Friday, May 12, 2017

False claims ‘have made teaching a lottery for men’

Kato Harris said having no job was better than being in jail for a crime he didn’t commit

A geography teacher subjected to false allegations of rape by a 14-year-old pupil at a private girls’ school says that he can no longer see why “any man in his right mind” would become a teacher.

With one in five teachers being falsely accused of some form of misconduct by a pupil during their career, Kato Harris said it was like “buying a lottery ticket” for a man to join the profession.

Mr Harris, 38, was accused of raping and sodomising the girl three times in the autumn term of 2013 after inviting her into a classroom during the lunch break.

He was cleared in court of all charges, with the jury taking only 26 minutes to deliberate.

SOURCE.  More on the Harris case here

Los Angeles resolution makes public schools sanctuaries from ICE

Los Angeles public schools passed a resolution Tuesday making campuses sanctuaries for illegal immigrants in danger of being deported.

The school board’s resolution was shaped as a reaffirmation of a measure passed last year that designated Los Angeles public schools as a “safe place” for illegal immigrants and their families, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

The new resolution offers more protections.

Schools are barred from asking a student or a family member’s immigration status. The school district plans to educate students and families about their rights when talking to law enforcement.

“We know that there are things beyond our capacity, so we are not offering any undocumented students or their families or an employee a magic bullet,” board member Monica Garcia said before the resolution was voted on.

Board President Steve Zimmer said immigrants across Los Angeles have been fearful about law enforcement since Donald Trump was elected president in November and vowed a crackdown on illegal immigrants.

“This act of noncooperation follows in an important history of noncooperation with unjust laws, unjust actions that are contrary to our Constitution and contrary to our value system, but also contrary to our mission as a school district,” Zimmer said.

The resolution came after Romulo Avelica-Gonzlaez was arrested by ICE officials as he took his daughter to school in February in Highland Park.


When Is It OK To Kill Whites?

Tommy Curry is an associate professor at Texas A&M. He is black, and specializes in Critical Race Theory. Prof. Curry does not limit his teaching to the classroom. He has a strong presence on YouTube.

In this brief interview, he discusses when it is appropriate to kill white people:

“In order to be equal, in order to be liberated, some white people might have to die,” he says.

In this interview with a blogcast called Context Of White Supremacy (slogan: “White People Are The Problem”), Curry argues that whites cannot be ignorant of racism (their own or anyone else’s) and that black people who assume that whites are educable on racism are fools. He puts down different black theorists, including Martin Luther King, for actually thinking that white people can be regarded as reasonable.

It’s a remarkable thing: a philosophy professor who denies that a people are capable of rational thought because of their race.

In this talk, Curry denounces the “integrationist” model of race relations, and describes the black-white relationship as one of power. “White people don’t want to question their physical life and certainly not their own racial existence,” he says. “Because that means they would have to accept that death could come for them at any moment, the same way non-white people have to accept that. And they don’t want to question their existence, they’re not willing to give up their existence. They’ll hold on to their white life just as much as a [unclear] will hold on to a crack pipe. They are fundamentally addicted to the purity of what they see whiteness to be.”

What does any of this racist bilge mean? To prove his own human worth to Tommy Curry, a white person has to despise himself? Good luck with that, Tommy Curry.

The white nationalist spokesman Richard Spencer came to Texas A&M and gave a speech. You can watch it here. I did, but didn’t stick around for Q&A. It was far, far milder than anything Tommy Curry has said on his internet recordings.

TAMU changed the rules for campus speakers in response to Spencer’s appearance there. But Tommy Curry can say anything he likes about the manifold wickedness of white people? Is that it?

I wonder what it is like to be a white student studying under Dr. Curry in his classroom?


Hundreds of students unite in protest after a Sydney school bans hot chips from the canteen

This is not only authoritaran, it is also stupid and outdated. The potato is highly nutritious and fat is now officially recommended as good for you

The decision to remove a staple ingredient from a Sydney school menu has been met with strong resistance from its enraged pupils.  

De La Salle College has decided to remove hot chips from its kitchen as the college looks to adhere to the government's new plans for a healthier lunch menu.

The students of the Revesby institute have taken matters into their own hands and started an online petition in an attempt to reinstate the popular potato snack.

The petition pleads for the public's support and suggests that hot chips can make a contribution to their academic success.

'To satisfy everyone's desire for some fried potato, we believe this is a necessity for successful academic achievements to get above the state cohort,' the petition reads.

Since the page was created two months ago, it has amassed an impressive 360 signatures, just 140 short of their target of 500.

De La Salle College principal Timothy Logue said that while he was impressed with the students' initiative to set up an online petition, the school canteen would not be returning hot chips to the menu.

'We have discussed with the students the importance of nutrition and physical activity, and how research shows that it underpins effective student learning and achievement,' Mr Logue told The Daily Telegraph.

The new strategy, enforced by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, will replace the failed 'traffic light' system and will ensure that 75% of all school menus are made up of fruit, vegetables and fresh food options, leaving little room for the oil fried fritters.

'The new NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy strikes the right balance between nutrition and freedom of choice,' Mr Logue said.  'Our canteen menu offers students very healthy options like fresh fruit salad bowls, salad wraps and sushi.'

One signature from Kalli Ryder in Adelaide went with a pragmatic approach and suggested instead of removing them altogether, to rethink how they were served.

'Rather than ban chips, you could have looked at 'healthier' ways of preparing them, such as baking, shallow frying, making them from potatoes instead of a packet.

'You could have consulted with the students on a new menu, instead, you have chosen to food police your students. Shame on you.' she added.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Why DeVos Should Rescind Obama’s Ban On Disciplining Minority Kids In School

Last week, after nearly 100 days in office, President Trump issued an executive order declaring that “it shall be the policy of the executive branch to protect and preserve State and local control in education.” The order gives Education Secretary Betsy DeVos 300 days to itemize regulations and guidance where the federal government overstepped its bounds. But DeVos would need little more than a minute to rescind perhaps the single most destructive action taken by the Obama Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights: federal “guidance” on school discipline.

Activists, advocates, and academics had been ringing the alarm over the racial disparity in suspension rates. And it is certainly troubling that African-American students are suspended at three times the rate of white students.

A sober mind might assume that might largely reflect tragic realities in our society. As Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, has argued, “it cannot surprise us if minority students today misbehave at ‘disproportionate’ rates. African American and Latino children in America are much more likely to face challenges,” such a living in poverty, growing up in a single-parent family, or living in a dangerous neighborhood, that puts “them ‘at risk’ for antisocial behavior.”

But Obama Education Secretary Arne Duncan declared flatly that this is “not caused by differences in children,” but rather “it is adult behavior that needs to change.” Now, implicit bias likely accounts for some share of the disparity. But if you assume that it accounts for all of it, then the solution isn’t to support teachers with better training or professional development. The only solution is to prevent teachers from doing what they’ve been doing. And that’s exactly what the Obama Department of Education did.

Duncan issued “Dear Colleague” guidance in January 2014 telling districts they could be subject to federal investigation for unlawful discrimination if their discipline policy “is neutral on its face—meaning that the policy itself does not mention race—and is administered in an evenhanded manner but has a disparate impact, i.e., a disproportionate and unjustified effect on students of a particular race.” In other words: “We may decide to come after you, even if your policy is entirely fair, if we see differences on a spreadsheet.”

Over the past five years, 27 states have revised their school discipline laws and 53 districts serving 6.35 million students implemented discipline reforms. From 2011-12 to 2013-14, suspensions dropped by nearly 20 percent nationwide. The Obama letter didn’t start this fire, but it certainly fanned the flames. As the Fordham Institute’s Checker Finn noted, the intent of the letter was “to scare the bejesus out of U.S. educators when it comes to disciplining minority students.”

What have the results been? Largely because these reforms are so recent, rigorous academic research is nonexistent. But increasing evidence supports the common sense intuition that when you tie teachers’ hands on maintaining order, bad things will happen.

Judging by press accounts, the results are rather horrific. After the federal government forced Oklahoma City to change its discipline policies, one teacher reported she was “told that referrals would not require suspension unless there was blood.”

In Buffalo, a teacher who got kicked in the head by a student said: “We have fights here almost every day…. The kids walk around and say, ‘We can’t get suspended—we don’t care what you say.’”

In St. Paul, the county attorney declared that the threefold increase in assaults on teachers constituted a “public health crisis.”

Teacher surveys also indicate these policies are backfiring. Significant majorities of teachers in Oklahoma City, Denver, Tampa, Santa Ana, Jackson, and Baton Rouge report that the discipline reforms either weren’t working or were escalating school violence.

Judging by student surveys, schools have become less safe as these policies went into effect. In Los Angeles, the percent of students who said they felt safe in their schools plummeted from 72 percent to 60 percent after the district banned suspension for non-violent offenses. In Chicago, researchers found a significant deterioration in school order, according to students and teachers.

I dug into school climate surveys in New York City, and found that as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s  school discipline reductions were implemented school climate plummeted, especially in schools comprised of 90 percent or higher minority students: 58 percent reported a deterioration in student respect (compared to 19 percent that saw an improvement); 50 percent reported an increase in physical fighting (compared to 14 percent that saw an improvement); and drug use and gang activity increased in about four times as many schools as decreased.

Rescinding This Directive Is Common Sense

Yet after 100 days in office, the guidance still stands. In fact, just two weeks ago the Department of Education opened a new investigation into Richmond, Virginia for disparate suspension rates. After 100 days, why hasn’t DeVos rescinded this misguided guidance? Perhaps in part because of the simple fact that she’s still operating with a skeleton crew and bureaucratic inertia is an almost irresistible force even with a full cohort of political appointees.

Or perhaps in part because education journalists and activists will surely make her pay for it. They’ll write story after story about how she’s rescinding “protections” for minority students, all but endorsing “institutional racism,” and opening the sluices in the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

Whatever the case, the guidance could be rescinded with no more than a stroke of a pen. Unlike with the rushed retraction of the transgender bathroom guidance, DeVos could send a loud and clear message about her principles and educational philosophy. She could declare that her administration will not put ideological activism over student safety. It will not blame teachers for society’s inequities. It will not coerce school administrators into second-guessing teachers’ judgement and tying teachers’ hands.

Rather, it recognizes that meaningful progress comes from teachers and administrators working hand-in-hand, with the flexibility and freedom to do what they believe is right for their students. It recognizes that there is a meaningful and robust role for civil rights protections, but that the Department of Education ought to be a backstop against discrimination, not an engine to impose nationwide policy change.

Rescinding the guidance is the easy part. The real challenge for DeVos will be articulating and implementing a principled role for civil rights enforcement that could withstand the whims of future progressive administrations. Here’s hoping she’s up for that task, because civil rights “protections” ought never be weaponized in a way that could hurt children.


Theology professor pressured out of Duke after protesting liberal racism ‘training’ program

A professor is resigning from the Duke Divinity School after colleagues and administrators tried to punish him for publicly criticizing a “training” program espousing a liberal view of racism.

Paul Griffiths, Warren professor of Catholic theology, is just the latest academic to find himself out of a job for refusing to toe the progressive line.

Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, said viewpoint intolerance is becoming more common in higher education as “politically correct administrations pull out all of the stops to silence the last few remaining non-progressives on their faculty.”

“Most of the silencing that occurs on college campuses occurs invisibly,” Mr. Wood said. “There is no public trace of it because people self-censor. Or if they come under pressure, they concede the point and shut up. A case like Griffiths‘ stands out because Griffiths decided to go public.”

“Public” is an understatement. The theologian created a firestorm on the Durham, North Carolina, campus this year when he responded to a facultywide email, sent by associate professor Anathea Portier-Young, that encouraged attendance at a two-day anti-racism program.

“I exhort you not to attend this training,” Mr. Griffiths wrote in the Feb. 6 email. “Don’t lay waste your time by doing so. It’ll be, I predict with confidence, intellectually flaccid: there’ll be bromides, cliches, and amen-corner rah-rahs in plenty. When (if) it gets beyond that, its illiberal roots and totalitarian tendencies will show.”

Several colleagues replied that they were looking forward to the Racial Equity Institute training session, which was scheduled for March 4-5 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Elaine Heath, dean of the divinity school, took a different tack.
She condemned Mr. Griffiths for using mass email “in order to humiliate or undermine individual colleagues or groups of colleagues with whom we disagree.”

“The use of mass emails to express racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry is offensive and unacceptable, especially in a Christian institution,” she wrote in the email, also sent Feb. 6.

Mr. Griffiths sent another facultywide email months later detailing the disciplinary procedures brought against him after the initial email exchange, which was first reported by Rod Dreher of the American Conservative.

Ms. Heath tried to schedule a meeting with Mr. Griffiths but refused to let him bring a sympathetic colleague, English professor Thomas Pfau, to serve as a witness. She eventually barred him from faculty meetings and threatened to take away his access to research funds.

“It is unacceptable for you to refuse to meet with me as the Dean of the Divinity School,” Ms. Heath wrote in a March 10 memo to Mr. Griffiths. “I cannot physically force you to meet with me, but your refusal to meet with me will have consequences.”

Ms. Portier-Young filed a complaint with the Office for Institutional Equity claiming the use of “racist and/or sexist speech in such a way as to constitute a hostile workplace,” Mr. Griffiths‘ email said.

Neither of Mr. Griffiths complainants responded to a request for comment before press time.

Rather than go through with the disciplinary procedures, the theologian will resign after the 2017-18 academic year.

Mr. Griffiths joins a growing list of academics who have been forced out of the university for holding beliefs that run contrary to the prevailing campus orthodoxy.

Political science professor John McAdams was suspended from Marquette University in 2014 for writing a blog criticizing another instructor, Cheryl Abbate, who told a student not to oppose same-sex marriage because it would be “homophobic.”

Mr. McAdams sued the Catholic school, but a circuit court judge ruled Thursday in favor of the university despite two affirmations of academic freedom in the faculty handbook.
His attorneys plan to appeal the decision.

Valerie Cooper, Duke Divinity School associate professor of religion and society and black church studies, said the university’s treatment of Mr. Griffiths did not violate its commitment to academic freedom because the progressive view of diversity is not a subject up for debate.

“As you read Prof. Paul Griffiths‘ complaint, below, please bear in mind that Duke University has a clear statement in favor of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Ms. Cooper wrote on Facebook this month. “Because this statement *is* Duke University policy, being against diversity isn’t an issue of academic freedom. It is academic malpractice. If you can’t abide by Duke’s policies, you shouldn’t work for Duke.”

Mr. Wood said the Marquette and Duke incidents show the university’s willingness to bend the meaning of academic freedom to the tenets of progressivism.

“No matter how hard and fast academic freedom may be specified and a university avows of its relationship to faculty members,” he said, “if a faculty member expresses an unpopular opinion, or an opinion disliked by the administration, some evasion of the rule will be invented for that purpose.

“The only thing you can count on is that all of the exceptions will be exceptions favored by the academic left.”


Fighting to Deny School Choice

What do a failing school, a recently passed law granting parents greater authority in demanding change from underperforming schools, and a petition signed by a majority of parents seeking to start a new charter school in response to the failing public school have in common? All of that still isn’t enough to stop a local government from preventing parents from having the power of choice.

California’s Anaheim Elementary School District sought to throw out a petition signed by parents attempting to convert a failing school into a charter school. Fortunately, an appellate court rejected the school district’s request and the battle will continue.

While it may be easy to see the teachers union’s fingerprints all over this attempt to prevent choice, the larger issue is that of statist control. As Vladimir Lenin famously stated, “Give me four years to teach the children, and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” Leftists do not believe in school choice because they know that doing so would lead to a diversity of training and ideas. Such actual diversity would then yield a wide range of thought and decisions, especially regarding society and more specifically politics.

For leftists, school is about indoctrination over education. Opening up the public school system to competition — greater opportunities for students to learn and for parents to gain the choice of where their child attends — poses a significant threat to the leftist education complex. And that’s just not acceptable.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

San Diego: Ground Zero for Islamic Indoctrination in American Public Schools

With a decade-long history of yielding to Islamic demands and recent, more alarming submissions, San Diego city schools appear to be ground zero for Islamic indoctrination within American public schools.  The current capitulation includes an Islam-centric curriculum with input and resources from a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organization, which raises First Amendment issues as well as serious concerns of favoritism toward Muslims students over students of other faiths.

The San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) history of accommodation to the demands of Muslim students began in 2007.  That year, Carver Elementary School in East San Diego ignited controversy when 100 Somali Muslim students transferred from a closed charter school.  To accommodate these new students, the school rescheduled its recess periods to allow a 15-minute break each afternoon for Muslim prayer.  The school also added Arabic to its curriculum and removed pork and other non-halal food from the cafeteria.  The outcry forced the school to rescind the break, but it simply shifted the lunch hour to accommodate Muslim prayer.  SDUSD wasn't as accommodating to a Christian student in 1993 and was successfully sued when it denied a high school student's request for a lunchtime Bible study group.

This past week, SDUSD, in collaboration with the Council on American Islam Relations (CAIR), instituted an anti-bullying campaign aimed specifically at protecting Muslims students.  In launching the initiative, SDUSD cited an unsubstantiated study by CAIR claiming that 55% of American Muslim students surveyed in California said they were bullied because of their religion.  The new program will include adding lessons on Islam to the social studies curriculum that emphasize prominent Muslims in history, creating Muslim-only "safe spaces," adding Muslim holidays to the school calendar, and providing support and resources for Muslim students during Ramadan.

According to Stan Anjan, SDUSD's executive director of family and community engagement, the new program will focus on promoting a positive image of Islam.  Special disciplinary measures will also be created for the so-called bullying of Muslims cited by CAIR.  Instead of detention, the school plans a "restorative justice" program in which students dialogue with each other about perceived bullying words or actions.  Educational materials on Islam and resource listings will be provided to parents and school personnel as well.

CAIR, "a radical fundamentalist front group for Hamas," according to terrorism expert Steve Emerson, was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror-funding case brought by the Justice Department in 2007.  CAIR operatives have repeatedly refused to denounce terrorist groups Hamas and Hezb'allah, and several CAIR executives have been successfully prosecuted and incarcerated for terrorist activities.  CAIR was designated as a terrorist group by the UAE in 2014.

In 2015, Kevin Beiser and Michael McQuary, two members of the SDUSD Board of Education, issued a formal proclamation in support and recognition of CAIR San Diego, citing ten years of "constructive civic engagement" in San Diego and Imperial Counties.  They praised the organization's work to "promote not only religious and cultural tolerance and understanding but also justice and equality for all who live in the United States."

CAIR director Hanif Mohebi was specifically complimented for his commitment to "promoting equitable educational opportunity for all students and preparing them to succeed in a culturally diverse society."  The trustees recognized a community partnership with CAIR in mediating school situations involving "discrimination and other behavioral issue[s]" and announced CAIR's upcoming tenth anniversary banquet, centered on the theme "Strengthening Our Voices, Advancing Together."

CAIR, billing itself as a benign Muslim civil rights organization, has long been at the forefront in pressuring schools and businesses to accommodate the special needs of Muslims.  In 2009, CAIR complained of favoritism when Christian students in Roseville, a Detroit suburb, were given permission slips to attend off-site Bible study classes.  Yet CAIR pushed in 2012 for Dearborn public schools to accommodate Muslim prayer on school grounds and early Friday dismissals for Jumu'ah prayers.  The organization has pressured schools to have a say on textbook selection and to feature its own lecturers for school assemblies.  When a public school teacher in Concrete, Washington referenced the Taliban and Hamas while citing examples of the use of violence to bully people, CAIR cried "racism" and called for a federal investigation, saying the teacher had veered off topic to make anti-Muslim statements.  The school district responded that the teacher's comments were taken out of context.

Mohebi, the head of CAIR San Diego, has been pushing the "anti-Islamophobia" program.  He recently tried to prevent the San Diego Police Department from attending a training session on Islamic terrorism featuring Ryan Mauro, national security analyst for the Clarion Project, a nonprofit dedicated to exposing the dangers of Islamic extremism.  Mohebi said officers would be learning "conspiracy theories" from Mauro.  Further, Mohebi importuned that no taxpayer dollars should pay for the training and that the SDPD should not confer continuing education credits for attendance.  In a further attempt to control police training on Islam, Mohebi requested the ability to monitor police training to vouch for its accuracy and to provide clarifications throughout the session.

CAIR's recent activity and its incursion into the San Diego schools' curriculum has been criticized by Charles LiMandri, president and chief counsel of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF).  LiMandri said the San Diego program represents a "wholesale realignment of school curricula and the students' learning environment to the recommendations of a religious organization whose stated mission is to "enhance the understanding of Islam" and "empower American Muslims."

The FCDF maintains that the First Amendment prohibits a government agency from attempting to effect a secular goal by the propagation of religious concepts.  LiMandri points out the litigious pitfalls of a curriculum which could easily be construed as a governmental endorsement of a religion.  He also cautions that CAIR's interpretation of the term "bullying" could extend to the stifling of criticism of Islam, further impinging on First Amendment protections.

Citizens for Quality Education San Diego, a non-partisan group of citizens concerned about public education, voiced their opposition to the new Islamic-friendly curriculum and characterized it as an attempt to implement at local schools "anti-American sharia law," incompatible with the U.S. Constitution.  The group criticized the blatant singling out of the Muslim religion for special accommodations and demanded that the policy be rescinded.  Despite widespread community outcry, the district seems to be moving ahead. 

If allowed to stand, the SDUSD anti-bullying program - geared specifically to the CAIR-identified needs of Muslim students - could mark a dangerous departure from treasured constitutional principles and First Amendment protections.  This case warrants serious attention, as it has grave implications for the direction of education and the supremacy of Islam in the nation.


Government Schools: Sowing the Seeds of Our Destruction

Several years ago, the Independent Institute honored Andy Garcia at our unforgettable Gala for Liberty (other honorees that evening were Bill Bowes and Desmond Tutu).

There was not a dry eye in the house (including his) as Andy Garcia recounted his memories of leaving his home, Cuba, at the age of 5.

Once the Castros had seized power, they passed a law giving the State full rights over all children. As I had been taught by my true-believing Marxist Development Economics professors at Stanford, this is how you build the “New Man” that makes Socialism the ideal society.

Cuban parents not wanting their children to be raw material for Marxist experiments, instead made the ultimate sacrifice and turned their children over to the Catholic church’s Peter Pan project, under which their children were flown to live in freedom with families in the United States—not knowing if they would ever see their children again, and many of whom did not.

After Andy Garcia’s mother reported to his father that she had seen Andy (at the age of 5) marching and singing the Internationale, his family joined the exodus. Fortunately, Andy’s father was able to later also leave Cuba, and the family was reunited in Florida:

How amazing then that American parents living in liberty, which while increasingly imperfect, still far exceeds the vast majority of the globe, willingly deliver their children for indoctrination to the government school system.

Earlier this week, I received an eNewsletter from an Oakland School Board Director, proudly reporting:

Earlier this week I attended May Day activities at San Antonio Park in Oakland. Students, immigrants and workers from every corner of Oakland gathered for teach-ins, and to stand up for workers, immigrants, and a socially just city and country. I helped kids to make protest signs for the march, and it was awesome to see the next generation of organizers and activists in action.

How different from the photos of this week’s protests against the government of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, including of protestors being run over by armored military vehicles.

As Independent Institute Adjunct Fellow Charlotte Twight puts it in our book, Future: Economic Peril or Prosperity?

Perhaps the only change potentially capable of bringing peaceful transformation to a more free society is complete severance of education from government. This change would eliminate the system that has inculcated generations of children in statism and collectivism, reduced children’s capacity for reason and logic, and deprived them of lessons of history about the nature of governance and governments’ misuse of power.

In the meantime, please encourage every parent you know to withdraw from the government education system to help ensure our children a brighter future.


Australia: School’s bid to ban Mother’s Day ‘blocked’

A Melbourne primary school that scrapped its Mother’s Day stall in the name of “diversity” and ­“inclusivity” is understood to have reversed the decision after a phone call from a concerned parent — Bill Shorten.

Moonee Ponds West Primary School was facing a backlash from parents shocked to read in this week’s newsletter that the stall — where children can spend their pocket money on small, token gifts for their mother or ­another “significant loved one” — would not be going ahead.

Instead, principal Jeff Lyon ­revealed, the school would ­celebrate UN International Day of Families. “I believe celebrating International Day of Families is a more inclusive way of celebrating the richness, diversity and complexity of living and loving as a family in the modern world,” Mr Lyon wrote. “The day highlights the importance of all caregivers in families, be it parents, grandparents or siblings and the importance of parental education for the welfare of children.”

The Opposition Leader, whose daughter goes to Moonee Ponds West, rang the school late yesterday. He said the decision had been reversed.

Asked to comment on the decision by the school, which is in Mr Shorten’s electorate, he described it as a “wonderful’’ institution. “I’ve spoken to the principal this evening and I understand there will be a Mother’s Day stall,” he said.

Samantha Hanna, who went to the school as a child and sends her children Isabela, Dante and Didier there, said parents had been surprised by the move.

“I remember as a kid lining up and agonising over whether to get mum the soap on the rope or the scented candle, and now I love getting these little gifts ... from my own kids,” Ms Hanna said.

“I know that there are some single parent families at the school, and for those mums this is probably the only gift they will get from their children. I understand that some don’t have mums around but it is a good time to think about the importance of mums and dads and the role they play in our lives. I’m glad to hear it’s been reinstated.”

While some parents were dismayed about the initial decision, other politicians weighed in with concerns about the advent of political correctness in the school playground.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino distanced himself from the move. “While these are local decisions, I would have thought Mother’s Day was a great opportunity to celebrate not just mums but other carers and family members,” he said. “I know I will be spoiling my mother this ­Mother’s Day.”

Opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling pointed the finger at the Andrews government for forcing “political correctness” on schools. “Mother’s Day is about celebrating the maternal figures in our lives, whether it is mum, grandma, an aunt or a female mentor, and honouring their contribution as women in society,” he said. “If it’s not banning the signing of traditional Christmas carols or reading classical fairy tales, (Premier) Daniel Andrews’ attack on our cultural traditions continues.”

Mr Lyon was not available for comment last night.


Tuesday, May 09, 2017

UK: Student comes up with 'ingenious' way to cheat in university exams

 It may sound like something used by one of Harry Potter’s wayward classmates at Hogwarts, but “invisible ink” has now been revealed by the university ombudsman as the latest university exam scam.

According to the latest annual report by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), a law student was caught red-handed with 24 pages of “unauthorised notes” written in invisible UV ink.

It is thought that the student managed to smuggle a UV light into the exam in order to decipher her invisible notes.

The student had made the invisible notes in her law statute book which she had bought into the exam hall with her, but was caught after being spotted looking at the notes by the invigilator.

The details of the "invisible ink" incident were disclosed in the report, which cited it as a case study of a student who had complained unsuccessfully about the penalty imposed on her for cheating.

It was one of 66 complaints on "academic misconduct, plagiarism and cheating" that were escalated to the OIA last year. Students can appeal to the OIA to review complaints against their university.

The use of invisible ink is the latest instance of students using technology to cheat in exams. Last month MPs and university chiefs called for “intrusive” airport-style searches after The Telegraph revealed that a growing number of students are sneaking tiny in-ear devices into exams that can whisper answers into their ears.

Official data has revealed for the first time that "cheat tech" is on the rise, as hundreds of students have been caught with covert technological devices during tests.

Lord Storey, who has campaigned to ban the rapidly growing industry of professional essay-writing services, said that the use of invisible ink in exams is “very ingenious”.

He said that universities are aware that cheating is a “growing problem” as it affects the credibility of the institution. Lord Storey, who is the Liberal Democrats education spokesman for the House of Lords, added said that students were sometimes “desperate” to do well in exams which can lead them to searching for cheating technology online.

“The number of students is increasing all the time, particularly overseas students,” he said. “Sometimes rich parents are paying the fees and the young person is desperate to do well in exams and make sure money wasn’t wasted”.

Invisible ink sets are available to buy for as little as £2 on internet shopping sites and are often marketed as children’s toys. They can be useful for marking expensive possessions so that they are easier to detect in case they are stolen and sold on.

The ink itself includes phosphors, which emit light when exposed to radiation such as UV light.

Invisible ink has been reportedly used for a variety of crimes in the past, including by gangs passing secret messages to each other.

The al-Qaeda plotter Habib Ahmed, 32, was jailed in 2008 after being caught smuggling code books written in invisible ink into the country.

He was part of a British terror cell that police believe were planning a massacre in Britain.

A spokesman for Universities UK said: “Universities take cheating extremely seriously and have severe penalties for students found to be cheating.

"Academic misconduct is a breach of an institution’s disciplinary regulations and can result in students being expelled from the university. Universities have become more experienced in detecting and dealing with all forms of cheating."


Teacher Resignation Letters Show Why Public School Teachers (Myself Included) Quit

Faith Moore

I became a conservative after a year teaching 4th grade at a public school in the inner city. Before that, I probably would have said I was a liberal. I wasn’t really interested in politics, but all my friends were liberals, so I figured I must be one too.

When I got my teacher’s license, the first thing I did was go looking for the most challenging teaching situation I could find. I had just completed a two-year Masters program at a prestigious teaching school in New York City and was filled with idealism, determination, and a cocky conviction that I would succeed where so many others had failed. (Think Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds.)

I was a bit of a rarity -- a young, well-educated, idealistic teacher who had come to this failing school of her own accord, not through some program like Teach for America, or the New York City Teaching Fellows. Unlike teachers who, through such programs, had gone straight from college to the classroom, I had a philosophy behind me, a method of teaching, knowledge about child development and how kids learn, and a year of assistant teaching under my belt.

But it was that education and knowledge, bumping up against a failing school system that did me in. When I quit after just one year and went to teach in a private school (a fact I’m not proud of, but which I know without a doubt maintained my sanity), I did it quietly, choosing not to list for the bureaucratic and incompetent principal all the things that were wrong with her school, and the public education system in general. I’m polite (and conflict-averse) so I went quietly. But I had seen enough to know that the system was failing, and I’d developed some pretty clear notions about why.

These days, people will post pretty much anything on social media, and teacher resignation letters are no exception. A study out of Michigan State University has examined 22 of these viral letters and an interesting trend has emerged. One that speaks directly to the reasons I, too, couldn’t stay.

“I have watched as my job requirements swung away from a focus on the children, their individual learning styles, emotional needs, and their individual families, interests and strengths to a focus on testing, assessing, and scoring young children,” one of the letters quoted in the study proclaims. "‘Data-driven’ education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core,” reads another.

It’s not that we shouldn’t require our students to meet certain standards before advancing to the next grade level. Of course we should. And it’s not that we shouldn’t administer tests. We should do that too. There has to be a system of evaluating student progress and supporting students who are falling behind. It’s that we’re expecting all the students to acquire that information in exactly the same way.

See, you can teach a group of children from financially stable homes, with two well-educated parents, who read for pleasure outside of school, and attend a variety of stimulating after school activities, any way you want because (by and large) they’re going to pass the state mandated tests. Teachers in public schools in more affluent communities don’t have to “teach to the test.” They can offer a few periods a week of “test prep” and spend the rest of their time creating and implementing a more creative curriculum that meets the needs of their individual students. All while keeping their federal funding.

But poor students, living in unstable homes, whose parents are uneducated or just plain absent, who are being recruited into gangs and taking care of younger siblings, aren’t going to pass those tests on their own. Which is why schools like the one I taught in have become slaves to the test, implementing rigid “scripted” curricula, focusing only on “test prep” day in and day out, and stifling any attempts to cater to the specific needs of the students.

I’d been hired because of my degree from a school with a very specific teaching philosophy, but every time I tried to implement it in service of teaching my students the things they needed to know in order to pass 4th grade, I was told to stop and get with the program. But the program didn’t work. And the teachers who were achieving the best results were the more experienced ones, who weren’t afraid to close their doors and get on with teaching in the way they thought best.

It’s when I began to believe in school choice. I looked at schools that were achieving success in communities like the one I was working in and I realized that they were all charter schools. Schools that took into consideration the children’s individual situations. Schools like KIPP and the Harlem Children’s Zone’s Promise Academy which recognized that, in order for children in lower socio-economic areas to succeed academically, they needed a different kind of approach than their more affluent peers. One that took into account the deficits in role models, economics, nutrition, safety, etc. these children were facing.

In the conclusion to the study on teacher resignation letters, the authors write: “These letters give teachers a voice, and their arguments act as counter narratives to the public narrative that schools are failing because teachers are failing to serve the students they teach.” Teachers are failing to serve their students, but it’s because the government bureaucracy of the public education system won’t let them be successful. It chewed me up and spat me out. And it’s done the same to countless others. Don’t you think it’s time for a change?


8 Lessons to Learn From the Failure of Common Core

Education reform is a risky business, and few programs illustrate this better than the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The original idea might have been good, but a multitude of unwise decisions twisted and politicized it until it became one of the least popular reforms in America.

"It's a case of a wasted decade," Frederick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), told PJ Media in an interview Tuesday. Hess's new book, Letters to a Young Education Reformer, presents many important lessons for those who wish to reform education in America, and almost all of them would have helped Common Core avoid the disaster it became.

It isn't just conservatives who look askance at Common Core. Many teachers and teachers unions dislike it as well. Hess explained that while Common Core is still on the books in "close to 40 states," the standards themselves do not mean very much. He estimated that Common Core tests are now used "in less than half the country."

Hess actually argued that Common Core today is in a worse position than it would have been in 2010 or 2011. Why? Here are some of the reasons.

1. "Obama Core."

In 2007 and 2008, education reformers realized that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) required states to test kids in reading and math, creating an incentive for states to make their tests easier in order to make schools look better, Hess explained. Reformers wanted to develop an apples-to-apples comparison, and some states agreed to launch Common Core.

but in 2009, President Obama's stimulus package included education spending, and his administration tied education funding to state adoption of Common Core.

What would have been adopted by about 15 or 20 states on their own accord was suddenly adopted by about 40 states — and the final version hadn't even been released yet!

"In some ways, it was the worst of all words," Hess told PJ Media. "It felt like it had been ordered by Washington, states were bribed and coerced into doing it, and it was done in the dark of night."

By making the Common Core a federal program, Obama politicized it — and made it seem imposed by Washington bureaucracy.

In his book, Hess warned that policy can make people do things, but it can't make them do things well. In education, that difference is key. Furthermore, the book warned about the corruption of power. When you're out of power, you tend to be skeptical. When you have it, "it's tempting to use it."

2. Passion blinded Common Core advocates.

Throughout his book, Hess warned about the "perils of passion." The AEI scholar explained that "when we get excited about stuff, it's easy to imagine that everybody is as excited as we are and we put on blinders."

"When the Common Core folks saw everybody they talked to was saying nice stuff about this, they forgot that they were only talking to 1 percent of the country," he explained. Eventually, backers of the program became so convinced in its effectiveness that they felt confident dismissing anyone who was critical of it.

3. Dismissing critics made reform impossible.

When people started realizing what was happening with Common Core — strange math work, a large emphasis on testing — "rather than say 'We went too far too fast,' advocates of Common Core threw gasoline on the fire by saying anybody who had concerns was a wing-nut," Hess explained.

Common Core advocates "did remarkably little over the following three or four years to get out and explain to people what Common Core was, listen to them, and figure it out." This lack of debate prevented reformers from making alterations to Common Core which might have satisfied — or at least addressed — the concerns of teachers and parents.

In his book, Hess warned about the dangers of groupthink. He lamented that most people in education reform tend to be political liberals. Reformers need to continually challenge their ideas by talking to people who disagree with them.

4. Common Core advocates overstated its importance.

Hess noted that part of Common Core's original strategy was to emphasize that the reform involved only reading and math standards.

In 2013, however, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan declared, "I believe the Common Core State standards may prove to be the single greatest thing to happen to public education in America since Brown verses Board of Education."

This grandiose rhetoric again illustrated the danger of power, Hess warned. Duncan himself once declared NCLB a "broken" law, calling for less Washington control of education. By the end of his time in Washington, this same man was fighting to keep NCLB's federal control of education intact.

5. The limits of data in education.

"When we talked about the Common Core, advocates didn't say 'slightly better reading and math tests,' they said, 'now we can precisely measure whether students and teachers are doing their job well,'" Hess explained. Their emphasis on testing revealed an irrational faith in data.

The AEI scholar explained that teachers and parents want kids to learn about more than just reading and math. "Reading and math scores capture about 30 to 35 percent of what I care about," Hess explained. In his book, he used the example of Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, a 2004 book by Michael Lewis turned into a 2011 movie with Brad Pitt.

In Moneyball, baseball manager Billy Beane used a complex statistical analysis to recruit hidden talent. Beane did this by avoiding the most commonly used statistics, such as home runs, runs batted in, batting average, and so on, and focusing on the real measures of talent.

Modern education statistics "are primitive, limited, and often misleading," like the original baseball stats. "Education's moneyball moment awaits the collection of deep, systematic data on the processes of teaching, learning, and school operations," Hess wrote in his book.

6. Minimizing the role of parents.

In 2013, Education Secretary Duncan told state superintendents that "white suburban moms" were rebelling against the Common Core because their kids have done poorly on the tests. "All of a sudden, their child isn't as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn't quite as good as they thought ... and that's pretty scary," Duncan said.

Dismissing the concerns of parents was not a good idea, as it alienated parents and prevented the possibility of reforming Common Core to make it better suit everyone's needs.

"It's not that reformers ought to feel that they have to give in to this group or that group of parents all the time, but parents usually care a lot more about their kid than reformers," Hess explained. Dismissing parents' concerns is "a surefire way to convince parents that reformers are not working for their child."

7. Overlooking history.

Many reformers get frustrated at the difficulty of changing the school system, but even a cursory understanding of the history of schooling in America explains why reform is so difficult, Hess explained. In his book, he noted that schooling in America grew slowly and was intended to do different things over the centuries.

Because the United States is a huge country and different school districts were established at different times for different reasons, a one-size-fits-all approach that encourages radical changes will run into a great deal of unnecessary problems.

If Common Core advocates understood this, they would have said, "Let's start with the places that get this, that are excited about it, and everybody else is going to see how helpful it is to be a Common Core-aligned state," Hess argued.

Instead of growing Common Core in a few states that were excited about it and willing to make changes, advocates used the federal government to bribe states into accepting it. "That's not a good way to change organizations that are six or eight or twelve generations old," the AEI scholar said.

8. The virtues of school choice.

The best lesson to learn from the failure of Common Core is how to avoid repeating it. Unlike this program, the school choice movement is local. Education reform does best when "focusing on people who want to do it, letting them do it, and growing it in an environment of trust," Hess argued.

The virtue of school choice isn't that it "works" in some nebulous way. Rather, this reform is helpful because it creates a sort of free market in education, which allows reformers, teachers, and parents to "create school communities where teachers want to be there, students want to be there, and where there's a clear vision."

School choice, charter schooling, education savings accounts, and school voucher programs have had to "grow from the ground up in the past 25 years," the AEI scholar noted. Since these initiatives never had a big federal push, they had to develop slowly.

Hess warned that President Donald Trump, by championing school choice from Washington, D.C., would actually harm this important reform. "Having Obama be the pitch man for the Common Core ended up being a huge mistake for the Common Core," he argued. "It became Obama Core," and if school choice "becomes Trump Choice, a lot of hard-earned trust starts to come under the same pressure that Obama created with the Common Core."

The AEI scholar encouraged President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to champion school choice, but only by giving states flexibility to choose federal funds to support it, and to curb regulations that block needed reform.

"What matters in school reform is much more how you do it rather than whether you do it," Hess explained. "No matter how well-intentioned, when the President and Secretary of Education go to the head of the school reform parade, it often creates more problems than it solves."

Freeing up education for local school choice reforms is a great way to achieve reform, because it allows different school districts to adjust in different ways. For more reform tips and some great wisdom from his 25 years in education, read Hess's new book — it's just a short 150 pages!


Monday, May 08, 2017

Jesuit boys' school in trouble -- or is it?

Jesuits these days are just far-Leftists -- so that should not be  a problem in Massachusetts

Boston College High School has experienced a sharp decline in applications, prompting trustees to explore ways to reverse the trend and raising fears among many alumni and parents that the historically all-boys school might allow girls to attend.

Over the past decade, the Jesuit Catholic school — a premier destination for college-bound boys for generations — has seen applications tumble from 1,063 in 2008 to 637 this year, according to an April 20 letter by the chairman of the school’s trustees.

Consequently, the school is preparing to welcome one of its smaller groups of new students to its Dorchester campus this fall: about 280, compared to 336 last fall, according to the letter, which was obtained by the Globe.

The numbers suggest that BC High, which had experienced a surge in overall enrollment over the past decade, might not be immune to a national decline in Catholic school enrollment, which has forced schools to close or, for those that educate just one gender, to admit both boys and girls.

BC High has pondered whether to admit girls in the past. In his letter, chairman John McQuillan did not mention the possibility of admitting female students to the school or specify any possible scenarios under consideration to address the application drop but said “all options deserve a fair and honest assessment.”

“The board has made no decisions and has yet to deliberate these or other options, but given the school’s enrollment needs, the board owes a duty to the school to do so,” McQuillan wrote.

He said the board would work with the Archdiocese of Boston and the Society of Jesus to “conduct a comprehensive evaluation of BC High’s options” and what impact it could have on other Catholic schools.

The cryptic nature of the letter is raising alarms among many alumni and parents — who oppose a change in the all-male enrollment — that the board has a hidden agenda to start admitting female applicants. They argue that even though the number of applicants may have declined, the actual enrollment over the last decade has increased by about 300 students, bringing the total to just under 1,600.

“This is a manufactured crisis to support an agenda by a few trustees who are acting more like Donald Trump than stewards of a great Jesuit academic institution that has over 150 years of history, tradition, and success,” said City Councilor Michael Flaherty, an alumnus whose son attends the school. “BC High is a thriving school.”

The tension has flared a year and a half after the board, under a different chairman, discussed the idea of admitting girls but then ultimately reaffirmed its commitment to serving only boys.

Surveys of parents and alumni at the time revealed opposition to the idea, although faculty and students were more supportive, according to a copy of a board letter in October 2015 that was obtained by the Globe this week.

But the board at the time never removed the idea completely from consideration.

Greg Gaillardetz, a 2015 alumnus, said he supports admitting female students.

“I think it’s very important that boys are able to interact with women in an environment they are learning in,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to learn to respect women and see them as equals.”

In a statement issued in response to Globe questions, McQuillan did not say whether BC High was considering a new model and instead spoke in generalities and highlighted the school’s academic accomplishments.

“It is from this position of strength that our board and senior leadership team will work closely with the Archdiocese of Boston, the Society of Jesus, and our Catholic community to develop a strategic plan addressing market-wide enrollment challenges facing independent and Catholic secondary schools across the country,” he said. “We are facing our challenges directly, and we are confident that our best years are ahead of us.”

Founded in 1863, Boston College High School initially operated as part of Boston College to serve the city’s growing Irish population, before splitting in 1927.

Since then, the high school has continued to be a popular gateway to Boston College and other top universities. Some 98 percent of graduates go on to four-year colleges,many of them leaving the school with a strong foundation in the teachings of the Jesuits, who stress education and finding the good in all humanity.

But the school, which has been on Morrissey Boulevard since 1950, is weathering a turbulent period.

In February, the school’s much anticipated search to replace retiring president William Kemeza collapsed when the school and the leading candidate were unable to reach an agreement, raising questions about what went wrong.

Kemeza initially agreed to stay on until a successor was found, trustees announced in February. But he then decided to stick with his plan to retire at the end of this school year.

At the same time, the school’s last Jesuit teacher retired in December and a sharp decline in the number of Jesuits has created difficulties in bringing in others.

The school’s annual tuition of more than $20,000 has also become increasingly out of reach for middle class families, causing the school to give more financial aid. Nearly 50 percent of students receive assistance. The average annual amount is $8,300.

Enrollment in Catholic schools across Greater Boston has slid by about 10,000 students over the last 10 years, to 37,547 this year, according to the archdiocese.

But some schools, such as BC High, have been defying those trends.

In 2006, in response to families who wanted their sons to start an all-boys education earlier and to better position itself in the private-school market, the school added seventh and eighth grades.

The revelation of declining applications prompted some alumni and parents to question whether school leaders grew complacent in their marketing efforts.

“There are unbelievable stories about there about kids who are incredibly smart or athletic, but you don’t see those stories being told,” said Gregory Vasil, a parent who supports maintaining an all-male student body.

But in his April letter, McQuillan said that despite significant investment in marketing and admissions, the school was unable to draw enough qualified applicants, causing it to enroll fewer students.

Some parents and alumni speculate whether a coed BC High could put the dwindling number of all-girl Catholic schools at greater risk.

“If the school goes coed, it will pummel some of the all-girls schools,” said Joe Donahue, a former board chairman. “It’s not the right time. I don’t feel like we are in a crisis.”


U.S. Lawmakers Introduce Bipartisan Resolution To End Campus Free Speech Zones

On many college campuses, students are limited to small “free speech zones” to exercise their First Amendment rights. Failure to remain within one of these zones can result in disciplinary action and even arrest.

On Wednesday, several members of Congress made a bipartisan effort to stop this practice, introducing a resolution that would end free speech zones and reaffirm the First Amendment on campuses. Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) introduced the resolution along with six cosponsors: Reps. Rick W. Allen (R-Ga.); Todd Rokita (R-Ind.); Glenn Grothman (R-Wisc.); Jason Lewis (R-Minn.); Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.); and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.).

“With our current political climate, it’s more crucial than ever that colleges and universities protect all First Amendment rights,” Roe said in a press release. “It is my hope through passing this resolution we will send a strong message to college campuses across the country that restrictions on freedom of speech, thought and expression are inherently at odds with the rights guaranteed by our Constitution.”

The resolution is based on research from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which has sued schools over free speech zones. Most recently, the organization joined Los Angeles Pierce College Student Kevin Shaw in suing his school, which told him he could only pass out Spanish-language versions of the U.S. Constitution while standing in a tiny area on campus. FIRE estimated the size of Pierce’s free speech zone to be roughly equivalent to that of an iPhone on a tennis court.

In another recent example, the Young Americans for Liberty chapter at Kellogg Community College is suing its school for arresting a student for passing out copies of the Constitution. Because they were outside of the free speech zones, in which they had limitations that liberal students were not required to follow, they were arrested for trespassing.

“Free speech zones and restrictive speech codes are inherently at odds with the freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution,” Roe’s resolution states.

FIRE says legislation to end free speech zones has passed in Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Missouri, Utah, and Virginia, while similar legislation is pending in Louisiana, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.

“Too many colleges and universities are restricting expressive activities on campus with misleadingly labeled ‘free speech’ zones,” FIRE’s Legislative and Policy Director Joe Cohn said in a statement. “FIRE is thrilled that Representative Roe sees these policies for what they are—unjustified quarantine zones. Hopefully, this resolution draws the broad bipartisan support it deserves.”

It is still unclear what actions President Trump’s Education Department will take to provide civil rights to college students, including free speech, but perhaps Congress will act on its own.


University Students Fall for Sexual Propaganda, Bemoan Opening of Chick-fil-A on Campus

A new fast-food restaurant on campus should have been a no-brainer. Sadly, closed minds don’t work that way.

Some college students at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University are claiming, like Chicken Little, that the sky is falling. Sadly, given these crazy times, that’s no longer really news. We’ve seen a steady stream of reports about scholars being driven off campus by mobs of triggered students, of speakers being disinvited or losing announced awards because of their Judeo-Christian beliefs—all in the name of tolerance, diversity, and “safe spaces”!

Truly, though, the kerfuffle at Duquesne shows what we’re up against. In March the university announced that the popular fast food chain Chick-fil-A would be opening in the Catholic school’s main food court.

Instead of cheers for a company that donates generously to charity and makes a great chicken sandwich, the decision brought jeers from some students, who claimed this would put their “safe place … at risk.” One leader of a gay student group said Chick-fil-A has “a questionable history on civil rights and human rights.” A petition that says bullying is a problem on campus demands that Chick-fil-A be banned, while Niko Martini, the president of the Lambda Gay-Straight Alliance, says that the school should, at the very least, “acknowledge there is still some tension.”

So, what has Chick-fil-A done? Well, Dan Cathy, son of Chick-fil-A’s founder, Truett Cathy, has publicly stated his support for the biblical definition of marriage. And the company’s foundation in the past has supported Christian organizations such as Exodus International and Focus on the Family that have taken faith-based stances on human sexuality. By that standard, lots of people of faith are “questionable” in the eyes of some campus groups.

But of course they’re wrong, and we’re not. Dan Cathy is a case in point. A few years ago, you may recall, Chick-fil-A’s president and COO reached out to Shane Windmeyer, who was organizing a national boycott of Chick-fil-A as the executive director of Campus Pride, an organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender college students. Before they met, Windmeyer thought Dan Cathy was a fiend. What he discovered after months of discussion was that Dan had become his friend. His mind began to open.

“Dan expressed a sincere interest in my life, wanting to get to know me on a personal level,” Windmeyer wrote in an eye-opening article in The Huffington Post. “He wanted to know about where I grew up, my faith, my family, even my husband, Tommy. In return, I learned about his wife and kids and gained an appreciation for his devout belief in Jesus Christ and his commitment to being ‘a follower of Christ’ more than a ‘Christian.’”

There was no marginalizing here, no destruction of safe spaces, even as Dan Cathy made no apologies for his beliefs, while conveying respect and a peaceable witness to Windmeyer. I wonder whether those Duquesne students might gain a new perspective about Chick-fil-A—and about Christians—upon reading that article. Even better, what might happen if Christians like Dan humbly came alongside them and became, not a debating partner, but a friend?

Let’s face it, folks, convincing people who’ve fallen for the new sexual propaganda that we’re not out to scare or marginalize them won’t be easy. Through long years of indoctrination in academia and popular culture, their minds have been closed to a Christian worldview. Sadly, they really do think we have horns and tails.  But we don’t, and we’ll need to more consistently emulate the patient, loving approach of Dan Cathy if we’re ever going to change their minds.


Sunday, May 07, 2017

What is the one thing you regret doing or not doing the most in your life?

By Matthew Bates

Taking out student loans. A lot of them.

I went to an expensive, private university 100% on loans, for both my undergrad and, five years later, my graduate degree. I was the first person in my family to go to college, and my parents didn’t quite understand how the financing worked. They just knew that they couldn’t help me with it at all.

When it was all said and done, I owed over $100,000 for a worthless B.A. in Communications, a minor in English and a worthwhile M.A. in Teaching.

I could have gotten the same thing from a public university for about $20,000 if I had done it right.

And I even worked the entire time I was in college, to pay for my room and board. It’s not as if I had been lazy during those years.

Here’s what they don’t tell you about student loans: they make you pay the interest first. I’ve been paying almost $400 per month for over ten years (with a two-year grad school break in the middle), and my principal hasn’t gone down at all. I still owe just as much now as the day I graduated.

Barring some windfall of money in my future, I will not be done paying these loans until I am 62.

I’m 37, and I’m still paying for classes I took when I was 18, in 1998. It’s soul-crushing. And I have no one to blame but myself.


Middlebury Students Vote To Protest Discipline Of Charles Murray Protesters

Even as Middlebury College administrators investigated students who were disruptive and violent against libertarian social scientist Charles Murray, the school’s student government expressed its sentiments that penalizing their behavior is unjust.

On Monday, the Middlebury administration announced it had disciplined 30 students so far for their actions during the Murray event. Students had stood up and shouted to prevent Murray from speaking. When he was moved to a different location, along with professor Allison Stanger, who was set to ask him tough questions about his books, students banged on the windows and pulled fire alarms, which shut off the talk’s livestream.

When Stanger and Murray left the building, students surrounded them and further antagonized Murray, resulting in an injury to Stanger that required a neck brace. They also beat on their car’s windows, rocked the car, and threw a stop sign with a heavy concrete base in front of the car as Stanger and Murray attempted to leave the tumult.

But on April 12, more than a month after the attack on Murray and Stanger and after Middlebury began investigating more than 70 students for their behavior (the school is still working on disciplining the remaining students), the student government voted to demand the administration change the college handbook and not punish students who violated the original.

The ‘Marginalized’ Can Do No Wrong

The student bill argued that arresting students who engage in violent and disruptive behavior would result in “psychological trauma for marginalized students.” That’s right, the student government essentially argued that people it deems “marginalized” should get a free pass on violence and disorderly conduct.

The students also associated arrests and criminal charges “with police violence and the carceral state, which law professor Michelle Alexander refers to as ‘the New Jim Crow.’” What do these students want, no more police? Because that’s how this comes off.


Smart parents favour quality education over fancy buildings

Comment from Australia

With student numbers swelling in city public schools — partly because of population growth and partly because of a slowdown in the drift to non-government schools — the NSW and Victorian state governments have plans to build a bunch of new schools. Sensibly, they have realised that urban land availability does not allow the traditional sprawl of buildings and playgrounds, so the new city schools will be high rises.

Media reports in Sydney and Melbourne show the schools to be at the fancy end of the architectural scale. They’ll no doubt be equipped with all of the latest — soon to be outdated — technology and will have ‘learning spaces’ instead of classrooms, ‘information resource centres’ (RIP libraries), and cafés … vale, the humble tuckshop.

Contrast this with Chatswood Public School in Sydney. Due to its outstanding reputation for academic quality, its student numbers have almost doubled in the past 10 years. It is so over capacity that demountable classrooms have been placed in the car park and on the oval of the high school across the road to meet demand.

There is a high premium on house and rental prices in the enrolment zone. Parents are willing to bypass a nearby under-capacity school and pay a real estate premium to have their child educated in a demountable classroom in a crowded school. They do this because they believe the teaching and learning is first rate, and this outstrips all other factors. While Chatswood is perhaps the best known example of this phenomenon, it is far from the only one.

To be clear: students and teachers in public schools should have comfortable, high quality facilities that are fit for purpose. But in their eagerness to provide this, state governments should not lose sight of the fact that whizz-bang buildings are not necessarily the highest priority for parents. Astute parents know that there is no substitute for a great teacher and a strong curriculum — whether it’s in a demountable classroom or a multi-billion dollar learning space. Governments need to make sure their priorities are just as sound.