Friday, May 30, 2014

Duke University appears to have learned nothing

After their unjust treatment of their Lacrosse team cost them millions, you would think they would pull their horns in

An Australian student accused of sexual assault is suing Duke University after the elite US college banned him from his May graduation.

Lewis McLeod, a former Sydney Grammar School student and member of Duke's soccer team, says without his degree he can't take up a Wall Street job offer, will be unable to renew his US visa and will be forced to return to Australia.

Police in Durham, North Carolina, investigated an alleged November 14 rape and decided not to charge him with a crime.

However, the university's disciplinary panel conducted its own investigation, found Mr McLeod guilty and expelled him, according to North Carolina TV station WRAL.

Mr McLeod, 23, met the 18-year-old female student at a popular university bar, Shooters, and went back to Mr McLeod's Sigma Nu fraternity house.

Mr McLeod alleged they had sex and it was consensual, while the woman said it was not.

A Durham County Superior Court judge will rule on Mr McLeod's case.


Common Core: Raising the bar-barians

“Barbarians at the gate.” That’s what Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal called opponents of Common Core national standards earlier this month. His remarks are symptomatic of just how far elected officials within and outside Arizona have strayed from our Constitution, which doesn’t even contain the word “education.”

Supporters claim Common Core will provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students should know to be prepared for college and their future careers. On the contrary, many experts serving on Common Core review committees warn that academic rigor was compromised for the sake of political buy-in from the various political interest groups involved—including teachers unions.

Unsurprisingly, the curriculum is being used to advance a partisan political agenda, showcasing one-sided labor union, ObamaCare, and global warming materials, along with more graphic, adult-themed books under the auspices of promoting diversity and toleration. But the politicization doesn’t stop there.

Non-academic, personal information is being collected through federally funded Common Core testing consortia about students and their parents, including family income, parents’ political affiliations, their religion, and students’ disciplinary records—all without parental consent. That information, including Social Security numbers of students in at least one state, is being shared with third-party data collection firms, prompting a growing number of parents to opt their children out of Common Core.

They’re not alone. Among the 45 states that adopted Common Core, Indiana recently became the first one to reverse course and implement state standards instead. This decision earned a threatening letter from the U.S. Department of Education about withholding funds and revoking Indiana’s waiver from onerous federal No Child Left Behind Act mandates.

Common Core is publicized as a state-led, voluntary initiative, but in reality it’s an offer states can’t refuse if they want their share of billions of federal dollars for education programs.

So much for Common Core being “voluntary” or “state-led.” So much, too, for the notion that federal education aid, which historically has averaged at around just 10 percent of all education funding, is “free.”

It’s a sad state of affairs when Americans striving to rid their children’s schools of educational barbarism are vilified for wanting to end federal intrusion in education. Elected state officials like Superintendent Huppenthal should recall that for decades the feds have been effectively bribing them with additional cash (which actually comes from their own constituents’ pockets) and far-fetched promises, including these whoppers:

    By 1984 they will eliminate illiteracy (p. 35). That didn’t work.

    By 2000 high school graduation rates would reach 90 percent. Nope. Wrong again.

    By 2000 again American students were supposed to be global leaders in math and science. Well, not so much based on recent results.

    Finally, by 2014 all students will be proficient in reading and math. Not even close.

Over-promising and under-delivering seems to be the legacy of the federal government’s “leadership” in education. With virtually no exceptions, major programs of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), currently dubbed No Child Left Behind (NCLB), have not worked after decades of tinkering.

One Senator from Arizona certainly saw this coming. Nearly 60 years ago U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater opposed the National Defense Education Act of 1958, which included 12 federal mandates on the states—a regulatory pittance by 21st century standards. He rightly predicted that “federal aid to education invariably means federal control of education” (p. 76, emphasis original).

Children need to learn the basics, but there are better ways to accomplish that goal than embracing a national curriculum developed by Washington.

Parental choice programs educate students to high standards, without limiting the diverse schooling options needed to meet their unique, individual needs. Importantly, unlike accountability initiatives involving rigid federal mandates, all parental choice schools face immediate rewards for success or consequences for failure, since parents are empowered to enroll or transfer their children in schools as they see fit.

Ultimately, Common Core rests on the faulty premise that a single, centralized entity knows what’s best for all 55 million students nationwide. Raising the education bar starts with putting the real experts in charge: students’ parents.


WA elementary school teacher accused of `pay to potty' scheme that caused kids to wet pants

Schoolchildren in Washington state have said their third-grade teacher forced them to pay to use the bathroom, which caused at least two children to wet their pants.

The unidentified teacher at Mill Plain Elementary School in Vancouver allowed children to earn Monopoly play money through good behavior and performance, reported WRIC-TV.

The students could spend that play money on toys, treats, or restroom breaks.

Two parents complained last week that their children wet themselves because they spent their play money on treats and couldn't "afford" to use the restroom.

"My daughter finally told me, `We have to pay to use the bathroom,'" said parent Merchon Ortega. "Nobody should have to pay to use the bathroom."

Jasmine Alayadhi said her daughter spent her money on popcorn so she wouldn't feel left out while her friends ate snacks.

"So she tried to hold it," Alayadh said. "She said it hurt so bad, the pain was so bad, she goes, `I just had to let it go.'"

Officials with the Evergreen School District are investigating their claims, but they said teachers are given some discretion in overseeing their students.

"It's all part of how they manage the classroom, and so that was the process that was decided upon," said district spokeswoman Gail Spolar.

Students have designated bathroom breaks during the day, but teachers are permitted to monitor their bathroom use during class time.

School officials said students should not be denied restroom access.

An Oregon elementary school canceled a similar policy for its students in January after parents complained, although teachers at Cascades Elementary School in Lebanon are still permitted to withhold recess time from students who use the restroom outside scheduled breaks.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Do the Math: How Opportunity Costs Multiply Tuition

Derek* attended a Christian liberal arts college. He majored in Youth Ministry and graduated with roughly $80,000 in debt. After graduation, he was hired to work about three hours a week as one of two youth group leaders at his church, where I met him. The other group leader had a day job as a salesman for a small business, for which he had no schooling whatsoever.

Crippled by his debt, Derek was forced to move back in with his parents after he graduated. He supplemented his tiny youth leader income by taking a job at a mental health facility.

Derek went on like this for years, using the latter job to support the job he wanted, and went to school for. Eventually, he decided to attend nursing school because a nursing degree would allow him to be promoted at the mental health facility. "Going to college helped me with youth ministry, but I did not need to go to college to do this," he said. "If I could go back, I would've gone to nursing school instead."

Derek deserves credit for fighting through his loss aversion, and for speaking so frankly about it; it's a valuable lesson. But it's even more valuable to learn these lessons from others and avoid these situations altogether.

*Name changed to protect privacy.

Lost Earnings

We've spent a lot of time talking about the obvious costs of college: tuition, housing, food, etc. We've also looked at a few less obvious costs, like interest on student loans. But there are indirect costs, as well: opportunity costs.

"Opportunity cost" is an economic phrase. Simply put, it's the cost you incur by doing one thing rather than another. Because our time and money are finite, everything we buy or do prevents us from buying or doing something else. If you take a year off to backpack across Europe, you're not just losing the money you spend on food or travel; you're also losing the money you would have earned if you'd worked instead. The benefit of a decision is not just the result, but the result relative to what else you could have done. Needless to say, this concept has huge implications for higher education.

The average full-time college student misses out on a little over $9,000 in earnings for each year they spend in school. That rises to $15,500 for the 25% of students who don't work at all. And that qualifier-"for each year"-matters more than you might think, as nearly 60% of students take six years or more to graduate.  This means that the diligent students who both work and graduate in four years still miss out on over $36,000, and the ones that take their time and don't work at all can forego over $93,000 in income. And when you combine this with student loan debt, even those who manage to find a substantially better job will be playing "catch up" for a while.

How long, exactly? Laurence Kotlikoff, professor of economics at Boston University, decided to find out. In his article, Study This to See Whether Harvard Pays Off, Professor Kotlikoff created four fictional 18-year-olds: Joe, Sue, Matt, and Jill, and had each of them make difference choices about education and profession:

Joe decides to become a plumber, and doesn't attend college.

Sue gets a bachelor's in education.

Matt also gets his bachelor's in education, but spends an additional 2 years to get his masters.

Jill decides to become a doctor, attends a private college for 4 years, then a medical school for 4 years, works as an intern for 2 years, works in a low-paying residency position for 1 year, and finally gets a job as a general practitioner.

Professor Kotlikoff placed his four creations in Ohio and simulated their professional lives using earnings data based on their age, state, and occupation to determine their likely salary before taxes, and in today's dollars. He assumes they retire at 62 and die at 100. Here's how they look at age 50, the peak earning year for each:

Joe the plumber makes $71,685.

Sue the teacher makes $89,584.

Matt, the teacher with the master's degree, makes $103,250.

Jill the doctor makes $185,895.

Professor Kotlikoff then used financial planning software to calculate the sustainable spending for each of them, taking into account the host of their education, lost earnings, taxes, Social Security benefits, and Medicare Part B premiums. The idea was to get past their advertised income (which doesn't take any of these things into account) and compare their actual spending power. I'll let him summarize the results:

"Jill, the doctor, has the highest living standard. She gets to spend $33,666 year in and year out from age 19 through 100. This is after paying all her taxes and Medicare Part B premiums. Age 100 is the maximum age to which the kids might live and, thus, must plan.

Come again? Only $33,666? That's a far cry from Jill's peak earnings of $185,895. Yes, but remember, Jill has only about 31 years of significant earnings to cover some 81 years of living. And when Jill works, she gets nailed by the taxman. At age 50, for example, Jill pays 36 percent of her earnings in federal and state income taxes and payroll taxes.

Finally, Jill has a bucket load of student loans to repay at an assumed 5 percent real interest rate, which exceeds the assumed 3 percent real return she can safely earn on her savings.

To add insult to Jill's injury, Joe the plumber's sustainable spending is almost as high - $33,243. All those grueling years of study, exams, late-night emergency calls, and Jill gets to spend a measly $423 more per year than a plumber.

What about Sue, the teacher? Sue has less spending power - $27,608 - than Joe.

And Matt, with his masters? His spending power is even lower than Sue's, at $26,503. Too bad he didn't run the numbers before sending in his graduate-school application."

This neatly illustrates the problem with most college wage comparisons: they arrive at their results by simply ignoring this complexity. Most don't go beyond subtracting tuition costs. If you're really lucky, they'll be thoughtful enough to account for loan interest. But that appears to be the upper bounds of due diligence on the topic.

You wouldn't buy a house without considering the difference in property taxes, the costs of moving, or the relative benefit over your current living situation. But that's exactly what these comparisons are asking prospective students to do: to ignore the things that don't show up in the purchase price, even if they do show up on the bottom line.

And this is assuming that college graduates find jobs commensurate with their education level, and do so in a reasonably timely fashion. But that isn't always the case


Phil Robertson Honored at Alma Mater; Faculty Walk Out

Three faculty members walked out of the Louisiana Tech University commencement ceremony Saturday to show their disdain for alumnus Phil Robertson.

Students in the Louisiana Tech's LGBTQ organization, Prism, sparked the idea via social media.

 Students, faculty, and people across the state posted Facebook statuses and tweeted at Louisiana Tech using the hashtag #NoHonorInBigotry to send a message to the university.
Hannah Ellsworth, President of Prism, said, "We wanted to make a statement displaying our disapproval of the honoring, and for several reasons, including the minimal time we were given to react, a social media campaign was the best way to do this. Faculty, staff, and students didn't have any time to give input since no one [knew] until the day before."

The Alumni Association and its members, not the university, selected the "Duck Dynasty" patriarch, Louisiana Tech noted in an official statement. In alignment with the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, the school expressed its support of Free Speech:

The right to express and debate differences in opinions, ideologies, and values is at the core of a university community, and Louisiana Tech certainly supports its faculty in this exercise of free expression. It's important to note that the annual Tower Medallion recipient is selected by the Louisiana Tech Alumni Association and it's member representatives, and not the university. It recognizes those alumni who have achieved in their professions while remaining loyal to their university.

On the bright side, let's be thankful Louisiana Tech didn't follow the lead of Rutgers University or Smith College and rescind the award entirely.


The University of South Carolina is dumping its Gender Studies center  which became notorious for holding an event titled "How to Be a Lesbian in 10 Days or Less" and is going to teach the US Constitution instead.

The horror. The humanity.

The heterocisgenderpatriarchal privilege.
The Center for Women's and Gender Studies (CWGS) at the University of South Carolina Upstate (USCU) will close on July 1 and the funding, previously allocated for CWGS, will be used to teach the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Federalist Papers.

The South Carolina House of Representatives wanted further cuts at both USCU and the College of Charleston, which had already seen budget cuts over mandated gay literature for freshmen students. However, the Senate was hesitant to cut funds for fear of academic censorship.

The chambers compromised by allotting the discussed funds toward teaching the provisions and principles of the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Federalist Papers, as well as "the study of and devotion to American institutions and ideals.

The move puts South Carolina colleges back in compliance with a 90-year-old state law which requires colleges to teach students a year's worth of courses on the nation's founding documents.

The left is outraged and revolting. As usual.

The Morning News, owned by Warren Buffett, editorialized that this was “A chilling act of retribution” and “Required reading programs serve several purposes. Most importantly, though, the programs are intended to prepare students for the expectations of college-level discourse and open them up for the diversity they'll find both on campus and in the real world. We're not sure reciting the Bill of Rights, no doubt important to know, qualifies in that regard.”

Just so you understand, the Morning News’ official editorial is insisting that knowing the Bill of Rights is irrelevant to “college level discourse” and the real world. Unlike, “How to be a Lesbian in Ten Days.”

This is America. This is America on the left’s version of educational crack cocaine.

Meanwhile the petition signatures are even crazier.
Thomas Davies WOODRUFF, SC
As an alumni, a non-traditional student, and a straight, white, older man, I can’t say enough about how my participation in WGS courses and the Center, changed my life for the better. Because enlightenment comes slowly to some outside academia, students, faculty, and staff need this resource. We cannot let an american Taliban rule our institutions of learning.

You’re probably likelier to find the Taliban, both the metaphorical kind, and the Islamic kind, being supported by a Gender Studies center, than a Constitutional law center.

Just ask Professor Judith Butler.
Kurt Metzmeier LOUISVILLE, KY
That is un-American and recalls not only the McCarthy blacklist era but also the totalitarian regimes of the Cold War. They have come first for USC Upstate. I cannot say nothing.

Except he does. Also McCarthyism. And a fake poem about defending Communists by a Nazi sympathizer who never actually wrote it that the left quotes incessantly.

When leftist activists get people fired for their views, that’s freedom. But when taxpayers refuse to fund “How to be a Lesbian”, it’s McCarthyism.

Can someone explain this to me.
Pamela Jennings BELLVUE, CO
Because many people will no longer feel as welcome or accepted at USC Upstate if the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies is not reinstated.

On the other hand, people who don’t want to be denounced for their gender or race will feel more welcome.
Alexandra Chua EL CERRITO, CA
Because the dominant culture is essentially an unsolicited study of white, male cis-gendered heterosexuals

And comments like these show why gender studies centers are nothing but outlets for leftist bigotry.
The fight against sexism, homophobia and racism means that we have to keep vigilant against the political elite who are always out to destroy everything that is not to their selfish interests. Closing down the CWGS will be a crippling blow to people who, without it, never belonged to the larger USC community!

I think the Democratic Party just got its 2016 nominee.
Without the ongoing work of women’s and gender studies departments there’s no question my place in the academy would be less secure.

But is that a bad thing?
Liz Richardson SPARTANBURG, SC
Taking away this program is like stepping back in time when women and minorities could not vote.

Yes it’s exactly like that.  But since there’s no Center for Eskimo Studies does that mean that it’s like Eskimos can’t vote?


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

School Hands 13-Year-Old Over to Cops for a Doodle of a Man Hanging

Another child victim of zero tolerance policies by schools around the country. The law of contagion led to a freak out over a 13-year-old boy's doodle at a school in Beaverton, Oregon. Via Courthouse News Service:

    [Robert] Keller, suing for himself and his son, B.R.K., claims that on May 2, 2013, his 13-year-old son "was interviewed at his school, Raleigh Hills, K-8, by officers of the Beaverton Police Department regarding an alleged threat of harm based on a doodle [showing a person being hanged ] that was drawn during class. B.R.K. was removed from his classroom and placed in the principal's office of Raleigh Hills K-8 to be questioned about offenses that he was alleged to have committed…"

The doodling incident occurred on April 30. Keller says his son was suspended pending a "risk assessment" and that despite telling the school they were not allowed to interview his son without a parent present, a school psychologist and police interviewed the boy. Keller is seeking $100,000 for violations of his son's Fourth and 14th Amendment rights.


British education Secretary attacks 'fictitious' claims he has banned US books from schools

Leftists deliberately misrepresented him in an effort to discredit him

Michael Gove has hit out at the “culture warriors” he says have falsely accused him of banning American novels including To Kill a Mockingbird from English literature GCSE courses.

It was reported that classic US texts such as Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck and The Crucible by Arthur Miller will be excluded from the UK syllabus in favour of works by British writers.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Gove says that the claims are “rooted in fiction” and that teachers will still be free to teach American novels in the classroom.  “I have not banned anything,” Mr Gove writes. “Nor has anyone else. Teachers are as free to introduce children to the brilliant writing of Lee, Steinbeck and Miller today as they were yesterday and nothing this government is doing will change that in the future.  “All we are doing is asking exam boards to broaden - not narrow - the books young people study for GCSE.”

Paul Dodd, from OCR, one of the biggest UK exam boards, claimed that Mr Gove’s personal literature preferences had influenced policy decisions.  “Of Mice and Men, which Michael Gove really dislikes, will not be included,” he told a newspaper. “It was studied by 90 per cent of teenagers taking English literature GCSE in the past. Michael Gove said that was a really disappointing statistic.”

Mr Gove adds: “Do I think Of Mice And Men, Lord Of The Flies and To Kill A Mockingbird are bad books? Of course not. I read and loved them all as a child. And I want children in the future to be able to read them all.  “But sometimes a rogue meme can be halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on.”

Authors and academics criticised Mr Gove following the reports. Sam West, the actor and director, said that children would now be kept away from books that have "moved and inspired" young people "because their authors aren't British".

However, Mr Gove writes: “Last year the Department for Education set out new requirements around which exam boards would frame their specifications.

“The new subject content for all GCSEs is broader and deeper than before - reflecting a higher level of ambition for children. “In English literature we emphasised that students must read a wide range of texts. We also set out a minimum core that had to be covered - specifically a whole Shakespeare play, poetry from 1789 including the romantics , a 19th-century novel, and some fiction or drama written in the British Isles since 1914.

“Beyond this exam boards have the freedom to design specifications so that they are stretching and interesting, and include any number of other texts from which teachers can then choose.”

He says that teachers had welcomed a “specification that allows for Keats and Heaney, Shakespeare and Miller, the Brontes and Pinter”.

The Education Secretary says that the critics from exam boards who have accused him of “hating” Of Mice And Men have never met him to discuss his reading preferences.  “I would have thought that making an assertion unsupported by evidence is the sort of thing exam boards would want to discourage,” he adds.

“But in any case, there are four exam boards which can offer GCSE English literature and there are no rules either requiring them to exclude or marginalise any writer - if they wish to include Steinbeck - whether it’s Of Mice And Men or The Grapes Of Wrath no one would be more delighted than me.”


A Young College Grad Calls My Show

Dennis Prager

Last week, on my radio talk show, I received a call from Jeff, a 21-year-old in North Carolina. I have abridged it and edited it stylistically.

JEFF: I wanted to respond to your question about America being feared in the world. You brought up Syria. I think it's a little naive, and maybe that's not even the right word, to boil down such complex international issues into just good and bad. Like to say that America, for you, represents good. And to just boil down the Syria situation into good and bad is to underestimate the complexity of the situation. Because if the United States were to get involved there, you know, there might be consequences for us in that region that I think would be definitely more bad than good.

DP: Like what?

JEFF: If we were to depose Assad, there could be a power vacuum and that could create more problems than we intended.

DP: There are two separate questions here. One is: Should the United States be feared by bad regimes? The other is: What should the United States do? They're not identical. So let's deal with the first: Would you acknowledge that it would be good if countries like Putin's Russia, Iran or North Korea -- though I don't compare Putin to North Korea -- feared us? And do you think they do?

JEFF: I think that's a really good question. If I had the answer to that I think I'd be secretary of state.

DP: It's not that tough a question. What we should do is a tough question. But whether America should be feared by bad regimes is not a tough question.

Let me just throw in a tangential comment that I think is important: I presume you went to college.

JEFF: Oh, yeah.

DP: The reason I presume that you went to college is that you were taught -- and this is no knock on you whatsoever since anyone who takes liberal arts courses, in political science in particular, is taught -- what you just told me: You can't divide between good and bad, because it's too complex.

But that's not accurate. There is a good and bad. Yes, sometimes there is bad and worse -- in Syria today, for example. But between Syria and the United States the difference is between bad and good. Would you agree that it's between bad and good between Syria and the United States?

JEFF: As an American, absolutely.

DP: Wait a minute. That's a terrible answer. I don't want you to answer me as an American. I want you to answer me as a moral human.

JEFF: I can only answer you as an American. I can't answer you as anyone else.

DP: That's not true. If I asked you how much two and two is, you wouldn't answer me as an American.

JEFF: Here's my only comment, I would just, you know, hesitate to boil down international issues of such complexity, with multiple variables, to, "It's simply good or bad." And that's my only comment.

DP: Thank you for calling.

What Jeff said is what I was taught at college. It is heartbreaking to hear how effective left-wing college indoctrination continues to be, with its morally obfuscating concepts such as "too complex."

The morally obvious fact is that the United States is overwhelmingly a force for good both in the world and within its borders, and Syria is overwhelmingly a force for evil both in the world and within its borders. Yet, colleges have taught for at least two generations that such judgments are illegitimate.

If you want to judge whether Sweden or Denmark is better, that's complex. Or whether Iran or Syria is more evil. That, too, is complex. But between Denmark and Syria, there is no moral complexity.

The other revealing comment my caller made was that he could only say "as an American" that America was a better country than Syria.

This, too, reflects a fundamental left-wing doctrine taught at colleges -- that there are no moral truths, and we can only subjectively observe the world as members of a group. There are, therefore, black truths, white truths, rich truths, poor truths, male truths, female truths. Accordingly, for example, since men do not get pregnant, they cannot morally judge abortion.

To Jeff's credit, he listens to a radio show that so differs from what he was taught in college. There is therefore some hope that he will eventually realize how much nonsense he was taught at college. Dangerous nonsense.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A legendary failure of liberalism

Pat Buchanan looks at education in Washington, D.C., 60 years after Brown decision

When Brown v. Board of Education, the 9-0 Warren Court ruling came down 60 years ago, desegregating America’s public schools, this writer was a sophomore at Gonzaga in Washington, D.C.

In the shadow of the Capitol, Gonzaga was deep inside the city. And hitchhiking to school every day, one could see the “for sale” signs marching block by block out to Montgomery County, Maryland.

Democratic and liberal Washington was not resisting integration, just exercising its right to flee its blessings by getting out of town.

The white flight to the Washington suburbs was on.

When this writer graduated in 1956, all-white high schools of 1954 like McKinley Tech, Roosevelt, Coolidge and Anacostia had been desegregated, but were on their way to becoming all black.

Across the South, there was “massive resistance” to Brown, marked by the “Dixie Manifesto” of 1956, Gov. Orval Faubus’ effort to keep black students out of Little Rock Central High in 1957, and the defiance of U.S. court orders to desegregate the universities of Mississippi and Alabama by Govs. Ross Barnett and George Wallace.

While he has received little credit, it was Richard Nixon who desegregated Southern schools. When he took office, not one in 10 black children was going to school with whites in the Old Confederacy.  When Nixon left, the figure was close to 70 percent.

For nearly half a century, no black child has been denied entry to his or her neighborhood school because of race. Ought we not then, with Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom in the Wall Street Journal, celebrate Brown “as a truly heartening American success story”?

Certainly, by striking down state laws segregating schoolchildren, Brown advanced the cause of freedom. But as for realizing the hopes of black parents, that their children’s educational progress would now proceed alongside that of their new white classmates, it is not so easy to celebrate.

For despite half a century of desegregation, three in four black and Hispanic children are in schools that are largely black and Hispanic. And the old racial gap in test scores has never been closed.

A May story in the Washington Post reports that not only has there been no gain in U.S. high school test scores in reading and math – the USA has been steadily sinking in rank in international competition – the disparity between black and white students has deepened.

The quadrennial test given in 2013 to 92,000 12th-graders by the National Assessment of Education Progress, the nation’s report card, found that the test scores of Latino students are today as far behind those of whites’ as in 1999. The gap between white and black high school seniors in reading and math has widened.

Order Pat Buchanan’s brilliant and prescient books at WND’s Superstore.

Speaking in Topeka on the anniversary of Brown, Michelle Obama bemoaned the fact that, “Today, by some measures, our schools are as segregated as they were back when Dr. King gave his final speech.

“Many districts have actually pared back on efforts to integrate their schools, and many communities have become less diverse.”

Ms. Obama is undeniably correct. Yet, there are other realities that folks need to stop denying.

First, as the Thernstroms write, where white children were 80 percent of public school students in 1970, today they are 50 percent and falling. In California and Texas, whites make up 27 and 31 percent respectively of the public school enrollment.

If 74 percent of black kids and 80 percent of Hispanics are in minority-majority schools today, those numbers are inexorably going to rise, as white students become a new national minority.

Second, there is no conclusive research that black kids learn more when sitting beside white kids, just as there is no evidence that Head Start has any positive enduring impact on pupil achievement.

Third, after trillions dumped into education at all levels since the Great Society, with the educational gap persisting between whites and Asians and blacks and Hispanics, it is apparent the education industry has not only failed the nation. It has no idea how to close that gap.

Fourth, while Michelle Obama may cherish diversity, the wealthy white liberals who dominate the D.C. metropolitan area appear to prefer living in predominately white neighborhoods and sending their children to predominantly white schools, be they public or private.

The 60 years since Brown in D.C. have demonstrated another truth. There is no correlation between dollars invested in education and student achievement in schools where the money is spent.

Per capita expenditures for students in D.C.’s schools invariably rank among the nation’s highest, while the test scores those tax dollars produce invariably rank among the nation’s lowest.

And who should be held accountable?

Since D.C. got the right to vote, no GOP candidate has ever carried its electoral votes. Obama won the city with 93 percent in 2008. And since home rule half a century ago, we have had only black Democratic mayors and liberal Democratic city councils.

This social debacle belongs to liberalism alone.


White students fed up with black professor’s racial screeds, lawsuits fly

The politics of faux victimization are spiraling out of control at a community college in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where several white students, their black professor and irritated administrators have one-upped each other with complaints, reprimands and now a lawsuit.

The trouble began in English professor Shannon Gibney’s Introduction to Mass Communications class at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Though the class ostensibly has little to do with race, Gibney considers herself an activist on racial issues, and frequently invokes white privilege and oppression during class time, according to her students. (She has previously taught classes on race and gender.)

Recently, several white students announced that they had had enough with Gibney’s incessant racial screed. They interrupted her during a lecture, and said, “Why do we have to talk about this in every class? Why do we have to talk about this?” according to Gibney’s account of the incident, which was recorded by the City College News.

Gibney felt put on the spot, but told the students not to take matters personally.  “We are not talking about all white people, or you white people in general,” she told them. “We are talking about whiteness as a system of oppression.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this failed to provide comfort to the white students. Next, Gibney invited them to file a racial harassment complaint with the college if they were so offended.

So they did.

Last week, the college reprimanded Gibney and accused of her creating a hostile work environment for white students.

According to Gibney, she received the following reprimand from Lois Bollman, vice president of academic affairs:

“Shannon, I find it troubling that the manner in which you led a discussion on the very important topic of structural racism alienated two students who may have been most in need of learning about the subject… Your actions in targeting select students based on their race and gender caused them embarrassment and created a hostile learning environment.”

This is not the first time that Gibney’s penchant for stirring the racial pot has raised eyebrows. She was investigated by the college on two previous occasions. On one of those occasions, she suggested to the student newspaper that circulation was slipping because it did not have enough minority staff members. On another, she was accused of discriminating in favor of minority candidates for a job at the college, according to Inside Higher Ed.

The college said that it did not reprimand Gibney in the manner she claimed but declined to comment on the matter in general.

Gibney called MCTC’s investigations into her behavior “attacks on me by white males.”

“As a vocal black female younger looking… faculty member here, unfortunately this is no the first time,” she said. “I’ve actually had multiple verbal and institutional attacks on me by white males, whether they were students, faculty, administration or staff.”

Gibney and six other MCTC faculty members have filed a class action lawsuit against MCTC that alleges the college is a discriminatory workplace for people of color.

She did not respond to a request for comment.

Gibney received mostly positive reviews on, although many students — even those who enjoyed her class — said she brings up race way too much.

“I thought I was taking english, not racism 101,” wrote one student.


Australia: Principal of Queensland Christian College rejects Muslim student teachers after they wear hijab to school

THE principal of a Christian College has come under fire for transferring two student teachers after they turned up for work dressed in traditional Muslim headwear.

The two women, in their final year of a teaching degree, had started a work placement at Redlands College this year.

In a newsletter addressed to the school’s parents on Tuesday, principal Mark Bensley outlined his reasons for dismissing the pair, explaining he had acted out of a "duty of care".

"I have a duty of care to ensure that those teaching at the College are actively supporting the Christian principles, practices and beliefs of the College," he wrote.

"I see the wearing of the hijab as openly acting in a manner that is contrary to or inconsistent with these principles, practices and beliefs."

The principal explained that he had arranged for both students to transfer to another school to complete their respective field work.

"While I respect their desire to wear a hijab, I feel it’s inappropriate to do so at Redlands College," he wrote.

A statement issued to The Sunday Mail said, as a Christian school, Redlands College "respects and loves all people, from all backgrounds and religions".

"However we don’t hide our Christian values and we provide an important educational option for families seeking Christian education.

"We are not aware that they (student teachers) had any concerns, and it is our understanding that all parties came to a mutual agreement for the benefit of all."

Some parents at the school are believed to be unhappy with the student teachers’ transfer, and leaders in the Muslim community have been left stunned.

Section 25 of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 allows employers to enforce a "genuine occupational requirement that workers act in a way that is consistent with the religious beliefs of the school".

According to Independent Schools Queensland executive director David Robertson, Redlands College was within their rights to dismiss the two student teachers.

But that has done little to calm the Muslim community, with Islamic College of Brisbane principal Mubarak Noor disappointed by the news. "This is not good news, it’s a matter of concern to me," he said.

Redlands College denied moving the students was at odds with Christian teachings of tolerance. "This has nothing to do with religious intolerance, which we condemn outright," a school spokesman said.

Uniting Church Minister Reverend Anneli Sinnko said Mr Bensley’s actions directly contradict the basic foundations of the Christian faith.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Axe looms for 'soft' British High School subjects  like Hospitality and Planning for Life -- in bid to toughen up exam system

A string of GCSE subjects deemed to be ‘too easy’ are facing the axe as part of a radical overhaul by the Government’s exam watchdog.

Courses such as Leisure and Tourism, Health and Social Care, and Preparing for Work and Life – which teaches pupils about finding and applying for jobs – could be stripped of their status as GCSEs.

Education Secretary Michael Gove is already toughening up core subjects such as maths and English to boost the exam’s academic reputation.

Now regulator Ofqual is set to draw up rigorous guidelines that are expected to result in a swathe of  ‘soft’ qualifications losing their GCSE label.

Critics believe many of these qualifications are popular with head teachers because they have allowed less academically gifted children to achieve passes in nationally recognised exams, so boosting the school’s position in league tables.

Figures released last week show the number of pupils taking Leisure and Tourism this summer is 7,461 – a 120 per cent rise compared with the previous year. In 2013, more than two-thirds of students achieved at least a C grade in the subject.

Health and Social Care is being studied by 18,193 pupils this year, up 44 per cent on 2013, when more than half scored a C or above.

And just over 30,000 youngsters are taking Hospitality, which focuses on the hotel and restaurant trade – up 21 per cent on last year. Again, more than half of students achieved a C grade or higher last summer.

Other ‘soft’ GCSE subjects where pupils did particularly well last year included Preparation for Life and Work, and Media Studies.

Detractors say many of these  GCSEs, introduced under the last Labour Government, lack academic discipline and ‘discredit’ the system.  They want them axed or else become vocational courses.

Ofqual, which approves courses drawn up by exam boards, has said that the number of non-academic subjects available ‘devalues’ the GCSE ‘brand’.

The organisation said that while it would not make rulings on individual subjects, it would be drawing up criteria that exam boards would have to meet if their papers were to keep their GCSE status after 2016.

The guidelines will call for more rigorous content and assessment.

One question in last summer’s Leisure and Tourism exam included: ‘Old Trafford is the home of Manchester United Football Club. This is an example of a major sports venue. Name one other example of a major sports venue.’

In 2011, the paper asked: ‘Which of the following is an example of a natural attraction? Blackpool Tower, Madame Tussauds, Ben Nevis or The London Eye?’

In Health and Social Care, questions over recent years have included: ‘Starting school is associated with which life stage? Middle adulthood, early childhood, adolescence or puberty?’, and ‘James was recently diagnosed with diabetes. He is obese, has a poor diet and drinks heavily. Assess how James’s lifestyle may affect his health  and wellbeing.’

Chris McGovern, of the Campaign For Real Education, said: ‘These are far too easy for GCSEs. This is obviously a dilution of academic standards and a sad reflection on our examiners that they expect so little. It is a tragic situation.  ‘We must get rid of these Mickey Mouse GCSEs. They discredit the entire exam system.’

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre For Education And Employment Research at Buckingham University, said: ‘GCSEs have spawned in all sorts of directions, some of which look mainly to be a way of occupying the time of non-academic pupils rather than being qualifications that mean something and lead somewhere.

‘It doesn’t make sense to have them as the equivalent of, say, physics or history.

‘The revision of the GCSE structures is the ideal opportunity to decide which are of the right standards and which can be pruned to the benefit of everyone.’

Prof Smithers said many of them could be reclassified as vocational qualifications. Other GCSE subjects popular in colleges could also lose their status, including Catering, Contemporary Crafts, and Motor Vehicle and Road User Studies.

The Government has already indicated that, apart from maths, English, science and languages, it wants to retain GCSEs in religious studies, design and technology, art and design, drama, dance, music, physical education, computer science and citizenship studies.


Bill to Replace Common Core Headed to SC Governor’s Desk

The South Carolina House Tuesday passed a bill that would create a committee to review and replace national Common Core standards in the state before the 2015-16 school year.

Gov. Nikki Haley’s spokesperson said the governor intends to sign the bill. State Sen. Wes Hayes (R-Rock Hill), chairman of the Senate Education Committee also said Haley is likely to sign the bill and may do so as soon as Friday.

Common Core sets forth what K-12 math and English curriculum and tests must cover, and was heavily promoted by the Obama administrations. Critics say its offers mediocre academics, while proponents say it’s better than what most states had previously. 

The bill sparked a debate earlier this spring when the State Department of Education decided to withdraw from national Common Core tests in anticipation of legislative action. The State Board of Education voted down that proposal, but the current state superintendent, Mick Zais, reinstated the department’s decision to drop the tests.

The bill, once signed into law, should clear any confusion caused by the conflicting orders. The bill prohibits South Carolina from using the federally funded national tests.

“A special assessment panel will be convened immediately upon passage of the bill to provide input for a new assessments system, and must seek public input,” Hayes said.

Slow Transition Ahead
The bill would not immediately stop all aspects of Common Core, however.

Once signed the new law “would continue implementation of Common Core Standards in [English] and Math in 2014-15, but also requires a cyclical review of these standards on or before January 1, 2015, for the purpose of adopting South Carolina college and career readiness standards for 2015-16” said Hayes.

Hayes said he does not expect the new standards to simply rewrite Common Core. He cited increased public awareness of Common Core as a reason to be optimistic for genuine improvements upon the national benchmarks.

Sheri Few, a candidate for state superintendent, was a bit more cautious, and pointed out that Democrats had already expressed their intent to rebrand Common Core as the South Carolina standards.

“It is all going to be determined by the new superintendent so it is critically important that we elect the right superintendent of education, otherwise we will end up just like Indiana, or Oklahoma, or Arizona with just a repackaging and rebranding,” said Few.

Few is running to replace Zais, who is not running for reelection. She will face several opponents in the Republican primary on June 10. She expects the vote to result in a runoff that will take place two weeks later.

“Nothing else matters if we don’t get rid of Common Core because Common Core is destroying public education. This has to be the first order of business, and for these other candidates it is not the priority. It is just something they simply added to their stump speech because they know that’s what voters want to hear,” said Few.


Education Tax Credits

As education options have expanded and states have tried different kinds of laws, research and experience are showing even states currently offering some forms of school choice can benefit by improving and expanding their offerings. This is true for every state, whether it offers no school choice, only some forms of public school choice such as charters, or even multiple public and private education options.

The most popular form of private school choice is education tax credits, usually in the form of a tax-credit scholarship. These give individuals, businesses, or both the ability to deduct from their tax bills donations to private nonprofit organizations that use the money to help kids attend schools outside their assigned district school. Currently, 13 states offer tax-credit scholarships, and four offer individual education tax deductions.

This form of school choice differs from others in primarily two ways. First, because the money tax-credit scholarships use is entirely private, the programs avoid state or federal prohibitions against sending money to religious institutions or establishing a religion. Second, these programs offer the “cleanest” school choice option, meaning the one with the least burdensome government regulations, because they are not funded by tax collections.

Proponents of education tax credits tout these benefits over other choice programs such as vouchers or charter schools, noting the latter two are still so constrained by stifling regulations that many private schools will not participate and some charter operators will not enter a particular state. Offering more kinds of choice expands the opportunities for families to find a good education that matches their children’s needs. Tax-credit scholarships especially foster a healthy diversity in education by typically not forcing private schools to administer state tests that pressure them to offer public-school-style curricula rather than more-effective alternatives. Because no public money is used, participating private schools retain their natural accountability to parents and local communities.

School choice opponents criticize education tax credits for the same reasons they criticize vouchers. They say giving families more options will take students and therefore money from public schools, and it’s not fair or beneficial that private schools don’t have to follow all the same rules as government schools. They also claim school choice does not improve students’ academic achievement.

Gold-standard and other high-quality studies contradict these claims, however, concluding private school choice does indeed improve academic achievement, as well as racial integration, social harmony, tolerance for people who think differently, college entrance and graduation rates, and more. They also find school choice programs universally save taxpayers money while offering higher-quality education to more children.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

British schoolgirl rejected for a place at her local school even though she lives just 100 YARDS away and her name was down for a place at just three months old

There are so many crap government schools in Britain, that the competition to get your kid into a rare good one is fierce

A mother has hit out after her daughter was rejected for a place at their local school - despite living just 100 yards away.

Furious Chloe Turner, 21, put daughter Ellie's name down for a place at Woodhouse Primary School in Brighouse, West Yorkshire, when she was just three months old.

The mother-of-two and her partner Mark Thomson, 25, even moved into their house three years ago because they knew it was a two-minute walk from their desired school.

But despite the fact they can hear schoolchildren in Woodhouse's playground from their bungalow, Ellie, now three, has been refused a place along with her friends to start in September this year

Instead, the family has been asked to send Ellie to a different school - 20 minutes away by car.

The full-time-mother, who also has a one-year-old called George, says she has not been given a reason for the refusal.

She said:  'All of her friends from playschool, which is close by, have been given a place.

'We've always told Ellie that she'd go to Woodhouse with her friends - and I don't know how to tell her it's not going to happen.

'Not only is it the closest school to our house, but it's a very, very good school - I'm so frustrated by it all.

'I know of people who are exactly the same as Ellie - the only box they tick is living close by, they don't have any siblings at the school - but they've been given a place. It's not fair on Ellie.

Ms Turner registered her interest in her Ellie attending the school formally when the youngster was just three-months old, because she knew places were sought-after.

A few months later, Chloe and her windscreen technician partner were looking for a house - and found one just round the corner from the school.

In November last year, she painstakingly completed the online registration form to apply for a place at Woodhouse Primary.

'The criteria they use for allocating schools are - firstly, priority goes to children with disabilities or looked-after children. Secondly, if there are any siblings at the school, then they consider living distance from the school and then if there are any spaces left they are allocated,' she said.

'There are around 60 places available a year, and we've been told this is a high-birth year so places are even more competitive.'

'After applying, the next thing I knew was when they contacted me saying they had two different addresses registered for me - the other was my parents' address, so I assume they had that from when I registered interest when we were still living with my mum and dad.

'I had to send them proof we lived at this house, which I did, and didn't hear anything back so assumed it was all ok.

'But the next thing we knew, in April I logged onto the website where you apply, and it said "not accepted" next to Woodside Primary.

'It also said "not accepted" next to our second choice of school, and said "place given to Castlefield Primary School".

'Castlefield isn't even a school I put down as a choice. It may seem like it's close by on a map but there's no direct route, driving there round all the streets would take about 20 minutes. It definitely is too far to walk.'

Ms Turner was offered a two-tier application process including reallocation, which means if anyone turns down their place at the school, Ellie could have it.

However despite applying for this, the family found out this week that they had been unsuccessful.

Now they will have to try the second appeal process - applying to an independent panel who could allocate a place.

'The appeal panel is in August some time - so what happens if Ellie still doesn't get a place? I'm not sending her to the school they allocated her at, it's too far away.

'I face keeping her off school until she's five, and in the meantime will face all sorts of childcare issues, including paying for nursery.

'But I'm going to keep fighting this, because it's ridiculous she can't go to this school when it's so close to our house.

'I haven't told her about it because she wouldn't understand why she can't go to school with her friends, but I'll have to tell her eventually and she's going to be so upset.'

Judith Wyllie, Calderdale Council's head of commissioning and partnerships, said: 'Every effort is made by Calderdale Council to offer parents a place for their child at their preferred school, although this is not always possible where schools are popular and oversubscribed.

'If none of a parents' preferences can be met, a place will be offered at the closest school to the family home where a vacancy exists.'


Headteacher who gave out razor blades at school so pupil could self-harm 'safely' is CLEARED of wrongdoing

A headteacher who introduced a policy of handing out razor blades to a pupil so they could self harm 'safely' at school has been cleared of misconduct.

Laura Blair, the former head of Unsted Park School - a specialist school in Surrey for children with Asperger’s syndrome and ‘higher functioning autism’ - was investigated after whistleblowers at the school alerted the authorities.

However a disciplinary panel of the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) has now cleared Miss Blair of unacceptable professional conduct.

The panel heard how the headteacher allowed a ‘controlled self-harm’ policy at the school in Godalming, in a bid to control the behaviour of a single pupil, referred to as Pupil A, who had a history of self harming.

Just six days after the policy was launched a number of whistleblowers at the school raised concerns - saying they were worried the pupil could accidentally kill themselves - and the policy was scrapped by the headteacher.

The panel heard how the pupil was given a ‘sterile disposable razor blade’ and was allowed in a room by themselves so they could ‘self harm’ - with a teacher checking in on them every five-10 minutes.

When the pupil had finished, teachers would dress and clean the wounds.

A spokeswoman for the Priory Group, which is responsible for running the school, said last year that it was a ‘short term procedure’ in the ‘best interests of the pupil’ after it was introduced in January 2012.

George Brown, a former child support worker at the school, told the panel this week that he had raised concerns that the pupil ‘could bleed to death in as little as two minutes if an artery was cut’.

But the NCTL panel this week found that the former head - who left the school after her botched policy came to light in March last year - was not guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.

The panel ruled that the ‘controlled self harm policy’ was ill-advised and ‘badly thought out’, but that it came about because of ‘failings in communication’ between school chiefs and a ‘lack of experience’ of Miss Blair’s part.

John Pemberton, the chair of the panel, said that Miss Blair was responsible for the policy, saying that she had told them ‘Pupil A’s behaviour was becoming an increasing cause for concern’.

He said that Miss Blair ‘failed to follow best practices’ due to her lack of experience and her keenness to help Pupil A.

He told the panel: 'She said that she won’t make the same mistake again and the panel accepts this.'

The school principal Steve Dempsey and general manager Phil Jonas were both cleared of any involvement in the policy.

A spokesman for the Priory Group, which runs the school, said: 'The company notes the decision of the NCTL.'

Siobhan Freegard, founder of parenting website Netmums said: 'Children who self harm need intense help and support - but this sends out the wrong signals.

'Having an adult in a position of authority not only condone your actions but assist you in them could make children think the behaviour is normal and not a danger to them.

'While the clearly teacher felt she was acting in the child's best interests, it may show that specialists in this area need more training and guidance.

'Self harm is a cry for help and shows kids are not coping.  'They need love and care to get to the root of their issues, not a razor blade to slash open their skin.'

A spokesperson from charity said when the policy was revealed last year: 'The issue of controlled self-harm has proven to be effective in some areas, but only under the correct supervision.

'Self-harm is sometimes the safest option for a young person - if they’re using self-harm to make life a bit easier to manage, then taking it away from them without replacing it with something else can actually bring on a desperate kind of depression that could make them slide from self-harm to having suicidal ideation.

'I’d rather someone be self-harming in a way they can manage as safely as possible than be left stranded with no way to cope and be thinking about more desperate measures.

'In essence, it’s not possible to say that it’s a right or wrong approach to dealing with self-harm in young people - that judgment comes down to how it’s being supported, the policies in place and the point at which someone is deemed appropriate to engage in such a programme.

'I’d be horrified if a school was trying to manage such a scheme, but open-minded to an appropriate residential facility implementing it as one of many care pathways.'


'Abhorrent to British society': Damning Ofsted report accuses Luton school of promoting fundamentalist Islam and having library books on stoning women

A Muslim primary school has been heavily crictised by Oftsed because the library is said to contain books which advocate 'fundamentalist Islamic beliefs' and punishments under Sharia law, including stoning women.

An inspection at Olive Tree Primary school in Luton, Bedfordshire, was abandoned last week after parents reacted angrily to inspectors quizzing their children about homosexuality.

Now an unpublished report by the school's watchdog has condemned the school for promoting Salafi ideology and suggested it does not prepare its pupils 'for life in modern Britain, as opposed to life in a Muslim state.'

Muslims involved in the Salafi movement promote Sharia law, the Islamisation of society and those who practice the ideology advocate jihad against civilians.

According to The Guardian, the report said some of the content of the books were set 'firmly within a Saudi Arabian socio-religious context'.

It reads: 'Some of the views promoted by these books, for example stoning women, have no place in British society.'

Staff from the school denied the allegations, describing them as a 'complete fabrication', and said there were no books in the library that advocated extremist beliefs.

Farasat Latif, the school's chair of govenors told the paper: 'We have a large number of books about different faiths, which inspectors failed to to notice, including The Diary of Ann Frank.'

An Ofsted spokesperson said, 'We have shared a draft copy of the inspection report in confidence with the school for factual accuracy checking as is our standard practice.  'The final report will be published shortly.'

Last week, parents were said to be concerned that the Ofsted staff were discussing sex with the children, without their consent.

A scheduled meeting between parents and inspectors saw the appropriateness of the questioning raised and after discussions the inspectors withdrew from the school a day early.

The news that inspectors withdrew from the school comes following reports a similar line of questioning was used on Muslim pupils into an investigation into schools in Birmingham over the alleged Trojan Horse plot.

The Trojan Horse plot involves the alleged ousting of headteachers, mainly in and around the Birmingham area, by Islamic extremists attempting to take over several schools in a bid to target vulnerable young people.

Whistleblowers at Park View School in the city have claimed the school is in the hands of a group of extremists who infiltrated the governing body.