Friday, November 25, 2016

Oxford college is to appoint 'class liberation officer' to protect working class students from insults
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This is not as pathetic as it appears. The British class system is very oppressive and working class students undoubtedly feel unfairly excluded from many activities at Oxford. Whether that can be changed is another question

Working class students at an Oxford University college are to get a 'class liberation officer' to protect them from bullying and patronising comments.

Last week students at St Hilda's College voted to create the new post, backing a motion that said working class students suffered from 'microaggressions and classism at university' and needed more support.

St Hilda's was founded in 1893 as an all-women's college but started allowing men in 2007.

'Insults such as "chav", chav-themed social nights and questions such as "why are you wearing Primark?" can make poor students feel upset and worthless,' one student was reported as complaining in The Times.

St Hilda's alumni include TV presenter Bettany Hughes, newscaster Zeinab Badawi, crime writer Val McDermid, Labour MP Meg Hillier and poets Wendy Cope and Jenny Joseph.

The motion which was passed proposed that 'the position of Class Liberation Officer should be created to represent the interests of students from working class backgrounds and act in a similar way to the POC (People of Colour) and RE Officer, LGBTQ+ Officer, Women’s Officer and Disabilities Officer to represent students who self-identify as being part of this group.'

Those behind the move pointed out that earlier this year then Prime Minister David Cameron accused Oxford of 'not doing enough to attract talent from across our country'.

St Hilda's is not the first college to appoint a champion for lower income students.

King's College London, Manchester University and the School of Oriental and African Studies have all created similar roles in recent years.


Meet Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Pick for Education Secretary

President-elect Donald Trump has selected billionaire philanthropist Betsy DeVos, a relatively unknown figure on the national scene, to head the U.S. Department of Education.

“Betsy DeVos is a brilliant and passionate education advocate,” Trump said in a press release. “Under her leadership we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families.”

Although she has little name recognition, DeVos is well-known in the education world, having donated and served on the board for a number of school choice nonprofits.

“I am honored to accept this responsibility to work with the president-elect on his vision to make American education great again,” DeVos said in a statement. “The status quo in education is not acceptable. Together, we can work to make transformational change that ensures every student in America has the opportunity to fulfill his or her highest potential.”

DeVos is a relatively safe pick for conservatives who favor school choice programs such as vouchers that would enable low-income families to send their children to a private school of their choice, however, she is a polarizing figure for those who support the traditional public school system.

Here’s seven things to know about Trump’s pick for education secretary:

1. She does not support Common Core “period.”
Upon accepting the position of education secretary, DeVos issued a statement clarifying that she is not a supporter of Common Core “period.”

Trump’s disdain for the national standards was perhaps the most talked about education policy issue on the campaign trail, and DeVos’ opinion on the issue was previously unclear.

DeVos currently serves as head of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which was started by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who Trump criticized for defending the national standards.

In recent years, DeVos had been quiet on the issue of Common Core, but upon accepting the position in the Trump administration, she changed that, writing:

I do support high standards, strong accountability, and local control. When governors such as John Engler, Mike Huckabee, and Mike Pence were driving the conversation on voluntary high standards driven by local voices, it all made sense.

Have organizations that I have been a part of supported Common Core? Of course. But that’s not my position. Sometimes it’s not just students who need to do their homework.

However, along the way, it got turned into a federalized boondoggle.

Above all, I believe every child, no matter their ZIP code or their parents’ jobs, deserves access to a quality education.

2. She strongly supports school vouchers.
DeVos believes that every child should have the opportunity for a “top-notch education,” regardless of their family’s financial background.

For that reason, she and her husband advocated a ballot proposal in 2000 that would have amended the Michigan Constitution to create a school voucher program that allows taxpayer funds to follow students to private schools. After hitting a roadblock, she and her husband formed a political action committee to support voucher-friendly candidates on the national level.

According to Chalkbeat, “the group counted a 121-60 win-loss record.” Since then, she’s played a major role in expanding the number of school choice programs available to students across the country.

3. She also supports charter schools.
DeVos and her husband have been actively involved in promoting charter schools for over two decades, and helped to pass Michigan’s first charter school law in the state.

Charter schools are publicly funded and open to all students, but able to operate with more autonomy than traditional public schools.

There are currently 275 charter schools in Michigan, according to the American Federation for Children, some of which have been criticized for their lack of accountability and government oversight. Some blame the DeVos family for contributing to that lack of oversight. “The DeVos influence is one reason that Michigan’s charter sector is among the least regulated in the country,” Chalkbeat reported.

4. She’s an outsider in Washington, but an insider in Michigan.
Although dealing with the inner workings of Congress will be new to DeVos, she’s well-familiar with the political system, having served as chair of the Michigan Republican Party.

Her husband, Dick DeVos, was elected to the State Board of Education in 1990 and ran for governor of Michigan in 2006, losing to Democrat Jennifer Granholm.

5. She supports homeschooling.
In a 2013 interview with Philanthropy Roundtable, DeVos voiced her support for homeschooling. She said:

Homeschooling represents another perfectly valid educational option. We’ve seen more and more people opt for homeschooling, including in urban areas. What you’re seeing is parents who are fed up with their lack of power to do anything about where their kids are assigned to go to school. To the extent that homeschooling puts parents back in charge of their kids’ education, more power to them.

6. She funds a variety of nonprofits.
DeVos and her husband are founders of the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, where they support “organizations and programs that focus on community, education, the arts, justice, and leadership.” She serves as chairman of the American Federation for Children and the Alliance for School Choice, according to Philanthropy Roundtable.

Some organizations the DeVos family has supported include the Foundation for Excellence in Education, ArtPrize, West Michigan Aviation Academy, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, American Enterprise Institute, Mars Hill Bible Church, and The Heritage Foundation, which is the parent organization of The Daily Signal.

DeVos is the daughter of Edgar and Elsa Prince. Her father was an extremely successful engineer, developer, and industrialist, who founded Prince Corp. DeVos’ in-laws, Richard and Helen DeVos, are longtime personal supporters of The Heritage Foundation.

Richard DeVos is the co-founder of Amway, which is now one of the largest and most successful companies in the world. In recognition of their support, The Heritage Foundation named the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society in their honor. Through their family foundation, Betsy and her husband Dick DeVos have continued the family’s support of The Heritage Foundation over the last decade.

7. She chose to send her children to private Christian schools.
Growing up, DeVos attended Holland Christian High School in Michigan, and graduated from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and political science. She also chose to send her children to private Christian schools, according to Chalkbeat.


Back to basics phonics test to be rolled out in Australian schools

A five-minute reading check for first-graders that includes made-up words like "beff" and "shup" has dramatically improved early literacy rates in the UK and is set to be adopted in Australia.

The Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham has endorsed new research which suggests the UK's Year 1 phonics screening check should be rolled out across Australian classrooms, after pledging to promote a back-to-basics approach to education in the May budget.

The test would provide data on student literacy levels as well as on how effectively teachers are teaching phonics, according to the report's author, Dr Jennifer Buckingham from the Centre for Independent Studies.

The federal government is threatening to make state education funding contingent on state governments implementing measures like the phonics check, after the current funding deal runs out at the end of next year.

But the Teachers Federation said the screening test was "anti-teacher", because it was based on not trusting teachers to do their jobs properly.

The phonics check was greeted with some controversy when it was introduced in the UK in 2012, with some teachers and parents claiming smart kids were failing the test because they were trying to correct the made-up words they saw in front of them, for example by sounding "strom" as "storm".

But in the years since it was launched, the share of children meeting the expected standard lifted from just over half in 2012 to eight in 10 this year.

Dr Buckingham's report, Focus on Phonics, said the UK's experience showed the check should be trialled in Australia.

She said there was doubt over how well systematic phonics is taught in Australian schools and has been critical of the widespread use of Reading Recovery, which the NSW government recently scrapped.

"Surveys of principals suggest there is not a lot of confidence in new teachers' ability to teach reading – which is extraordinary, because if there's one thing a primary school teacher should leave their initial teaching education with, it should be a high level of ability and training to teach reading," she said.

Literacy as measured by the international Progress in Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) and NAPLAN from Year 3 upwards suggests that the literacy levels of Australian students are persistently low compared with other English-speaking countries.

The check takes 5-7 minutes per child and can be administered by a teacher. It tests students' ability to sound out 40 words, including made-up words to ensure they are not simply remembering sight words.

"This check is a very simple and quick assessment of what children know at a pretty crucial point in their learning, before the gaps start to open up and becomes hard to remediate," Dr Buckingham said.

She is calling for a pilot program to be run in mid-Year 1.

But Maurie Mulheron from the NSW Teachers Federation said: "Her solution is more testing. And really it's a pernicious kind of thing she's saying, that 'I don't trust that teachers are doing the right thing, I don't trust that they're teaching the syllabus, I don't trust that they're using the literacy strategies they say they are, so I'm going to test the children to prove the teachers aren't doing the right thing'.

"It comes from a mindset that is anti-teacher."

Dennis Yarrington, the president of the Australian Primary Principals Association said "I'm a bit concerned with the assertion that teachers are not teaching phonics well, that's a broad statement," he said.

"The APPA would certainly not support any type of standardised year 1 assessment. We need to be identifying things that work in Australia, and we have a number of assessment tools being used in schools across Australia already. But if a school doesn't have something in place, this could be an option for them to trial."

Mr Birmingham discussed the UK's phonics screening check with his UK counterpart Nick Gibb in June. He said "the evidence from Dr Buckingham adds further weight to the need for states and territories to support the evidence-based reforms that the Turnbull government wants to use to leverage our record levels of funding to turn around our declining international education performance."

Mr Birmingham said the phonics check would be discussed with states and territories at the COAG Education Council meeting next month.

The NSW government has already committed $340 million to an early intervention literacy strategy, including a plan to make "quality online literacy and numeracy assessments" available to teachers.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

How Infantilized Campuses Threaten Our Nation’s Future

What are we to make of higher education when students and institutions respond to the recent presidential election with cry-ins, canceled exams, therapy dogs, Play-Doh, coloring books, group screams, Legos, bubble-blowing, and trauma counseling? Well, college “ain’t what it used to be.”

For some time, higher learning has been a political matter, one where the primary aim is to usher students into the club of elite (supposedly enlightened) progressive opinion. Gone is the formation of keen, analytical habits of mind and rational argument.

The result is not just a poorly educated student body, but an infantilized one. Mature discourse is out, and fragility, dependence, and bad temper is in.

Rather than cultivate habits of sustained and sober thought, we encourage manufactured outrage and self-indulgent victimhood. Anyone who has spent time with 2-year-olds recognizes the behavior. In our case, however, we appear to cultivate it on our campuses.

An infantilized campus is bad enough, but it becomes intolerable when these are the places where leaders of a self-governing republic are usually formed.

Regardless of party or position, a citizenry incapable of facing adversity or unwilling to reason about and discuss difficult, public things will not likely produce leaders who can do so. If college campuses steep our future leaders in habits of entitled fragility, the only politics they will be able to imagine is that of the tantrum.

Tellingly, this is exactly the kind of politics we have seen on campus, and, increasingly, off campus as well.

A darker view would regard our infantilized campuses as something more sinister than the accidental byproduct of politicized higher education. When the noise of a tantrum becomes a primary political instrument in place of reason, persuasion, and evidence, then volume, not thought, wins the day.

And volume is coercive. When 2-year-olds throw tantrums, they attempt to force matters and get their own way. A set of people taught not to reason but to huddle in safe spaces and throw the occasional tantrum is a people taught to impose their will. They have not been denied a voice; rather, they are intent upon being the only voice.

This is not to say that all post-election anxiety is necessarily irrational. But it is a lack of the aforementioned habits that makes aggression and extremism so common.

Genuine higher learning requires (among other things) time, intense application of thought, patient reflection, and maturity. Rather than an education in elite and coddled groupthink, real learning is an education in honed and sound thinking—thinking that is not victim to every fleeting passion.

This is precisely the kind of learning poet Robert Frost had in mind when he wrote, “So when at times the mob is swayed/ To carry praise or blame too far,/ We may choose something like a star/ To stay our minds on and be staid.”

If we cannot restore the “higher” to higher education, if we cannot put down our Play-Doh and take up our Plato, it’s unlikely we’ll see a return of either to our politics or our learning.


British school where Breitbart journalist Milo Yiannopoulos studied CANCELS his talk after intervention by 'anti-extremist' unit

A school has cancelled a talk by a right-wing journalist linked to Donald Trump after receiving advice from the Government's counter-extremism unit.

Milo Yiannopoulos, an outspoken conservative and senior editor for the 'alt-right' website Breitbart that backed Mr Trump's US election campaign, was due to address the Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys, which he attended as a child.

But the Canterbury school announced today that it had received advice from the Department for Education (DfE) to call off his visit tomorrow due to safety concerns.

The DfE's counter-extremism unit warned that protests from anti-Trump groups could jeapordise the security of pupils at the Canterbury grammar school.

The school said it was 'disappointed that both the pastoral care and intellectual preparation we offer to our students has been called into question'

Mr Yiannopoulos was barred from Twitter in the summer and describes himself on his official Facebook page as 'the most fabulous supervillain on the internet'.

His colleague Steve Bannon, chief executive of the Breitbart website, has been controversially appointed as chief strategist to President-elect Trump. 

A spokesman for Simon Langton school said: 'This decision was taken following contact from the DfE counter extremism unit, the threat of demonstrations at the school by organised groups and members of the public and our overall concerns for the security of the school site and the safety of our community.

'We note that, within 24 hours of advertising the event, 220 Langton sixth formers had, with parental consent, signed up for the event and that objection to our hosting Mr Yiannopoulos came almost entirely from people with no direct connection to The Langton. The staff and students of the school were overwhelmingly in favour.

'Whilst disappointed that both the pastoral care and intellectual preparation we offer to our students has been called into question, we at The Langton remain committed to the principle of free speech and open debate and will resist, where possible, all forms of censorship.'

Mr Yiannopoulos reacted angrily to the intervention from the DfE today.

He wrote on his Facebook page: 'Who even knew the DoE (sic) had a 'counter-extremism' unit? And that it wasn't set up to combat terrorism but rather to punish gays with the wrong opinions?

'Perhaps if I'd called my talk 'Muslims are awesome!' the National Union Of Teachers (NUT) and Department of Education (sic) would have been cool with me speaking.'

Rachael Jolley, the editor of Index on Censorship magazine, also criticised the DfE's decision. She said: 'The point of education is to explore ideas. If students don't get the chance to do this, then ideas are never tested, and they don't get experience in having arguments.

'Whether they agree or disagree with Milo Yiannopoulos, students should have the chance to hear a speaker that 200 of them had signed up to see.'

Details of the event were made public in The Times on Saturday. Mr Yiannopoulos was invited by American academic James Soderholm, the school’s humanities director, to speak about politics, the alt-right and the US election.

But Christine Dickinson, local secretary of the NUT, attacked the decision to invite someone who is ‘well known for his inflammatory views to speak to their pupils without contest’.

A Department for Education source said officials had contacted the school following a complaint, adding: ‘Officials will have been very clear with the school that it was their decision. It is not the case that we have banned a speaker – it is a decision for the school.’

A department spokesman said: ‘When concerns are raised by members of the public following media coverage … the department would contact the school as a matter of routine to check they had considered any potential issues.’

Breitbart News is a fast-growing conservative website that is connected with both the Trump campaign and Ukip. Founded in 2007, it gained notoriety with videos targeting liberal groups and politicians.

Mr Trump’s newly-appointed chief strategist Steve Bannon was executive chairman of Breitbart but took a leave of absence to work for the presidential campaign.

Mr Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter earlier this year after Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones accused him of directing racist abuse she had been sent by other users of the site. Mr Yiannopoulos called the ban ‘cowardly’ and said Twitter was now a ‘no-go zone for conservatives’.


Australia: Would-be teachers must improve uni scores

When will this bungler learn? Between all the red tape and the disruptive students, teaching is no longer a good job.  So bright people mostly avoid it.  You HAVE TO accept dummies as teachers or you will eventually not have enough teachers for the schools. 

Victorian students who want to train as teachers will need higher university entrance scores after concerns too many young educators aren't up to the mark.

The minimum Victoria state ATAR will be 65 in 2018 and rise to 70 from 2019.

"If you want the best and brightest kids, then you have got to make sure that we've got the best and brightest teachers," Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Wednesday.

"For too long I think too many people who are perhaps not ready to be teachers have been getting the scores necessary to get into that course."

The average ATAR of students who began a teaching course in 2016 was about 57, according to Fairfax Media, implying some students got in with even lower scores.

Mr Andrews lifting lift teaching standards will flow through to class rooms. "We've got an oversupply of teachers at the moment, so it's exactly the right time," Mr Andrews said.

But opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling says a high ATAR score alone won't result in smarter teachers. "While ATARs are important, universities use a range of tools to select their teacher candidates, including interviews, portfolios and written applications," Mr Wakeling said.

"Teachers need better support as they enter the classroom and more valuable professional development focused on improving their skills throughout their career."


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

British children among the least active in the world, with exercise 'stripped out' of modern lives

This is a surprise?  In the name of "elf n safety" they have been FORBIDDEN most normal playground activity -- in case they fall over and hurt themselves. And some schools have sold off their playgrounds so there is little that kids CAN do outdoors

British children are among the least active in the world, and fitness levels are plummeting, a damning international study has found.

Experts said the results were alarming, showing that movement was being “stripped out” of modern lifestyles, with children weaned on screen-time and starved of outdoor activity.

Last night Simon Stevens, head of the NHS, called for radical changes in family routines, describing exercise as a “magic pill” which would be a “pharmaceutical blockbuster” if only it could be bottled

Research comparing 38 counties across the globe placed England, Scotland and Wales among the worst for physical activity.

Overall, England and Wales were both scored D minus, the third worst grade in the rankings, while Scotland was joint worst, with a grade of F.

The rankings, produced by a global alliance of health experts, show the UK lagging far behind a host of countries, including Poland, Slovenia, and Venezuela, when it comes to children’s fitness.

Government advice says children should do at least an hour of moderate intensity physical activity per day.

But just 15 per cent of girls aged 11 to 15 in England manage this, along with 22 per cent of boys, the report shows. And only one in three children of this age are taking part in any organised sport outside school, according to the figures, presented to the International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health.

The report shows that the fitness of children in England has deteriorated badly since the first such global research was published two years ago, despite repeated pledges by the Government to tackle childhood obesity and couch potato lifestyles.

In 2014, England was given an overall grade of C-D, in the first Global Matrix of Grades examining fitness. Since then, of nine different measures used to rank activity levels and government strategies, four have worsened while the rest are unchanged, bringing its overall grade down to D minus.

Latest figures show childhood obesity has reached record levels, with one in 10 children obese when they start primary school, and one in five reaching that level by the end of it.

Mr Stevens urged families to make changes to daily routines, to protect the long-term health of their children.

The head of the NHS said exercise has been shown to cut three per cent of strokes, prevent 30 per cent of cases of dementia, 30 per cent of osteoporosis, radically reduce breast cancers and bowel cancers, prevent depression, reduce stress, and eliminate type 2 diabetes.

“If you could pack exercise into a magic pill, it would be a pharmaceutical blockbuster,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

“Instead it requires action by schools, the NHS, parents and the food and drink industry. Get this right and we'll be sparing the next generation hundreds of thousands of cases of cancers, strokes and dementia, as well as type 2 diabetes."

Exercises to help improve core strengthPlay! 01:32
Researchers said the typical modern lifestyle of spending a day in front of a computer, followed by an evening slumped in front of the television was proving fatal.

They also called for radical changes in government policies, to encourage healthier habits.

Mr Stevens also urged parents to make radical changes to their children’s diets.

“The average five-year-old is estimated to be consuming their own bodyweight in sugar each year.

“So we are storing up all kinds of trouble for our children and their generation,” he said.

The study shows that while activity levels among teenage girls have remained unchanged, the percentage of boys doing an hour’s daily exercise has dropped from 28 per cent to 22 per cent in just two years.

Scotland has retained its place at the bottom of the league table, with lack of exercise and the amount of time children spend in front of TV and computer screens highlighted as a cause for concern. Wales, which was not included in the first study, receives equal ranking with England, with just 15 per cent of those aged between 11 and 15 managing an hour’s exercise daily.

Last week a study by broadcasting watchdog Ofcom found pre-school children are now spending an average of more than four hours a day looking at screens.

Among those aged five to 15 the figure rose again, to an average of five-and-a-half hours.

Fitness experts said sedentary lifestyles meant today’s children could see their lives cut short.

Dr Steven Mann, research director at not-for-profit health body, UK Active, said: “Today’s children are the least active ever and face a ticking time-bomb of health issues that puts them at serious risk of having shorter lives than their parents.

"Movement has been stripped out of modern living, meaning Generation Inactive are driven to school and fed a staple diet of sofa play and screen time, while being starved of outdoor activities.”

The organisation is calling for Ofsted to rate schools for the fitness of children.

"Until we measure physical literacy in the same way as maths and English, we'll be powerless to stop this alarming rot,” Dr Mann said.

The best performing countries were New Zealand, South Africa and Slovenia.

In Slovenia, around eight in 10 boys and seven in 10 girls aged between six to 18 took at least an hour’s moderate to vigorous activity every day. In New Zealand, two-thirds of children and young people managed this most days while in South Africa around half of children were estimated to be doing at least an hour’s such exercise daily.

The research by the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance, a network of researchers and health workers, was presented in Bangkok and spans 38 countries from six continents, representing 60 per cent of the world’s population.

Activity levels in Britain have dropped by more than a third in three decades, official data shows, with the average person now walking for less than 10 minutes a day. Meanwhile, calorie consumption has risen, fuelled by sales of sugary drinks.


With control of state legislatures, GOP can reshape education policy across the fruited plain

Educational reform for the last decade has relied on the simple notion that all Americans can learn the same way and meet the same federal standards. After nearly 15 years, the failure of this one-size-fits-all system has been obvious.

Now Republicans have control of the Congress and the White House, but more importantly, they have control over the local and state governments that are integral to education reform. The power needs to be brought back down to these local bodies for education to finally become a success.

Under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, the federal government released authority over all institutions not listed directly in the constitution to the state government, education was one of these unnamed state government responsibilities.

However, with the Bush era imposition of No Child Left Behind education became a federal task. President Obama reauthorized a revised version of the act with Common Core standards. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal attacked these federal guidelines in a lawsuit against the Obama administration in 2014 arguing, “Common Core is the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C. in control of everything. What started out as an innovative idea to create a set of base-line standards that could be ‘voluntarily’ used by the states has turned into a scheme by the federal government to nationalize curriculum.”

In a response to pushback like this against No Child Left Behind, the Obama administration and Senate Republicans amended these standards with the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015. This law did provide some greater state control over their curriculum while still maintaining other less desirable parts of federal authority.

As’s David Davenport of Feb. 2015 explains, under federalized education plans where states are bribed with necessary funds to accept federal policy, states constitutional right to plan their own educational system is directly infringed. Now with Republican control, state and local governments can change this power struggle.

As federal education models continue to fail, this year states have the first major ability to regain control over their educational process.

For the first time in history, Republicans control 68 out of 99 state legislatures. In 33 states Republicans have control over both chambers.  Republicans have control over state and local governments, and for Republicans these houses should be the main vehicles for change.

Even states such as New York, which has been under democratic control for decades, once again has a Republican Senate which can push for educational reform.

Through following the framers intentions and using state and local authority to revise education from the bottom up, educational reform that works in state specific cases can be achieved.

As Education Week’s Alyson Klein of Nov. 2016 explains, with a Republican dominated legislatures, key reforms which empower states, students, and children are expected to pass. For example, school choice initiatives favored by Republicans and President-elect Donald Trump, but opposed by President Obama during the drafting of ESSA would now be passable.

Initiatives that allow students to attend private schools, charter schools, and schools outside their district encourage local communities and students to take control over their education. Federal education policy has stifled this consistently, but now state and local Republicans can bring education back to their communities.

The constitutional framers intended for education to work on a local and state basis, these officials know their populations’ needs best. That is true federalism. However, as the federal government has hijacked this responsibility from states it has crippled our entire education model. Now with Republicans dominating the state political arena once again with control of 33 legislatures, power can be devolved to its original holders.


President of National Teachers’ Union Cites Holocaust in Comments on Trump

The president of one of the nation’s largest teachers’ union cited the Holocaust in comments she made about President-elect Donald Trump while speaking at an LGBT event in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

“After what happened in the 1930s and ’40s, we used to have a saying called ‘never again,’” Randi Weingarten, president of American Federation of Teachers, said in front of an audience, adding:

Never again have some kind of Holocaust, never again. Frankly … that has to mean not never again not just for Jews, but never again for Muslims, never again for our Latino friends and neighbors, never again for our other vulnerable populations, including what are still an LGBTQ population. So when we think about what we’re walking into … Donald Trump is masterful at disruption and division. Disruption and division create discrimination and when we don’t stay together as a collective, as a coalition, then we are open to that kind of discrimination.

Weingarten was elected president of the American Federation of Teachers in 2008.

The union represents 1.6 million members and advocates on behalf of teachers and other education professionals throughout the country.

Not every teacher is required to be a member of the union. However, in nearly two dozen states, unions can require workers to pay a majority of the union dues.

Weingarten endorsed Hillary Clinton for president on behalf of the American Federation of Teachers in July, and since then has been an outspoken supporter.

Looking back at the 2016 election results, Weingarten, who was speaking at The Atlantic’s “Unfinished Business” LGBT summit, said, “I think that the election results said several things to me.”  “It said that we have an obligation, a moral obligation, a righteous obligation, to actually fight for four things.”

Those four things include:

“We need to fight to ensure that there is the kind of economic opportunity for all regardless of wealth.”

“The fight for economic opportunity is not exclusive from the fight against bigotry and discrimination. And we have to have both those fights with equal vigor.”

“We’ve learned a lot about the importance of education in this last election and the fact that we need to have a generation that really understands and can critically think for itself.”

“Pluralism and how important pluralism is—diversity, inclusion, pluralism.”


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

UK: Students were wrong about tuition fees, but that won't stop them going on another pointless march

Dogs bark, cats meow and students go on protests. They just can't get enough of stomping the streets in order to demonstrate their disapproval of whatever Tory ministers have done. At least it gets them out of the house.

Today marks their latest foray outdoors as thousands are set to march on Westminster. They haven't settled on any reason for this demonstration, but that's not for a lack of causes. They are seemingly spoiled for choice, as they are marching against a variety of things: austerity, the gender pay gap, and "all forms of racism and xenophobia" following Brexit (just to make it topical).

This new march is grandly described as not "just another demo", but the usual suspects – two anti-cuts student activist groups and the Young Greens – are behind it. The National Union of Students is "supporting" it as well


A Rutgers Prof Got So Irate About Trump That Police Tested His Sanity

A Rutgers professor became so upset about Donald Trump’s election victory that police took him in for a psychological evaluation, New Jersey authorities announced Wednesday.

Kevin Allred is a women’s and gender studies professor and the creator of Politicizing Beyonc√©, and given his specialty it was unsurprising that he wasn’t happy that Trump won. But Allred began to go off the rails on Twitter, tweeting his desire to kill white people. “[W]ill the 2nd Amendment be as cool when i buy a gun and start shooting atrandom [sic] white people or no?,” he asked on Twitter Nov. 10.

On Tuesday night, police showed up at his house to check up on him, and then carted him off to Bellevue Hospital in New York City for a two-hour psychological evaluation.

“NYPD just came to my house b/c Rutgers Police told them I’m a threat based on political statements I’ve made on campus and on twitter,” Allred said in a series of Twitter posts Tuesday night. “They’ve forced me to now undergo a psychiatric evaluation at the hospital. [T]hey brought me by ambulance tho i’m not under arrest technically.”

The encounter hardly improved Allred’s irate condition. “[T]his is for exercising my fucking first amendment rights. [I’m] being labeled a threat and put in a psych hospital,” he continue on Twitter.

Even though Trump is not yet president, Allred says his police encounter was “proof positive that Trump’s crackdown on free speech has absolutely begun.” He argued his suggestion of shooting random white people was not a threat because it was merely a rhetorical question rather than a statement of intent.

Rutgers spokesman E.J. Miranda released a statement Wednesday saying Rutgers police simply responded to a complaint about Allred’s statements and “took all appropriate action.”


Trump meets with controversial school reformer Michelle Rhee as she is considered for Secretary of Education in his Cabinet

Rhee is an exceptionally dedicated educator

President-elect Donald Trump met with controversial former Washington, D.C. public school chancellor Michelle Rhee, who is considered to be in the running for Secretary of Education as part of his administration.

Her husband, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, joined her for the meeting on Saturday at the billionaire businessman's golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

The couple, who are both Democrats, were photographed departing the clubhouse in the afternoon after their meeting and shaking hands with Trump outside.

Like Trump, Rhee has been a supporter of school choice, which calls for public money to be used for charter schools.

In September, Trump released his School Choice Policy that calls for the incoming administration to redirect $20billion in federal funds immediately to school choice - which will be in the form of block grants for roughly 11 million children living in poverty, Fox News reported.  

'We want every disadvantaged child to be able to choose the local public, private, charter or magnet school that is best for them and their family,' the Trump campaign said in announcing the plan.

'Each state will develop its own formula, but the dollars should follow the student.'

While Rhee, the daughter of Korean immigrants, worked in DC as the chancellor, she was given the power to change the under-performing city's school system under Mayor Adrian Fenty.

In 2008, she was featured on the cover of Time magazine with the headline, 'How to Fix America's Schools'.

However, the picture of her holding a broom offended and enraged teachers who felt as though the image showed her intentions of how she wanted to fix the school system by sweeping out the most experienced teachers, as she called for educators to be paid based on their performance and not by their tenure. 

The Republican president also supports teachers being paid based off of merit, which he claims rewards 'great teachers ...instead of the failed tenure system that currently exists, which rewards bad teachers and punishes good ones.'

Rhee has also been the supporter of the Common Core educational standards in the past, which the president-elect has often called a 'total disaster.'

Trump has vowed to abolish Common Core in his first 100 days as president and replace it with the School Choice and Education Opportunity Act. 

While Rhee worked in D.C., the high school graduation rates improved as well as the scores in standardized testing for math and reading.

Despite the improvements, parents and others stopped supporting her as they complained Rhee made decision with little public input about firing principals and teachers. In 2010 alone, she fired 241 teachers in the city, Fox News reported.

The appointment of Rhee – who has been dubbed 'Public Enemy No. 1' of the teachers' unions -- would be a bold move by the Trump team, and a signal that his administration is gearing up to take an aggressive stance on education reform.

Her history of backing school choice and battling the teachers' unions has also earned her support from many conservatives.

Rhee began her career as a teacher with Teach for America, before founding a non-profit group to train educators in 1997.

Rhee has served as CEO of StudentsFirst, a non-profit group she founded in 2010 to lobby for education reform initiatives.


Monday, November 21, 2016

The closing of the student mind

Students' Union at London University in bid to ban conservative-leaning newspapers from campus

The students’ union of City University in London last night passed a motion apparently seeking to ban The Sun, Daily Mail and Express newspaper titles from the campus.

The motion was passed at the union’s annual general meeting.

City University has one of the biggest journalism departments in the UK with a variety of post graduate and undergraduate journalism courses available.

It is unclear what the impact of the motion will be as Press Gazette understands there are no retail outlets for newspapers on the campus.

The resolution states that there is “no place for the Sun, Daily Mail or Express (In their current form) on City, University of London campuses or properties”.

It says the Union should also “use the University’s industry contacts to reach out to employees and shareholders of the media outlets in question”. And it states it should “provide the resources and meeting space needed to organise direct action, online and social media campaigns”.

One City University undergraduate, Jack Fenwick, told Press Gazette: “As a journalism student I’m really worried that I’m now a member of an organisation whose official policy is to ban national newspapers.

“If people don’t agree with these publications, they should be holding debates, not pretending they don’t exist. I have already emailed the chief executive of the Students’ Union asking to opt out of my membership with them as I’m simply not comfortable being part of a group that holds such views.”

Head of journalism at City University Professor Suzanne Franks said: “City’s Department of Journalism is regarded as a leader in its field, with an unrivalled record of helping graduates secure attractive employment in both traditional and emerging journalist roles.

“We combine professional skills training with a concern for professional standards and the importance of fair, impartial and ethical reporting is at the heart of our courses.

“Students on our journalism courses value being able to access the views of publications and broadcasters across the industry and the department will continue to enable all these opportunities.”

The motion passed last night was headed: “Opposing Facism [sic] & Social Divisiveness in the UK Media”.

It states: “The motion focuses on three UK newspapers. This does not exclude other media organisations from this motion. These were merely used as high profile examples.”


Jew Haters' latest target

David Horowitz

Caroline Glick has been disinvited to speak at the University of Texas because it might cause students to feel unconformable due to her pro-Israel positions. Is this a joke?

Meanwhile, the Students for Justice in Palestine, a pro-Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood front organization on the campus is celebrating the decision to cancel Caroline's speaking appearance.

Caroline Glick works for the Freedom Center, she runs our Israel Security Project, she is a columnist for the Jerusalem Post, she served in the Israel Defense Forces and is a great friend and defender of both America and Israel.

For the Jew Haters at the University of Texas to succeed in having her speaking appearance cancelled is nothing short of a travesty. Universities such as Texas do this because they think they can get away with it. Well, not on our watch.

We plan to publicize this and shame and embarrass the University for their anti-Jewish cowardly act of telling Caroline that she is not welcome to speak on their campus.

Via email

Upending the Leftist-Dominated Educational Status Quo

The Left's cultural power all begins with education

“The power of the cultural left can be felt everywhere — in entertainment, in the arts, in the media, and in corporations. But it all starts in education.” —columnist Milo Yiannopoulos

Yiannopoulos is exactly right. Of the many things the election of Donald Trump revealed, few are more distressing than the gargantuan levels of infantilism and indoctrination that infest America’s education system — every bit of which is nurtured by the American Left.

We begin with colleges, or rather de facto nursery schools purporting to be colleges. Cornell University held a “cry in” with hot chocolate and tissues handed out by staff. Tufts University made arts and crafts available. University of Maryland astronomy lecturer Alan Peel canceled a test scheduled the day after the election because he feared “the monumental effort necessary to accept what must be a personally threatening election result” would affect students' test-taking abilities. An unnamed Yale professor made a test optional, and Yale students requested a biology exam be postponed because, they argued in a letter to the professor, “the majority of the student body at Yale will be emotionally distraught and distracted … and our performance on the midterm will be hindered massively.”

At the University of Kansas it was “therapy dogs,” and at the University of Michigan, the office of Trey Boynton, director of multi-ethnic student affairs, was the place where a steady flow of students spent the day comforting themselves with Play-Doh and coloring books. Plymouth State University community advisor Kirsten Elizabeth also embraced the collective thumb-sucking. “Today during my office hours, 4PM to 7PM, I will be bringing my personal coloring books, crayons, markers and colored pencils for anyone to use in order to de-stress and relax from the election results,” she posted to Facebook (emphasis added).

“For years, progressives have sheltered children from failure or pain,” writes columnist Tom Knighton. “Athletic events for young children no longer keep score, and everyone gets a trophy. Schools try to minimize competition and achievement because of insane theories about fostering self-esteem. Unfortunately, you can’t shelter kids forever. At some point, something is going to invade their safe spaces and smack them upside the head.”

It’s not going to happen at college. In fact, it’s going in the other direction. The latest absurdity involves an unnamed professor at a Midwest college who decided the PG-13 movie “Clueless” necessitated a “trigger warning” lest the reference to a gay character as a “disco-dancing, Oscar Wilde-reading, Streisand ticket-holding friend of Dorothy” induce emotional trauma among LGBTQ viewers. An East Coast professor, speaking to Heatstreet — on condition of anonymity that suggests fear of reprisal — estimates trigger warnings have more than doubled between last year and now because “more and more academics are issuing them on the basis that it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Does it get more pathetic than college professors surrendering to the delicate sensibilities of social justice warriors?

Actually, it does. A college education is optional. Thus, if one wishes to attend the University of Virginia, where President Teresa Sullivan was chastised by 469 students and faculty for using school founder Thomas Jefferson as a “moral compass,” one is free to do so — or not. Same goes for Duke University, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill or Dartmouth College where students can attend classes on “toxic masculinity.” At Gettysburg College however, freshman are required to attend an orientation class that states the “three most destructive words” a boy can hear growing up is “be a man.”

By contrast, a public school education, or its equivalent, is mandatory. Unfortunately, it is here where students are not only coddled but indoctrinated by leftist dogma. Hundreds of teens on both sides of the nation took to the streets to protest Donald Trump’s election. In Los Angeles they were applauded by the United Teachers Los Angeles union. In Maryland they were chanting “we reject the president-elect,” and blocking traffic. In Portland, Oregon, they marched to march to City Hall, disrupting shoppers. At New York City’s elitist schools, Beacon High students were granted illicit permission by their history teachers to cut classes for anti-Trump protests, the Avenues school made “pettable pooches” available and sent out a letter revealing its faculty had supported Hillary Clinton, and others offered disaster counseling to “traumatized” students.

That Avenues' entire faculty backed Clinton is completely unsurprising. There has been an unambiguous alliance between the Democrat Party and the educational status quo-mongers for decades. That reality is precisely why the two biggest education entities in the nation, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, respectively donated 98% and 100% of their campaign contributions to Democrats in the 2016 election cycle.

In return, these educrats and their pro-union apparatchiks, like NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio and the NAACP leaders, are more than willing to sacrifice the future of millions of kids by opposing any kind of educational competition. They have a special animus for charter schools whose record of achievement far outpaces the union-controlled disasters that have become the norm in Democrat-controlled inner cities. Leftists also despise vouchers, private schools and home-schooling as well.

And what has America gotten from this unholy alliance? A 2014 National Assessment of Educational Progress test revealing three-out-of-four students lack proficiency in history, civics and geography. A 2015 study revealing 32 million American adults are virtually illiterate. An American Institutes for Research study revealing more 75% of two-year college students and 50% of four-year college students are incapable of completing everyday tasks.

And it’s all happening while grade inflation spirals higher and higher, and the cost of a college education has outpaced the Consumer Price Index by a more than two-to-one ratio from 1980 through 2014.

It’s time for the nonsense to stop. Trump has proposed some ideas, such as forcing colleges to have some “skin the game” regarding student loan defaults. That alone could go a long way toward bringing down tuition costs and eliminating frivolous majors that yield little in the way of decent job prospects.

But that’s only the tip of a leftist-controlled iceberg. Congress needs to hold nationally televised hearings and summon teachers, administrators and other education officials from kindergarten right through graduate school to testify. Nothing would be more illuminating than public school officials explaining why, after 50 years of reform promises, the average black 12th grader still reads at the same level as the average white 8th grader, or why kids lacking basic skills are marinated in the Left’s take on global warming and transgenderism. Imagine college administrators having to explain how campus speech codes align with the First Amendment, why conservative speakers remain unwelcome on campus, why liberal professors outnumber conservatives by nearly a 5 to 1 ratio, or why they embrace campus re-segregation.

Imagine former prosecutor Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) asking NAACP President Cornell William Brooks to explain why his organization would prevent the children of 700,000 black families from attending charter schools. Or Department of Education and Justice officials to rationalize raced-based discipline standards that penalize all students at equal rates, utterly irrespective of their behavior.

Once again: this is the primary battlefield for the nation’s soul. The American Left’s effort to create legions of dumbed-down, government-dependent victimist Americans must be exposed as the most despicable power play in its political arsenal. Now is the time.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

University Of Michigan Students Protest Racism While Segregating Themselves

Hundreds of students at the University of Michigan (UM) joined a national campus walkout Wednesday, demanding their school fight racism and serve as a “sanctuary campus” for illegal immigrants.

Ironically, while demonstrating against racism, the protesters engaged in racial segregation themselves by restricting the roles white students were allowed to play in the protest.

Dozens of campuses around the U.S. are holding Wednesday walk-outs in support of illegal immigrants following President-elect Donald Trump’s victory. The protest organized by UM’s Students4Justice group was affiliated with the others, but had a notable quirk: A guideline to the protest explicitly tells white people they aren’t allowed in most protest roles.

The guide, currently posted publicly as a Google Doc, explains where protesters will assemble, suggests what chants to use (those focused on Trump are discouraged, to keep the focus on racism instead of the recent election), and includes a set of roles protesters will have to fill. Organizers warned potential white participants that only a handful of roles would be available to them:

A planning document for a University of Michigan protest notes that whites can only have certain jobs. [Screengrab]
Positions such as “demand reader” and “chant coordinator” were exclusively the purview of non-white students. The only posts white students were allowed to fill were “police people” (in charge of “deescalation tactics” to prevent police violence) and “crowd control.”

“We want visibly privileged folx. Let’s protect those around us!” the document said for the crowd control position. “[You are] supposed to be here for support, not to demand or to draw attention.”

The document urges white people to remember that they are there to be “behind” non-white protesters, in a philosophical and potentially literal sense.

In a separate document, Students4Justice laid out the demands it is making of UM’s administration. Like dozens of other campuses around the U.S., it includes a request that UM become a “sanctuary campus” that attempts to protect illegal immigrants. But other demands appeared as well, such as one for the school to purge “white supremacy” by renaming buildings and scholarships that currently honor supporters of eugenics and limited immigration. Another demand calls for the school to divest from companies connected to Israel, and to invest more money in programs dedicated to fighting racism.


Oberlin College Fires Professor Who Blamed 9/11, Charlie Hebdo Attacks on Israel

Joy Karega, an assistant professor at Oberlin College whose Facebook posts featured anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Jewish global power and accusations that Israel was behind the 9/11 terror attacks and the creation of ISIS, was officially dismissed by the school’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday.

The Board of Trustees found that Karega’s posts, which were first reported by The Tower in February, were in violation of the American Association of University Professors’ Statement of Professional Ethics, which requires professors to “accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending and transmitting knowledge” and to “practice intellectual honesty.”

In a statement, the Board of Trustees explained that Karega was given “numerous procedural protections” during the review process, including being represented by counsel and able to present witnesses and cross-examine people testifying against her. During the proceedings, the statement alleged, Karega “attacked her colleagues when they challenged inconsistencies in her description of the connection between her postings and her scholarship. She disclaimed all responsibility for her misconduct. And she continues to blame Oberlin and its faculty committees for undertaking a shared governance review process.”

A majority of the General Faculty Council, the executive body of Oberlin’s faculty, found that Karega’s Facebook posts could not be considered part of her scholarly work, and had “irreparably impaired [her] ability to perform her duties as a scholar, a teacher, and a member of the community.”

“In the face of Dr. Karega’s repeated refusal to acknowledge and remedy her misconduct, her continued presence undermines the mission and values of Oberlin’s academic community,” the Board of Trustees statement concluded. “Thus, any sanction short of dismissal is insufficient and the Board of Trustees is compelled to take this most serious action.”

In a Facebook post reacting to her firing, Karega offered no apologies for her actions, instead writing thank-yous to her supporters and alluding to “litigation that is coming”:

I will be issuing an official statement soon. I could easily release a “Kiss My Ass” statement. I would be MORE than justified in doing so. But that is not my style. I choose my weapons CAREFULLY and STRATEGICALLY. And trust, I have done that. There will be a challenge and defense of my rights, using ALL the avenues I have available to me — litigation, public, etc. The pathway for that has already been laid.

The Tower’s exposure of Karega’s posts, which also included her questioning why President Obama had approved funding to support elderly Holocaust survivors, quickly became a national story in February. Karega, who was harshly condemned by many Jewish groups, subsequently wrote a post on Facebook thanking the website Veterans Today for its support. Veterans Today has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a website that “can slide pretty quickly into overt anti-Semitism,” publishing claims that, among other things, the Holocaust was exaggerated.

The following month, the chairman of the Board of Trustees, Clyde McGregor, issued a statement calling Karega’s Facebook postings “anti-Semitic and abhorrent,” and stating unequivocally that they “have no place at Oberlin.” McGregor called for reviewing the issues raised by Karega’s post “expeditiously.”

In April the majority of Oberlin’s faculty signed a letter that was harshly critical of Karega. “Bigotry has no place on the Oberlin campus (or anywhere),” the letter said. “It sullies the values of equality and mutual support that are embedded in our institutional DNA as the first coeducational college and the first to admit students of all races as a matter of policy. … As scholars and teachers who treasure all Oberlin has been and must continue to be, we condemn any manifestation of bigotry on our campus — especially from our faculty.”


Australia: Coding Will Be Mandatory In Queensland Schools From Next Year

This is of a piece with the bright idea that every kid should be given a school laptop computer.  It achieved nothing.  As a former programmer of statistical analyses, I can tell you that only about 2% of the population have the IQ to be a real coder.  Perhaps 5% will be able to do some sort of simple work, but, either way, this will waste the time of most students. If you have the requisite ability, you don't need to be taught it at school.  I learnt FORTRAN coding in just 4 mornings of teaching.

In every classroom from prep to Year 10, children in schools will learn coding skills and get hands-on with robotics in Queensland as the state becomes the first in Australia to mandate in-depth computer programming training.

The ABC reports that Queensland will join Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland, Estonia and England in bringing computer coding into the state's primary school curriculum. Parents won't be able to opt their children out of the classes if they disagree with the amount of screen time their kids are getting, either -- this is a full-force effort from Queensland's education system to educate kids in the skills needed to live and work online.

The classes that Queensland schoolkids take won't necessarily be aimed at getting them jobs in coding or software development, though; students will instead get a general knowledge of digital literacy that they'll use in every aspect of their learning from English to maths. iPads won't be completely replacing pens and paper, either. Coding and programming will be an integral part of the jobs that these kids eventually move into in the future.