Saturday, August 27, 2016

University of Chicago Tells Millennials to Suck It Up, "We Do Not Condone 'Safe Spaces'"

In a refreshing and stark contrast to other universities that have seemingly tripped over themselves to accommodate every silly request from America's pampered Millennials in their never ending quest for "safe spaces," the University of Chicago has sent the incoming class of 2020 a letter making very clear that they will find no "safe spaces" in their intellectual journey at Chicago.  The full letter is presented below but here are a couple of the best comments for your reading pleasure: 

"You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion, and even disagreement.  At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.

Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called “trigger warnings,” we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual “safe spaces” where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own"

Just when we thought all hope had been lost, an establishment of higher learning finally steps up to interject some rational thoughts into the public discourse surrounding freedom of expression.

The letter also directs students to a note it had previously written on freedom of expression...

The full letter can be reviewed in its entirety at the end of this post, but below are a couple of the gems that we particularly liked:

“Education should not be intended to make people comfortable, it is meant to make them think. Universities should be expected to provide the conditions within which hard thought, and therefore strong disagreement, independent judgment, and the questioning of stubborn assumptions, can flourish in an environment of the greatest freedom.”

Of course, the ideas of different members of the University community will often and quite naturally conflict. But it is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.

In a word, the University’s fundamental commitment is to the principle that debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the University community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed.

For Millennials getting ready start at University of Chicago might we suggest some reading material (here) that we shared a few months back that might help you cope in the absence of "safe spaces" at your new home...

No matter where you go in life, someone will be there to offend you. Maybe it’s a joke you overheard on vacation, a spat at the office, or a difference of opinion with someone in line at the grocery store. Inevitably, someone will offend you and your values. If you cannot handle that without losing control of your emotions and reverting back to your “safe space” away from the harmful words of others, then you’re best to just stay put at home.

Remember, though: if people in the outside world scare you, people on the internet will downright terrify you. It’s probably best to just accept these harsh realities of life and go out into the world prepared to confront them wherever they may be waiting.

More HERE 

When Boston principals have freedom to hire, kids benefit

AT THE CURLEY K-8 School in Jamaica Plain, there were about 15 teaching positions open when hiring season began earlier this year. Principal Katie Grassa, however, is proud to say that she filled all those posts by May 30 — quite fast for a public school in Boston, where traditionally 90 percent of teacher hiring had been completed after July 1. Late hiring had put the Curley and other Boston schools at a competitive disadvantage, by allowing charter schools or other districts to scoop up the best candidates.

The Curley reflects the success of the city’s controversial early hiring initiative, now in its third year. As contract negotiations resume this week with the Boston Teachers Union, maintaining principals’ new flexibility in hiring has to be a top priority for the system. Meanwhile, the union has a chance to show it’s responsive to the system’s changing needs.

In the past, principals had to pick from a pool of internal candidates first, which dragged out the hiring process, left principals to choose from teachers whom other principals had turned down, and shuffled some teachers into slots they didn’t necessarily want. The district took advantage of a loophole in the teachers union contract that gave school administrators more freedom to bypass internal candidates when filling classroom openings. Lo and behold, for this upcoming school year, 82 percent of all teaching vacancies were filled before June 1. Of those hires, 41 percent were teachers of color — a priority for a district with a diverse student body.

The new hiring strategy has one costly byproduct. The teachers who used to have first dibs on vacant jobs still receive a paycheck, even if they aren’t selected for any classrooms. Under the state’s tenure law, such teachers must generally be placed in support posts such as substitutes or co-teachers.

There will be about 100 such teachers this year, at a price tag of $8 million. Those salaries pose a substantial burden. To save money, the school district is seeking contract provisions that would allow it to fire unassigned tenured teachers who aren’t even applying for jobs — that’s about half of them, the district says.

Without a fair way of phasing out teachers who repeatedly end up without a classroom, the early hiring initiative will become unsustainable in the long term, and that would be a huge mistake.

The district and the BTU have offered extensive support, including resume and interview workshops, for teachers without classroom assignments . In some cases, teachers lacked credentials that aligned with current educational needs, so the district offered to pay for special-education or English as a Second Language licenses. Only two took the offer, a system official said.

As teacher unions statewide seek to fend off a ballot initiative to allow more charter schools, a measure of flexibility from the Boston Teachers Union would help show that the collective bargaining process can be a way of solving educational problems — not an obstacle to doing so. But the greater argument for a contract change comes from the experience of principals like Grassa, who see the good that happens when school leaders and teachers have the latitude to choose each other. “Before, there was a limited pool of talent to choose from,” Grassa says. “The importance of having the choice cannot be overstated.”


From a Course on Miley Cyrus to ‘Identity-Based Housing,’ Examples of Lunacy on College Campuses

As the fall semester begins, parents, students, taxpayers, and donors should be made aware of official college practices that should disgust us all.

Hampshire College will offer some of its students what the school euphemistically calls “identity-based housing.” That’s segregated housing for students who—because of their race, culture, gender, or sexual orientation—have “historically experienced oppression.”

I’d bet the rent money that Hampshire College will not offer Jewish, Irish, Polish, Chinese, or Catholic students segregated housing. Because there is no group of people who have not faced oppression, Hampshire College is guilty of religious and ethnic discrimination in its housing segregation policy.

University of Connecticut administrators think more black men will graduate if they spend more time together. According to Campus Reform, they are building a new residence hall to facilitate just that.

Erik Hines, the faculty director for the program, said the learning community “is a space for African-American men to … come together and validate their experiences that they may have on campus. … It’s also a space where they can have conversation and also talk with individuals who come from the same background who share the same experience.” By the way, Hampshire College and the University of Connecticut are not alone in promoting racially segregated student housing.

Then there’s an effort for racial segregation in classes. Moraine Valley Community College attempted it in a class titled “College: Changes, Challenges, Choices.” It mandated that some class sections be “limited to African-American students.” The college defended racially segregated classes by saying they make students “feel comfortable.” After facing massive national notoriety, the college just recently abandoned its racial segregation agenda.

For professors to use their classes to proselytize students—and for a college president to urge it—is gross academic dishonesty.

Suppose a student at Ripon College enrolls in a chemistry, math, or economics class. What do you think ought to be the subject matter? Zachariah Messitte, Ripon’s president, who is also a professor in the politics and government department, has encouraged fellow professors to disparage Donald Trump, arguing that it’s “fine” for professors to “acknowledge Trump’s narrow-minded rhetoric” in class, suggesting that Trump’s “bigotry” is a valid topic for most any course.

For professors to use their classes to proselytize students—and for a college president to urge it—is gross academic dishonesty. I’ve been a college professor for nearly a half-century. I challenge anyone to find a student who can say that anything other than microeconomic theory, with a bit of physics and biology thrown in now and then for good measure, was discussed in my class.

Adding to campus lunacy are classes such as “Lady Gaga and the Sociology of the Fame” at the University of South Carolina. Cornell University’s physical education department offers a class titled “Recreational Tree Climbing.” At Georgia State University, the English department offers a course called “Kayne vs. Everybody.”

At Tufts University’s Experimental College, one can take a class called “Demystifying the Hipster.” Skidmore College’s sociology department offers “The Sociology of Miley Cyrus: Race, Class, Gender and Media.” Frostburg State University’s physics department offers “The Science of Harry Potter,” where it examines some of the tale’s magic. Georgetown University offers “Philosophy and Star Trek,” arguing that “Star Trek is very philosophical,” and adding, “What better way, then, to learn philosophy, than to watch Star Trek, read philosophy, and hash it all out in class?”

That these and other nonsense classes exist may reflect several things. There is the notion of shared educational governance, wherein presidents and boards of trustees have little say-so about what passes for college education. The faculty runs the show. Students may be academic cripples and require such nonsense. Those are the most optimistic assessments.

Or such academic nonsense may indeed reflect that presidents, academic administrators, faculty members, and students actually believe that such classes have academic merit.

College administrators like to keep campus barbarism under wraps. One of the best means to throttle their hideous agenda is for students to use their electronic devices to expose it to public scrutiny.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Smith College activists cry wolf over bigotry, to the school’s disadvantage

NOT EVERY dispute warrants a social-justice crusade, not even on higher-ed campuses. At Smith College in Northampton, there are honest differences of opinion about how to run an academic program, but campus social-justice activists are treating them as intolerable deviations from a rigid orthodoxy. Every organization involving human beings has its share of internal backbiting, but disputes rooted in workplace politics look, to student protesters, like evidence of colonialism and racial oppression.

In recent weeks, two letters from faculty members to administrators revealed a measure of discontent over the direction of the School of Social Work and its handling of student protesters. The school’s dean, Marianne Yoshioka, is relatively new, and at least some faculty members disagree with her management and policy approaches.

One letter, sent by social work professor and department chairman Dennis Miehls, frets that the school isn’t adequately training students to serve future clients’ needs, is accepting applicants who aren’t likely to succeed in the program, and isn’t sticking up for good employees whom students accuse of being “blatantly racist and antagonistic towards students of color.” A second letter, attributed only to “concerned adjuncts,” makes similar points — adding that at-will instructors with no job security are afraid of expressing their opinions publicly.

All these arguments deserve to be discussed openly. But in a touchy climate, it’s no surprise that faculty members would try to express their views privately to administrators. Someone leaked the letters to students. A cover note, Inside Higher Ed reported, asserted that the letters exemplify “how individuals in positions of power are both participatory and complicit in white supremacist systems at the school.” Last week, there was a rally, a sit-in, a march, and a graduation day protest. Activists condemned the letters as “violent, racist rhetoric directed toward students of color.”

At campuses across the country, student protesters have brought up genuine injustices — such as discrimination in the Greek system and the exploitation of minority athletes — that many college presidents would just as soon ignore. In some instances, though, students caught up in the fervor of campus activism are reading oppression into innocuous situations, such as a Yale residential administrator’s suggestion that students not take boorish Halloween costumes too seriously.

The letters at Smith raise the latter possibility. “The narratives that the students are creating (and that no one seems to be challenging),” Miehls wrote diplomatically, “are in many instances not reflective of actual events.” The overwrought protests that followed the leak proved him right — and offer a cautionary tale for other campuses.

When every disagreement turns ideological, and when people with even slightly dissenting opinions are wary of speaking up, universities don’t just suffer intellectually. They also stop functioning as institutions, because disagreements and problems can only get worse when people don’t talk about them.


A Confederacy of Dunces

In the latest example of leftist academics favoring form over substance and coddling instead of challenging its members, Vanderbilt University has elected to remove the word “Confederate” from the façade of Confederate Memorial Hall. The University will pay the United Daughters of the Confederacy $1.2 million — the original $50,000 the UDC donated toward the building’s construction, plus interest — from donations solicited specifically for the purpose. Rather than raising and spending $1.2 million on something that would actually contribute to the University mission, they will hand the money to an organization whose mission and values they obviously disapprove of.

Given the stigma attached to anything associated with the Confederacy, especially its flag, this is likely the largest single donation the group has enjoyed in some time and a lifeline that will help the UDC remain viable for at least the immediate future. It will be ironic if less than a dozen little-noticed letters on a building generate such fear and consternation that the University ends up paying for scholarships for “descendants of worthy Confederates” (a UDC objective). In other words, a group of people the University has pronounced guilty of promoting “racial segregation, slavery, and the terrible conflict.” In any case, rather than encourage learning, the University will enforce the PC brand of “tolerance.”


North Carolina School District’s Anti-Bullying Policy Promotes Transgender Agenda

In March, North Carolina’s General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, passed the Bathroom Privacy Act (HB2) to establish uniform policies for intimate facilities in public schools and public spaces and to overrule a radical Charlotte ordinance requiring local businesses to allow men in women’s bathrooms, showers, and lockers.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system recently announced a new “anti-bullying policy” that flagrantly violates the law as well as common sense. According to materials used by the school system to train faculty and administrators, the policy requires the following:

Students must have access to the restroom or changing facility that matches their “gender identity.” (Students who don’t have gender identity issues must ask for accommodations to protect their privacy.)

Students are to be addressed as “scholars” and “students” rather than “boys” and “girls” and can choose the pronoun they wish to be called.

School staff must not inform parents that their children suffer from gender confusion or are dressing and being treated as a person of the opposite sex at school unless the student gives permission.

Participation in sex-specific activities must be determined by a student’s stated gender identity, not their sex. Such activities include: Dress codes, single-sex education classes, graduation exercises, school photos, extracurricular activities, overnight field trips, athletics, and proms.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Superintendent Ann Clark said that their new anti-bullying policy was based on “clear guidance” from a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision requiring a Virginia school system to allow a girl who identifies as a boy access to the boys’ bathroom.

In that case, the 4th Circuit agreed with President Barack Obama’s Justice Department’s interpretation that the protections against “sex” discrimination in the law known as Title IX include “gender identity.” However, a stay of the case issued by the U.S. Supreme Court caused the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system to temporarily suspend the part of its policy dealing with restrooms and changing facilities. The rest of the policy is set to go into effect when school starts later this month.

Rather than helping children with gender dysphoria accept and appreciate their bodies, the school system is actively pushing rejection of their bodies.

A closer look reveals that the danger in this policy is bigger than it may seem. Rather than helping children with gender dysphoria accept and appreciate their bodies, the school system is actively pushing rejection of their bodies. Not only is the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district encouraging confused and fluid adolescent desires, it is and mandating everyone else conform to their perspective regardless of biological reality.

The school system is deliberately deceiving parents because its policy is intended to advance a social agenda that will indoctrinate their children; compromise their privacy, dignity, and safety; and rob them of their innocence in the process.

There is no doubt the district is expanding its policy based on a bad North Carolina anti-bullying law passed in 2009 covering “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” and “gender expression.”

In fact, in 2015, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system received a grant funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from the state’s Department of Public Instruction for the purpose of implementing “safe and supportive environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.” The completed work will be distributed to 15 priority school systems as well as “serve as a resource to all [school systems] across the state.”

It is clear that the new “anti-bullying” policy adopted by the district is in truth a model LGBT policy for the rest of the state. What better way to indoctrinate the masses to believe that there is no difference between boys and girls than to force them to share showers, bathrooms, homecoming crowns, sex ed classes, hotel rooms on overnight field trips, and sports teams?

There is no medical or scientific data to back up the claim that “transition” for gender confused children should be encouraged or protected by school policies.

In fact, there is a lot of scientific evidence questioning whether it is even possible to change one’s gender or sex. Like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the American College of Pediatricians says transgenderism is a mental illness but differs by saying that encouraging transition as treatment is actually child abuse.

Further, accepting transgender identity in childhood often results in hormone therapy to delay or impede puberty to be followed by irreversible surgery and a lifetime of psychotherapy to deal with psychological problems for the individuals involved.

This new policy violates the rights to privacy, free speech, and free religious exercise of all students and faculty.

According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district policy and the Obama Justice Department’s interpretation of Title IX, no medical proof is required to document gender dysphoria nor is there a requirement of demonstrated behavior for a particular length of time to qualify for full “transgender rights.” No, students need only proclaim that they feel like the sex opposite their biology, and everybody in the school must fall in line. Although these feelings can change, the policies nevertheless require schools to allow “gender-fluid” kids to explore new gender identities.

Besides harming our children, this new policy violates the rights to privacy, free speech, and free religious exercise of all students and faculty. To allow boys in the girls’ showers, bathrooms, and locker rooms takes away the privacy of the girls in those spaces. To allow girls in the boys’ bathrooms likewise robs boys of privacy.

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study indicated that “as many as 1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18,” some of which is perpetrated by other students. Since bathrooms are one of the top places for sexual assault in America, why would our schools’ administrators want to grant opportunity for more abuse?

And to force students and teachers to call a student a certain pronoun like “Ze” or “Ne,” or any one of 60 invented genderless pronouns, is forced speech.

Ultimately, the end result of such policies will mean the end of girls’ sports. Imagine the injustice if Title IX, which was passed to give girls a fair opportunity in education and athletics, is actually used to destroy girls’ sports and hurt their academic opportunity. After all, if obvious and relevant biological differences cannot be used to make distinctions for purposes of bathrooms and showers, there should be no difference in the ladies’ tee box and the men’s tee box on the golf course and no differentiation of their team members.

Finally, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system policy violates the constitutionally protected liberty of parents to supervise the upbringing, education, and care of their own children, especially when they don’t even have the right to be informed about their child’s gender confusion. The only way the district can pull this off is to shut the parents out.

Following a rally outside the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system school board meeting in Charlotte, a man posted a message saying:

As a gay father of two daughters ages 5 and 6, I am furious to think that CMS has the right to enforce these rules. Gender identity and sexuality are not the responsibility of CMS, it is the sole responsibility of the guardians. Children, or adults for that matter, do not need to use a bathroom with another person in order to validate their identity or sexuality.

It is outrageous that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system would arrogantly declare that it can take the parents’ place.

At that rally, a Hispanic leader pointed out that the U.S. is already ranked a dismal 14th in education on the world stage. She said, “This policy puts an additional burden on teachers, who are already overwhelmed with discipline problems, to teach our kids about romantic attractions and gender confusion. We should be teaching our kids how to compete on the world stage, but instead, we’re teaching them about the gender unicorn.”

You heard that correctly: the Gender Unicorn. A cute, purple, mythical unicorn with a strand of DNA covering its genitals was designed as a slick marketing tool to teach faculty about the “new genders.” School today is no longer about teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic; it’s about teaching “gender fluidity” and political correctness.

As parents prepare to send their children back to school I encourage them to

Find alternatives to public school if your district is embracing similar policies.

Hold accountable school board members who consider themselves stewards, not social engineers.

Seek intervention from the courts.

Encourage school vouchers.

Tell your stories of how these radical changes hurt you and your children.

Parents can pull their children out of the school system, which many in Charlotte have already done because of the district’s failure in other areas.

The lasting solution is to increase funding for voucher programs, such as North Carolina’s opportunity scholarships, to provide parents real choice.

Offering parents true choices for public education, private schools, and home-school so they can decide where their children attend school will make school boards like Charlotte’s more responsive to parents’ concerns. Market economics will drive whether school boards veer off course to push radical social agendas like the Gender Unicorn at the expense of academic excellence.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hillary Clinton’s Free College-Tuition Plan Short on Specifics

Hillary Clinton, who prides herself on the details of public policy, has said little about what is now the most ambitious and expensive proposal on her agenda: making public college tuition free for most Americans.

On the campaign trail, she typically offers a sentence, maybe two, about the plan. Sometimes it goes unmentioned altogether. Her campaign has offered few specifics about how the program would work, hasn’t said how much money states would have to provide or where the program would fall on her list of priorities.

The campaign website no longer lists a cost for the program, though campaign aides said they estimate it would take $500 billion in new federal spending over 10 years, $150 billion more than the college plan she put out last summer. Others estimate the costs would be much higher.

The sketchiness may owe something to the way the free-tuition plan came to be part of Mrs. Clinton’s platform. Rather than taking months or years to craft, like many of her other proposals, it was inserted as part of negotiations in July to win the backing of Democratic rival Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, who tracks higher education and other issues at the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way, said it was obvious that the plan was put together to win over Mr. Sanders.

Most of Mrs. Clinton’s policy proposals “are five pages of dense text with very specific ways of how they’re going to pay for it and how much it would cost,” she said. “This sounded much more like something intended to energize a campaign rally.”

The Clinton plan still is more detailed than most of the ideas put forth by her opponent, Republican Donald Trump, who doesn’t typically give the cost of his plans and sometimes changes significant planks. Still, Mrs. Clinton prides herself on her policy chops and says candidates owe it to voters to be clear about their plans. Mr. Trump’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Mrs. Clinton says she would pay for the college plan with higher taxes on the wealthy, including new limits on deductions. Campaign aides said that once school is back in session and younger voters are paying more attention, she would talk more about the college plan.

Clinton spokesman Jesse Ferguson said Mrs. Clinton is “deeply committed” to the revised plan. “Hillary Clinton put forward an ambitious proposal in the primary and, after listening to voters on the campaign trail, expanded it to more effectively reach the goal of erasing the barrier of debt to a college of education,” he said.

Passing this program into law will be a challenge, though, particularly if Republicans continue to control at least one house of Congress. Even some Democrats think Mrs. Clinton’s first proposal would have a better chance and worry that the revised version is too heavy a lift.

The new Clinton policy was described in a single paragraph issued by the campaign in early July amid talks with Mr. Sanders, who had campaigned against her in the primary on a more expansive free-tuition plan. His concept was that public colleges should be free for all, like public high schools.

Mrs. Clinton had already put forth a detailed plan last summer to assure that students could attend public colleges without borrowing money for tuition, but she said families should contribute what they could afford. To win over Mr. Sanders, Mrs. Clinton agreed that students in families earning $85,000 a year or less would be assured free tuition, with that threshold climbing to $125,000 over four years.

The political goals were clear. The policy was a priority for Mr. Sanders, and after her shift, he endorsed her. She also put herself in position to appeal to younger voters, who overwhelmingly backed Mr. Sanders in the primaries and are an important part of the coalition that twice elected President Barack Obama.

In his speech at July’s Democratic National Convention endorsing Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Sanders specifically cited this policy shift. It was one of several she made that were key to winning his support, including an agreement to back additional funding for community health centers.

For now, the new plan appears to cut against two points Mrs. Clinton made during the primaries.

First, she had long described her plan, which she calls the New College Compact, as a balanced way of making sure all players have “skin in the game,” including federal and state governments, universities, families and students. “I think it ought to be a compact,” she said during a Democratic debate last year. “Families contribute, kids contribute.”

Under her new plan, 80% of families would qualify for tuition-free school, even if they could afford some contribution. A Clinton aide replied by noting that students are still expected to have a job that will help pay expenses, and said that it is most important that government pay its fair share.

Second, one of her chief criticisms of the Sanders tuition-free plan was that it relied on governors, including critical Republican governors, to put up one-third of the funding. But her plan requires substantial state contributions as well, though her campaign hasn't specified how much.

The Clinton aide said states will be more likely to fund her plan because it would be phased in gradually.

She did stick by her view, voiced often during the primaries, that the government shouldn’t offer free tuition to very rich families.

Other aspects of the Clinton plan would lower borrowing costs for existing borrowers and those who attend private colleges, and would make community college free.

Meantime, Mrs. Clinton appears to be offering another change to her program that she hasn’t yet explained. In an economic speech on Thursday, she promised “tuition-free” college for the middle class, and “debt-free college” for everyone.

Aides said debt-free is a goal meant to assure no student has to borrow money to pay any college costs, including room, board and other expenses, which can represent half the total costs. That goes beyond her original concept and isn’t detailed in the pages of facts sheets provided by her campaign.

Many advocates welcome the expansions. Tamara Draut, of the advocacy group Demos, which promotes debt-free college, said it is essential that students be able to pay for all college expenses without taking loans, and that this is her understanding of the Clinton plan. She said she expects more details to come.

“I think we’re a long way from governing and there is more detail there than her opponent’s policy platforms, for sure,” she said.


UK: Cambridge brings back its written entrance exam after 30 years

It was designed to identify the nation’s brightest students but was dropped 30 years ago amid accusations that it favoured the better-off.

Now the written entrance exam for Cambridge University is being reintroduced for all applicants, sparking new concerns that it will discriminate against state school pupils less likely to benefit from expensive coaching than pupils of fee-paying schools.

Critics of the idea include former Labour Minister Alan Milburn, now chairman of a social mobility commission, who warned that Cambridge risked raising ‘further barriers’ for bright students from less advantaged backgrounds.

The Mail on Sunday can reveal some of the conundrums that candidates may face.

One question from a sample paper requires students to discuss whether ‘the recent European migrant crisis has challenged or reinforced racism’. Another is more philosophical, asking: ‘Must all revolutions necessarily fail?’

Would-be undergraduates may also be asked to compose an essay on the writer George Orwell’s observation that ‘there are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them’, or tackle maths puzzles.

The tests are tailored for different subjects and mix traditional essay topics with multiple choice questions. They are being brought back by the university because while so many applicants achieve As or A*s at A-level, fewer are taking AS-levels, a traditional indicator of academic potential.

The new university-wide written exams, which will replace a hotch-potch of tests already faced by about half of those applying, will be sat by every candidate while they are still at school. The first will take place this October and November.

They will not, however, replace the university’s notoriously tricky interview at which candidates are often put on the spot by fiendish questions such as ‘Instead of politicians, why don’t we let the managers of Ikea run the country?’

Cambridge said the exams, which will be sat by pupils in the year before they take their A-levels, should not require any extra study and were just one of a number of assessments used to determine whether teenagers should be offered a place.

A spokesman said many of the questions were designed to find out how students approached complex issues, and would help the university select those with the skills to cope with demanding courses.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said: ‘For the sake of the whole country, Cambridge and other leading universities need to concentrate on identifying the brightest and the best.’


British universities compete to sign up students
Universities are desperately competing for applicants as thousands of students weigh up their options after receiving their A-level results today.

Institutions are battling to fill an expanded number of first year places following a change in regulation restricting the number of students allowed each year.

A record-breaking 424,000 students have secured a place in higher education - despite a 0.1 per cent drop in the number of pupils achieving the top grades from last year.

Experts have said it is a 'buyers' market' for students with many places still available through clearing, including courses at elite Russell Group universities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Warwick. One admissions officer said students have a 'better chance than ever' of winning a place.

Some universities are trying to generate excitement with gimmicks like Willy Wonka-style 'golden tickets'. Others have called in dozens of staff to man call centres in a bid to lure more students through clearing.

Boys managed to bridge the gender gap for the first time in five years – with 8.5 per cent of male entries getting A*, compared with 7.7 per cent for girls.

For A grades, girls continue to have the edge over their male counterparts - with 25.9 per cent achieving the coveted grade compared with 25.8 per cent.

Stand-out results across the country today included an 18-year-old girl who overcame a brain tumour to land three A*s, identical twins who obtained exactly the same results in the same subjects and a Disney princess who passed her exams despite spending just three months revising while filming for a children's musical.

The overall pass rate - those achieving grades A* to E - remained at 98.1 per cent, while the proportion of A* and A grades was 25.8 per cent - down by 0.1 percentage point on last year.

Today's results also revealed a double-digit increase in the percentage of EU students being awarded university places, with 26,800 being placed (11 per cent) as they rushed to secure a higher education place before Brexit. 

Ucas head Mary Curnock Cook said: 'The UK has some of the best universities in the world so it doesn't surprise me that the Brexit vote doesn't seem to have put EU students off studying here.'


Monday, August 22, 2016

Let teenagers train to be teachers on the job as soon as they leave school, say heads: Proposals to let 18-year-olds be apprentices in the classroom

This is back to the future.  Teaching skills were normally acquired in this way in C19

Heads are to lobby the government to allow teenagers to train as teachers on the job as soon as they leave school. The Teaching Schools Council wants the first teaching apprenticeship scheme for 18-year-olds, which would see them go straight into the classroom.

Currently, all teachers must either have a general degree or a specific teaching qualification – but school leaders say this may be locking out disadvantaged youngsters.

The scheme could see the trainees teaching in the classroom alongside experienced qualified teachers, as teaching assistants currently do.

The training would allow A-level students to join the profession without going to university, but would result in a degree qualification and qualified teaching status.

Supporters said yesterday it would help youngsters in deprived areas who want to become teachers but do not want to amass student debt by gaining a degree.

Teaching Schools Council member Stephen Munday, who is chief executive of Cambridgeshire’s Cam Academy Trust, told the Times Educational Supplement that the apprenticeship may recruitment in more disadvantaged areas.

He said: ‘I can see how for some parts of the country this could be a very positive route-way for youngsters who might not necessarily take seriously the possibility of a degree.

‘And for schools where recruiting is tough, they would see it as a positive. ‘There is a serious win-win here.’

The apprenticeship would be the first school-based teacher training route available to participants straight after A levels.

If given the go-ahead, the new apprenticeship scheme would mean that prospective teachers could be paid while they trained and worked towards a degree, which would drive down the cost burden of qualification.

Earlier this month, Department for Education figures revealed that the proportion of students qualifying for free school meals who had gone on to university had started to fall after tuition fees were tripled to £9,000 a year in 2013-14.

The apprenticeship is expected to be submitted for government approval next month by a partnership of training providers led by the Teaching Schools Council.

Sir Andrew Carter, chief executive of South Farnham School in Surrey, who is leading the apprenticeship bid on behalf of the council, said: ‘There seems to be a great appetite for some apprenticeship route into teaching. ‘About 50 schools have contacted me – some are teaching schools representing alliances.’

A teaching assistant apprenticeship is already being developed but this would be the first apprenticeship for teachers.

Schools could apply for funding from the apprenticeship levy introduced next year to help pay for the training under the scheme. Schools would have to pay for the salaries for their apprentices.

Details of classroom responsibilities for the proposed apprenticeships have yet to be drawn up.

But Sir Andrew said that an apprentice should work alongside a teacher, as teaching assistants do. Once they gained experience, they could take lessons under supervision as with other trainee teachers. ‘It will be an all-graduate profession,’ he said. ‘It won’t change that, but some could join at different points.

‘This is meant to be an additional route into teaching. ‘It is not intended to replace current routes into teaching. ‘It is meant to make a route in for different people, for some people who need to work.

‘There are no students loans involved in this.

‘Schools will need to recognise the apprentice route will brings some costs, but the benefits are that it will bring in employees a little earlier than perhaps before who could work at an apprentice level in the school.’

A Department for Education spokesperson said: ‘All new training routes go through a process to ensure they are of the highest quality and we will consider any submission made by the Teaching Schools Council with this in mind.’


More students nationwide are learning the PC version of Islam

In May, the Philadelphia School District announced it would be adding two Muslim holidays — Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha — to the school calendar, making the district one of a growing number in the nation to recognize Muslim holidays.

A member of the Philadelphia Eid Coalition, a political action committee whose stated mission is to convince the district to declare these holidays official religious holidays, said Philadelphia’s move will “validate our young Muslim students” and prevent them from “hav[ing] to choose between education and religion.”

Her words are particularly ironic, given the organized and concerted effort to validate Islam in American schools — at the expense of truth. Indeed, the Institute on Religion and Civic Values (formerly the Council on Islamic Education) — which has reviewed world history textbooks for more than 20 years — made no secrets about its wish to foment a “bloodless” cultural revolution through promoting Islam via textbooks and, as the Middle Eastern Forum reported, “warn[ing] scholars and public officials who do not sympathize with its requests that they will be perceived as racists, reactionaries, and enemies of Islam.”

The organization boasts that its “reviews have helped improve the coverage and framing of complex topics.” Substitute “fictionalize” for “improve,” and this becomes pretty accurate.

Joy Pullman reports, for example, that an Ohio mother plans to excuse her child from a world history class requirement that he recite the shahada, a Muslim conversion prayer. (The Christian conversion prayer is in a subsequent class — just kidding.) And when that mother requested an independent review of the district’s textbooks, reviewers found blatant errors including a claim that Muslims historically “practiced religious tolerance” by merely levying an extra tax on Christians and Jews. The book conveniently left out that if Christians and Jews didn’t fork over the tax, they could lose their heads. Tolerance, indeed. Did Christianity and Judaism receive similar classroom time? Take a guess.

Last year, we noted that a school in Tennessee was teaching the Five Pillars of Islam during a world religion study, again without similar balance.

Citizens for National Security, an independent textbook reviewer, has also noted pretty hefty lies in textbooks, including teaching that “war broke out” between Palestinians and Israelis. Yep, they were all peacefully chatting over tea and war just “broke out.” Never mind well-documented Palestinian aggression.

Indeed, earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal noted parents' growing concern over “what they see as an overly benign depiction of [Islam].” For example, the Journal points to one textbook used in 30 of Tennessee’s 140 school districts that teaches that Islam expanded via conquest but also “spread peacefully” in many places. The textbook also notes Muslims' “religious toleration” toward Jews and Christians aided in Islam’s expansion. The 1.5 million Armenians slaughtered by Muslims during the Armenian Genocide must have missed out on this “tolerance.” Versions of this same textbook are used nationwide.

That’s not to say every school is promoting Islam. Some, as Pullman also notes, are pretty much pretending religion doesn’t exist altogether. The National Association of Scholars recently issued a review of the College Board’s new AP European history standards (APEH). Among the conclusions: APEH “warps and guts the history of Europe to make it serve today’s progressive agenda,” “presents religion throughout as an instrument of power rather than as an autonomous sphere of European history,” and “points the arrow of European history toward a well-governed, secular welfare state, whose interchangeable subjects possess neither national particularity nor faith nor freedom.”

In other words, the standards discount religion from playing a motivating factor in pivotal events of history such as the Holocaust (for evil) or abolition (for good).

It’s no secret government schools have long been indoctrinating students into the religion of the state. Before parents continue to claim that the problem may be real but their local school is “different,” they’d be wise to note just how organized and systematic the indoctrination has become.


Private school BANS parents from delivering forgotten lunches or books - in a viral post that's dividing the internet

A private catholic school in the US is facing a social media storm after it issued a ban on parents bringing forgotten lunches in for their children.

Catholic High School for Boys, in North Little Rock, Arkansas, shared a photo of its own door sign on August 10 to Facebook, which reads: 'If you are dropping off your son's forgotten lunch, books, homework, equipment etc., please TURN AROUND and exit the building. Your son will learn to problem-solve in your absence.'

The post has since gained more than 70,000 'likes' and more than 3,600 comments with some applauding the school - which educates boys aged between 14 and 18 - for teaching students 'autonomy' and others accusing the $4,400-a-year school of 'starving' them.

The school's principal Steve Straessle told FEMAIL: 'We have had zero complaints from Catholic High parents because they know, on campus, their sons have every tool necessary to solve the problems listed on the sign. 'The policy is still in place. The sign is still in place.'

And one student, Patrick Wingfield, tod Arkansas Matters: 'It makes me think for myself and not rely on other people to do things for me. And if I make a mistake, I need to learn from it and try to fix it.'

But the new rule has social media divided.

One woman, Dani Leppo, commented: 'Because starving your children is a great way to enhance their educational development. Jesus would definitely tell your hungry child to "problem solve" his way out of it. Hypocrites.'

And a teacher, Fred Simpkins, concurred, stating: 'I totally disagree with this [...] I'd be pretty upset if I was paying a lot of money for my child to have a private school education and wasn't allowed to bring him/her something he/she forgot. I'm a teacher and guess what folks? I FORGET THINGS TOO!'

Others, however, took the opposite stance.

Tom Massmann wrote: 'Teach your high school kid a little self-sufficiency. Can't believe people are actually upset about this sign.'

And Joani Matthews remarked: 'OMG this says it is a Catholic High School for boys not an elementary school, not first grade, this is a high school for boys.

Catholic High School charges $4,400 per year in tuition fees for Catholics and $5,400 per year for boys of other faith traditions. Registration, class and book fees range from $300 to $600 each year.

In 1999, former president Bill described its principal, Fr George Tribou, as 'the best educator in my home state, if not the whole country.'

Its students performed well above the national average in its SAT scores last year; 24.9 versus the country's average of 20.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Professor Criticized for Allegedly Talking about God in Ethics Class

News Channel 3 in Madison, Wisconsin is reporting that a professor at Madison Area Technical College is under investigation for allegedly talking about God in class.

Velena Jones reports that student Dan Roberts complained when professor Hien Van Dong allegedly encouraged him to have "a personal relationship with a living God." Van Dong teaches a three-credit course, "Leadership Principles, Practices and Contemporary Ethical Implications to Develop the Leader within You."

"Our text mentioned God a lot," Roberts said. "They mentioned prayer a lot. They mentioned taking a personal responsibility but needing a higher power to succeed."

Madison College is not a private university but a community college. Roberts is a former Christian turned atheist. The three-credit course was designed to encourage ethical thinking and practices, but Roberts complained that the course promoted Christianity, including one of the texts used, "Sometimes You Win, Sometimes Your Learn" by John C. Maxwell, who is an evangelical Christian.

"Having a text that pushes that having a higher power is necessary makes anyone who does not have a higher power, thinking that maybe they cannot be ethical, and that’s simply not true and that is very dismissive and uncomfortable," Roberts said. He added that he emailed the instructor with his concerns and Van Dong allegedly replied, "I discovered it isn’t about do’s and don’ts, it is about a personal relationship with a living God."

Madison College Provost Turina Bakken told News Channel 3 that the college is investigating the claims. "We will take any and all appropriate action of the learning environment for our students but also to protect our faculty."

She added, "To this point we have one letter that’s representing the experiences of one student, and we will have to let the process play out and do the right thing from there both for the faculty and the student to ensure that going forwards we put forward the most comfortable, effective learning experiences that we can."

Bakken also said Van Dong is a respected instructor with 16 years of experience at the college.


Middle-class parents need to accept that some children are just too thick for private school

By HARRY MOUNT, an extremely well-connected Briton

A friend of mine, a housemistress at a leading public [independent] school, loves her job: the teaching; the big, rent-free Georgian house; the subsidised education for her daughters.

There are only two drawbacks. In the evenings, she feels like an undercover cop, listening for sounds of naughtiness from the 60 girls who live on the other side of her sitting room wall.

And then there are the evening phone calls – when pushy parents ring up and ask her why young Caroline did so badly in her exams.

What my friend can never say is: "I'm afraid Caroline's just a bit of a thicko." That's not the answer the parents are paying £25,000 a year to hear.

My friend won't be surprised by the story of Scott Craddock, who is suing Abbotsholme School in Staffordshire for the £125,000 he paid for his son's education after the boy got just one GCSE - a grade C in science.

"David was disheartened when he got his results," Scott Craddock said of his son: "He said, 'You spent all that money on my education and I walk away with one GCSE.'"

I don't wish to be rude to David Craddock but he doesn't sound like the sharpest knife in the box. Not just because of his GCSE results – or result – but also because of his expectation that money will buy academic success; the same expectation parents have at my friend's school.

Yes, private schools do, on the whole, get better results than state schools – although Abbotsholme's GCSE results for the summer of 2015 were lower than the national average, with just 60 per cent of pupils receiving five grades between A* and C.

But Master Craddock clearly fell way below even Abbotsholme's average results. In every school in the country, there will always be pupils that literally don't make the grade.

In the row about Theresa May reviving grammar schools, critics attack the ruthlessness of the 11-plus exams. Private schools are even more ruthless. At every stage of my private education, we were subjected to a brutal survival of the cleverest routine.

Friends from my nursery school didn't get into my prep school. Friends from my prep school didn't get into Westminster, my public school. Friends from Westminster didn't get into Oxbridge. All my privileged contemporaries had parents who were paying a fortune for their children to succeed – and often to fail.

But, 25 years ago, when privately-educated children failed, their parents accepted that it was their children's fault, not the schools'. When my housemistress friend started teaching in 1992, she never got those calls from angry parents of dim children.

Today, those parents have been brought up in the All Must Have Prizes generation. They also expect good service everywhere else for their money – in restaurants, hotels and coffee shops. So why shouldn't money buy straight A grades, too? In 2010, Gary Lineker took this attitude, when his son, George, failed to achieve three Bs at Charterhouse, to get into Manchester University.

Lineker blamed the school for treating his son like a guinea pig by using the Cambridge Pre-U exams. Poor George, his father said, had "been marked much harder" as a result. It didn't occur to him that his son just hadn't done as well as his contemporaries. Or, God forbid, wasn't as bright.

And, meanwhile, the children – Generation Snowflake, as they have been called – have been mollycoddled and patronised throughout their younger days. Teachers, like my friend, are no longer able to be brutally honest about their shortcomings. If it's anyone's fault, it's the teachers', not the pupils. When I taught at a London university, I was told that it was my fault there was such a gap between the top undergraduates' results and the bottom undergraduates'.

At private schools in particular, teachers are expected to behave more and more like pliant instruments of parents' demands, rather than independent instructors of their children.

My housemistress friend doesn't just field those evening calls. She also has to have the parents to dinner twice a year to assure them how brilliant their children are, no matter how dim they might actually be. No wonder those parents are shocked when the GCSE results come through the letterbox, riddled with Cs and Ds.

It all makes for a perfect storm of entitlement, high expectation and babyish anger when that expectation isn't matched by underperforming brains.

If exams are to mean anything, all mustn't have prizes, however much money has been spent on their education.


Australian High School students propagandized about "alternative" sexual behaviour

A new sex education guide being promoted by the research institute behind the Safe Schools program provides ­students with explicit descriptions of more than a dozen sexual activities.

La Trobe University’s Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society this month launched Transmission, a film with related educational activities that introduces its Year 10 audience to a range of highly sexualised terms that have not previously been canvassed in sex education curriculums.

The resource is written by the centre’s Pamela Blackman, a former Department of Education and Training employee who has written or consulted on a range of sex education resources endorsed by the Victorian government.

While the resource is centred on a film about HIV and sexually transmitted infections which was partly funded with a $15,200 grant from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, one of the accompanying activities focuses on sexual pleasure.

In one classroom activity, students are asked to consider a list of 20 ways of “engaging in sexual pleasure” to determine which ­activities they “think might be okay”. They are then asked to sort each sex act by their level of ­comfort.

Ms Blackman acknowledges in the explanatory notes that the exercise might prove confronting for teachers and students.

“Sexual activity, for those ready to engage in it, should be a good experience, not an experience full of fear and guilt,” she writes. “I think it’s important to recognise that sexual activity is pleasurable as well as normal.”

A focus on pleasure in addition to risk appears to be an emerging development in sex education.

As is the widespread acceptance that not all students identify as heterosexual.

Research released by the University of South Australia earlier this year revealed that students wanted less repetition of the ­biological aspects of human sexuality in their sex education classes and more “explicit and accurate” information about intimacy, sexual pleasure and love.

The report, “It is not all About Sex: Young people’s views about sexuality and relationship education’’, claimed that boys in ­particular wanted more information about how to have sex, different types of sexual acts and pornog­raphy.

Those findings contrast ­heavily with research done by the La Trobe centre that surveyed secondary school teachers on the same topic. The accompanying report, co-written by Ms Blackman and ­released in 2011, found that the pleasure of sexual behaviour was taught by less than half the teachers surveyed.

It pointed out that most sex education classes focused on fact-based topics around reproduction, birth control, HIV/STIs, safe sex as well as managing peer pressure, forming healthy relationships and decision-making around sexual activity. Abstinence remains a key theme.

The explicit nature of the centre’s latest resource has been questioned by Australian Catholic University’s senior research fellow Kevin Donnelly.

Among the handouts provided to students is a list of sexual terms including “analingus”, also known as “rimming” and “scissoring”.

“Penetrative sex” is ­described as “when a penis or ­object is inserted into the vagina or anus”.

“Most parents and teachers would feel they’ve really gone overboard with this,” Dr Don­nelly said.

“The reality is the pressure is on young people to be sexually explicit and adventurous already but that doesn’t mean we have to endorse that by what we teach.”

Family Voice Australia ­national policy officer Damian Wyld said that many 15 and 16-year-olds had not engaged in sexual activity and classroom activities like this could be ­distressing.

“The Andrews government should place parents’ minds at ease by immediately ruling out any use of this program,’’ he said.

A spokeswoman for Victorian Education Minister James ­Merlino would not comment on whether there were plans to ­endorse the resource, saying only that it was not part of the department’s resources.

The La Trobe centre and Ms Blackman declined to comment.