Saturday, January 02, 2016

Fewer students disciplined in Mass. schools

Bad news for parents who want their kids to get an education.  What about the kids who don't misbehave?  Do they matter? Is it OK to have their classes constantly disrupted by a few?  The fact alluded to below -- that charter schools use much more discipline and get better results -- just seems to be glided over. Is the lesson from that not obvious? This is just typical Leftist adoration of bad eggs

The number of students disciplined in schools across Massachusetts declined 20 percent last year, a dramatic drop that follows a change in the way all school districts are required to approach punishment.

In all, 10,000 fewer students were disciplined during the 2014-15 school year, according to state data released this week.

Disciplinary measures are defined as expulsion, out-of-school suspension, and in-school suspension. They are imposed on students who break any of a long list of infractions, such as unruly behavior, skipping school, fighting, bringing drugs or a weapon to school, or assaulting a teacher.

Education officials heralded the decline as proof that schools are following a new state law that aims to reduce long-term suspensions — defined as more than 10 days — and ensure that punished students don’t miss lessons.

A growing body of research suggests that students who are suspended repeatedly are more likely to fall behind academically and drop out.

Although the rate of overall discipline has dropped, it remains uneven in some school-to-school comparisons. Black, Latino, and poor students continue to receive out-of-school suspensions at higher rates than their white classmates.

But education advocates were heartened by the fact that discipline rates for those students declined faster than the state average.

“To see across-the-board drops by race, disability, and language-learner status is a positive step forward for our state,” said Matt Cregor, a staff attorney for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, a nonpartisan legal organization in Boston that published a report last year about school discipline.

The new data show the rate of out-of-school suspensions, which essentially means students are sent home for a day or more, dropped to 2.9 percent in 2014-15, down from 3.9 percent in the previous school year. The report does not show the length of the suspensions.

Overall, Boston public schools disciplined about 5 percent of their 58,000 students last year, data show, down from about 6 percent the year before.

State officials hope the reduction in discipline creates a better atmosphere in schools and a “more positive interventions and supports for students,” Lauren Greene, the assistant chief of staff at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said in a statement Wednesday.

Instead of suspending students, many schools have tried to work with them in the classroom, use peer mediation, small group instruction, one-on-one counseling and provide extra help for teachers.

“While we never want to limit a school from having the power to intervene in a serious situation, in some cases an alternative or additional services may have a greater impact on changing a student’s behavior,” Greene said.

While black students are sent to out-of-school suspension at higher rates (6.9 percent last year) those figures are dropping faster than the statewide rate — down from 9.3 percent in the year prior, data show.

The same is true for Latino students, 5.6 percent of whom were sent home last year, compared with 7.7 percent the year prior.

Charter schools have some of the highest discipline rates. But the data suggest that they are also using alternatives to suspension.

Roxbury Preparatory Charter, City on a Hill Charter in Dudley Square, and City on a Hill Charter in New Bedford had the highest rates of out-of-school suspension statewide — between 35 percent and 40 percent. But those percentages were slightly lower than rates at those schools the year before.

A spokesman for the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association said Wednesday that higher discipline rates at charter schools in Boston do not correlate with higher dropout or attrition rates.

“Charters have traditionally had higher standards for classroom behavior and have employed out-of-school suspension to maintain an environment in the classroom that’s conducive to learning,” said the spokesman, Dominic Slowey.

The Boston public school district is implementing measures to take before a student has to be suspended, a School Department spokesman said.

“Providing students in-school supports for social emotional well-being and academic success is a primary focus,’’ Dan O’Brien, press secretary for department, said.

While heartened by the new report, Cregor, of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, said he worries that schools are underreporting discipline, especially emergency removals. That is when a principal removes a student temporarily after he or she is charged with a disciplinary offense because the principal believes the student is dangerous.

“I’m worried about the kids whose schools are maybe saying, ‘Why don’t you take a cool-down, stay home for a couple of days, we won’t put it on your record,’ ” Cregor said.


Sorry, Clinton And Sanders, There's No Such Thing As Free College

"The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody had decided not to see." - Ayn Rand

Candidates for the Democratic Party's nomination for president, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, have both promised that if elected, they would put forth legislation that would dramatically reduce tuition and student debt for public universities in one form or another. This opportunity is a lie in itself. In order for the federal government to pay for all these students, it would be necessary for more tax money to get funneled to students who hold no real obligation to complete their degrees, and a lot of students who should not have gone to college in the first place would get degrees they don't know what to ultimately do with.

The first issue to bring up regarding this progressive scheme to attract millennial voters is the financing of this project. Lindsey Burke, a researcher at the Heritage Foundation, pointed out in her Daily Signal article, "Why Free Community College Is Anything But Free", a fundamental issue with financing tuition free 2-year college alone:

"Once again, the administration is pursuing initiatives to subsidize rising costs, instead of working with Congress on policies that actually would address the driver of college cost increases: the open spigot of federal student aid. Over the past several decades, college costs have risen at more than twice the rate of inflation, thanks in large part to federal subsidies."

By sending more grants and subsidizing higher education even more, that bad habit only creates the incentive for schools to drive up the costs, the ultimate reason behind soaring tuition rates. Because of this effect, every year students take out thousands of dollars in student loans to cover the cost of an education they can't afford, in order to get a degree for a job that doesn't exist or isn't available, leaving them with debt and unemployment. This betrayal of the American people takes away from ways people can still invest in themselves without being slaves to debts owned by the banks.

The idea behind free community college alone isn't about greater access to education. In today’s world, information is everywhere thanks to greater access to technologies and the internet, bridging the gaps between social mobility and economic opportunity greater than any point in human history. Looking at great sources like a local library or even the online Khan Academy alone shows just several ways people can access knowledge on their own accord. These resources are free and readily available to the entire public, the only thing that free community college would do is grow faux credentials by inflating the number of degree holders and promote more obtrusive, more burdensome, federal regulation.

The problem behind the average $29,000 student debt in America is obvious, and the reason why Sanders and Clinton don't want to talk about it is because its extremely easy to win votes by promising to give people something by taking the money, and resources from other people, by use of the government in order to provide it. Burke brings about a common sense solution to address this madness:

"Allow markets in higher education to work by limiting federal subsidies instead of increasing them, and costs will fall for students attending colleges of all types."

The second point is that the two candidates assume that there will be jobs waiting for the influx in college graduates. In a speech Sanders gave on August 11th:

"It makes no sense to me that when we need nurses, we need doctors, we need dentists, we need more people involved in healthcare, that when people leave school, for the crime of wanting to be involved in healthcare, they have enormous debts. That makes no sense... I will fight to implement as president, that will make every public college and university in America tuition-free."

Just looking at that one quote alone should point out two instant things Sanders fails to understand:

1) Sanders is the reason there are so few medical professionals right now- In my recent article discussing why Bernie Sanders is wrong about healthcare being a human right, I showed how Obamacare (which Sanders voted for and still supports expansion of) has led to the decrease in doctors and medical professionals since its implementation. According to a recent study :

"... The analysis finds that exchange plan networks include 42 percent fewer oncology and cardiology specialists; 32 percent fewer mental health and primary care providers; and 24 percent fewer hospitals. Importantly, care provided by out-of-network providers does not count toward the out-of-pocket limits put in place by the ACA."

2) Government doesn't decide what jobs are needed, markets do- FreedomWorks policy analyst Logan Albright spoke of how the Obama administration distorts market projections when he stated that:

"...Throughout his presidency, Obama has labored under the delusion that a liberal arts education is the best thing for absolutely everybody. But we are living in a time when trade and vocational schools are becoming extremely important, as are technical colleges, and the good old-fashioned work experience that led dropouts like Bill Gates to become great entrepreneurs."

This should be common sense, someone with a degree in 18th century French basket weaving studies (I made that degree up, but would it surprise you if it existed ?) is gonna have a hard time getting a career started since there is literally no market for someone who is an expert in 18th century French basket weaving studies. The reason why I choose this metaphor is because most of America's students fail to understand that some degrees just have a terrible return on investment in the long run. Unless Clinton and Sanders start controlling the economy directly and can manipulate supply and demand, that scenario would also have to force them to limit what people learn and what degrees they have to choose from. That's the fault that progressives ignore, risk! When little Johnny Graduate graduates from high school and decides to major in 18th century French basket weaving studies, that is the risk he is taking,his money, his time, and ultimately his life choices; Johnny Graduate alone is responsible for himself and has to deal with the results of his decisions without dragging down other people with him, or using government to fulfill his entitlements through force and coercion.

The federal government subsidizes this bad behavior already by giving schools who want a profit, and students who want a degree, a financial steroid which creates falsified hope and pushes the real issue down the road. Bernie Sanders specifically should not be taken seriously at all (not that I am suggesting Clinton is any more economically literate), since it should be a red flag that anyone would be advocating for socialism in America while socialist Europe is literally falling apart.


Immigrant High School students do best in West Australia

Some ironies here, I think.  Spotty Anglo girl best at farming.  Chinese girl top academically

TWO public schoolgirls — including one from a state agricultural college — have taken out WA’s top academic honours for Year 12 graduates, the Beazley Medals.

Perth Modern School graduate Hui Min Tay was awarded the WA Certificate of Education Beazley Medal for achieving the highest award score in the state.

Megan McSeveney from the Harvey WA College of Agriculture was awarded the Beazley Medal for Vocational Education Training achievement.

Education Minister Peter Collier presented the girls with their medals at a ceremony in Kings Park on Thursday morning.

Miss Tay won multiple School Curriculum and Standards Authority awards for her work this year, including a General Exhibition, which are awarded to the top 40 WACE students in the state, a Course Exhibition for Ancient History, Chemistry and Physics, a Certificate of Distinction for Ancient History, Chemistry, Mathematics: Specialist and Physics, and a Certificate of Commendation.

Miss McSeveney completed Certificates II and III in Agriculture, a Certificate II in Production Horticulture and Certificate II in Wool Handling. She was also recognised for putting her skills into action in the workplace.

Miss McSeveney, who grew up on a farm in South Africa before coming to WA, said she hoped to go on to study animal science, with a long-term goal of running her own dairy.

“Hui Min and Megan have not just done well this year; they have shown a commitment to their education over many years,” Mr Collier said.

Hui Min told 6PR she was surprised to have got such high marks as she found the WACE exams hard and thought she might have “stuffed up" one of them.

Born in Singapore, she started studying at Perth Modern School midway through Year 10 when she was 14.

She said she thought her Beazley Medal win was a combination of her hard work and the support she has been given by other students and staff at Perth Modern School, which she described as a “very inspiring environment."

She now plans to study science at university for two years, and then possibly go on to study medicine.

Perth Modern School, an academically selective school, had the most General Exhibition winners this year with nine students placing within the top 40. The school also had 79 other award winners.

St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls had six General Exhibition winners and Presbyterian Ladies College and Christ Church Grammar School both had three.

Rossmoyne Senior High School students also scooped the awards with 41 winners and St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls had 40.


Friday, January 01, 2016

Controversial job ad at the University of Louisville: Whites, Asians Need Not Apply

Many colleges want more ethnically and racially diverse faculty members. But should searches be limited to underrepresented groups? One university just tried.

Even before the recent, widespread student protests over campus climate issues, many colleges and universities were working to make their faculties more diverse. But can a department specifically reserve a position for an underrepresented minority candidate? That’s what some are asking after a job ad for an assistant professorship reserved for nonwhite, non-Asian Ph.D.s was abruptly deleted from a jobs site on Tuesday.

The post (inactive but still cached here) on HigherEdJobs mostly resembled a typical ad, encouraging applicants “with a Ph.D. in physics or a related area, a strong research record and a passion for teaching” to apply. It also included a standard equal employment opportunity statement saying the University of Louisville is “an affirmative action, equal opportunity, Americans with disabilities employer, committed to community engagement and diversity, and in that spirit, seeks applications from a broad variety of candidates.”

But just under that statement, the ad continued, “The Department of Physics and Astronomy announces a tenure-track assistant professor position that will be filled by an African-American, Hispanic American or a Native American Indian [sic].”

The ad, posted in mid-October, was taken down after the department received a complaint that the preferences didn’t include applicants with disabilities, said C.S. Jayanthi, chair of physics and astronomy. She said she forwarded the complaint to administrators, and the ad was promptly removed.

In the interim, others have questioned the broader legal issues raised by a job ad limiting a faculty search to members of select racial and ethnic groups.

“I’ve never seen that before and it strikes me as inappropriate,” said Benjamin Reese Jr., vice president and chief diversity officer at Duke University and president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.

Marshall Rose, president of the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity, who recently retired as director of the Office of Equity and Diversity at Bowling Green State University, agreed, saying the ad likely violated federal and state laws governing equal opportunity. Those include Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The former prohibits “exclusion from participation in, denial of benefits of, and discrimination under federally assisted programs on ground of race, color or national origin,” and the latter prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on such grounds.

“These are the terms and conditions of employment, from how you get into an organization to what happens to you in between, when you’re there and how you leave,” he said.

Rose expressed surprise that such an ad had ever survived the university’s vetting process, as did Jayanthi, the department chair. She said she knows physics and that there’s a mandate for more underrepresented minority faculty members in the natural sciences, and the ad was drafted thus -- not based on any nuanced understanding of federal employment law.

Cindy Hess, a university spokeswoman, said via email that the human resources department was notified of “the error” and the ad was removed immediately.

“The position will be reposted and [human resources] will contact all applicants and encourage them to reapply,” she said.


Student caught on camera blowing cigar smoke in his teacher's face during class after row about exams

Arkansas prosecutors are considering filing a criminal charge against a high school student who lit a cigar in class and then blew smoke in his teacher’s face three times, according to police.

As seen above, the incident Monday morning at North Little Rock High School was recorded by a student.

As detailed in a North Little Rock Police Department report, teacher Robert Holley told cops that his confrontation with student Christopher Dunn, 18, “started when Dunn showed up to class to take his final exam.”

Holley said that he told Dunn that he would have to sit in the hallway to take the test, but that the student refused. “Holley said he told Dunn that if he didn’t do as he was asked that he was going to write him up and call for a campus supervisor to remove him.”

When Holley reached for an intercom button, Dunn said, "Hit that button, I dare you. Holley told police that he has had Dunn removed from his classroom several times this year.

As Holley began “writing Dunn up,” cops noted, “his class started going wild so he turned around to see what the commotion was about.” Dunn, Holley said, had lit a cigar and was “taking a drag off of it.”

Dunn then rose from his seat and walked up to Holley and blew cigar smoke in his face. While the video shows Dunn doing this once, Holley told police the student blew smoke in his face three times.

Somehow, Holley did not physically respond to Dunn’s provocation, which appeared to delight other students, who can be heard in the background laughing, clapping, and whooping.

A campus supervisor eventually arrived at the classroom and escorted Dunn out. “I’ll be back,” the student said as he looked over his shoulder at Holley.

Police classified the incident as insult or abuse of a teacher, a misdemeanor. County prosecutors are now reviewing the case to make a decision on whether to file a criminal charge against Dunn.


Our Most Divisive Political Issue

Can you name the most contentious issue in American politics? Here’s a hint. It’s being fought at the federal, state and local levels. And it doesn’t go away. The struggle is persistent, ongoing, unending.

Here is a second hint. The issue is not gay marriage, or gun control, or police brutality and or immigration. Those issues are either settled, largely settled, isolated or completely out of the control of local and state governments.

Here is a third hint. The issue divides Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals. But it is especially divisive among Democrats and among people who call themselves “liberal.”

Give up? The most divisive issue in American politics is: What should we do about the education of children from low income families?

To appreciate how divisive the issue is among Democrats consider that Bernie Sanders can’t talk for two minutes without bringing up the issue of inequality. But when it comes to allowing poor children to escape bad schools and go to better ones he is virtually silent. He opposes public money going to private schools and has little encouraging to say about public school choice. Yet the state he represents (Vermont) has the oldest and most extensive system of school choice found anywhere in the country.

Hillary Clinton’s unwillingness to vigorously stand up for the kids is costing her big campaign contributions. Although she has supported student testing and charter schools in the past, her recent cozying up to the teachers unions is making wealthy school reform Democrats close their checkbooks to her presidential campaign.

To make matters more complex, parents are becoming more of a factor. In a recent election in Los Angeles pro-reform Latino parents managed to prevail against the teachers unions and white voters in affluent suburbs in what USA Today called “the priciest and most bitter school board race in history.”

The Obama administration has been completely inconsistent. Under Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the administration tied state grants and waivers from onerous federal regulations to support for charter schools and the linking of teacher pay to student test scores. His replacement, John King, is a charter school co-founder who, as New York’s education chief, pursued reforms designed to root out bad teachers.

Yet the administration’s Justice Department fought a losing battle in court in an effort to stop Louisiana’s new state-wide voucher program. And the administration joined with Nancy Pelosi and other congressional Democrats in an ongoing struggle to end Washington DC’s Opportunity Scholarship Program. Jeanne Allen of the Center for Education Reform explains the issue this way:

Democrats oppose this program not because it is failing but because it is succeeding. They fear that as these choice programs succeed, poor and minority moms and dads are going to figure out the Democrats are selling their kids out to the teachers unions.

To appreciate what’s at stake, consider two Harlem schools that operate side by side in the same building: Wadleigh Secondary School (a public school) and Harlem West (a charter school). At both schools 95 percent of the students and black and Hispanic and most are from poverty level families. As one of the teachers describes it:

The students … eat in the same cafeteria, exercise in the same gym and enjoy recess in the same courtyard. They also live on the same blocks and face many of the same challenges.

Yet not one of the public school students met state standards in math (a typical question: What is 15% of 60?) or English, while the passing rates at the charter school were 96 and 75 percent, respectively. The city wide scores, by the way, were 35 and 30 percent, despite New York City average spending of $20,331 per pupil.

So, should there be more Harlem Wests and fewer Wadleighs?

Hard to believe, but that is currently the most contentious political issue in New York City and maybe in the whole of New York state.

Also hard to believe, the CNN panel asked not one question about the public schools in last Saturday’s Democratic presidential debate.


Thursday, December 31, 2015

Oberlin College Students Cry 'Cultural Appropriation' Over Serving Of Undercooked Sushi Rice

Pathetic.  What emotional infants

Students at an American liberal arts college have accused university authorities of “insensitivity” and “cultural appropriation” over the serving of General Tso's chicken, Vietnamese sandwiches and sushi.

A report in the ‘Oberlin Review,’ newspaper of Oberlin College in Ohio, details student angst over the cafeteria’s serving of inauthentic international cuisine, with scholars demanding meetings with campus officials over the outrage.

Complaints against ‘Bon Appétit,’ the college's food management company, include serving undercooked sushi rice, and cooked sushi fish instead of raw; offering General Tso's chicken that was steamed, not fried; selling Vietnamese banh mi with pulled pork rather than grilled and using ciabatta instead of traditional French bread.

“The undercooked rice and lack of fresh fish is disrespectful,” scorned Japanese student Tomoyo Joshi of the sushi bar, decrying the counter as “a culturally appropriative sustenance system.”

“When you're cooking a country's dish for other people, including ones who have never tried the original dish before, you're also representing the meaning of the dish as well as its culture,” she told the newspaper. “So if people not from that heritage take food, modify it and serve it as 'authentic,' it is appropriative.”

The sushi also caused disquiet for student Mai Miyagaki, who called for “collaboration with the cultural student [organisations] before starting new stuff like this [the sushi bar].”

Disgusted that a Vietnamese sandwich was being served with coleslaw instead of pickled vegetables, student Diep Nguyn said: “It was ridiculous… how could they just throw out something completely different and label it as another country’s traditional food?”

College officials told the newspaper the dishes were an attempt at nutritional diversity and they would set up a meeting with students in the coming weeks.


Ban College Level Remediation

So if any presidential candidate is out there looking for ideas–particularly you Republicans–here’s my first proposal:

Colleges and universities have been constantly complaining for 30 years or so that incoming students are in dire need of remediation. These complaints inevitably lead into a conversation about failing high schools, accompanied by fulminations and fuming.

The correct response: Why are remedial students allowed to matriculate in the first place?

It’s not as if the knowledge deficit comes as a surprise. Most students have taken the SAT or the ACT, which most if not all four-year public institutions use as a first-level remediation indicator–that is, a score of X exempts the student from a placement test. Those who don’t make that cut have to take a placement test. Community colleges usually cut straight to the placement test. The most common placement tests are also developed by the Big Two ((Accuplacer is SAT, Compass is ACT).

So why not just reject all applicants who aren’t college-ready?

Private institutions can do as they like, but our public universities ought to be held responsible for upholding a standard.

Most states (or all?) offer two levels of post-secondary education: college and adult education. As colleges have sought to increase access to everyone who can demonstrate basic literacy (and far too many who can’t even manage that), adult education has withered and nearly died.

Pick a level and split them. My cutoff would be second year algebra and a lexile score of 1000 (that’s about tenth grade, yes?) for college, but we could argue about it. Everyone who can’t manage that standard after twelve years of K-12 school can go to trade school or to adult education, which is not eligible for student loans, but we could probably give some tax credits or something for self-improvement.

Adult education could be strengthened by repurposing the funds we now spend on remedial education. The existing community college system could, for example, be split into two tiers—one for actual college level work or legitimate AA degrees, the other for adult education courses, which are currently a weak sister of K-12.

The federal government could enforce this by refusing to back Pell grants for remedial courses in college, as Michael Petrilli and others have called for. State legislatures could arguably just pick a demonstrated ability level and restrict funding to those public universities that ignore it.

Of course, some argue that college is for everyone, regardless of their abilities. This path leads to a complete devaluation of the college degree, of course, but if that is to be the argument, there’s an easy solution. If no one is too incapable for college, then no education is remedial. So give the students credit for remedial courses, let barely functional students get college degrees after 120 credits of middle school work. No?


Diversity on campus: Does it have a future?

Diversity is under threat on college campuses across the land -- from exactly the students cherished for their diversity by admissions committees.

Let us recall that for almost 40 years now, diversity has been the gold standard defense of racial preferences. Racial diversity is said to enhance the classroom (and general social) experience by exposing other students to views purportedly most likely to come from people of color.

Yet it is too little remarked that much of what we hear from black students -- and not only amidst the protests of late but often over decades past as well -- flies directly in the face of the whole diversity argument that university administrators propound so ardently.

For example, at Oberlin, student protesters are demanding not just one but several "safe spaces" for "Africana-identifying" students. It's fair to assume that white students would not be allowed in these spaces, given that the rationale is that here is where black students could catch their breath after the endless sallies of racism that the school's students and environment force upon them daily.

Aside from the obvious problems with this plan, note that students barricading themselves in this way would have pointedly little interest in sharing their experiences as "diverse" people with their fellow white students. Even those who would consider this self-segregation justified will admit that these students are giving a thumbs down to the idea that they are valuable on campus as "diverse" lessons for others.

Trudeau's case for diversity: Because it's 2015
Trudeau's case for diversity: Because it's 2015
Or, in this recent opinion piece in The New York Times, a black physicist tells us that the presence of students of color in university classrooms should not require justification on the basis of the color of their skins.

Now, it's unclear what new strategy she is proposing to ensure a representative number of such students on a campus if they are not singled out for their "diversity." Be that as it may, here is one more person of color arguing against the admissions rationale considered so inviolable in discussions of affirmative action since Justice Lewis Powell created the "diversity" argument (rather briefly) in the Regents of the University of California vs. Bakke decision in 1978.

Finally, for all the appeal of the notion of black students earnestly teaching white students the view from beyond the affluent suburbs, black students quite often don't like being expected to take on that role.

I have lost count of how many times a black student has told me, in question sessions after talks on race I have given, that being required to attest to the "black" view of things is, of all things, one way that college campuses are racist (!). Here is an articulate expression of this kind of complaint, very much commonplace since the '80s. And truth to tell, how many of us would enjoy being singled out in any setting, all eyes upon us, as the one assumed to have intellectually valuable counsel?

Once again, the writer above likely isn't aware that his declaration stands as a rebuke to a justification that likely played an important part in his evaluation for admission. However, it stands as a rebuke indeed.

One might claim that students can teach white ones about their "diversity" in other ways, but prospects for that look glum from further reports one often hears.

Black students don't like being asked questions about where they are "from," about their hair care regimens, or being approached in general as if they belong to a distinct clan of persons, as we have learned from discussions of microaggression over the past few years. OK -- but it's unclear what space is left for these students providing diversity lessons for others.

So: There is the verdict from the very people singled out for their "diversity" by admissions committees. We might add that it's hard to see how diverse viewpoints relate to not just some, but most, of what a college curriculum consists of. The black view of French irregular verbs? Systolic pressure? The usual counterargument here is that white students will benefit from the simple fact of interacting with colleagues of color -- in, say, a lab -- as preparation for interacting with people of color in the work world. On that one, I often wonder just what it is about black people that white students are to learn to watch out for.

A different kind of affirmative action

All this is clearly a mess. Now, one solution is to sigh that it's "complicated" and change the subject. But that's a cop-out we've been settling for for decades, and it's clear that it gets none of us anywhere. We settle for this cop-out nonetheless out of fear that actually taking the issue by the horns will mean turning our backs on seeking social justice. But it doesn't.

Rather, the facts on the ground -- as opposed to in colleges' multiracial publicity photos on websites and brochure covers -- can be taken as support for the growing movement to base admissions preferences at universities on socioeconomics.

The originators of affirmative action policies would find this a familiar and compelling approach, given that until the Bakke decision, the whole policy was founded on a quest for reparation, making up for historic discrimination against black people.

In an America where it is becoming increasingly difficult to see poverty, the "underclass," and historic disadvantage as having solely a black face, restoring affirmative action as an anti-poverty policy is progressive.

Some assail this approach as cluelessly "race-blind," but they're wrong. Fears that hardship-based affirmative action would mean black and Latino students being all but eliminated on college campuses in favor of working-class whites are overblown, as is clear from rigorous treatments such as this one. Rather, letting go of the ever-fragile diversity rationale would, while leaving college campuses with healthy populations of black and Latino students, finally let us exhale.

To wit: no more pretending there is a black take on Jane Austen or differential quotients, or that white students having black students in their classes about these things will teach them something useful for when they meet black colleagues at the law firm they work for after graduation. No more singling out black kids to talk about "the" black experience. No more skirting by the inconvenient fact that an affluent black student is rather insignificantly "diverse" compared to a white one who grew up with one parent in a trailer park.

In a nutshell, quite a few "diverse" students are -- whether unwittingly or not -- opposed to a key rationale for their recruitment and admission, and the whole diversity rationale has always been extremely fragile anyway.

Affirmative action must be preserved, but what we need to affirm in the 21st century is disadvantage. There are those who will insist that such a view is conservative -- yet it is them who will seem backward in the future.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christ Hidden in Our Schools, While Muhammad Roams the Halls Freely

In the U.S., the media mocks those who make their Christian practices public-such as praying for victims of terrorism or young people committing to abstain from sexual relations until married. Yet that same media attacks those voicing concerns about terrorism's link to Islamic beliefs as being Islamophobic.
In America, we see a nation so intimidated by political correctness that people in positions of responsibility make illogical decisions concerning the observation of a Christian holiday.

Recently, Eujin Jaela Kim, a new principal at Public School (PS) 169 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York, decided to prohibit the use of the word "Christmas" or displays of anything related to it including Santa, angels, gift-giving, a star, etc. Not only was Christmas taboo, Kim also mandated the Pledge of Allegiance be eliminated along with references to Thanksgiving Day.

Fortunately, when this story broke last week, Kim's boss, School Superintendent Anita Skop, took immediate action. While the Pledge had not been heard since the beginning of the school year at PS 169, it was recited loud and clear a few days after the story was published over the school's public address system by two fifth graders. The Christmas and Thanksgiving bans were also lifted.
Kim is not the only person in the school system trying to drum Jesus Christ out of it by eliminating any celebration of His birth.

After the ACLU took legal action, Concord Community schools in Indiana were prohibited by court order from including any historical account of Christ's birth during its annual Christmas program.

A preliminary injunction was issued, justified on the basis the program "conveys a message of endorsement of religion, or that a particular religious belief is favored or preferred."

Meanwhile, Blaine, Minnesota school officials instruct students to sing a song in their Christmas program saluting the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. The words "Allahu Akbar" are included in the song-words attesting to the greatness of Allah.

Ramadan is a Muslim holiday occurring many months earlier with no connection in timing to Christmas. Clearly, school administrators-who defended their actions on the basis of voluntary participation-lacked knowledge about Islam but nonetheless felt political correctness compelled them to recognize a Muslim celebration of some sort.

School officials at Riverbeds High School in Virginia instructed students, as part of an assignment on learning calligraphy, to write the "shahada"-Islam's statement of faith. One of Islam's five pillars, the shahada declares, "There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah."

While a teacher justified this assignment as an opportunity to learn calligraphy, it did not explain why female students were also invited to wear the "hijab" or headscarf.

In Massachusetts, schools have been guilty of undertaking field trips to mega-mosques where students are subjected to Islamic propaganda. This included the false assertion Muslim women were given the right to vote before women in the West were (Muslim women today either have no such right or very limited rights as recently demonstrated in Saudi Arabia). Male students visiting the mosques had to prostrate themselves before Allah alongside Muslim male worshippers.

In a Chicago, Illinois high school, an event dubbed "Walk a Mile in Her Hijab Day" was held ostensibly to give non-Muslim girls a "better understanding of the Muslim faith."

This event was sponsored by the Muslim Student Association (MSA)-which is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is a group banned in several Muslim countries as a terrorist organization. Additionally, MSA has also been declared by the U.S. justice system as "an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terror-financing trial ever held on U.S. soil."

A former Muslim in Iran and now a Christian pastor, Shahram Hadian, asks the obvious about this group, " is MSA now getting access to our high schools? is that not the state promoting a religion?" Another question arising is where is the ACLU?

Daniel Akbari, also a former Iranian Muslim, is an expert in sharia. He says the hijab is a clear symbol of Islamic law and in no way does wearing it promote humanity. What it does represent, he says, is "support for a hard-line ideology that leads to sharia, honor violence and honor killings."

Outside U.S. borders, Christ is on the run as well. In Iraq-a country that has hosted a Christian population for two thousands years-the religion is doomed.

Meanwhile, Christians living in other Muslim countries run risks attempting to celebrate Christmas.

In oil-rich Brunei, by virtue of implementing sharia last year, the Sultan-for Christians-has become the Grinch who stole Christmas. One who celebrates Christmas "excessively and openly" today could well end up serving a five-year jail sentence.
Somalia recently imposed a similar ban. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, has long had such a prohibition in place-not even allowing churches.

What is it that Muslim governments fear about public celebrations of Christmas or Christians openly practicing their religion.

They fear exposure to other religions might motivate Muslims to leave the nation's official religion of Islam. (Any Muslim leaving Islam would then be subject to death under sharia.)

Under Islam's doctrine of supremacy, it is the dominant religion. Others may only be practiced if non-Muslims pay a special tax known as "jizya" to do so.

The ban in Brunei against Christmas symbols sounds eerily similar to that initially imposed at PS 169 in New York. Fortunately, Principal Kim did not threaten children violating her mandate with jail time.

Many other Muslim countries outlaw Christmas celebrations as well. The heavily Muslim, former-Soviet republic of Tajikistan, bans Christmas trees and gift-giving in its schools.

Situated northeast of Afghanistan, Tajikistan does not even tolerate one festively dressing up as Santa Claus. After a Muslim cleric discouraged his flock to participate in the Christian celebration of the new year, a celebrant who had donned the costume of a Russian Santa was stabbed to death on New Year's Eve in 2011.

Interestingly, while the birthdate of Prophet Muhammad is celebrated on December 12 and 17 by Sunnis and Shiites respectively, in an effort to undermine Christian's celebration of Christ's birth, the UAE has now officially declared December 24 as the day to celebrate Muhammad's birth.

While it is sad enough to see Christian practices outlawed or forced underground in Muslim countries, it is a travesty to see American schools voluntarily doing it. But most disturbing is that educators and political correctness advocates fail to grasp the hypocrisy of eradicating Christian values in our schools while promoting those of Islam.


Bipartisan Achievements: Bigger Government, Worse Schools

"This is an early Christmas present."  That is what a very merry Barack Obama said earlier this month when he signed into law a bill sent to him by the Republican Congress.

The Republicans in Congress entitled it "The Every Student Succeeds Act." They wrote it to replace the "No Child Left Behind Act" - which was sponsored 14 years ago by then-Rep. John Boehner, a future Republican House speaker, and signed by George W. Bush, the last Republican president.

The Every Student Succeeds Act now serves the same function as its predecessor: perpetuating federal involvement in primary and secondary education. Like No Child Left Behind, it also demonstrates that big government is a bipartisan endeavor in Washington, D.C.

In fiscal 2002, when No Child Left Behind became law, the federal government spent $47.036 billion on the Department of Education. That equals $62.053 billion in 2015 dollars. In fiscal 2015, the federal government spent $90.031 billion on the Department of Education.

In the No Child Left Behind era, real annual federal education spending increased 45 percent.  At the same time, achievement scores in reading and math flatlined.

In 2002, public school eighth graders scored an average of 263 out of 500 on the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test. In 2015, they scored an average of 264 out of 500. In 2002, only 31 percent of American public school eighth graders scored "at or above proficient" in reading, according to the Department of Education. In 2015, only 33 percent did.

In mathematics, public school eighth graders averaged 276 out of 500 in 2003. In 2015, they averaged 281. In 2003, only 27 percent were at or above proficient in math. In 2015, it was only 32 percent.

In the 2001-2002 school year, when No Child Left Behind became law, current expenditures per pupil in the nation's public elementary and secondary schools was $10,890 in constant 2013-2014 dollars. In 2011-2012, it was $11,732.

America's public schools are not failing for lack of money.

But federal involvement in the public schools is also increasing the moral hazard Americans face when they send their children there.

The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights issued a "guidance" last year declaring that Title IX, the federal law banning sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding, also bars discrimination against students who claim a "gender identity" different from their biological sex.

Pursuing this principle, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in a brief filed this fall that: "[T]he Department of Education - the agency with primary enforcement authority over Title IX - has concluded that, although recipients may provide separate restrooms for boys and girls, when a school does so, it must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.

Doing so is the only way to ensure that the school's provision of sex-segregated restrooms complies with Title IX mandated not to subject any student to discrimination on the basis of sex."

Meanwhile, the new bipartisan education law that President Barack Obama happily declared a "Christmas present" authorizes increased federal involvement in preschool.

"Title IX would house a new federal preschool program authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act and establish annual funding at $250 million," Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation wrote in the Daily Signal. "The new preschool program would be housed at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and jointly administered by the Department of Education.

"The funding would be made available to states to help coordinate existing government preschool programs, such as those operated by the states and Head Start, and to establish new preschool programs," says Burke. "Although some funding has been appropriated for the preschool program for the past two years, the new Every Student Succeeds Act would codify the new $250-million federal preschool program, creating mission creep in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act."

America does not need the federal government involved in preschools; it needs parents in total control of where their children go to school.

The federal Department of Education should be abolished. At the local level, local governments should take the same amount of money they now spend per pupil in their public schools and give it in the form of a voucher to every parent with a school-age child.

Parents should be permitted to redeem those vouchers at any school they like, period. 


Myth: Individuals learn best when taught in their preferred learning style

It is a myth is that individuals learn best when they are taught in the way they prefer to learn. A verbal learner, for example, supposedly learns best through oral instructions, whereas a visual learner absorbs information most effectively through graphics and other diagrams.

There are two truths at the core of this myth: many people have a preference for how they receive information, and evidence suggests that teachers achieve the best educational outcomes when they present information in multiple sensory modes. Couple that with people's desire to learn and be considered unique, and conditions are ripe for myth-making.

“Learning styles has got it all going for it: a seed of fact, emotional biases and wishful thinking,” says Howard-Jones. Yet just like sugar, pornography and television, “what you prefer is not always good for you or right for you,” says Paul Kirschner, an educational psychologist at the Open University of the Netherlands.

In 2008, four cognitive neuroscientists reviewed the scientific evidence for and against learning styles. Only a few studies had rigorously put the ideas to the test and most of those that did showed that teaching in a person's preferred style had no beneficial effect on his or her learning. “The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing,” the authors of one study wrote.

That hasn't stopped a lucrative industry from pumping out books and tests for some 71 proposed learning styles. Scientists, too, perpetuate the myth, citing learning styles in more than 360 papers during the past 5 years. “There are groups of researchers who still adhere to the idea, especially folks who developed questionnaires and surveys for categorizing people. They have a strong vested interest,” says Richard Mayer, an educational psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

In the past few decades, research into educational techniques has started to show that there are interventions that do improve learning, including getting students to summarize or explain concepts to themselves. And it seems almost all individuals, barring those with learning disabilities, learn best from a mixture of words and graphics, rather than either alone.

Yet the learning-styles myth makes it difficult to get these evidence-backed concepts into classrooms. When Howard-Jones speaks to teachers to dispel the learning-styles myth, for example, they often don't like to hear what he has to say. “They have disillusioned faces. Teachers invested hope, time and effort in these ideas,” he says. “After that, they lose interest in the idea that science can support learning and teaching.”


American textbook writers demonizing Japan

The article “50 Japanese scholars fire back in McGraw-Hill sex slave row” in the Dec. 12 issue about professor Eiji Yamashita’s well-worded and eminently reasonable rebuttal to the American academics’ year-long histrionics over the “comfort women” makes a nice capstone to this disheartening affair.

Throughout this past year, some of the most highly respected professors in Japan have consistently called for a revision of a badly flawed American textbook, and an open and honest public debate on the actual historical facts at issue. In return, they have gotten the obfuscations, insults, and amateurish politicking of the likes of Alexis Dudden. The Japan Times has, regrettably, slavishly followed the American herd — will no one among the academic and journalistic left take up the challenge and respond to the Japanese professors’ enumerated points with sincerity?

Professor Dudden’s latest broadside, in which she likens the Japanese government during the Pacific War to the barbarians in Boko Haram, should put paid to the idea that she has ever been interested in having a real debate.

For those who still think Dudden is an unbiased watchdog willing to call a spade a spade, wherever she finds it, let us wait for her response to South Korea’s recent indictment of Park Yu-ha, whose scholarly, balanced and well-researched book on the comfort women may very well earn her a prison sentence in the same country that also arrested a Japanese journalist just one year ago.

The frustration that the Americans feel over their failure to find even one-sixtieth the amount of evidence for Japanese “war crimes” as for Nazi atrocities is very real. What it really reveals, though, is that the Americans have accused and convicted the Japanese long before they bothered to start looking for the evidence. A professional scholar would have started with an open mind first, and seen what the documentary evidence had to say. But this is not what Dudden has done.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Study: Gov't Subsidies to Blame for Skyrocketing Tuition

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan’s Education Secretary William Bennett took to the pages of The New York Times to opine against the rising cost of higher education. Tuition was increasing beyond the rate of inflation, and the quality of education was little changed. His idea why? The U.S. government and its generous student loan program was at fault. “If anything, increases in financial aid in recent years have enabled colleges and universities blithely to raise their tuitions, confident that Federal loan subsidies would help cushion the increase,” Bennett declared, thus creating what has become known as the “Bennett hypothesis.”

Today, college is viewed as a necessity and priced as a luxury. The situation has gotten so bad that a study found that college loans can affect college-educated citizens' ability to save for retirement. Now, a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research joins the growing body of research that supports Bennett’s hypothesis that the government was at fault for stepping into the college funding game. According to the researchers, “Existing theories can fully explain the increase in net tuition between 1987 and 2010. Our model suggests demand-side theories have the most predictive power. In fact, our results show the Bennett hypothesis can fully account for the tuition increase on its own.” And to think politicians want to “solve” the problem of college availability with more subsidies and more free stuff.


Students need education, not indoctrination

Harvey Silverglate

Harvard’s ‘holiday placemat for social justice’ turns students into missionaries

Upon entering their residential dining halls last week, Harvard undergraduates were greeted not only by silverware and water glasses, but also by what was duly labelled a ‘holiday placemat for social justice’. The Harvard College office for equity, diversity and inclusion, in conjunction with the freshman dean’s office, created the placemat so that students could, while home for the holidays, defend (and presumably propagate) the social and political views that have become accepted truth on campus.

Clearly, university administrators have begun to detect that the ideological positions that reign in their special and increasingly isolated societies might require explaining to the real world outside – a world now perhaps just beginning to view the nation’s universities as places where the totalitarian impulse runs rampant: one where the First Amendment and due process of law are considered tools of oppression rather than attributes of free citizens. Thus did Harvard administrators come up with the idea of arming their students with placemats – tools to advance their efforts as missionaries to the benighted family members at home when they return to visit for the upcoming holidays.

Lest the students have inadequately absorbed the social-justice mantras pounded into their minds – teachings that have become the be-all and end-all of higher education at most US colleges and universities – the mats offered guidance in the way to answer certain hot-button political and social questions. The placemats listed four issues of the day: Yale/student activism; Islamophobia/refugees; housemaster title; black murders in the street; and proposed answers to hypothetical questions that students might be asked:

‘Why are Black students complaining? Shouldn’t they be happy to be in college?’

‘We shouldn’t let anyone in the US from Syria. We can’t guarantee that terrorists won’t infiltrate the ranks of refugees. They’ve already done it in France.’

‘What does a housemaster have to do with slavery? It’s not related to that at all.’

‘Why didn’t they just listen to the officer? If they had just obeyed the law this wouldn’t have happened.’

Proposed answers, according to the reigning student-life bureaucrats, include:

‘When I hear students expressing their experiences of racism on campus I don’t hear complaining. Instead I hear young people uplifting a situation that I may not experience.’

‘Racial justice includes welcoming Syrian refugees.’

‘Given the name [housemaster] is offensive to groups of people, it doesn’t seem onerous to change it.’

‘Do you think the response would be the same if it was a white person being pulled over?’

While ostensibly offering ‘tips for talking to families’ in general, the placemats seemed to be targeted particularly at white students, who have presumably racist/xenophobic relatives back home.

There is, it turns out, a bright side to this otherwise depressing affair. A small group of brave and principled students, who identified themselves as ‘representatives of the Harvard undergraduate council’, made themselves heard and announced their outraged opposition to the administration’s latest experiment in thought control.

A truly diverse array (just judging by last names such as Biebelberg, Ely, Gupta, Kelley, Khansarinia, Kim, Popovski and so forth) wrote ‘to express concern regarding’ the placemat dissemination. ‘Reject[ing] the premise that there is a “right” way to answer the questions posed’, the protesting students affirmed that ‘we should work to foster a climate that is conducive to frank, open discussion – especially among students who disagree’.

The placemat, they complained, ‘gives the impression that the points it articulates are positions endorsed by the college and, more disturbingly, positions that the college thinks students should hold’. College, concluded the students, ‘should engage in the task of helping students to think and speak for themselves, not telling them what to think and what to say’.

In other words, the students were asking to be educated, not indoctrinated.

When confronted by this small but consequential and obviously worrisome revolt, and with the outside world sure to soon learn about the placemat exercise and the students’ response, the student-life bureaucracy went into damage-control mode. The student-life administration wrote to apologise (in an email to the entire undergraduate body) for how the placemat ‘was not effectively presented’ and ‘caused confusion in our community’. There followed the obligatory obeisance to ‘academic freedom’ being ‘central to all that Harvard College stands for’. The dean of student life and the dean of freshmen (who each signed the message) pledged henceforth to ‘support the growth and the development of independent minds’. (But, one might ask, isn’t that the traditional role of the faculty rather than the bureaucrats?)

It was unsurprising to me to discover that this placemat scheme was, in part, sponsored by the freshman dean’s office, which has previously (and continuously) treated its students as impressionable children, requiring training in political and social attitudes. In 2012, the dean of freshmen, Thomas Dingman, attempted to coerce first-year undergraduates into signing a ‘kindness oath’ that would be posted in the lobby of every freshman dormitory, affirming their belief that ‘the exercise of kindness holds a place on a par with intellectual attainment’. Dingman unexpectedly faced push-back from students and faculty, and some unwelcome, unkind publicity. He backed down and resolved instead to deal with kindness at the tendentious orientation sessions held each year for incoming freshmen – a non-public forum protected against the watchful eyes of upperclassmen, the undergraduate council, the news media, and, for that matter, alumni and donors.

The mission creep of the freshman dean’s office’s programming, however, now threatens the legitimate educational mission of the entire undergraduate college, as the students seem to understand better than the administration. And that office, now joined by the newly created and Orwellian-named Harvard College office for equity, diversity and inclusion that signed the placemat, makes the threat especially potent, since ‘diversity’ seems now to be defined as students who look different but think the same.

Resistance to overbearing political indoctrination at Harvard and elsewhere is gradually gaining steam as professors, students, parents, alumni, courts, and other observers of higher education increasingly recognise the destructive potential of administrative assaults on traditional academic freedom (not to mention the feckless submissiveness that administrators have shown to the tyranny of student demands that are incompatible with the whole notion of the liberal arts academy). One thing seems clear: the bureaucrats may engage in tactical retreats when supporters of academic freedom shed their reticence and fight back, but will nonetheless retrench and continue to pursue their agendas, expand their power and retain their bloated numbers and salaries.

Meanwhile, higher-level university officers and trustees will continue to raise gobs of money from alumni and other donors who have little idea how their funds are being spent, while public-relations specialists will continue to spew out glossy publications and upbeat press releases extolling the liberal-arts academy’s educational mission. Today’s campuses are, it seems, increasingly becoming a combination of asylums run by the inmates, and Potemkin Villages designed to hide the truth.


UK schools snapping up Australian teaching graduates

Few Brits want to teach in British "Comprehensives" because they know how bad they are.  Student indiscipline and lots of red tape are not attractive to anybody who actually wants to teach

Shahrzad Amjadi only had to wait a matter of days between finishing her final teaching placement and being offered a full-time job in a school.

But her success is virtually unheard of and the University of Notre Dame teaching graduate has had to move 17,000 kilometres for the position or face competing with 44,000 others who are waiting for a permanent teaching position with the NSW Department of Education.

The newly trained primary school teacher will start next month at Heathrow Primary School, a government school west of London.

Unlike Australia, which has a worsening oversupply of teachers, Britain is struggling to meet demand and figures suggest that a fall in the birth rate in the late 1990s will mean a "steady decline" in the population of 21-year-olds until 2022.

This means the overall pool of graduates is likely to fall and result in fewer trainee teachers, according to the UK's Association of School and College Leaders. Schools have also been forced to spend £1.3b on temporary staff as a result of the chronic shortage of teachers.

But in NSW, the education department's latest figures reveal that only 1.6 per cent of all teachers are aged 20-25 and it warns that by 2021 there will be a "more than adequate supply of primary teachers in all geographical locations" and an "adequate supply of secondary teachers".

Ms Amjadi, 23, who has been working in early childhood and nannying while completing her degree, said she was attracted to working overseas because it would provide her invaluable experience when she returned to Australia.

"I might have been able to get some casual work in Sydney, but I would have had to put in 110 per cent just maybe to get a couple of days," she said.

"I am really excited because I love the sound of the school [in the UK] and I got along really well with the principal in the interview and he really seemed to have a vision for the school so I think it is going to be a great experience for me."

An international education recruitment consultant, Mitch Jones, said young teachers had been travelling to Britain on working holiday visas for many years but the demand for Australians was now much higher as Britain battles with its shortage of teachers.

"In the UK, there are not the same amount of people going into teacher training and that means we can't keep up with demand for Aussie teachers over there," Mr Jones, from Protocol Education Australia, said.

"There is also the professional development side of things because if you are applying for a job, 250 CVs can look quite homogenous but if you have something different, like experience overseas, that can really help in a teacher-saturated market."


Monday, December 28, 2015

Busing in Boston made segregation worse

Another failure of Leftist authoritarianism.  The article below is written from a Leftist perspective so sees nothing wrong with the fact that it was only when whites had little opportunity to flee that there was a degree of desegregation.  The rightness of forcing people to do things is unquestioned below.  And Leftists call Republicans Fascists!

Today, the concept of court-ordered busing to desegregate schools has few champions. Conservatives look back on busing in Boston as an outrageous overreach of government powers. Liberals look back on it as a policy that didn’t go far enough. It didn’t last long enough. It didn’t reach deep enough into the wealthy suburbs.

It’s a shame that busing has gone out of style at the very moment we’ve gotten a better understanding of why it failed — and where it worked.

It’s important to remember that busing did achieve success in places other than Boston. Bigger school districts, which encompassed both city and suburb, saw lasting gains. For instance, in Louisville, Ky., where the school district is 400 square miles.

Older civil rights activists in Boston blame racism for the fact that so many whites left the city in the aftermath of busing, robbing them of the gains that would have been achieved by integration. But the size of the district — and the availability of so many high-performing school districts nearby — probably mattered just as much. That’s a big reason school desegregation was more successful in the South, where school districts are larger and there are few neighboring districts. There, the percentage of black students in intensely segregated schools has dropped from 80 percent in 1968 to a little more than 30 percent today, according to a report by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA.

In the Northeast, which has so many alternative school districts where whites and middle-class families can flee, the results are far more discouraging: The percentage of black students who attend “intensely segregated” schools has actually risen, from 43 percent in 1968 to more than 50 percent today.

We know now that Boston “did not have the right conditions” for the kind of busing desegregation plan that Judge W. Arthur Garrity Jr. ordered, said Sarah Reber, associate professor of public policy at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs.

The plans that saw the best long-term results were the ones that made the most gradual changes, had the smallest number of blacks, and imposed the least inconvenience on whites.

For instance, Volusia County — which covers Daytona Beach, Fla. — managed to achieve long-term success by scattering a small number of black students across a large number of white schools. Few whites were reassigned.

But here in Boston, Garrity ordered white students in Southie to go to black schools in Roxbury that he had just condemned. Half of all white students failed to show up for school, according to Christine Rossell, a Boston University professor who helped implement Garrity’s order in the 1970s and later became one of the nation’s most outspoken opponents of court-ordered busing.

Rossell changed her mind about busing when it became clear that white flight had offset any integration that had been achieved. “Boy, were we naive,” she said.

In 1974, 62 percent of black students in Boston attended schools that were more than 70 percent black, according to Garrity’s ruling. Today, about 80 percent of black students attend schools that are more than 70 percent black or Hispanic.

Statistics like these are one reason that court-ordered busing gave way to school choice programs and magnet schools across the country. Today, there’s a nationwide trend to return to neighborhood schools.

Perhaps the biggest mistake we made back in the 1970s was to frame school desegregation as a battle between racists and the righteous, rather than a public policy puzzle, full of trade-offs, that had to be solved. Today, in the era of Donald Trump and Black Lives Matter, we’re back to that same polarization. It’s as if we’ve learned nothing at all.


New softball rules for handling unruly students in Massachusetts public schools

Expect a lot of teacher resignations and maybe union action as defiant students become uncontrollable

Regulations that take effect Jan. 1 will limit how children can be physically restrained in Massachusetts public schools, at a time when alleged violations at a Holyoke school have shone a spotlight on the use of force to control unruly students.

The new rules, approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education late last year, are the first update to state policies on the use of restraint since 2001.

The regulations will add restrictions on how unruly students can be held down for their protection, and bar the use of devices or medication to subdue an agitated child — two tactics that previously were permitted with the consent of a parent and a doctor.

The rules also require for the first time that students assigned a “time out” to calm down be continuously monitored by school staff and that principals grant approval for any “time out” lasting longer than 30 minutes. In addition, principals must approve restraints lasting longer than 20 minutes.

Most students who are subjected to physical restraint are children and teens with behavioral or emotional disabilities. Advocates are lauding the upcoming changes.

Most of the alleged physical abuse was inflicted upon children in the school’s Therapeutic Intervention Program for students with emotional and behavioral disabilities.

Rick Glassman, director of advocacy for the Disability Law Center, said it is particularly helpful that the regulations allow a student to be pinned to the ground face-down — called a “prone restraint” — only when rigorous standards are met.

Those conditions include parental consent, the failure of other attempts to subdue the student, a documented history of behavior endangering the student or others, and the absence of medical conditions that could be worsened, such as asthma, heart conditions, obesity, or seizures.

“Basically, any floor restraint is dangerous, but prone restraints have been shown to be especially dangerous,” Glassman said. “There’s a lot of clinical literature showing . . . . an increased risk of injury or death from positional asphyxia as a result of using prone restraints.”

The law center issued a report this month alleging that workers hired to calm students with emotional and behavioral disabilities at the Peck Full Service Community School in Holyoke instead berated, slapped, tackled, and physically restrained the children, violating existing regulations on the use of force.

Sergio Paez, who was superintendent during the time the abuse allegedly occurred, has repeatedly defended his handling of reports of abuse that crossed his desk.

Another significant change in the new regulations, advocates say, is the requirement that any use of restraint be reported quickly to the school’s principal and to parents, and that principals review individual student data on restraints each week and schoolwide data each month.

The rules will also require that all uses of physical restraint be reported to the state. Previously, schools were required to report restraints to the state only if a student or school staff member was injured or the student was restrained for more than 20 minutes.

“Reporting can be particularly important . . . . so the parents know what’s going on and whether a child has suffered an injury as a result of a restraint, and why,” Glassman said. “Reporting is important for schools so that school supervisory personnel know what’s going on in the classroom.”

Programs around the state that work with special education students have been training employees this fall to prepare for the new regulations, said James V. Major, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Approved Private Schools, which represents private, state-funded, special education schools.

He said the changes are prompting some schools to update their own policies in ways that are even more restrictive than required by the new rules.

“Even though prone restraints are allowed under restricted circumstances, I think most of our members will be moving away from using them at all,” Major said.

In pacifying children who are out of control, he believes, schools will elect to hold them in place while standing or pin them to the floor facing up. Both techniques require an additional staff member.

“Schools and providers are going to have to figure out how to get the additional staff,” he said. “That’s going to mean more money and additional changes in staffing patterns. There’s also a potential for increased injury to staff, which is why they were using prone in the past.”

With proper training, Major said, staff should be able to avoid injury.

The new reporting requirements will also require additional staff time, but they will provide schools with better information about their own procedures and how to avoid situations that escalate to the point that a child needs to be restrained, Major said.

Because the new requirements impose greater rigor, he said, they could ultimately affect enrollment policies for schools serving children with special needs.

“I think there may be an unintended consequence of tightened admission criteria and procedures as schools really scrutinize their ability to meet the needs of students,” Major said. “There might be some students that will find it more difficult to get appropriate placement.”


War on Christmas at Cornell

As anyone with half a brain knows "Jesus is the reason for the season." Christmas may be incredibly commercialized, but the imagery of what has become a largely secular Christmas season across the country is inspired by the Christian celebration of the birth of Christ. Santa Claus himself - "Jolly old St. Nick," arose out of the legend of St. Nicholas, scourge of the heretic Arius  and secret giver of gifts.

Someone should tell that to the good people at Cornell University, who are trying to purge their campus of all Christian imagery, just in time for Christmas:

The folks over at Cornell University are worried about “inclusive seasonal displays.” That’s academic code for Christmas decorations.

Cornell warned students that some “winter holiday displays” are not consistent with the university’s “commitment to diversity and inclusiveness.”

Among the items on their naughty list are Nativity scenes, angels, crosses and mistletoe.

I’m not quite sure why they frown upon the mistletoe – unless they want to discourage young fraternity men from spreading Christmas cheer among the Sorority girls.

So for the sake of inclusion Cornell University recommends ditching the Baby Jesus and hemiparasitic plants.

Let this serve as your daily reminder: liberalism is an incredibly boring ideology built around denial of the Judeo-Christian ideals that merged with the ideas of the Enlightenment to make America the greatest country in the history of the world.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Can a good teacher be bad for you?

In asking the above question, I am suggesting a paradox.  And I think the answer is mostly No.  But I want to give a small story about when good teachers were bad for someone I know.

He went to a private school and private schools usually have the best teachers.  Why?  Because private schools are more orderly and have brighter students, two things which are not unconnected.  Why are the students brighter?  Because you need a fair bit of money to send a kid there and people with more money generally have more brains too -- as the much execrated Charles Murray pointed out two decades ago. And brainy parents tend to have brainy kids

No teacher however likes to spend most of his/her time getting the students to sit down and shut up, so most would prefer to teach in a private school, where students have the willingness to listen and the ability to learn.  So private schools have the pick of the teachers and mostly manage to hire good ones.

And part of that is that private High Schools are often able to put before their students that rare breed, a MALE teacher.  And that does help male students, who tend to get put down and disrespected by female teachers.

So the lad I have in mind went to a private school where the mathematics teachers were male (funnily enough!) and who were very enthusiastic about their subject.  And they enthused the boy.  Which was something of a pity.  Because he became a mathematician. He spent 8 years at distinguished universities studying it.

But he wasn't in fact very good at it. He could do it all but he was not good enough for it to lead to his heart's desire:  A good job.  And that showed up in his performance on ability tests.  He was brilliant at verbal tasks but only in the top third for mathematics.  Any guidance counsellor would have steered him away from mathematics and into something more verbal.

So were the 8 years he spent on mathematics wasted?  Not really.  Most people remember their time at university as a good time in their lives and he had 8 years of that, which he did enjoy.  And coming from an affluent family he did not have fees or loans to worry about.

But it all worked out in the end.  After he gave up on mathematics, he studied computer programming for a year.  And he found his niche there. He did use his verbal ability, but in a non-obvious way.  He was soon hired as a computer programmer.  And he loves doing it.  He gets paid a lot of money to do what is for him fun.  And why is it fun?  Partly  because it is easy for him but also because it is like a puzzle that you always manage to solve.  As a former FORTRAN programmer myself, I can vouch for how rewarding it is.

Programming is basically an exercise in being relentlessly precise and logical so it seems a bit odd that it should be associated with verbal ability but it seems to be. My strengths too  are mostly verbal rather than mathematical and I almost got to the stage where I could write FORTRAN in my sleep.  FORTRAN dreams?  They can happen, though they don't lead to usable code

But the point is that a computer language is a language, if I can be tautological. A language like FORTRAN or C is a way of talking to a computer and telling it to do things -- so that is how it seems to work.  The commands in a computer language are in fact mostly in English:  DO, IF, SWITCH, WRITE etc.  It's a reminder that computers are another great gift to the world from the English-speaking people -- people whom the Left scornfully refer to as "Dead white males".

So the lad was derailed for 8 years by good teachers. He spent 8 years doing something that was hard for him and which led nowhere -- but needed only one year of studies to reach his Elysium.  He could have reached it much earlier.

Home schooling of 20,000 children across Britain will be reviewed amid fears they are being 'radicalised by parents'

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has called for a review of home schooling amid concerns that thousands of children are being radicalised by their own parents.

It is unclear how many children and young adults are being home schooled but it is thought to be in the region of 20,000 to 50,000.

Parents do not have to inform their council that they are educating their children at home, leaving the government in the dark about the number of kids at risk of radicalisation through education at home. 

'There has always been the freedom in this country for people to educate their children at home. Many people do it very well,' a senior government source told the Independent on Sunday.

'But we need to know where the children are and to be certain that they are safe.

'For every parent doing a brilliant job, there may be someone filling their child's mind with poison. We just don't know. We don't have reliable figures,' the source said.

The Education Secretary's new approach comes after the announcement of an investigation into the activities of unregistered schools and madrassahs.

Concerns have been made about the teaching in some madrassahs with concerns that religious extremists are using an inappropriate curriculum.

Ofsted’s chief schools inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw has previously spoken about the 'serious and growing threat' of unregistered Islamic centers.

'We have provided Ofsted with extra inspectors to eradicate extremism in education,' a Department of Education spokesman said.

'We are working with them to address their concerns about home education being exploited, while safeguarding the rights of parents to determine how and where to educate their children.' they said.

Labour’s shadow Education Secretary, Lucy Powell has called for urgent action against the threat of extremist content being used in home school curriculums, calling the failure of action 'completely unacceptable.'

'It is vital that action is taken to ensure that all children, whether in school or taught at home, are given the knowledge and skills to succeed, not taught a narrow curriculum of hate and bigotry.'

'Yet, just last week it was revealed that the Government had let children remain in illegal, unregistered schools for weeks, where they were exposed to narrow curriculums, misogynist, homophobic and anti-Semitic material. This is completely unacceptable.'


Reality vs. 'Mismatch': Becoming Unhinged at Justice Scalia Over Race

Defenders of racial preferences are good at two things: ignoring the real-world consequences of their policies, and attacking anyone who notices the consequences.

At the recent argument in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, Justice Scalia asked a question that illustrated that the victims of racial preferences in college admissions include not only the people denied admission because they are not the preferred race, but also the people preferences are designed to help.

At oral argument, Justice Scalia said:

    "There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well. One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas".

Justice Scalia pointed out something known as "mismatch." It is the common-sense notion that if you are admitted to a school where you would not have been accepted except for your skin color, you might not do as well as the other students who were admitted on credentials alone.

Mismatch is an outcome consistent with life. Were I to be handed a slot in the 2016 Masters, I would finish in last place by dozens of strokes.

If common sense alone isn't good enough, data support the mismatch theory. Gail Heriot details some of the research on the subject, and has her own paper published by the Heritage Foundation explaining mismatch in greater detail.

In essence, when applicants are thrown into a college or law school where they wouldn't otherwise qualify, they do worse and drop out at greater rates. This means fewer, not more, minority doctors, lawyers, and engineers. Mismatch also conveniently creates a culture of grievance on campus, where a segment of the student population struggles in substantial part because of racial preferences.

That Justice Scalia mentioned this troublesome fact caused the racial grievance industry to become unhinged. They did what they do whenever someone questions the policy of government treating people differently because of the color of their skin: they attacked. As my friend Hans von Spakovsky (and co-author Elizabeth Slattery) noted:

    The Left has whipped itself into a frenzy, but as these comments demonstrate, Scalia’s critics have deliberately missed the point. Rather than look into the research Scalia was citing, they have launched scurrilous and false claims of racism. It’s easier to engage in racial demagoguery than to address the problem head on, and Scalia highlighted a real problem -- academic mismatch.

The often vulgar Paul Campos at Salon ran with this headline:

    "Scalia’s raging hypocrisy: Encroaching senility, raging racism, or does he no longer give a f*ck?"

Chauncey Devega gets a two-fer at Salon by disparaging Justice Scalia and Donald Trump at the same time:  "Is Justice Antonin Scalia auditioning for a job as Donald Trump’s ghostwriter?"

Devega calls the data on mismatch "pseudo scientific racism."

The racialist left like Devega and Campos cannot tolerate anyone questioning their orthodoxy, because there is too much money and power to be had by treating people differently based on skin color. Those who don't want to hear about mismatch are too busy conducting diversity training consulting for major corporations and earning fat salaries at 501(c)(3) organizations sowing racial grievance on campus.

I am reminded of an odd gathering from when I attended law school at the University of South Carolina a quarter-century ago. Some of us began to notice that groups of first-year black law students would gather without fanfare at the school at night in classrooms. Teaching at the front of the classroom was a third-year white law student who was on the law review.

After some discreet inquiries, we came to learn these were race-based tutoring sessions provided by the University of South Carolina School of Law.

Whites need not apply for help, even if they wanted it.

The sessions were almost certainly illegal, and were likely a byproduct of the mismatch that Justice Scalia alluded to in the Supreme Court last week. The tutoring sessions were designed to overcome the effects of mismatch by helping these students get through a very demanding first year of law school. Naturally, those of us without the right skin color organized our own study sessions without the benefit of the government provided tutors.

Some might think that a state law school in South Carolina had a special obligation to enhance the crop of minority lawyers 25 years after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Perhaps. But the mismatch created by race preferences were something the law school did not wish to be discussed, and something in 2015 many still don't want to be discussed. The nasty reaction to Justice Scalia demonstrates how damaging the truth can be to years of treating people differently because of their race.


Hapless graduates sue their former universities in shockingly high numbers

IT WAS supposed to be easy. Clark Moffatt would put in the work and study hard, and one day be rewarded with his dream job as a lawyer working in the America criminal justice system. But nearly a decade after graduating, he has yet to land a job in the profession

With a wife and two kids to support — and more than $230,000 in student debt — he made a desperate move which has, ironically, placed him in the courtroom, but in a role he didn’t wish to play.
Mr Moffatt is suing his law school, claiming it intentionally misled students and exaggerated postgraduation employment figures and future salary expectations.

It might sound like sour grapes but he is just the latest in a growing number of graduates in the US suing universities in an effort to recoup their tuition fees as the lofty promises once held by higher education come crashing down.

“It’s both frustrating and, to a degree, humiliating,” Mr Moffatt, who now lives in a mobile home and uses food stamps to help feed his family, told Business Insider.

He, along with 11 other graduates from San Diego’s Thomas Jefferson School of Law, have filed two separate legal complaints against the university.

They claim the law school promoted employment figures among graduates that topped 90 per cent. But they did not disclose that those figures included part-time and nonlegal work including a pool cleaner and a sales clerk at Victoria’s Secret. The figures were also derived from a very small sample of graduates.

Another plaintiff in the complaint, Nikki Nguyen, left a $US69,000-a-year job at Boeing in 2006 to pursue a law degree at the university. She too has struggled to find a job after graduating and watched her student debt blow out to more than $240,000.

“Schools are setting up a lot of people to fail,” Kyle McEntee, executive director of Law School Transparency, a non-profit legal education policy group told the Associated Press this month.

Mr Moffatt is currently a full-time Uber driver and uses the money to support his children and his wife who is terminally-ill with cancer.

“For the longest time, I just thought I was unlucky — life had dealt me a crap hand post-graduation,” he said of his job search. “(But) I came to the realisation maybe I wasn’t just unlucky. Maybe there was something bigger afoot.”

And talking to other graduates from the San Diego university, he found out he wasn’t alone.

It has been a rather tumultuous environment for the for-profit education sector in America as of late. Many for-profit schools have been accused of aggressively recruiting students with a focus on depositing their federally backed student loans rather than providing them with a quality education.

But with scores of graduates finding out their prospects aren’t as rosy as they were led to believe, many are fighting back. A dozen similar law suits have been filed in recent years against universities including the University of San Francisco School of Law, New York Law School and the Florida Coastal School of Law.

While the sense of betrayal is felt among graduating students across the country, as the Wall Street Journalpoints out, most of the suits have so far been unsuccessful.

It’s not just law students displaying a proclivity to pursue litigious retribution. The Medieval Literature department at Harvard University, the Greek Studies department at the prestigious Cornell University and the Philosophy department at NYU have all been the target of class action lawsuits from hapless graduates.

New York woman Trina Thompson was one of the earlier graduates to sue her former school when she sought to have her $US72,000 tuition costs reimbursed in 2009 after her bachelor of business administration degree in information technology failed to get her employed.

Some grievances are more valid than others. Such as the 13 graduates who filed a lawsuit against the University of Minnesota in October alleging fraud and misrepresentation by the school meant they didn’t receive standard teaching licenses upon graduating.

But, regardless of the complaint, it is clear there is a growing disenchantment felt among a generation of educated Americans who feel ripped off by the system.