Friday, April 15, 2016

At this Long Island high school, Only Black Lives Matter

A white student at a predominantly Hispanic and black Long Island high school says he was targeted for punishment over his race — punched, hit with a chair and repeatedly called “cracker” and “white boy” — while administrators did nothing to protect him.

Lawyers for Giovanni Micheli, now 23, aim to convince a federal jury that their client was singled out as a “minority” in Brentwood High School and then told by school officials, most of them white, to either “project more self-confidence” in order to stem the beating and berating — or leave.

Micheli sued the Brentwood School District in 2010, and the trial opened Monday in Brooklyn federal court.

“Giovanni was a minority because he was Caucasian,” attorney Wayne Schaefer said in his opening statement. “This case is about discrimination against a minority student . . . Our claim is that there was deliberate indifference because he was a Caucasian student complaining in a district where Caucasians are a minority.”

Black Lives Matter frequently assails critics for pointing out that "all lives matter," yet that statement is nothing more than a restatement of the radical principle that's made America one of the most tolerant, prosperous nations in the history of the world. The notion that, regardless of skin color, we all have the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is written into our Declaration of Independence, and has provided the justification for every civil rights victory African Americans have ever had in this country.

By asserting that only "black lives" matter, the radical identitarians on the left set the stage for the sort of bigoted race based attacks they claim to abhor.


Children of Immigrants Strain American Schools

The Greatest Unfunded Mandate Ever Placed On States

Immigration looms large in this presidential election year, most notably recently because of terrorist attacks at home and abroad and the prospect of tens of thousands of Syrian refugees scheduled to arrive in the United States. But beyond the national security concerns of immigration, the subject remains primarily an economic one, negatively impacting American employment, healthcare, and education.

In a summary of the impact of educating the children of both legal and illegal immigrants, immigration expert and scholar Marc Ferris concludes that immigration has swamped American schools: “Forcing schools to educate the children of legal and illegal immigrants amounts to the greatest unfunded mandate that the federal government has ever placed on the states.”

Ferris adds that the unfunded mandate represents a huge taxpayer expense that will strain local school districts far into the future.

“With schools straining to provide for an influx of new students, the need for new teachers to serve the growing Limited English Proficiency (LEP) student population represents a massive potential taxpayer outlay that will keep school districts scrambling to balance their budgets for years.”

Following are excerpts from Ferris’s summary that documents the impact of immigrant education:

* Since 2009, the Border Patrol has apprehended 242,354 Unaccompanied Alien Minors, around 98 percent of whom came from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. And they keep on coming: more than 20,000 between October 1, 2015 and January 31, 2016. Along with other illegal alien minors, they are able to attend public schools at no cost and without fear of reprisal, thanks to the 1982 Plyler v. Doe Supreme Court decision.

* Over the next five years, local districts nationwide will have to find an extra $4.8 billion to hire the 82,408 additional teachers that the National Center for English Language Acquisition projects will be required to serve this population – if they can find them. Around 10 percent of all public school students are in LEP programs, but only 1 percent of all teachers are certified in English as a Second Language. Several states grant teaching and other licenses to illegal aliens and justify the policy by noting the teacher shortage.

* Right now, local school districts spend $21.5 billion on the salaries and benefits of 346,776 LEP teachers. None of these figures include supplies, administration, building maintenance or other costs borne by taxpayers. In fact, the State of Maryland and the Government Accountability Office calculated that it could cost twice as much to educate LEP students than other pupils.

* Educators measure four categories of achievement: Below Basic, Basic, Proficient and Advanced. Nationally, in 2015, more than two-thirds of LEP students demonstrated Below Basic skills and 24 percent acquired Basic skills. Only 7 percent of fourth grade LEP students performed at the Proficient level and 1 percent performed Advanced level work.

* In comparison, 40 percent of non-LEP fourth graders perform at the two highest levels, Proficient and Advanced, with one-third displaying Basic skills. The rest, 27 percent, achieve at Below Basic level. In other words, even though non-LEP students perform better than their LEP counterparts, more than half of them are only managing Basic or Below Basic work.

* For eighth grade LEP students last year, the numbers are also striking: 71 percent have Below Basic skills, one quarter score at the Basic level and only 4 percent are Proficient. The statistic for the Advanced level rounds out to zero. The results for 12th grade LEP students in 2013 (the last year statistics are available) are even worse: a full 80 percent demonstrate Below Basic skills. The remaining 20 percent performs at the Basic level.

* The percentage of LEP students who graduate on time, moreover, is appalling: 39 percent in New York, 24 percent in Nevada and just 20 percent in Arizona. Other states have higher rates, but just because someone graduates there is no way to determine if he or she met rigorous standards. And, of course, school systems continue to pay for students who stay in high school longer than four years.


Australia: Sydney needs more schools

With the constant high inflow of migrants this was inevitable

Over the next ten years demand for schools across Sydney is almost going to double.

Public schools in areas already battling with surging enrolments will be pushed to breaking point over the next decade as the number of school-aged children swells by two to three times the state average, new data shows.

Some desperate parents are looking to move their children to the country with little relief in sight for stretched schools in the Waverley, Canada Bay, Sydney and Ryde local government areas.

Enrolments have skyrocketed by between three to five times the NSW average over the past four years across these Local Government Areas, according to a Fairfax Media analysis of Department of Education figures.

And it is set to worsen. Over the next 10 years, the population aged 5-19 will balloon in these areas by more than 25 per cent. In areas of Sydney's south west, such as Camden, this figure will soar past 55 per cent, according to Department of Planning projections.

The City of Sydney will be among the areas hardest hit, with a projected 41 per cent surge in the number of school-aged residents. Schools in the area are already under pressure, with enrolments growing by more than 13 per cent since 2012 – nearly 3.5 times the state average.

Despite the numbers, the Department of Education has no plans to build new primary schools in key areas such as Green Square, which will become Australia's most densely populated suburb by 2030 following the influx of 61,000 residents.

While Camden will get two new schools, the extra 3000 places will only just meet demand at current growth rates.

A lack of extra schools in some areas could put further pressure on institutions in the surrounding suburbs, some of which have already been forced to relocate future students.

In a letter to families last week, Newtown Primary School principal Abbey Proud advised the school had been forced to change enrolment boundaries to cope with surging demand as the school runs out of space to build more demountable classrooms.

The squeeze has been replicated across Sydney at schools such as Homebush West, where children have been banned from running due to overcrowded playgrounds, and in Willoughby, where growth has continued unabated for more than a decade.

The strain on enrolments is driving parents to look to schools beyond Sydney.

"We are going to go further out into the country because it is very difficult to find places in the city," said Janine Barrett, whose son Frederick will start high school next year.

"The government are burying their heads in the sand," she said. "They think they are providing adequate facilities but they are not even trying to future-proof the situation, they are just looking to stick a band-aid over it."

Erskineville parent David Hetherington said he was concerned about his son's future in local high schools in Balmain and Leichhardt, which grew by between 29 and 22 per cent respectively over the past three years.

While the NSW government has just announced the relocation of the nearby Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta, a department spokesman said the government had no plans to turn any part of the vacated space into a school.

Such a plan, suggested by NSW Labor leader Luke Foley, could counter swelling demand in the area due to the nearby redevelopment of the Bays precinct, where 16,000 homes are expected to be built.

"I don't think our schools can handle it. Demand has changed out of sight, there is an enormous influx of apartment building going on," he said.

Instead, the government pointed to its redevelopment of the existing Ultimo public school to accommodate 700 students – 300 fewer than originally proposed.

Across town, enrolments at Bourke Street Primary in Surry Hills have boomed by 160 per cent.

A department spokesman said construction has begun on a new two-storey building with two new classrooms, a new library and a hall. The multimillion-dollar investment will only increase capacity at the inner-city school by 80 students, from its current 360.

Further east, two Bondi public schools have grown by more than 50 per cent since 2012, while Waverley Council's enrolments have increased by more than 22 per cent – the largest of any Sydney LGA. The area's six schools now serve 3500 students, compared with fewer than 2900 in 2012.

In October, the department submitted an application to Woollahra Council to start work on a $12 million makeover of Bellevue Hill Primary school to take in up to 1000 students from Woollahra and Bondi public schools.

NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said the government had invested almost $4 billion in capital works, including expanding capacity and new schools.

"The NSW government is making a massive investment in public education, including $1 billion in funding from Rebuilding NSW for up to 1600 new or refurbished classrooms to service growing student populations," he said.

Labor leader Luke Foley accused the government of looking after the interests of property developers.

"While public schools are overflowing, children have no room to run around and playgrounds are full of demountable classrooms," he said.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Politically Incorrect to Talk Western Values on College Campuses, by PETE HOEKSTRA

In a discussion with Ed Morrissey. Start transcript:

Morrissey: Is Western civilization ended at Stanford University? Is that what I'm reading here?

Hoekstra: It ended a number of years ago when they, Stanford, eliminated a requirement that students have a requirement to study the history of Western civilization. And the good thing is now there's a group of students on campus who got a petition signed by, I think it was like roughly 350 of their peers, to have a vote on whether Western civilization should again be part of the requirement now. If this petition or this referendum passes, it's a non-binding referendum, but the students, or excuse me, then the faculty senate would have to consider whether they would reestablish Western civilization as a requirement for graduating from Stanford.

Morrissey: So help me out with this. The idea is that there is no particular requirement to study the history of the culture in which you live. Is that the idea here, because honestly, I didn't realize that until I read your article that Western Civ had been taken off of anybody's requirement for a degree. I mean I went to -

Hoekstra: Basically it's been eliminated, I don't know the exact statistics, but it's been eliminated from most college campuses today. It's politically incorrect to be talking about you know the values and those types of things of Western civilization. Now, you know I'm sure that if it were brought back on campus today it would be in a values-neutral perspective, although there are many of us who believe that there's a lot of good and positive things to say about Western civilization and what we have contributed to development over the last millennium.

Morrissey: Well don't get me wrong, Pete, because I was not a brilliant student at Western Civ when I was in college, and it was a little bit before Stanford University decided to end the requirement for it, but at least I still recognized the need to know about the major philosophies that went behind the development of the culture in the dominant culture in which we live. I mean we can talk about the fact that - well, there shouldn't be a dominant culture, and everything is relative, and I think you could make an intellectual argument about that, but at the very least you should know the culture in which you live before you start making value judgments about the culture in which you live. And where else are you going to, in what other environment other than in college or at university are you going to have the ability to do that, even in a values-neutral comparative civilization type of environment, which actually I think would not necessarily be all bad.

Hoekstra: Yeah.

Morrissey: I think it could be a good idea to scrutinize yourself and to think through these things. But you at least have to address them, do you not?

Hoekstra: That's what these young people at Stanford believe. And I was, I heard their arguments. I heard a little bit about what they were doing, and some folks asked me about my opinion, and so I decided to write the piece, and give them support for their petition, and hopefully that in the next few days they will win at the election and the senate, or the faculty senate, at Stanford will seriously consider the grievances or the suggestions that these students have put forward. The interesting thing is these students, from what I'm reading, are being pretty viciously attacked for being racist and all of these types of things. And all they're asking for is a non-binding resolution that the faculty senate actually consider reinstating this as a requirement.

Morrissey: You know and this is leading to a larger discussion, and you know where this is going to go. We're speaking with Pete Hoekstra, who is former U.S. Congressman, former House Intelligence Committee Chair, and former member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, which is really what's on point right now. And it's this, Pete, you're seeing all these different colleges, all these different students, erupt in hives, I guess, whenever they confront speech that somehow conflicts with their own particular worldview.

And probably the most ridiculous example of that is happening over the last couple of weeks in which, I'm not taking any sides here in the Republican primary race, but supporters of Donald Trump have written in chalk on some college campuses some pro-Trump messages, and all of a sudden there is a need for safe spaces and we need to punish the people who put chalk on the sidewalks. I mean this is, it is becoming almost irrelevant. College education is becoming almost irrelevant. There is no sense that you have to encounter new ideas, but instead need to be protected from new ideas. If that's the case, Pete, is there any point in sending your kids to college anymore?

Hoekstra: Well I'll tell you, I experienced this myself, about a month ago, a month, six weeks ago, I was up in Rhode Island, and I was across the street from Brown University. And we were doing a press conference on you know allowing these refugees and immigrants, whatever you want to call them, in from so-called Syria. And as we were having the press conference, we were invaded by roughly 250 primarily students, and some clergy, with ties to Brown University, and for the next 30 to 35 minutes as those of us who were part of the press conference were speaking, we were drowned out by the hollering, the yelling, and the swearing, of you know 200 to 250 people, who were all about free speech as long as it was speech that they agreed with; other than that, they were not going to allow free speech.

Morrissey: And of course we also have these safe spaces that have to be erected whenever anybody with a heterodox opinion shows up to express themselves where they have, and I don't mean to demean this, but coloring books and little toys that people can use to get past their anxiety and their trauma of having listened, or having at least encountered a differing opinion on something. And honestly, this to me when I look at this and I, my son is on the verge of a doctorate, so I am a big believer in education; I'm just not necessarily any longer a big believer in universities, because I don't think that universities are actually, for at least in some part, I don't think they're providing education any longer.

Hoekstra: No, they are not providing education. They are not the environments any more where you go and debate ideas. They have been in many cases become politically correct zones where you're allowed to develop and express your ideas as long as they are consistent with whatever the faculty or the culture on campus has decided it should be, and typically that's very much a leftist, liberal leaning.

Morrissey: You know I seem to recall a culture that developed the ideas of free speech, open intercourse of ideas, both commonality and embracing of the new. It's just a shame that they don't teach about that culture any longer at Stanford University, because that's what Western civilization produced. Now bear in mind, I say this eyes open to all of the different faults that Western civilization had over the centuries in millennia, because there certainly were many of them. But this particular -

Hoekstra: There were, yeah, there were plenty. And as with anything else, Western civilization is aspirational.

Morrissey: Yeah.

Hoekstra: We've outlined where we want to go and what we want to achieve, recognizing that we've made mistakes along the way, but it's aspirational. It's no different than what you will find in hopefully in much of corporate America, their goals and their vision for their corporation, they're aspirational, and you're always trying to get there, recognizing that you may fall short, but that you know where you want to go.


The Absurd Demands of Harvard Students Who Feel Guilty About Their ‘Privilege’

Where direct regulation does not change hearts and minds, America’s universities have long used indoctrination. At Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, for example, student orientation now includes instruction in “privilege.” If you aren’t already aware: “privilege” is a term employed in conversation as a way to encourage the listener to recognize that his or her upbringing might be clouding dialogue. In practice, the term is generally used to shame and intimidate people they don’t like: Usually ordinary Americans.

But this kind of shaming is not enough, apparently. For months now, students and faculty at Harvard Law School have banded together to create what they have labeled the “Reclaim Harvard Law Movement.” While not really a movement, these privileged students are making increasingly silly demands.

They argue that “the law school (Harvard) refuses to provide adequate institutional support for an office of diversity and inclusion, hire critical race theorists, promote staff of color in the workplace to management positions in their due course, provide adequate contextualization in curricula, educate its professors, its staff, and its students around cultural competency, take the steps that are necessary to accord adequate and equal dignity to marginalized students.” On top of this, they claim that the law school promotes and sustains systems of systemic racism and exclusion of marginalized groups.

That’s a lot of finger pointing to do for a law school which openly states that their law school population is comprised of 44 percent students of color. (On the other hand, Harvard University itself is being sued for alleged racially discriminatory “affirmative action” programs, so perhaps they do have some atoning in store.)

Not satisfied or mollified by such facts, some students have decided to physically colonize a building for their own use. According to their webpage, the students behind Reclaim Harvard Law claim the right to occupy the Caspersen Center Student lounge, which they have taken it upon themselves to rename Belinda Hall. Who is Belinda? Apparently, she was a former slave who demanded reparations, thereby implying that Harvard Law students and some of the workers they purport to be advocating on behalf of are in a similar situation to slaves.

This situation is not unique. Indeed, the Reclaim Harvard Law Movement follows the typical pattern of privileged left-wing student protests. They call themselves a “movement” and cause physical disruptions on campus. They compare themselves to various civil rights movements and issue a long list of absurd demands. While they think of themselves as challenging the system, it is almost as if their protests have become a routine part of that system.

Harvard Law School is one of the most respected legal institutions in the world and prides itself on training future lawyers and America’s future leaders. It is, indeed, a bastion of privilege, deserved privilege in most cases. However, it has also been the origin of much left-wing thought, including “Critical Race Studies,” a legal theory with its roots in Marxism. If students really wanted to challenge authority, one would think a good place to start would be by challenging the left-wing ideas that those in authority teach.

Mind you, these student protestors are not taking the most radical step, which would be to quit Harvard Law School because of the pervasive inequities that they claim exist. Rather, they seek to benefit from the “privilege” that association with Harvard Law School provides, while at the same time employing the language and tactics that cultural elites on the left have given them to engage in behavior that, perhaps, assuages their guilt for taking advantage of the many privileges that their association with the school will provide.

Things have gotten so heated at Harvard Law that the school has begun to monitor the situation closely. According to sources, “The school filmed activities in the room Friday to ensure that students were complying with the policy outlined in their emails. Activists said they identified several undercover Harvard University Police Officers masquerading as admissions officers stationed in the hall watching Friday’s dispute play out.” In other words, instead of directly addressing the severity of the movement, Harvard Law has merely conducted surveillance while the insanity continues.

Reclaim Harvard Law has taken campus activism to such extreme lengths that even former supporters are concerned. A recent article published in The Harvard Law Record calls for the movement to “stop destroying itself.” A former supporter claims that the movement has “taken over Belinda Hall not just physically, but mentally. Everyone who dares to disagree with you is labeled a racist or an extremist.”

This type of activism does not promote respectful dialogue and healthy change on campuses, but rather, is a just another example of privileged silliness.


Federal Bureaucrats Stick Their Noses Into School Lunches

“School meals matter!” says the USDA’s guide for parents. The content of your child’s plate has been added to the long list of things that, according to the Obama Administration, must be regulated by the federal government. Those who are not convinced by the USDA’s less-than-compelling evidence that the government should dictate the diets of America’s schoolchildren should be prepared to pay a hefty fine. As if Common Core had not done enough damage to our children’s schools, the federal government is now planning to sic its bureaucrats on school cafeterias.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service proposed a regulation on March 28th that would fine schools and state agencies for “egregious or persistent disregard” of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was the product of Michelle Obama’s “healthy eating” crusade. The proposed rule, which calls the fines an “assessment,” would allow the agency to confiscate a portion of the school’s or state’s total meal reimbursements. Even without violations, enforcement of the new rule will cost states $4.3 million in 2017 and $22.7 million over five years.

These “assessments” are particularly problematic as the USDA has failed to evaluate the effectiveness of the Act itself. Thus, the government will be blindly enforcing a regulation that has no outcome-based goals and no measure for long-term success. Additionally, the campaign leading to the passage of the Act contained little to no fact-based evidence, instead relying upon stories of childhood obesity and bullying. This is just one example of the Obama administration’s policy-by-anecdote approach.

The Hunger-Free Kids Act has already delivered a major blow to the school lunch program. Unhappy with their slimmed-down lunch choices under Mrs. Obama’s rules, 1.4 million students have dropped out of the program, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

Complaining of unappetizing choices and small portions, students have taken to Twitter to post picture of their terrible school lunches with the hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama. School lunches can only be made appetizing through a “temporary pasta exemption” or through the “black market” of condiments, resulting in an increase in the amount of food waste by students. As it turns out, you can lead a student to a Michelle-approved school lunch but you cannot make him eat it.

By controlling the contents of our children’s plates, the federal government is contributing to a much larger problem. The government is assuming the role of parent and, in doing so, is teaching an entire generation of Americans that the government is the best authority on daily choices such as the content of their meals. In order to promote this agenda, the Obama administration is using valuable leverage: school funding. If school funding and parental control of nutrition “matters” to you, tell the Obama administration to quit fining our children’s food.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Finally—A College President Finds a Backbone

Anthropologists have apparently uncovered a university president who has a backbone, because he is threatening a mob of demanding student crybullies with expulsion: Ohio State’s Michael Drake. Eric Owens of the Daily Caller has the story:

    Ohio State Swiftly Ends Students’ ‘Occupation’ With Promises Of Arrest, Expulsion

    Students at Ohio State University who attempted to occupy the area outside of president Michael V. Drake’s office late Wednesday night experienced a surprise — and a taste of the cruel, real world — when a senior administrator coolly advised them that they would be arrested and expelled if they didn’t retreat from their “occupied space.”

    The protest began — as such protests often do these days — with a set of demands and the promise to remain firmly ensconced at Bricker Hall, Ohio State’s main administration building, until school officials capitulated to the demands.

The demands are typically ridiculous. My favorites are:

    We demand complete, comprehensive and detailed access to the Ohio State budget and investments immediately, as well as personnel to aid students in understanding this information.

    OSU Divest: Divest from Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett Packard and G4S due to their involvement in well-documented human rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and across the globe. . .

    Real Food OSU: Sign the Real Food Campus Commitment. Ensure the administration work with Real Food OSU through the entire implementation of the Real Food Campus Commitment, in place of, or as a means of attaining, the university sustainability goal of increased “production and purchase of locally and sustainably sourced food to 40% by 2025.”


A Milestone in Federal Education Waste

Shirley Hufstedler, the nation’s first federal Education Secretary, has passed away at 90. That news might surprise some, and not just the younger set, who imagined that the first federal education secretary appeared way back in 1776. There wasn’t one, because the Constitution gives states, not the federal government, domain over education. Under these conditions, however, education managed to thrive. Americans established Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Princeton, Northwestern, Stanford and other great independent universities, long before the federal government got involved. Michigan State, Ohio State, UCLA, LSU and countless others, along with countless primary and secondary schools, all arose before any federal involvement in education. Likewise, African Americans established historically black colleges such as Spelman, Howard and Morehouse, long before the federal government played a role.

The federal Department of Education has only existed since 1980 and was a payoff to the National Education Association, the massive teacher cartel that endorsed Jimmy Carter for president in 1976. On November 30, 1979, Shirley Hufstedler, a lawyer and judge, became head of the new education department, which Congress gave a budget of $14 billion. On the watch of the new federal department, student achievement failed to flourish.

As Vicki Alger noted, the NAEP reading performance of 17-year-olds has remained flat since 1978, despite increased spending, “so it appears the U.S. Department of Education has done little if anything to improve the bang-for-buck ratio with regard to federal education spending and student achievement.” But it remains a haven for overpaid bureaucrats, whose average salary exceeds $100,000. As we observed, the department deploys an enforcement division, armed with shotguns, to conduct raids on those suspected of bribery, fraud and embezzlement. On one raid they carted off a man and his three children over a student aid issue involving the man’s estranged wife, who was not even present. But remember, it’s all for the kids.

The budget of the U.S. Department of Education for 2016 is $70.7 billion, an increase of $3.6 billion, over the 2015 level. Based on what the nation achieved before and after the department’s debut in 1980, a ballpark figure for the ideal budget would be zero. Conservatives have threatened to eliminate the department but none, including Ronald Reagan, managed to do so. The federal government continues to get bigger, not smaller.


Australian education blighted by bureaucracy and political interference

The criticisms below by an experienced Australian teacher are fair enough but I have grown tired of comparisons with Finland. As experienced IQ researcher Edward Dutton sets out in detail, Finns have a considerable IQ advantage -- with an average of 105 on some calculations. (Dutton works in a large Finnish university so he is close to the data). And IQ is the best predictor of educational success. We will never do as well as they do. But there is still, of course, plenty of room for improvement

Phew. School holidays. A chance to recover from a typically frenetic first term and take stock.  It's been busy, in and out of the classroom.

Inside the classroom, it's been business as usual. Preparing lessons, marking, dealing with parental expectations and trying to blend the diverse backgrounds of our students into harmonious classes.

We've just finished writing reports, making sure that we have reached "outcomes" that are incomprehensible to parents and students but fulfil a bureaucratic need for accountability.

Instead of giving our students marks or, God forbid, rankings, we have disguised their results in generalities so their parents are saved from facing the truth about their children's real progress.  We aren't allowed to tell it how it is.

Even though we've been drowning in a sea of paperwork we've done our best to come up for air and actually teach our students.  We've tried to give them one-on-one tutelage but the size of our classes has made this impossible.

Then there are the NAPLAN tests that we aren't meant to prepare our students for but do because "bad" results will reflect badly on our schools and give those who want to bag us a free kick.

On top of this we've been filling in the host of forms that make taking students on excursions, to sporting events and into the woods prohibitive.

Into the woods? That's where William Doyle's son was sent when he spent some time in a Finnish school. Doyle wrote that his son was given a compass and told to find his way back to school. In Australia his teachers would be hauled over the coals for abrogating their duty of care let alone failing to comply with risk-management strategies.

Why is this relevant? Because there has been a lot going on outside the classroom too. With an election looming and school funding well and truly on the agenda, we are having yet another debate about how to lift our educational standards.

Politicians and commentators who haven't been inside a classroom since they left school (apart from photo ops) have been pontificating about what is wrong with our schools.

The clarion call is, of course, "we need better teachers".

Better teachers? Better at what? Filling in forms? Disciplining oversized classrooms? Raising standards with inadequate resources? Does this imply that teachers like me aren't any good?

Hot on the heels of this comes the lament that we are falling behind the rest of the world: "why can't we be as good as the Finns?"

I'll tell you why. The Finns don't spend their time arguing about who should fund their schools. They don't waste any ink on public versus private arguments. They don't bag their teachers.

As Doyle discovered they regard their teachers as "the most respected and trusted professionals next to doctors". That's not the case here.

I have yet to find out what is wrong with the training, just that it needs to be "better".

Finnish teachers complete masters degrees. Our unis and colleges are lucky to receive adequate funding to enable them to complete any sort of training. They are forced to lower entrance scores to attract students who will pay the HECS fees that fund the courses. It's Pythonesque.

We want "better" training but we don't want to pay for it.

Not only are Finnish teachers respected and trusted, they are recognised as being the experts when it comes to education because they actually work at the coalface, not in an office.

I haven't even mentioned comparable pay rates because a country that can't find the will and resources to implement a report that every educator in the land backs is never going to pay teachers what they deserve – let alone the kind of salary that will attract the "best and brightest".

We are still arguing over class sizes when the Finns make opportunities for one-on-one teaching by having manageable class sizes.

The Finns have virtually discarded standardised testing. We have become more and more reliant on NAPLAN results for meaningless and costly data that enables us to identify the "best" schools.

We actually have great curriculums, as impressive as anyone's – we just don't have the resources to implement them.

We burden our teachers with piles of pointless assessment procedures that mask our students true results but satisfy bureaucrats' need for "accountability".

As for sending our students into the woods with compasses, we won't let them get a bus to a cricket game without a 10-page risk assessment.

Spare me the comparisons. We know exactly how to lift our educational standards. It was outlined in the widely revered Gonksi report. Until we are capable of putting our children's needs in front of anything else we will continue slipping down the educational league table.

It's got nothing to do with "better teachers". It's got everything to do with "protecting our children from politicians".


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Misguided Compassion of Social Justice Catholics

There are many reasons for the downfall of our urban public schools, but beyond the undeniable corruption of those sucking the system dry for financial gain, the greatest destruction to our schools, and more importantly to the individual children in those schools, is the misguided and dishonest compassion of Social Justice.

Before going further, a distinction must be made between those who honestly believe in the Social Justice movement and those who use the movement for their own agenda, usually an agenda that leads to more power and profit in their hands and less in the hands of those they pretend to champion.

There is no point in addressing the latter group; they know who they are and they know full well what they are doing. No amount of argument will convince them to change their actions short of spiritual conversion. Neither is this essay aimed at those with scowling faces, voices raised in “righteous indignation,” and fists pumped ready to foment “civil unrest” based on false narratives manipulated by a dishonest media as exemplified in Beyonc√©’s 50th Super Bowl half-time show.

No, this essay is aimed at those who believe themselves authentic Catholic Social Justice warriors: the priest lecturing the congregation in his homily, the teacher inculcating in her marginalized students Social Justice values, the voter who believes that one more entitlement program, one more educational paradigm shift, or one last moment of empathy while ignoring the destructive behavior of others, will justly end poverty and crime ushering in a new Eden. Nor can we should not forget those who just wish to assuage their own “guilt” no matter the unintended consequences for those less able to recover from the Social Justice warriors’ so-called benevolent compassion.

As the daughter of an urban public school teacher and as a veteran urban public school teacher myself, I have seen first-hand the destruction caused by the Social Justice ideology in our schools over the past six decades. The following anecdote illustrates but one of many moments in which teachers or administrators, either on their own or forced by the system, do more harm than good to students.

In 2007, I had an exciting opportunity to work for a start-up Catholic high school whose mission was to help college-bound urban students. I had already spent a decade working at my district’s top college prep school, which achieved a 94 percent acceptance rate to 4-year colleges. I had first-rate experience teaching students who often lacked basic skills as freshman, but wanting to learn.

I looked forward to doing the same at a Catholic school where I would also be allowed to relate literature to God and a school where discipline and academics would be held to a higher standard. As good as my previous public school was, it never unlocked the students’ full potential because they were not held accountable to the academic or behavior standards that would allow them to fully blossom. However, just as the first quarter of the first year ended, it was clear that my new Catholic school would perpetuate the same destructive program mislabeled “Social Justice.”

Making Excuses for Bad Behavior
Here is the scenario. The first novel I assigned was Ernest Gaines’s A Lesson before Dying. Each student was given one character to follow. When it was time to write their first high school character analysis essay, I provided graphic organizers and models. Most of these students had never written an essay and they would need lots of assistance.

Only after each step of the writing process was taught, each student had received individual help with their assignment, and most students had completed graphic organizers, I brought 30 brand new laptops into the room for a week. Since this was a college prep high school, all essays had to be typed.

Additionally, the brand new computer lab was open before school, during lunch, and after school. Tutors were available after school if students needed more time or more help. Furthermore, the computer technology teacher allowed students to work on the essay during computer class time that week to help them with formatting and other computer issues. I had written the introductory and concluding paragraphs for them, so the students had almost 10 class hours and plenty of support to type three body paragraphs.

However, Tom and Tony, two cousins who entered ninth grade together, did none of the reading, none of the noting, and none of the planning. While others wrote on their laptops, I frequently found the cousins shopping for tennis shoes or playing solitaire, anything but typing an essay. Throughout the quarter, I repeatedly informed administrators, tutors, and parents these two, along with a few others, were far behind, but there was no change.

The academic dean came to me when the essay was more than three weeks past due, after the last late submission date, and with the quarter about to close. She wanted me to let the cousins submit hand-written essays. I said “No! Absolutely not! I made my expectations clear and I gave them plenty of time and support.” Her reply was, “But this is a matter of Social Justice! They don’t have a computer or the internet at home!”

I reminded her that I had provided the cousins multiple opportunities and that they had access to plenty of generous resources, resources that they had squandered, but she would not be swayed. In her mind, I lacked compassion because I would not allow them to turn in an essay more than three weeks past due and hand-written to boot. I still refused to give in knowing it would set a terrible example for other students.

Students Deliver When More is Expected
The students I teach are like people everywhere. If the door is opened to more excuses and work is easy to avoid, most people will take the easiest path. This is especially true when we no longer instill character, morals, or honor in our children. Push students to achieve and they generally rise to the challenge … shockingly, even urban black students … because it is human nature!

Urban students recognize those determined to fight for Social Justice from a mile away, and they know how to manipulate them. Urban students, like most students, grow to respect a teacher who holds them to higher standards, although at first they will struggle and fight and accuse that teacher of being a racist if she is white or evil if she is black. Eventually most realize that the Social Justice teacher is not really concerned about their education, while the latter is.

These two cousins learned that excuses worked at this school and especially with this dean. They did not grow at all. They spent the rest of the year doing nothing or disrupting class. They failed out of the school that first year. No one knows where they ended up, but it was not in a school that provided as many opportunities as ours.

Other students witnessed such moments and learned that they could run to the dean and others who claimed to have compassion for their lives full of “Social Injustice.” The school enabled them to fail. Many did succeed, but fewer succeeded than might have if standards had been respected. It is not compassionate to tell struggling students that they will not be held accountable on one hand while promising them a pathway to college on the other. Neither is it compassionate to spend time making excuses for failing students while utterly ignoring the needs of students with the potential to excel, as this school often did.

A major fault of the Social Justice movement, especially for Catholics, is that it does not seek justice for individuals, but collectives. The cousins, seen as individuals, might have been held accountable. Then they might have been given the tools to succeed in school. As teachers and parents, we know that children must often be pushed to do what they do not want to do in order to grow and that they must be held accountable. Had that happened in this case, the boys might have grown, or not, but the school should have tried.

However, they were seen as victims of Social Injustice, not as Tom and Tony, two individual young men with hopes and dreams and possibilities. That is how it is possible for Social Justice warriors to neglect individuals while at the same time claiming they are uplifting people. Social Justice cares not about lifting individuals, but about lifting groups of “helpless victims.” The expedient sacrifice of a few individuals along the way is acceptable as long as the agenda is preserved.

False Compassion is Everywhere
This false compassion is not limited to urban systems. It is affecting the suburban world too: the trophy-for-everyone, the best team kicked out of competition to give other teams a chance, the end of honors classes, remedial classes, and vocational classes. The top students in suburbia learn that hard work does not pay. Struggling students do not receive the help they desperately need lest they feel left out of “regular” classes. This is not compassion, but self-serving indifference disguised as compassion.

Catholics are not called to be Social Justice warriors. Jesus says, “Get up and walk,” not “You’re a cripple, so we will give you a ‘best bed sitter’ award to increase your self-esteem,” or, “You’re black. I can’t expect you to behave any better.” This is not to say that we should not feel compassion for the crippled man or the poor single mother or the struggling urban student; but we should expect and help the cripple to be independent, to walk if possible, even if it hurts. We should expect and help the poor mother or the struggling student to push themselves to their highest level of achievement, even if they fail sometimes. And we should be willing to tell them when they are failing, not lie to them to make ourselves feel better.

A better example than “Social Justice” for the truly compassionate Catholic is found in a beautiful short film The Butterfly Circus directed by Joshua Weigel. Set in the dark times of the Depression, this “short” is about Will, a man born with no arms and no legs, found in a sideshow by Mr. Mendez. In the sideshow, Will is taunted by the audience and the sideshow barker who introduces Will as, “…a perversion of nature, a man, if you can even call him that, a man who God himself has turned His back on!” Mr. Mendez tells Will he is “magnificent,” but Will, believing Mendez to be mocking him, spits in his face.

Will later finds out that Mr. Mendez is the ringleader of the famous and respected Butterfly Circus. He finds a way to stow away in the circus’s truck. The somewhat odd troupe of performers welcomes Will, but he is left struggling to find a satisfactory role in a circus that has no sideshow. Mr. Mendez encourages him saying, “The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph!”

One day the troupe finds a refreshing river pool and stops for a swim, but Will gets stranded on the rocks on the other side. He calls for help. No one seems to hear. Mr. Mendez walks right past him, saying, “I think you’ll manage” when Will demands his help. In his struggle to get to the others, Will falls into the water, a potentially deadly baptism. Instead of dying, he discovers he can swim. With this discovery, he finds his role in the circus. He becomes a high diver into the classic small pool of water.

Unlike the Social Justice crowd, no one makes excuses for Will, no one rewards him just for being crippled. Rather, they celebrate his triumph, a triumph he would never have experienced if the troupe made excuses for him instead of challenging him. Mr. Mendez, the Christ-like figure, sees Will as “magnificent” just as he is, but also sees the potential for his butterfly-like metamorphosis into something more triumphant, much as our Lord sees us.

The Social Justice movement has been working steadily and stealthily causing destruction in our society for decades, crippling further those already crippled physically or psychologically and those already struggling to find their own triumphs. As Catholics, if we keep our brothers and sisters helpless cripples or turn them into faceless Social Justice projects, we are perpetuating something evil. As Catholics, our job is not to force Social Justice policies into our schools, our churches, or our laws, but to seek justice in our own hearts and beauty in our fellow man, and when possible, to help our fellow man achieve magnificence and triumph on his own, one person at a time.


The Decline and Fall of Common Core?

To the understandable relief of countless children and even more parents, Common Core may not remain so common. The grand scheme of centralized education that hijacked classrooms nationwide to align instruction and ideology with Big Brother isn’t passing the test. And while reports of Common Core’s demise might be premature — government programs are the closest things to eternal life on earth — America’s short-lived love affair with the program is quickly coming to an end.

One year before Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were finalized in 2010, 46 states formally endorsed the effort. Not because they thought the still-unknown national standards would lead to an educational rebirth but because billions in Race to the Top Bottom federal grant money was tied to states' willingness to comply with Washington’s agenda.

Fast forward a few years, and states began to tell Washington bureaucrats exactly where they could put their standards. In 2014, Indiana, one of the earliest to sign on to Common Core, became the first state to ditch the standards. All told, dozens of states have either pulled out completely or scaled back participation. After Massachusetts abandoned the standardized tests late last year, even The New York Times admitted that “what was once bipartisan consensus around national standards has collapsed into acrimony.”

And it’s little wonder. As The Federalist’s Joy Pullman notes, “Common Core has by now not only failed academically, it has failed operationally.” For one thing, it seems ObamaCare isn’t the only government fiasco plagued by computer glitches. Last year, major glitches across states wreaked havoc on CCSS testing.

Then there’s academic achievement — or the lack thereof. The federal government promised CCSS would improve educational outcomes. Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in 2010, “millions of U.S. schoolchildren, parents, and teachers will know, for the first time, if students truly are on-track for colleges and careers.”

Then, again, if you want to keep your doctor…

Well, as Pullman writes, a recent report from the Brookings Institution found “American children are receiving objectively worse academic instruction because of Common Core,” and “Common Core has done nothing to help children learn more overall.” Specifically, the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), which is widely accepted as the measurement of student achievement over time, has not shown any significant impact from Common Core over the past six years.

Imagine that. Another government program failing. Unthinkable.

Furthermore, Ze'ev Wurman, former U.S. Department of Education Senior Policy Advisor under George W. Bush, notes, “[A]ll the data we have — from ACT/SAT, through AP course taking, through early enrollment in algebra that was the hallmark of U.S. improvement in the last two decades, and to the NAEP scores — all point one way: down. I couldn’t find a single piece of objective educational data that looks improved or at least hopeful.”

Any teacher who has tried to tell a child why 7+7=14 but only by way of 10 would agree.

Maybe that’s why this year, just 20 states plus Washington, DC, plan to use Common Core standardized tests — a far cry from the 46 that signed on with such enthusiasm.

And even in states still drinking the CCSS Kool-Aid, not all parents and students are on board. In New York, for example, last year approximately 20% of students opted out of the standardized tests. This year, the number may be even higher. In Allendale Elementary School outside of Buffalo, a whopping 87% opted out. On Long Island, nearly 50% of students said no to the tests.

Parents and students aren’t the only ones fed up with Common Core. Teachers have also had enough. One teacher even posted an apology to students for the harm Common Core inflicts.

If there is one bright spot, it’s that Common Core is so disastrous that it’s inspired many parents to reclaim control over their children’s education. More and more parents are turning to homeschooling, and many cite Common Core as the reason.

To borrow a phrase from the 1987 classic “Princess Bride,” Common Core may still only be “mostly dead,” but in this case, there’s no true love around to revive it.


Do Parents Want Their Children on Uncle Shrink’s Couch?

Uncle Sam is becoming “Uncle Shrink” to millions of schoolchildren, including many preschoolers, who are now subject to various psychology-focused educational components that have been implanted in federal education legislation over the past decade.

One of the most influential ways the federal government is molding young minds is through “social and emotional learning” (SEL) programs, a prominent feature of the omnibus Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2015.

SEL has no clear definition in federal law, but many education sites tout SEL as instilling in students the necessary attitudes and skills that will supposedly enable them to manage their emotions, which in turn theoretically helps them do good things, such as showing empathy for others.

Very much in the same vein is the Strengthening Research Through Education Act (SETRA), which is currently being considered by Congress and will likely be passed soon. SETRA is a reauthorization of a George W. Bush-era law that extended the U.S. Education Department’s research arm into the collection of personal data about students and also authorized the use of linked state longitudinal databases.

Proceeding so far with minimal debate in Washington, DC, SETRA would expand federal education research to pupils’ “social and emotional learning, and the acquisition of competencies and skills, including the ability to think critically, solve complex problems, evaluate evidence, and communicate effectively.”

This kind of subjective probing of children’s attitudes, beliefs, and behavior amounts to psychological profiling that (thanks to electronic dossiers) could haunt an individual throughout a lifetime.

Dr. Karen Effrem, a pediatrician who has tracked this trend for years as the president of Education Liberty Watch, laments, “Parents are expected to submit their children to this kind of government profiling and psychological experimentation with no explanation, no way to express concern, [and no way to] opt their children out.”

Effrem also says SETRA is incredibly problematic because parents are afforded “no way to see the federally mandated assessments or to find out what private, sensitive psychological data was collected on their children as part of some online assessment and shared with some third-party vendor without their consent.”

Starting with the 2016–17 school year, the exploration of what education theorists call “the affective domain”—meaning feelings and emotions, as opposed to actual thought—will spread to the fairly well-respected National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also called the Nation’s Report Card. A background survey accompanying NAEP will attempt to assess a child’s grit and motivation, among other qualities.

If the late John Wayne showed “true grit” in his Western movies—grit being perseverance in pursuit of a goal—how in tarnation does a student exhibit that trait by filling out a federal form? The kid may be tired, he may be sick, or he might just be sick and tired of being psychoanalyzed by proxy, but his facetious answers will rank him low on the Grit-o-Meter, and if that nugget pops up some day from a database, it might cost him a job.

Parents and educators concerned about ESSA, the successor to No Child Left Behind and the latest version of the mammoth Elementary and Secondary Education Act, should watch carefully for a big push by some to advance federal preschool programs now that a $250 million program of competitive grants for state pre-K initiatives has been made permanent in federal law. This will bolster the Obama administration’s latest version of Race to the Top, the Early Learning Challenge—also known as “Baby Common Core”—which encourages the socio-emotional assessment of preschoolers.

The proposals made by two states that are eagerly seeking their cuts of the loot indicate where all this is heading: “California will offer additional provider training in assessing social-emotional learning and ensure greater access to developmental and behavioral screenings. … [Minnesota’s] existing birth-to-five child development standards will be aligned with K–12 standards, which will [be] expanded to include non-academic developmental domains for children ages five to 12,” according to a summary by the federally supported Early Learning Challenge Collaborative.

ESSA also calls for an extensive “family engagement policy,” which, according to a recent policy draft by the U.S. Departments of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, will begin prenatally and continue “throughout a child’s developmental and educational experiences.”

Along the way, say the bureaucratic behemoths, the government must “prioritize engagement around children’s social-emotional and behavioral health.”

In plain language, this means the government will assess children every single step (or crawl) of the way, from cradle to career, to be certain they acquire all the attitudes, beliefs, and dispositions the omniscient, omnipotent government deems they must have. SEL, baby, SEL.

Uncle Shrink approves, but what about U.S. parents? Are they ready to let the government assume their child-rearing responsibilities?


Monday, April 11, 2016

WCU: Western Communist University

Mike Adams

The next time a college professor starts lecturing on the importance of a free and open marketplace of ideas beware. He’s probably going to offer a few platitudes before he throws in an awkward “but,” and then shows his true beliefs about free expression. As a general rule, you can ignore everything that comes before the word “but.” It is usually after he utters his first “but” that he really starts to show his ass.

At Western Carolina University (WCU) the faculty senate recently showed its true colors on an important issue of academic freedom. They were approached with an offer to fund a new Center for the Study of Free Enterprise (CSFE). It should have been easy for them to handle. Predictably, they screwed it up to a fair thee well.

When the faculty senate met they decided to publish a report on the pros and cons of accepting the money to fund the CSFE. As you read about their pro and cons remember that these professors regularly complain that they don’t get enough funding for higher education. Thus, they are constantly asking you to pay higher taxes to make up for it.


1. The WCU Faculty Senate fully agreed that the proposed CSFE was advancing theoretical perspectives well within the mainstream of the discipline of economics. They also recognized that their colleagues in the Economics department had a “right” to determine their own research agendas, which the faculty senate said it “unequivocally” supports.

2. In contrast with the university as a whole, proposed centers can address a specific agenda without addressing a diversity of viewpoints. The WCU therefore rightly concluded that the limited focus of a free enterprise center should not be deemed problematic.


1. The senators expressed concern that the $2 million gift from the Koch Foundation (please note the source of the gift) would expire in five years. They warned that even if the cessation of external funding forced the CSFE to close WCU “may still be obligated to some level of increased funding in future years.”

Did you catch that one? The faculty at WCU is refusing to accept millions of dollars in external funding because of fears that somehow, some way, the funds might dry up and the taxpayer may some day be hit with some kind of unspecified cost. Has anyone ever heard of a faculty body rejecting millions in external funding due to fears of burdening the taxpayers with unspecified future costs? And could anyone ever imagine them rejecting the gift if the proposed CSFE stood for Center for the Study of Feminist Environmentalism?

2. The WCU faculty senate further concluded that the proposed CSFE was not needed because research and education on the issue of free enterprise was already taking place at WCU.

Was that really an issue? Can you imagine WCU rejecting money from a prominent organization wanting to start an LGBT center – and doing it on the theory that professors are already engaged in research and education on LGBT issues? Of course, you can’t. The reason is that these centers are already up and running at most universities. They are not in need of external grants because the faculty senators have already approved of them and sent the bill to the taxpayers.

3. The senators further stated that the proposed center placed “potential constraints on academic freedom.” They claim that the Koch Foundation has “previously set forth explicit expectations in line with their political views in exchange for monetary gifts to universities, thereby constraining academic freedom.”

Can anyone explain how accepting the gift for a pro capitalist CSFE in any way constrains the freedom of Marxist professors to critique the center’s activities? Furthermore, ask yourself which of the following poses the greatest threat to academic freedom:

*A privately funded CSFE, which only considers applicants who support capitalism?

*A government funded campus LGBT center, which only consider applicants who support same sex marriage and other leftist public policy positions?

4. The senators further expressed concern that accepting a gift from the Koch Foundation would be accompanied by reputational costs. They claimed that gifts from Koch were followed by “much negative publicity in higher education outlets as well as general media.” They topped it off by stating that “for WCU to establish a new center on free enterprise may suggest to the general public something about our institution’s priorities and values with which many faculty are uncomfortable.”

Please allow me to translate those last two statements. First, the WCU faculty senate is saying that the fact that liberal academics and the liberal media would criticize them for accepting the gift justifies rejecting the gift. In other words, liberal educational bias and liberal media bias justify further liberal educational bias. What was that they just said about academic freedom?

Furthermore, this idea that faculty can negate speech simply because they are “uncomfortable” is disgraceful. It boggles the mind to imagine how their ancestors crawled out of a pond and somehow evolved into beings so emotionally unfit that they cannot withstand ideas that make them “uncomfortable.” Compounding their lack of emotional strength is a lack of humility, which claims that their own emotions actually trump the ideas of others.

It is worth noting that none of these professors have expressed opposition to the WCU Women’s Center, which once sponsored a bondage and masochism seminar teaching students how to inflict physical pain on one another for sexual pleasure. Were any of these professors concerned that the center’s activities were accompanied by “reputational costs” in the broader community?

5. Finally, the WCU faculty senate was concerned about the lack of scholarly peer review ensuring that the CSFE activities really were scholarly in nature.

I have to wonder whether there was peer review involved when the WCU Women’s Center held a series of panels on sexual empowerment several years ago. One panel featured WCU psychology professor Hal Herzog. In case you didn’t know, Hal Herzog is an expert on animal behavior. He once wrote a book asking profound questions such as “Why is it Okay to feed a mouse but not a kitten to your pet boa constrictor?” and “Can dogs read people’s minds?” The learned professor also developed a personality test for baby snakes. No, I am no making this up.

So please note that these professors at WCU really do care about academic freedom. If it appears they are engaging in censorship then think again. They are just trying to save money, prevent unnecessary research, spare the university’s splendid reputation, and ensure that only legitimate research is being done in the hills of western Carolina. (Sarcasm = off).

To sum it all up, the Marxists who run WCU don’t need a center celebrating free markets. The marketplace of ideas has been shut down for years.


The Sissification of Academia

For decades, liberals have forewarned the destruction by conservatives of their Ivory Towers of academia. They whine that conservatives are out to “starve” educational institutions by cutting their bloated, taxpayer-funded budgets; they blame conservative opposition to their precious Common Core scheme as “paranoia,” and they defend teacher unions to the death.

However, it is not the Tea Party, Republican governors, or homeschool families that liberals should fear. The single biggest threat to the ivory bastion that is Big Academia is the students whose very minds liberals have spent decades molding with their meticulously-crafted indoctrination.

Since the 1960s, when liberal activism was characterized by nuclear disarmament peace marches, sit-ins, and anti-Vietnam war protests on campuses from Columbia to Berkeley, liberals have used educational institutions to push their globalist, Big Government agenda into highly impressionable students under the guise of a “liberal arts” education. Today, not much has changed, except for one thing: whereas in recent years it has been primarily administrators and faculty members leading the leftist movements on campus, including cracking down on conservative thought, it is now students who have seized the reins.

What they have wrought is intimidating professors and administrators at major universities from Missouri to Georgia.

Fueled by modern progressivism and cutting-edge technology, today’s students are more militant, and have a far shorter “fuse,” than their professor predecessors. They join only with those who agree totally with their radical agenda and tactics, and demonize everyone else; including the very professors and administrators who once saw these students as their most prized accomplishments. “Things have changed since I started teaching, [t]he vibe is different,” writes a self-described “liberal” college professor, understandably under a pseudonym. “My students sometimes scare me — particularly the liberal ones.”

The latest incident at Emory University, a once-esteemed institution in Atlanta, demonstrates just how unhinged these students have become. When chalk messages supporting GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump appeared on campus sidewalks, rather than ignoring them, or even taking the simple step of using a bottle of water to remove the messages, students organized protests. They quite literally cried out to the Administration that they were “in pain,” and felt “threatened” by the scribbles. The sane response by the Administration would have been to tell the students to “grow up.”

However, in the wake of Missouri University President Tim Wolfe having been pressured to resign last year, after “failing to do enough” to appease student members of the Black Lives Matter social justice movement, it is clear who now has the upper hand; and it is not Emory President James Wagner. Wagner prostrated himself and declared the University would be “taking a number of significant steps” to respond to the Little Darlings in his care. Steps like what -- banning college students from possessing chalk, and declaring the campus a Chalk-Free Zone?

Apparently this is what higher education has been reduced to -- a four-year incubator for premature adults. Emory’s pathetic response to the Great Chalk Terror underscores how far it has sunk already.

A classical education necessarily requires an environment in which students are forced to study, to learn, and to question ideas and beliefs as a method of teaching them how to “think.” This simply is not possible in an environment where uncomfortable or controversial speech is not only eschewed, but punished.

The darkness at the end of this tunnel will be campuses devoid of independent thought; where the only acceptable speech and behavior is that pre-approved by committees of timorous regents and educators, under the watchful eyes of radical student overseers. It will be a Bizarro World in which students will spend up to $200,000 or more to graduate; knowing much about “gender types”and “white guilt,” but nothing of the genius behind the making of our Constitution or of the rewards of hard work and perseverance that drove Thomas Edison or Albert Einstein.

Should university administrators and state boards of regents fail to regain control of their institutions, state legislators should begin seriously to cut taxpayer funds to public institutions that refuse to fulfill their foundational purpose of actually educating students.

In the meantime – and thankfully -- students for whom college is still about challenging ideas, learning to think, and how to create, have at least one defender in their corner. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (“FIRE”), founded by Alan Kors and Harvey Silverglate, actively defends the First Amendment rights of students and faculty on college campuses across the U.S. And, recently, they have been busy.

The defenders of the Constitution at FIRE will be even busier in the wake of the Great Emory Chalk Scare. Already, Chicken Little administrators at the University of Kansas are fretting over how to protect their Little Darlings from a couple of scary Pro-Trump chalk messages that appeared on the sidewalks in their “Safe Space.”


Australian Labor party lies on schools

Labor’s letter of lies to schools across the country shows that Bill Shorten is wilfully ignoring facts in order to scare students, parents and educators. It is nothing short of a dishonest smear campaign.

"Mr Turnbull’s policy of cutting $30 billion from schools…" - Bill Shorten and Kate Ellis, Letter to schools, 6/4/16

FACT: There are no cuts. It is an utter lie to suggest that the Turnbull Government’s funding is doing anything but increasing each and every year, off of a record base, meaning there is no reason schools won’t be able to continue to support teachers and existing initiatives, such as specialist teachers or additional resources.

"…walking away from public education is one of the worst ideas ever put forward by a prime minister." - Bill Shorten and Kate Ellis, Letter to schools, 6/4/16

FACT: The Turnbull Government is not abandoning schools or public education and has never proposed doing so. We are putting a record $69.4 billion into schools and only ever proposed an alternative means to allow states to grow this by even more, if they wished (which all but WA rejected). This funding will continue to grow year on year into the future and builds on the growth of Commonwealth funding per student for public schools in real terms by 66.1 per cent over the past 10 years.

"Labor has made the difficult decisions on taxation and savings necessary to make sure our plan for schools is fully funded and fully costed over the next decade." - Bill Shorten and Kate Ellis, Letter to schools, 6/4/16

FACT: Labor’s education policy funding outlook is built on a ‘tax and spend’ approach and economic fantasy. Even ABC’s Fact Check unit sees it as "rose-coloured" at best.

"[The Turnbull Government is] not providing any certainty about schools funding." - Bill Shorten, Press Conference, 6/4/16

FACT: The Turnbull Government’s growing funding is locked in and clearly outlined in budget papers. The only people who seem not to understand that are the Labor Party and Bill Shorten. Schools, parents and students can be confident that the Turnbull Government’s record investment in education is only going to increase.

"What we're doing is Budget repair that's fair." - Bill Shorten, Press Conference, 6/4/16

FACT: What Labor is proposing is ‘Budget repair’ that adds to their $51.3 billion black hole at a time when the budget is already $36 billion in deficit. It’s not repair, it’s vandalism. Labor’s plans will only be paid for by higher taxes or greater debt, leaving fewer jobs and opportunities for students when they finish school.

"Well I’ll tell you what reform for…education funding looks like - needs-based funding in schools." - Bill Shorten, Press Conference, 6/4/16

FACT: Labor aren’t proposing reform. They’re just re-announcing unaffordable levels of spending with no reforms to how it is used.  Needs-based funding is built into our existing and future funding models, ensuring students with higher needs receive more funding.

The fear being spread by Labor and the unions about schools funding detracts from the real conversation we need to be having. While funding matters, what you do with it matters even more. Evidence tells us to focus on the quality of teachers and teaching; the teaching of reading and maths; and the engagement of parents. That's exactly what the Turnbull Government is doing.

Press release from Sen. Birmingham

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Woodrow Wilson Can Stay at Princeton

Back in November, we relayed the somewhat humorous story of a movement to oust Woodrow Wilson from Princeton. The father of the modern “progressive” movement was president of the university before becoming U.S. president, and therefore some of the school’s buildings are named after him. But the university’s Black Justice League sought to have the prominent Democrat’s name removed because of his well documented racism. As Reuters put it, “He was a leader of the Progressive Movement but supported racial segregation.” No, not “but” — those two things have always been related.

The university’s trustees announced Monday that his name and image will not be removed, though their report said the school must be honest in “recognizing Wilson’s failings and shortcomings as well as the visions and achievements that led to the naming of the school and the college in the first place.” Furthermore, they said, “Princeton must openly and candidly recognize that Wilson, like other historical figures, leaves behind a complex legacy with both positive and negative repercussions, and that the use of his name implies no endorsement of views and actions that conflict with the values and aspirations of our times.”

So they want college kids to, you know, learn history? What’s the world coming to?

Finally, and for the record once again, we’ll state that Wilson believed in a malleable Constitution and a virtually all-powerful executive. In fact, he was in many ways the originator of the elite administrative state in which know-it-all bureaucrats make thousands of decisions that solve problems in wreak havoc on our lives. And as David Harsanyi wrote in November, “Like most progressives of his era, Wilson wasn’t merely a common racist, he embraced the pseudo-scientific eugenics that would haunt millions. After his election, he didn’t only say terrible things — ‘There are no government positions for Negroes in the South. A Negro’s place in the corn field’ — he institutionalized racism in the federal government, segregating the civil service in 1913. He personally fired 15 out of 17 black supervisors appointed to federal jobs, while his postmaster general and Treasury secretary segregated their departments. He’s the only president that I know of who’s ever celebrated the Ku Klux Klan in the White House.”

Today’s Democrats are hardly different, subjecting blacks to urban poverty plantations, thus locking in their dependance and their votes. It’s past time more voters remembered that history.


Send Your Kids To This School, Fund Illegal Immigration

A private school in Arizona is staking out a position on illegal immigration: they're for it. If you send your kids there, you'll be for it too, whether you like it or not. As Fox News notes:

    "A private college in Arizona is charging all students a mandatory fee to fund a scholarship for illegal immigrants, a controversial move supporters say gives a hand to those who need it but anti-illegal immigration advocates call irresponsible.

    Prescott College is tacking a $30 annual fee onto its $28,000 annual tuition to establish an annual scholarship for “undocumented” students, as part of a policy first proposed by students and faculty from the undergraduate and Social Justice and Human Rights Master of Arts divisions. Backers say it helps reverse what they call Arizona’s reputation as a “national example of discriminatory politics.”

    “I am proud that our students take on the role of scholar activists,” said school President John Flicker, adding that the university is committed to “broaden access to higher education for a diverse group of students” and “mobilize its resources towards social justice.”

This is the state of the American academy. Perhaps next Prescott will sponsor a scholarship for convicted shoplifters and say they're taking a stand against our repressive capitalist society.

The United States is a nation. A nation has borders, and one of the primary responsibilities of the federal government is to enforce those borders. One political party thinks the government has more important things to do, like investing millions of dollars to figure out why lesbians are obese, or watching baseball with totalitarians.

While a large majority of immigrants do happen to be non-white, this isn't about racism, it's about the maintenance of a society based on the rule of law, and not the whims of the powerful. By imposing this surcharge on its students, Prescott University is telling your children, should you choose to send them there, that the law doesn't matter


With 43% Not Paying, When Will Student Loans Collapse?

About 22 million Americans, or 43% of the students who borrowed money from the U.S. government to pay for school, are not making their repayments, according to the Wall Street Journal. Altogether, those 22 million Americans owe $200 billion in debt. Already, 3.6 million of those former students did not make a single payment in 2015 and are in default. This raises questions: When will this bubble collapse, and what will be brought down with it?

The government created a system that gave out loans to anyone who asked for one. There are no cosigners, nor does the government verify that the people to whom they loan money are prepared for the rigors of college. Credit checks? That’s a little used tool on youth headed for the Ivy League — or Podunk Community College.

In his column titled “The U.S. education bubble is now upon us,” Mohamed El-Erian notes that student loan debt dwarfs the combined debt of credit cards and auto loans. And while the cost of higher education has skyrocketed, the value of that piece of paper at the end of four years has deteriorated because students are leaving university struggling to find employment in their fields of study.

The student loan market is not like the housing bubble of 2008, however. Unlike a conventional loan company, the government has the power to garnish wages and seize tax refunds. But the risk to the whole system is huge: Federal financial assets are 45% made up of student loans — even while there’s a culture that fosters not repaying those loans. Under one repayment plan, the Department of Education forgives outstanding loans after 20-25 years. And with all the leftists out there telling students education should be free, why pay the bill?