Friday, August 19, 2016

Fact check: Clinton, Pence mislead on Indiana education

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said that the Republican vice presidential nominee, Gov. Mike Pence, “slashed education funding in Indiana.” But Pence claimed he made “record investments in education.” Clinton is wrong, and Pence is misleading.

The education budget under Pence would be a “record” in nominal dollars, but in inflation-adjusted dollars, it’s not. However, the numbers don’t show education funding has been “slashed” either: The budgets he has signed increased education funding, even in inflation-adjusted dollars.

‘Record’ Investments in Education?

Clinton made the claim on July 23 in introducing her vice presidential running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, who, contrary to the impression Clinton left, presided over a decline in education spending, in inflation-adjusted dollars, as governor of Virginia during the Great Recession.

Clinton: "While Mike Pence slashed education funding in Indiana and gave more tax cuts to the wealthiest, Tim Kaine cut his own salary and invested in education from pre-k through college and beyond."

Pence made the opposite boast a few days earlier, on July 20, in his speech at the Republican convention.

Pence: "In my home state of Indiana we prove every day that you can build a growing economy on balanced budgets, low taxes, even while making record investments in education and roads and health care."

Larry DeBoer, a professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University, studies government budget issues and has written about state school funding. He shared a spreadsheet with us on Indiana education funding, which shows that the figure, for K-12 and higher education combined, was $9.3 billion in fiscal year 2011, the highest figure before Pence took office. Both the 2016 and 2017 budgets, as passed, are higher than that, at $9.8 billion and $10 billion, respectively.

But an increase in nominal dollars, year after year, isn’t unusual. As DeBoer said in an email to us, “Gov. Pence has made record investments in education in the sense that his budgets spend more on education than any in Indiana history. But given inflation, population growth and income growth, that would be true for almost anyone’s budgets.”

In fact, looking at funding figures dating back to 2000, the raw dollar amount for education went up every year except for two of them — both before Pence took office.

So, using nominal dollars isn’t the best way to measure whether a governor had a “record” in funding. Using inflation-adjusted dollars, DeBoer’s figures show the peak in education funding was in 2010, and the current fiscal year, 2017, which began July 1, stands 1.3% below that.

DeBoer noted that the difference isn’t large. “In real terms, and as a share of Indiana’s economy, education spending is a bit smaller than it was in 2010 and 2011,” DeBoer said. “I don’t think that counts as ‘slashed’ though.”


Too many universities are failing their students. Only the light of true competition can save them

For hundreds of thousands of school-leavers, this is the real Super Thursday, the culmination of their very own academic Olympiad.

A-level results day is one of trepidation, delight and the highest youthful emotion; it is certainly no time for commentators to take on the role of kill-joys. The vast majority of this year’s cohort will love their student years, and few will regret taking the plunge.

They should ignore the doomsters who keep telling them that the odds are stacked against today’s 18-year-olds. The reality is that this is a wonderfully exciting, peaceful and prosperous time in which to be growing up. Members of this generation, like all others since the industrial revolution, will eventually end up far better off than their parents.

But while we should celebrate our young people’s prospects and achievements, far more needs to be done to improve the quality of our universities. Britain is only halfway on its journey towards creating a true free market in higher education. We need to move faster to empower students while turbo-charging competition between universities.

The danger signs are there for all to see: despite more realistic tuition fees, many universities are underperforming; teaching can be abominable, especially in research-driven institutions; and some courses do little to bolster young people’s employability.

Better-informed students would make different choices. New universities would help shake things up, especially if they were run differently. We need for-profit institutions in addition to the usual charitable universities; we need companies to start awarding real degrees to formalise the training that they give their staff and apprentices, especially in the sciences, and we need proper online-only institutions that are able to compete on cost as well as quality. The three-year undergraduate model is all well and good, but what about more two-year degrees?

A modern economy may require even more young people to go to university – but it is also true that some current students would be better off in vocational training if better quality options were available. A greater emphasis on lifetime education is also a must.

The facts are sobering. It remains the case that, on average, it pays to go to university but the gap is shrinking. In 1995, a degree would increase wages by 45 per cent on average relative to having no qualifications at all; by 2015 this premium had fallen to 34 per cent, according to the Bank of England.

The gap between graduates and those with A-levels or GCSEs has held up better over the past couple of decades, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies; but here too the graduate premium is now starting to decline. Among 30-34-year-olds, a university graduate now earns 1.55 times more than a school leaver, down from 1.63 times in the 2000s, and the ratio is falling.

One central problem is that for the past 20 years or so, there has been too much emphasis on volume growth and not enough on teaching quality. This was perhaps understandable: Sir John Major was right that too few people went to university in the early 1990s, and right to do something about it. But the higher education system, including the old polytechnics, was never designed for extreme levels of growth.

While the share of 25-29-year-olds with degrees shot up from 13 per cent in 1993 to 41 per cent in 2015, employers are paradoxically still suffering from severe skills shortages. They require more science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees. At the same time, some 20 per cent of employed graduates are stuck in non-professional roles three-and-a-half-years after graduating.

Shockingly, there are 23 universities from which the median male graduate earns less ten years after graduating than the median UK non-graduate, according to research by Jack Britton, Lorraine Dearden, Neil Shephard and Anna Vignoles of the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The same report reveals the strikingly poor prospects of creative arts graduates, with more than half earning under £20,000 a year. So what should be done?

Graph showing the earnings of university graduates in different disciplines. Maths and computer science graduates beat business studies ones, which beat "creative arts"
Graph showing the earnings of university graduates in different disciplines CREDIT: IFS
First, sunlight is the best disinfectant. The current White Paper, which is being fronted by Jo Johnson and is generally very good news, should be beefed up, and the Government should force all universities to provide far more data about outcomes. Tax information should also be used, in suitably anonymised form, to measure this.

The Government is right to want to crack down on universities that provide bad teaching but enforcing fee cuts on underperformers, as Johnson is threatening, isn’t the right answer. We need a better, more informed marketplace. Imagine a simple app that showed what leavers’ salaries were three, five and 10 years from graduation, for each degree category and university. Students would realise that it makes sense to study physics and mathematics at a top university, rather than an English degree at a mediocre one. Institutions would no longer be able to compete with gimmicks. The Government and the universities should agree that a new app should be launched in three years’ time at the latest; surveys should be used to estimate wages if hard data is unavailable.

Second, we need more competition and a greater clash of models and approaches. The Government agrees with the Competition and Markets Authority that there are too many barriers to entry into higher education. It wants to partially liberalise the right to award degrees and for institutions to call themselves universities, which makes sense.

But here too it must go further. The planning regulations may need to be changed, special education zones set up to allow the creation of new universities close to business clusters or in new locations, and any rules discriminating against for profit-providers torn up. In five years’ time, Britain needs to be home to at least half a dozen serious alternative universities and a bigger spread of fees and course formats, or else the reforms will have failed.

It’s a bold manifesto, of course, but in these post-Brexit days all reforms, however radical, need to be on the agenda.

Britain’s youth deserve nothing less.


This is not about bigotry or homophobia. This is about fact

Should the Australian people, rather than politicians, decide if their children are subjected to compulsory gender theory

Primary school children should be educated with a rainbow world view where mothers or fathers might need to go to the doctor to change their gender.  That’s right kids, your daddy might actually be a lady who needs surgery to affirm this “reality”.

This is according to recent research on children as young as five conducted by Safe Schools advocates from Adelaide’s Flinders University.

We should not be surprised at this. After all, one of the most relentless political debates of the past six years has been about removing the gender requirement from the legal definition of marriage.

If gender matters not in marriage, how can it be a requirement for parenting? Never mind biology folks, that is irrelevant. And if gender matters not in parenting, we must not allow young minds to think it matters to them.

If we don’t join the dots between the rainbow political agenda for same-sex marriage and compulsory public funding of Safe Schools gender theory, then we should not be surprised when our kids come home confused.

This is not to make light of bullying. Bullying is serious and must not be tolerated. But we know that Safe Schools is not an anti-bullying program. It’s founder Roz Ward, a La Trobe University academic, has said same-sex marriage is about sending a message that “transphobia” and “homophobia” is unacceptable.

Surely bullying attitudes towards other students could and should be dealt with without telling the rest of the children in the class that their gender is fluid, as Safe Schools teaches. A child struggling with gender identity issues should be given all the love and professional support we, as a society, can muster.

But this doesn’t mean telling Year 1 kids that their mum really should be allowed to be a bloke. We have been told for years that changing the legal definition of marriage is a no brainer, that affects no one else except the loving couple.

The discourse has been emotional and it has been powerful. None of us want to see our fellow Australians suffering discrimination. But what many Australians do not realise is that all discrimination against gay couples was removed in 2008 when the Federal Parliament changed 84 laws to grant equality.
For marriage equality to be realised, Australia must lift its prohibition on commercial surrogacy and that will be ethically problematic, argues Lyle Shelton. (Pic: Getty)

Sure, it stopped short at changing the Marriage Act, but that is because equality was achieved without redefining marriage. The then Rudd Labor Government recognised that marriage was different and that gender complementarity was essential. Difference is not discrimination.

If gender is removed from marriage, it follows that same-gender married couples must be allowed to participate in the benefits of marriage equality. The United Nations — and common sense — recognises that marriage is a compound right to found and form a family.

Two people of the same gender are biologically incapable of producing children. That is not a statement of bigotry or homophobia, it is simply fact. For marriage equality to be realised, Australia must lift its prohibition on commercial surrogacy.

How else can a married gay couple have children? Surrogacy and anonymous sperm donation, in all its forms, is ethically problematic.

These technologies close the door on a child’s right to be raised and loved by both biological parents, wherever possible.

But unleashing a brave new world of assisted reproductive technology combined with the confusing influence of Safe Schools are not the only consequences of same-sex marriage. Already, we are seeing the rights of Australians who wish to hold on to the timeless definition of marriage being taken away.

Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous fell foul of Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commission simply for disseminating this view of marriage to Catholics. Such is the intolerance of those pushing the rainbow political agenda that they took legal action.

Overseas florists, bakers, wedding chapel owners and photographers have been sued, fined and hauled before courts for exercising their sincerely held beliefs about marriage.

If anyone thinks this is just for the ‘only in America file’, think again.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has said that if he was Prime Minister, business owners who exercised their freedom of conscience about marriage by declining to participate in same-sex weddings would be fined under state-based anti-discrimination law. This is chilling stuff.

All of this is reason why the Australian people should be allowed to decide this issue.

They — not politicians — should decide if their children are going to get compulsory gender theory education in schools. They should decide if children will be denied the right to be raised and loved by their biological parents. And the Australian people should decide if their fellow Australians will be fined for holding a dissident view of marriage.

A respectful plebiscite campaign, with equal public funding to both sides, is the best way to settle this long running community debate.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Does Black Success Matter?

We keep hearing that “black lives matter,” but they seem to matter only when that helps politicians to get votes, or when that slogan helps demagogues demonize the police. The other 99 percent of black lives destroyed by people who are not police do not seem to attract nearly as much attention in the media.

What about black success? Does that matter? Apparently not so much.

We have heard a lot about black students failing to meet academic standards. So you might think that it would be front-page news when some whole ghetto schools not only meet, but exceed, the academic standards of schools in more upscale communities.

There are in fact whole chains of charter schools where black and Hispanic youngsters score well above the national average on tests. There are the KIPP (Knowledge IS Power Program) schools and the Success Academy schools, for example.

Only 39 percent of all students in New York state schools who were tested recently scored at the “proficient” level in math, but 100 percent of the students at the Crown Heights Success Academy school scored at that level in math. Blacks and Hispanics are 90 percent of the students in the Crown Heights Success Academy.

The Success Academy schools in general ranked in the top 2 percent in English and in the top 1 percent in math. Hispanic students in these schools reached the “proficient” level in math nearly twice as often as Hispanic students in the regular public schools. Black students in these Success Academy schools reached the “proficient” level more than twice as often as black students in the regular public schools.

What makes this all the more amazing is that these charter schools are typically located in the same ghettos or barrios where other blacks or Hispanics are failing miserably on the same tests. More than that, successful charter schools are often physically housed in the very same buildings as the unsuccessful public schools.

In other words, minority kids from the same neighborhood, going to school in classes across the hall from each other, or on different floors, are scoring far above average and far below average on the same tests.

If black success was considered half as newsworthy as black failures, such facts would be headline news — and people who have the real interests of black and other minority students at heart would be asking, “Wow! How can we get more kids into these charter schools?”

Many minority parents have already taken notice. More than 43,000 families are on waiting lists to get their children into charter schools. But admission is by lottery, and far more have to be turned away than can be admitted.

Why? Because the teachers' unions are opposed to charter schools — and they give big bucks to politicians, who in turn put obstacles and restrictions on the expansion of charter schools. These include politicians like New York’s “progressive” mayor Bill de Blasio, who poses as a friend of blacks by denigrating the police, standing alongside Al Sharpton.

The net result is that 90 percent of New York City’s students are taught in the regular public schools that have nothing like the success of charter schools run by KIPP and Success Academy.

That makes sense only politically, because it gains the money and the votes of the teachers' unions, for whom schools exist to provide jobs for their members, rather than to provide education for children.

If you want to understand this crazy and unconscionable situation, just follow the money and follow the votes.

Black success is a threat to political empires and to a whole social vision behind those empires. That social vision has politicians like Bill de Blasio and Hillary Clinton cast in the role of rescuers and protectors of blacks from enemies threatening on all sides. If politicians can promote paranoia, that means bigger voter turnout, which is what really matters to them.

That same social vision allows the intelligentsia, whether in the media or in academia, to be on the side of the angels against the forces of evil. That’s heady stuff. And a bunch of kids taking tests doesn’t look nearly as exciting on TV as a mob marching through the streets, chanting that they want “dead cops.” Black success has very little to offer politicians or the intelligentsia. But black children’s lives and futures ought to matter — and would, if politicians and the intelligentsia were for real.


Quarter of UK graduates are low earners 10 years after university

One in four graduates in work a decade after leaving university in 2004 is earning only around £20,000 a year, according to a new study.

The Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) dataset is the first of its kind to track higher education leavers as they move from university into the workplace. Its findings are likely to be scrutinised closely by students considering whether to accept a university place when they receive their A-level results.

The low earning power of some graduates has become an increasing concern, as student numbers have boomed in recent years. Earlier this summer the Higher Education Statistics Agency published figures showing that one in four graduates was not in a graduate job six months after receiving a degree.

The LEO survey, which is not adjusted for inflation, reveals that the median earnings for a graduate were £16,500 one year on from when they left university in 2004, increasing to £22,000 after three years and rising to £31,000 in 2014. The lowest quartile of graduate earners fared significantly worse. A year after they graduated in 2004 their median earnings were just £11,500, rising to £16,500 after three years and £20,000 after 10. The average wage in Britain is currently £26,500.

Fears of a huge debt burden upon graduation have already led some potential university recruits to seek alternative career paths.

“The statistics are fairly clear,” said Alice Barnard, chief executive officer of the education charity the Edge Foundation, which champions vocational education. “Immediately after graduation, many graduates are either in jobs that didn’t require a degree or didn’t require the level of education they had got themselves to. They have invested not only time, energy and effort but also quite a lot of money and potentially come out the other side without the jobs they perhaps expected to get.”

Barnard pointed out that an apprentice who completes a two-year course with Jaguar Land Rover can expect to be earning around £30,000 immediately, without having incurred any debt.

“Ten years down the line, if you’re earning a huge amount you can say, ‘well, I do feel that was value for money because my degree has taken me to this point’,” she said. “What is concerning perhaps is that, 10 years after, graduate salaries stand at £31,000, which for a higher apprenticeship for companies like Jaguar Land Rover is fairly common after, say, two years.”

Any shift towards apprenticeships would have a significant impact on the fortunes of universities that face new challenges when it comes to recruiting and retaining students both at home and abroad. Experts question whether Brexit will have an impact on the number of European students opting to accept places at British universities.

On the domestic front, this year has seen a 2.2% drop in the overall number of 18-year-olds in the UK, a decline that is expected to last several years. While this has not yet translated into a shortfall in teenagers applying for university places, Ucas reports that this year there has been a 5% decrease in applications from those aged 20-24.

Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said market conditions could play to the advantage of students considering university. “I know people have been saying it’s a buyer’s market for two to three years, but it’s definitely the case now,” he said.


A record six Australian universities gonged by Jiao Tong

Monash University and the University of Queensland are the big Australian winners in the new global top 100 list from the Chinese-based Academic Ranking of World Universities, increasingly regarded as the world's most prestigious list for higher education institutions.

In the 2016 rankings, released on Monday, Monash went from outside the top 100 directly to 79th, only two points behind the Australian National University which has been in the top 100 ever since the ranking was first published by Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2003.

The University of Queensland moved from 77th last year to 55th, in keeping with its reputation as the most rapid improver among Australia's top universities.

"It's an incredible achievement, given the domestic policy difficulties the Australian higher education sector has faced for a very long period," said University of Queensland vice chancellor Peter Hoj.

The Academic Ranking of World Universities, often known as the Shanghai ranking, rates universities solely on their output of high level research, with science, maths and medicine taking precedence over other disciplines.

It rewards universities strongly if its staff or graduates win Nobel prizes or Fields medals in maths, and also rewards publication in the top research journals Science and Nature. It does not measure teaching quality or the employability of university graduates.

The University of Melbourne remains Australia's top university in the ranking, lifting from 44th last year to 40th this year. The University of Sydney also did well, returning to the top 100 at 82nd after dropping out two years ago. The University of Western Australia just scraped in at 96th place.

This year was a landmark for China which, for the first time, saw its universities enter the Shanghai top 100 list. In a very strong performance Tsinghua University vaulted into the list directly to 58th, and Peking University moved straight to 71st.

Professor Hoj contrasted the tight funding for universities in Australia with China, which was making "massive and strategic investments in higher education and research".

Singapore is also celebrating a notable achievement. Only days after Singaporean swimmer Joseph Schooling won the country's first-ever Olympic gold medal, the country saw its first ever university listed in the Shanghai ranking top 100.

National University of Singapore, long recognised as south-east Asia's best academic institution, entered the list at 83rd.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Religious Liberty Expert: Uninformed Educators Are Mistakenly Suppressing Students’ Religious Rights

Educators in the nation’s public schools are mistakenly suppressing their students’ constitutionally-protected religious rights because they are afraid of doing something wrong, a religious liberty expert said at a a Family Research Council (FRC) event in Washington on Monday,

Eric Buehrer, director of Gateways to Better Education (GTBE), said that “for 21 years, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has issued guidelines explaining students’ religious liberties” to every public school superintendent in the country, accompanied by a letter asking them to share the information with every teacher, staff member, parent and student in their district.

However, he pointed out that most educators have “never even heard about it” – even though “it would answer all these questions that people have about what students can and cannot do in their public school.

 “But for lack of information, many educators end up suppressing students’ religious freedom,” he said.

The DOE guidelines explain “constitutionally protected prayer in public elementary and secondary schools,” Buehrer pointed out, adding that students’ religious rights are not just about prayer, but cover “all forms of expression as well.”

“The way the federal government looks at it is, it’s a matter of free speech and free association,” he said. “You can speak to whoever you want to, including your Maker, about whatever you want to, including your faith.”

But many teachers are “so afraid of doing something that they are going to get criticized for that they end up repressing the faith of the children in their schools,” he said.

Buehrer called on educators to “move from fear to freedom,” emphasizing that “teaching about the Bible and Christianity and creating a faith-friendly school environment is both legally supported” and “academically expected”.

Buehrer noted that the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 stressed the importance of religion, morality and knowledge in the citizenry, and recognized the part that schools play in imparting all three to the next generation.

“Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged,” the ordinance reads.

But Buehrer says that public schools have abandoned religion and morality, and now “everything is centered around just the right knowledge.”

However, one to way to restore religious liberty in public schools is to “clarify students’ religious freedom,” he said.

Buehrer pointed out that DOE protects the right of students to pray, read their Bibles and talk about their faith both at school events and in their homework assignments. They can also organize prayer groups, which must be treated like any other extracurricular clubs.

Teachers’ religious rights are protected too, Buehrer added, pointing out that they can also meet with their peers for prayer or Bible studies on school property.

Buehrer said that “this generation of young people needs to understand and cherish religious liberty” so that they can “live it out in the world in which they occupy.”

According to the DOE’s 2003 guidance letter on religious freedom in public schools, “not all religious speech that takes place in the public schools or at school-sponsored events is governmental speech.”

“Teachers and other public school officials may not lead their classes in prayer, devotional readings from the Bible, or other religious activities,” DOE states.

However, “local school authorities…may not structure or administer such rules to discriminate against student prayer or religious speech.”

"As the [Supreme] Court has explained in several cases, 'there is a crucial difference between government speech endorsing religion, which the Establishment Clause forbids, and private speech endorsing religion, which the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses protect'," the letter states.

Buehrer also said that students and teachers should celebrate “Religious Freedom Day” annually on January 16th.

Since 1993, “every president has called upon the nation to recognize and celebrate the religious liberties we have here in America,” he stated, calling on schools to “join the president in recognizing the day.”


N.H. gubernatorial candidate wants ‘Animal House’ fraternity reinstated

Hazing of newcomers is normal in fraternal organizations but it can be overdone

A top Democrat running for governor in New Hampshire says he wants to restore the status of a Dartmouth College fraternity that was kicked off campus just over a year ago.

But this isn’t just any fraternity: Alpha Delta loosely inspired the raucous movie “Animal House.”

The candidate, businessman Mark Connolly, was a member of the Alpha Delta fraternity when he graduated from the Ivy League college in 1979. The former New Hampshire securities bureau chief is running in the Sept. 13 primary for governor, a wide-open race. Under state law, the governor of New Hampshire is automatically an ex-officio member of the Dartmouth College board of trustees.

The Alpha Delta fraternity was kicked off campus in April 2015 after members branded pledges on their buttocks — a violation of the school’s standards of conduct policy. The incident marked the last straw for the Hanover, N.H., college, which revoked Alpha Delta’s status on campus and banned students from living in the house.

But this month, Connolly sent an e-mail to his fraternity brothers — an attempt to raise money for his campaign — in which he wrote he had recently visited the campus and that it was “awful” to see the house sitting empty.

“I understand the position the college was in and that some of the students were not fully cooperating, but I don’t think hurting past generations and preventing future ones is the best course,” Connolly wrote in a fund-raising pitch that was obtained by the Globe. “In the coming months and years, I would hope to see AD back up and running and have its status restored.”

Connolly later told the Globe, via a statement, that he hopes his former fraternity would be recognized on campus again, “but only after ensuring they are upstanding members of the Dartmouth community.”

“As governor, I will take my work as an ex-officio member of the board of trustees seriously, which I believe precludes special treatment for any one group,” Connolly said.

A recent University of New Hampshire survey showed both Connolly and his top competition, executive councilor Colin Van Ostern, are relatively unknown to likely Democratic voters, 57 percent of whom in the poll said they were still undecided about the race.

As an ex-officio member of the Dartmouth board, New Hampshire’s governor holds the same status as other board members. The current governor, Maggie Hassan, attended at least one Dartmouth board meeting last year, her press secretary said.

A Dartmouth College spokeswoman said there is no discussion to restore the house as a recognized fraternity that would allow students to live in the house.

“There is no process by which an organization can or will be re-recognized at Dartmouth,” said Diana Lawrence, associate vice president of communications at Dartmouth College. “Derecognition is permanent.”

No criminal charges were filed as a result of the fraternity’s branding. But the incident occurred while the fraternity was already under suspension for violating campus rules about drinking and partying. In 2013, a Dartmouth student turned himself in to police for urinating on a woman from a second-floor balcony at the Alpha Delta house.

One of the screenwriters of “Animal House,” a 1978 film starring John Belushi, was a member of Alpha Delta while at Dartmouth. The movie depicted the wild antics of a fraternity house.


Australia: Funding fails to pay off in student results

Jennifer Buckingham 

While there has been some improvement in mean scores in Years 3 and 5 since NAPLAN began in 2008, the latest results show there has been no improvement to speak of in Years 7 and 9 -- and their writing scores have declined since 2011 in several states.

In terms of the proportion of children who failed to achieve even the National Minimum Standard (NMS) -- which is low compared to international benchmarks -- there has been no improvement anywhere.

Billions of dollars of extra funding has gone into schools in recent years, yet there appears to have been little pay-off in what should be the core job of schools -- teaching children to read, write and do maths. This is because extra funding has little impact on student achievement if teachers are not using the most effective teaching methods.

For example, the NSW government Early Action for Success central literacy program, 'L3', was not properly trialled and tested before being implemented to more than 400 schools. It does not meet the criteria for evidence-based reading instruction identified in scientific research, including an absence of systematic phonics instruction.

Funnelling more money into programs that are not truly evidence-based will not help children achieve higher literacy levels.

The NAPLAN reading assessment is a broad measure that flags only that a student is having difficulty, but not why. The Year 1 Phonics Screening Check (PSC) proposed by the Australian government earlier this year will be an early marker of which children are struggling with this fundamental skill and which schools are not teaching it well. Since the Year 1 PSC was introduced in English schools in 2012, the failure rate in Year 2 reading comprehension tests has declined by 30%. We can only hope it will have the same effect here.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Only Gender Neutral Pronouns, Please

Schools are one of the primary places where the minds of the next generation are developed, molded and guided. What is taught in school will have a deep impact on the culture for years to come. What is troubling is just how successful the Rainbow Mafia has been not only in pushing for acceptance but in promulgating its odious agenda in the nation’s schools.

The latest example of this comes from a school district in North Carolina, where the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) board has recommended that educators not refer to students as “boys” and “girls” but by gender neutral terms such as “scholars” and “students.” CMS Chief Communications Officer Kathryn Block stated, “CMS remain fully committed to supporting its transgender students and nurturing a safe and welcoming environment for every student and employee.” In response, Tami Fitzgerald, an activist with the North Carolina Values Coalition, said, “School is no longer about reading, writing and arithmetic. It is now about gender fluidity.”

The school board also stated that it would put on temporary hold its plan to fully institute regulations that would allow transgender students to use bathroom and locker room facilities corresponding to their gender “identity” rather than their biology. These regulations will be on hold until the Supreme Court gives a finally ruling on the transgender bathroom issue. The times they are a changing, but not all change is a good thing.


America's Universities Become Man-Hater Clubs

Over the past several years a popular, often media-driven narrative has developed at universities and colleges across the nation — that of the campus “rape” culture. Various university campuses aiming to clean up and rid the school of this “rape” culture have developed procedures establishing university tribunals designed to police and deal with misconduct. But many of these tribunals seem to harbor an “anti-male” bias. Over the years, numerous male students found guilty by these tribunals were disciplined by the university even though no criminal charges were ever brought or even pursued.

The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against a lower court that had dismissed a student’s claim that Columbia University had violated federal anti-discrimination laws when the school found him responsible for sexual assault. The suit brought by the student was based on the Title IX federal statute, which bans sex discrimination in education. The student’s claim was that Columbia University had engaged in an anti-male bias when it had found him responsible for sexual assault.

This pattern of anti-male bias seems to be a growing problem on many university and college campuses across the nation. As K.C. Johnson, a history professor at Brooklyn College, said, “Accused students often have claimed that these new procedures violate [Title IX] in reverse — that effectively they were biased against male students.”

In its ruling, the Second Circuit Court reprimanded the lower court judge, stating that a “university that adopts, even temporarily, a policy of bias favoring one sex over the other in a disciplinary dispute, doing so in order to avoid liability or bad publicity, has practiced sex discrimination, notwithstanding that the motive for the discrimination did not come from ingrained or permanent bias against a particular sex.”

The final outcome of this case is still pending, but what has become quite evident is that many of the nation’s universities and colleges have an “anti-male” bias problem.


Grammar wreckers KNEW they would make Britain's schools worse

Here's why the quarrel about grammar schools never ends: it is not really about schools, but about what sort of country this should be.

Grammar schools stood for adult authority, for discipline, for tradition, for hard work first and reward afterwards, and for self-improvement.

They also tended to assume that boys and girls were different, and so educated them apart from each other. I like these things, but many don’t.

Old-fashioned Labour saw the point of this. They realised that it helped the poor become better-off and to have better lives and more power. They created a peaceful revolution that changed Britain for the better. Labour councils used to build new grammar schools and be proud of them.

But the modern liberal Left don’t like any of these ideas. They would rather teach children how to have sex than teach them to believe in God.

Especially they don’t think parents or teachers should have any authority over the young. The State should be trusted to tell them what to think. They should look to the State for any improvement in their lives.

They don’t like the idea that there are fixed things that you just have to learn – which is why the teaching of languages and sciences is shrivelling in our schools.

The people who smashed up more than a thousand of the best state secondary schools in the world didn’t do it to make education better. They knew it would make it worse for bright children.

In one case, that of Sir Graham Savage, they openly admitted this. They did it to make the country more ‘democratic’, more like the USA. They have made it like the worst bits, but very unlike the best bits.

How odd it is to recall that in my childhood there was a thing called the ‘brain drain’, which meant British scientists being lured away to the USA because they weren’t educating enough of them.

And in those days a set of English A-levels was said to be equal to an American university degree. It isn’t so now. The enemies of grammars really should stop lying about the subject to get their way.

They moan about those who don’t get into grammars. But what about the huge numbers who can’t get into good comprehensives, and are dumped in vast bog-standard comps which are, in reality, worse than the old secondary moderns.

Of course selection for any school has losers as well as winners. But we have selection in our supposedly comprehensive schools. It is mainly done through the secret privileges (fake religious belief, close knowledge of feeder schools etc) exercised by sharp-elbowed, well-off parents. How is this better than selection by ability?

A 2010 survey by the Sutton Trust found that comprehensive schools in England are highly socially segregated. In fact, the country’s leading comprehensives are more socially exclusive than the remaining grammar schools.

Both the 164 (then remaining) grammars and the 164 most socially selective comprehensives drew pupils from areas where about 20 per cent of children were from poor homes.

But the supposed comprehensives were more socially selective, taking only 9.2 per cent of their pupils from poor homes, while the grammars took 13.5 per cent. Who’s democratic now?

In fact, most of the remaining grammars are so besieged by middle-class commuters hiring tutors that their entry figures are utterly distorted. If we still had a national grammar system they would be far fairer than the top comprehensives are.

I wish I thought Theresa May really wanted to restore grammars. This has been successfully done in the former East Germany.

But I fear that this is just a token move to try to hold on the support of the many voters who want to see this change. Even so, it is a good deal better than nothing, and a sign that this dreadful national error may one day be reversed.


Monday, August 15, 2016

The new apartheid: "voluntary segregation" for 'historically marginalized' students

A Massachusetts college allows students to reside in “identity-based” housing communities, provided they have a “unique social identity” that has “historically experienced oppression.”
Hampshire College asserts that the concept "arises from our commitment to fostering diverse, socially just, and inclusive communities.”

A Massachusetts college allows students to reside in “identity-based” housing communities, provided they have a “unique social identity” that has “historically experienced oppression.”

“These residential spaces give support to members of our community with social identities that have been historically marginalized in this country, and strive to counter systemic oppression,” Hampshire College explains on its website, adding that its promotion of such living arrangements “arises from our commitment to fostering diverse, socially just, and inclusive communities.”

An accompanying informational booklet further elaborates that “identity-based housing is an institutional structure designed to assist members of historically oppressed groups in supporting each other,” and “helps to create an added level of psychological comfort and safety for those who choose to live in those spaces, often providing the foundation for those students to be able to engage fully in the greater community.”

One section of the identity-based housing program consists of “permanent” mods, covering categories such as LGBTQQIAAP, Queer, Students of Color, and Women of Color. The “not-yet-permanent” mods include Marginalized Gender Identities, Asian Heritage, and Pan-Afrikan Diasporia [sic].

Students can also apply to establish new identity-based mods, though all such groups “must be unified by a social identity (such as race, culture, gender, or sexual orientation)” and “must currently experience or [have] historically experienced oppression within or outside the Hampshire community.”

Identity-based housing arrangements are part of Hampshire’s “intentional housing communities,” many of which are based on shared interests rather than demographic qualities, and all of which must hold two educational programs per semester related to their particular focus.

The Musician’s Mod, for instance, contains “a group of students who intend to create an inclusive, respectful, and encouraging environment for music lovers, creators, and listeners of all shapes and sizes.”

The Mindfulness Mod, meanwhile, fosters “a space where students support one another to be mindful and cultivate moment-by-moment, non-judgmental, focused attention and awareness.”

“Self-identified Womyn” can congregate at the Spiritual Womyn’s Mod, “a collective space to support and guide spiritual paths and encourage the mindful growth of the Hampshire community,” which advertises that “female and/or female self-identified continuing students [are] welcome to apply.”

Spokespersons for Hampshire College had not responded by press time to requests for comment from Campus Reform.


University of Texas Professors Sue Over Concealed Guns Allowed in Their Classrooms

Three professors are fighting a Texas law that allows students to carry concealed handguns in their college classrooms.

Senate Bill 11, allowing concealed handgun license holders 21 and older (or 18 if active military) to carry in campus buildings, was signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, in June 2015. The law went into effect Aug. 1 this year.

Lawyers for Jennifer Lynn Glass, Lisa Moore, and Mia Carter, all professors at the University of Texas at Austin, made their case to a federal judge last week.

The professors requested a preliminary injunction to block the new campus carry law and had filed suit on July 6 against the attorney general of Texas, Ken Paxton; the president of the University of Texas at Austin, Gregory Fenves; and members of the University of Texas Board of Regents.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel made no ruling during the court hearing after lawyers for the professors and for the university struggled to agree on the university’s rules and policies on concealed weapons, the Austin American-Statesman reported. Instead, Yeakel requested more information to clarify university concealed weapon policies.

“Compelling professors at a public university to allow, without any limitation or restriction, students to carry concealed guns in their classrooms chills their First Amendment rights to academic freedom,” the lawsuit says.

Paxton, the Republican Texas attorney general, called the professors’ lawsuit “frivolous.” “There is no legal justification to deny licensed, law-abiding citizens on campus the same measure of personal protection they are entitled to elsewhere in Texas,” Paxton said in statement.

Paxton filed a response with the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas Austin Division on Aug. 1 in opposition to the University of Texas professors’ request for preliminary injunction.

The professors “have no right under the First Amendment to violate the Second Amendment rights of students,” Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal. “And it is insulting to law-abiding gun owners—categorizing them as crazies who will kill someone over a debate in a classroom.”

A 1995 Texas law allows concealed handguns to be carried in public, including on the grounds of public college campuses, but previously excluded campus buildings, the Statesman reported.

Under the new law, public institutions of higher education cannot “generally” prohibit license holders from carrying concealed weapons, but are allowed to establish “rules, regulations, or other provisions” restricting guns from places like labs with dangerous chemicals and regarding the storage of handguns in residential dorm facilities.

Private colleges can opt out of the law. So far, almost all private institutions of higher education have decided to opt out, The Dallas Morning News reports.

Moore, one of the plaintiffs, who teaches English and gender studies, told NPR that “it’s impossible to do our jobs with this policy in place.” She continued:

We all teach subject matter that is quite sensitive, and we all use very participatory, you know, pedagogically sound methods of trying to teach students how to state their views on controversial subjects, challenge one another and stand up for what they believe in.

“I am genuinely not equipped to keep students safe from a firearm in my classroom,” Moore added.

Allison Peregory, a 21-year-old University of Texas pre-law student, plans to get a state-issued concealed weapon license and carry on her campus, The Dallas Morning News reported.

“It’s important for people to have their right to self-defense be protected,” Peregory said, according to the Morning News.

Aug. 1 marked the 50th anniversary of a mass shooting that took place at the University of Texas at Austin.

“It is quite ironic; they [the professors] are apparently unaware that private citizens, including students, helped police in 1966 stop Charles Whitman, the University of Texas Tower sniper, when they grabbed their guns and started firing at the sniper in the tower,” Heritage’s von Spakovsky said. “One of those Texans, Allen Crum, even climbed to the top of the tower with a rifle to assist the policeman who eventually killed Whitman.”

Brian Bensimon, Students for Concealed Carry’s director for the state of Texas, told The Daily Signal that the professors’ lawsuit is “perplexing.”  “Concealed carry is allowed in our state capitol,” Bensimon said. “There’s plenty of open debate and lively discourse there.”

Students for Concealed Carry is trying to block a University of Texas rule that allows professors to ban concealed weapons from their individual office space. The group filed a complaint with Paxton on Aug. 4.

“Gun control advocates think that gun bans will make people safer,” John R. Lott, a columnist for and author of “The War on Guns,” wrote in an op-ed. “But banning guns only ensures that law-abiding good citizens are disarmed, not the killers. Instead of bans improving safety, these bans attract killers and make it easier for them to commit crimes.”

Eight states—Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin—have provisions allowing concealed weapons to be carried by students on public higher education campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eighteen states ban carrying concealed weapons on college campuses.


The top university degrees that could leave you jobless

Comment below from Australia but should be broadly true in the UK and USA too

THEY take a whole load of brainpower and several years of study, but a new report reveals a series of top science university degrees could leave you jobless.

Science and IT are the courses business people and politicians tell students to study, but they just might be blinding them with science.

Only half of those who graduated with science degrees in 2015 found fulltime employment within four months: 17 per cent below the average for all university graduates, the Grattan Institute’s Mapping Australian Higher Education 2016 report found.

They found it a struggle to find work when compared to fellow-students in other science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) disciplines.

And despite increasing demand for Stem skills, IT graduates also have patchy prospects in the job marks.

The findings have prompted a warning from one of the report’s authors, Andrew Norton, that extra courses might be needed to increase graduates’ job chances.

“Students thinking about studying science need to know that a bachelor science degree is high risk for finding a job,” he said.

“Often students need to do another degree to improve their employment prospects.”

The report added that while recent science graduates struggle early on in the jobs marker “things improve over time”.

“For 2011 bachelor degree science graduates, their fulltime employment rate four months later was 65 per cent, but three years later, in 2014, 82 per cent of those who were looking for fulltime work had found it,” the report notes.

“While this is a considerable increase, it is below the 89 per cent rate for all graduates.”

The early employment prospects fly in the face of the demand for science courses, which continues to grow. And the number of science graduates is up — with more than 15,500 graduating annually — 4000 a year more than in 2009.
Post-study employment slump: Graduates are often surprised to discover they don’t find a job quickly. Picture: iStock

Post-study employment slump: Graduates are often surprised to discover they don’t find a job quickly. Picture: iStockSource:istock

IT graduates also seem unable to take full advantage of job growth in the IT industry.

While there’s no shortage of IT jobs relative to the number of graduates, IT students still find the going tough initially — with a third of recent graduates unable to get fulltime work.

The report says that’s due to “weaknesses in IT university education, and strong competition from a globalised IT labour force”.

Engineering jobs are in decline, but new engineers have good job prospects compared to other graduates.

And overall, despite the slower moves from university to career, the report found unemployment rate for all graduates remains low.

Over their working lives, graduates on average earn significantly more than people who finish their education at Year 12. The median male with a bachelor degree will earn $1.4 million more over his lifetime compared to the median male with no higher education past Year 12. For women, the figure is just under $1 million.

Other findings in the report, which is based on unit record data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey were:

 *  For domestic students, humanities and commerce are still the most popular fields of study. Health and science enrolments have the fastest growth.

 *  Graduates with bachelor degrees in health, education and law had the highest rate of professional and managerial employment — all above 80 per cent.

 *  The most common average mark reported by students is between 70 and 79 per cent, with domestic students doing better than international students.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

A young American woman detects that she is seen as "white trash"

I accept that every word she says below is gospel truth so I am glad that I had a much easier ride.  I come from a similar background.  My father was a lumberjack and we lived in a small Australian country town -- where everybody thought that "poofters" (homosexuals) were disgusting and most men could fix most things with wire. We had churches for even the smaller denominations and there was culture -- the better-off mothers were keen to get their daughters into the State Eisteddfod, for instance.

But I really had no difficulty in going where I wanted to go.  To this day I still have most of my old country values and am profoundly glad of it.  But I did go  through academe in only 6 years to get my BA, MA and PhD.  And I got a teaching job -- with tenure -- at a major university straight out of my Ph.D.  So that is surely a very easy ride!

So how come?  Part of the answer is that I am a born academic. Academic tasks are easy for me. I once spent 4 months preparing for an exam that normally requires 4 years of study -- and passed with a 'B'.  And I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation in 6 weeks!

But the point is that, given the ability, there was nothing else holding me back. I have never been aware of social barriers in my life.  Like all conservatives in academe, I was definitely an outsider but the interesting thing there is that I was not an outsider because of my social origins but because of my views, even if those two things are not totally separable.

So why the lack of social barriers?  It goes back to the distinctive egalitarianism of Australian life. No society has ever achieved pervasive equality but Australia has very nearly achieved equality of respect.  People are overwhelmingly polite and friendly towards one-another regardless of economic or occupational differences between them.  And when I tell people that I was born in Innisfail, the response is usually interest rather than contempt.

And there is usually little reserve between family members.  There are of course "black sheep" everywhere but lots of things that would make you a "black sheep" elsewhere -- such as poor economic success -- mostly just don't matter here.  My marvelous brother had an avocation quite as strong as mine -- for motorbikes.  He is basically a motorbike mechanic -- but he sells bikes too.  But when you read his Facebook posts, you note that he sounds just like me. Neither of us have ever changed from our underlying conservatism.

And, during my longest marriage, my wife -- who, as the daughter of a wharfie (longshoreman)  -- is definitely a working class girl -- always insisted on including a handicapped or otherwise marginal person along to our Christmas celebrations.

So in Australia, people basically do what they want to do -- regardless of any social class implications.  Most people can recognize some social class differences but don't think they are important. Australians are genuinely tolerant.

There are other countries with claims of being tolerant, but that usually means tolerant of Leftism only.  Fascists like Hillary Clinton and Communists like Bernie Sanders might both be tolerated as mainstream but no such toleration extends to Donald Trump. 

And in the famously tolerant Nederland, the anti-immigrant Geert Wilders has had a very torrid time. He always seem to be under  prosecution for his political opinions and is generally treated as a pariah by the Dutch establishment.

And in Sweden, the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats have risen to a significant presence in the Riksdag despite huge censorship and various prosecutions from the mainstream Swedish Left.

Australia does have its own anti-immigrant politician -- Pauline Hansen -- but the media seems rather fascinated by her. Like Trump, she gets reams of free publicity even from Left-leaning media. In the recent federal election, her party got 4 Senate seats out of 76.

I have written these few sketchy notes as a sort of antiphon to the story below.  You CAN go wherever you want to go from a humble background -- but that is, as far as I can tell, easiest in Australia.  Snobbery is pervasive in Britain and America but it is avoided like the plague in Australia.  We can think well of ourselves without thinking ill of others.

I was presenting at a panel at the Media and Civil Rights Symposium at the University of South Carolina. I noticed that one of my fellow panelists was from a small college in my home county. I quickly ran up to him and shared that I was from a small town near the college he taught at. At the end of our conversation about history and Central Pennsylvania, he looked at me and said, “it’s good to see a local kid actually do something.” While he certainly meant it as a compliment, my first thought was “fuck you.” This comment sowed the seeds of the bitter chip I was developing on my shoulder.

In college, the micro-aggressions weren’t so noticeable. They came out when anyone familiar with my Central Pennsylvania hometown responded with an “ugh” upon meeting me. When friends of mine would shame people for smoking cigarettes or drinking soda, I would internalize this disapproval. I quickly learned not to say “cuss” or talk about my love of NASCAR racing. I spent my time trying to find my place in Philadelphia and crush my origins under books and my love of history. My senior year of college I took a small interdisciplinary research seminar, the kind of class that sticks with you for years afterwards. I was in the midst of applying to graduate schools, when my professor tried to explain some unknowable, intangible quality of graduate students and academia that wasn’t and couldn’t be taught at my working-class public university. At the time, I had no idea what she was talking about.

That fall, I entered a M.A. program at an SEC school. Even at a large public university in the deep south, most of the graduate students came from high-ranking public schools and liberal arts colleges. I didn’t. Most of my peers had parents who were professors or lawyers or professionals. I was raised by a medical scheduler, a mechanic, and a farrier. My grandparents lived in a house trailer in the woods of Edenton, North Carolina, for much of my childhood. There were no concrete or tangible disadvantages to having a working-class background, or for being from towns that elicited an “ew” from anyone in the know. But I very clearly lacked something, something that united my colleagues and resulted in a confidence of place and belonging that I would never have. My differences — in public education and cultural knowledge — couldn’t be undone, but I could learn how to hide them. In my personal life, I wore them like a badge of honor — but I also wanted to get an academic job someday.

I bought The Professor Is In by Karen Kelsky, a terrifying book full of blunt (and much needed advice) about navigating the academic job market. While the author gives outspoken advice about the struggles of the job market, particularly for women, she also implicitly argues for the importance of hiding one’s class. She wrote about clothing and makeup and speaking patterns in women. Around the time I read this book, I realized that I, for a lack of a better term, code “white trash.” I have bad teeth, frequently say “ya’ll” and “how come,” and have a habit of running around South Philadelphia in a Dale Earnhardt Jr. t-shirt. It is one thing to have your hometown judged by your peers, but it is quite another to realize that qualities you possess, habits born of a lifetime that you don’t even realize you have, make you read as unqualified or unfit for your chosen profession.

But you can’t go home either, as they say. The more formal education I acquired, the larger the gap between my family and I became. My parents are incredibly proud of me and have never been anything other than supportive. But everyone from cousins to former employers have insinuated that I am arrogant because I left my small town for the city and enrolled in a Ph.D program. Why couldn’t I get a real job in the Harley Factory? What could you even do with a history Ph.D anyway? And most common of all, was I ever coming home? Slowly I realized the answer to that question had to be no.

Coming home still feels like a relief, a break from a life of pretending. But very gradually, my life has become very different from that of my family and old friends. We no longer watch the same TV or drink the same beer or read the same books. It takes a good week to get acclimated to the Folgers coffee my mom still buys. And many of my friends have no frame of reference for my chosen career, having never gone to college or even finished high school themselves. And sometimes my liberal and quasi-socialist opinions run up against those of the people in my hometown. How can I contest their sometimes racist, homophobic, or anti-intellectual opinions without confirming their stereotypes about who I have become, an elitist snob from the city?

The result is an in-betweenness, a lack of belonging. I will never fully belong in the world of academia, and frankly I don’t want to. But I also no longer fully belong at home. And I can’t complain (nor do I want to). I am incredibly lucky. I graduated from a high school where many students never see a community college or a technical school, much less a Ph.D program in the humanities. I am the dream, the local kid who did good. But nobody tells you what it’s like, the incredible loneliness that accompanies that kind of class jumping that many people dream of.

So, I continue to pull out that well-worn Dale Earnhardt t-shirt. I wrote the majority of my M.A. thesis while listening to Tim McGraw, and am in fact listening to him as I write this essay. And Barnes and Noble still seems to me like an intellectual mecca, “the city on the hill.” After all, Flannery O’Connor once wrote “when in Rome, do as you done in Milledgeville.”


After Student Protests, Alumni Close Wallets to Liberal Arts Schools

The New York Times ran a deliciously precious little article reporting on the fact that alumni donations are down this year at various liberal arts schools:

“As an alumnus of the college, I feel that I have been lied to, patronized and basically dismissed as an old, white bigot who is insensitive to the needs and feelings of the current college community,” Mr. MacConnell, 77, wrote in a letter to the college’s alumni fund in December, when he first warned that he was reducing his support to the college to a token $5.

A backlash from alumni is an unexpected aftershock of the campus disruptions of the last academic year. Although fund-raisers are still gauging the extent of the effect on philanthropy, some colleges — particularly small, elite liberal arts institutions — have reported a decline in donations, accompanied by a laundry list of complaints.


Colleges trash free speech, pour scorn on Western culture, show open contempt for the values that built them… And their alumni are no longer so enthusiastic about supporting them. Whodathunkit?


Schools Failing Taxpayers at More Than $18,000 Per Year

In Philadelphia, where the Democratic Party held its national convention, the public schools spent a total of $18,241 per student in the 2011-2012 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

In Detroit, where Donald Trump gave a speech on his economic policies this week, the public schools spent a total of $18,361 per student that year.

In Washington, D.C., where the federal government makes its home, it was $23,980.

What did these schools produce while spending more than $18,000 per student? Not well-educated children.

In the Philadelphia public schools in 2015, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress scores published by the Department of Education, 80 percent of eighth graders were not grade-level proficient in math. Eighty-four percent were not grade-level proficient in reading.

In the Detroit public schools, 96 percent of eighth graders were not grade-level proficient in math. Ninety-three percent were not grade-level proficient in reading.

In the District of Columbia public schools, 83 percent of the eighth graders were not grade-level proficient in math. Eighty-one percent were not grade-level proficient in reading.

If you pay federal taxes — no matter where you live and no matter where you send your children to school — you help subsidize the public schools in Philadelphia, Detroit and Washington, D.C.

In fact, if you pay federal taxes you help subsidize the public schools all across America.

In 2012-2013 school year, according to the Department of Education's Digest of Educational Statistics, public elementary and secondary schools took in approximately $603,686,987,000 in revenues. About $55,862,552,000 of that — or 9.3 percent — came from the federal government.

Another $273,101,724,000 — or 45.2 percent — came from state government, and $274,722,710,000 — or 45.5 percent — came from local sources.

Nationwide, public elementary and secondary schools spent $12,010 per student in the 2011-2012 school year. But, in 2015, 68 percent of public-school eighth graders nationwide were not grade-level proficient in math and 67 percent were not grade-level proficient in reading.

In the National Assessment of Educational Progress test in reading in 2015, Catholic school eighth-graders on average outscored public school eighth-graders by 20 points — 284 to 264.

In math, Catholic school eighth-graders on average outscored public school eighth-graders by 12 points — 293 to 281.

Yet in the 2011-2012 school year, according to the Digest of Educational Statistics, the average tuition at a Catholic elementary school was $5,330; the average tuition at a Catholic secondary school was $9,790, and the average tuition at a Catholic school that combined elementary and secondary schools was $10,230.

That is less than $12,010 that public elementary and secondary schools spent per student that year.

The cost and the poor performance of public schools in the United States should inspire Congress to do two things: Shut down the federal Department of Education and enact legislation creating complete school choice for families that reside in the District of Columbia.

Voters in states and local communities elsewhere in the country can then decide for themselves whether or not to replace the relatively small percentage of local school revenue that now comes from the federal government.

But the right decision would be for states and local communities to stop giving their education money exclusively to government-run schools.

Instead, they should give that money to parents — and let parents decide where to send their children to school.

Communities should grant every child in their jurisdiction a voucher worth the same amount of money currently spent per pupil in the local government schools. Then they should let families decide whether they want to send their children to one of those government schools or to a private school.

They should let parents decide not only who will teach their children reading and mathematics but also who will cooperate with them in teaching their children what is right and what is wrong.

The Obama administration is now trying to use that small percentage of public school funding that comes from the federal government to force local public schools to cooperate in advancing the administration's vision of transgenderism.

But American schools do not need transgender bathrooms and locker rooms. They need the complete transformation that will come by getting the federal government entirely out of primary and secondary education and giving all parents unfettered school choice.


What British teachers have to put up with

Snowflakes and their mothers

A primary school teacher wept in the dock as she was cleared of assaulting a child in the classroom.

Jane Edmands, 54, was accused of attacking the youngster, who has anonymity for legal reasons, after a parent had complained, reports the Hull Daily Mail.

It was said that the head, who works at Burton Pidsea Primary School in Holderness, Yorkshire, had grabbed the child by the wrist and then dragged her by the jumper after she had refused to leave her mother.

It was also alleged by another teacher at the school that Mrs Edmands was seen trying to forcefully pry a toy from the hand of the child on the same day.

Mrs Edmands, who has been a teacher for thirty years,  was found not guilty of common assault following a one-day trial at Hull Magistrates' Court.

The child's mother told magistrates: 'Mrs Edmands came over and got hold of my child's right wrist. She said, 'Come on', and pulled my child so my child's feet were off the floor and toes dragging on the floor.

'I didn't know what to do, I was stunned at what had just happened in front of my face.

The parent later rang the head to complain about the incident but found Mrs Edmands' explanation unsatisfactory and instead contacted East Riding Council.

Mrs Edmands was later suspended while police carried out an investigation into the alleged attack.

Recalling the event to the court, the teacher said: 'I did move fairly quickly, I didn't wait for the child to become fussy, it was a matter of seconds.'

Magistrates took just 30 minutes to clear Mrs Edmands after deciding that prosecution witnesses were 'inconsistent and uncertain'.

Her supporters could be heard cheering from the public gallery as the verdict was read out.