Friday, June 24, 2016

Amid controversy, Boston Latin headmaster resigns

She showed insufficient hysteria about one or two instances of pupils making derogatory comments to black students.  As it is an academically  selective school it has few blacks compared to the community and that has always rankled some. So great hysteria was required

The headmaster of Boston Latin School, who had been fending off calls for her termination for months amid a federal probe into racially charged incidents at the school, announced Tuesday she is resigning after nine years leading the city’s top exam school.

Lynne Mooney Teta did not mention the federal investigation in a letter to the school community Tuesday afternoon, but she did refer to the controversy surrounding the racial incidents that rocked the school earlier this year.

Teta said the decision was difficult but “one which I believe is in the best interest of our students, faculty, and our historic institution.” Her resignation is effective at the end of the school year.

“I believe that it is time for a new headmaster to lead the school and carry on the tradition of excellence,’’ said Teta, who is also a BLS graduate.

“We have faced challenges this year, and I have been greatly encouraged by the commitment of students, faculty, families, and alumni to work together to collaboratively address issues of racism and discrimination in our community,” Teta wrote.

Superintendent Tommy Chang, who praised Teta’s leadership, called her resignation “a personal decision.” Teta could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

For months, Teta had been resisting calls for her termination from the NAACP and other organizations, who faulted her handling of racial incidents at the school. Those incidents came to light on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January when two students posted a YouTube video criticizing Teta and other administrators for ignoring or taking too lightly complaints of racism, such as when students use racial slurs.

A School Department investigation in February found that BLS administration properly handled six race-based incidents at the school, but faulted the administrative team for not adequately addressing a seventh incident in which a non-black student threatened a black student.

The findings did little to appease Teta’s detractors, who argued that the review did not go far enough. They subsequently filed a complaint with US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz’s office, which launched an investigation in March. The investigation remains open, and the resignation would have no impact on the probe, Ortiz’s office said Tuesday.

Throughout it all, Teta refused to step down. In February, she said she would not resign, two days after issuing a letter apologizing for her slow response to racial incidents at the school, saying “No one is more committed than I am to improving the racial climate and culture here at Boston Latin School.”

The resignation comes as classes end on Friday for the school year at Boston Latin School. It seemed to have taken Chang by surprise. He abruptly canceled a previously scheduled meeting with BLS parents Tuesday night.

Instead, Chang held a press conference at School Department headquarters in Roxbury during which he said Teta told him of her decision that morning. He said he has not yet identified a temporary replacement to run the school until a permanent leader is hired.

“This was a personal decision for her, and I know it was not easy for her,” he said. “We had conversations, but I’m going to keep those personal. I have always supported her and her leadership to build a more inclusive environment at the school.’’

Chang said he would launch a national search for a new leader, a process that could take months.

‘She was treated incredibly unfairly throughout this process. She is always working to make BLS a welcoming and inclusive place for all.’

“I will work with Superintendent Chang to identify the next BLS headmaster to carry on the school’s tradition of academic excellence, while creating a welcoming environment for all,” Walsh said in a statement.

The investigation by the Department of Justice — and a separate ongoing inquiry by the city’s Office of Equity — were beginning to wear on Teta, said a person with knowledge of the investigation.

“She didn’t want the school to [continue to be] in the media negatively,’’ said the person, who also said Teta had grown concerned about the effect of the inquiries on staff and administrators. “The pressure and everything accumulating took a toll on her.”

Teta’s detractors said her resignation creates an opportunity to address the racial climate at the school under new leadership.

“Boston Public Schools now has an opportunity to embed leadership that values diversity and inclusion, rejects racial bigotry, and is responsive to every student, parent, teacher, and alum,” Michael Curry, president of the Boston branch of the NAACP, said in a statement. “Now is the time to finally address the diversity of the faculty and the student body.”

Curry said community leaders want to work with the school district “to ensure that academic rigor is maintained, and the selection of the new headmaster is responsive to community voice.”

Lori Britton, whose daughter is a BLS sophomore, said she was relieved by Teta’s announcement. “What’s been obvious to me for the last many months is that there has been a need for change at the school,” Britton said. “Lynn Mooney Teta made the right decision. She’s doing what’s best for the institution and more importantly the students.”

Britton’s daughter, a rising junior at BLS, was at the center of the incident that the School Department investigation faulted BLS for mishandling. Last year, a boy in her class threatened to lynch the girl while holding an electric cord and called her a crude racial epithet. No one at the school had informed Britton or her husband of what happened to their daughter.

Britton said she would like the next Boston Latin headmaster to be someone who is “dedicated to the healthy, social, emotional development of children in all aspects and responsive to all students.”

The two students who initially raised concerns about racism — Kylie Webster-Cazeau and Meggie Noel — did not respond to requests for interviews. But the organization they lead, BLS Black, issued a statement saying it was “just as shocked as the general public to learn of the resignation.”

“We want to emphasize that her decision is completely independent of the mission of the #BlackAtBLS movement, which is to increase racial inclusion and race-explicit dialogue at Boston Latin School,” the statement said. “Change and reconciliation are on the horizon and we will continue to hold our school, now our alma mater, accountable to live up to our motto, Sumus Primi.”

Sumus Primi is Latin for “we are the first,” which is in recognition that Latin School was the first public school in the nation. Teta signed her letter with the motto, too.

Teta’s supporters said they are disappointed that she resigned.

Peter G. Kelly, president of Boston Latin School Association, said alumni “owe an enormous debt of gratitude to her for her exceptional service and partnership.”

“Lynne Mooney Teta has dedicated herself personally and professionally to the advancement of Boston’s youth for more than a decade,” Kelly said in a statement. “She is a compassionate, dedicated, pedagogically talented school leader whose resignation is a profound loss not only for the Boston Latin School community, but also for the broader Boston Public School district.”

City Councilor Matt O’Malley called Teta’s resignation “devastating.”

“She was treated incredibly unfairly throughout this process,” he said in an interview. “She is always working to make BLS a welcoming and inclusive place for all.”


Why the UCU can’t oppose Prevent

The University College Union (UCU), the UK’s further- and higher-education lecturers’ union, passed a motion last week opposing the UK government’s Prevent strategy, which restricts who can speak on campus and demands lecturers monitor their students for signs of ‘radicalisation’.

There is no doubt that Prevent is an insidious incursion into the intellectual life of a university, and an attack on freedom of speech. It draws a direct line between word and deed – if you hear, read or say something deemed dangerously radical you are deemed prone to act on those views. Therefore, under the censorious logic of Prevent, the offending words should not be said or heard.

However, the UCU and its ally against Prevent, the National Union of Students (NUS), oppose Prevent while working to undermine civil liberties by other means. Indeed, the UCU motion actually pledges support for groups that have been calling for censorship on campus and encouraging a ‘you can’t say that’ culture. The statement includes a strong statement of support for ‘decolonise education’ activists, who have campaigned against the Rhodes statue at Oxford and are calling for a less ‘white’ curriculum. Decolonisation activists also support Safe Spaces and the No Platforming of speakers deemed to be offensive or dangerous. Far from resisting the state, decolonisation activists resist debate.

What the UCU, the NUS and the government share is a belief that academic and political debate needs to be tightly controlled. In the end, Prevent complements Safe Spaces and No Platforming. The UCU’s opposition to Prevent is not really borne of a principled defence of civil liberties. Prevent would be better opposed by a consistent defence of liberty and, in particular, a defence of freedom of speech on campus.

The UCU motion even calls for a ‘campaign against Islamophobia, with a particular focus on education, and Islamophobia-awareness training for all staff’. So here a motion ostensibly defending free speech simultaneously undermines free thought. Racism is reprehensible, and lecturers should confront it if they see it. But treating staff as unwitting Islamophobes is not only patronising in the extreme, it is also likely to close down, rather than open up, debate.

That’s not all. The motion also calls for UCU branches to ‘request that each senior management team in post-16 educational institutions commit to the protection of education as a non-discriminatory space’. This amounts to a call for Safe Spaces – and this is bad news for free speech on campus. What might constitute discriminatory speech for one person could be fair comment for another. In recent years, we have seen numerous speakers, from pro-lifers to pro-Palestinian activists, accused of discrimination, with subsequent (often successful) attempts to No Platform them. The UCU’s demand for a ‘non-discriminatory’ space will exacerbate this culture of offence-taking, restrict free speech and deepen students’ feelings of vulnerability.

If campaigners accept the idea that young people are vulnerable to ideas they find offensive and are in need of Safe Spaces, they are half way to accepting Prevent.


Gender-neutral uniforms: dressing up an adult crisis

When I was 11, my school sent me home with a letter about my socks – and I’ve kept it ever since. I had to wear special socks to tackle a skin condition on my feet, but they only came in white, and the school stipulated they must be red. So my mother went to the lengths of dying them exactly the right colour. The terse letter we received in response sniffily suggested that this would only be tolerated for a couple of weeks, after which I would be in breach of the rules.

I used to keep the letter as a monument to bureaucratic pomposity, but now I treasure it for another reason. It serves as a reminder that uniform should do what it says: make everything exactly the same. It deliberately reduces everyone, rich or poor, to the same level of outward appearance. It is an enforced equality. It means that high or low status expressed through clothing, brands and so on doesn’t play a role in an environment in which what counts is learning and achievement.

School dress also performs another function. It introduces children to taking pride in their appearance, but in a non-showy way. They gradually appreciate that if you dress smartly, you act in a more civil manner. The principle often gets overplayed in schools, but it is a sound one.

For these reasons school uniform is an embodiment of teacher authority in action. I visited Rugby School recently, and was struck by the most visible signifier of the ethos of the place: the extraordinarily long, black skirts, reminiscent of a Hermione Granger costume, which the girls are forced to wear. A fellow teacher, also visiting, remarked on the positive potential of such anachronistic dress, because of the constant and tiresome battle she has with the girls at her own school over their habit of rolling their skirts up too high.

From the far distant days when I was a schoolboy to now, tussles over uniform haven’t gone away. But today there is a key difference. It’s those in authority who have a problem with uniform. Hence we now learn that 80 state schools, 40 of them primaries, have introduced gender-neutral uniform policies, which permit both boys and girls to choose whether they want to wear trousers or skirts.

State comprehensives have permitted girls to wear trousers without controversy for a long time, on the basis that it is an everyday part of the outside world. The contentious part of this new development is that boys can turn up at the school gate in a skirt if they choose to. According to the Guardian, ‘the move is part of a government-funded drive to support LGBT+ children in schools and be more open to children questioning their gender or sexual identity’.

Are there really that many boys who are confused about their masculinity, especially at primary level, to justify this move? In my years of teaching, I have known only a tiny handful of students who questioned their gender. This feels more like an issue being thrust on children from above rather than one coming from the pupils themselves.

It is also asking for trouble. It is an open invitation for disruptive pupils to take advantage of an opportunity to mock the system. For those who are sincere, they are more likely to find their hopes of acceptance being dashed by teasing and, possibly, bullying from their less-enlightened peers.

Even though this issue looks like a laudable attempt at respecting children’s identity, in reality it is not in children’s interests at all. School kids need guidance, instruction, education; adults need to step up to the plate and inspire and guide them. We can’t do that anymore because adult authority feels weak, and this is most pronounced in schools. Uniforms are only a symbol of that authority, and a school that won’t dare say to a boy ‘you’re a boy’, or even dictate what he should wear, is hardly going to be able to say, ‘Shakespeare is great’.

Gender-neutral uniforms should be seen for what they are. This is an attempt to strip teachers of their authority, no matter how you dress it up.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Some Departments At UNC Chapel Hill Have Zero Republican Professors

Professors at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill are 12 times more likely to be a registered Democrat than a registered Republican, The College Fix reports. In 16 departments, there are no Republican professors whatsoever.

Researchers from The College Fix, a conservative news and commentary site, searched North Carolina’s public voter database to find the political party registrations of UNC Chapel Hill’s 1,355 professors. Many of these were registered as unaffiliated, but of those who were registered with a party, 615 were registered Democrats and 50 were registered Republicans. In 16 out of the school’s 34 departments, there were zero registered Republicans.

Despite these findings, Jim Gregory, spokesman for UNC Chapel Hill, told The College Fix that the university “does not hire faculty based upon their political affiliation, but instead upon academic merit.” He said further that the university tries to achieve diversity “across all domains” but that doing so is “extremely difficult.”

The political leanings of UNC Chapel Hill’s faculty reflect those of broader academia. In 2012, Campus Reform reported that 96 percent of political donations from Ivy League faculty went to the Obama campaign. According to a survey by sociologist George Yancey, about 30 percent of academics say they would be less likely to hire someone whom they knew was a Republican.

The College Fix reports the following UNC Chapel Hill departments as having no registered Republican professors:

    African-American Studies
    American Studies
    Asian Studies
    Environmental Science
    Marine Sciences
    Public Policy
    Women’s Studies

The department with the most registered Republicans is the Global Business Center. Even there, however, Democratic professors outnumber Republican professors 41-21. The department with the most Democrats is biology, with 60. No biology professors were found to be registered Republicans.


Judge Rules Suspending 'Pop-Tart Gun Kid' Was Justified

The story became the poster child for the zero-tolerance policies run amok. In March 2013, a second-grader in Maryland who was eating a breakfast pastry chewed his meal into the shape of a gun. That act earned him suspension after he pointed the weaponized pastry at other students. “Public schools are indoctrinating our children to fear guns both real and imaginary, under the banner of ‘zero tolerance,’” we wrote when the news first made national headlines.

Now, three years later, Judge Ronald A. Silkworth, who presides over Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, ruled that the school district was right to suspend the boy. “[A] suspension was appropriately used as a corrective tool to address this disruption, based on the student’s past history of escalating behavioral issues,” Silkworth wrote. The incident occurred in the weeks following the Sandy Hook massacre. Teachers and administrators were on edge. Furthermore, the kid had joined the school mid year. As Reason’s Katherine Mangu-Ward pointed out, the school’s records show that the boy on several occasions banged his head repeatedly on walls and his desk. He threw a chair. And at one point, he punched another student.

A recent study found that zero-tolerance policies increased the number of suspensions and expulsions but did nothing to reduce the overall disruptions caused by students. “Pop-Tart Gun Kid” needed discipline, and probably help, but the school district used its zero-tolerance policy to punish him for an action that any other kid might do.


Quality control for colleges is somebody’s job; they’re just not doing it

IT’S NOT A secret that some colleges are a bad bargain for students, or that accrediting agencies, whose job it is to separate solid schools from hopeless ones, are coy about calling the latter out. Going after the worst colleges has such ugly and disruptive consequences — for students, for institutions, and for the government — that it’s just been less stressful, at least until now, to downplay the problem and keep the federal loans flowing.

Last week, the US Department of Education staff concluded that the federal government should stop recognizing the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. Known as ACICS, the council is one of a number of private accrediting agencies that are supposed to provide the higher-ed equivalent of a Good Housekeeping or Underwriters Laboratories stamp of approval — that is, an assurance by an informed outsider that a school is trustworthy enough to receive federal loans for its students.

In reality, these agencies are as indulgent as Enron-era corporate auditors or subprime mortgage-era securities raters; from 2009 to 2014, only 1 percent of schools lost their accreditation.

Traditional nonprofit colleges generally seek accreditation from a regional agency, such as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. ACICS, a national outfit, is known for certifying for-profit institutions — and for unusual leniency. It stood by Corinthian Colleges, a chain that foundered in 2014 amid numerous state and federal fraud investigations. Seventeen institutions accredited by ACICS, including some large chains, have been targeted by state or federal authorities for a variety of questionable practices, from falsifying job-placement rates to using exotic dancers to recruit students.

Earlier this month, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s staff issued a report that declared, “ACICS has spent years cranking open the spigot to allow taxpayer funds to flow to some of the sleaziest actors in American higher education.” In April, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and her counterparts in 10 states and the District of Columbia urged the federal government to cut ACICS off.

The final decision may not come for months. But if the federal government dumps ACICS, the schools that it oversees will need to find another agency to accredit them, or else lose access to federal loans — the higher-ed equivalent of the death penalty.

Making punishments stick is tough in higher ed. Last year, the schools that ACICS oversees received $4.8 billion in federal money for loans to 800,000 students on hundreds of campuses. When so much money and so many students’ well-being are at stake, isn’t swift action in order? In practice, the opposite occurs. Even as the Education Department moved decisively against ACICS last week, it was reassuring students that “nothing happens inevitably or immediately.”

On measures such as graduation and debt-repayment rates, the institutions overseen by ACICS fare much worse as a group than those accredited by regional agencies. Yet lots of other schools are putting students in harm’s way. A recent report by the centrist think tank Third Way noted that only 55 percent of students at all private nonprofit colleges in the United States graduate in six years. A high school with a graduation rate that low, the report noted, would face special interventions under federal law. Weaker public institutions struggle too.

The politics of higher ed are strange, as conservative politicians join forces with university lobbyists to thwart any action against iffy schools. But Washington can’t keep spending billions on the say-so of accreditors who can’t say no.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Professor rejects Marxism after traveling the globe: ‘Socialism doesn’t work’

At least one professor in America does not feel the Bern.  University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Professor Jack Stauder says his political and ideological conversion away from socialism and Marxism occurred when he actually witnessed these systems in action.

After traveling to more than 110 countries to pursue various forms of research, notably cultural anthropology, Stauder described his conversion from Marxism as a process of disillusionment.

“I gradually became disenchanted with Marxism by visiting many of the countries that had tried to shape their societies to conform to its doctrines. I was disillusioned by the realities I saw in … socialist countries – the USSR, Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, etc,” Stauder told The College Fix via email.

“I came to recognize that socialism doesn’t work, and that its ‘revolutionary’ imposition inevitably leads to cruelty, injustice and the loss of freedom,” the professor continued.

“I could see the same pattern in the many failed left-wing revolutions of Latin America and elsewhere. By combining actual travel with the historical study of socialism and revolution, I succeeded in disabusing myself of the utopian notions that fatally attract people to leftist ideas.”

Re-embracing his Western farming and ranching homes of Colorado and New Mexico also helped solidify Stauder’s rejection of leftist ideals, he said.

“Returning to my roots also helped my transition away from the leftist ideology that exists in the intellectual atmosphere of university life,” Stauder noted. “By spending my summers in the Southwest in the company of rural working people, farmers and ranchers, I developed perspectives on the real world very different from those that prevail in the academic world.”

Academic institutions are breeding grounds for leftist ideals, according to Stauder, as “academics in general are intellectuals, and hence susceptible to ideologies.”

“People seem to feel the need to believe in something, and when intellectuals abandon traditional religion, as most have done, they tend to seek substitutes,” BookCoverhe said.

Political campus movements against the Vietnam war in the 1960s and 1970s inspired Stauder’s initial interest in leftist political ideals. For many years, he identified as a Marxist and a radical.

These protests were common and influential on the campuses where he studied and worked, notably that of Harvard College. There, Stauder began his undergraduate career studying American history and literature and eventually switched to cultural anthropology after working with a Maya community in Chiapas, Mexico. This experience inspired him to pursue a Ph.D. in anthropology at Cambridge University in England.

Stauder’s most recent research bridges anthropology and ecology and he recently published The Blue and the Green: A Cultural Ecological History of an Arizona Ranching Community.

When asked about the current bias in academia, Stauder pointed to the overwhelming amount of research confirming a leftist bias.

“Academia has developed its own culture, a subset of the wider elite culture of the ‘new upper class’ (see Charles Murray, Coming Apart). As in all cultures, pressures exist to conform one’s thoughts and actions, and those who do not conform tend to be marginalized or suppressed,” Stauder said.

Though it may be challenging, Stauder encourages professors simply to “be individuals. Seek the truth, and stand by it.”


UK: Muslim faith school says Ofsted inspectors are racist after reports slams them over leaflets branding music and dancing 'acts of the devil'

A Muslim faith school has accused Ofsted of racism after the watchdog slams posters branding music and dancing as 'acts of the devil'.

The Darul Uloom Islamic High School said the leaflets - described by Ofsted as evidence of safeguarding weakness - were not found on its premises but at the rear door of an adjacent mosque.

And the independent school in Small Heath, Birmingham, has alleged that an Ofsted inspector angrily refused to take off their shoes during a recent inspection, describing them as 'extremely belligerent' throughout the visit.

Ofsted said a large pile of copies of the leaflet were found in May in areas shared by the mosque and school and used by pupils.

The latest Ofsted report, published this week, said: 'Leaders and staff have had training in preventing extremism and radicalisation, and been given the latest Government safeguarding guidance.

'However, the impact of this work has not rectified safeguarding weaknesses.

'A large number of copies of a leaflet containing highly concerning and extremist views, such as "Music, dancing and singing are acts of devil and prohibited", were discovered during the inspection.

'The leaflets were found in areas shared by the school and adjoining mosque which are used by leaders and in areas used by the pupils from the school.'

Inspectors were also critical of Darul Uloom - which caters for boys aged 11 to 16 - for failing to provide pupil progress information.

In a statement issued after Ofsted's latest findings were published, the school - which has a music curriculum - said the leaflets had no association with the mosque or the school and had been 'dumped' by a member of the public.

The school statement added: 'These leaflets were not on the display board or anywhere near the display board.

'They were clearly dumped by a member of the public, ironically next to the sign where it is clearly signposted 'Strictly no posters or leaflets'.

'Furthermore in regards to the inspection in question, the conduct of the Ofsted inspectors during this inspection were unacceptable and racist.'

As well as claiming that an Ofsted official refused to take off their shoes when visiting the mosque, the school alleges that its equality statement was dismissed as being 'just a piece of paper'.

A Department for Education spokesman said it is 'urgently investigating' the discovery of the posters.

'These leaflets should have no place in any school - and we will not hesitate to take strong action when schools focus on ideological indoctrination rather than a high-quality education.

'We are urgently investigating the concerning allegations about this school and as part of this we commissioned Ofsted to do an unannounced inspection.

'Extremism has no place in our society and when we find schools promoting twisted ideologies we will not hesitate to take action, including closing the school or working with the police if necessary.'

Darul Uloom was subjected to a full Ofsted inspection last October when its overall effectiveness was rated as inadequate. It then drew up an improvement action plan which was evaluated by inspectors in February.


$1.5 Billion A Year: The High Cost Of Educating Unaccompanied Illegal Minors Hits Home

Two years ago this summer there was a national uproar, media frenzy, and a government fiasco when tens of thousands of children, formally labeled Unaccompanied Alien Minors (UAM), poured across the southern border of the United States.

It was one of the humanitarian crises that millions of Americans witness on television. This one was especially wrenching. The unaccompanied children had been sent to the United States, reports said, to flee crime and oppression in their home countries. The children were placed in detention centers and sent throughout the United States to relatives already in the country or to families that would give them a home.

Almost nothing has been reported about the results of this immigration crisis since. Hopefully the children are safe with good care and shelter. But like so many consequences of unbridled immigration to the United States, there is a cost in terms of such essentials as education and healthcare.

Marc Ferris of Immigration reports that in 2014 the Border Patrol apprehended 110,605 youth, almost all of them from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Now we learn that it will cost at least $1.5 billion a year to put these children through school in what Ferris calls the imposition of a “massive unfunded mandate” by the federal government. Ferris further reports that the federal government contributes about nine percent of this cost, leaving 91 percent to state and local entities.

This is a prime example of federal immigration policy that is breaking the back of the civil society. No one would turn their back on children. But the fact remains that runaway immigration policies perpetrated by the federal government are adding a huge cost to an already teetering American economy. When will it end?

Ferris tells the story of the cost of educating the UAM population:

* This surge comes at a terrible time for the country’s beleaguered public education system. In May, students in Boston walked out of their high schools to protest budget cuts. Chicago is bracing for an historic gutting of its schools when the budget shrinks 20 percent for the 2016-2017 school year. And in Oklahoma City this May, students left their classes to demonstrate against teacher layoffs and reductions to sports and arts programs.

* How, then, will Massachusetts absorb 2,944 UAM at a cost of $57 million? What will be the impact of 1,166 UAM in Illinois, most of whom will end up in Chicago? To teach them will cost $18 million. Oklahoma will receive 786 UAM and be forced to spend $7 million educating them.

* The vast majority of UAM enroll in LEP programs, which costs more per pupil. In the 1982 Plyler v. Doe case, the Supreme Court ruled that illegal aliens have a right to be educated on the taxpayer’s dime.

* If school districts hire all of the 82,804 Limited English Proficiency (LEP) teachers that the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition projects will be needed to educate the nation’s LEP students, the cost will be $26 billion. It already costs $59.2 billion to fund LEP programs nationwide.

* In 2014, the Obama administration, well aware of the precedent, distributed a memo to all schools reminding them of their obligations. The Education Department provided the carrot (directing local school districts resources) while deploying the Justice Department to provide the stick (veiled threats of lawsuits).

* Besides the money to educate this population, another problem is that these students are progressing poorly in school. Graduation rates for LEP students are dismal and obviously, the longer a UAM stays in school, the more he or she will cost. So either we spend boatloads of money educating these youngsters or they drop out of school and remain illiterate.

* States complain about unfunded mandates all the time, but where is hue and cry over this one, which is directly attributed to the federal government’s dereliction of duty regarding the country’s immigration laws?

One out of every three students in Boston and Nashville are in LEP programs. In Denver, 40 percent of the students are LEP. In Georgia, the figure is one in five.

* One study suggests that LEP students drag down the performance of native pupils. Unquestionably, resources are being diverted from traditional programs to LEP students. How long will students and their parents sit back and accept this situation?


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Students Protest That All-Female School Is A ‘Rape Culture’ Stronghold

A 97-percent female college has been assailed by student activists who claim the school, despite a near-total lack of men, has become a center of “rape culture” because it engages in business with the family members of a rapist.

St. Catherine University only accepts women at the undergraduate level, and is run by an order of celibate Catholic nuns. Nevertheless, some students argue the school is a stronghold of “rape culture,” a set of rules and cultural expectations that allegedly make sexual assault more common.

The controversy driving these allegations started June 10, when St. Catherine hosted a women’s leadership seminar put together by Heartland Inc. Heartland has held a workshop at St. Catherine every year since 2012. The issue is that Heartland’s founders, Craig and Patricia Neal, have a son, Alec, who is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence for raping his ex-girlfriend at knifepoint.

During the seminar, a 27-year-old woman named Sarah Super, Alec’s victim, led a small protest outside. Super told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune she was upset that the Neals had organized a letter-writing campaign on Alec’s behalf prior to his sentencing, in an effort to help him get a more lenient sentence. Super argued that any support offered by the Neals on behalf of their son was wrong, and that their business should be boycotted in response.

At first, St. Catherine tried to make an appeal to Catholic values, saying that while they had ample sympathy for Super, they should also show mercy towards the Neal family.

“Our St. Catherine values of compassion and mercy must extend first, of course, to the victim and her family, but also to the family of the offender and even to the offender himself,” the school’s first statement said.

This statement only outraged Super and her supporters, though, who accused the school of effectively championing rape and having more sympathy for Alec than for his victim.

“It felt like they were giving more compassion to the rapist, in all honesty,” student Halimat Alawode told the Star-Tribune.

Their outrage prompted another statement from the school that completely reversed its earlier plea for mercy.

“In light of recent events, we have discontinued our association with Heartland Circle while we evaluate St. Catherine’s policies and criteria for partnering with external organizations,” the statement from college president Sister Andrea Lee says.

Even this wasn’t enough to satisfy protesters, though. On the protesters’ Facebook group, activist Maddie Harrison said the school had to take many extra steps, including setting up a committee to investigate rape culture on campus, before they would be satisfied.

As a result, activists held a second protest Monday that attracted about two dozen students, who carried signs bearing slogans such as “Rape culture is here” and  “Stop Raping Us!”

The Neals, for their part, said they are “saddened” by the school’s decision. “As longtime nonviolence advocates, we abhor and condemn all criminal violence, including that perpetrated by our son,” they said in a statement.


UK School bans packed lunches claiming parents are filling their children's boxes with unhealthy biscuits and McDonald's chips

A school has banned young children from bringing in packed lunches because of the 'unhealthy' food packed by their parents.

Rosemarie Jones, headteacher at St Mary Magdalene Catholic Primary School in Milton Keynes, has introduced the new policy for infant school pupils after claiming parents are sending children to school with 'chocolate, biscuits and cold McDonald's chips'.

Now children aged four-to-seven are subject to a school meals only rule after governors backed the move.

Under the government's Universal Infant Free School Meals scheme, the youngsters qualify for free lunches - regardless of parents' income.

Mrs Jones sent a letter home on Tuesday to explain the new rule, which prompted criticism from some parents who said the school was 'taking away their children's freedom of choice'.

One parent, who would not be named, said: 'My child won't eat anything if they can't have their packed lunch from home. This rule is unfair.'

But Mrs Jones insists the school is acting in the best interests of its younger pupils. She said: 'We have done this for very positive reasons because it is better for the children's health to have a nutritious meal. And, of course, it is free, saving parents £485 a year.'

The head added the school also had a problem storing lunchboxes and those full of sticky and sweet offerings were attracting ants.

She said: 'Many children bring unacceptable packed lunches, for example two chocolate bars and a yoghurt or cold chips and sausage or a packet of biscuits and crisps.

'We've even seen children with a cold McDonald's meal in their lunchbox. How can this be healthy?'

The school, which was rated outstanding by Ofsted, uses nationwide catering company Chartwells to supply cook and chill meals, which are ordered online a week in advance by parents.

'We have a range of hot meals but if children don't like them they can order a packed lunch through Chartwells,' said Mrs Jones. 'This will be balanced and nutritious and consist of a sandwich or wrap, yoghurt, a piece of fruit and a drink.'

The lunchbox ban only applies to children in reception to Year 2. Children in Years 3 to 6 will be allowed to bring lunches from home as usual.


Contentious Education Reform in Mexico in the Spotlight as Labor Unrest Continues

A newly released study says Mexico needs to shift the focus of education reform urgently from primary to secondary schools and higher education, as the government wages a pitched battle with teachers and unionists who blocked highways and occupied buildings in ongoing protests against reforms passed in 2013.

The reforms, aimed at breaking the national union’s iron grip on teacher hiring and imposing measures to evaluate teacher performance, now face a new challenge as the government ratchets back spending on education for the first time in 10 years, according to Fiorentina Garcia, an investigator with the think tank CIEP.

A 1.8 percent reduction in spending this year may be a sign of more cuts to come as the government faces the impact of lower oil revenues, pressure on the value of the peso and shifts in priorities towards infrastructure and social spending, she said.

The government had increased education spending by 29 percent over the past decade.

A CIEP study released Tuesday found that Mexico spends 15 percent of the government’s total budget on education – more than any other single item. Some 97 percent of all education spending goes to primary schooling, and 87% of that is spent on teachers’ salaries alone.

Less than 1 percent of the total government education budget is spent on higher education, with just 1.3 percent spent at high schools, shortchanging young Mexicans, Fiorentina said. Some 30 percent of Mexicans aged 15-24 do not work or study and only 29 percent are enrolled in public schools.

“Mexico has to transition from focusing only on primary school to secondary and higher education,” she said.

The lower levels of enrollment in higher education will cost the government in lost tax revenues, Fiorentina said, noting that for every year of higher education students can expect a 20 percent increase in salary compared to their peers with just a high school education.

According to Sergio Cardenas, a professor and researcher with the Mexican think tank CIDA, a recent government study tied lower higher education enrollments to a lack of space at institutions of higher learning and insufficient family resources needed to support students at university.

The government, Cardenas said, actually spends more per pupil per capita on higher education than it does on primary or secondary education, but because higher-ed students tend to come from families with more resources, the spending favors students with more means.

He agreed current education reforms are not targeting higher education, and said union and teacher resistance is “predictable” given unions’ loss of hiring controls, and a shortage of government resources needed to enact reforms and improve teacher training.

Ongoing teacher protests in several states may be due to the fact that those states haven’t been distributing the resources needed to fund the reforms required by federal law, he said.

Mexico’s biggest challenge is getting teachers to back the reform effort, Cardenas noted, adding it was “way too early” to judge if reforms are working.

This week, protestors occupied banks and department stores and stopped trains in the state of Michoac√°n. They blocked highways at 14 different points in Oaxaca state, and thousands of teachers demonstrated in Guerrero state, demanding the release of two union leaders arrested by the government, El Universal reported.

On Wednesday, the Mexico City newspaper Reforma revealed new allegations of the diversion of union funds to bank accounts tied to the controversial National Education Workers’ Union boss Esther Gordillo.

After running the union for more than 20 years, Gordillo was arrested in 2013 while sitting in a private jet on an airport tarmac in Toluca, and convicted on organized crime and corruption charges.


Common Core Does Not Prepare Students for College, New Report Finds

A recently released report confirms what Common Core critics have suspected all along: Common Core State Standards do not adequately prepare students for college-level work.

The ACT report finds many concerning shortcomings in the Common Core State Standards, which have been adopted by most states. Notably, the report reveals:

* “While secondary teachers may be focusing on source-based writing [essays written about source-based documents], as emphasized in the Common Core, college instructors appear to value the ability to generate sound ideas more than some key features of source-based writing.

* “Some early elementary teachers are still teaching certain math topics omitted from the Common Core standards, perhaps based on the needs—real or perceived—of students entering their classrooms.

* “In addition, many mathematics teachers in grades 4–7 report including certain topics relevant in STEM coursework in their curricula at grades earlier than they appear in the Common Core.”

Teachers who must adjust their curriculum to fit Common Core aligned state tests now find themselves in a bind. As the report finds, the Common Core math standards do not adequately provide a child with the skills needed to succeed in the classroom, forcing teachers to add on extra material to their limited instruction time.

Additionally, high school English teachers must now emphasize material that leaves students lacking in original thought and analytical skills, according to many college professors. For example, only 18 percent of college professors surveyed rated their students as prepared to distinguish between opinion, fact, and reasoned judgement—a skill determined to be important for college-level work.

The “one-size-fits-all” national standards are underserving American children. It is nearly impossible, and does a great disservice to future generations, to demand uniformity and place restrictions on the classroom that assumes one “best practice.”

Each child’s unique abilities require variation in teaching styles and curriculums. Common Core limits a parent’s say in their child’s curriculum, making the possibility of an education suited to his needs a near impossibility. Unfortunately, this report indicates that in an attempt to create uniform standards for achievement, Common Core fails to create the building blocks necessary to prepare aspiring students for college-level work.

The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke and Jennifer Marshall predicted the unintended consequences of Common Core in 2010:

"It is unclear that national standards would establish a target of excellence rather than standardization, a uniform tendency toward mediocrity and information that is more useful to bureaucrats who distribute funding than it is to parents who are seeking to direct their children’s education.

Education isn’t mentioned in the U.S. Constitution; it is quintessentially a state and local issue. Common Core forces uniformity on America’s ingenious system of federalism—which decentralizes power and allows different, but finely attuned policies to serve communities.

Yet initiatives like Common Core—and other efforts before it to establish national standards and tests—reinforce a misalignment of power and incentives, forcing states to respond to the demands of bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., instead of being responsive to the needs of families."

Correcting that misalignment will come by infusing education choice throughout K-12 education, by ensuring every child can access options like vouchers, tuition tax credit scholarships, and education savings accounts in order to be able to finance education options that fit their unique learning needs.

Instead of more centralization, which further removes parents from the decision-making process, states should fully exit Common Core and work to create choices for every family. Restoring parental control of education is essential to establishing truly high standards.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Administration Policies Aren’t Fixing Student Loan Crisis

Current federal policies in place to alleviate the burden of student loans aren’t working because they don’t focus on the root cause of the problem, which is the high dropout rates at many postsecondary institutions, according to a recent Manhattan Institute report.

The report, entitled Is There a Student Debt Crisis? answers that question by stating that the real problem is not “ballooning monthly payments” for college graduates, but rather the debt that non-graduates carry without the ability to generate the income a college degree provides. 

“Most graduates who borrowed to attend a four-year university face no debt crisis,” writes Max Eden, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. “It is students who attended, but often did not complete, lower-quality for-profit and two-year public institutions who are facing financial hardship.”

An October 2015 Federal Reserve study showed a link between failing to graduate and being late on student loan repayments.

Borrowers with no degree owe an average of $12,542, compared to $24,133 owed by bachelor degree holders. However, the non-graduates were late on their loan payments 43.5 percent of the time, as opposed to 11.1 percent of graduates who earned a bachelor’s degree. 

Even borrowers who graduated from for-profit institutions were delinquent 26.5 percent of the time, compared to 16.6 percent from public two-year schools, 11.6 percent from private nonprofit, four-year colleges, and 10.3 percent from public, four-year institutions.

Eden points out that the Federal Income-Based Repayment (IBR) program allows borrowers to make monthly payments equaling 10 percent of their discretionary income (15 percent if they were not a new borrower on or after July 1, 2014).

If they have not repaid the full loan at the end of 20 years (25 if they were not a new borrower on or after July 1, 2014), the debt is forgiven.

However, non-graduates who “need the IBR plan the most” often do not use it because of an “information and administrative bottleneck,” says Eden.

“Even as participation in IBR among non-graduates has floundered, the Obama administration modified the terms of the program to enable borrowers with graduate degrees to receive significant federal loan forgiveness,” he pointed out, even though only 2 percent of post-graduate borrowers default within two years, compared to 20 percent of non-graduates and 8 percent of undergraduate borrowers who earn a bachelor’s degree.

In an interview with CNSNews, Eden explained that the “bureaucratic complexity” of the IBR program is an issue.

“You have to proactively navigate the regulatory paperwork process,” he said. “It’s a much easier thing to do for folks who have gone through college or graduate school than for folks who have dropped out.”

“It shouldn’t necessarily be that hard, but to really fix it, you would need legislative action,” he added.

Moreover, he claims in the report that forgiving the debts of graduates with good job prospects ignores college dropouts who cannot find work.

Students “are consistently told that they need to go to college” to achieve success, leading to “a lot of unprepared students these institutions have no particular reason to vet or support,” Eden told CNSNews.

Colleges and universities would be incentivized to improve their programs if they were responsible for paying back part of their students’ unpaid loans, he pointed out.

“Even a small amount of risk would give postsecondary institutions a reason to contain their costs and offer a better education,” he wrote.

And if low-income students do manage to pay back their loans, Eden thinks their schools should be eligible to receive a bonus.

According to a report from Cleveland Federal Reserve economist Joel Elvery, only a quarter of borrowers make monthly payments of more than $400, while half pay $203 or less.

A Brookings Institute study found that the rise in loan defaults is associated with students who borrow to attend for-profit, two-year and other non-selective colleges which tend to have low graduation rates.

The number of these “non-traditional” borrowers – who are also the ones most likely to struggle to repay their student loans - swelled to half of all student borrowers during and directly after the Great Recession, according to another Brookings study that Eden references.

Eden told CNSNews that for-profit colleges “have no particular institutional incentive to make sure that students graduate” because the dropout rate “doesn’t affect their bottom line”.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, just 26.5 percent of students at for-profit institutions who started in 2008 graduated within six years.


College Coeds and Sexual Assault

When a preposterously lenient penalty was handed down to the “all-American” swimmer at Stanford University who had raped an incapacitated woman behind a garbage dumpster, most people rightly experienced revulsion and anger at this injustice. That revulsion is amplified among Stanford alumni.

While there may have been extenuating circumstances known only to the judge, it is difficult to conceive what how any such circumstances would result in such leniency.

Those who have never been the victim of a sexual assault can’t comprehend the humiliation and personal violation. We can weep for the victim, love the victim, and pray for the victim, but we can never take away the lifetime of pain and anguish that they bear.

Some assaults, as in the Stanford case, clearly fit the definition of “rape.” Unfortunately, for every case where rape is clear, there are thousands of sexual encounters between college coeds which might be classified as assault but could never produce a conviction because both parties were impaired by drugs — the most common drug being alcohol. For this reason, few assaults are reported, and of those that are, most result in plea bargains or refusals to prosecute.

Further, some of the most “celebrated” cases of sexual assault, those which have become media sensations, such as gang rape charges against the Duke lacrosse team and the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at the University of Virginia, prove to be unfounded. The MSM may have increase their market share advertising by promoting sensational cases, but when those cases have been proven unfounded, they tend to undermine legitimate charges.

The best defense against most instances of sexual assault begins with personal responsibility. First, if you are a parent, and your coed is not committed to abstain from sex and alcohol use, make sure your sons and daughters understand what constitutes “consensual sex.” Second, no matter what their attitudes about sex might be, they must avoid making poor choices that increase their exposure to predatory sexual encounters — which on college campuses most often begin with alcohol/drug impairment.

It is likely that everyone reading these words is, or knows someone who made poor choices about alcohol/drug consumption in the wrong company and, as a consequence, had a sexual encounter they regretted. Few of those encounters rise to the level of the assault in the Stanford case, but many do involve predatory sex, even if both parties are impaired.

Some have suggested — or worked to pass laws requiring — “sexual consent contracts,” which may seem laughable but…

It is unfortunate that within 24 hours of sentencing, the Stanford assault case became fodder for race-bait memes, which appeared across social media platforms. Those memes compared sentencing between white and black offenders, which, again, is an unfortunate diversion from the subject at hand.

And on the subject of alcohol/drug impairment and sentencing, consider that if a drunk driver kills another motorist, few states have minimum sentencing standards that exceed one year. Our home state of Tennessee has the most stringent sentencing requirements in the nation: eight to 60 years. But in Maryland this week, a drunk driver who killed two passengers in his car was sentenced to just four years in prison, which according to The Washington Post “was more than two years longer than [his] attorney had sought but eight years shorter than what prosecutors wanted.” He is eligible for parole in one year.

Sound familiar? A mitigating factor was that the other three occupants in the car were also impaired. Now don’t get us wrong — the sentencing in both cases seems grossly lenient, but the Maryland judge said he would not punish the driver for “the sins of a society that has made teenagers think it is okay to drink and do drugs.”

Finally, on a related note about sentencing for sexual assault, for those who have so quickly politicized the Stanford case, we draw your attention to another case when a lawyer got a child rapist off in a plea bargain for “time served in the county jail” — two months. One Hillary Rodham agreed to defend the rapist “as a personal favor” before becoming that state’s first lady.

In her defense of Thomas Alfred Taylor, Hillary impugned the character of his 12-year-old victim, alleging she “sought out older men” and was “emotionally unstable.”

In a recent interview, the victim in that case had a few words for Clinton: “[She] took me through Hell. … I realize the truth now, the heart of what you’ve done to me. And you are supposed to be for women?”


The Stanford petitioners want revenge, not justice

The campaign to sack Brock Turner's judge undermines the rule of law

Outrage has continued to grow over the sentencing of Stanford college student Brock Turner. Turner was given a six-month custodial sentence by Judge Aaron Persky following his conviction of felony sexual assault. Turner was found by two graduate students behind a dumpster outside a fraternity party. He was thrusting on top of his victim who, according to the witnesses, was not moving. The two students intervened and held Turner down until the police arrived. As well as his six-month jail sentence, Turner will spend the rest of his life on the sex offenders’ register and will serve three years on probation following his release.

Following the sentencing, the victim’s statement detailing the assault was published. It quickly went viral, with many commentators suggesting it was the ‘most powerful thing’ written on rape they had ever read. After its publication on Buzzfeed, it was read out almost in its entirety on CNN.

After the publication of the statement, a petition was circulated on to have the judge removed from practice. At the time of writing, the petition has received over one million signatures. Stanford law professor Michelle Dauber, who spearheaded the campaign, said that Turner’s lenient sentence was ‘dangerous’ because ‘fewer survivors will report if they think sexual assault will not be taken seriously’. Turner’s father has also been the target of internet rage for suggesting that his son’s crime amounted to ‘20 minutes of action’, which campaigners say reduces the significance of his crime. When Turner’s childhood friend wrote a letter in support of Turner, another campaign was launched to have music venues boycott her band.

I am not going to hold a candle for Turner. The evidence against him appears to be strong. The two students who found him and his victim both testified that the victim was not moving as Turner was thrusting on top of her. When the two students found Turner’s victim she was entirely unresponsive. There were suggestions that he had taken photographs of the girl passed out and had posted them on a group message. He has also failed to take responsibility for his actions. In his own letter to the court, Turner blamed campus drinking culture and ‘sexual promiscuity’ for what happened at the party.

So Turner deserved a conviction. But the internet anger around this case has little to do with the specifics of what took place. Instead, the case has been held up as an example of ‘rape culture’, in which sexual offences are not taken seriously and rapists are able to walk away from the justice system apparently unscathed. One website claimed that the case was part of a ‘rape epidemic’, citing research that one in four campus athletes had admitted to ‘coercing’ women into having sex. Many online feminists have also described the case as symptomatic of societal disregard for the suffering of rape victims.

It is important to note that the sentence appears to be commensurate with what Turner was convicted of. And given that very few people were actually present in court, it seems unlikely that there are many people more qualified to pass sentence than the judge. Perhaps later decisions will find that Turner’s sentence was too lenient, although it is important to note that the head of the Santa Clara public defendants’ office has defended the sentence as fair. In any case, the idea that a judge should be sacked for passing a sentence that online campaigners disagree with makes a mockery of the rule of law.

It is draconian to demand that the powers of sentencing be used to ‘send a message’ to victims about the justice system. The only message that complainants in these cases should receive is that their complaints will be taken seriously and investigated properly. Victims do not have a say in how long their attackers get behind bars, and rightly so. Allowing them to do so would reduce the justice system to a process of enacting revenge rather than justice.

That Turner was prosecuted in these circumstances is testament to how the law has become more attuned to difficult cases. This was a case that, initially, depended entirely on eye-witness testimony. Both the victim and Turner had been drinking, making the case arguably more difficult to investigate. But the victim was taken seriously, the case was investigated, and, as a result, good forensic evidence was found in support of what the victim had alleged. One columnist in the US pointed out that Turner’s prosecution is a sign that trials around difficult cases like these are now more feasible than ever before.

This case has nothing to do with a ‘rape culture’. The only person responsible for the actions of Brock Turner is Brock Turner. Furthermore, his trial and conviction show that the law is capable of catching up with guilty people, even in difficult circumstances. Hounding the judge and members of Turner’s family for their pronouncements on the case does nothing to improve the response of the justice system to rape. Instead, it fuels a climate of misinformation and vigilante justice that undermines society’s ability to deal with these cases fairly.


The war on ‘dead white dudes’

The racist 'decolonise the curriculum' campaign is a threat to universalism

The demand for universities to ‘decolonise’ has become one of the central tenets of the identity-driven student protest movement. It has driven a cleansing of ‘colonial iconography’ in the form of statues, pictures and the names of buildings. It has also turned the spotlight on what is taught in higher education, with the call to ‘decolonise the curriculum’.

The group Rhodes Must Fall Oxford, campaigning for the removal of the statue of Cecil Rhodes from campus, aims ‘to challenge the structures of knowledge production that continue to mould a colonial mindset that dominates our present’. The Why is My Curriculum White? movement argues: ‘Universities in the UK have operated under a colonial legacy, perpetuating “whiteness” both structurally and in the confines of knowledge reproduced.’

In the US, students at Yale University are calling for the English department to abandon a course requirement to study authors such as Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton. They argue: ‘It is unacceptable that a Yale student considering studying English literature might read only white male authors.’ Meanwhile, at Seattle University, Jodi Kelly, the dean of Matteo Ricci College, has been ‘put on leave’ after a group of students staged a sit-in, protesting that the ‘liberal-arts curriculum focused too much on classical Western history and philosophy’. One student claimed, ‘the only thing they’re teaching us is dead white dudes’.

The rhetoric of these campaigns suggests universities are the last bastions of imperialism and that institutions in Britain are adamantly clinging on to an empire long since surrendered. The claim that there are too many ‘dead white dudes’ suggests academics are complicit in promoting a prejudiced view of the world and that the content of degree-level courses has remained unchanged for decades. Above all this sits the image of student campaigners as either valiant warriors tackling a conservative academy or, in much media coverage, as over-privileged ignoramuses.

The reality is very different. It is academics, not students, who have rejected traditional bodies of subject knowledge and have questioned the dominance of dead white men in the curriculum. It is academics who first argued the university is an ‘academic-military-prison-industrial complex’ in need of ‘dismantling’. Today, all British universities are expected to promote ‘global citizenship’ and to ‘internationalise the curriculum’ by ‘providing students with global perspectives of their discipline’.

Despite their bravado and unashamed philistinism, student campaigners are pushing at an open door. Far from clinging on to tradition, the academy has already gone a long way towards replacing ‘dead white dudes’ with the ‘values and skills [needed] to operate in diverse cultural environments’. In the UK, academics who are members of UCU, the lecturers’ union, have welcomed student campaigns to decolonise education – they had already rejected the notion that the university should play a role in preserving, transmitting and developing the intellectual and cultural capital of the nation.

That academics and students in the world’s most elite universities should be so keen to ditch ‘dead white dudes’ in favour of ‘values and skills for diverse cultural environments’ speaks to more than just philistinism. It suggests a self-loathing, a hatred for the values that have built the modern Western world and a desire to replace social and scientific progress (that has produced global benefits) with more modest and relativist goals of respect and recognition. Today, the word ‘university’ serves as an embarrassing reminder of universality; the Latin and Old French origins of the word suggest ‘entire’, not just in reference to all knowledge, or all members of the academic community, but to knowledge that was universally true and of relevance to all humanity.

In the rush to decolonise education, and rid the syllabus of ‘dead white dudes’, campaigners forget that the insights and advances made by these past intellectual giants have had an impact that goes way beyond the specific category of ‘white men’. It makes no sense to talk about introducing ‘diverse cultural perspectives’ into teaching or the pursuit of knowledge. Scientific principles and mathematical equations, for example, are universal; they are only held to be true if the results hold irrespective of time, place or the person doing the testing.

Although, in the past, the majority of scientists were middle-class white men, the knowledge of the world they uncovered transcends their identity group. That the advances made by the likes of Newton, Einstein, Darwin and Faraday are not culturally specific is evidenced by the number of people around the world who daily board airplanes, drive cars, undergo surgery and use computers.

That knowledge can convey universal truths about humanity, and can speak to more than the narrow identity group of the originator, goes beyond science – it holds for art, music, literature and philosophy, too. This idea of people as equal, with shared experiences, emotions and interests, explains the enduring legacy of works by ‘dead white dudes’ such as Shakespeare, Moliere, Mozart, Beethoven, Picasso and Caravaggio. Such an idea also underpins democracy, citizenship and justice. For this reason, the rejection of a ‘white’ intellectual heritage is anything but radical. Works by Immanuel Kant, Thomas Paine and Karl Marx triggered intellectual, social and political upheavals that went to the very heart of contemporary establishment beliefs.

The bizarre rush to decolonise or internationalise education pours scorn on all the major intellectual and social advances of past centuries. Today, works of literature and philosophy are not judged according to their universal relevance, their relationship to truth, or their intellectual worth, but simply on the identity of the author, with those who are most oppressed considered to have greatest insight. Many students have been taught a cheap, ad hominem form of criticism by their lecturers. As such, students’ demands for more black or female writers to be covered on the curriculum have an inevitable logic; their campaigns put into practice what they have picked up in the classroom.

Questioning the content of the curriculum is always a useful exercise, but a philistine rejection of knowledge based on nothing more than the gender or skin colour of the originator drags the university, and society more broadly, backwards. It reinforces an intellectual relativism and prevents any scientific advance, work of literature or musical score being judged as better or more valuable than another.

When academics and students abandon both tradition and universalism, they reject the university. Rather than one ‘community of masters and scholars’, we end up with a multitude of different competing interest groups, all demanding equal recognition and respect. Rather than standing on the shoulders of giants, we end up trapped in a permanent present. The call to ‘decolonise higher education’ epitomises both these trends.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Orlando Massacre Shows We Must Stop Teaching Children to Hate America

Despite signs everywhere that the Orlando massacre has failed to bring the country together, there seems to be a growing consensus on at least one point—considering a return to E Pluribus Unum.

This is a national debate that conservatives have long demanded and should relish having.

Sure, some are recalling the motto only to rebuke Donald Trump’s call for a suspension of immigration from Muslim nations. But that shouldn’t matter to conservatives, who should concentrate now on forcing the reopening of this discussion.

So, when Hillary Clinton says, “E Pluribus Unum, One—Out of Many, One—has seen us through the darkest chapters of our history,” as she did at her first major speech after Orlando, conservatives should say, “Bring it on.”

Yes, let’s by all means return to that goal. Why did we ever abandon it in the first place?

Let’s debate how an American like Omar Mateen, born in Queens, New York, and raised in Fort Pierce, Florida, can turn into a terrorist bent on executing his compatriots. How does he grow up cheering the 9/11 attack in high school, thinking that women ought not to drive, and swearing allegiance to the Islamic State?

Everybody, but especially young men, needs to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves, a sense that we’re all in this together. If we as a society fail to give citizens national pride, we can be sure that some outside force will come along and do it.

The founders knew that the constitutional republic they were crafting required a single nation with one national identity smelted out of different ethnicities. Right away, in 1776 in fact, they came up with the concept of E Pluribus Unum.

To instill the new creed into the immigrants already flocking to America, they set an educational system that would create a nation with one national identity.

Starting in the early 1800s with the Common Schools and continuing later through the Ellis Island period, American schools Americanized new comers. As historian Mark Edward DeForrest put it, the Common Schools had,

a large role in assimilating and educating the offspring of the immigrants then moving into the United States from Europe. The schools did not simply educate students in the basics of the English language or the Three Rs. Rather, the schools were actively involved in promoting the values and beliefs that were considered part and parcel of the American experience.

Schools taught that being an American required a belief in individual liberty and that rights are granted to us by virtue of our existence, not through government action. These principles united all people who came to this country in deeply rooted patriotism.

For the past three decades, for reasons that will also require analysis (though at a later date), we have been doing exactly the opposite. The new model, exemplified by the bestselling historian Howard Zinn, is to present America as a spectacular experiment in oppression.

Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” set the stage for the grievance mongering that passes for history classes today, and is still widely used. It has sold over 2 million copies since it was first published in 1980 and continues to sell over 100,000 copies a year because it is required reading at many of our high schools and colleges. That’s a lot of young minds.

This is how Zinn described the founding:

"Around 1776, certain important people in the English colonies made a discovery that would prove enormously useful for the next two hundred years. They found that by creating a nation, a symbol, a legal unity called the United States, they could take over land, profits, and political power from favorites of the British Empire. In the process, they could hold back a number of potential rebellions and create a consensus of popular support for the rule of a new, privileged leadership"

And our educational authorities are doubling down today—even in the face of danger. The College Board’s leftist curriculum framework for Advanced Placement U.S. History—the courses that our best students take in high school—denigrates the founders’ assimilationist ethos and presses students “to think beyond national histories” and patriotic attachments.

The just released A.P. European History curriculum is no better. It presents religion only as an instrument of power, minimizes the evil of communism, and omits the importance of liberty.

As for the K-12 curriculum on the verge of being approved in the largest state in the Union, California, it is a blue print for redrawing America further still along multicultural lines. The assimilation required to attain E Pluribus Unum is “questionable by today’s standards that generally embrace having a plurality of experiences in the country.”

Assimilation, it adds, was the product of a mixture of “Social Darwinism, laissez-faire economics, as well as the religious reformism associated with the ideal of the Social Gospel.”

This is what is being taught to students, like Mateen once was, every day in our schools. So, yes, by all means, let’s have a discussion on why we should indoctrinate young minds in a way no society has ever done, why we should teach our young to “unlike” America.

Is this the approach we want to have, especially at a time when a force like the Islamic State will only be too glad to fill the patriotic vacuum, or should we teach again that America is an exceptionally free and prosperous nation that requires love and affection and constant attention?

The author Sebastian Junger, speaking at The Heritage Foundation this week about his new book, “Tribe,” reminded his audience that as bad as the Nazi Blitz on London was, its survivors missed afterward the sense of national pride they had felt while pitching in together.

The fact that the Orlando massacre has failed miserably to be a bond for national unity, but has only exposed our fissures, should be a mighty sign of how divided we are. This debate is well overdue.


Study Suggests Zero Tolerance Makes Zero Sense

Zero tolerance policies, in theory, are designed to compel good behavior in schools by coming down harshly on the first instance a student brings a weapon to school, or is caught with drugs. According to a new study, those zero-tolerance policies may increase suspension and expulsions but do little to improve students' overall behavior. The policies have allegedly increased the amount of discipline school administrators impose on black and Hispanic students (in one instance three times the amount of white students), which starts a vicious cycle of more discipline, affecting academic performance and dropout rates. It’s another example of Leftist policies that often have racist results.

“Taken as a whole, the results of this study suggest that zero tolerance laws on the part of states are not an effective mechanism for improving schools,” wrote author of the study F. Chris Curran, who published his findings in the journal Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis. Instead of order, zero tolerance has resulted in administrators cracking down on Star Wars T-shirts and games of tag on the playground. This also has a takeaway for broader society: Governing a community with harsh laws does not ensure order.


Kansas to Obama: We Are Ignoring Your Bathroom Decree

The Kansas State Board of Education voted unanimously on Tuesday to ignore a directive from President Obama's administration that public schools allow transgender students to use restrooms matching their gender identity, and instead the board left decisions up to school districts.

What remains unclear is whether the 10-0 vote will endanger over $479 million in federal aid, or about 10 percent of the state's education budget.

Scott Gordon, general counsel for the state's education department, said that the threat of loss of federal funding is not sweeping. The entire state would not lose federal education funding if one school is found out of compliance with the anti-discrimination law. Gordon told The Associated Press that he didn't think the board's statement would jeopardize federal aid.

He noted that only one transgender student had filed a complaint for alleged discrimination with the Office of Civil Rights in 2015, which board members cited as proof that districts already have adequate regulations in place.

"We must continue to provide our schools the flexibility needed to work with their students, families and communities to effectively address the needs of the students they serve," the state board said in their statement.

Tuesday's board meeting follows one last month in which members denounced the federal decree but voted against issuing a public statement rebuking it. Members said at the time that they needed more time to discuss the matter with attorneys and to review school districts' policies.

The board has general supervision of schools and can set academic standards and requirements to remain accredited. It has the power to enforce a statewide policy.

State GOP leaders have called the decree an encroachment on local control, and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced earlier this month that the state will sue the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education, which issued the decree. The Republican-led Senate also issued a nonbinding resolution condemning the federal mandate.

Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp sent letters to school leaders in Western and Central Kansas on Friday urging them to ignore the guidelines, despite the threat of losing federal funding.

"Neither our girls or boys should be forced to undress in the presence of individuals who are of the opposite biological sex," Huelskamp said in the letter. "Our children should also not be subjected to a greater risk of threats from predators who seek to do them harm."

Under the state board's statement, school districts will be allowed to continue practicing regulations that mirror the federal directive. Lawrence and Topeka Public Schools allows students to use the facilities that match their gender identity, but some gender neutral bathrooms are also available for students who want increased privacy.

Transgender activist Stephanie Mott said that students whose gender is "invalidated" are at an increased risk of harassment and suicide attempts.

"I think it's necessary for us to make sure that all children have a safe place to go to school, including LGBT kids and transgender kids," Mott said. "When there are states and schools that are refusing to do that, then I think it's appropriate for us to do what we need to do to protect our kids."

Texas is leading an 11-state lawsuit that accuses the federal government of turning schools into "laboratories for a massive social experiment" with the directive. At the time Schmidt announced Kansas would challenge the law, he said he had not yet decided whether to join that lawsuit or sue separately.


School bullying: Australian schoolgirl’s mother to deliver petition to Qld. Education Minister

Where were the teachers when the bullying was going on?  Sucking tea in the staffroom, no doubt.  There is clearly a need for more teachers on playground duty

HER schoolbag slung over her arm, the central Queensland student at the centre of a bullying scandal says she had an “OK” day yesterday.

“Nobody bullied me or anything,” she added.

Just days ago, in a desperate bid for help, the art-loving brown-haired girl, who is soon to turn 13, drew up a petition with her mum, declaring her life had become a “living hell” at the hands of bullies.

The girl’s petition now has more than 60,000 signatures.

Her plight prompted a groundswell of support, attracting a flood of messages of encouragement and more than 60,000 signatures to the petition by 5pm yesterday.

“I just want bullying to stop,” she said.

The high school student’s mother warned the “environment” in schools needed to change, saying current anti-bullying messages were not getting through to students.

“Why is there this mass suffering?” she said. “Engage kids. Their approach, the ‘bullying no way’ (campaign), is not working.”

The mother plans to deliver the petition to Education Minister Kate Jones.

The girl had been home schooled, but was enrolled this year. Initially starting with “just a few kids picking on her,” the mother said her daughter’s bullying escalated to the point where some were throwing rubbish and rocks at the girl while videoing her.

“She ran away and rang me on the phone and said ‘Mum, they said they are going to put it up on Facebook’. She said ‘If the whole internet sees me crying, I don’t want to live’.”

The girl was taunted with names like “freak” and “weirdo”. Desperate for action, the pair launched an online petition on Monday, saying the actions were “killing” the girl and notified the school she wouldn’t attend on Wednesday as a “protest strike”.

On Thursday, the family met with school representatives who said the girl could spend breaks in an isolation room where she could draw and read.

Buoyed by the outpouring of support, the woman said a “huge weight” had been lifted from the shoulders of her daughter.

Another student came forward yesterday, detailing her bullying ordeal at the same high school.

The Year 12 student said she, too, was forced to sit in an “isolation” room due to concerns for her safety.

“I had girls threatening to punch me if they were going to see me at school,” she said.

“It got to the point where I got physically pushed during a heated argument. And when I read what was happening to (the girl in the petition), I felt so sick to my stomach.

“I was utterly disgusted in the school. I told a teacher ... but I’ve seen the way the school dealt with my issue and nothing was done.”

School bullying the main reason kids are calling for help

MORE than 700 distressed Queensland youngsters contacted Kids Helpline last year because they were struggling to cope with bullying.

The latest statistics show the overwhelming majority – 559 of these teens and pre-teens – experienced bullying at school, or at the hands of people linked to their school.

Kids Helpline manager Tony Fitzgerald said bullying remained a serious problem for teens and tweens, with the service receiving thousands of calls and emails from youngsters each year, specifically relating to bullying.

“It can be very distressing for them, the types of contacts we get. They don’t know what to do. They don’t know where to turn,” he said.

“At the serious end it can lead to serious mental health issues. Some of the people who are contacting us are self-harming.”

In Queensland, significantly more young people are turning to Kids Helpline for support dealing with bullies than for help with body image concerns, coming to terms with their sexual orientation or drug issues.

Mr Fitzgerald said part of the problem with bullying was that many victims were not often willing to seek help.

“A lot of young people think the bullying is their fault, and that stops them from speaking up about it,” he said.

He said schools and communities had to sustain the anti-bullying message.

As one of its election policies, federal Labor will today announce a new anti-bullying strategy, targeting the bullying of students with disabilities.

“No one deserves to be bullied and to miss out on educational opportunities because they are different,” Labor’s education spokeswoman Kate Ellis said. “Students with disability are up to three times more likely to be bullied than their peers.