 PARCC memorandum of understanding, to opt out of the consortium,’ state Rep. Brett Geymann, (R–Lake Charles), and seven other legislators wrote."

In a statement released on Monday Jindal said,

    "We share the concerns of these [anti-Common Core] legislators and also of parents across Louisiana. We’re hopeful that legislation will move through the process this session that will address the concerns of parents or delay implementation until these concerns can be addressed. We think this course of action outlined in the legislators’ letter remains a very viable option if the Legislature does not act."

But as The Times-Picayune reports,

    "On a practical level, there is some question as to whether Jindal can unilaterally tear Louisiana away from the PARCC consortium, in which 16 states plus Washington D.C. participate. [Louisiana Superintendent] John White and Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education [BESE] president Chas Roemer said their permission is also required to leave the consortium, and both White and Roemer—who also avidly supports Common Core—are unwilling to do so."

Meanwhile, this week in South Carolina, State Superintendent Mick Zais officially withdrew his state from the Common Core aligned Smarter Balanced (SBAC) tests.  In a letter to the State Board of Education, Zais wrote:

    "I want to have a high quality assessment that meets the specific needs of South Carolina, at a competitive price. If we continue to focus only on Smarter Balanced, we lose any opportunity to consider alternatives….

    In consideration of the foregoing, and the discovery that I have the authority to withdraw South Carolina from its status as a governing state of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, and after full consultation with the Governor’s Office and appropriate members of the General Assembly, I am informing you that I am exercising that authority."

Oklahoma, too, is currently in a battle over Common Core. The state senate passed a bill earlier this month downgrading the state’s involvement with the national standards, although there is some difference of opinion as to whether it would fully remove Oklahoma from the standards, or merely change the name of the standards.

Governor Mary Fallin (R), a supporter of Common Core and chair of the National Governor’s Association which helped develop the standards, said in a statement that she “support[s] passing legislation that increases classroom rigor and accountability while guaranteeing that Oklahoma public education is protected from federal interference…”

Meanwhile, the Missouri House of Representatives passed their bill to find a Common Core replacement.

“We’re going to create the process to have Missouri standards and Missouri assessments,” State Rep. Kurt Bahr (R), who introduced the measure, stated. The proposal requires that by October 1, 2014 the state board must develop new academic standards by the following October 2015, in place of the Common Core, and adopt and implement these standards by the 2016-17 school year.

Fifteen states have now made strides in halting or downgrading their involvement in the standards. Last month, Indiana became the first state to exit Common Core. This is promising momentum in the effort of states to reclaim their educational decision-making authority.


Nebraska School Gives Most Idiotic Advice Ever to Deal with Bullies

A school in Lincoln, Nebraska is wiping some major egg off its face after a horrible bullying advice flyer was sent home with kids.

Zeman Elementary School fifth-graders were recently sent home with a flyer to help teach them how to act if they're being bullied. It's more shitty than you can possibly ever imagine. Here's just a few of the highlights:

Rule #7: Do not tell on bullies. The number one reason bullies hate their victims, is because the victims tell on them. Telling makes the bully want to retaliate. Tell an adult only when a real injury or crime (theft of something valuable) has occurred. Would we keep our friends if we tattled on them?

Rule #8: Don't be a sore loser.

Rule #9: Learn to laugh at yourself and not get "hooked" by put-downs. Make a joke out of it or agree with the put-down. For example: "If you think I'm ugly, you should see my sister!"

Were these rules written by Kim Jong-il before he died? That's the only reasonable explanation for how this kind of bullshit could exist. "Do not tell on bullies" might be the most terrifying, stupid thing I've ever seen a school try and impose on young minds. I can't even bother with a line-by-line breakdown of what's wrong with all of the points in this flyer, because honestly I think all of you are way too smart for that. Just like I don't have to tell you what a serious issue bullying is and how awful the consequences can be.

These "rules" shouldn't be labeled as advice for dealing with bullies. They should be called "Ways We Can Get You Goddamn Kids to Act So We Never Have to Deal With Your Problems Ever." Also—did no one at this school give a second thought to the fact that children might read these rules and think this is how they should deal with bullies in their home life? Is someone in your family verbally or physically abusing you? Laugh it off! Make a joke about how ugly your sister is!

Don't worry though, after being inundated with outraged parents, the school district responded and apologized, with a portion of a letter written by the school's principal:

A flyer that contained inaccurate information regarding how to handle bullying situations was sent home with Zeman Elementary School fifth-graders.


Our educators at Zeman Elementary School work hard to provide accurate and appropriate lessons and education for our students in how to handle bullying situations. The flyer was sent home with good intentions, unfortunately, it contained advice that did not accurately reflect LPS best practices regarding response to bullying incidents.

The post also included a link to a better, far less shitty anti-bullying fact sheet (which apparently no one thought to Google before making this terrible flyer).

Some parents (unsurprisingly) are completely unsatisfied with this response written by a public information officer probably making six figures a year to cover the school's ass. Parents chimed in to remind the school that a Facebook post which requires the same effort as me telling people I got new lawn chairs isn't really good enough:

Ok so parents got a letter. Good start, but not the most important aspect of this! My question is: What have the students who were given bad information been told? Have they all been instructed that this was bad information and been given good information? Or is that being left to the parents?

Yes, this is the only time when the phrase "what about the children?" isn't actually all that eye-roll inducing. The district responded to parents on Facebook, stating that teachers and counselors will be addressing the issue in the future.

But perhaps the best response to the whole ordeal belongs to one Facebook participant: "1970 called, they want their flier back."


British State schools isolate non-Muslims

Schools in Birmingham are illegally segregating pupils, discriminating against non-Muslim students and restricting the GCSE syllabus to “comply with conservative Islamic teaching”, an official report leaked to The Telegraph discloses.

Department for Education inspectors said that girls in a school at the centre of the so-called “Trojan Horse” plot were forced to sit at the back of the class, some Christian pupils were left to “teach themselves” and an extremist preacher was invited to speak to children.

The report, into three schools in the city, follows weeks of controversy over the alleged plot to “Islamise” secular schools in Birmingham and will lead to calls for intervention. The report focuses on Park View School and its sister schools, Golden Hillock and Nansen, the only primary of the three. Inspectors found that Park View practised forced and discriminatory sex segregation and has “restricted” GCSE subjects “to comply with conservative Islamic teaching”.

Core elements of the GCSE syllabus were missed out as “un-Islamic” and an extremist preacher with known al-Qaeda sympathies and anti-Semitic views was invited to speak with children. At Golden Hillock, there was discrimination against non-Muslims, the report found. Its handful of Christian students “have to teach themselves” in one GCSE subject after the teacher “concentrated on the students who were doing the Islamic course”.

At Nansen, Year 6 children, aged 10 and 11, received no teaching at all in the arts, humanities or music.

The document, classified “official-sensitive”, describes the results of inspections of the schools last month by officials from the DfE. All three are supposedly non-faith schools run by the Park View Educational Trust.

Allegations that radical Muslims were seeking to “Islamise” secular schools in Birmingham first emerged publicly last month in a leaked letter, describing an operation purportedly named “Trojan Horse”.

The letter supposedly described how activists could stir up Muslim parents to oust secular headteachers. Park View and its chairman of governors, Tahir Alam, were named in the letter as being at the centre of the plot. Mr Alam and the school have furiously denied the claims as “fictitious”, “Islamophobic” and a “witch-hunt”.

However, the leaked report substantiates many of the claims made against the school. It accuses Park View of 20 separate breaches of the law, the schools’ funding agreement with the DfE, and the Academy Schools Handbook.

The inspectors found that, contrary to its denials, Park View did practise forced and discriminatory gender segregation, with “boys sitting towards the front of the class and girls at the back or around the sides”.

The school has always claimed that any separation of the sexes was voluntary. However, the report says: “Students told us they were required to sit in the places which they were given by teachers.” This constituted “non-compliance with the Equality Act” and potentially “less favourable treatment for girls”. There was entirely separated teaching, in separate rooms, for some subjects, the report says.

The small number of Christian or non-Muslim pupils also suffered discrimination, the report says.

At Golden Hillock, five Christian students in Year 11 “have to teach themselves” in one GCSE subject, religious education, because the teacher gave all his or her time “to the students who are doing the Islamic course”.

Sheikh Shady al-Suleiman, an extremist preacher who “is known to extol... the stoning of homosexuals, anti-Semitic views [and is] sympathetic to al-Qaeda”, was invited to address students at Park View, the inspectors found.

The core curriculum at the two secondary schools had been Islamised, with GCSE subjects “restricted to comply with conservative Islamic teaching”.

Children told the inspectors that in biology the teacher “briefly delivered the theory of evolution to comply with the syllabus”, but told students that “this is not what we believe”.

In biology, the inspectors also found that “topics such as body structure and the menstrual cycle were not covered in class, though pupils needed them for the GCSE exam . . . students told us that as Muslims they were not allowed to study matters such as reproduction with the opposite sex”. At Park View, a “madrassah curriculum” was followed in personal, health and social education, the report said.

Though all the schools are supposed to be secular, the inspectors said they were not sufficiently welcoming to those of other faiths or no faith, with students at Park View encouraged to “begin and end each lesson with a prayer” and loudspeakers used to “broadcast the call for prayer across the school”.

The report added that the respected non-Muslim headteacher was marginalised, and female staff at one of the schools were treated in a “rude and dismissive” way.

Teaching standards and children’s safety were placed at risk after the schools’ management recruited close relatives, without adequate teaching experience or proper background checks, to key leadership posts.

At Golden Hillock, any discussion of sexual orientation or intimacy was banned, affecting “the broad and balanced teaching of many subjects, including art and English literature”, the inspectors found.

At Nansen, there were “no lessons in the humanities, arts or music” for one entire year, Year 6, and only “limited” teaching in Year 5. Arabic, however, was compulsory for all students — almost unheard of at a primary school.

Female staff at the schools were discriminated against, the report says. “One of the senior leaders [at Nansen] interviewed reported that she had never met a governor or been invited to a governing body meeting, although the male senior leader with similar responsibilities was invited to every meeting”.

At Golden Hillock, three members of staff told inspectors that governors were “rude to women and dismissive of their input” and that some governors “will not shake the hands of female senior leaders”.

The report makes clear that Park View’s most senior female leader, the non-Muslim executive headteacher, Lindsey Clark, had been reduced to a figurehead, marginalised to the extent that she “was unaware of the names of some of the more recent appointments to the senior leadership team” at her own school. Last week, Mrs Clark retired.

All three schools were in reality run by Mr Alam, who had an “inappropriate day-to-day role in the running of the schools” and who received undeclared four-figure payments from them as a “consultant”, the report states.

At Nansen the deputy headteacher, Razwan Faraz, “was appointed deputy only three years after [achieving] qualified teacher status”, the report says. No references from outside the schools were taken up for him.

As The Telegraph revealed last month, Mr Faraz, the brother of a convicted terrorist, is the administrator of a group of teachers, governors and school consultants called Educational Activists which pursues what he calls an “Islamising agenda” in Birmingham schools.

Mr Alam, a leading activist in the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), has a number of hardline views. In evidence for the MCB to the UN’s high commissioner for human rights in 2008, he said he would “caution against advocating that desegregation [in schools] should be actively pursued” and stressed the “obligatory nature” of the hijab for Muslim women and girls.

The disclosures came as Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary, prepared to make a strong attack on “divisive” attempts to impose religious values on secular schools.

Speaking at the NASUWT union conference in Birmingham, he was due to say: “We cannot have narrow, religious motives which seek to divide and isolate dictating state schooling. We cannot have headteachers forced out, teachers undermined, curricula rewritten and cultural or gender-based segregation.

“Indeed, it is more important than ever in a modern, multi-cultural city like this one that schooling serves to unite, not fracture communities.”

A spokesman for Park View Educational Trust said: “This is a confidential draft report which the trust is entitled to respond to within a given timescale and it should not have been made public. We are extremely disappointed that our entitlement to confidentiality has been breached and we will not comment any further.”


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Kids being used as guinea pigs for tests

It’s easy to experiment on schoolchildren, because they are a captive and vulnerable audience. States require all children to attend school, and once there the kids can be forced to do all sorts of things, aided by the fact that parents are rarely in class to monitor what’s going on.

The latest scheme is the field testing of Common Core assessments. This spring, more than four million kids will be required to spend hours on tests that have little connection to what they learned in class this year and will provide their teachers and schools no information about what the kids know.

“We already have an assessment that’s working perfectly fine,” said Bill Gillmeister, a Tantasqua, Massachusetts school board member who voted to let parents opt their kids out of the tests despite protests from the state department of education. “This is a duplication that is completely unnecessary and it’s just a waste of resources. And I don’t want my kids to participate when we’re not going to get anything out of it. My kids are being tested to death.”

Who benefits from turning children into forced test subjects? Testing organizations, which essentially have been given free rein to use children as experimental lab rats for new national math and English tests. The two organizations putting out these experimental Common Core tests — using federal funds and under close federal monitoring — are called Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced.

Access to millions of children to try out experimental designs is a central planning bureaucrat’s dream come true, and it has been aided and abetted by the very people who continue to promise us they are advocates for the children. Luckily for them, they can force millions of kids to do their bidding, even over parents’ objections.

Parents who object to this scheme face bullying and harassment from public officials. From New York to Denver to California, some schools are responding by forcing kids who opt out to sit at their desks and do nothing during the several-hour tests. Normal people call that a “time out,” and it is a punishment.

Sixth-grader Sarah Johnson, of Denver, refused to take the test. But when she went back to school, staff refused to let her into class, reported Chalkbeat Colorado, an education news website. Sarah’s mother, Susan, returned to the school and fetched her daughter, angry that Sarah had been “coerced” and pushed around by grown-ups. School officials said they were merely doing what the state Department of Education had advised.

Zoe Morris, a North Carolina fifth grader, more than a year ago decided taking Common Core tests goes against her conscience. So when her father informed her school principal Zoe would not take these tests, he found himself having to discuss the issue with the school’s lawyer. Eventually, Zoe did sit for a 2013 test, but she refused to enter anything on it. That got her marked a 0 on the test, which by state law must constitute 20 percent of her final grade. Zoe is an all-As student who has been invited to apply for the Duke Talent Identification Program.


Union thugs in Maryland

The Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) is engaging in extreme bullying tactics against a local teachers union trying to disassociate from the state union and the NEA, according to local news reports from Maryland’s monoblogue.

As previously reported on, the Wicomico County Education Association (WCEA) is scheduled to hold a vote on April 28th and 29th on changes to the teachers association bylaws, removing the WCEA’s mandatory association with the state union.  Needless to say, the MSEA isn’t going let this vote happen without consequences.

In response to the impending vote, loyalists to the state union secretly entered the WCEA’s offices, changed the locks and security codes, altered office equipment, and fired the WCEA’s sole employee, all in violation of the law and the governing documents of the WCEA, according to WCEA leadership.

This response is akin to the bully tactics of a neighborhood gangster after a local business misses its latest “protection” payment—but instead of “protection” extortion, the state union is ensuring that it won’t lose county teachers’ annual dues in excess of $500,000. It appears the MSEA is making an example of Wicomico Country teachers, lest any other small county teachers decide they don’t need to pay half a million dollars or more to a politically-charged, scandal-ridden state union.

The disassociation vote is still scheduled to commence as planned. The president of the WCEA, Kelly Stephenson, announced the following on the organization’s website:

“On April 15, 2014, Gary Hammer et al., entered the WCEA offices, changed the locks and codes, removed or altered office equipment and purported to illegally fire the Association’s only employee. These actions were not taken in accordance with the governing documents of WCEA or in accordance with the law.

“The democratically elected leadership of WCEA would like everyone to know that we are continuing to exercise the duties of the office. We will not be bullied and these actions will not affect the business affairs of the Association. Member services, including member representation and contract negotiations with the Wicomico County Board of Education, will continue unchanged. Further, this attempt to subvert the democratic process will not succeed: on April 28th and 29th, the Association’s vote on Bylaws changes will proceed, and members will be able to decide for themselves whether to become self-governing.”

Americans for Limited Government president Nathan Mehrens noted that Wicomico County would be joining the union representing Michigan’s Rosscommon Area Public Schools in breaking away from the influence of the state and national unions

Mehrens commended the effort in the rural Maryland county located on the state’s eastern shore saying,: “As Wicomico County teachers continue to stand up against the shameful tactics of the Maryland State Education Association, we’re hopeful that these blatant intimidation tactics fail to stop local teachers from acting in their best interests.”


How political correctness will kill an easy way to identify more of our most talented students

The United States’ economy desperately needs all the scientific, engineering, and IT geniuses it can find. One of the most important functions that the SAT can serve is to identify young Americans with that kind of intellectual potential.

For many years, the scholarly literature has indicated that we have been missing a lot of that talent because one of its key components, spatial ability, is not identified by the verbal component of the SAT and only partially identified by the math component. The current best guess is that we’re failing to identify about half of students within the top one percent of spatial ability. That estimate comes from an important new study by scholars at Vanderbilt University about to be published in Psychological Science and already summarized in the New York Times.

The good news is that IQ tests have accurately measured spatial ability for decades and the items to do so could easily be incorporated into the SAT. The bad news is that it’s extremely unlikely that the College Board, which administers the SAT, will have the nerve to do so. Why? Because the largest gender differences and the largest ethnic differences are found in the subtests that measure spatial skills. Here’s the dilemma facing the top brass at the College Board: if they add a spatial component to go with their math and verbal components, they will indeed identify lots of extremely talented students whose potential is underestimated by the existing components of the SAT. But that spatial component will also show larger gender and ethnic differences than the other components (if you’re curious, the big winners from such a revision of the SAT would be Asians and males). What do you suppose the chances are that the College Board will be willing to take the heat for such a result? If you want to make a bet, I’ll take zero and you can have everything else.