Friday, February 26, 2016

Here We Go Again: Another University Bans Chick-fil-A Over Traditional Marriage Beliefs

Apparently the Left’s furor over Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s views about traditional marriage has not subsided.

Complaints from some students at the University of Nebraska-Kearney have resulted in a reversal of the school’s decision to bring the fast food chain to campus. This, mind you, is after a majorityvote in favor of welcoming CFA to the campus student union. Critics argued that Cathy’s viewpoints and the values of CFA would be offensive to homosexuals.

Unfortunately, the University’s student president Evan Calhoun caved.

“When we learned more about Chick-fil-A and its corporate values and discriminatory policies, and after hearing these concerns raised by a section of our student body, we concluded that these corporate values are not aligned with our values as a student body, and it is not in the best interest of our UNK community to pursue Chick-fil-A right now,” Calhoun wrote on Facebook in response to the students’ complaints.

UNK is the latest school to oppose bringing the fast food restaurant to campus since Cathy defended traditional marriage back in 2012. Students at Elon University attempted (unsuccessfully) to ban CFA from their school that same year, while students at Johns Hopkins University banned the restaurant chain to prevent microaggression against its students in 2015.

Welcome to higher education in the age of tolerance.


Young and old cheer Bernie Sanders in Amherst

AMHERST -- There was no shortage of college students at the Bernie Sanders rally on Monday.

Gathering in the cavernous hall where the University of Massachusetts basketball team plays its games, the students came in droves on the free bus line serving Smith, Mount Holyoke, and Hampshire and Amherst colleges, as well as from UMass. But Bernie Sanders supporters are a multigenerational bunch and the rally drew an impressive number of gray-haired baby boomers who cheered just as raucously as their younger counterparts.
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John Tuthill, 61, who drove from Keene, N.H., was at the back of the standing crowd reading “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.” Music blared while the estimated crowd of 8,000 waited for the Democratic presidential candidate.

Tuthill said he has lost count of how many Sanders rallies he attended in New Hampshire.

“It’s the first time in a long time I felt there was somebody I could vote for with real conviction,” he said.

Bernie Sanders is pledging to stay in the Democratic nomination fight with Hillary Clinton for a long, state-by-state slog.

Still, Tuthill said, if Clinton wins the nomination, he would consider voting for her depending on who she runs against. “[Republican Donald] Trump is just an absolute disaster,” he added.

Holyoke City Councilor Jossie Valentin fired the crowd up with a chant in English and Spanish and a personal testimonial of her support of Sanders as a Latina and openly gay local politician.

“I’m proud to be an ambassador for Bernie. Next Tuesday, March 1, who’s voting for Bernie,” she asked, provoking wild applause.

“Folks, the time is now to get involved, really involved,” she said before introducing Sanders. “Remember that we are Bernie’s super PAC.”

Sanders appeared comfortable and in his element with the crowd, cracking jokes and engaging supporters.

“This campaign is based upon a very simple principle: Real change never comes from the top on down,” he said. “It always comes from the bottom up.”

When he announced that national polls had his campaign in the lead, his words were drowned out by deafening cheers.

“Our campaign has taken on the financial establishment and Wall Street is getting nervous,” he said. “We’ve taken on the political establishment and they’re looking around saying ‘who are these people?’ and we’ve taken on the media establishment who every night tells us things we don’t need to know!”

He wasted no time in ticking off the ways he differs from Hillary Clinton, and his supporters responded with raucous cheers for Sanders and dismissive boos for Clinton.

While his campaign is funded by large numbers of small donors, he said, “Secretary Clinton has chosen to go in a different direction -- she has a number of super PACs.”

When Sanders announced that Clinton received $15 million from Wall Street donors, the crowd erupted into more boos.

“We don’t represent the interests of the billionaire class. We don’t represent corporate interests or Wall Street,” he said.

“We don’t want their money,” Sanders shouted, provoking more cheers.

After telling rally-goers that his campaign had received contributions from 4 million individual donors, he asked: “Do you know what the average contribution is?”

The crowd shouted back: “27 DOLLARS,” prompting a rare broad smile from Sanders and a familiar refrain from his stump speeches: “This is a campaign of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Still, he said the breadth of support has surprised him, even while it proved something he believes strongly: “When we stand together there is nothing we cannot accomplish.”

As he has throughout his campaign, Sanders pledged to fight for universal health care, something he said that prompted his critics to accuse him of thinking too big and too boldly.

“The time is now. We have to summon the courage to take on the drug companies, to take on the insurance companies, to make it clear that health care is a right for all people,” he said. “My friends, we are at a pivotal moment in American history, we have to have the courage to think big.”

He had a warm rapport with his audience, at one point leaning forward to say he would tell them something no politician ever would -- that he could not accomplish his goals without them. He urged them to “rethink what it means to live in a Democratic society.”

“We need a political revolution involving people who have given up on the political process or never became engaged,” he said.

Earlier, as the crowd waited for more than two hours for Sanders to arrive, they responded enthusiastically to ads for him put up on a large screen, cheering when the camera stayed on Sanders’ image as if they were looking at the candidate himself.

Lux DeLuxe, a local band made up of college students who was on hand, revised lyrics to an original song to get the crowd singing “Oh, oh, oh, I’ll be voting for you.”

Danny Bernini, the keyboardist’s dad, videotaped the whole thing.

“They’re big Bernie supporters,” he said. “They’re huge Bernie fans.”


Australia: "Safe Schools" 'terrible, focused on homosexual issues', Leftist senator Joe Bullock says

Divisions have emerged within the Labor Party over the Safe Schools program, with one senator calling for the program to be suspended amid a Government review.

The taxpayer-funded program, aimed at helping lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and/or intersex (LGBTI) school students, is under review after a number of Coalition MPs expressed concerns.

Labor has been vocal in its support for the program, but Western Australian senator Joe Bullock has since called for the program to be "immediately stopped".

Senator Bullock told News Corp it was a terrible program. "This program is so narrowly focused on homosexual issues that it doesn't provide the sort of balance one would hope," he said.

Labor's leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, has criticised her colleague over his comments. "I don't agree with Joe and the Labor Party doesn't agree with Joe," Senator Wong told the ABC.

"This is a party, this is a Labor program that we funded in government.  "It is a program that is designed to address terrifying statistics of self-harm, of abuse, of discrimination."

Senator Wong's comments follow a heated exchange between Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and the primary agitator for a review, Liberal senator Cory Bernardi.

Senator Bernardi has called on the Government to withdraw funding for the program, which he said was indoctrinating students.

He has faced criticism from Labor over his remarks and on Wednesday interjected while Mr Shorten was addressing media on the issue. Senator Bernardi stated: "At least I'm honest, Bill."

Mr Shorten responded by saying: "At least I'm not a homophobe."

The Labor leader stood by his comments today, saying he did "in five seconds what Malcolm Turnbull hasn't done in five months".

When asked if he regretted his language, he responded that he regretted the time spent debating the issue. "You have a senator walking past, acting like he is at the football, yelling out free advice at a press conference, and he has a sook about someone standing up to him," Mr Shorten said.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Bernie, Your Free College Plan Will Gut Black Colleges...Comrade

If there’s another casualty of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ free college plan, it’s black colleges. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), who recently endorsed Hillary Clinton, noted how the self-described democratic socialists’ plan could eviscerate black colleges (via the Hill):

    You’ve got to think about the consequences of things,” Clyburn said in an interview with BuzzFeed News. “[If] you start handing out two years of free college at public institutions are you ready for all the black, private HBCUs to close down? That’s what’s going to happen.

    “Tougaloo College in Mississippi will be closed if you can go to Jackson State for free,” he added.

    Clyburn took an additional swipe at Sanders’s education plan at his Clinton endorsement announcement Friday, saying there are no “free lunches.”

    “And certainly there’s not going to be any free education,” he said from the historically black Allen University, where he sits on the board.

Besides the fallout with higher education among African Americans, there’s the $70 billion-a-year price tag. Most importantly, the more government gets involved in college aid, the more control it has over the institution, which could torpedo innovations in higher education, which is desperately needed.


How Common Core Ended the Bush Dynasty

As Republicans try to make sense of Donald Trump's huge victory in the South Carolina primary, the big news is the shellacking of Jeb Bush in a state that voted four times for a George Bush for president. Trump defeated Bush by the overwhelming margin of 4-to-1 (33 percent to 8 percent).

When Bush suspended his presidential campaign following his humiliating rebuke by South Carolina's Republican voters, it was more than just a personal disappointment. It marked the end of the Bush family's 25-year campaign to remake public education according to federal standards.

Exactly one year ago, before he announced that he would be running for president, Trump was asked on Hugh Hewitt's radio talk show: "What does Donald Trump think about Common Core?" He replied, "Well, first of all, I think it's going to kill Bush."

Hewitt expressed surprise, so Trump explained: "For people in Washington to be setting curriculum and to be setting standards for people living in Iowa and other places is ridiculous. People don't want to have somebody from Washington looking down and saying this is what you're going to be studying."

That interview was four months before Trump launched his presidential campaign with his sensational promise to make Mexico pay for a wall on our Southern border. Although his warnings about Mexican and Muslim immigration drew the most attention, Trump continued to denounce Common Core in all his campaign speeches, and one of his few campaign ads was devoted to it.

One year later, it's clear that Trump was right: not only that it's "ridiculous" for "people in Washington" to be setting curriculum and standards for "what you're going to be studying" -- but he was equally right to foresee that Common Core would "kill" any chance of returning the Bush family to the White House.

It all began in 1988 when then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, hoping to succeed Ronald Reagan, declared that he wanted to be "the education president." Bush adopted that label in order to define himself as what he would later call a "kinder, gentler" conservative than Reagan.

After his election to what many viewed as "Reagan's third term," Bush summoned the 50 state governors to attend a two-day education summit in Charlottesville, Virginia. The 1989 Charlottesville summit, underwritten by major corporations such IBM, launched the basic idea that later became Common Core: national standards for what is taught, enforced by measures of "accountability" to ensure that all schools toe the official line.

That summit made a little-known Arkansas governor named Bill Clinton into a national figure big enough to run for president, and when Clinton ousted Bush 41 from the White House, he pursued the same education policies he helped develop at Bush's Charlottesville summit. Helped by wife Hillary Clinton's board membership on a corporate-funded outfit called the National Center on Education and the Economy, Clinton rebranded Bush's America 2000 as Goals 2000.

Then George W. Bush emerged with his own campaign as a "compassionate conservative" using the slogan "leave no child behind." Bush's No Child Left Behind law picked up right where his father and Bill Clinton left off, with the same standards-and-assessment model of federal control.

When the failure of No Child Left Behind became too obvious to ignore, the same failed ideas were repackaged by the National Governors Association under the label Common Core. Although the NGA is a private, corporate-funded lobbying organization with no power over public schools, the Common Core was quickly adopted by 46 states and the publishing industry rolled out new textbooks supposedly "aligned" to the Common Core.

The Common Core was promoted heavily by Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education, which received large gifts from charities controlled by Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdoch, and Pearson PLC, the world's largest textbook publisher.

As Common Core became toxic, Jeb Bush made a too-little, too-late attempt to rebrand the same ideas under a new name. Last month, he issued a new education position paper described as "a blueprint for a 21st century American education system" which he said was "the great civil rights challenge of our time."

Putting education reform under the mantle of "civil rights" was the tip-off that federal control would continue in any Jeb Bush administration. Once something is declared to be a matter of "civil rights," states aren't allowed to experiment or deviate from uniform rules enforced by the federal government.

The runner-up candidates in South Carolina, Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, have also spoken out against Common Core, although both senators were absent on December 9 when the Senate voted to extend federal control over local schools for another five years. Hopefully, the Republican Party has returned to its pre-Bush position against any federal role in public or private education.


Students at Sydney performing arts school 'win right to wear the uniform of either sex'

Performing arts?  I can't say I am surprised at weirdness there

Students at a leading Sydney high school have won a claim to change their dress policy, allowing them to wear the uniform of either sex. The move has received widespread support, but has been criticised by Christian groups.

Pupils at Newtown High School of the Performing Arts in Sydney, Australia, successfully lobbied the school to scrap gender restrictions on uniform after students began challenging the school's administration last week.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Wendy Francis, a spokeswoman for The Australian Christian Lobby, said: "To encourage a guy to wear a dress would just be setting him up for bullying." She also described the move as "retrograde" and "laughable", adding: "I don't get it. It is a retrograde idea in my mind, there is no need to say we are going to allow boys to wear a kilt or girls to wear trousers, I find it almost laughable."

However, Jo Dwyer, a year 11 student at the school, said that changes were needed to make the uniform inclusive: "Before the changes were implemented, students had to go through the school with parental permission and notes from psychologists before they were allowed to wear the cross-gender uniform, and that wasn't really a possibility for some students whose parents aren't supportive of their gender identity."

The Foundation for Young Australians, which runs the Safe Schools Coalition Australia (SSCA), a group aiming to create "safe and inclusive school environments for same sex attracted, intersex and gender-diverse students, staff and families", called the students "absolute heroes". SSCA is encouraging other schools to follow suit and adopt similar uniform policies.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

UK: Pupils who get a B grade in A-level maths today would only have scored an E 50 years ago as study shows exams HAVE got easier

The research, by Loughborough University, found standards in the subject have dramatically declined since the 1960s as exam papers have become easier.

It confirms long-held views that those who took the maths exams five decades ago would have to be schooled to a much higher standard to achieve a good mark.

Critics have warned that erosion of standards over the last century has led to youngsters in the UK falling behind peers in other countries in maths ability.

And elite universities have complained that the high numbers of students obtaining top grades makes it harder for them to select the truly exceptional candidates.

However, while recent exam papers appear to be significantly easier than those taken in the 1960s, there appears to have been little change in the last 20 years.  The report’s authors concluded that grade inflation in maths A-level may have plateaued after 1996.

Dr Ian Jones, at the university’s Mathematics Education Centre, said: ‘There has been ongoing concern that maths A-levels are getting easier.  ‘Whilst our study does show a decline in standards between the 1960s and 1990s, there is no evidence to suggest there has been further decline in the last 20 years.

‘Our study has overcome limitations of previous research in this area, making it the most robust of its kind.

‘With debate continuing about the standard of maths exams it’s important the decision makers have the best evidence available to them.’

Major reforms to exams in England are currently being introduced, with the first new GCSEs and A-levels in subjects including English and maths brought in last autumn.

Ministers have previously said that changes to the system are needed to make the qualifications more rigorous.

The report, called Fifty years of A-level mathematics: Have standards changed?, was based on studies of exam answers from 66 papers taken from 1964, 1968, 1996 and 2012, held in the National Archives.

The study involved papers at grade A, B and E and saw maths experts looking at pairs of papers and deciding which one showed the better mathematician.

All papers were standardised and anonymised, so that the experts would not be able to tell from which year they originated.

The researchers concluded that a grade B in a maths paper from the 2010s was equivalent to an E in the 1960s, but no different from the 1990s.

Alan Smithers, professor of education at the University of Buckingham, said: ‘A-level maths is much easier now than it was fifty years ago.  ‘It has had to adjust to what the candidates can do. Very few took the exam in the 1960s and they were almost all grammar school pupils. ‘A much wider range now take the exam and the exam has been simplified so that there is an acceptable pass rate.’

However, he added: ‘The teaching of maths in primary schools has greatly improved in recent years and the government is toughening up the exam again as it expects those pupils to be able do better when they take A-levels.’

According to international maths tests for 15-year-olds run by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, UK teenagers are lagging behind peers from many other countries including China and Singapore, which top the league table.

A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘We have introduced a new, more rigorous maths curriculum at GCSE and a gold standard A-level. ‘The changes we have made will help to tackle the grade inflation of the past.’


‘Free’ College and a Better Alternative

Should America provide tuition-free college to every high-school grad? President Obama and Sen. Bernie Sanders are campaigning for it, but whether this would be a good investment for the nation is an entirely different matter. One reason to raise doubts, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow Vicki E. Alger, is that while high-school graduation rates may be at all-time highs, many grads are woefully unprepared for the rigors of higher education.

Citing the National Assessment of Educational Progress—the nation’s report card—Alger writes, “just one-quarter of students score proficient or better in math and only slightly more than one-third (36 percent) are proficient in reading.” The promise of a free college education would only push those academic deficiencies into the nation’s colleges, particularly community colleges, where, Alger writes, “barely one in five students earns a degree in five years.”

Rather than offering “free” college (a misnomer, because taxpayers would get stuck with a larger tab), Alger advocates an alternative that would better align the incentives of students, taxpayers, and schools: replacing all government student loans with performance grants (and only for needy students). If the recipient doesn’t perform well academically, the grant would convert to a loan. “With this reform,” she writes, “schools, two- and four-year alike, would have to compete for students and their associated grant funding, which would exert powerful pressure on schools to control costs, keep program quality high, and offer more generous institutional aid—or risk losing students to other institutions.”


Boston Latin school not subservient enough to NAACP

There was a big official inquiry that found just a single  adverse verbal incident but that was not the desired conclusion

The Boston branch of the NAACP called for ousting Boston Latin School’s headmaster following a five-hour meeting Sunday on the results of an investigation released Friday into the administration’s response to racially charged incidents at the school and on social media.

Headmaster Lynne Mooney Teta failed the students at Boston Latin School, branch president Michael Curry said, and “for that she needs to go.”
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“We no longer have faith that she can act in a way that is in the best interest of the students at Boston Latin, particularly when it comes to safety,” Curry said Sunday night after the meeting. “We don’t come to this lightly.”

Curry said he held off calling for Teta’s termination until the release of the report, which the group reviewed in depth Sunday afternoon.

Asked about the call for Teta to be fired, Boston Public Schools spokesman Dan O’Brien said Sunday night that “Superintendent [Tommy] Chang is looking forward to meeting with NAACP leadership in the immediate future to discuss any concerns people in the community have raised in recent days.”

Investigators found that Boston Latin School officials responded appropriately to several racially charged incidents.

Curry slammed Teta’s handling of an incident on Nov. 7, 2014, in which a student called a black female student a racial slur and “threatened her with a reference to lynching.”

Curry said the NAACP brought the incident to the attention of the Office of Equity, and said Teta knew about it, but the case was not communicated to other officials within the school district. He said police made a report on the incident.

“The handling of that case by Teta and lead administrators in that building warrants termination,” Curry said. “There was an effort to protect this young man’s reputation at the risk of this young lady’s safety.”

While administrators disciplined the male student, the report stated, they did not notify his parents about the incident or tell them about his punishment. The school also failed to notify the female student’s parents.

Curry said his group spoke with at least 20 current and former Boston Latin students, dating back to the 1970s, and their families about racism at the school.

Parents have said that Teta has been unresponsive in the past with regards to similar incidents and has failed to acknowledge the problem or talk about race, Curry said.

He said the report also failed to include other information collected from social media and the probe did not look at other incidents at the school.

Curry said he heard during the meeting about an incident in which a teacher referred to a student using the N-word.

Last month, when two Boston Latin School students publicly denounced racially charged incidents at the school and on social media, they spurred a community often divided on other issues to unite.

In the days following the students’ appearance on a YouTube video, clergy, elected officials, and civil rights leaders quickly rallied in their support and launched an effort to combat a racially charged climate at the city’s most elite public school that some say has spanned generations.

“Folks have certainly coalesced around this issue,” said the Rev. Charles Richard Stith, longtime civil rights activist and former ambassador to Tanzania, on Sunday afternoon. “It’s wrong for young people who are trying to get an education to be subjected to this sort of treatment. That’s why you see people coming together in the way that they have.”

The allegations surfaced when students Kylie Webster-Cazeau and Meggie Noel initiated a social media campaign about race relations at the school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The results of the investigation into the complaints released Friday found that school administrators had responded appropriately to several racially charged incidents at the school and on social media.

But black leaders have said the investigation’s scope was limited and planned community meetings this week to discuss the issue.

“It’s pretty unusual for us to have one mind and to feel like there’s a problem that needs to be addressed,” said Jacqueline C. Rivers, executive director of the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies. “This kind of atmosphere is detrimental to the achievement of black students.”

Rivers said the community galvanized around the issue because racism at the school has been a decades-long problem and “the response from the administration seems to be inadequate at every turn.”

The community should continue to work together, Rivers said, and formulate a strategy.

Some say the situation at Boston Latin School offers the community a chance to support the next generation in efforts to defeat racism.

“It’s a good thing people see this as an opportunity to address larger systemic issues,” said Rahsaan Hall, director of the Racial Justice Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts, which is representing a student at the school. “No one wants to see our children in an educational setting exposed to the type of treatment these kids have been exposed to.”

The Rev. Egobudike E. Ezedi Jr. of the Empowerment Christian Church in Dorchester said his congregation includes a Boston Latin School student, who sought guidance from him as to how to address racism at the school and whether to speak up about it.

“It’s our young people that are affected by this and they stepped up and took the bull by the horn and said, ‘We’re not going to take this injustice,’ ” Ezedi said. “It has reminded adults of what we are called to do and need to do.”

Darnell L. Williams, chief executive of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, echoed those sentiments.

“These are the best and brightest students. . . . Shame on us if we don’t do what we can to support them,” he said.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

UK: Ratty feminist head-teacher advises cross-dressing

It's only people who need to claim that they are wiser than anyone else who go into this BS.  For over 10 years I have been taking brunch at a nearby cafe that is much frequented by mothers with young children.  And only once in that time have I ever seen an ambiguously dressed child.  It's normally pink for girls and blue for boys.  And of course dresses and frills for the girls and some sort of plain pants for the boys. 

And it's what the kids themselves want.  A little girl who wants a Princess dress will normally not be denied.  Children are quite fussy about their clothes from very early on.  My son would carefully select his shorts when he was 2.  I have said more about such "stereotypes" here and here

The headmistress of a £33,000-a-year girls' boarding school has called for parents to bring up their children in a 'gender neutral' way so that youngsters can try out 'male' and 'female' roles.

Heathfield school's Jo Heywood believes one of the benefits of gender neutral parenting is that it would produce girls confident about entering careers such as science and engineering, traditionally regarded as a man's world.

Princess Alexandra, the actress Sienna Miller and the model Amber Le Bon, daughter of Duran Duran's Simon, are among the famous alumni of the school in Ascot, Berkshire.

Ms Heywood told Sian Griffiths of The Sunday Times: 'If a little boy wants to explore wearing a princess dress and a little girl wants to spend time in a fireman's outfit, then that is to be encouraged ... Have girlie make-up, but let boys have it too.'

The mother-of-three added: 'Girls and boys should be allowed to explore roles traditionally associated with the opposite sex.'

Ms Heywood said her three daughters had a dressing-up box that contained firemen's outfits as well as princess dresses.

It also includes clothes she bought from a Swedish company that boasts of 'challenging gender roles'.

Ms Heywood's comments came after Adele was pictured allowing her three-year-old son to wear the princess outfit from hugely popular film Frozen during a trip to Disneyland.

Other mothers then posted pictures of their sons dressed in frilly dresses on Twitter in response to the singer's stance.

Meanwhile, a survey for the parenting website has revealed that three out of five parents believe gender labels put on clothes and toys by retailers should be scrapped.

More than 2,000 mothers were surveyed, a quarter of which also wanted gender neutral school uniforms.

It was also revealed that two out of five mothers under the age of 30 now parent in a gender neutral manner, in comparison with just one in four older mothers.

The concept of gender neutral parenting first became popular among feminists in America during the 1970s, when it inspired the actress Marlo Thomas to write a best-selling children’s book called Free To Be… You and Me.

Recently, it has experienced a small revival.

In 2011, a Canadian couple made headlines after refusing to reveal the gender of their new-born child Storm in what they called ‘a tribute to freedom and choice’.

The following year, a Cambridgeshire couple, Beck Laxton and Kieran Cooper, revealed they were raising their child Sasha as gender neutral to allow his or her ‘real personality’ to shine through.


"Wellness" education

Good if it works. The nutrition advice is sure to be hokum

The University of Vermont has long had a reputation as a party school, perhaps the legacy of work-hard, play-hard students who liked to hit the slopes as well as the books.

But now, led by a medical school professor who totes a brain-shaped football to class, the university is expanding a dormitory program where drugs and alcohol are out and round-the-clock incentives for healthy living are in.
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The first-year project, called the Wellness Environment, includes 120 freshmen chosen from three times that number of applicants. Because of its popularity, the program will nearly quadruple next academic year and move to a second residence hall.

“If they can get really good health habits now, we’ve done our job,” said Annie Stevens, vice provost for student affairs.

Substance-free dorms have existed for decades, but the UVM project targets more than the dangers and distractions of binge drinking and excess partying. It’s a pioneering approach, which the university believes is the first in the nation, that includes a mandatory neuroscience class, meditation, nutrition coaches, and personal trainers to steer students toward a lifetime of healthy choices.

The force behind the Wellness Environment is Dr. James Hudziak, who put theory into practice when his daughter, now a sophomore, enrolled at the university.

“As I was doing all this health promotion work for children, in some ways I was duty-bound to test these ideas,” said Hudziak, an affable bear of a man who is chief of child psychiatry at the College of Medicine and the UVM Medical Center.

Those ideas led him to propose a university community where a simple mantra of “no alcohol, no drugs” would be supplemented by four pillars of the Wellness project — exercise, nutrition, mindfulness, and mentorship.

Mindfulness includes yoga and meditation, for example. The mentoring portion, which Hudziak calls “paying back,” will match Wellness students with Burlington youths.

Taken together, the plan uses healthy habits to build healthy brains, which should lead to healthier decisions. Officials say the concept already is drawing attention from Georgetown, Tulane, and Virginia Commonwealth universities.

The concept is admittedly simple — preparing students to be more than learners — but it’s one that has lagged in application, Hudziak said. Traditionally, parents have sent their children off to college with the confidence that they possessed enough judgment, after a bit of trial and error, to make the right decisions.

“We’ve thought they would make the best decisions themselves, and that’s not enough,” Stevens said. “You add alcohol and drugs to that mix, and it means they are not going to be successful.” So far, two students in the program have been removed from the substance-free dorm for violating the rules.

But that’s the rare exception. Overwhelmingly, students have bought into the Wellness effort.

Allen Vance, 18, of Hadley, Mass., said Hudziak’s off-beat recruitment pitch helped steer him to the program.

“He threw a football at me, basically, and handed me a flier,” Vance, a varsity runner, said in the dorm. “I can come back here and know there won’t be a distraction.”

Minutes later, Vance was off to the dorm’s gym, where trainers were available to coach students in the program. As he lifted weights, Vance joked with Caroline Duksta, a 19-year-old freshman from Rhode Island who is on the sailing team.

“I needed to be here, and I was aggressive about it,” said Duksta, who cherishes the comfort of a like-minded community. In some other residence halls, she said, “I hear the stories: Oh, my roommate was up playing beer-bong until 3 in the morning on a Tuesday.”

In Hudziak’s world — one of complex and arcane brain science — most college students are comparable to “supercharged race cars with no brakes.” Because the brain at that age has not developed fully, Hudziak said, students are vulnerable to making bad choices — over and over and over.

The result is often a recipe for trouble. “You’re sending someone off to college, and his regulatory system is not yet organized,” Hudziak said.

Hudziak approaches his job with the zeal of an evangelist. Before his class on “Healthy Brains, Healthy Bodies,” required for all Wellness students, he loosens up his acolytes by tossing a small football molded to look like a brain.

The class begins and ends with short meditation sessions — “How else do you get 100-plus kids to close their eyes on purpose?” Hudziak asked.

Leading researchers, shown on a large screen, often speak directly to the students through Skype. Hudziak displays scans of brains that have benefited from exercise and nutrition, and brains that have been damaged by drugs and alcohol. He also brings students to the neuroanatomy lab -- the class has access to the medical school’s facilities — and lets them see and handle human brains.

Over time, Hudziak said, the paradigm might mean fewer dropouts and fewer troubled students who need services.

“If I can have these college kids be in better emotional and behavioral health, that should result in a return on investment,” Hudziak said. In the fall, most of the Wellness freshmen will continue as sophomores.

Stevens, the vice provost, said the university has seen an 11 percent decline in self-reported drinking in the last four years, but that marijuana continues to be a challenge. With Vermont legislators considering whether to legalize the drug, the need for responsible marijauna use becomes more important for university leaders.

This spring, the Wellness group plans to make a statement about alternatives to alcohol and drugs, said Breanna Pletnick, the program coordinator and a 2015 graduate.

On April 20, an annual date when large numbers of UVM students gather to smoke marijuana, the Wellness Environment is sponsoring a 5-kilometer run and walk.

The run will start within yards of where many smokers are expected, Pletnick said, and will be a statement as well as an alternative.

“Students will see that, and realize there are students who are making other choices.”


After Cecil Rhodes, it's Alcock the rooster: Students call for bronze cockerel to be sent back to Africa

Students have called for a bronze statue adorning a Cambridge college to be returned to Nigeria after it was looted from the country in the 19th Century.

In a row similar to the furore that has engulfed Oxford's Oriel College, students at Jesus College, Cambridge have voted in favour of telling their master the statue should be returned.

The cockerel statue is a Nigerian Benin Bronze, of which more than 2,000 sit in museums and collections across the globe.

But Nigeria itself has only 50 pieces of the artworks and the statue remains in the college's dining hall despite the country's requests for the bronzes to be returned.

It was given to the college as a reference to the surname of founder John Alcock, the bishop and architect who constructed the college.

One student described the row as the 'new Cecil Rhodes', in a reference to a campaign to remove a controversial statue of the tycoon from an Oxford college, The Sunday Times reported.

A spokesperson for Jesus College told the paper: 'Recognising that ethical issues are of great importance, Jesus College has structures in place through which these matters can be raised by its members.

'The request by students is being considered within these processes.'

Meanwhile, campaigners at Oriel College, Oxford have said they will redouble efforts to remove the statue of Rhodes, warning that it is critical for the institution to 'reckon with its past'.

The Rhodes Must Fall In Oxford group also accused Oriel College of 'selling out' by deciding to keep the statue before a consultation had taken place.

The governing body of the college announced last month it had decided following 'careful consideration' to keep the statue after receiving an 'overwhelming' amount of support to do so.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Tackling the new intolerance in British universities

If you were in any doubt that most students are sick to death of campus censorship, of having their horizons narrowed and their intellects coddled, than spiked’s first-of-its-kind conference, ‘The New Intolerance on Campus’, will have put your criticisms to bed. Attended by over 300 students, academics and members of the public, and watched by thousands around the world via the livestream, the conference raised the stakes in the free-speech fightback.

For as long as it has existed, spiked has made the case for free speech on campus, with no ifs and no buts. And, over the course of the three, fiery sessions – interrogating Safe Spaces, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and hate speech – it became clear that students from across the country share the sentiment. Free speech is a lived liberty; it’s something we have and are duty-bound to exercise. The spirited contributions in Conway Hall on Wednesday showed that, in spite of the stifling status quo on campuses today, free speech is far from dead.

Watch the videos of all three sessions. But don’t let the debate stop here. As spiked’s Ella Whelan put it on the day, it’s time students gave Safe Spaces the two-fingered salute. This year, spiked will be working with a national network of freedom-loving students to help them do just that.

SOURCE  (See the original for videos)

Rampell: Liberal intolerance on the rise at colleges

Okay, maybe conservatives are right to freak out about illiberal lefty militancy on college campuses.  Today’s students are indeed both more left wing and more openly hostile to free speech than earlier generations of collegians.

Don’t believe me? There are hard data to prove it.

For 50 years, researchers have surveyed incoming college freshmen about everything from their majors to their worldviews. On Thursday, the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles released the latest iteration of this survey, which included 141,189 full-time, first-year students attending about 200 public and private baccalaureate institutions around the country.

According to the findings, the current crop of freshmen can lay claim to multiple superlatives. Among them: most willing to shut down speech they find offensive.

About 71 percent of freshmen surveyed in the fall said they agreed with the statement that “colleges should prohibit racist/sexist speech on campus.” This question has been asked on and off for a couple of decades, and 2015 logged the highest percentage of positive responses on record. For comparison, the share in the early 1990s hovered around 60?percent; also high, but not as high as today.

What speech counts as “racist” or “sexist” is of course in the eye of the beholder, as evidenced by recent attempts to silence public discourse on racially and sexually charged topics at Wesleyan, Yale and Northwestern universities.

A related survey question, which has been asked most years since 1967, inquired whether “colleges have the right to ban extreme speakers from campus.”

About 43 percent of freshmen said they agreed. That’s nearly twice as high as the average share saying this in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. It was surpassed only once, just barely, in 2004. But in general, support for banning speakers from campuses has trended upward over time.

Recent incidents suggest students (and sometimes their professors) may have rather expansive views of what constitutes an “extreme speaker.” Among those disinvited or forced to withdraw from campus speaking engagements in the past few years are feminism critic Suzanne Venker, former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde and Narendra Modi, now the Indian prime minister.

Another survey question asked freshmen whether they would participate in student demonstrations while in college; 8.5 percent said there was a “very good chance” they would.

That, too, was the highest share on record, higher even than responses recorded during the years of Vietnam protests. In 1968 — the year of a tumultuous Columbia University student takeover — just 4.5 percent of freshmen nationwide said they expected to protest.

This question saw a big spike in positive responses just in the past year, perhaps reflecting the spate of demonstrations sweeping schools around the country.

Some of these protests have been quite successful. Students at the University of Missouri, for example, demanded that their president resign over the administration’s poor handling of racial tensions. The school’s celebrated football team threatened not to play unless he complied. Ultimately the president stepped down.

Student groups from at least 76 schools have now issued their own “demands” (not suggestions!), according to lists compiled by the A FiveThirtyEight analysis found that the modal “demand” related to increasing diversity (greater diversity of professors and students, more diversity sensitivity training, etc.), but many “demands” also involved speech codes, public apologies and resignations.

One last freshman survey finding of interest: The highest share of students since 1973 now consider themselves left of center. And the highest share of college freshmen ever (or at least since this question was first asked in 1970) call themselves “far left.”

All of which is to say that — while I support and admire students’ efforts to make the world a better place — I also kind of understand the right’s fear that student activism may be disparately used to muzzle conservative viewpoints.

Heck, some students are trying to muzzle liberal and moderate viewpoints. I’m hardly an arch-conservative, and whenever I write things that college students disagree with, I get a lot of email demanding retraction, recantation, apology, prostration. Some younger readers — not all that much younger than I, mind you — have accused my writing of “taking away” both their voices and their agency, as if free speech were zero-sum.

One parting observation: Remember that these survey questions were asked of newly matriculated college freshmen. That is, students are setting foot on campus already more liberal, more protest-happy and more amenable to speech restrictions than their predecessors.

Which suggests that colleges themselves are not wholly responsible for rising liberal and illiberal tendencies on campus — even if they do sometimes aid and abet both trends.


College Students Confuse Reagan for Clinton and Nixon

The average American is not expected to be an expert on constitutional law or ridiculed for not knowing the names of all 535 senators and representatives of Congress. They should, however, be expected to know the basic tenets of the U.S. Constitution along with the names of their local officials and top governmental leaders. Sadly, more and more students are either not taught or don’t care to learn these things, which makes cringeworthy exposés like the one below increasingly common.

A group called PoliTech visited the campus of George Mason University with a simple quest: to see how many students could put a name to famous political faces. The students surveyed in the film had a broad range of majors — from Finance, to Nursing, to Accounting, to Anthropology and, yes, even Government and International Politics. But nearly all of them failed the test. Big time. Most surprisingly, not only could the young woman majoring in politics not name Ronald Reagan, she even failed to identify Joe Biden, as did all the other students save for one. And not a single one was able to name Ronald Reagan after being shown his picture. (For the record, he looks nothing like Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon.) However — and this is the least surprising part — every single student could instantly identify a pop culture icon known as Kim Kardashian.

The Daily Signal observes, “The American Council of Trustees and Alumni released a survey that found that nearly one in 10 recent college graduates think TV personality ‘Judge Judy’ is on the Supreme Court. ‘There is a crisis in American civic education,’ the group’s January report says. ‘Survey after survey shows that recent college graduates are alarmingly ignorant of America’s history and heritage.’ The same study found that ‘almost 40 percent of college graduates didn’t know that Congress has the power to declare war and nearly half couldn’t recognize the term lengths of members of Congress.’”

The bottom line: We shouldn’t be surprised that 32% of Americans don’t know who Justice Antonin Scalia is. But we can hope through exchanges like PoliTech’s that today’s indoctrinated snow flakes will feel prompted to actually start paying attention to what matters. Liberty, after all, will get you much farther in life than any $200,000 degree.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

UK: Left-wing protesters force an academic to cancel his lecture on welfare reforms after launching a social media campaign to 'shut it down'

Left-wing activists have succeeded in stopping a university lecture in which a respected academic was due to present his research on welfare.

The talk at the London School of Economics has been temporarily postponed over concerns that campaigners were threatening to disrupt it.

Dr Adam Perkins had been due to speak about his book, which examined the relationship between personality and the welfare state.

However, organisers suspended the event after a social media backlash from activists who labelled it 'nauseating' and threatened to 'shut it down'.

It represents an escalation of the long list of 'no-platforming' incidents, in which students have attempted to stop speakers appearing who they disagree with.

Until now, their efforts have been focussed on political campaigners and provocateurs, but this latest incident appears to show that even ordinary academics presenting their work can now be targets.

Last night, Dr Perkins said he was 'saddened' by the activists' 'knee-jerk reaction', which he said might discourage other researchers from carrying out similar studies.

He told the Daily Mail: 'I was surprised by it. I think some of these people have got the wrong end of the stick about the book.

'It actually has a fairly positive message that we can improve the welfare state by taking advantage of personality research, although there are some findings which some people will find uncomfortable.

'Certain people are primed to be outraged by data they don't like. But there's no place for outrage in science.

'People are afraid to speak up about challenging topics for fear of abuse, but data will always win in the end. 'It is absurd to protest against data without offering any counter-data.  'This is a new and unfortunate turn of events.'

Dr Perkins, a lecturer in the neurobiology of personality at King's College London, has already seen his work criticised by those who say it stigmatises the long-term unemployed.

His book, The Welfare Trait, states that 'individuals with aggressive, rule-breaking and antisocial personality characteristics are over-represented among welfare claimants'.

It suggests that because personality is partly formed by environmental factors, a welfare state that increases the number of children born into disadvantaged households can proliferate employment-resistant personality characteristics.

Dr Perkins said the research builds on more than 100 peer-reviewed studies and that the findings have been discussed in academia for many years.

He added that his book's central argument is that 'if we want a sustainable welfare state that provides a safety net during unemployment but without eroding work motivation, we need to take account of discoveries from personality research'.

He added: 'The sad thing is that the findings that I'm citing go back decades. Researchers have known about this but have kept their head down.

'They don't want talk about it publicly because they know that it would be a risk to their career. I was like this for a while but eventually a friend convinced me that I owed it to the tax payers to publicise these data.'

In the run-up to his LSE talk earlier this month, his views were denounced as 'grotesque' on Twitter, and disability rights group Black Triangle appeared to be organising a picket and protest on the day.

'I think [work and pensions secretary] Iain Duncan Smith would love this idea as it fits the Tory notion of 'benefits scroungers',' said the group's Facebook page.

One Twitter user appeared to call on student campaign groups Occupy LSE and the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts to protest at the event.

Another woman wrote of the lecture: 'Nauseating. This is how the further dismantling of welfare and demonisation of claimants will be justified.'

Organisers postponed the event with just days to go due to 'unforeseen circumstances'.

It is understood they hope to reschedule the event for a later date when a more robust security team can enlisted to manage any potential protests.

Dr Perkins said that LSE staff had been 'open-minded and helpful' and that the postponement had not been forced on them or suggested by any central LSE body.

Nevertheless, the failure to ensure that the original event went ahead is likely to dismay some academics in light of recent concerns about campus censorship and the fact that social media comments did not suggest that any violence was planned by protesters in this case.

Black Triangle is a Glasgow-based campaign group which protests against the current government's attempts to reform the welfare system regarding incapacity benefits.  It claims changes are a breach of human rights and stigmatise disabled people.

The group was co-founded by John McArdle, 48, an Englishman who lives in Edinburgh and appears to have worked as a reporter in China in his younger life.

An LSE spokesperson said: 'The speaker and hosting department agreed to postpone the lecture for logistical reasons.

'The speaker and organisers were aware of some negative social media activity and the postponement is to ensure the safe and smooth running of the event, once it is rescheduled.'

The LSE has long been a centre for radical politics of all persuasions and has been at the centre of controversy in the past.


Expose children to extremist views early on to prepare them for university, says expert
Children as young as four should be taught about homosexuality, the government’s behaviour tsar has said, as he criticises ‘snowflake generation’ for classroom intolerance.

Tom Bennett said too many youngsters are being sheltered from ‘the harsher realities’ of life while at school, leaving them ‘overwhelmed’ and seeking ‘safe spaces’ when they go to university.

The former night club manager said teachers should be more proactive at encouraging discussion in the classroom and at confronting pupils with views they may find offensive to teach them how to disagree with others rather than shun debate.

Views pupils may find offensive include prejudice against gay people and ideas around abortion and atheism, he said.

His comments emerged as student unions at UK universities have increasingly become intolerant on speakers, pop songs and even objects, like sombrero hats, that might cause offend to anyone. The practice of banning speakers on campus has been labelled ‘no-platforming’.

The headteacher from Glasgow said he was against no-platforming.  He said: “If you want to create a healthy community of people who are liberally minded and prone towards compassion and democracy you need to start encouraging those values quite early on and principally by role modelling.  “Help them go to university, and encourage children not to be scared that other people will disagree with them.

“[With] generation snowflake, sometimes, there is an element of truth that children are a little bit inoculated perhaps against the harsher realities of the world.  “And then when they go to university they might then encounter a truth that may overwhelm them.  “No wonder why they are seeking safe spaces, because they can’t handle that truth.”

As figures reveal minority groups are awarded fewer places at university, Yomi Adegoke wonders if it's any surprise ignorance about certain ethnicities remains in higher education Views pupils may find offensive include prejudice against gay people and ideas around abortion and atheism, he said.  Photo: Alamy

Speaking at a conference on free speech this week, he said he promotes debate on controversial topics like atheism and abortion in his religious studies classes.

Mr Bennett said: “We need to help children develop to become more robust to understand ideas that are contrary to their own by role modelling.

“Sometimes we have children saying some extreme views. Children from very religious backgrounds saying things like homosexuals should be put in prison. “That’s as extreme a view as you could get in a liberal democracy.

“Rather than just saying you’re not allowed to say that in the classroom, [I would] ask what other people think, why do they think it’s wrong and so on.’

He advocated for ‘healthy spaces’ where children are exposed to racist, sexist or homophobic comments in an effort to help them argue against views they find abhorrent.

He said: “The sad fact is that in society you get homophobic and sexist views. “And the children pick that up and bring it to the school gate four years old and onwards.

“So as a teacher you have to deal with it in a sensitive way by having discussions about it and to some extent directing the discussion a little bit because at the end of the day you can’t walk away [saying] all views are ok.

“I think many schools discuss views brilliantly but some schools could do more.”


Boston Public Schools releases findings of investigation into Boston Latin School racism concerns

After all the Leftist hysteria about racism in the schools, they found only one thing said by one student that was out of line

Boston Public Schools (BPS) announced today that the district’s Office of Equity has completed an internal investigation of alleged violations of the district’s internal nondiscrimination policies at Boston Latin School (BLS). The executive summary of the investigation will be posted to

“Racial intolerance should never be accepted in any Boston public school,” said BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang. “This is deeply personal to me as someone who had similar experiences growing up as an immigrant in the United States. I am fully committed to ensuring that no student should ever feel unsafe in any of our schools. BLS must take a critical examination of itself, in particular around issues of race and culture.”

According to the executive summary, the Office of Equity’s inquiry focused on all reports to BLS administrators of student incidents related to race and ethnicity between November 2014 and January 2016. The review identified a total of seven incidents during that time period, and determined that the internal policy was violated in one of those incidents.

The substantiated violation was in relation to a student using a racial slur and making a threatening remark toward another student. The review found BLS did not adequately investigate the incident, did not adequately discipline the student, nor take appropriate steps to ensure the support and safety of the targeted student.

In another November 2014 incident, in which students presented administrators a binder with printouts of social media posts that contained racist and offensive speech, the review found BLS did not violate district nondiscrimination policies and procedures. In this case, BLS administrators determined that the most offensive remarks were made by people who live outside of Massachusetts and who were not BLS students. Additionally, four BLS students who made racially insensitive remarks on Twitter, which were contained in the binder, were required to meet one-on-one with administrators to discuss their conduct, the review found. There were no further issues with the four students after these meetings.

The Office of Equity submitted a set of extensive recommendations to Superintendent Chang designed to enhance protocols and procedures at BLS; improve the culture and climate at the school; sustain an anti-racism initiative; and train students and staff at BLS and across the district on racial awareness and cultural proficiency, including student-, Equity Office-, and community-led workshops.

While student and employee discipline are subject to privacy protections under the law, the Superintendent stated he intends to implement all recommendations proposed by the Office of Equity, both at BLS and system-wide across the district.

“A guiding principle of Boston Public Schools is to ensure that every school provides a safe, respectful, and responsible environment for all students,” Chang said. “I am grateful for the Office of Equity’s comprehensive investigation and recommendations, which lay the foundation of important work at Boston Latin and throughout the district. We now have an incredible opportunity in Boston Public Schools to embrace a culturally sustainable education for all students.”

Proactively, prior to the investigation’s completion, BPS had already completed equity protocols training for all principals and headmasters, and begun planning educational sessions with students and staff around issues of diversity and cultural proficiency. As an immediate step, BLS shared a six-point planwith the BLS community last month.

Among the recommendations to improve the climate at BLS, the Office of Equity has asked BLS Headmaster Lynne Mooney Teta and others to institute a racial climate audit before the close of this school year and again next year; immediately launch dialogues on race and ethnicity with the school community, including members of the student social justice organization Black Leaders Aspiring for Change and Knowledge (BLS B.L.A.C.K.); and to work with the district to increase the hiring of Black and Latino teachers for the 2016-2017 school year.