Friday, May 15, 2015

Education Secretary Backs Public Boarding Schools: 'Certain Kids We Should Have 24/7'

Unruly kids -- who are mostly black -- for instance

Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Tuesday proposed the idea of public boarding schools, saying there are "just certain kids we should have 24/7."

“One idea that I threw out … is the idea of public boarding schools,” Duncan said at the National Summit on Youth Violence Prevention in Crystal City, Va. “That’s a little bit of a different idea--a controversial idea--but the question is do we have some children where there’s not a mom, there’s not a dad, there’s not a grandma, there’s just nobody at home?”

“There’s just certain kids we should have 24/7 to really create a safe environment and give them a chance to be successful,” he said.

The event, organized by the Education Department, the Justice Department, and other federal programs and agencies, featured speakers and panels on preventing youth violence.

Material distributed by the Centers for Disease Control’s “Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere” states, “Youth violence is a public health crisis in the United States. Homicide is the third leading cause of death of young people, with an average of 16 youth murdered every day. More than 700,000 young peoples, ages 10 to 24, were treated in emergency departments for physical assault-related injuries in 2010.”

Duncan said that schools should be more than a place for learning at the event.

“I think all of our schools should be community centers,” Duncan said. “Our schools should be open 12, 13, 14 hours a day with a wide variety of after-school programming.

“Thankfully, in the vast, vast majority of communities around the nation, our schools are actually safe havens,” Duncan said. “[There’s] very little violence happening in schools.

“The vast majority is on the streets,” Duncan said. “If we could keep our kids there longer, we think that makes a lot of sense.”

However, according to a “fact sheet” from the federal National Center for Education Statistics, some 1.3 million students ages 12 to 18 faced “victimization” at school in 2012, including 89,000 “serious violent victimizations.” The fact sheet also states that students faced more violence at school than away from school.

The fact sheet states: “In 2012, students ages 12–18 were victims of about 1,364,900 nonfatal victimizations at school, including 615,600 thefts and 749,200 violent victimizations, 89,000 of which were serious violent victimizations. The victimization rates for students in 2012 varied according to student characteristics.

“Between 1992 and 2012, the total victimization rates for students ages 12–18 generally declined both at school (from 181 to 52 per 1,000) and away from school (from 173 to 38 per 1,000). This pattern also held for thefts, violent victimizations, and serious violent victimizations,” it stated.

“In 2012, a greater number of students ages 12–18 experienced victimizations (theft and violent crime) at school than away from school. That year, 52 victimizations per 1,000 students occurred at school, and 38 victimizations per 1,000 students occurred away from school,” it stated.


Government Abducts Children when It Doesn't Agree with Your Parenting Style

Yeah, watch the government abduct them.

Children are unique little snowflakes. Each one is different, with their own strengths, weaknesses and personalities. What’s more, they’re flexible, meaning that there’s not a single approach that works best for any given child. There are a wide variety of educational styles that can work equally well in molding a functional and successful young adult, right?

Nope. Not if the government has anything to say about it.

When it comes to education, you’d better do things the way the government tells you, because if you don’t, they’ll rob you of your children like the sadistic Pied Piper of Hamelin.

A recent example of this comes from Kentucky, where the Naugler family was raising and educating ten children without the help or supervision of the government. The educational style employed is known as “unschooling,” in which children learn through experience with little emphasis on formal instruction (Full Disclosure: the present author is a product of just such an education and feels it did him no harm.)

However, since Kentucky mandates minimum standards for education, and this particular brand of unschooling had no room for the standardized tests that would prove compliance, the authorities wasted no time in seizing all ten children, and threatening the parents with a felony charge.

This is the real danger of government control of education. Opposition to Common Core and the U.S. Department of Education is not fundamentally about math problems that make no sense or too much time spent taking tests, although those things are undeniably important. It is about answering this question: who controls your children’s education, you or the state?

Parents are losing the freedom to raise their children as they see fit. If the government doesn’t like what you’re doing, they will destroy your family. This is not about stopping child abuse or neglect, it is about dictating one course of action and punishing any deviation from it.

The Naugler family is scheduled to have a court hearing to learn exactly why their children were taken from them - until now, the authorities have offered no justification. It’s horrifying that the state doesn’t even have to give a reason before taking such drastic action.

The story of the Nauglers should serve as a warning to all parents everywhere. If we don’t stop the government from telling us how to raise our children, one day we may have no children left to raise, only wards of the state.


Jeb Bush: Liberty Grads Have ‘The Greatest of All Callings: to Know, Love, and Serve the Lord’

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told graduates of Liberty University on Saturday that they have “the greatest of all callings: to know, love, and serve the Lord.”

“If there’s any useful role I can perform here, maybe it’s just to offer one last word of encouragement in the vocation you have freely taken up. It’s the same one of course – whatever degree you’ve earned, whatever work you’ll do, however life unfolds. It’s the greatest of all callings: to know, love, and serve the Lord, and it’s yours by choice,” he said.

Bush said that Liberty University and “the values it stands for will always be a part of who you are.”

Knowing “how to choose a path and stay on it” is “useful knowledge when life can present more choices than we sometimes know what to do with, especially if you’re young and trying to live out the message of the Gospels,” Bush added.

“The faith that brought you here, the faith that matured here doesn’t give every answer to every question, nor of course, does it promise anyone a life spared from doubt or difficulty, but in the way of life’s advantages, each one of you has the best there is – an awakened conscience,” he said. “When you’ve got that going for you, there’s no end to the good you can do or the wrongs you can help overcome, or the hope you can bring into the lives of others.”

Bush touched on the abortion issue, saying Liberty graduates understand that “some moral standards are universal.”

“They do not bend under the weight of cultural differences or elite opinion. Wherever there’s a child waiting to be born, we say, ‘Choose life,’ and we say it with love,” he said.

“In works hardly even noticed by popular culture, so many young Christians today are showing the way,” Bush added.

“Wherever women and girls in other countries are brutally exploited or treated as possessions without rights and dignity, Christians see that arrogance for what it is. Wherever Jews are subjected to the oldest bigotry, we reject that sin against our brothers and sisters, and we defend them,” he said.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Denzel Washington to College Grads: 'Put God First'

In delivering the commencement speech at Dillard University on Sunday, Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington told the college graduates to "put God first" in everything they do, adding that everything he has accomplished in this life was due to "the grace of God."

"I’m going to keep it short," said Washington, who received an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters at the ceremony. 

"Number one: Put God first," he said.  "Put God first in everything you do."

"Everything you think you see in me, everything I’ve accomplished, everything you think I have – and I have a few things," said Washington. "Everything that I have is by the grace of God. Understand that. It’s a gift."

In leading up to those remarks, the star of such films as Malcolm X, Training Day, Glory, The Book of Eli, and The Equalizer, said, “When I was young and started really making it as an actor, I came and talked to my mother and said, ‘Mom, did you think this was going to happen? I’d be so big and I’ll be able to take care of everybody and I can do this and I can do that.’"

"She said, ‘Boy, stop it right there, stop it right there, stop it right there!" he continued.  "She said, ‘If you only knew how many people been praying for you.’ How many prayer groups she put together, how many prayer talks she gave, how many times she splashed me with holy water to save my sorry behind."

"She said, ‘Oh, you did it all by yourself,'" recounted Washington.  "'I’ll tell you what you can do by yourself: Go outside and get a mop and bucket and clean these windows – you can do that by yourself, superstar.’"

"So, I’m saying that because I want to congratulate all the parents and friends and family and aunties and uncles and grandmother and grandfathers, all the people that helped you get to where you are today," Washington told the graduates.  "I’m going to tell you about three stories. I’m going to keep it short. I remember my graduation speaker, got up there and went on forever, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah."

"I’m going to keep it short," he said, and then made his point about God and putting Him first in our lives.  "Number one: Put God first. Put God first in everything you do. Everything you think you see in me.  Everything I’ve accomplished, everything thing you think I have – and I have a few things. Everything that I have is by the grace of God. Understand that. It’s a gift."

Towards the end of his speech, Washington repeated some of the comments he has made over the years about reliance on God. He reminded that crowd that no matter how much you attain in material goods, "you will never see a U-Haul behind a hearse."

He also told the graduates of the small, private, historically black college in New Orleans, "I pray that you put your slippers under your bed tonight, so that when you wake up in the morning you have to get on your knees to reach them."

“And while you’re down there, say thank you," he said.  "Thank you for grace, thank you for mercy, thank you for understanding, thank you for wisdom, thank you for parents. ... True desire in the heart for anything good is God’s proof to you, sent beforehand, to indicate that it’s yours already."

In addition to his movie work, Denzel Washington has acted in the theater, in productions of Richard III, Julius Caesar, and A Raisin in the Sun.  He won an Academy Award for best actor in the 2001 film Training Day, and a best supporting actor Academy Award for the 1989 film Glory.

In a January 2008 interview with Oprah Winfrey, she asked Washington, “What makes you the most proud?”  He said,  “I'm careful about the word ‘proud.’ I'm happy to have read the Bible from cover to cover. I'm on my second go-round—I read one chapter a day. Right now I'm digging John. He just had dinner with Mary, and things are about to take a turn for the worse.”

Denzel Washington, 60, is married, has five children and is a Pentecostal Christian.


Ohio Budget Defunds Common Core Testing

The Buckeye state is fighting back against the intrusive federal testing mandates that come with Common Core education standards. A House version of the state’s budget contains provisions defunding and blocking the use of PARCC, the set of Common Core aligned assessments that have students in tears all over the country.

The Ohio legislature unsuccessfully tried to repeal Common Core standards out right last year, and Governor Kasich’s support of the standards remains a major obstacle to reforms, but it’s commendable that these lawmakers are willing to stand on principle and fight to return local control to the classroom.

Students, parents, teachers, and even some unions are now opposing Common Core and the accompanying tests, complaining that the amount of classroom time devoted to test preparation is detracting from genuine education, and inhibiting teacher flexibility. In a striking illustration of this, last year’s teacher of the year, from Lorain County, Ohio, resigned, saying, “I don’t think anyone understands that in this environment if your child cannot quickly grasp material, study like a robot and pass all of these tests, they will not survive.”

The U.S. Department of Education warns that Ohio could lose up to $750 million in federal funding if it follows through on ditching PARCC tests. When defenders of Common Core insist that it is a state-led program, not mandated by the federal government, they invariably neglect to mention these kinds of financial threats that make it all but impossible for states to escape from under the federal government’s thumb.

Until Congress acts to prevent the Department of Education from bullying states into adopting its standards, state legislatures are facing an uphill battle, since governors don’t want to risk education funding. But as more Americans become frustrated with increased standards and testing requirements, or opt out en masse from the testing, something will eventually have to give.

Opting out of tests, which is legal in most states, can also cost schools their funding, which is why some schools have tried to intimidate parents and students into complying with the assessments. If enough parents start refusing, the issue of federal funding may become a moot point, and free up states to be more proactive in their efforts to reform education.

For now, we should encourage state legislatures to follow Ohio’s lead and tell governors that we are no longer willing to accept a system that puts test scores and uniformity ahead of our children’s well-being.


Britain’s most inspiring university: You can study everything from Arabic to Scrabble and even learn to canoe and it’s changing the lives of countless over-50s...

Not mentioned below is that U3A originated in France

The first day of university is always a scary prospect, and it was certainly no exception for Sue Jeavons.

Despite the fine spring morning and the fact that other students were milling around near by, she felt quite alone and nervous as she waited for her first lesson to begin.

But Sue is no shy teenager — she is a 63-year-old former manager, mother of two and grandmother of six.

‘I was filled with apprehension,’ says Sue. ‘It was such a large place. I had no idea what the people I was meeting would look like.’

Happily for Sue, a 45 ft canoe is a hard thing to miss. For along with the 11 others gathered on the banks of Lake Trentham, near Stone in Staffordshire, she was about to embark on her first canoeing class, having joined one of the most unorthodox universities in the world.

No other educational establishment would arrange a field trip where the combined student age totalled more than 800 years.

But, then, there is nothing ordinary about the University of the Third Age (U3A), which aims to promote late-life learning for those who are retired, semi-retired or have finished raising families.

There’s no campus, for a start — just a small head office in Bromley, Kent. Nor is there any curricula, term-times or entrance exams.

Rather than run into thousands, the annual tuition fees are between £10 and £20, depending on where you live (it’s not run for profit), and each local U3A group — there are almost 1,000 — decides what they study, where and when.

As for the 36,000 subjects on offer, well, they are as wide-ranging as the students and cover everything from the serious to the sublime.

Arabic, history, maths and chemistry are timetabled next to Druidism, Scrabble, botanical illustration, how to dress, unsolved murder cases and bus restoration.

Sue Jeavons, a former occupational therapy manager, joined Stone U3A four years ago, aged 59, after she found retirement an unexpected shock to the system.

‘I had worked for 30 years and always had people around me. Suddenly, it was just my husband, Phil [66 and a retired teacher] and me at home. There were too many hours in the day. We didn’t have family who lived near by and I didn’t settle into it at all well.’

After a couple of months of feeling isolated and lonely, she heard about U3A through a friend and went online to see what was on offer in her area.

‘I was looking for something that would be active to get me out of the house,’ she says. ‘I saw canoeing and thought it looked superb.’

Her instructor, Ivor Warrilow, is 82 and had been teaching the group for nine years. ‘There was so much laughter and chatter in the boat that I quickly forgot my fears,’ says Sue.

The hour-and-a-half flew by and Sue has gone every week since, making new friends along the way.

‘My arms ached for the first week, but it soon went. Canoeing keeps me active all year round and my fitness has definitely improved.

‘If it’s torrential rain, very windy or there’s ice on the lake, we don’t go out — though if it’s drizzling, we brave it.’

For Jean Morgan, 75, joining the U3A has also proved to be a lifeline. Before retirement, she ran a care home for elderly people with her partner, John, 75, and was on call 24 hours a day. It was a happy and busy life.

‘We were exhausted when it finished, but suddenly everything stopped. No one came to the door any more; no one popped around to see if I could help with anything. We had also just moved, so I didn’t know anyone. We fell into a quiet, inactive life,’ she says.

Then, through her sister-in-law, Jean heard about a local group that was forming. They went along together to find out more — and were hooked. That was 18 years ago and Jean now attends classes in jazz, the card game canasta and film at Weald U3A. She also runs a discussion group intriguingly entitled Explore The Unexplained, which has covered everything from crop circles to guardian angels.

‘I’m at U3A meetings more often than I am at home,’ says Jean. ‘There’s always something going on to look forward to. It’s sociable and stimulating. ‘This is brilliant. Learning is life-affirming. My family applaud the fact that I am always so interested in things. It keeps me alive, alert and cheerful.’

Jean notches up more than 30 hours a month going to classes or studying.

For that, she pays a £16 annual fee, plus a little extra now and then for refreshments or to rent a room, though most meetings take place at a member’s house.

Teacher and student Jean Tweddle, 65, from Harrogate, holds her classes in her sitting room. She runs a dolls’ house group — having become ‘totally addicted’ to making miniature furniture eight years ago.

Jean’s husband John, meanwhile, opted for a crash course in French before the couple travelled to France for the wedding of two friends last year.

‘Of course, when we got to the wedding, everyone wanted to practise their English on John instead, but he really enjoyed learning a new language.’

With no cap on the age limit, there are students aged from 50 to 90, says Barbara Lewis, chairman of the Third Age Trust, the umbrella group that oversees all U3A activities. And anyone can volunteer to start a class in almost anything.

It’s this hotchpotch arrangement, drawing on thousands of life skills, interests and hobbies, that is proving so successful.

‘The U3A is not bricks and mortar. It’s there for the sheer enjoyment of learning new things and to allow people to explore new topics together,’ she says.

‘We have people from all walks of life starting groups; from academics and teachers to women who have raised families and never had a job.

‘It gives people a new lease of life. I see lots of members who have just lost a partner and don’t know what to do. A GP told me the best prescription for loneliness is U3A.’

Andrew Williams, an NHS consultant at Guys and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust, says: ‘There is good evidence that physical activity, mental activity and active socialisation all reduce the likelihood of developing cognitive impairment and dementia.’

In a steadily ageing society, the U3A is also a reminder of the pool of talent and expertise that exists beyond the age of retirement.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Half of the new British Cabinet went to Oxford or Cambridge

Admission to Oxbridge is very competitive so there is no doubt that they get the best minds there.  And it is no mystery that the best minds rise to the top of most heaps

According to details published today by the Sutton Trust, half of David Cameron's new Cabinet were privately educated. This is in comparison with 7 per cent of the general population.

Furthemore, of the 28 new Cabinet ministers, 50 per cent went to Oxbridge. This compares with 32 per cent of backbench Conservative MPs in the 2015 Parliament, and 26 per cent of all MPs, according to the education foundation.

While the figures suggest that Cabinet ministers are now seven times more likely to have gone to a fee-paying school, the research reveals that the proportion of independently educated ministers is less than that of the previous Cabinet in 2010, which stood at 62 per cent.

Furthermore, 43 per cent of the new Cabinet were educated in comprehensive state schools, a doubling from 21 per cent in 2010.
Commenting on the report, Dr Lee Elliot Major, Chief Executive of the Sutton Trust, welcomed the increase in comprehensive educated cabinet ministers, but said more could still be done to increase social mobility.

”Parliament and Government should represent society. The best people should be able to become ministers, regardless of social background.

"It is good to see more comprehensive educated cabinet ministers, reflecting the schools attended by 90 per cent of children. But with half of the Cabinet still independently educated and half having been to Oxbridge, today’s figures remind us how important it is that we do more to increase levels of social mobility and make sure that bright young people from low and middle income backgrounds have access to the best schools and the best universities.”


MassResistance hammers Education Committee at public hearing on “student survey” bill

Outrageous issue reported on Boston TV, radio, & across the Internet

Legislators in the Massachusetts State House were stunned and shocked when confronted by parents from MassResistance at a public hearing on May 6 of the Joint Education Committee.

The hearing room was packed with a lot of left-wing special interest groups pushing various school bills. [All photos from MassResistance]

Parents came to demand passage of Bill H382 – to protect school children from obscene, sexually graphic, psychologically intrusive surveys conducted by the public schools without parents’ knowledge. These surveys also ask youth to reveal their criminal activity, personal family matters, and other intimate issues. (See our detailed report here.) Our bill was filed in the Massachusetts Legislature in January by MassResistance with an equal number of Democrat and Republican co-sponsors.

The issue has become so incendiary that the local Boston Fox TV and National Public Radio affiliate came to the public hearing to cover it (see below).  It’s also been reported in national conservative news websites including,, numerous blogs, and even At the hearing one Education Committee member, a State Rep who immigrated from Cambodia, compared it to what he experienced living in a communist country.

Unwavering testimony before the Committee
The parents were resolute, expressing their outrage before the Committee. In particular, they focused on the state-run “Youth Risk Behavior Survey” given to schoolchildren in middle schools and high schools.

Highlights of the testimony include:

From testimony by Brian Camenker, president of MassResistance:

I’d like to read just a few questions from the survey. This was given to students in middle schools and high schools. “How old are you?” The answers range from 12 years old to 18 years old. “How old were you when you had sexual intercourse (oral, anal, vaginal) for the first time?” The possible answers are "never" and 11 through 17. “In the past three months how many people have you had sexual intercourse (oral, anal, vaginal)?” The possible answers range from 0 to 6. “In the past 30 days how many days did you carry a weapon?”  “In the past 30 days what’s the largest number of drinks you had in a 4-hour period?” Answers range from 1 or 2, to 10 or more. There are questions about suicide, illegal drugs, and even whether your parents text while driving.

The questions were written and the surveys are conducted in a completely unscientific manner. And because of the nature of the questions kids may lie and exaggerate. And let’s be honest: These surveys are used by special interest groups to lobby for funding.

Nobody cares how it affects the mental outlook of a child, or what a child pictures in his mind when he reads these questions.

From testimony by Jayme Allan, mother of two children in public school:

At the end of a long attachment to an email I received from the school, it said there was a survey developed by the state, and if you choose you can contact us.

I am a stay-at-home mother of two teenage children. But typically there’s either a single parent that’s working or both parents are working. We get many, many emails. Most parents aren’t going to go the extra mile and even open the attachment, and then contact the school. We trust that the schools will keep our children safe. Not just physically safe but emotionally and psychologically safe.

I have a little more time than most. I actually asked for a copy of the survey. I was shocked. I was sick to my stomach. There are 88 questions. There are  five questions about “Have you tried to commit suicide.” Some kids struggle with depression. After that kind of experience, they’d need to see a psychologist. That’s going to stir up things, and most parents aren’t even aware it’s being stirred up. There are questions on “anal sex, do you use condoms, drugs, etc.” These questions don’t say “if you …”.  They say “when you …” To have a flood of these questions – is normalizing this kind of behavior.

I don’t know who these people are who are doing this in our schools and accessing our children.  Who gave these people the authority? Instead of “opt out" this should be "opt-in."

From testimony by Lakeilia Johnson, mother of two children in public school:

My son has not had sex. He doesn’t know about anal or oral anything. He does not know what cocaine is. And that’s on the survey as well. He does not know what heroin is. This is teaching our kids things that they don’t even know. This is something that I should talk to my kids about. It’s not appropriate for schools to make that decision without my knowledge.

Most of the Education Committee members, certainly the very liberal co-chairmen, were probably aware of the existence of the survey, and likely some were aware of the graphic nature of it. But they had never been confronted quite like this.

Both are committed leftists who generally support the radical agendas. But this seemed to get to them.

State Rep: "This is what they did at a communist country"
Newly elected State Rep. Rady Mom (D-Lowell), an immigrant from Cambodia who had been sent to a Khmer Rouge camp with his family as a young boy, was particularly shocked at the testimony, and said to one of the mothers after she spoke:

I’m just thinking of the questions being asked and I’m saying to myself, wow, this is what they did at a communist country where I just came from. This is amazing. This is what they’re trying to accomplish at our schools? I will look into it more. Thanks for coming.


Sandstone bubble-wrapped moral panic a frightening force to see

The "sandstone" universities are old and the nearest Australia has to an Ivy League.  Uni. W.A. is one of them

Nick Cater

Who does Paul Johnson think he is? The University of Western Australia’s vice-chancellor or something? It must have been something of a shock for Johnson to discover that despite what it says on his business card, he doesn’t actually run the university.

The withdrawal of UWA’s offer to host Bjorn Lomborg’s ­Australian Consensus think tank offers an insight into the ungovernable, undisciplined and unenlightened world of the modern university. Real authority within does not reside with its appointed executives. It derives from a mandate from the masses, like the autonomous collective King Arthur encounters in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

One imagines Graham Chapman as Arthur ­reining in his steed on Stirling Highway and pointing at the vice-chancellery cloisters: “Please, good people. I am in haste. Who lives in that castle?

Woman: No one lives there.

Arthur: Then who is your lord?

Woman: We do not have a lord … we are an anarcho-syndicalist commune.

The objects of the Python satire were the dreamers of the early 1970s, a ragged group dedicated to overturning the cultural hegemony that legitimised capitalism. Today’s utopians are defenders of a new culture that maintains the doctrines of sustainability and social inclusion, and ­enforces the rules of political ­correctness on Australian ­campuses.

The old Left presumed to represent the workers. The new Left claims to defend stakeholders, community leaders and expert opinion.

Johnson’s mistake, they say, was to stitch up a deal with Lomborg’s think tank without consulting “key stakeholders”. He was naive to expect the deal would stick without the approval of Ray Willis, for example, an adjunct professor in something or other who The Sydney Morning Herald says has been “a spokesman for the university on climate change ­issues for the past seven years”.

Older alumni will be surprised to learn that the university now has a spokesman on the science of climate or indeed anything else. Does UWA also have an official stance on say, dark matter, or does it allow other multidimensional theories to be aired?

Could a student major in nonsymmetric gravitational theory without being branded a heretic?

In climate science the orthodoxy prevails and Willis — not, it should be noted, a full-time member of any faculty — is one of its many enforcers. “The appointment tarnishes the reputation of the university,” he told the Herald. “It’s like appointing Brian Burke to look after your economics.”

The sad truth is that Lomborg would be a misfit on almost every contemporary Australian campus. His dispassionate, empirical approach to economics and public policy fell out of favour some time ago. Lomborg is further handicapped by incurable optimism, confidence in free markets, his ­belief in the benefits of trade and his benign view of corporations.

Unfashionably, he adopts the classical liberal view of scientific, technological and industrial pro­gress which he regards as the solution, not the cause, of humanity’s problems.

In short, Lomborg is temperamentally ill-suited to contemporary academe, a fact the hipness of his T-shirts was never going to hide. He is cursed with an open mind that makes him reluctant to bow to conventional wisdom, as a successful academic must.

Conventional wisdom has become synonymous with sound scholarship making its position impregnable. The scholar of conventional wisdom, wrote John Kenneth Galbraith, “walks near the head of the academic professions; he appears on symposia; he is a respected figure at the Council on Foreign Relations; he is hailed at testimonial banquets”.

The sceptic, on the other hand, is disqualified since “were he a sound scholar, he would remain with the conventional wisdom”.

Today’s intellectual dissenters become the object of witch-hunts pursued with medieval fury.

There has been no attempt to explain why the centre’s intention to compare the costs and benefits of development goals was a bad thing. There was no need: this was an inquisition, not an inquiry.

The protocol of academic discourse is ignored; argumentation has been replaced with accusation; disputation has given way to ­denunciation.

Among those overjoyed with the backdown is Guild of Students president Lizzy O’Shea, who was elected last year on a platform that included free premium Wi-Fi and “a long-term vision for catering”.

“It’s a really good sign as far as community action goes that if enough people have mobilised against something, and don’t support it, that people will change their minds,” she told the ABC.

O’Shea claims “students, staff and alumni alike are outraged” that the university would flirt with a man such as Lomborg. But how do we know? There has been no plebiscite or indeed anything approaching an open discussion.

We are told that the 150-seat venue for a staff protest meeting was full. “Others (were) turned away because of health and safety concerns,” the Herald reported.

OH&S notwithstanding, one assumes the other 1400 academics on UWA’s books had better things to do than join the posse against a mild-mannered, quirky Dane.

Many, one suspects, would have been cowered into silence, as dissenters frequently are. Moral panic, incubated in the bubble-wrapped, navel-gazing environment of a comfortably endowed sandstone university, is a frightening force.

Whatever the objections to the Lomborg centre, this is not the way that reasonable people behave. Nor does it assist the growth of knowledge. “The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race,” John Stuart Mill wrote in On Liberty, a text that is no doubt thick with dust in the UWA library.

“If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”

A crusade that was supposed to protect UWA’s standing has ended up by damaging the institution’s reputation more than these deluded vigilantes will ever know.

Its consequences for the reputation of Australian universities in general are dire.

If a liberal-minded institution such as UWA can be captured by the forces of unreason, what hope is there for the rest of them?


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

UK: Boarding schools told to introduce gender-neutral uniforms to prevent LBGT bullying

Boarding schools in the UK may soon adopt gender-neutral uniforms in order to prevent discrimination against LGBT students.

At a conference with the Boarding Schools Administration on Wednesday, Elly Barnes, a writer and LGBT Schools Advisor, explained that schools need to be more LGBT-friendly - even when it comes to their dress code.

She told the Independent: 'If it's all right for a girl to wear trousers, why should a boy not be allowed to wear a skirt. We should be giving them the option.'

Ms Barnes also called for teachers to be trained in how to be more inclusive and comfortable with the language associated with the gay and lesbian community.

This includes educating children about families with same-sex parents as well as discouraging the use of LGBT terms as insults.

She said: 'If a pupil says "my pen's run out, it’s so gay", you should challenge it. "My pen’s so Jewish, my pen’s so black", you wouldn’t be allowed to say it.'

Ms Barnes added that bullying on the basis of sexuality is just as bad as racist or sexist bullying, and should be treated as such.

Julie Bremner, head of media at Educate and Celebrate, a charity run by Ms Barnes, told the MailOnline that the movement is heading in the right direction.

She said: 'So far we have received very positive responses and this is an issue that can be raised and taken back to governors and leadership teams for further discussion.'

The uniform reform is just one initiative promoted by Educate and Celebrate, which draws on Ms Barnes' experience as a teacher to train and provide resources for teachers in relation to their LGBT students.

In March, the charity was one of eight national organisations which successfully bid for government funding to tackle homophobic bullying in schools.

Each organisation was awarded a share of £2million towards helping prevent and eradicate homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.

Minister for Women and Equalities Jo Swinson, who announced the funding, said in a release: 'The trauma of being bullied at school can stay with you for life, and it is absolutely unacceptable that those who may be gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender are being targeted.

'Teachers need specialist support and training to help them stamp out homophobic bullying, which is why we have funded these excellent projects which are designed to tackle this issue head on.'

According to Metro's 2014 Youth Chances Survey, more than half of gay young people have experienced either harassment or discrimination.

And lobby group Stonewall found last year that 86per cent of secondary school teachers and 45per cent of primary school teachers said pupils at their school had experienced homophobic bullying.


UK: Grammars and comprehensives in affluent areas forced to axe staff as cash is diverted to 'disadvantaged' schools

Grammar schools and comprehensives in affluent areas are having to axe courses and sack staff as resources are diverted to less advantaged pupils, head teachers claim.

They say local authorities are ‘unfairly’ penalising schools with high numbers of bright or middle class pupils to divert money to needy children.

In some cases, school budgets are close to breaking point – with heads even claiming they face closure because of reductions in funding.

During the Coalition’s five years in power, ministers focused on improving education for the most disadvantaged children.

In 2011 they introduced the flagship ‘pupil premium’ policy, worth £1,300 for every primary pupil eligible for free school meals.

Schools also receive additional financial support for pupils with low prior attainment, those with English as a second language and children from deprived backgrounds.

But heads warn that this means many grammar schools and high-achieving comprehensives are losing out on funding.

They argue that some decisions are made ‘emotively’ rather than ‘sensibly’ and the huge sums awarded in some areas meant there was less money for everyone else.

Barry Sindall, chief executive of the Grammar School Heads Association, said: ‘Of course there are pupils with additional needs, and providing funding for them is right.

‘But in some local authorities, decisions are not based on rational analysis about how to strike a balance. It’s arbitrary. Allocation decisions can result in a crisis for schools which have a low population of children with special characteristics.

‘The amounts some schools are losing can be quite huge.’

Mr Sindall said local authorities could decide how much of their overall schools budget to dedicate to disadvantaged pupils – with wildly different decisions made in different areas of the country.

He said extra funding for low prior attainment ranged from £36 to £3,200 per pupil, while for pupils learning English it could range from £47 to £4,500.

He said the different amounts demonstrated that decisions were not being made consistently.

Meanwhile, schools without needy pupils have seen budget cuts of 8 per cent, with some getting £1million less each year than neighbouring schools.

Mark Fenton, headmaster of Dr Challoner’s Grammar School in Buckinghamshire, said he had been forced to withdraw business studies at both GCSE and A-level, as well as A-level music. Drama and language A-levels were also at risk because of budget cuts, he said.

The school now has a ratio of 18.7 pupils per teacher, compared with a national average of 15.1 in secondaries.

He told the Times Education Supplement: ‘Schools have just about got by, but we’ve got to the point where we can’t cut any more. I’m not saying all schools should get exactly the same, but funding should be allocated on a fair basis.’

Charlotte Marten, head of Rugby High in Warwickshire, said this was the third year in a row her school had been forced to make redundancies to balance the books.

She added: ‘There are inequities of funding that have existed for a long time, and on top of those we have decisions that effectively double or triple fund deprivation, further distorting the system.’

But Ian Widdows, founder of the National Association of Secondary Moderns, said: ‘If there are additional resources required for students with additional needs, that’s just the age we are in.’


Suspensions Handed Out After Students Wear Chick-fil-A Attire on LGBT Day — but It’s Not What You Think

It had been a week of awareness-raising at a Pennsylvania high school — teen suicide, disabilities and other issues were marked by students wearing specifically colored T-shirts each day in recognition of each issue.

On the final day last Friday, Bangor Area High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance — which organized the weeklong project — encouraged students to wear rainbow-colored T-shirts to draw attention to LGBT issues.

But during televised morning announcements at the school, two of the students seen onscreen wore Chick-fil-A shirts instead, senior Erin Snyder told the Morning Call.

And then the backlash began.

Although the pair of boys didn’t say anything during the broadcast about the rainbow T-shirt day or LGBT issues, seeing them in attire from Chick-fil-A — the fast-food chain that came under fire in 2012 after its CEO publicly supported traditional marriage — angered some fellow students.

During school hours a group of them took to Twitter and called out the offending students. The online posts against them continued through the weekend, the Morning Call said.

Then on Monday students got the dreaded call to the principal’s office — but not the boys who wore the Chick-fil-A shirts.

The students who sent the tweets were the ones in trouble. Snyder told the paper about 15 students, herself included, were suspended for tweeting during school hours and because some tweets contained obscenities. Other students were given detention, she said.

Superintendent Frank DeFelice and Tamara Gary, the principal of the high school about 90 miles north of Philadelphia, didn’t respond to the Morning Call’s requests for comment Thursday.

After one student tweeted support for the boys in the Chick-fil-A shirts — “You’re expressing your feelings … Why can’t he?” — Snyder, 18, replied in no uncertain terms: “Being an offensive [expletive] is not expressing your feelings.”

Jeff Vanderpool, 16, told the paper he got suspended as well because his tweet — ”Shout-out to the [expletive] in the Chik-fil-A (sic) shirts” — was threatening.

“I wouldn’t be upset if they did it on a different day,” Vanderpool told the Morning Call, “but it was a day to not discriminate against LGBT students, and that’s what they were trying to do.”

His mother, Pam Vanderpool, was angry at the school for not taking action against the students who wore the Chick-fil-A shirts.

“You want to encourage everyone to be their own person,” she told the paper, “and for someone to decide it’s OK for those two students to go on a morning show and wear a shirt like that with no repercussions, what is the school saying? That it’s OK?”

Snyder and Vanderpool were suspended for one day, the paper said; it isn’t clear if other students served longer suspensions.

More from the Morning Call:

The situation is under investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, said Mary Catherine Roper, deputy legal director of the organization, who called the suspensions a “pretty harsh punishment.”

In general, schools cannot punish students for comments made outside regular school hours.

Whether the situation violated free speech depends on what school officials thought was objectionable about the tweets, she said.

If officials objected to the content of the tweets sent during school because they contained explicitly profane or sexually graphic language, that’s within the school’s power, Roper said. If officials objected to the tweets because they were touching on sexual topics, that’s not OK because students were discussing a political issue.

As of Thursday, the ACLU representatives had not spoken to school district officials.

Students are permitted to bring cellphones, iPods, tablets, MP3 players and other electronic devices to school, but such devices must be turned off during school hours, between 7:20 a.m. and 2:05 p.m., according to the district’s policy handbook.

Some said LGBT students have been bullied at the school.

“There’s a girl who wore a rainbow flag during LGBT awareness day and she was teased very badly for who she is,” Jennifer Newland, president of the high school and middle school Parent Teacher Student Association, told the paper. “I know there are some girls who want to wear tuxedos to the prom, but are worried they will be sent home because they are not in gender-appropriate wear, or they will be teased.”

But she added that since the uproar over the boys who wore the Chick-fil-A shirts, other students have started to wear rainbow ribbons and bracelets.

“I think our school is very open for the most part, which is why it’s so upsetting to see something like this happen,” Newland told the Morning Call. “It’s really disappointing (those two students) felt the need to protest against a day that was supposed to be about support and anti-bullying.”  [But it's OK to bully students who wear Chick-fil-A shirts, apparently]


Monday, May 11, 2015

UK: Pretty Tristy playing games with parental authority

Tristram Hunt.  Isn't he gorgeous?

At the annual conference of the UK’s National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) last week, Tristram Hunt, Labour’s shadow education secretary, criticised parents who do not spend enough time playing with their children.

According to Hunt, his conversations with headteachers have taught him that children who are neglected by their parents arrive at school with underdeveloped speaking, listening and motor skills. This form of neglect, he said, has been on the rise over the past decade and is beginning to put considerable strain on teachers. Hunt blamed new technology – be it TV or iPads – as well as parents’ general ignorance of their ‘responsibility’, as he put it, to play and talk to their children.

This was, by all accounts, a bizarre and unfounded attack on parents across the UK. Indeed, all of the evidence runs counter to Hunt’s assertion. Parents today spend significantly more time with their children than they did in the past. This has ushered in what academics are calling an age of ‘intensive parenting’, in which parents are put under increasing social pressure to structure their lives around their children’s development and to occupy all of their children’s time with clubs, playgroups and other activities – which leaves less time for children to explore the world on their own.

The crux of Hunt’s criticism, however, is that funding cuts to Sure Start, New Labour’s flagship initiative for young children, are at the root of the problem. Sure Start centres, he said, are valuable places in which parenting skills are shared and learned within communities. But to anyone who has observed the British state’s increasing intrusion into family life over the past few decades, Hunt’s simplistic assessment rings hollow. Sure Start centres have, indeed, become ‘valuable places’ – but they are valuable to the state, not parents. Since its inception, the Sure Start initiative has been a means through which the government has pushed its own parenting agenda. Sure Start centres are places in which the state educates the poor in how to parent ‘correctly’ and keeps tabs on ‘problem’ families.

Hunt’s brazen anti-parent comments demonstrate just how ingrained these interventionist policies have become. He thought nothing of passing judgement on ‘irresponsible parenting’, while effectively calling for further government intervention into family life. It was, in short, an attack on the right of adults to bring up their children in the way they see fit. Sadly, this paternalism is precisely what we’ve come to expect from politicians.


Not allowed to teach monogamy in some Australian schools

ANGLICAN church leaders have slammed an “unprecedented” interference by the Department of Education after it banned three books used by the church’s scripture teachers on the basis they promoted only monogamous heterosexual relationships.

Scripture teachers were told this week they were not allowed to use books called Teen Sex By The Book by Patricia Weerakoon, You: An Introduction by Michael Jensen, and A Sneaking Suspicion by John Dickson because the texts violated departmental policy.

The texts were used in Special Religious Education (SRE) classes at state schools — classes parents choose to send their children to.

Castle Hill Liberal MP Ray Williams, whose electorate covers much of Sydney’s “bible belt”, said he was requesting an urgent explanation on the book ban from Education Minister Adrian Piccoli.

“Several Anglican leaders in my community have contacted me today saying they are completely shocked at the heavy-handed, reactionary response of the department by demanding these books be removed,” he said.

“I believe the principle of a ‘one partner’ relationship is a fundamental value upheld by society, regardless of whether people are religious or not.”

Mr Piccoli said he had asked the department to review the decision to ban the books: “Department officials will meet with SRE providers to discuss the issue.’’

A Department of Education spokesman denied the decision to ban the books was because of a pro-monogamy message but because they potentially breached the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 and other legislation.

Parent lobby group Fairness in Religion in Schools has campaigned against Ms Weerakoon’s book, saying it contained dangerous anti-gay and anti-divorce messages.

“I think its disgraceful that books that teach traditional Christian teachings in scripture classes have been banned.”
But Sydney Anglican SRE director Jon Thorpe said the church community was outraged it was being banned from teaching Christian values in scripture class.

“The legislation allows SRE providers to educate students in the chosen faith of the family,” Mr Thorpe said.

“The Sydney Anglican SRE curriculum focuses on teaching students a Christian world view from the Bible. We are seeking urgent clarification.”

Powerful Christian Democrats crossbencher Fred Nile said he wanted Mr Piccoli to immediately reverse the “disgraceful” ban on the books.

“I think its disgraceful that books that teach traditional Christian teachings in scripture classes have been banned,” Reverend Nile said.

“The material [scripture teachers] are using obviously would not be atheistic.”


Populist Force Of Parents Against Common Core Grows Strong

Hillary Clinton liked it when support for Common Core was “bipartisan … or, actually, nonpartisan,” but finds it painful now that the nationalized education standards supposedly have been politicized.  That’s what the would-be Democratic presidential nominee said on her recent campaign stop in Iowa.

But what did she mean?

Her remarks came as hundreds of thousands of parents coast-to-coast were pulling their children out of Common Core-linked standardized testing, an opt-out protest of unprecedented magnitude and one that is likely to grow as parents discover they have reached a critical mass for protecting their children from reprisals.

Could this have been the politicization of which Clinton complains, perhaps the latest manifestation of the “vast right-wing conspiracy” she railed against years ago?


Two of the states with the heaviest parental opting-out are deep-blue New York and Oregon. Anti-Common-Core activists range from progressive to conservative to libertarian to many parents who aren’t particularly into political ideology and just care about their stressed-out children.

Clinton’s assertion did put her on record as an advocate of Common Core, which really comes as no surprise, given her failed effort during husband Bill’s administration to install an earlier version of managed-workforce-oriented national standards under the banner of Goals 2000/School-to-Work.

It is helpful for candidates to take a position on controversial issues. Politically, what this means is if the 2016 presidential race comes down to Hillary Clinton against Republican Jeb Bush, as some pundits forecast, the two major parties will present two gung-ho backers of Common Core. For millions of Americans who are working in every state to topple the Core, that will be a big problem.

Could this single issue concern them enough to go third-party? Or go fishing? Possibly.

If Hillary Clinton truly likes nonpartisanship, she should love this grass-roots movement she is going to encounter wherever her Scooby-Doo campaign van takes her.

However, it is clear her idea of nonpartisanship (and Bush’s as well) involves a consensus of powerful moneyed interests, such as those in philanthropic foundations, government, big business and big education who put together Common Core and rolled it out in 2009 without public debate or buy-in.

In essence, Clinton-versus-Bush II would be Chamber of Commerce Democrat versus Chamber of Commerce Republican as far as Common Core is concerned.

To gauge the populist force that is gathering, consider that in 2014 about 60,000 New York students sat out the Common Core tests, while more than 190,000 had boycotted 2015 English tests, with three-fourths of districts accounted for as of late April, and math testing now underway. In Portland, Ore., opt-out rates are uneven, but at several schools they are upwards of 25%.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Soccer Mom Revolt Against Common Core

The opt-out movement against taking the tests is growing, and so is the Obama administration’s ire

The term “soccer mom”—political shorthand for the upscale suburban women President Clinton courted so successfully in the 1990s—may have fallen out of use with the Beltway set in more recent years, but this swing voting bloc is still around. Just ask Arne Duncan.
As President Obama’s education secretary and the administration’s head cheerleader for the new Common Core academic standards, Mr. Duncan has spent four years trying to convince the country that the biggest problem with K-12 schooling is insufficient federal intervention.

His problem is that the more parents learn about this federal effort to impose uniform math and reading standards across state lines, the less they like the idea. And women, who are more likely than men to rank education as “very important” in political surveys, seem to harbor a special disdain for Common Core.

A national poll released by Fairleigh Dickinson University earlier this year put approval for the new standards at 17%, against 40% who disapproved and another 42% who were undecided. A breakdown by gender had Common Core support at 22% for men and only 12% for women.

Wealthier parents tend to be the most skeptical, and they are not satisfied with merely sounding off to pollsters. This year hundreds of thousands of students across the country are boycotting Common Core-aligned state exams, and this so-called opt-out movement has been growing. Preliminary estimates are that between 150,000 and 200,000 students skipped New York state’s mandatory English exams last month, up from the 49,000 in 2014.

The Obama administration is aware of these developments, though you might question how it has chosen to respond to critics. “It’s fascinating to me,” said Mr. Duncan in 2013, “that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who—all of a sudden—their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought.”

More recently, the administration has pivoted from insulting parents to threatening them. Mr. Duncan told an education conference in April that if the boycott numbers continue to rise, “then we have an obligation to step in.”

His spokesman later informed reporters that the administration is considering whether to withhold federal funding for districts with test-participation rates below 95%. Given that there is no political will or effective mechanism for punishing test opponents without turning them into martyrs, this is an idle threat. The districts doing most of the boycotting are affluent and not dependent on federal money, which in any case parents could easily replace out of pocket.

Nor is this backlash as “fascinating” as Mr. Duncan claims. For the purposes of opposing accountability measures in No Child Left Behind, the 2001 federal education law signed by George W. Bush, the Obama administration told these white suburban moms that their schools were just fine. For the purposes of imposing Common Core, Mr. Duncan is telling them the opposite.

No Child Left Behind had its shortcomings, but Congress went to great lengths to preserve local control. The law’s objective was to produce information—disaggregated data on the racial, ethnic and income groups that were struggling academically. Unlike the Common Core standards and tests, No Child Left Behind didn’t tell schools what to do and what not to do. States were still in charge of determining what to teach and how to teach it.

“The one thing upper-middle-class parents want and have grown accustomed to having is the ability to control their kids’ education,” Jay Greene, an education reform scholar who teaches at the University of Arkansas, told me by phone this week. “They will purchase private school if they have to. They will move to another neighborhood if they must. And they will boycott testing if they feel their control is being interfered with.”

Forty-five states initially signed on to Common Core in return for more federal education funding, but the tide is turning and opponents—including teachers unions who don’t want student test scores, or any other objective measures, used to evaluate instructors—have the momentum. California and Utah already allow parents to opt out of assessments, and CBS News reported in March that 19 other states “have introduced legislation to either halt or replace Common Core.”

This issue won’t go away when students head home for summer vacation next month. The presidential candidates will have to declare themselves. Labor will pressure Hillary Clinton to at least hedge any support for testing, and it is increasingly difficult to imagine a Republican nominee who hasn’t distanced himself from Common Core.

Prof. Greene thinks the administration’s education agenda has crossed the wrong voters. “They’re going to lose,” he said, citing White House hubris and overreach. “You can’t beat organized upper-middle-class people. They will fight back and you will lose.”


Obama Takes Credit for 'Reforming Our Schools,' Then Thanks Private Sector for Teaching Poor Kids to Read

 At an event in New York City on Monday, President Obama said "reforming our schools for all of our kids" was one of his accomplishments. He also described "public-education institutions" as "pathways for success."

But in the same speech, the president hailed a new private sector effort to teach black and Latino kids to read at grade level by third grade; increase their high school graduation rates; and get more young black and Latino men into higher education or career training, all of them things that a "reformed" education system might be expected to do.

Obama's remarks came a few days after House Speaker John Boehner said it's time to look at all the taxpayer money -- and the liberal policies -- that have been thrown at the nation's public education system over the years because they're not working.

Boehner and many Republicans support school choice, or giving vouchers to students trapped in failing public school systems so they can attend private or parochial schools.

As has reported, President Obama tried to kill the District of Columbia's voucher program when he took office in 2009. Congress intervened, extending the program through 2016, but Obama's fiscal 2016 budget request would once again let the program lapse.

In his opening remarks on Monday, Obama thanked Lehman College for hosting the launch of the My Brother's Keeper Alliance, a nonprofit, private-sector effort to help "all our young people, long after I leave office."

"You know, everything that we've done since I've been president the past six and a half years, from rescuing the economy to giving more Americans access to affordable health care to reforming our schools for all of our kids, it's...been in pursuit of that one goal, creating opportunity for everybody," Obama said.

He thanked the Alliance for its determination to get results:

"They've set clear goals to hold themselves accountable for getting those results -- doubling the percentage of boys and young men of color who read at grade level by the third grade; increasing their high school graduation rates by 20 percent; getting...50,000 more of those young men into post-secondary education or training."

Obama said the Alliance already has $80 million in commitments to "make this happen," and he also said it's not happening out of charity:

"[T]hey're not doing it just to assuage society's guilt. They're doing this because they know that making sure all of our young people have the opportunity to succeed is an economic imperative," so they can fill the "jobs of the future."

Although the public school curriculum is controlled at the state and local level, the federal government uses taxpayer dollars as an incentive for schools to conform to its vision of how education should work.

President Obama's Education Department, for example, has used "Race to the Top" taxpayer grants -- more than $4 billion -- to encourage states to adopt Common Core, a set of uniform, national -- and controversial -- education standards and tests now used by many of the states.

The executive branch also influences education policy with "guidance" to the nation's schools -- on bullying, suspensions and expulsions, and equal access for illegal immigrants, in Obama's case.

In January 2014, for example, the Obama administration directed schools to reform their school discipline practices. Schools should remove students from the classroom only as a last resort, and only for "appropriately serious infractions, such as endangering the safety of other students, teachers, or themselves," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. The goal was to minimize the "school to prison pipeline."

A few months later, in May 2014, the Education and Justice Departments directed public schools to provide all children with equal access to an education, regardless of their or their parents' immigration status. This guidance came amid the massive influx of illiterate, non-English-speaking children crossing illegally into the United States from Central America, placing additional strain on some school systems.

'Liberal policies have not worked'

"How about we find a way to educate more of America's kids?" Speaker Boehner asked in an interview with NBC's Chuck Todd that aired this past Sunday.

"Half our kids given an education, more than half get a diploma, but they get a diploma, they can't read. And when you look at the schools in these inner cities, these families are trapped in bad schools that don't provide a real education, and look what you get.

"Chuck, what we have here is 50 years of liberal policies that have not worked to help the very people that we want to help. It's time to look at all these programs and determine what's working and what isn't, because until we start to find programs that actually work and we provide opportunities, more opportunities and a better education, we are going to have more of the same."

"If money was going to solve the education problem, we would have solved it decades ago," he added.
A year ago, Education Secretary Arne Duncan was asked about giving parents the ability to choose where their children go to school:

"We have to make sure every single public school in this nation is a school of choice," he told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."  Teachers' unions, a key Democrat constituency, oppose voucher programs, saying they divert resources from public schools to private and religious schools.


Ohio Budget Defunds Common Core Testing

The Ohio House takes on Common Core testing again

The Buckeye state is fighting back against the intrusive federal testing mandates that come with Common Core education standards. A House version of the state’s budget contains provisions defunding and blocking the use of PARCC, the set of Common Core aligned assessments that have students in tears all over the country.

The Ohio legislature unsuccessfully tried to repeal Common Core standards out right last year, and Governor Kasich’s support of the standards remains a major obstacle to reforms, but it’s commendable that these lawmakers are willing to stand on principle and fight to return local control to the classroom.

Students, parents, teachers, and even some unions are now opposing Common Core and the accompanying tests, complaining that the amount of classroom time devoted to test preparation is detracting from genuine education, and inhibiting teacher flexibility. In a striking illustration of this, last year’s teacher of the year, from Lorain County, Ohio, resigned, saying, “I don’t think anyone understands that in this environment if your child cannot quickly grasp material, study like a robot and pass all of these tests, they will not survive.”

The U.S. Department of Education warns that Ohio could lose up to $750 million in federal funding if it follows through on ditching PARCC tests. When defenders of Common Core insist that it is a state-led program, not mandated by the federal government, they invariably neglect to mention these kinds of financial threats that make it all but impossible for states to escape from under the federal government’s thumb.

Until Congress acts to prevent the Department of Education from bullying states into adopting its standards, state legislatures are facing an uphill battle, since governors don’t want to risk education funding. But as more Americans become frustrated with increased standards and testing requirements, or opt out en masse from the testing, something will eventually have to give.

Opting out of tests, which is legal in most states, can also cost schools their funding, which is why some schools have tried to intimidate parents and students into complying with the assessments. If enough parents start refusing, the issue of federal funding may become a moot point, and free up states to be more proactive in their efforts to reform education.

For now, we should encourage state legislatures to follow Ohio’s lead and tell governors that we are no longer willing to accept a system that puts test scores and uniformity ahead of our children’s well-being.