Friday, January 08, 2016

'Unattractive' women get lower grades, study finds

From  Metropolitan State University of Denver

Grades students receive in class are supposed to be based on their academic merits, but a new study has revealed Unattractive women get lower marks in exams and coursework compared to their more physically appealing counterparts.

“Is it that professors invest more time and energy into the better-looking students, helping them learn more and earn the higher grades? Or do professors simply reward the appearance with higher grades given identical performance?"

Those awarding the lower grades are both male and female professors, researchers at the Metropolitan State University of Denver said.

The study also showed that looks for male students had no impact either way as there was no meaningful link between grades and physical attractiveness.

Two economists at the American university gathered student identification photos and had their physical appeal rated on a scale of 1 to 10. They recruited people who weren’t students or faculty members to rate the images.

Women were divided in three groups: average, more attractive, and less attractive.  The researchers looked at 168,092 course grades awarded.

The study found that for the least attractive third of women, the average course grade was 0.067 grade points (on a 4.0 scale) below those earned by others. This was described as a statistically significant gap. This compares to an increase of 0.024 in grade for the more attractive group of female students.

Rey Hernández-Julián, one of the economists carrying out the research, told Inside Higher Ed that he found the results of the study “troubling”.

He said there are two possible reasons why grades are correlated to physical appearance. He said: “Is it that professors invest more time and energy into the better-looking students, helping them learn more and earn the higher grades? Or do professors simply reward the appearance with higher grades given identical performance?

He also said that “tools to address the presence of implicit racial bias in policing are becoming increasingly prevalent. Similar tools might be useful in other environments where other implicit biases are prevalent, such as colleges and universities.”

Brian Lightman of the Association of School and College Leaders said: “Behaviour of this kind would be completely unacceptable. Accurate assessment of student’s work must be conducted to the highest professional and ethical standards and school leaders would act decisively if these were not adhered to.”


UK: Another teacher at Trojan Horse school who said Islam was the 'true religion' and Christians and Jews were ignorant is found guilty of misconduct

A former teacher at two Birmingham schools linked to the Trojan Horse scandal could face a lifetime ban from the classroom after he told pupils that Christians and Jews were 'ignorant' and Muslims have 'the true religion'.

Wakass Haruf, 30, was found guilty of 'professional misconduct' for making the 'inappropriate' comments during a playground sermon to mark Islamic Friday prayers in June 2013.

A panel said that while Mr Haruf's comments to pupils during the sermon were 'isolated utterances', they breached teaching standards that rule teachers should 'not undermine British values and should promote tolerance of all faiths'.

In a witness statement, another teacher at the school said he saw Mr Haruf making offensive remarks during prayer sessions.

He claimed that he told pupils: 'We (Muslims) have the true religion, not like those ignorant Christians and ignorant Jews.'

However, describing Mr Haruf as a 'credible and truthful' witness the panel cleared him of allegations that he stopped pupils from playing football to make them pray instead and telling children they were worse than a 'kaffir' - a non-believer - if they chose sport over worship.

He is just one of 13 teachers from four Birmingham schools linked to the so-called Trojan Horse plot accused of professional misconduct by the National College for Teaching & Leadership.

The alleged plot allegedly involves a group of hardline Muslims attempting to Islamise non-faith schools.

Previously,The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) heard that Mr Haruf - a Sunni Muslim - clashed with the school's head of maths Homa Memari, who is a Shia Muslim.

NCTL legal representative Kate Bex told the hearing in November: 'In June 2013, Mr Haruf made comments in a Friday prayer session that were sectarian in nature.

'Frank Bruce, a teacher at Golden Hillock School, heard him emphasise several times how important Abu Bakr is, while directing his attention to Ms Memari.

'Historically, Shia Muslims follow one leader after the Prophet, Ali, and not other leaders such as Abu Bakr who is important only to Sunni Muslims and not to Shia Muslims.  'Such a sermon should have focused on figures that are not divisive, for example Allah or Muhammed.

'Mr Bruce spoke to Ms Memari afterwards and she was visibly upset and said she would not attend Friday prayer sermons in future.

'Mr Bruce heard Mr Haruf telling pupils 'you can't even pray if you don't believe in Abu Bakr'.'

The ruling comes as the former headmaster of another Birmingham school linked to the Trojan Horse scandal was banned from teaching for ‘misconduct of a serious nature’.

Jahangir Akbar, was found to have decreased the diversity of religious education for pupils - aged seven to 11 - having banned the school from holding Christmas performances or putting up a Christmas tree ‘in order to have more time to focus on teaching and learning’.

While Wakass Haruf's teaching fate is yet to be decided, Jahangir Akbar could be allowed back into the classroom in as little as five years.

The panel cleared Haruf of a number of additional allegations - including claims he was part of an agreement with like-minded teachers, governors and parents to allow an undue amount of religious influence on the education of pupils at Park View and Golden Hillock.

Mr Haruf was part of a What's App messaging group called the Park View Brotherhood, which saw teachers sharing 'offensive' views including claims the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby was a hoax, the panel heard.

However the ruled that while his messages about the soldier were 'ill-advised and inappropriate', they were 'limited'.

Mr Bompas described Mr Haruf as a 'hugely enthusiastic' teacher who should have been given more support from senior leaders and took on extra responsibility, such as prayers, when he 'should have declined'.

He added: 'The panel formed a largely favourable impression of Mr Haruf and found that he was an outstanding maths teacher who was well-liked by staff and students.'

Mr Haruf was also cleared of encouraging pupils to pray at Park View by broadcasting calls to prayer over a tannoy, putting up posters and sending direct reminders to teachers and prefects.

He is set to be sanctioned at a later date by education secretary Nicky Morgan and could be banned from teaching indefinitely.

Park View, which was made subject to special measures by Ofsted in April 2014 following the emergence of the Trojan Horse allegations, was renamed Rockwood Academy in September and now has a new head teacher and governing body.

Last month Ofsted said it was on the right path to pull itself out of special measures.

Golden Hillock was taken over by another academy chain in September and is now Ark Boulton. It too has a new principal and governing body. 


British High School exams in major subjects are set to be brought forward this summer so Muslim children fasting for Ramadan don't lose out

GCSE and A-levels could be rejigged this summer to ensure young Muslim students can observe Ramadan without it affecting their results.

Subjects such as GCSE English and maths could be timetabled right at the start of exams season to ensure they are over before the start of Islam's holy month in June.

Ramadan, which Muslims observe by fasting during daylight hours, has been gradually moving into the summer exams season in England and this year crosses over with almost the entire period.

The window available for students to sit papers is tight - usually from the end of May and throughout June - meaning exams would not be able to be delayed.

But those who arrange the exams suggested there is scope for movement within the regular schedule.

The changes could affect more than one million pupils, if subjects such as English and maths are affected.

In a statement, the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), which represents exam boards, said it considers comments from a wide range of groups - including schools, colleges and faith groups - every year before setting the schedule.

'The small window in which examinations can be taken, the large number of candidates taking examinations and the diverse range of subjects available to candidates, places significant limitations on the changes that can be accommodated for any one group,' a JCQ spokesman said.

'However, JCQ meets the needs of various groups as far as possible. JCQ and the qualifications regulator Ofqual have previously met with Muslim groups to discuss the timetabling of examinations in light of Ramadan moving into the examination period.

'Where possible, large entry GCSE and GCE subjects are timetabled prior to the commencement of Ramadan and consideration given to whether they are timetabled in the morning or afternoon.'

The statement came today after Children's Commissioner Anne Longfield was asked about the impact of Ramadan falling over the exams period this morning as she gave evidence to the Commons Education Select Committee.

In response, she said she was not aware of the detail but that she understood there were discussions under way around delaying the timetable.

Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the union is meeting with Muslim faith leaders to discuss Ramadan and plans to issue guidance to schools and colleges ahead of the exams.

'The guidance will be non-prescriptive and will not advise families or students on how they should address the question of fasting during Ramadan which we agree is a matter for the individuals concerned along with parents, carers and faith leaders,' the spokesman added.

'School and college leaders are very keen to work with communities to ensure young people are able to observe Ramadan without any detrimental impact on their examinations.' 

Teachers first raised concerns about the impact of Ramadan on Muslim teenagers two years ago, arguing that if students go into their exams hungry or thirsty it could affect their results.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the union has been campaigning about the issue for more than a year.

'As educators we want all children to be able to achieve their best in exams that are so crucial to their future,' she said.

'We shall continue to raise awareness of best practice and how education staff can support students during Ramadan.'


Thursday, January 07, 2016

Mental health programs in Mass. schools

The objective is fine but there needs to be some measure of payoff.  Are the activities working?  Is mental health improving?  Or is it all just trendy nonsense? No mention of that so far.  I am certainly dubious that Tibetan gongs will help

The only sound that could be heard in Maria Simon’s first-grade classroom one December morning was the soothing hum from a vibrating Tibetan singing bowl. Her students had gathered on a brightly colored rug at the back of the classroom, sitting with their eyes shut, their legs crossed, and their arms extended outward palms up.

Each time a classmate struck the small bowl with a mallet — releasing a low sounding gong — the students breathed in. Then as the sound faded away, they breathed out. The exercise lasted about five minutes, and they started their math lesson.

“It helps give us a few minutes of peace and quiet so we can focus on our work,” said one student, Grace Hayes.

This moment of “mindfulness” in Simon’s classroom is part of a broader effort at Birch Meadow Elementary School and Reading’s eight other schools to help put students at ease and get them more in tune with their emotions, and one another, so they can concentrate on learning.

Across Massachusetts, schools are devoting more time to address the social and emotional well-being of their students. Educators stress the movement is not simply “feel good” education. They say teaching students at every grade to manage their emotions can help them deal with a multitude of serious issues, including bullying, mental illness, substance abuse, or trauma.

Such problems, educators say, can present immense barriers to learning and, if left unaddressed, could exact heavy tolls like suicides, drug overdoses, or even school shootings.

Reading, a town of 25,000 north of Boston, has emerged as a state leader over the past few years in what is known as social-emotional learning. Like many communities, Reading grapples with students struggling with depression, anxiety, or alcohol use, among other issues.

But the town stands apart because it has devised an aggressive plan to reach out to students before signs of problems arise, and its initiatives go well beyond the school doors.

“You treat every child as if they need a safe and supportive environment,” said Sara Burd, Reading’s district leader of social-emotional learning. “You never are going to know every student in a classroom who is experiencing trauma. They are not going to have a name tag that says, ‘Yes, I have a trauma history.’ ”

Starting in preschool, instructors lead students in yoga. In elementary and middle schools, teachers gather students in circles to talk about issues on their minds and teach strategies for dealing with certain situations, such as bullying, and they use a common approach to discipline that emphasizes rewarding behavior instead of punishment.

At the town’s high school, teachers embark on more deliberate conversations about students, making sure they know something about everyone and, if not, making a concerted effort to reach out to them.

Educators stress it is a challenging undertaking because it is not always clear which students are experiencing distress. Some may signal they are struggling by acting out in class or bursting into tears. But others can appear well-adjusted — putting on a smile — as turmoil swirls inside.

In one noteworthy endeavor, the town is training more than 350 educators, town librarians, clergy, crossing guards, bus drivers, and police to be “youth mental health first aid responders,” instilling them with the skills to identify students who might be in trouble and the know-how to respond.

Reading officials acknowledge they have not found all the answers. While the school system has seen lower rates of alcohol and drug use among teenagers, it has experienced a slight increase in the percentage of students reporting depression over the last decade, according to a behavior survey of middle- and high-school students in 2015.

Superintendent John Doherty, in a state of the schools address in November, stressed the importance of remaining vigilant. He noted that 55 Reading Memorial High School students had been hospitalized for depression, anxiety, or suicidal tendencies last school year.

In an interview, Doherty said that in many cases the hospitalization rates reflect the enormous pressures many suburban students face to take the most rigorous classes and pile on extracurricular activities — often at the expense of sleep — to get into the best colleges.

“We are trying to do everything we can so students know they have adults they can talk to if they are in crisis,” he said.

With Reading ranking almost at the bottom in the state for per-student spending, the town has relied on three federal grants, totaling about $2 million, to help support social and emotional programs in school and its communitywide effort to combat substance abuse among residents of all ages.

The growing emphasis on social-emotional learning represents a ground shift in Massachusetts.

For decades, schools had provided some lessons in those areas, especially in the early grades. But many tossed aside or substantially scaled back the lessons to devote more time to boosting standardized test scores in reading and math, in an effort to avoid state sanctions for poor performance.

Many educators saw it as a misguided trade-off: If students are not in a healthy state of mind, they will struggle academically and perform poorly on state tests; more alarmingly, it could set them up for a lifetime of failure.

“People are stepping back on that full focus on reading and math scores and are looking more holistically at all the skills that really matter,’’ said Sara Bartolino Krachman, executive director of Transforming Education, an education nonprofit in Boston. “Social-emotional learning is not only crucial to academic success, but also career success and lifelong being.”

A landmark study in 1998 often quoted by educators today — the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study — established a disturbing link between childhood trauma and increased risks for alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, suicide, severe obesity, and sexually transmitted diseases.

It suggested that participants who had four or more adverse childhood experiences — such as sexual or emotional abuse or living in a household where someone was mentally ill, suicidal, or abusing drugs — had a fourfold to twelvefold increase in the chance that they would experience risk behaviors as adults.The study, published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, involved 17,000 adults. Almost two-thirds of them had at least one adverse childhood experience.

Social-emotional learning received a boost last year in Massachusetts with the enactment of a gun-control law that called for creating “safe and supportive schools.” The law encourages schools to integrate such initiatives as bullying prevention, trauma sensitivity, dropout prevention, and truancy reduction.

In Boston, Superintendent Tommy Chang added a Cabinet-level position this school year to ramp up an expansion of programs that address students’ social and emotional well-being.

Over the last five years, Boston has been expanding its programs, raising more than $1 million to support the effort. But only about a third of the city’s 125 schools offer robust programming in the area, and the school system has only 55 psychologists and 14 social workers to serve 56,000 students.

Many Boston schools taking part in the effort use some similar strategies as Reading, such as gathering students in circles, and have forged formal partnerships with Boston Children’s Hospital and other medical centers to provide mental health services for students grappling with trauma. Some schools also have teachers fill out behavioral assessments on students to determine whether some need specialized interventions, such as working directly with a psychologist.

In Reading, an uptick four years ago in student hospitalizations for anxiety, depression, and other issues prompted much soul searching.

School officials moved the discussions out of their administrative offices and into the community, kicking off a dialogue by showing a film, “Race to Nowhere,” which explores the lives of students who have been pushed to the brink by pressures to excel.

The community dialogue was a natural outgrowth of an effort the town began about a decade ago to address substance abuse in a public way after a series of fatal overdoses — many involving residents in their 20s or 30s — stunned this bedroom community. That effort led to such changes as requiring teenagers caught with alcohol anywhere in the town to go through an alcohol awareness program.

Conversations about substance abuse, and subsequently those about mental health, were nevertheless tough.

“We faced a lot of denial in the beginning,” said Erica McNamara, director of the Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse, which pushed the substance abuse changes and has been working with the school system on social-emotional learning. “A lot of people moved to Reading because it’s a lovely little community. You don’t necessarily want to know what happens behind closed doors.”

School officials also undertook a review at that time that concluded the district lacked a comprehensive approach to fostering the social and emotional well-being of its students. In some cases, schools lacked programs. In other cases, schools left it up to teachers to craft their own lessons and approaches, creating uneven quality.

The findings prompted school officials to orchestrate an overhaul. They were also encouraged by research that showed the benefits of robust social-emotional learning programs on student performance.

For instance, a 2011 meta-analysis found that well-structured programs not only significantly improved students’ social and emotional skills and behaviors, but students also enjoyed an 11 percentile point gain in achievement over students who did not participate in the programs. The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Child Development, examined 213 social and emotional learning programs involving more than 270,000 students nationwide in kindergarten through 12th grade.

The overhaul appears to be paying off. In a report this fall, the Rennie Center, an education research and policy organization in Boston, highlighted Reading, along with Fall River and Gardner, as glowing examples for their work in student behavioral health, specifically because they made it a community effort rather than just a school initiative.

The Birch Meadow school in Reading, with about 400 students, uses a variety of strategies. A few years ago, the school instituted a common approach to discipline that rewards students at all grade levels for good behavior by stamping paw prints on their hands — giving them immediate gratification. If they get 20 stamps, which they call “yays,” they get a brightly colored bracelet.

The school also uses a program called “Open Circle,” which provides students with tips on weathering tough situations and allows them to frankly discuss common problems and break down stereotypes or misconceptions about their classmates.

One Tuesday afternoon last month, fourth-graders in Jolene Tewksbury’s class arranged their blue desk chairs in a circle at the back of the classroom. The topic of conversation: the difference between playfully teasing and making fun of someone.

Students said the conversations were enlightening.

“It’s nice to talk to people about similar things that have happened to you and learn new ways about what you could do differently the next time,” said Kelsey Murphy.

Maria Simon, the first-grade teacher, said she is glad that school systems are realizing education is about more than the MCAS; it’s about nurturing the whole child.

“The amount of academic work we do in a day is really overwhelming to many children and many teachers,” Simon said. “My goal is for them to feel more comfortable in their learning environment and to use mindfulness the rest of their lives so they’re more comfortable with themselves.”

Mary Shanahan, a parent volunteer in Simon’s classroom, said she is impressed with how Birch Meadow has made social-emotional learning part of the school’s fabric, adding that the mindfulness activities have given her daughter, Abby, another way to self regulate her emotions at home.

“Sometimes she will say, ‘Mommy, I’m going to take a moment’ and she will close her eyes,” Shanahan said. “It blew me away the first time she did it on her own.”


Diversity Dogma And The Quest For Quotafornia

As the U.S. Supreme Court reconsiders the role of race in college admissions, California prepares to mark a key anniversary. Twenty years ago California voters banned racial and ethnic preferences in college admissions, government hiring, and government contracting.

The 1996 Proposition 209, the California Civil Rights Initiative, marked the first time American voters had any say in affirmative action matters. Preference advocates attacked the initiative and are now mounting a surge.

Governor Jerry Brown, never a fan of 209, has filed briefs against the measure. State Attorney General Kamala Harris derides Proposition 209 as “a lessening of California’s commitment to student body diversity as an essential component of a comprehensive collegiate education.”

University of California bosses also maintain that Proposition 209 somehow harms “diversity,” but they do not mean simply the presence of diverse ethnicities, which has long been the reality on California campuses. By diversity they mean the student body should reflect the racial and ethnic proportions of the population. That will never happen at UC or anywhere else because of factors such as academic eligibility, personal differences, effort and choice.

A key issue, as Foon Rhee of the Sacramento Bee explains, is “the underrepresentation of blacks and Latinos at UC campuses, and the overrepresentation of Asians.” Asians represent 14.4 percent of the California population, but they account for 36 percent of the fall 2015 UC enrollment. Under diversity dogma, that means there are “too many” Asians. 

Last year a proposed Senate Constitutional Amendment (SCA) 5 would have given voters the chance to restore racial preferences in state university admissions. Legislators quickly recognized it as an attack on Proposition 209 and a new kind of Asian Exclusion Act.  The measure passed the Senate but did not emerge from the Assembly. 

Enter California’s new Senate boss Kevin De Leon, who claims he wants to help students based on economic need, but there’s a catch. He doesn’t mean all students, regardless of race or ethnicity. As De Leon recently told the Sacramento Bee editorial board, he means poor minority students. What he proposes is a preference system for economic aid, which defenders of Proposition 209 quickly spotted. 

“How about more poor kids, no matter their race or ethnicity?” responded Joe Hicks and David A. Lehrer of Community Advocates in Los Angeles. “Who will tell the poor kids who aren’t racial or ethnic minorities that they won’t be admitted because they aren’t disadvantaged in the right way?”

As Hicks and Lehrer pointed out, California’s public universities already recruit disadvantaged students without regard to their race and ethnicity. The real problem is that the state’s government monopoly K-12 system is clearly failing to prepare students for college.

At some high schools in the Sacramento area, 90 percent of graduates will need remedial math and English in college. All of these students are supposedly qualified for admission into the California State University system, with a 3.0 grade point average on college prep courses or sufficiently high test scores. Even so, the editorial board of the Sacramento Bee blasts Proposition 209, as the “chain saw” that slashed African-American college enrollment.

As Thomas Sowell noted in his 2013 book Intellectuals and Race, however, after Proposition 209 took effect declines in minority enrollment at UCLA and Berkeley have been offset by increases at other UC campuses. More important, the number of African Americans and Hispanics graduating from the UC system has increased and the number graduating in four years with a GPA of 3.5 or higher rose 55 percent.

By Sowell’s count, the number of blacks and Hispanics with degrees in science, technology, math, and engineering rose 51 percent, and the number who earned a Ph.D. rose 25 percent. So the ballot measure has hardly been the disaster its opponents claim.

They might summon the courage to drop the word “not” from the original language of Proposition 209.

Craft a measure that says the state shall discriminate on the basis of race and ethnicity in college admissions, government hiring, and government contracting. Put that proposition on the 2016 ballot, and let the voters express their preference.


UK: Head involved in Trojan Horse school scandal banned from teaching for 'misconduct of a serious nature' - but he could be back in the classroom in five years

A former headmaster embroiled in the Trojan Horse scandal has been banned from teaching but could be allowed back into the classroom in as little as five years.

Jahangir Akbar will be eligible for review by 2021 despite a panel finding he engaged in ‘misconduct of a serious nature’.

The decision was approved by education secretary Nicky Morgan after a recommendation by the National College for Teaching and Leadership.

Mr Akbar, 38, had been acting head of Oldknow Academy in Small Heath, one of the Birmingham schools caught up in the Trojan Horse claims of a takeover by groups promoting a hard-line Muslim agenda.

During the panel hearing, he was accused of trying to ‘eliminate’ the celebration of Christmas in school and of ‘undermining tolerance’ of other beliefs.

Yesterday, critics branded the decision to allow a review in five years’ time ‘strange and perplexing’ and questioned how he might be reformed.

Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham, Perry Barr, told the Daily Mail: ‘I find the decision confusing. How is he going to be able to demonstrate that he has changed his thinking and ideology in five years’ time, and how will you assess that?

‘He has a belief about how education should be, and you’re asking him to change that. I don’t see how he’s going to do it.

The panel judgment, published this week, found Mr Akbar ‘failed to uphold public trust in the profession and maintain high standards of ethics and behaviours’.

He was found to have decreased the diversity of religious education for pupils- aged seven to 11 - and banned the school from holding Christmas performances or putting up a Christmas tree ‘in order to have more time to focus on teaching and learning’.

The panel said that ‘by decreasing the diversity of religious education and eliminating a diverse range of cultural events, there was a failure (by Akbar) to promote the spiritual, moral, cultural and mental development of pupils at the school’.

Mr Akbar also ‘reacted inappropriately’ by shouting at a parent when challenged about his daughter’s education, and said he was ‘glad’ when a pupil was said to have been bullied.

He was said to have acted dishonestly and also put pressure on staff to countersign cheques for expenditure which had not been properly authorised.

The acting principal also allowed members of the school’s parents’ association to have unrestricted or unaccompanied access to the school, without them having undergone police checks - a safeguarding risk, the panel found.

Oldknow was inspected by the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and Ofsted when the Trojan Horse scandal broke, with an explosive and anonymous letter alleging hardline Muslims were involved in a co-ordinated plot to take over some schools in Birmingham.

The previously outstanding school was rated as ‘failing’, with ‘inadequate’ ratings for behaviour and safety, after the inspections in April 2014. It converted to an academy two years earlier, meaning it was not required to teach religious education from an agreed syllabus.

Oldknow Academy has subsequently been renamed as Ark Chamberlain Primary Academy.


Wednesday, January 06, 2016

For Some Foreign Students, Education Isn't the Goal

A Look at 2 Bay Area Schools Majoring in Immigration Benefits

The Center for Immigration Studies has looked at the case of two U.S. universities where receiving an education is apparently secondary to providing immigration benefits for foreign students.

These visa mills, both in the San Francisco Bay Area, draw attention to how the minimal scrutiny DHS provides to lower-level educational institutions leads to tens of thousands of foreign nationals entering the country.

The two educational institutions, Silicon Valley University (SVU), and Northwestern Polytechnic University (NPU), are operated predominately by Chinese-Americans and attended by several thousand students, about 70 percent of them from just two states in southern India. Several of the students travelling to these schools have been turned away by immigration officials or deported and even more have been banned from taking flights to the U.S., as India's ministry of external affairs waits for the U.S. government's explanation for the denial of entries.

The two institutions are accredited by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to teach foreign students. This DHS licensing allows the schools to issue the paperwork (called I-20 forms) that allow the students to receive F-1 foreign student visas from U.S. consulates in India.

David North, a fellow with the Center and author of the articles, said, "Visa mills are a problem in the U.S. and often do not receive the priority they should at DHS. The agency is slow to discover the fraud, slow to shut them down, and often does not deport the F-1 students who are often clearly and purposely purchasing entry to the country and not an education. In this case, DHS appears to have identified the problem and acted appropriately."

View North's two articles here:

NPU has an almost inconceivable profit margin of 75 percent, with a profit of close to $30 million on revenue of $40 million. But interestingly only 14.7 percent of gross revenue was spent on salaries and benefits in 2014, when most schools are at or over 50 percent, due to the cost of faculty necessary to operate a serious educational institution.

The quality of the education offered may also be reflected in the mission statement on NPU's 2014 IRS tax return (the Form 990), which contains misspellings of words as basic as "undergraduate" and "graduate." NPU also misspelled its own name, with "Polythechnic", "Polythcnic", and "Polytechic" all making appearances in the tax return.

Minimal scrutiny has allowed many institutions to bring in thousands of students who receive a visa, but little or no education. Previous cases like this have been exposed in the Bay Area; ICE closed Tri-Valley University, and the owner and former CEO of another institution, Herguan University, was sent to jail for immigration fraud. Yet another Chinese-run, Indian-attended visa mill, the University of Northern Virginia, was closed by state authorities in 2013 and subsequently de-listed by the slow-moving SEVP.

DHS has not elaborated on their investigation of NPU and SVU. But the media in India have been reporting on this story, which could impact the reputation of other students from India who study diligently in the U.S. at serious educational institutions. One Indian news report described the two schools as "a massive academic rip-off . . . diploma mills that are acting as turnstiles for hopeful immigrants."

An email from CIS

An old, old controversy

Girls who attend single-sex schools leave with top grades but may be at a 'huge disadvantage' later on if they are unable to talk to boys, a leading headmaster has suggested.

Richard Cairns, head of Brighton College, said young women could face difficulties if they do not learn to socialise with the opposite sex as children.

In a magazine article, Mr Cairns took aim at single-sex schools, saying he was puzzled by parents looking for a place that will prepare their child for the future who are swayed by 'outdated notions' about young women performing better in girls-only schools.

'All parents looking for a school for their daughter have broadly similar criteria in mind,' he wrote. 'They want somewhere that readies their child for the world beyond the school gates, academically and socially.

'That is why I am often perplexed when they end up being swayed by outdated notions about girls performing better in single sex schools and plump for that deeply unrealistic world.

'After all, if girls do not learn to socialise with boys as children, what happens when they go out into the work place?

'They may have a clutch of A*s and a first class degree but if they cannot meaningfully converse and communicate with male colleagues they will be at a huge disadvantage.'

Supporters of girls' schools argue that students achieve high standards, and are more likely to take subjects traditionally seen as 'male' - such as physics and maths.

Caroline Jordan, president of the Girls' Schools Association (GSA) said it was 'old-fashioned' to assume that these schools do not offer plenty of appropriate opportunities for young women to interact with young men.

In his article, Mr Cairns argued that girls at Brighton College - a co-educational private school - would not say that they have been held back by learning alongside boys.

He went on to acknowledge that there are many good schools that are co-educational and many that are single-sex.

But he added: 'There is something, I feel, much more common to schools that educate both boys and girls and that something is kindness.

'Boys in single-sex school tend to create their own artificial hierarchies where only those in the 1st XV rugby team are truly valued while girls-only schools sometimes suffer a degree of emotional intensity that can lead to bullying.

'Contrast that with a co-educational world where girls admire the boys who dance, sing or act, and so, therefore, do the boys. Contrast that too with a mixed environment where the emotional intensity of all girls is diluted by the boys.

'In other words, there is a place for everyone and an environment where girls and boys can be themselves.'


Australia: Expensive government schooling for poor parents

Requiring schoolkids to use computers all the time is absurd.  Computer literacy should be taught using school computers but most subjects can be taught without them.  How did we learn Maths, English, History etc for hundreds of years before computers?  There still is such a thing as a book!

"How do you prefer your taxes to be spent? Apple or Microsoft?"

That's the question one Canberra father believes his son's new school is asking, after its inclusion of Apple iPads and notebook computers on a list of back-to-school equipment is threatening to set parents back thousands of dollars.

Mark Wilson's son – whose name Fairfax Media has chosen to withhold – is enrolled to begin year seven at Melba Copland Secondary School  this year.

Mr Wilson said he was shocked when he received a list of essential requirements for the 2016 school year in the post. It came at a cost of $2794.67.

He thought it seemed unfair as it is a public school in a catchment area which gives priority to some of Canberra's most disadvantaged suburbs, but when he voiced his complaints, he was told it was "the way of the future".

"Whose future? I limit my kids to one hour of television a day because of the health factor, now you're telling me they've got to be in front of a computer screen for six-and-a-half hours a day because you deem it the best way to go?" Mr Wilson said.

His concerns stem from his family's financial situation.

The former local business owner was forced to go on a government pension several years ago due to illness.

His older daughter, who was already a student at the school, has chosen to transfer to a different school to alleviate some of the financial burden on her parents.

Her book pack, plus that of his youngest daughter who attends primary school, will cost $500 combined.

His son desperately wants to attend Melba Copland Secondary School though, as it's close to his home and his friends will be there.

While Mr Wilson has been encouraged by the school and the education directorate to apply for financial assistance, he said it is unfair for taxpayers to shell out "another $3000" so his son can attend the public school.

"I feel bad enough being on the pension as it is. It doesn't sit well with me and to ask for more handouts is even more ridiculous."

Mr Wilson is also worried carrying around the expensive technology will make students the target of thieves.

"I grew up poor. If I knew kids were walking around with $3000 worth of computer equipment on their back [when I was a kid] you'd be going home with a black eye, bloody nose and I'd have your backpack," he said.

He estimates 70 parents have submitted a formal complaint about what he deems excessive requirements, although an Education and Training Directorate spokesperson disputed this.

The spokesperson said the list is just a guideline and the school has a number of devices available for students to use.

"There is no compulsion to purchase all or any products and information has been provided to families to ensure full knowledge of this arrangement.

"Families are encouraged to approach their school to discuss the needs of the child and the family. Schools also have arrangements in place to ensure students have equity of access."

The spokesperson said information and communications technologies are an important part of teaching and learning for students of all backgrounds and is mandated in the Australian curriculum.

The ACT government spent $9.2 million on information technologies in schools last financial year, with a further $38 million committed over the next four years.

"Our schools emphasise the use of ICT and the development of ICT skills to ensure that their students can develop the necessary skills to analyse information, solve problems and communicate in a highly digital society."


Tuesday, January 05, 2016

A Soviet High School in America

With very narrow bounds on what you can safely say

By JONATHAN HAIDT, a prominent liberal advocate of more intellectual diversity in academe    :

A month before the Yale Halloween meltdown, I had a bizarre and illuminating experience at an elite private high school on the West Coast. I’ll call it Centerville High. I gave a version of a talk that you can see here, on Coddle U. vs. Strengthen U. (In an amazing coincidence, I first gave that talk at Yale a few weeks earlier).

The entire student body — around 450 students, from grades 9-12 — was in the auditorium. There was plenty of laughter at all the right spots, and a lot of applause at the end, so I thought the talk was well received.

But then the discussion began, and it was the most unremittingly hostile questioning I’ve ever had. I don’t mind when people ask hard or critical questions, but I was surprised that I had misread the audience so thoroughly. My talk had little to do with gender, but the second question was “So you think rape is OK?”

Like most of the questions, it was backed up by a sea of finger snaps — the sort you can hear in the infamous Yale video, where a student screams at Prof. Christakis to “be quiet” and tells him that he is “disgusting.” I had never heard the snapping before. When it happens in a large auditorium it is disconcerting. It makes you feel that you are facing an angry and unified mob — a feeling I have never had in 25 years of teaching and public speaking.

After the first dozen questions I noticed that not a single questioner was male. I began to search the sea of hands asking to be called on and I did find one boy, who asked a question that indicated that he too was critical of my talk. But other than him, the 200 or so boys in the audience sat silently.

After the Q&A, I got a half-standing ovation: almost all of the boys in the room stood up to cheer. And after the crowd broke up, a line of boys came up to me to thank me and shake my hand. Not a single girl came up to me afterward.

After my main lecture, the next session involved 60 students who had signed up for further discussion with me. We moved to a large classroom. The last thing I wanted to do was to continue the same fruitless arguing for another 75 minutes, so I decided to take control of the session and reframe the discussion. Here is what happened next:

Me: What kind of intellectual climate do you want here at Centerville? Would you rather have option A: a school where people with views you find offensive keep their mouths shut, or B: a school where everyone feels that they can speak up in class discussions?

Audience: All hands go up for B.

Me: OK, let’s see if you have that. When there is a class discussion about gender issues, do you feel free to speak up and say what you are thinking? Or do you feel that you are walking on eggshells and you must heavily censor yourself? Just the girls in the class, raise your hand if you feel you can speak up? [About 70% said they feel free, vs about 10% who said eggshells.] Now just the boys? [About 80% said eggshells; nobody said they feel free.]

Me: Now let’s try it for race. When a topic related to race comes up in class, do you feel free to speak up and say what you are thinking, or do you feel that you are walking on eggshells and you must heavily censor yourself? Just the non-white students? The group was around 30% non-white, mostly South and East Asians, and some African Americans. A majority said they felt free to speak, although a large minority said eggshells. Now just the white students? [A large majority said eggshells]

Me: Now let’s try it for politics. How many of you would say you are on the right politically, or that you are conservative or Republican? [6 hands went up, out of 60 students]. Just you folks, when politically charged topics come up, can you speak freely? [Only one hand went up, but that student clarified that everyone gets mad at him when he speaks up, but he does it anyway. The other 5 said eggshells.] How many of you are on the left, liberal, or democrat? [Most hands go up] Can you speak freely, or is it eggshells? [Almost all said they can speak freely.]

Me: So let me get this straight. You were unanimous in saying that you want your school to be a place where people feel free to speak up, even if you strongly dislike their views. But you don’t have such a school. In fact, you have exactly the sort of “tolerance” that Herbert Marcuse advocated [which I had discussed in my lecture, and which you can read about here]. You have a school in which only people in the preferred groups get to speak, and everyone else is afraid. What are you going to do about this? Let’s talk.

After that, the conversation was extremely civil and constructive. The boys took part just as much as the girls. We talked about what Centerville could do to improve its climate, and I said that the most important single step would be to make viewpoint diversity a priority. On the entire faculty, there was not a single teacher that was known to be conservative or Republican. So if these teenagers are coming into political consciousness inside of a “moral matrix” that is uniformly leftist, there will always be anger directed at those who disrupt that consensus.

That night, after I gave a different talk to an adult audience, there was a reception at which I spoke with some of the parents. Several came up to me to tell me that their sons had told them about the day’s events. The boys finally had a way to express and explain their feelings of discouragement. Their parents were angry to learn about how their sons were being treated and…there’s no other word for it, bullied into submission by the girls.*

Centerville High is not alone. Last summer I had a conversation with some boys who attend one of the nation’s top prep schools in New England. They reported the same thing: as white males, they are constantly on eggshells, afraid to speak up on any remotely controversial topic lest they be sent to the “equality police” (that was their term for the multicultural center). I probed to see if their fear extended beyond the classroom. I asked them what they would do if there was a new student at their school, from, say Yemen. Would they feel free to ask the student questions about his or her country? No, they said, it’s too risky, a question could be perceived as offensive.

You might think that this is some sort of justice — white males have enjoyed positions of privilege for centuries, and now they are getting a taste of their own medicine. But these are children. And remember that most students who are in a victim group for one topic are in the “oppressor” group for another. So everyone is on eggshells sometimes; all students at Centerville High learn to engage with books, ideas, and people using the twin habits of defensive self-censorship and vindictive protectiveness.

And then… they go off to college and learn new ways to gain status by expressing collective anger at those who disagree. They curse professors and spit on visiting speakers at Yale. They shut down newspapers at Wesleyan. They torment a dean who was trying to help them at Claremont McKenna. They threaten and torment fellow students at Dartmouth. And in all cases, they demand that adults in power DO SOMETHING to punish those whose words and views offend them. Their high schools have thoroughly socialized them into what sociologists call victimhood culture, which weakens students by turning them into “moral dependents” who cannot deal with problems on their own. They must get adult authorities to validate their victim status.

So they issue ultimatums to college presidents, and, as we saw at Yale, the college presidents meet their deadlines, give them much of what they demanded, commit their schools to an ever tighter embrace of victimhood culture, and say nothing to criticize the bullying, threats, and intimidation tactics that have created a culture of intense fear for anyone who might even consider questioning the prevailing moral matrix. What do you suppose a conversation about race or gender will look like in any Yale classroom ten years from now? Who will dare to challenge the orthodox narrative imposed by victimhood culture? The “Next Yale” that activists are demanding will make today’s Centerville High look like Plato’s Academy by comparison.

The only hope for Centerville High — and for Yale — is to disrupt their repressively uniform moral matrices to make room for dissenting views. High schools and colleges that lack viewpoint diversity should make it their top priority. Race and gender diversity matter too, but if those goals are pursued in the ways that student activists are currently demanding, then political orthodoxy is likely to intensify. Schools that value freedom of thought should therefore actively seek out non-leftist faculty, and they should explicitly include viewpoint diversity and political diversity in all statements about diversity and discrimination. Parents and students who value freedom of thought should take viewpoint diversity into account when applying to colleges. Alumni should take it into account before writing any more checks.

The Yale problem refers to an unfortunate feedback loop: Once you allow victimhood culture to spread on your campus, you can expect ever more anger from students representing victim groups, coupled with demands for a deeper institutional commitment to victimhood culture, which leads inexorably to more anger, more demands, and more commitment. But the Yale problem didn’t start at Yale. It started in high school. As long as many of our elite prep schools are turning out students who have only known eggshells and anger, whose social cognition is limited to a single dimension of victims and victimizers, and who demand safe spaces and trigger warnings, it’s hard to imagine how any university can open students’ minds and prepare them to converse respectfully with people who don’t share their values. Especially when there are no adults around who don’t share their values.


What's wrong with education for education's sake?

Should a career be the focus of education? Michael Mercieca, CEO of Young Enterprise says 'yes', Kieran McLaughlin, head of Durham School says 'no'

In the last few years, much has been said about preparing young people and children for the world of work.

With various business groups, including the British Chambers of Commerce, calling on schools and employers to work together to make sure pupils understand and are prepared for what awaits them after education, the purpose of schooling has increasingly become a point of debate.

Are schools and universities meant to be making sure their students have the skills to succeed in an increasingly competitive jobs market, or is the purpose of schooling slightly more open ended? Does it need to have a purpose at all, beyond instilling knowledge - and a passion to keep learning - into pupils?

Should learning be about education for education's sake? Or should the focus be employability? Maybe you think it should be a mix of both?

Kieran McLaughlin, head Durham School, writes:

"The cultures which have most achieved greatness have been those which have fostered learning for its own sake"

"What’s the point of an education? It’s easy in this time of measurement, targets and league tables to lose sight of what the primary purpose of our schooldays should be: to acquire a knowledge of the culture, history and intellectual progress of our civilisation, as well as of those that have gone before.

The epitome of an education should be the Arnoldian “best of what has been thought and said” and the measure of any civilisation, of any culture, is the extent to which learning is held as important.

From the ancient Greeks, through the Arabic, Chinese and others up to the present day, the cultures which have most achieved greatness have been those which have fostered learning for its own sake and a scholarly endeavour.

To continue to make this progress, to develop technologically or to simply think about things in a different way, we need the bedrock of our forebears’ knowledge to build on.

Newton’s famous quotation that he stood on the shoulders of giants applies to more than just science, and new ideas across the disciplines come from a constant reworking of the old.

However there is a much more immediate reason for pursuing learning for its own sake: it’s great fun.

Anyone who has ever taught a child – whether it be how to ride a bike, why the dinosaurs became extinct or how to use Pythagoras’ theorem – will have seen the light in their eyes when they have finally mastered a tricky concept.

Those Eureka moments are what make teachers continue in the profession, as they find joy in witnessing the joy of learning.

Intellectual thirst is hard-wired into us as human beings and it continues in us beyond childhood. A greater knowledge and understanding of the world leads to a greater appreciation of its beauty and rigour, and as a society and as individuals we are the richer for it."

Michael Mercieca, CEO Young Enterprise, writes:

It’s pretty tough out there and very competitive at the moment. It’s important that students’ eyes are wide open; that they know what their skills and options are.

Requirements are a lot tougher than they used to be. Employers are a lot more selective because there are more people chasing jobs, and not only those from the UK.

If employers are looking for someone to work in marketing, they will look for someone with a marketing degree, therefore young people need to be guided through their options.

Students should be careful about what they study; a degree in archaeology might not be as good a career move as a degree in engineering. You do an off-piste degree at your own peril, it’s sad but that’s the world we live in.

If you want to study Mesopotamian pottery, that’s fine. However, this is only really an option for those well off enough to pay for it. How can you choose that subject when you’re from a deprived background? Especially when you are going to be paying £40,000 for the privilege?

We should be teaching people that it’s good to learn and keep leaning; but, equally, you don’t have to go to university to learn. There is so much you can do online and so many books you can read. University is about getting a degree, and why do you get a degree? To get a job.

If you don’t get a job at the end of university you are going to be at a disadvantage.

Then again, a degree isn’t the be all and end all for a career. It is equally, if not more important, for people to get the soft skills employers value.

You have to start early on at primary school; you have to start running classes focusing on the skills pupils are going to need. Do this by supplementing academic learning with getting pupils to complete tasks, challenges and exercises to highlight their skills and ambition - learning by doing. Start educating them about their options so they are fully informed about the costs and rewards.

There’s room for improvement in the system, we have much more to do. But study for education’s sake alone, will only ever be for the minority."


Four reasons why university is still a great life choice

Many of the myths that surround university life are exactly that – myths. Going to university to study for a degree is as invaluable now as it ever has been.

Yes there are other paths you can follow, and it's always worth considering your options - whether that's a vocational qualification or an apprenticeship - but don't let anyone put you off higher education if that's where you'd like to end up.

University is like everything in life; you only get out what you put in. So inquisitive students who aren't afraid to work hard will leave fully rewarded, both in terms of personal satisfaction and employability.

Myth 1. University doesn’t help people find a job

In October, new evidence revealed that, three-and-a-half years after leaving university, 96.4 per cent of graduates were in employment or undertaking further study.

Furthermore, a separate report from Prospects - a leading graduate careers expert - found that the number of graduates entering employment six months after leaving university was at a record high.

It’s true that a degree itself is not enough to secure a job – employers are looking for evidence of solid communication skills, simple day-to-day administration experience, project management, initiative and commitment.

These are skills that you may not learn directly through your chosen subject, but they are skills you can acquire from your overall university experience.

The majority of universities will offer regular career weeks, workshops and access to career advisers aiming to boost students’ employability as well as making links with local and national businesses to create placements and internship opportunities.

You've probably heard it said many times, but joining a society can be a great way of meeting like-minded people and could also really help your career development, via expert speakers and support.

Even sports societies could be beneficial, if you decide to take a role on the committee.

Myth 2. Students are lazy

Many students will supplement their bank balances by working at the student union (SU), at the university itself, or in businesses locally - thus using their time productively.

But even if they are not picking up extra cash by working in their spare time, students are generally hardworking and committed to developing themselves through the activities offered through the SU.

Whether that's setting up new volunteering projects both locally and internationally with the support of the SU and university, or creating new societies and groups that bring like-minded people together - there is no excuse for watching endless episodes of Breaking Bad on your days off.

Student communities are bubbling with young leaders who are supported to cultivate their project management and leadership skills and inspire other students to do the same. Don't believe me? Just join your university entrepreneurs society.

Myth 3. It’s stupidly expensive

Paying £9,000 a year for a degree can seem incredibly daunting, but this shouldn't put you off attending university. You need to remember that Government loans are available to cover the costs of both tuition fees and your maintenance costs - including accommodation and travel.

Yes, the level of debt when you finish your degree is difficult to ignore, but in reality, it's often the case that you will barely notice the repayments once you are earning over £21,000 (the repayment threshold).

According to a recent report by Universities UK, the number of undergraduates from the most disadvantaged areas has risen 42 per cent in the last decade, from 22,000 in 2005 to more than 31,000 in 2014, with many universities also offering bursaries to the poorest students.

However, it’s important not just to think about university costs as simply paying for lectures and seminars. At university you’ll have access to fantastic learning resources and experiences.

If you choose a degree with a placement or year in industry you will gain invaluable experience, which will ultimately pay back when it comes to applying for a graduate role.

You’ll also have access to weird, wonderful and thought-provoking student groups, societies and sports teams which will undoubtedly broaden your horizons and are great networking opportunities.

You’ll also be given the opportunity to attend alumni and university events, which showcase the latest research developments and again bring excellent networking opportunities.

Myth 4. You learn more outside the classroom

Listening to experienced lecturers and world-class academics means you get access to the latest research and insights from their chosen fields - you'll also get the opportunity to be guided in your specialism, and receive expert feedback on your work.

Yes, university is all about independent learning, but if you love your subject, course leaders and academics are brilliant resources for helping you find specific areas you would like to explore.

Free online learning courses are easily accessible these days, but university tutors will also challenge you to develop critical thinking skills rather than simply looking up facts or being fed information by a video.

It's not every day that you get access to world leaders in their subjects, so make the most of it. Education for the sake of education shouldn't be dismissed.


Monday, January 04, 2016

Former equality chief slams 'witless and reprehensible' campaign to remove statue of Rhodes from Oxford college

I have already mentioned this campaign on TONGUE-TIED so will repeat here what I said there:

Most of the assertions by the black campaigner are somewhere between exaggeration and outright lies. Cecil Rhodes looted nobody.  He was a mine owner who paid his miners better money that they had ever had before. Most were originally subsistence farmers with no cash income. Without him and other businessmen like him, there would have been no mines.

It is true that he believed in white racial superiority but just about everybody in Britain and Europe did in those days.  But he killed or injured no-one because of his racial beliefs.  If he was a "genocidal maniac", how come he was buried with full native honours by the Ndebele chiefs in what is now Zimbabwe? For the first time ever, they gave a white man the Matabele royal salute "Bayete".

He negotiated with Africans via their chiefs.  He did not go about killing them. He was basically just a very clever businessman

The present campaign is part and parcel of Leftist "anti-colonial" rhetoric.  The Left instinctively hate both the present and the past of the societies in which they live. But their objections to colonialism are quite pointless, as all the major colonies were given independence years ago. They are re-fighting old battles.

It is true that by modern standards, there were some things in the colonial era that were objectionable but there were benefits too.  When the British left Africa, they left behind them well-organized countries with democratic institutions, a capable bureaucracy and an impartial judiciary.  But after independence, that soon decayed into corruption, near anarchy and all sorts of bloodshed.

Generally speaking, the colonial era was a time of rapid civilizational and economic advance for most people involved in it.  But you will never hear a Leftist saying that.  If you look to the Left for a balanced account of anything political, you will not find it.

The former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission described the campaign to remove the Cecil Rhodes statue from an Oxford college as 'simultaneously witless, wrongheaded and reprehensible'.

Trevor Phillips criticised the Rhodes Must Fall campaign, which is calling for the removal of the memorial to the British imperialist at Oriel College, Oxford.

South African student Ntokozo Qwabe, led the group which has succeeded in the university to hold consultations over what to do with it.

Mr Qwabe's student campaign says Rhodes paved the path to apartheid by introducing discriminatory land ownership and voting rules.

It is inspired by the Rhodes Must Fall protest movement that began on in March, originally directed against a statue at the University of Cape Town which commemorates Cecil Rhodes.

The campaign for the statue's removal received global attention and led to a wider movement to 'decolonise' education across South Africa.

But Mr Phillips believes the protest is ludicrous. He told The Times: 'It trivialises the memory of many millions who genuinely did suffer under colonialism and dishonours the work of those who fought apartheid including many British students.

'Perhaps the students who support this campaign might take a moment to google Auschwitz to see a complete justification for the preservation of all aspects of the historical record, however grim.'

Academics, politicians and famous Oxford alumni have waded into the row, heatedly debating the rights and wrongs of honouring a man who was a major driver of British territorial expansion in southern Africa and a key player in the Boer Wars that left thousands dead.

Rhodes was one of the era's most famous imperialists, with Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe and Zambia – named after him.

An inscription underneath pays homage to the white supremacist for his donation to Oriel College in the 1870s.

Inspired by the popular movement that forced the removal of a statue of the famous colonialist at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, campaigners have been asking the British college to do the same.

The campaigns are distinct but supporters in Oxford use the same hashtag #RhodesMustFall as the Cape Town campaign and their actions have fuelled a political debate in South Africa as well as soul-searching in Britain ranging well beyond the statue itself.

Most recent Rhodes Scholars could not be more different from the multi-millionaire colonialist.

More than 43 per cent are 'black or other ethnic minority students', according to Rhodes House, the organisation that runs the scholarships. It stresses: 'The principles of racial equality are central to our values and our sense of purpose.'

Making the analogy with Alfred Nobel, a munitions maker and inventor of dynamite who went on to found the Nobel Prizes, a spokesman said Rhodes, too, 'was a complicated man who left his wealth to create an important institution that makes the world better'.

Over the years, beneficiaries have included the former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Tony Abbott, the recently ousted Australian prime minister.

Abbott has already called on Oxford University not to remove the statue. 'It would damage its standing as a great university if it were to substitute moral vanity for fair-minded inquiry,' he said.

'The university and its students should prefer improving today's orthodoxies to imposing them on our forebears. The university should remember that its mission is not to reflect fashion but to seek truth and that means striving to understand before rushing to judge.'

'To put someone so literally on a pedestal is to tacitly condone their legacy,' said Daisy Chandley, a student and organising member of the Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford campaign.

'There have always been those who have questioned the statue as well as the wider racism within the university but the movement in South Africa brought debate over similar problems in Oxford to the forefront and triggered collective action.'

Mr Qwabe, was himself named a Rhodes Scholar last year and has defended himself against charges of hypocrisy by saying that he is taking back some of the money that Rhodes took from Africa.

'I'm no beneficiary of Rhodes. I'm a beneficiary of the resources and labour of my people which Rhodes pillaged and slaved,' he wrote on Facebook.

The university rejects accusations of racism but Oriel College promised to be 'more diverse and inclusive of people from all backgrounds' in a response to the campaign earlier this month.

It said it would take down a Rhodes plaque on the wall of another college building and agreed to a six-month 'listening exercise' on whether to remove the statue.

The college said Rhodes's values 'stand in absolute contrast to the ethos of the scholarship programme today and to the values of a modern University'.

It said it would put up a sign in an antique window below the statue saying that 'the College does not in any way condone or glorify his views or actions'.

But it also talked up the positive contribution of the Rhodes Scholarships, which have allowed 8,000 students from around the world to study at Oxford


It's time to say No to our pampered student emperors

The Rhodes statue row can be blamed on a generation raised to believe that their feelings are all that matter
The little emperors have grown up. The babies of the late 90s – mollycoddled by their parents, spoon-fed by their teachers, indulged by society – have now reached university. Some of the brighter ones are now at Oxford, demanding that the Cecil Rhodes statue at Oriel should be torn down, because of his imperialist, racist views.

We shouldn’t be so surprised. If you’ve had a lifetime of people saying “yes” to you, of never being told off, you remain frozen in a permanent state of supersensitivity. I wasn’t offended by the Rhodes statue when I was at Oxford 20 years ago. But, even if I had been, I wouldn’t have thought my wounded feelings should be cured by tearing apart the delicate fabric of a beautiful university.

Universities are reaping the whirlwind of two decades of child-centred education. That whirlwind has imported imbecilic trigger warnings – when academics have to warn students that western European literature, from the Iliad on, is full of sex and violence. It has also brought the pernicious idea of “no-platforming” – when students refuse to give a stage to anyone who doesn’t fit with their narrow view of the world.

We shouldn’t blame the student emperors for all this. Their warped supersensitivity is the fault of the generation above – the teachers and parents who have so indulged them. I first noticed the disaster of child-centred education six years ago. Near my childhood home in north London, there is a late-Victorian school. According to the noticeboard outside, it didn’t have a headmaster. Instead, Mr MJ Chappel was called the “lead learner”.

The implication was clear. Mr Chappel wasn’t placed in authority above the children but was ranked alongside them. Children have as much to teach the teachers as the teachers have to teach them – an idiocy that’s difficult to attack because it sounds so charming; and because people like me sound so evil when we disagree.

That idiocy is now endemic through the primary, secondary and tertiary education sectors. I resigned from a provincial university lecturing job recently, when the disease struck my department. My colleague said it was my fault if the less clever, less hard-working undergraduates did worse in exams than their brighter, harder-working contemporaries. I was told not to penalise undergraduates for bad grammar or spelling mistakes. And I had to dumb down the exams.

The last straw was when I was told to cut down on facts in lectures. “You’re here to teach them how to think, not what to think,” the head of department told me. The tragedy was that the undergraduates weren’t little emperors. They were longing to learn facts, spelling and correct grammar but they had had precious little exposure to these things at school.

And so they sailed on serenely into the world of work, blissfully unaware that employers would throw their applications straight in the bin because of their bad English. I saw the final punishment for child-centred education a decade ago, when I worked on the Comment desk of the Telegraph. One of my jobs was to keep an eye on the interns.

A charming bunch they were, too. What was astonishing, though, was how some of them took to having their grammar corrected. Because they’d never been told off about bad grammar at school or university, they logically assumed it didn’t matter; that I was some dreary old pedant, enforcing a code that died out some time in the Middle Ages.

I didn’t mind. It was no skin off my nose. But they should have minded – it was only the interns who either knew their grammar, or were chastened and informed by correction, who ended up getting jobs on the paper. Why should they have thought any differently? Throughout their education, they had been repeatedly encouraged to think their wounded feelings must trump the teacher’s, or employer’s, right to instruct.

The same applies to the row over Rhodes’s statue. The authorities at the university have, so far, continued to pamper the student emperors. Every time the authorities are accused of racism, they bend over backwards to soothe the offended egos of the little, tinpot dictators – rather than telling them that they, the teachers, are there to tell the students what to do; and not the other way round.


LGBT Group Calls on Government to Address ‘Disturbing Trend’ on Religious College Campuses

The largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activist group in the country is calling on the Department of Education to address what it calls a “disturbing trend” on college campuses.

Specifically, the Human Rights Campaign is calling for more transparency towards what it sees as a trend of schools citing religious reasons for not adhering to Title IX.  The Human Rights Campaign believes that in granting such exemptions, schools are given  a “license to discriminate.”

Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs that receive federal funding. If schools are found in violation of the statute, their federal dollars could be at risk.

To address these concerns, the Human Rights Campaign wants the Department of Education to issue public reports stating which institutions request or receive religious exemptions, and to detail the scope of those exemptions.

“We believe that religious liberty is a bedrock principle of our nation, however faith should never be used as a guise for discrimination,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin in a press release last week. “Prospective students and their parents deserve greater transparency, and we urge the Department of Education to take action by helping to increase accountability and to ensure that no student unknowingly enrolls in a school that intends to discriminate against them.”

Specifically, the Human Rights Campaign is calling for:

* The Department of Education to require schools to publish comprehensive information about the scope of the exemption they received and the way in which Title IX still protects students
The Department of Education to regularly report which educational institutions have been granted Title IX religious exemptions, the scope of those exemptions, and ensure the information is provided on the individual schools’ landing page as part of College Navigator

* Congress to amend the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) governing statute to require OCR to annually report the number of Title IX exemptions that were requested, granted, and denied

Religious schools often believe that adhering to Title IX conflicts with tenets of their beliefs including on marriage, sexual orientation, and abortion.

According to the Human Rights Campaign’s latest report, at least 56 colleges and universities have requested religious exemptions under Title IX since 2013.

Southern Wesleyan University is one of them.

A spokesman for the college confirmed to The Daily Signal the university “did make a request for a Title IX exemption, citing our biblically based religious principles.”

The school, which is based in S.C., is owned by The Wesleyan Church and adheres to those teachings.

Another university listed in the Human Rights Campaign’s report is Union University.

Hunter Baker, a fellow for religious liberty at Union, told The Daily Signal that the erosion of religious liberty exemptions, would make it “illegal” for schools to operate in accordance to their religious beliefs.

“If we were unable to choose faculty members who both live out and have a traditional view of Christian sexual morality, then that really damages our ability to pursue our mission as an institution,” Baker said. “You’re making it illegal for us to insist on a Christian life and worldview.”

Baker said it would be a “major intrusion” on the school’s standards of conduct for its student body. Union University, a Baptist college in Jackson, Tenn., follows a traditional Christian view of marriage and sexuality, for example.

“Any kind of activity that would occur between two same-sex individuals would be unacceptable by our standards of conduct,” he said.

Roger Severino, director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, calls the Human Right Campaign’s requests an attempt to “blacklist religiously-affiliated schools.”

“We need more diversity in higher education institutions, not less, yet [the Human Rights Campaign] wants to out, interrogate, and blacklist religiously-affiliated schools that assert their right to continue to embody and pass on their teachings about marriage and human sexuality consistent with their faith,” he said, adding:

"The real story is the Department of Education’s attempt to force schools to provide unrestricted access to shared dorms, lockers, bathrooms and showers to persons who self-identify as male, female, none, or both, regardless of their biology or genetics. No one should be surprised when religious schools push back on this unprecedented federal intrusion".


Sunday, January 03, 2016

Top 10 Reasons to Oppose Common Core

1. Common Core is a Federal Takeover of Education
The ultimate goal of Common Core is to have every school district follow the same national standards. This is a failed educational approach that will undermine educational quality and choice. States and local communities better know how to design standards based on their students and parents’ needs than Washington bureaucrats.

2. Common Core is Bad for Parents

Parents will not have a say in their child’s education under Common Core. They will not be able to suggest changes to their local school’s standards or enroll their child in another public school with better standards. Common Core would limit parental choice and shut their voices out of their child’s education. 

3. Common Core is Bad for Teachers

Teachers would have little control over their classrooms under Common Core. They will be forced to comply with standards decided upon by federal bureaucrat. This leaves little to no room for teachers to innovate to meet the unique needs of their students.

4. Common Core is Bad for Taxpayers

Common Core has a hefty price tag that will be paid by taxpayers in states. Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction estimates that Common Core will cost the state $300 million. California Department of Education estimates it will cost $759 million to implement the nationalized standards.   Common Core will cost taxpayers a lot of money while not improving education quality.

5. Common Core is Bad for Students

Common Core is a one-size-fits-all education policy that assumes every students learns exactly the same. A top down and centrally controlled standards will hurt students’ creativity and learning.  Good education policy realizes that all students have different learning styles, preferences, and paces.

6. Common Core Violates Privacy

The Race to the Top Grants associated with Common Core violates privacy by “data mining” information about students that will follow them the rest of their lives. The information collected is more than just test scores and academic progress. Common Core will track information on religious practices, political beliefs, “sex behaviors and attitudes”, and more.

7. Common Core Resembles Failed No Child Left Behind Program

A main criticism of the failed No Child Left Behind program is that teachers “teach the test.” This means that students are memorizing rather than learning and critical thinking about information. Common Core would resemble No Child Left Behind by requiring students to take national standardized tests to measure their progress.

8. Common Core is Unconstitutional

The federal government should not control education. Since education is not specifically listed in the Constitution, the authority over education should be left up to the states and the people. This allows localities from New York City to rural Alabama to design unique curriculums that are best for their students.

9. Common Core Will Require Some States to Move Backwards

Some states have advanced standards that are designed with students and parents in mind. Sandra Stotsky, a professor at the University of Arkansas, who served on the committee to validate Common Core standards said, “The standards dumb American education down by about two grades worth.”   Some states would have to move their standards backwards to comply with Common Core standards.

10. Common Core Is a Failed Education Approach

Washington has tried one-size-fits-all education approaches time and time again. Centralized education programs have not worked and will never work. The quality of education has only declined over the past few decades. The solution is to get the federal government out of the education business. 


Massachusetts Ditches Common Core

Soon, schools in Massachusetts will be free of the pernicious standards

There seems to be a recurring theme of liberal, New England states regretting the big government programs they implement. First, Vermont was forced to abandon its plans for a single-payer health care system upon finding that there was no way to pay for it. Now, Massachusetts is dropping out of the Common Core education standards that don’t work and that nobody likes.

While it’s surprising that a state like Massachusetts would see the light more quickly than many others, it’s not surprising that the standards have been a failure. A top down approach to education, from bureaucrats in Washington straight to your children’s ears, was always destined to be a disaster, due to a complete misunderstanding of how children learn.

The response to the imposition of these standards has been negative almost across the board. Students have opted out of the required tests in droves. The number of homeschoolers leaving the school system entirely is at a record high. Even the new education authorization bill working its way through Congress has included anti-Common Core language as a response to massive anger against the standards.

This anger has not just come from students and parents. Fewer than half of teachers approve of the standards, and several prominent teachers’ unions, the most unlikely of allies in this fight, have come out in opposition to Common Core.

In Massachusetts, the school board’s decision to withdraw was partially motivated by the state’s declining test scores after adopting the standards, a pattern that has been repeated in other states as well. For those always harping on the need for testable, empirical progress in education (a need which, frankly, I’m not convinced exists), this should be all the evidence they need that high stakes testing and one-size-fits-all standards don’t work to achieve their goals.

If even a liberal stronghold like Massachusetts can see the error of Common Core, and work to come up with a better solution, there’s no excuse for the rest of the country continuing to hold back. There’s no reason why conservative states like Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana should still be stuck with a big government program that makes their students worse off when they should be given the freedom to soar.

States like Oklahoma, Missouri, and South Carolina have already withdrawn from the standards, but Massachusetts is only a little late to the party. There is still much work to be done in the states where Common Core persists.


Tennessee to cut back teaching of Islam in Schools

 A Tennessee state legislator has proposed a state law that would prevent public schools from teaching anything about religious principles until students reach the 10th grade.

The bill from Rep. Sheila Butt of Columbia (about 45 miles south of Nashville) comes in response to a grassroots campaign across Tennessee by parents — primarily evangelical parents — against what they perceive as an inappropriate focus on Islam in history and social studies courses in middle schools.

Last month, for example, parents in the Nashville suburb of in Spring Hill expressed alarm because their children in a taxpayer-funded middle school are learning about the Five Pillars of Islam in a world history class. (The first and most important pillar is roughly translated as: “There is no god but God. Muhammad is the messenger of God.”) At the same time, the parents say, the course material pointedly ignores Christianity.