Friday, September 30, 2016

Boston Latin needs more diversity?

Boston Latin High School is prestigious because of only one thing.  The quality of its students. It no longer requires the study of Latin but it does filter out applicants by ability.  You have to be smart to be admitted.  But, as the certainties of black educational achievement will tell you, that means that the school should almost all be white.  There are very few top educational achievers among blacks. 

But Leftists hate that "unequal" reality and will always strive to destroy anything selective.  And they have already undermined Boston Latin.  They have subverted the admission procedures to the point where blacks are an absurd 20% of the student body.  Many of those blacks should not be there -- mixing with elite whites. 

Nobody likes dummies so it is a considerable tribute to the white students that for 99% of the time they do or say nothing adverse to the dummies amongst them.  Schoolchildren are however hard on one another generally.  The elite cliques that form among the "cool" students are well-known.  And those excluded by such cliques are mostly white.  So superior attitudes towards blacks can be expected not because of race but because of "coolness", however coolness is defined in that time and place.  But in the perfervidly race-conscious environment of Left-dominated American education today, normal adolescent aloofness will be characterized as racism.

There is NO racism at Boston Latin.  Blacks just don't like the way whites look past them.  Even the author below admits that the complaints are nebulous.  They are more than nebulous.  They are mistaken.  The smart white kids of Boston Latin know what terrors would descend upon them if they did or said anything racist.  So they don't do it.

So the prescription below is exactly the reverse of what is needed.  Bending the rules to let more blacks in would only sharpen racial divisions.  What is needed is strict enforcement of the rules so that the whites and blacks who are admitted are intellectually equal.  THAT is how the black students would get respect.  Respect cannot be forced.  It has to be earned.

US ATTORNEY Carmen M. Ortiz announced the findings of a civil rights investigation into Boston Latin School on Monday, but they were shockingly unrevealing. Ortiz found that there was a climate of racial discrimination and harassment at the school, and that BLS staff failed to adequately handle student complaints.

But we already knew that, primarily from Boston Public Schools’ own investigation into the incidents. What’s new is that, in one instance, Ortiz found the school in violation of the federal Civil Rights Act. As a result, the district agreed to a three-year period of oversight under the Department of Justice. During that time, BPS will be monitored to make sure the school carries out mandatory training for students, faculty, and staff on racial harassment policies; designs a restorative justice system; hires a diversity officer; and conducts an annual survey of the school’s racial climate. In fact, some of those measures had already been implemented at the school, such as the hiring of Albert Holland, in March, as special assistant to the superintendent, to help with racial tensions. He’s now been appointed as the diversity officer at Boston Latin.

Hopefully, such remedies will result in a better school environment. But Ortiz ignored the elephant in the room. The racial harassment that resulted in the civil rights violation probably wouldn’t have happened if the school were more diverse in the first place. “We know the harm racial isolation causes,” says Matt Cregor, of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice. “When you’re made to be the only person in the room of a certain color of skin or national origin, that’s a tremendous burden.”

Indeed, the racial demographics at Boston Latin School diverge sharply from the district’s. Black and Latino students constitute 74 percent of the city’s school population yet account for only 20 percent of Boston Latin’s student body. To be fair, the district is boosting efforts to diversify the pool of candidates seeking admission to the city’s three exam schools, including Boston Latin. But in looking for long-term strategies to tackle racial tensions at the school — approaches that go beyond a survey or a training session here and there — the admissions policy must be on the table.

School officials had been already doing that. But they got off on the wrong foot when it was reported, in early July, that there was an under-the-radar advisory group examining entry requirements at Boston Latin and the city’s two other exam schools. Alumni and parents understandably cried foul, concerned about stealth efforts to change policy. It’s incumbent on Boston Public Schools to reexamine a process that shortchanges the majority of the city’s student body. But such conversations need to be conducted publicly.

Students are currently admitted to BLS based just on grade averages and test scores. A quota system once reserved 35 percent of seats for black and Latino students, but that system ended after a 1995 lawsuit in which a white student claimed reverse discrimination. Since then, minority representation has lagged.

Boston Latin is an exclusive school by nature. But application criteria have changed over time, and could change again; maintaining academic excellence is perfectly compatible with the goal of reducing racial isolation.

The use of test scores and grades as admission criteria carries an inherent disadvantage. It favors the families who can afford to pay hundreds of dollars for a test preparation course. The old quota system may have been an unacceptably blunt tool to diversify the student body, but there are legal race-conscious approaches that the district could consider, such as assigning more weight to applications from kids living in certain zip codes.

This summer’s US Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action signals that higher-education institutions have some discretion factoring race in the admissions process. That message should ring loud and clear in elementary and secondary school systems as well. To address the root of tensions Ortiz and others have identified, the district needs to look hard at the way students are admitted to BLS, the district’s “crown jewel.”


Students, refuse to think racially

The obsession with racism on campus is harming human relations

When it comes to student politics, race is all the rage. Last week, NUS president Malia Bouattia said university can even be ‘psychologically destructive’ for black students. From course curricula to banter at the union bar, universities have allegedly become infected with ‘campus racism’ – a relative term that allows NUS officials to defend BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) groups while labelling the University of Birmingham a ‘Zionist outpost’.

Campus racism is supposedly so endemic that universities now hold race workshops, forcing fresh-faced students to come to terms with their innate prejudices. The University of Oxford held a ‘Race 101 (Or How Not To Be Racist)’ class for freshers last year.

So when a fresher starts university, it is assumed he or she has a penchant for racism. Where the first weeks of university were once seen as an opportunity to go bonkers with a bunch of strangers, this new racialised climate has made freshers’ week a nervous affair. The Oxford Union last year passed a motion condemning itself as ‘institutionally racist’. You’re racist, your university is racist – everyone is racist.

Students are now encouraged to see everything through the prism of race – leading, most recently, to a panic about so-called cultural appropriation. At the University of East Anglia and the University of Birmingham, students have been banned from wearing sombreros because apparently the hats are disrespectful to Mexicans; party-goers at Birmingham have also been chastised for wearing Native American costumes. At Cambridge, a Lion King-themed dinner was shut down after the students’ union’s African Society complained the menu was culturally insensitive. Universities used to be places where young people could expose themselves to foreign ideas and cultures; now it’s considered virtually a crime to deviate from one’s own heritage.

Now, even certain relics of history can be deemed racist and dangerous. Last year at Oxford, a group of students demanded a statue of Cecil Rhodes, a long-dead British colonialist, be torn down à la Palmyra due to the distressing impact they claimed it was having on black students. This was a campaign that actually celebrated the alleged vulnerability of black students. Its nastiness became evident when, during a visit to his home in South Africa, a leader of the campaign made a waitress cry what he called ‘typical white tears’ after he refused to tip her – ‘even if she’s working class, she is linked to whiteness’, he said.

Even the intrinsic value of education is under threat from this new racialism. The NUS’s ‘Why is my curriculum white?’ campaign insists that universities operate ‘under a colonial legacy, perpetuating “Whiteness” both structurally and in the confines of knowledge reproduced’. The campaign is founded on the notion that black students are innately ‘under-stimulated by the content of their [white] curricula’. In short, people are only able to relate to topics relevant to their identity. This notion flies in the face of what anti-racists have always argued – that all people are capable of participating in society as equals. Where black-rights campaigners once struggled for the right to be treated the same as everyone else, now a small clique of identity-politics-driven students is fighting for the right to be different and vulnerable.

Worst of all, this ugly climate is affecting students’ social interactions. The rise of microaggressions – the idea that casual comments about a minority student’s appearance or background can make them feel uncomfortable – has frozen campus interactions. When a fresher walks into their hall of residence and asks their new flatmate where he or she is from, that is now considered potentially racist. Last year Goldsmiths’ students’ union banned white people from anti-racist meetings, because proper discussion couldn’t take place with ‘oppressors’ in the room.

While much of this might sound comical, the return of racialism in the academy is anything but funny – it has serious repercussions for freedom of speech and even human engagement. It makes new students feel uncomfortable from the moment they start university. And it harms education. This is not anti-racism – it’s anti-universalism.


Teaching students to be mentally ill

The obsession with ‘student stress’ makes campus life dull and censorious

Procrastinating, over-tired, lacking in concentration, eating poorly? Those sound like the normal traits of a university student to me. Not anymore, it seems. According to most UK university guidance today, if you’re an undergrad experiencing any of those things, then you might be struggling with a mental-health issue.

Before students have even sat through their first lecture, they’re bombarded with advice, tips and invitations to workshops to enhance their mental wellbeing. This year, students at King’s College London will be offered the chance to attend an ‘exploring emotional intelligence’ workshop during freshers’ week, to help ‘identify and deal with the pressures and challenges of their day-to-day lives’. The UK student mental-health charity, Student Minds, recently launched its campaign #BestNightIn, encouraging students to share pictures of themselves in slippers watching Netflix, to counter the stereotypical image of the party-hard fresher. Student Minds hopes the campaign will help students ‘feel confident to do what they want’.

Such interventions aren’t isolated to freshers’ week. There’s ‘university mental-health day’, the Scottish National Union of Students’ campaign calling on us to ‘think positively about student mental-health’. And, throughout the year, there are various workshops and sessions on campuses across Britain to help alleviate students’ exam stress or their general bad feelings.

The NUS found in its 2015 mental-health survey that almost 80 per cent of students had experienced a mental-health issue in the previous academic year, a staggering increase from its report in 2013, which found that only around 30 per cent had. A survey undertaken by the Architects’ Journal found that over 25 per cent of architecture students had received intervention for mental-health issues. These stats seem worrying – but are there really that many students with serious mental-health issues?

The most common mental-health concern cited by students is stress. Most undergrads will be familiar with the mid-term slump: late nights in the library and the struggle to get up for an early morning lecture. But isn’t this just part of university life? Of studying hard for your degree? Instead of simply saying that university is meant to be hard, university management and students’ unions are telling students that if they find it hard then they might need help. This is dangerous. It does nothing to tackle the real mental-health issues that a minority of students will be suffering from; it just turns something like stress – a natural consequence of working hard – into a mental-health concern. The reason many students think they have mental-health issues is because they’re constantly told that they do. Students’ unions and campaign groups are constructing a mental-health panic on campus.

Through constantly telling students they’re probably stressed and overworked and suffering from ‘poor mental wellbeing’, universities are teaching students to think they’re ill. The health and wellbeing department at the University of York offers ‘recognising your self-worth’ and ‘pushing through perfectionism’ workshops for students who ‘try too hard’ or ‘apologise or criticise a lot’. The NUS’s stats on students with mental-health issues now make sense: when even trying too hard can be logged as a mental-health problem, it’s no wonder so many students think they are mentally ill.

The suggested solutions to this made-up epidemic are incredibly infantilising. At Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), the Young Greens society put on an ‘art therapy’ session for students who were ‘stressed from the semester’. The University of Southampton’s students’ union puts on a biannual de-stressing programme called ‘You are more than…’, designed to remind students that they are more than their degree. To combat stress, Southampton provides a petting zoo for students to visit, free hand massages, and university wellbeing workshops.

Promoting the idea that students are fragile feeds censorship. The rise of trigger warnings and Safe Spaces confirms that when students are encouraged to protect themselves from stress or difficult tasks or challenging ideas, then academic rigour and freedom start to suffer. In May this year, law lecturers at the University of Oxford were told to put trigger warnings on any material students might find ‘distressing’. Students were given the option to leave said lectures. At QMUL, the students’ union passed a motion calling on the university to put trigger warnings on material that includes references to ‘violence, sexual violence, sexual abuse, child abuse, homophobia, racism, sexism, etc’. The motion recommends that students contact their course leader if they feel uncomfortable with a particular module. What next: students skipping early lectures because they aren’t comfortable with getting up before 9?

Students, it’s time for us to turn these stats around. We’re not facing a campus-wide mental-health crisis. Finding undergraduate study a challenge is normal. So, if you’re starting university this year, or just returning to the madness, join me in giving two fingers to the mental-health panic. And let’s remind ourselves why we decided to go to university in the first place: to study hard (and party hard) and to become adults. Don’t let them pathologise you or infantilise you.

Emily Dinsmore is a writer, student and a campaigner for spiked’s Invoke Article 50 NOW! campaign.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

UK: Student union president refuses to apologise for 'anti-Semitic' remarks when she called Birmingham University 'a Zionist outpost'

Just another hate-filled Arab.  She's quite a nutcase.  From Wikipedia:  She is the first Muslim and black British head of the NUS. Bouattia's family are originally from Constantine, Algeria. She identifies (and is referred to by the mainstream media) as a Black Briton on the basis of Algerian heritage, and has been elected by peers to head various organizations for black empowerment; however, her racial identity has provoked controversy from commentators who argue that to be black is to be sub-Saharan African.

The president of the National Union of Students has refused to apologise for comments condemned as anti-Semitic.

Malia Bouattia was widely criticised when she described Birmingham University as 'something of a Zionist outpost' in an article she co-authored five years ago.

But challenged over the remarks on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Tuesday, she refused to apologise for them.

She said: 'I would certainly review my language and would definitely want to explain the political context which I was discussing.

'I absolutely was not saying the things that it has been interpreted as, if you will...'

Ms Bouattia also defended 'safe space' and 'no-platform' policies in universities amid widespread concerns they are curtailing free speech.

Prime Minister Theresa May has described the policies as 'quite extraordinary' and warned they could inhibit thought and development among students.

Ms Bouattia said: 'The thing about safe spaces is they have existed for a very long time in many different forms.

'It's a call from the grassroots, it's an application of democratic processes in order to ensure that spaces of education - students unions and so on - are safe places in which to debate and in which to discuss ideas.'

She added: 'We are not stopping the tearing apart of problematic views and ideas and so on, and I think it's incredibly naive to think that unless we provide spaces where they are necessarily aired, where racist, xenophobic, homophobic views are aired, that they are not otherwise known about or taken on.'


UK: Muslim pupils at Islamic faith school told inspectors they DIDN’T want single-sex lessons ‘because it wouldn’t prepare them for life in modern Britain’

Pupils at an Islamic faith school told inspectors they did not want single-sex lessons because it 'wouldn't prepare them for modern life in Britain', the High Court has heard.

The Muslim pupils told a school inspector that segregation at school was having a 'negative effect', because it was not a reflection of life outside the classroom.

The comments were revealed during a High Court legal battle over a controversial Ofsted report relating to a school which cannot be identified for legal reasons.

The inspector told Mr Justice Jay that one young woman referred to it as 'dumb'.

He said boys had also mentioned segregation as 'having a negative impact in terms of preparing them for life'. But he added that not all pupils had agreed with that view.

The challenge has been brought by the school's interim executive board over findings in the Ofsted report that it was an 'inadequate school' and required special measures.

The board is disputing the report's findings and applying for a judicial review to have it quashed.

One of the criticisms in the report was the school's segregation of boys from girls.

The judge was told the Islamic voluntary-aided school admitted pupils of both sexes between the ages of four and 16.

From Year 5, girls and boys are completely segregated for all lessons, break and lunchtimes, as well as for school clubs and trips.

The school cannot be named after a judge at an earlier hearing said identifying it would be likely 'to generate a media storm and tensions and fears for parents and the local community'.

The judge said if the school's legal challenge failed the interim order could be lifted and the report published.


School ditches ALL homework - because headmistress says teachers don't have time to mark and prepare lessons

Special, snowflake teachers?

A school has stopped giving homework to pupils because the headmistress says teachers don't have enough time to mark and prepare lessons.

Catherine Hutley, principal at Philip Morant School and College, in Colchester, Essex, claims scrapping after-school work will allow staff to use the time to plan better lessons.

Schools which have previously scrapped homework have made the move to reduce mental health problems among pupils. Some have extended school hours instead.

Ms Hutley said she accepted the move was controversial but said she was 'genuinely excited' about the innovative approach and is convinced students - who are aged between 11 and 18 - will benefit.

She said: 'The job of a teacher is impossible. There are not enough hours in the day for a teacher to teach, set homework, mark homework, and plan their lessons.

'It is a move away from a more traditional approach but we would not do anything which would hinder the progress of our children.

'We have the most dedicated and committed staff you could possibly ask for. They are working every hour God sends but planning lessons can fall by the wayside.

'We want it to be the number one priority so teachers can plan for students' individual needs and keep on top of their progress on a daily basis.'

Ms Hutley said out-of-school-hours learning will still be encouraged through the school's website with prizes offered to the most dedicated students.

She said homework was too often made up of finishing curriculum work which had not been completed in class.

She also said it would stop children who do not complete their homework from falling behind.

Ms Hutley said the move away from traditional homework had been discussed for a year. She added: 'We are aware opinions on this issue are polarised with many parents and carers delighted by the change but others concerned by what the move will mean for their child.

'We have carefully analysed the performance and progress of our students and the impact homework has had on this. 'We know homework is not working for the majority of our students.

'This new approach allows us to more carefully track and monitor students both academically but also against skills critical for their lives ahead.'

The school, which has 1,650 students and was rated 'good' in its last Ofsted report, has already got rid of academic banding and the use of mobile phones at school.

Ms Hutley added: 'If, for any reason, we start to see this new approach to homework is having a negative impact on students' progress, we will do something about it. 'But I do not believe that will happen.'

Last year the independent boarding school Cheltenham Ladies' College announced plans to ditch homework in response to an 'epidemic' of mental health problems.

In 2013 Jane Austen College, in Norwich, said pupils would be expected to complete all their work during timetabled hours, and extended the school day to 5pm.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

SFSU Links with Controversial Palestinian University Troubles Pro-Israel Advocates

A row over a relationship between San Francisco State University and a university in the West Bank has reached Congress, where a memorandum of understanding between SFSU and An-Najah National University is being challenged.

An-Najah has been accused of fostering an environment of violence and terror, and is broadly seen in that light by Israelis. The largest university in the West Bank and Gaza, An-Najah has a long history of politically extreme connections.

In 2013, Hamas was re-introduced to student council elections through students with strong ties to the terrorist organization, Al-Monitor reported at the time. The move was seen to signal a return by Hamas to West Bank politics, as Palestinian universities are traditionally closely tied to Palestinian political life.

This month the Middle East Forum (MEF), a Philadelphia-based conservative nonprofit group, alerted Congress to the relationship between the two schools. MEF argues that the relationship presents a potential security risk due to exchanges between faculty members and students.

“An-Najah is a hotbed of Islamist radicalism,” the organization wrote in a letter to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “Going back to at least 2001, clear documentation exists that prominent current and former students from An-Najah were directly involved in terrorism, as well as pro-terrorist propaganda and incitement.”

An-Najah is based in Nablus, a city of about 120,000 people in the northern West Bank that was a violent flashpoint during the second intifada. Fighting and skirmishes there between 2001 and 2005 left scores of bullet holes in walls and windows that are still visible today.

Posters of people from Nablus killed during that period and since then, including some who carried out terrorist attacks, are still plastered on the outside of buildings around the city, which Israeli citizens are strictly forbidden from entering.

During a reception with faculty in April 2015, SFSU’s president, Leslie Wong, publicly lauded the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with An-Najah.

“It was really easy for me to sign the agreement with An-Najah University,” said Wong. He added that after a trip to the area in 2013, he decided he wanted SFSU to be one of the first universities to sign an agreement with An-Najah or “any of the other universities in the Arab world.”

“I feel deeply that it was not only the right thing to do, but this university should have done it twenty years ago, fifty years ago,” said Wong. “We are playing a little bit of catch up, but that’s okay.”

State law gives university presidents within the California State University system the authority to sign agreements such as MOUs with foreign institutions. Despite criticism over the relationship, Wong said he stands behind the decision.

Still, the relationship between An-Najah and SFSU is not listed among the numerous official international partnerships on SFSU’s website.  A search, however, does bring up references in the university’s mentions in the media, referring to “a memorandum of understanding that SF State has with Al-Najah University, a Palestinian university in the West Bank.”

Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, associate professor of “race and resistance studies” at SFSU, is a major proponent of the relationship. Rabab is director of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative and an adviser and mentor of the General Union of Palestinian Students at SFSU. Her academic profile page features a list of published papers dealing with Palestinian issues and an image of a raised fist with a call for a “third intifada” in Arabic.

According to the Canary Mission, a database documenting people and organizations that promote hatred of the US, Israel, and the Jewish people on campuses in North America, Abdulhadi has publicly “defended branding radical advocacy as scholarship and her alignment with avowed terrorists.”

A copy of the MOU obtained by MEF through a public records request shows that it was signed by both university presidents in late 2014. Neither SFSU nor An-Najah responded to requests for comment, emailed to their respective public affairs departments.

According to the MEF, the silence about the partnership is typical.

“This has been going on for two years,” MEF director Gregg Roman said by phone. He said the stonewalling hasn’t stopped his organization from pursuing the issue. “We took our time, we did due diligence. No one responded to us.”

Roman said that since sending the letter to Congress, the MEF has been in touch with relevant congressional offices whose “opinion of this has been quite negative.”

“They are concerned, especially in a time of combatting extremism,” said Roman. “It’s quite absurd that there is a relationship between these universities.”

Cinnamon Stillwell, the West Coast representative for MEF’s Campus Watch program, added that there are genuine security concerns. Stillwell,  a graduate of SFSU, has written extensively about the university’s engagement with Palestinian universities.

“I personally witnessed anti-Israel behavior on campus, in particular the controversy in the 1990s surrounding anti-Semitic symbols in the original Malcolm X mural,” Stillwell said in an email. “So I see the MOU with An-Najah as a continuation of an established pattern.”


History Teacher Stomps on U.S. Flag in Classroom

A North Carolina history teacher is facing a firestorm of controversy after he allegedly stomped on a U.S. flag inside a public school classroom.

The incident happened Monday at Massey Hill Classical high School in Fayetteville, home to Fort Bragg and one of the most patriotic communities in the nation.

“What that teacher did was a gut punch to all the military kids at that school,” one outraged parent told me. “More so to the ones with deployed parents and unforgivably so to Gold Star kids who lost a parent who fought under that flag. It is indefensible.”

A spokesperson for Cumberland County Superintendent Frank Till Jr. told me they are investigating the allegations and will not comment until the probe is completed.

“Clearly there are other ways to teach First Amendment rights without desecrating a flag,” the superintendent said in a statement to television station WRAL.

The Fayetteville Observer identified the teacher as Lee Francis.

A Facebook user identified as Sara Taylor posted a photo online that showed Francis at a lectern with the American flag crumpled on the floor.

“That flag might not mean anything to that teacher, but it means a lot to us and it means a lot to the family’s (sic) who had their service member come home to them in a casket with that flag draped over it,” Taylor wrote.

WRAL quoted students as saying the teacher tried to burn and cut the flag before dropping it on the floor. They also report that at least two students walked out of the classroom during the demonstration.

An active duty Army officer who has children in the Cumberland County school system told me not only was the teacher disrespectful but also a bully.

“I believe the teacher should be fired,” the officer said (asking not to be identified). “And if the principal defends him, she should resign and go to a non-military community.”

The fact is that many children of our brave fighting men and women attend that school and they deserve better.

I was especially moved by the patriotism of the teenagers in that classroom. Ms. Taylor wrote on her post that one of the students took the flag out of the classroom and asked that it be properly take care of.

God bless those young people.


UK: Let’s put the campus sex panic to bed

Freshers, ignore the fearmongers and enjoy your newfound freedom

‘You know you want it’, sang Robin Thicke in ‘Blurred Lines’. This, of course, was the song that was banned by 25 students’ unions in 2013 because its lyrics didn’t fit the NUS-approved narrative about sex. And yet, if you’re starting university, chances are Robin is right: you do want it.

After all, alongside broader horizons and better job prospects, sex has long been one of the major draws of going to university. For most students, freshers’ year is the first time they’ve lived away from home. And they tend to make the most of this newfound liberty by seeking out the pleasures that were previously denied to them: namely, staying out all hours and having some sex.

This is all to the good. But, sadly, student sex has been getting a lot of bad press of late. According to student newspaper the Tab, sexual harassment and consent workshops will be running this term at nine universities, including Oxford. Some of these workshops will be compulsory for all first-years.

Royal Holloway has signed up to the National Union of Students’ (NUS) ‘I Heart Consent’ campaign, and will be carrying out workshops covering the legal definitions of rape and sexual assault, in between asking students to give examples of ‘slut-shaming’ and ‘prude-shaming’. Meanwhile, Bristol students will get to enjoy a mandatory quiz, laying out sexual scenarios and asking them to judge whether they are consensual. And the bar staff at the University of East Anglia are being trained to stop lewd behaviour (wouldn’t you have loved to have been a fly on the wall at that training day?).

So, why the panic about students’ sex lives? Well, much of it stems from the NUS’s 2010 Hidden Marks report, which claimed that one in seven women experience ‘serious physical or sexual assault during their time as a student’. But though Hidden Marks sparked a flurry of scaremongering headlines, it doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny. The central statistic lumped together a range of experiences, from ‘touching over clothes’ to general physical assault – effectively conflating clumsy come-ons with serious crimes.

But campus ‘rape culture’ is the myth that just won’t die. This year, students have returned to university to find yet another sexual-harassment campaign. Launched by Drinkaware, ‘You Wouldn’t Sober, You Shouldn’t Drunk’ aims to encourage #GropeFreeNights. A report about the campaign on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show included students talking about examples of sexual harassment they’d experienced on a night out. They describe ‘unwanted attention’, ‘someone coming up to you when you’ve given no signal you’re interested’, and ‘creepy guys’ who stand too close. That’s not sexual harassment – that’s just bad flirting.

And yet, despite all the evidence to the contrary, the idea that campuses are hotbeds of sexual violence is still taken as gospel. Sports teams have been disciplined or banned altogether for promoting so-called lad culture through sexist banter. What it all amounts to is a wholly inaccurate picture of campus life, where women are at constant threat of being harassed and men are only ever a couple of drinks (or jokes) away from turning into sexual deviants.

The NUS, along with various fearmongering campaign groups, seems to want students to believe that sex is scary. I wouldn’t be surprised if next year’s campaign was simply titled, ‘Abstinence – just do it!’. But, if you are a fresher, there are two very important things to remember. One, sex is fun; that’s why it has silly synonyms like ‘shagging’ and ‘bonking’. And two, your sex life is no one’s business but your own.

The world the anti-sex-brigade seeks to conjure up – one where women are victims and men are sexual predators – simply doesn’t exist. This is certainly not the norm on campus. And female students are as proud of the notches on their bedposts as their male counterparts. Flirting, come-ons, one-night stands that you’d rather forget… these are all part of the student experience. For many students, freshers’ is a great opportunity to get some experience in. And, best of all, it’s a fantastic source of stories to keep up your sleeve for ‘I have never’-style drinking games.

Here’s hoping most students ignore the campus sex panic this freshers’ week and cheerfully get on with getting their leg over – in and around their other scholarly commitments, of course.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

High school student is suspended for posting 'concerning' picture of discolored water coming out of a restroom sink on social media

A teenager was suspended for posting a photo of discolored water that was coming out of the sink at her school on social media.

Hazel Juco said the water concerned her and she 'just took a picture of it' and then talked about it with other students in her newspaper class, WXYZ reported.

Juco, who is a senior at John Glenn High School, posted the photo on Facebook and Twitter.

She told the station that she hoped 'someone will see it and want to help us' because she said, it's obvious that her school 'doesn't have money'.

Juco was then given Out of School Suspension (OSS) as she said school officials told her that she inappropriately used 'electronics in the restroom'.

But Juco said she believed that she was being singled out because 'no one has gotten in trouble' for taking 'selfies in the bathroom'.

After students found out about it, many protested by tweeting photos they had taken in the bathroom and didn't get in trouble for them.

Wayne-Westand Community Schools Superintendent Dr Michele Harmala, told the station that after looking into what was happening she found out that the high school's administrators didn't report the issue to maintenance. Harmala said: 'They sent a plumber out right away.'

Maintenance crews discovered that there was a pipe leading to that faucet that needed to be replaced.

Harmala also told WXYZ that the rule against cell phones in bathrooms was implemented to prevent students from taking inappropriate photos of other students.

'The punishment is inappropriate. I am going to make sure the out of school suspension is expunged from the student's record,' said Dr. Harmala.

She added that she wants students to know that if they spot a building problem, they can report it to building maintenance or administration directly.


How College Costs Lie to Us

When I graduated high school, my parents and I decided that I would go to community college before proceeding to university. This was to sharply reduce the cost of college (two years of tuition, rather than four), and thereby keep us from taking out college loans. Surprisingly, this economical choice is made by fewer students and parents each year, despite the ever-rising cost of a college degree.

Common sense seems to dictate that the more expensive college becomes, the fewer people will enroll and take on that financial burden. But that is not what currently happens; in fact, the opposite seems to occur. Why?

The Supply and Demand of Knowledge

In 1996, a year of private university tuition cost $19,117 on average. In 2016, that increased to $32,405 (a 70 percent increase). Similarly, a year of public university tuition cost $4,399 in 1996, and raised to $9,410 by 2016 (a 114 percent increase). At the same time, inflation increased 53 percent, meaning the cost of a public school rose twice as fast as inflation. Are college graduates today 114 percent better educated than college graduates two decades ago? Doubtful, yet today’s graduates pay tuition as if they are.

Knowledge is a commodity, just like a coffee bean or an iPhone. Like any commodity, knowledge can be sold, and therefore has a price.Students and their parents continue to pay for universities, both public and private. More correctly, students, their parents, and government loans pay. In 2000, 32 percent of students received a federal government loan, with an average loan amount of $2,486. In 2014, that rose to 45 percent of students (a 41 percent total increase), with an average loan of $4,531 (an 82 percent increase).

What is this money buying? Knowledge is a commodity, just like a coffee bean or an iPhone. Like any commodity, knowledge can be sold, and therefore has a price. That is why a professor has a job, and earns a salary for doing that job. The more knowledgeable the professor, the higher the salary.

Furthermore, universities are businesses, as are coffee shops and the Apple store, and knowledge is their commodity. Like those businesses, the knowledge that universities sell is subject to the law of supply and demand – the more people want something, the more expensive it becomes; the more that thing is made, the less expensive it becomes.

Universities have only a limited number of professors, or knowledge purveyors. As more students go to universities seeking knowledge (buying knowledge), universities will respond by increasing the amount of money it takes to be given that knowledge (selling knowledge).

By this economic law, there are only two ways to hold the price constant: 1) hire new professors faster than you admit new students (increase the supply of knowledge), or 2) admit fewer students (decrease the demand for knowledge). Since 1995, the total number of full-time professors in the United States increased by 44 percent. During the same time, total national enrollment increased by 43 percent.

This shows two things: universities have only added enough new professors to simply account for new students, and there are a lot more students. In other words, new supply has only kept up with new demand, and the imbalance remains.

To economists, this paradoxically implies that students and their parents do not believe that college is too expensive. Specifically, it indicates the benefits of paying for college outweigh rising costs. But that is not true, and it’s the federal government’s fault.

Encouraged by Illusion

Federal aid awards (federal loans) have kept pace with rising enrollment figures (41 percent increase and 43 percent increase, respectively). In so doing, the federal government has allowed students and their parents to largely ignore the rising cost of tuition. Rather than a student or parent having to pay 114 percent more for college today, federal loans allow that student or parent to only pay 33 percent more for college, a small price for “future job prospects.”

Federal aid awards have kept pace with rising enrollment figures, thereby allowing students and their parents to ignore rising tuition costs.The effect is that nothing keeps the price from going up. By its loans, the federal government (in conjunction with state governments) distort the cost-benefit analysis of college. Students and parents are shielded from the real cost of college, and never have to make the tough choices that result. The government is enabling – encouraging – poor decisions.

Experience shows that the law of supply and demand cannot be suspended, no matter how we wish it could. The price of a cup of coffee is only kept in check by people’s willingness to pay that price – if Starbucks begins to sell a tall cup of coffee for $4.39, fewer people will buy that coffee, and Starbucks will have to drop the price back to $2.95. The same should be true for college, yet it is not, because the government makes it look as if that cup of coffee is only $2.95, rather than $4.39.

Therefore, the only way – the only real way – to reduce the cost of college is to stop lying to students and parents about it. Only if the real cost is made plain will families be able to make good decisions about whether college is worth it. Likely, many will find it is not, and that there are great job prospects to be had at much lower cost.


The Infantilizing of the Academy

Recently, I was asked by an Italian author and journalist, working on an article for Il Giorno on the subject of “mute liberalism” and political correctness in the U.S., for my impressions of the “decadence” afflicting American culture. He wanted to know what the reasons were for what he saw as a political and cultural wasting disease and, in particular, when the inexorable slide began into self-censorship, pervasive hedonism, the debasement of the social and intellectual elites, the abandonment of republican principles and the reversal of traditional social roles.

This was a question too vanishingly large to answer definitively, but it did get me thinking once again about some of the factors that might have caused—as Québécois producer Denys Arcand put it in the title and story of his sadly amusing film—the The Decline of the American Empire, a film modeled on Edward Gibbons’ The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Decadence, of course, is not solely an American phenomenon; no Western country is exempt from the vectors of degeneration at work in the liberal/democratic sphere today. But what happens to the U.S., as the guarantor of Western freedom and prosperity, happens to the rest of us. With America in decline, none of its dependents—and we are all its dependents, however loath we may be to admit it—will be spared. Indeed, most Western countries can survive their moral and political deterioration so long as America is willing and able to support them militarily, fiscally and politically, which is, for example, the story of ungrateful Europe since the Marshall Plan. Such is no longer the case. This is why the preoccupation of non-nationals—Italians like my interviewer, Canadians like me—with the fortunes of the U.S. is an issue of primary concern.

In any event, the “decadence” my interviewer was referring to obviously began a long time ago—when exactly is another question. One thinks of deconstructionist philosopher Jacques Derrida’s theory of receding origins, the elusiveness or “eclipsing structure” of all beginnings. On the American historical scene, one could go back to the slave plantations and the Civil War, to the Salem witch trials, or to the bitter duels inherent in the very founding of the Republic between central-government Federalists and states-rights Republicans, a dispute that remains a political fracture to this day. Differing understandings of the Greek and Roman classics regarding the nature of enlightened rule and the proper relation between the governing and the governed were also a locus of contention. As Ron Chernow writes in Alexander Hamilton, commenting on the discrepancy between intention and result that has never been fully resolved, “Today we cherish the two-party system as a cornerstone of American democracy. The founders, however, viewed parties as monarchical vestiges that had no legitimate place in a true republic.” But why stop there? If one wishes, one can go back to the Mayflower and the Arbella and before. A prior “originary” point of decay can always be found.

To focus on the contemporary, certainly John Dewey’s left-oriented “progressivist” and “child-centered” education program, developed mainly in Democracy and Education, which took root in the 1920s, is a reasonable place to start our investigations. Briefly, Dewey believed the child should never be “forced” to learn but rather encouraged to follow his own natal interests—a theory earlier elaborated in the Romantic school of poetry, for example, William Wordsworth’s Intimations Ode where we read that the youth “trailing clouds of glory” is “nature’s priest,” possessing an innate apprehension of the divine. Wordsworth’s exaltation of the child melded seamlessly with his revolutionary belief as a young man in the re-pristinizing of society. It comes as no surprise that the Movement’s enfant terrible, Percy Bysshe Shelley, who espoused similar sentiments, particularly in poems like Queen Mab and Prometheus Unbound, earned the praise of Karl Marx. Shelley yearned for the day, as he wrote in Mab, when the “hands/which little children stretch in friendly sport” would become the emblem of a renewed social contract. Dewey’s oeuvre was clearly influenced by the rejuvenative assumptions of his nineteenth century Romantic precursors.

Unfortunately, a return to origins or the projection of initial states isn’t how the world works. It escaped Dewey’s proselytizing ardor that prior learning and hard study, guided by erudite masters, are necessary for a young person to discover what it is in the world that genuinely interests him and what his condign aptitudes really are. This is the only route to maturity, competence and achievement. “Nature’s priest” has no future unless he is a prince of learning. Failing to understand the need for pedagogical and curricular discipline, for a wide-ranging and classically imposed syllabus, and opting instead for catering benignity in both the formative and later stages of education is a surefire recipe for producing the moral narcissist who is his only truth. The casualties of this retrograde approach, in Peter Wood’s succinct articulation from his online essay The Architecture of Intellectual Freedom, are “men and women capable of wise and responsible stewardship of a free society.”

Dewey’s ideas percolated slowly through American culture and took off in the incendiary '60s, with the free speech movement at Berkeley, the psychedelic dumbing down of the youth population, the takeover of the universities by student radicals, and the insidious inroads made by the destabilizing emigré Frankfurt School, especially Herbert Marcuse of “repressive tolerance” fame, who, in essence, popularized the Marxist theories of Antonio Gramsci and Georg Lukács. The world had to be purified by the exploited masses and remade in the image of youthful innocence, a revisionary project that inspired the young, the callow and the doctrinaire. These notions captured the American seminary and poisoned the minds of generations of students. After that, the die was cast, and America was on the road to becoming a European failure.

“Are we not witnessing,” asks John Agresto in Academic Questions (Vol.29, No.2), “something that looks to be the…purposeful eradication of what it has historically meant to be educated?” The mission of the university is now the inculcation of intellectual conformity, a duplicitous “inclusiveness” that banishes dissenting voices, “social justice,” and discursive closure, coddling students into a condition of protracted puberty as the academy devolves into “separate programs of grievance and outrage.” In this way, students, stunted in their development, become the shock troops of the new world order as they have been taught to see it. And as we know, and as university policies have made glaringly public, children throw tantrums and don’t like to be contradicted.

What we see today, then, universities as centers of leftist indoctrination, the shutting down of intellectual debate (cf. Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind), a generation of “snowflake” students who are preoccupied with frivolities like trigger warnings, microaggresssons, transgender bathrooms, and “safe spaces” where they will never be exposed to an unfamiliar or conflicting idea, and the sniveling infantilization of the entire academic cohort—flows directly from Dewey and his followers. These pedagogical dissidents prepared the ground for the subversive agenda of the Frankfurters by engaging in an act of cerebral softening, that is, promoting the student over the teacher, the child over the man (or woman), and feeling over thought—hence the continuing prominence of the “self-esteem” movement that slashed-and-burned its way through the educational landscape.

One also recalls the baneful influence of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire in his immensely popular The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, who argued against the “banking model” of education—students as vessels to be filled, like piggy banks with coins—and insisted that teachers have little to actually teach their students. Their job was to help them to understand their need for liberation from the engines of oppression—a more incendiary version of Dewey’s contestation. Adapting the theories of postcolonialist Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, Freire’s Manichean paradigm saw traditional teachers as the colonizers, students as the colonized. The student proletariat was to rise up and seize the means of academic production and, ultimately, the machinery of culture and state.

Thus, students were empowered, staff and administration were intimidated, cognitive regression was guaranteed, and the educational establishment at all levels, from primary to post-graduate, was critically breached. The K-12 level was populated chiefly by teacher-trained incompetents and fellow-traveling principals who served as the hoplites of the cultural left. The university was now home to a liberal professoriate comprising individuals who specialized in a single discipline, adopted the approved dogmatic convictions of the progressivist elect, acquired the appropriate exclusionary jargon, and proceeded to turn their classes into nurseries of ideological pap. With very few current exceptions, like Hillsdale College and the University of Chicago, universities have been unable to resist the annihilationist invasion of political correctness, typified by speech codes, rape hysteria, affirmative action mediocrity (evasively labeled “mismatching”), anti-Western sentiment, and the tendency to totalitarian forms of repression. The general decline in mental acuity, scholarly discipline and historical knowledge was a foregone conclusion, and we are reaping the blighted harvest of that Jacobin declension today.

Indeed, the adolescent fervor for “revolution” damn the consequences duly convected into the domain of adulthood, as the feral children of the left, whose minds were polluted by the sentimental and reductive theories of the Dewey-inspired and revisionist brigades, graduated into the various positions of cultural authority—media, education, entertainment and government. Our grown-up Magikarps—timid university presidents and academic leaders, the general run of invertebrate politicians and corrupted journalists, the great majority of Hollywood and sports know-nothings—are essentially children, and children cannot hope to survive in a world without real adults, or too few adults to manage the vast playpen that has become almost coterminous with society as a whole. The commonplace adage that the inmates have taken over the asylum is fundamentally mistaken. Rather, the children have taken over the crèche.

Such is the damage the educational institution has wrought in a culture spoiled by affluence and forgetfulness—a culture that has shucked the past and de-realized the future. The falling off from academic integrity and rigor explains why almost everything from political culture to cultural politics smacks increasingly of retardation. And it accounts in large measure for the descent we are observing. For children, who have no knowledge of the history of their civilization and no sense of an empirical future, cannot think rationally, they can only feel and act upon their feelings. They live in a realm defined by the present and the imaginary. They are the low-information voters, partisan pedants, liberal socialists, leftist ideologues, suborned journalists and entitlement parasites of the current day, living in a make-believe world that is running out of time.

As conservative thinker Richard Weaver wrote in Visions of Order, published in 1964, “without memory and the extrapolation which it makes possible, man becomes a kind of waif” mired in mere presentism. “Under the impossible idea of unrestricted freedom,” he continues, “the cry is to bury the past and let the senses take care of the present.” As the same time, the future takes on the form of a mythical construct, the dream of a golden age that exists only in the cradles of desire. The upshot is truly alarming: a juvenile public cocooned in the utopian silk of destructive illusions. The waifs appear to have won the day.

A culture or a nation run by children must inevitably falter and decline—unless it can recover its mind and purpose, an eventuality that seems less likely with every passing day. Children always leave a mess behind them that needs to be cleaned up by others, assuming there are enough others around to tackle the job. Children have by their very nature no sense of productive order and plainly no conception of the social, political and economic future. That is why we may not have one.


Monday, September 26, 2016

British Primary school scraps rule that children as young as three should walk with hands behind backs 'at all times' after parents' outcry

A primary school has scrapped a rule ordering children to walk with their hands clasped behind their backs 'at all times' after a backlash from parents.

The 214-pupils at St George the Martyr Primary School in Camden, north London, were told last year that they must walk in the 'correct way' in school corridors, which school bosses called the 'University Walk'.

The term is believed to derive from how students at posh universities - such as Oxford, Cambridge and St Andrews - were told to walk in bygone years.

Executive headteacher Angela Abrahams brought in the rule last year, much to the fury of parents, in a bid to 'strengthen pupil safety, maximise learning time' and 'raise their aspirations'.

Parents, however, were horrified, with some saying their kids looked like 'something out of a chain gang'.

Mrs Abrahams, however, left her job before the summer holidays and has been replaced by new headteacher Adam Young, who has 'quietly' dropped the order that kids walk with their hands behind their backs.

Mr Young is believed to have been alerted to the 'unpopularity' of the rule - which tells all kids at the school, aged 3-11, to walk with their hands 'clasped behind their backs' when on the school premises - by staff and parents.

Speaking this week, one parent - who asked not to be named - said: 'It was like the children were living in the 18th century.

'What so-called educators forget is that this is a primary school where children are just beginning to learn.

'There is so much going on in their heads that they do not need to constantly be reprimanded for walking in a perfectly natural way with their arms down by their sides.

'Children do not naturally walk with their hands behind their backs - they are not Lord Snooty, they are little kids trying their best to learn.'

She added: 'It's a blessed relief that all the nonsense has now been scrapped now that a new headteacher has taken over. 'Now kids can get back to being kids.'

Another parent, again unnamed, said the walk was 'akin to prisoners being moved jails', adding: 'School is for learning and developing your mind, not walking single file like prisoners on a chain gang.'

Mother-of-two Maisie Rowe told the Camden New Journal newspaper this week: 'They have quietly shelved the rule.

'I think it just faded away last year as teachers stopped enforcing it and then it has gone this school year.'

Speaking last November, former head Angela Abrahams said: 'Our recently introduced 'University Walk' inspires children to be the best they can be and to 'go shine in the world'.

'It was introduced to strengthen pupil safety, further raise the aspirations of pupils and to maximise learning time.

'Staff report that they appreciate the impact it has had on learning time and pupils continue to be very happy and excited about learning.'

The new headmaster has so far not commented on the scrapping of the rule.


U.S. Education Dept. Issues Guidance to Boost Academic Achievement of 'English Learners'

A fat lot they would know

In the last several decades, English learners have been among the fastest-growing populations in America's schools, now comprising nearly 10 percent of the student population nationwide, according the Education Department.

On Friday, the Education Department released non-regulatory "guidance" to help states, districts and schools "provide effective services to improve the English language proficiency and academic achievement" of those 4.8 million English learners.

“In too many places across the country, English learners get less access to quality teachers, less access to advanced coursework, and less access to the resources they need to succeed," Education Secretary John King Jr. said in a news release. "Together, we can change that reality."

King said that under the "Every Student Succeeds Act," the Education Department aims to "give students the gift of bilingualism and of multilingualism so they are prepared for college and career with a better sense of themselves, their community, their future, and a better appreciation for our diversity as a country.”

The new guidance promotes "effective, research-based language instruction programs" for the diverse English-learner (EL) population, which includes "recently arrived" ELs, long-term ELs and ELs with disabilities.

This guidance explains in detail how Title III funds may be used to provide supplemental services that improve English proficiency and academic achievement of English learners. Those funds may also be used to "increase the knowledge and skills of teachers who serve ELs."

The Education Department notes that all services provided to ELs using Title III funds must supplement, and not supplant, the services that must be provided to ELs under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974, and other state or local laws.

"The Department hopes that this guidance will strengthen State and local efforts to improve educational outcomes for ELs and immigrant children and youth; connect States, (local education agencies) and schools with promising practices and helpful resources; and promote effective LIEPs (Language Instruction Educational Plan) for all ELs."


Ringleader of Oxford University plot to remove Cecil Rhodes statue is accused of racism after admitting he wanted to 'WHIP' a fellow student because he was white

The ringleader of the Oxford University ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ campaign has been accused of racism after admitting he wanted to ‘whip’ a fellow student because he was white.

Ntokozo Qwabe, 25, was filmed using a stick to hit a student’s mobile phone out of his hands – and then ranted online that his victim was guilty of ‘white apartheid settler colonial entitlement’.

It comes after the activist, who has been a postgraduate student at Oxford, led a failed campaign last year for a statue of Cecil Rhodes to be removed from Oriel College.

He claimed that because the 19th-century politician was a colonialist, forcing ethnic minority students walk past it amounted to ‘violence’. The law student then completed his studies in Britain and returned to South Africa, but continued to stir up trouble there. He was recently widely criticised for making a waitress cry in his native Cape Town after refusing to tip her because she was white.

Qwabe’s latest torrent of abuse was written on Facebook after he led a campus protest at the University of Cape Town earlier this week.

Waving a big stick, he led a group of agitators who disrupted a final-year law lecture by singing and standing on tables. When the students refused to leave and one started filming the protest on his mobile phone, he hit it with a stick.

The video of the alleged attack went viral on the internet. Responding to critics who accused him of racism, Qwabe wrote: ‘It is NOT true that I “assaulted” and “whipped with a stick” a white student during our shutdown of the arrogant UCT Law Faculty!

‘Although I wish I’d actually not been a good law-abiding citizen & whipped the white apartheid settler colonial entitlement out of the b******.’

A petition signed by 40,000 people was delivered to Oxford University this year calling on it to revoke Qwabe’s Rhodes scholarship, which allowed him to study using the legacy money left by the politician.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Muslim teacher quits her job after she was told she had to shake hands with male members of staff at Swedish school

A Muslim teacher has quit her job at a school in Sweden after being told she would have to shake hands with male members of staff.

Fardous El-Sakka had been working as a substitute teacher at the Kunskapsskolan school in Helsingborg, when she was asked to shake hands with a male teacher.

But the 20-year-old refused as her religion forbids her from touching any member of the opposite sex who is not related to her.

The man then reported Miss El Sakka to the school's principal, who told her that if she wanted to work there, she would have to abide by the institution's values of shaking hands.

However, she decided to quit rather than go against her religious beliefs and has now referred her case to the Swedish trade union Unionen.

She told the Local that it was the first time a man had taken offence at her refusal to shake his hand and that she can't see herself working at the school again.

Miss El-Sakka added: 'I haven’t received a reply from the union yet, they’re still looking at my case, so I don’t want to say too much until I’ve got some kind of information from them about what will happen with it.

'It's a special school for me because I was a student there. But I don’t think I can see a way back there now.'

Meanwhile the school put out a statement clarifying they did not sack the teacher and that she chose to leave.

They added: 'We would also like to carefully point out that the issue was not her religious beliefs, but rather it is about choosing to treat men and women differently by shaking the hands of women but not men.'

The case mirrors several similar cases around Europe, where Muslim boys in schools have also refused to shake hands with women.

Earlier this week, it was ruled a 15-year-old Muslim schoolboy will have to shake hands with his female teachers after he refused to do so because of his religious beliefs.

Amer Salhani lost his appeal on Monday after his school in Switzerland rejected his argument that the Swiss tradition of handshake greetings went against Islam.

The teenager and his older brother sparked a fiery debate earlier this year when they said they could not shake their teacher's hand because their religion forbids physical contact with a member of the opposite sex - unless they are family.


Black Education Leaders Fight NAACP on Charter Schools

A group of 160 black education and community leaders from across the country are pushing back against an attempt by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to halt all future charter school growth.

The coalition, organized by the Black Alliance for Educational Options and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, sent a letter to NAACP board members on behalf of “700,000 black families choosing to send their children to charter public schools, and the tens of thousands more who are still on waiting lists.”

The letter came in response to a resolution drafted by the NAACP that calls for a “moratorium on the proliferation of privately managed charter schools,” arguing that charter schools have “weak oversight” and put schools in low-income communities “at great risk.”

A NAACP staffer provided a copy of the proposed resolution but was unable to comment.

In the response letter, dated Sept. 21, the coalition of 160 black education and community leaders wrote:

A substantial number of black parents want to have the option of enrolling their children in high-quality charter schools. For many urban black families, charter schools are making it possible to do what affluent families have long been able to do: rescue their children from failing schools. The NAACP should not support efforts to take that option away from low-income and working-class black families.

Charter schools are publicly funded schools that are required to follow state standards such as Common Core. They do not charge tuition but instead of being run by the government, charter schools are operated by private nonprofit or for-profit organizations.

Typically, local and state school boards are in charge of granting private or nonprofit organizations the ability to launch a new charter school. If charter schools do not meet strict achievement standards, the organization’s charter is revoked and given to a new organization to operate.

In exchange for that responsibility, charter schools generally have more autonomy over their daily operations, including hiring, firing, budgeting, and instruction decisions.

The NAACP’s proposed resolution accuses charter school operators of “targeting low-income areas and communities of color,” and said their privately-appointed school boards “do not represent the public.” They also compared charter school expansions in low-income communities to “predatory lending practices.”

The response letter from the group of 160 education leaders, clergy, and public servants addressed many of the NAACP’s “cherry picked” and “debunked” claims, arguing that charter schools have been particularly beneficial to black and low-income families. They wrote:

The notion of dedicated charter school founders and educators acting like predatory subprime mortgage lenders—a comparison the resolution explicitly makes—is a far cry from the truth. In reality, charter schools generally receive less per-pupil funding than traditional district public schools and often receive little or no funding to purchase buildings or maintain classrooms. Despite these hurdles, charter schools are helping students achieve at higher levels than traditional district schools.

The coalition also cited a study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University:

According to the most thorough and respected study of charter school results, conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University, black students learn more when they attend charter schools. Black students in charter schools gained the equivalent of 14 extra days of learning in reading and 14 extra days of learning in math per year compared with their black peers in traditional district schools. For low-income black students attending charter schools, the learning gains were even more dramatic—the equivalent of 29 extra learning days in reading and 36 extra learning days in math.

The NAACP’s resolution will not be made final until board members meet mid-October. The 160 co-signers of the pro-charter school letter are hopeful to convince the board to change its mind, requesting a meeting to “discuss the very serious implications the proposed resolution will have for black families who want and deserve high-quality educational options for their children.”


What Obama’s Education Secretary Got Wrong About Homeschoolers

Homeschooling has been growing in popularity in recent years, and now accounts for about 3.4 percent of the school-age population. That’s more than double the percentage (1.7 percent) of homeschooling families in 1999.

That’s great news for families who have chosen to give a customized, tailor-made education to their children, and for the millions of families across the country whose children are thriving as a result of choosing to homeschool.

Yet, in remarks Wednesday to reporters at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor, Education Secretary John King—although he conceded that there are homeschooling families who are doing well—told the audience he worries that homeschooled students aren’t “getting the range of options that are good for all kids.” According to Politico:

King said he worries that ‘students who are homeschooled are not getting kind of the rapid instructional experience they would get in school’—unless parents are “very intentional about it”.

King said the school experience includes building relationships with peers, teachers and mentors—elements which are difficult to achieve in homeschooling, he said, unless parents focus on it.

King’s statement that he is concerned that homeschooled students are not getting the “rapid instructional experience they would get in school” is problematic on several fronts.

First, it assumes homeschooled students are not in school. As Milton Friedman famously quipped in “Free to Choose,” “not all ‘schooling’ is education and not all ‘education’ is schooling.”

Many homeschooled students attend some of the most rigorous and intellectually challenging schooling there is. Many families pursue a rigorous classical curriculum. Others choose to homeschool because their children wanted more challenging options than their assigned public school provided.

Research suggests homeschooled students are better prepared for college. Colleges likes Hillsdale and Grove City have become renowned for their rigor and high proportion of homeschooled matriculates. Contrary to King’s analysis, homeschooled students are in “school,” and they’re doing great.

Second, let’s examine what King refers to as the “rapid instructional experience” students receive in the aggregate in K-12 education today.

According to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress, administered by the U.S. Department of Education, just one-third of all eighth-graders in public schools can read proficiently. Roughly two out of 10 students don’t graduate high school at all. The United States ranks in the middle of the pack on international assessments such as the Program for International Student Assessment. In short: There is significant room for improvement in the traditional public education system.

Third, homeschooling families have amazing networks to ensure children build relationships with peers and mentors—another concern of King’s.

Homeschooling co-ops and sports leagues are just a few examples. And homeschool networking is becoming more sophisticated.

Former quarterback Tim Tebow was able to play football as a homeschooled student in Florida because the state allows homeschooled students to play on public school sports teams. Tebow went on to become the first homeschooled student to win the coveted Heisman Trophy.

The ubiquity of the internet means parents who homeschool have a wide world of academic content available at their fingertips, including everything from online college prep courses to computer coding academies, as well as a means of connecting with other homeschooling families.

One of the catalysts behind the growth in homeschooling is a sense among many parents that public education is not meeting the needs of their children.

Recent federal efforts to establish national standards and tests through Common Core have heightened concerns among many parents that they no longer have a seat at the table when it comes to what is taught in their child’s public school. And math and English language arts scholars have repeatedly voiced concerns that Common Core fails to prepare students for college.

Government education bureaucrats are right to worry about homeschooling—but not for the reasons King set forth. It is more likely they are worried that parents—whether empowered to homeschool or to select from the some 59 education choice programs now in place—will choose something other than a government education provider.