Friday, June 16, 2017

DeVos Will Roll Back 2 Obama Regulations, a Blow to Consumer Advocates

The U.S. Department of Education is beginning the process of rolling back two Obama-era regulations aimed at holding for-profit colleges accountable and helping students who may have been misled or defrauded by them: the borrower-defense-to-repayment regulation, which was scheduled to go into effect on July 1, and the gainful-employment regulation, which was already in effect.

The gainful-employment regulation was meant to hold career-preparation programs accountable for the outcomes of their graduates. Specifically, if the estimated loan payments of a program’s graduates exceed a certain percentage of their income over a period of years, then the program would risk losing federal student aid.

The borrower-defense-to-repayment regulation was meant to allow borrowers who feel they have been defrauded by their college or program to have a simpler process for having their student loans forgiven by the federal government.

The specific processes by which the department would roll back the rules were laid out in two notices in the Federal Register: for gainful employment and for borrower defense to repayment.

The department said it anticipated that a committee would begin
negotiations to rework the gainful-employment rule in November or December of this year, meaning a revised rule could not take effect until July 2019. Observers were uncertain of whether the department would enforce the prior rules until that point.
In a news release on Tuesday, Ms. DeVos said: “Fraud, especially fraud committed by a school, is simply unacceptable. Unfortunately, last year’s rule-making effort missed an opportunity to get it right.” She added that the current rules had created a “muddled process that’s unfair to students and schools.”

“Nearly 16,000 borrower-defense claims are currently being processed by the department, and, as I have said all along, promises made to students under the current rule will be promises kept,” said Ms. DeVos. “We are working with servicers to get these loans discharged as expeditiously as possible. Some borrowers should expect to obtain discharges within the next several weeks.”

By both rolling back the borrower-defense rule and reworking the gainful-employment rule, the department has handed a victory to for-profit colleges. Lobbying groups for those institutions had fought the existing regulations.

Several lawmakers and observers saw the department's withdrawal of the borrower-defense rule as unfairly tipping the scales in favor of for-profit colleges. Senate Democrats sent a letter to Ms. DeVos last week asking her to keep the regulations in place. "Delaying the borrower-defense rule would be a monumental dereliction of the duty you have to protect students and taxpayers," the senators wrote, "and would increase the risk of repeating the recent history of students left holding the bag while executives at collapsing institutions made away with millions in profits."

Some groups representing other sectors of higher education, outside of for-profits, however, disagreed that the rules, as written, should have been carried out. The United Negro College Fund and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, which represent historically black colleges, sent a joint letter to Ms. DeVos on Monday asking that she delay the regulations.

"We remain concerned about the sweeping scope of the regulation and vague standards for determining ‘misrepresentation’ that could unfairly leave HBCUs and PBIs liable for frivolous claims, unwarranted fines, and unfounded penalties," the groups said in the letter. "Such provisions could result in significant costs that would divert precious resources better spent on serving the needs of students."


Rape Fakers Must Pay a Higher Price

By Michelle Malkin

It's settled, but far from over. The University of Virginia fraternity that was slimed and defamed by sicko fabulist Sabrina Erdely will receive a $1.65 million payment, the fraternity announced this week.

Erdely's manufactured tale of gang rape by Phi Kappa Psi members, spun through a manipulated UVA student dubbed "Jackie" and published by left-wing Rolling Stone magazine, combusted spectacularly after scrutiny by independent journalists in late 2014.

The latest payout over the fictional hit piece comes in the wake of another defamation lawsuit by UVA dean of students Nicole Eramo. She won a $3 million jury verdict last year after suffering great damage to her reputation after Rolling Stone and painted her as an uncaring, obstructionist school official who covered up sexual assault on campus.

The judgment, Eramo told NBC 29 in Charlottesville, Virginia, last week, "was vindicating."

But is it enough to compensate for the harm done — and is it enough to deter future rape hoaxers and their media enablers from perpetrating more lies against innocent young men?

Phi Kappa Psi initially sued for $25 million, but received a tiny fraction of that amount. Eramo's jury award also shrunk after she agreed to a settlement with Rolling Stone in April. Despite her court victory, she faced a mountain of legal bills related to trial costs and a threatened appeal.

And what about Erdeley's other victims?

Three other Phi Kappa Psi alumni, George Elias IV, Stephen Hadford and Ross Fowler, filed a third defamation suit that was dismissed by a federal judge last year. But in April, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York heard arguments for reinstating the case. It will take considerable time and resources for the fraternity members to be made whole again.

Even more troubling: There are other forgotten targets of Erdely's shoddy slur-nolism, again published by Rolling Stone, who have yet to see any accountability for her destructive words and actions against them.

In 2011, Erdely published a massive "investigation" in Rolling Stone alleging a "high-level conspiracy" to cover up sexual abuse by Philadelphia Catholic clergy. Erdely featured the graphic allegations of a troubled accuser known as "Billy Doe," who lodged wild rape charges against two Catholic priests and a lay teacher. His testimony resulted in the convictions of four men (one of whom died in prison), while "Billy" pocketed a $5 million settlement.

Ralph Cipriano, independent investigative journalist and founder of BigTrial, has extensively chronicled the lies, contradictions, and schemes of former altar boy "Billy" — a.k.a. Daniel Gallagher — over the past five years. Last month, Cipriano reported that a key detective in the case, Joe Walsh, filed an affidavit in the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court outlining Gallagher's deception.

When Walsh pressed Gallagher on whether his stories of "brutal anal rapes, death threats, (and) getting tied up naked with altar sashes" were true, Walsh wrote that Gallagher admitted he "just made up stuff and told them anything."

More damning, Cipriano reported, Walsh had "repeatedly informed the prosecutor in the case, former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen, that Gallagher wasn't a credible witness. Walsh also informed Sorensen that there was no evidence that backed up Gallagher's fantastic stories, and that the evidence gathered by Walsh actually contradicted Gallagher."

But the DA's office proceeded with the prosecutions, anyway. And Rolling Stone has never bothered to review or update Erdely's article — or inform readers of the real scandal of yet another fake rape hoax and prosecutorial misconduct.

In 2013, Erdely published another piece of half-baked advocacy journalism on "The Rape of Petty Officer (Rebecca) Blumer: Inside the military's culture of sex abuse, denial and cover-up." She's a one-trick pony, ain't she?

As Washington Examiner reporter Ashe Schow pointed out, Erdely "apparently made no attempt to contact members of the military involved in investigating the case, instead relying on victim's advocates with no direct knowledge" of Blumer's claims of being "roofied and raped."

Fraternities, religious institutions, the military, and the entire male population have been defamed by a lying liar with a laptop and her "progressive" editors at Democrat donor Jann Wenner's flagship rock music rag. All in service of promoting "rape culture" propaganda at any cost.

Too few journalists are willing to challenge the corruption of the criminal justice system in their backyards. Politicized police departments and pro-prosecution courts have failed to uphold the constitutional rights of the accused. The wheels of justice grind far too slowly for the falsely defamed and falsely convicted, fighting for their reputations or for their lives behind bars.

Juries need to send louder messages and impose strong deterrents against rape fakers and their propagandists. Make them pay. Big time.


Imbecilic call for all Australians to graduate High School

That one in eight fail to pass High School is pretty much what you would expect from the distribution of IQ -- so is changeable only by dumbing down the courses, which are already far too dumbed down

The latest report by Mitchell Institute at Victoria University finds large numbers of young Australians are not succeeding in education and training, and it’s costing taxpayers billions of dollars each year.

The findings reveal one in eight Australians will never attain a Year 12 qualification, and some of these people make up the one in eight Australians who will be disengaged from the workforce for most of their lives.

Victoria University’s Vice‐Chancellor, Professor Peter Dawkins said when young people aren’t supported to find success later in life it leads to enormous costs for everyone – through wasted tax dollars and lost chances to build safer communities, a stronger workforce and a richer economy.

“When we fail to set young people up for success, they are not the only ones affected – the impact stretches to all corners of society,” Professor Dawkins explained.

“The size of the impact, we’ve discovered, is staggering. Poor investment in our education system, especially in areas that help young people transition to careers, is costing our country billions of dollars every year.”

The are problems in key areas of education that lead to more people entering a life of crime, clogging public health services and relying on government support payments to get by. This also means people pay less taxes, and make less of an overall contribution to our economy and communities.

The fiscal and social costs associated with these issues are enormous.

For taxpayers, having 38,000 people aged 19 who will never achieve Year 12 or equivalent costs $315 million each year, and more than $12 billion over a lifetime. Having 46,000 people aged 24 who will be disengaged for most of their lives costs taxpayers $472 million each year, and almost $19 billion over a lifetime.

From the social perspective, the group of early school leavers costs governments and communities more than $580 million annually and more than $23 billion over a lifetime. The figures are even larger for the disengaged 24 year olds – $1.2 billion each year and more than $50 billion over a lifetime.

These costs are based on cohorts from just one year and they are conservative: actual costs are likely higher.

Professor Dawkins said governments need to prioritise system changes to ensure all Australians have equal education opportunities, while industry leaders, educators and communities can also help drive change.

“Universities and training institutes can be part of the solution by partnering with employers, understanding community needs and providing better opportunities for more young people to gain the skills and knowledge they need to find success.

“It is a matter of urgency to pay attention to the problems in our system that are letting down so many people. In the meantime, we’ll all keep paying the costs.”

Counting the costs of lost opportunity in Australian education is available at

Media release via email

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The higher education bubble is destroying U.S. labor markets

In 2014, only 36 percent of jobs available — 54.8 million — required some college, a postsecondary nondegree award, a Bachelor’s degree or more at the entry level according to data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Yet at the same time, today, 61 percent of the civilian population aged 25 and over has some college, a Bachelor’s degree or more, accounting for 131.4 million people. That accounts for approximately 76.6 million Americans who might have been better off financially not incurring any student loan debt and entering the labor force much sooner.

The overwhelming incentive is for younger people to go to college to improve their job prospects thanks to the massive misallocation of hundreds of billions of dollars of federally subsidized grants and loans for higher education.

Yet, despite all the subsidies, shortfalls are found throughout labor markets, whether that be in the medical and health care professions, STEM, railroad engineers, electricians, occupational therapists or machinists.

This week, the White House is promoting Workforce Development Week with major job retraining initiatives being promoted by the Department of Labor. Obviously, many factors play into Americans not being properly trained to perform the jobs actually available in the economy.

To the extent the Trump administration recognizes the need for non-college job training — a substantial majority of jobs do not require college — with the White House’s calls for private sector-based apprenticeship programs, they are to be praised.

Yet, the elephant in the room remains education. Overall, we’re still peddling the fiction that a college education is for everyone and pushing millions of our brightest into an environment not conducive for producing as many good paying jobs per capita as prior generations.

The reason is our higher education system does not — and cannot, by design — efficiently marshal resources to produce the laborers our economy needs.

We’re just throwing hundreds of billions of dollars of subsidies at the higher education wall and watching in slow motion as the catastrophe unfolds.

Last month, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the first quarter of 2017 was revised upward to 1.2 percent according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. It originally came in at 0.7 percent, but even with the upward revision, that stinks, and was certainly not good news to the Trump administration.

Particularly, because without robust economic growth, it will be hard or impossible to create the amount of jobs needed to truly get Americans back to work. And we know that because we just came off the worst decade for economic growth in U.S. history since GDP was invented.

Since the height of the U.S. economy in the late 1990s, with the popping of the dotcom and real estate bubbles in the years since, there has been a huge hit to labor markets, particularly in the working age population of 16 to 64.

Since 1997, the employment-population ratio of 16-64 year olds has dropped, from 73.5 percent to 69.9 percent, accounting for 7.5 million Americans who would have jobs had the rate remained the same.

An additional 8.5 million would be counted as unemployed, bringing the total to more than 15 million rather than the reported 6.9 million had labor participation remained the same, a 9.4 percent unemployment rate instead of the misleading 4.3 percent rate we see today.

When comparatively fewer working age Americans are neither working nor looking for work, while there are simultaneously still job shortages in certain professions as Baby Boomers retire, the reason is because there are quantitatively fewer jobs available per capita and at the same time, we are training an entire generation of Americans for the wrong jobs.

We’re overeducated and underemployed.

Coupled with the continued offshoring of American jobs away from manufacturing, despite all of the education subsidies, labor markets have not adjusted to provide jobs that require all those college degrees we’re producing. Yet the shift the economy has experienced the past two decades away from is undeniable.

President Donald Trump is well aware of these challenges. That is why he campaigned on bringing those jobs back to America — and why he reminded Americans in 2016 that the unemployment rate vastly understates the dire nature of U.S. labor markets.

A lot can collapse in just 20 years. After two successive, failed administrations that have not incentivized doing business in the U.S. all the while pushing the Millennials generation into the overfunded university system, the current states of the U.S. economy and labor markets speak for themselves. Millennials were betrayed by these false promises.

To prevent the same thing from happening to the next generation, the emphasis must now shift, and dramatically. These older institutions must be shattered. The tax dollars currently dedicated to higher education funds should dramatically cut, allowing private markets and institutions to fill in the education and training gaps needed in labor markets as they once did.

When you subsidize everything, you do not incentivize anything. It is good that we are talking about the skills gap in the U.S. labor force, but a discussion on workforce revitalization without looking at the ongoing, utter waste in the higher education system is a joke.


Some ideas for educational reform from a moderate British Leftist

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

It’s only after you have left school and, in adulthood, gained a bit of distance, that you can be fully aware of the gaps in your education. History is a prime example. A group of British people together around a pub table and can probably weave together some kind of cohesive narrative across the centuries. In isolation, however, what you discover is that one person did the Romans, another the second world war, and a third spent two years on medieval crop rotation. Meaning that as a school leaver, you’ll have a vague idea about how it all fits together, but whole epochs remain shrouded in mystery.

That’s not to say that we should return to rote learning in the kind of system envisaged by Michael Gove. An ability to memorise dates informs little about the intellectual potential of any pupil. It just tells us that they are good at retaining information. But what the history problem does illustrate is that what you learn at school is entirely dependent on where you end up, how good your teachers are, which exam board they are using, and whether your school is well funded or deprived and stretched for resources.

In an ideal world the education system would be radically overhauled, to deliver a truly national curriculum; where a child in one county has as much right to learn Spanish as a child in another. Options would not be closed off simply because of the catchment area. Furthermore an interest in, say, drama, would not preclude a pupil from also studying geography. A greater portfolio of core subjects would not only be available, but would also prevent pupils from being forced to narrow down their options at an age when they don’t yet know who they really are.

As with the French baccalaureate, they would have a range of subjects to choose from based on their strengths, but they would also be required to study a number of key subjects regardless of chosen streams. French students are able to choose from a range of living European languages, regional languages and others such as ancient Greek or Latin. Such options are rarely available to children at state school in Britain.

I would introduce a mandatory reading scheme, where older children spend time each week reading with the 11-year-olds who have just started secondary education. We did this at my school in an attempt to improve literacy and it was a great initiative, helping children grow in confidence. I would also reintroduce the books Gove dispensed with, such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men – books that teach the importance of kindness and tolerance. English would have more of an emphasis on diverse voices and more modern literature.

In science, there would be more practical work (a 2017 Wellcome Trust report found that pupils in deprived areas were much less likely to report having designed and carried out their own experiments), more trips to science museums, and a thorough teaching of evolution. Girls would be encouraged to pursue Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects. Maths would have more of a practical focus on practical applications, such as interest rates on credit cards. Adult skills, as part of an improved personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) curriculum, would teach the ins and outs of a consumer credit agreement, how to do a tax return without having a nervous breakdown, and the implications of credit card debt.

Information technology would be integrated across most subject areas, and pupils would be taught to code. There would be a range of practical workshops in plumbing (everyone should know how to unblock a toilet), design and technology, woodwork, and art and graphics.

The Conservatives may have finally yielded on the need for compulsory sex and relationships education – and it is essential – but pupils deserve more than just the mechanics. SRE would include sexual consent and the importance of respecting boundaries; contraceptive options; domestic violence and what a healthy relationship looks like; female genital mutilation; child marriage; LGBT issues; the importance of female pleasure; and all the technological advances with which young people are grappling, such as sexting, social media and pornography. It would follow on naturally from the foundations laid in primary school, with pupils from the age of four onwards receiving age-appropriate relationship education, as in the Netherlands – where this contributes to the very low teenage pregnancy rate.
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My revamped PSHE would emphasise the need to support those with poor mental health, and would encourage boys to feel able to express their emotions in a non-judgmental space. Because eating disorders, gym addiction and steroid abuse still loom large for many teenagers, body image would be a discussion topic for both sexes, including airbrushing and the role of social media in forming perceptions of what a desirable body looks like. PSHE would also include more cookery and nutrition classes.

In this age of soaring teenage obesity, teaching pupils how to cook from scratch and how to have a healthy diet is a matter of urgency. This would take place in combination with expanded PE classes – without such an emphasis on team sports (those of us who regularly caught the ball with our faces still wince at the memory of hockey, netball or football) and dreaded cross-country. Dance, swimming, yoga, climbing and high-intensity interval training would also feature. In addition, pupils would be encouraged to spend more time outdoors, and there would be greater collaboration with organisations such as forest schools.

Young people have felt alienated from party politics for too long. Jeremy Corbyn may have reversed that trend, and those of us who work or have worked with young people knew that alienation was not about apathy or lacking passion; young people just felt that institutions of power didn’t have anything to offer them.

Politics and citizenship classes could of course teach the mechanics of power – how laws are made, what first-past-the-post entails, how the justice system works – but it would also teach activism. The aim would be to get pupils discussing the things that matter to them – sexism, racism, homophobia, housing, poverty, the environment – and examine why it is that their voices are so often ignored. There would be an in-built understanding of privilege and social mobility, and pupils would be encouraged to make themselves heard by writing to their MPs, composing speeches, launching their own campaigns and undertaking volunteer work.

The focus of any curriculum should not simply be on attainment and “resilience” – the current buzzword – but on producing confident, well-rounded citizens who feel as though they belong and have value in society. As in France, students would study philosophy, allowing them to enter work or higher education (if they chose to do so) with the ability to construct an argument logically, and critically examine the media that they are presented with (so thatattempts to manipulate voters – on the basis of fear of immigration, say – will fall flat).


Australia: Elite schools set to lose under new Federal funding scheme

Government schools in Australia get most of their funding from State governments so are only marginally affected by the changes.  While Americans dream about vouchers, private schools in Australia get substantial direct funding from the Federal government, which helps explain why 40% of Australian teenagers go to private schools

More than 100 prestigious private schools will receive less federal funding as part of Malcolm Turnbull’s education reforms, including the Sydney institutions of Cranbrook, Ascham, Kambala and the Kincoppal-Rose Bay School in the Prime Minister’s electorate.

Under the government’s $18.6 billion changes, 344 schools will lose funding under Gonski 2.0 compared to Labor’s existing model. This includes 24 previously identified independent schools, 27 Catholic systemic schools in the ACT, 151 government schools in the Northern Territory, and 142 non-government schools.

The Greens are calling on the Coalition to ensure the NT does not go backwards, while the ­government has dedicated $69 million over the decade to help the state adjust to the new ­arrangements.

Using Education Department data tabled in the Senate, The Australian can today reveal the so-called "hit list" of independent schools to receive less money under the government’s proposed measures than they would under Labor.

The schools — which will only be affected if the reforms to eliminate 27 "special deals" win Senate backing — include those where parents do the heavy lifting with fees, such as the Prime Minister’s alma mater, Sydney Grammar School.

Under the changes, Saint ­Ignatius’ College, Riverview — the alma mater of Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and former prime minister Tony Abbott — will receive $3475 a student in federal funding next year, and $3979 at the end of the decade.

But some school leaders have praised the reforms, including Perth’s Presbyterian Ladies’ College deputy principal Andrew Cousins, who welcomed the prospect of a more equitable funding system. The federal per-student amount will be $3010 next year to $3990 in 2027. "Fundamentally the deals which have been done with the various states and the Catholic education system have led to great inequities in schools throughout Australia," principal Kate Hadwen said. "The more special deals we can eliminate the better. A child’s education should never be dependent upon a sector’s lobbying abilities."

Funding for the 142 independent schools does not go backwards at the end of the decade, unlike the previously identified 24 elite schools. But the 142 independent schools do experience a slower annual growth rate in their funding, receiving an annual ­indexation rate below 3.56 per cent for the first four years of the changes. The Australian has identified 103 of the 142 schools, and most of the remainder are ­believed to be Catholic systemic schools which are funded as part of a system.

The Gonski 2.0 changes are designed to fund all schools based on the same formula. Non-government schools will receive 80 per cent of their funding entitlement — called the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) — from the federal government by 2027. State schools would receive 20 per cent. Under the changes, NT would receive 24.4 per cent of its SRS from federal funding this year.

Greens education spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said: "Public schools perform an extraordinary service to struggling communities across the Northern Territory and their funding should not be allowed to go backwards. I call on the government to take some of the money that was going to wealthy private schools under Labor and use that to guarantee that current funding to NT public schools will be maintained and increased annually in line with indexation."

Labor’s Tanya Plibersek said the policy was a "fraud" but Education Minister Simon Birmingham said: "Funding for government schools in the Northern Territory will increase by $39m over the next four years and almost $69m over 10 years."

The National Catholic Education Commission argues that 619 of its systemic schools receive less money next year compared with this year.

The independent Schools Council of Australia believes 400 of its schools will feel the effect of the changes, and executive director Colette Colman said it was "not realistic for the independent sector to call for a level playing field for funding for all non-­government schools and not ­accept the impact of the changes on independent schools".

Australian Association of Christian Schools executive officer Martin Hanscamp supports the changes because they provide fairness, "despite having schools that will receive reduced funding than what they would if it’s status quo … AACS encourages the Greens to get behind this pivotal legislation possibly through negotiating for a quicker transition for ‘needy’ schools and an independent review body, worthy amendments in AACS’s view" .

Bill Rusin, principal of Covenant Christian School in the Sydney suburb of Belrose, one of the 24 independent schools that go backwards, said "for us, we were a little surprised we were going to be almost the worst hit of all the surrounding schools.

"We don’t want to cry poor-mouth. We will survive but we want them to look at the algorithm that they used to calculate the capacity to pay.”

A Senate inquiry report is due today on the changes. Nick Xenophon yesterday said he would like to "think that with some sensible compromises" the government’s legislation could pass the Senate.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Trump's Education Cuts Aren't 'Devastating,' They're Smart

It’s the end of the world as we know it—at least that’s what some people would have us believe about President Trump’s education budget.

It’s “a devastating blow to the country’s public education system,” according to National School Boards Assn. CEO Thomas Gentzel. More like a “wrecking ball,” says Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Assn. teachers’ union. No, it’s a veritable “assault on the American Dream,” insists John B. King Jr., former Obama administration secretary of education.

Such hyperbole is reminiscent of the early 1980s, when President Reagan’s opponents battled his administration’s education cuts, and it’s about as inaccurate today as it was back then.

Trump wants to reduce the U.S. Department of Education’s discretionary budget by $9.2 billion, from $68.3 billion to $59.1 billion. Close to two-thirds of that reduction (63%) comes from eliminating programs that are duplicative or just don’t work.

The administration is proposing a 10% cut in TRIO programs and a cut of almost a third in GEAR UP programs. GEAR UP and TRIO (which despite the name consists of nine programs) are supposed to help at-risk students who hope to go to college, but who might not make it.

At the behest of the Education Department, the Mathematica Policy Research Group studied a TRIO program and found weaknesses, which it first reported in 2004. The final report found “no detectable effects” on college-related outcomes, including enrollment and completion of bachelor’s or associate’s degrees. In a striking acknowledgement that these programs don’t hold up under scrutiny, lobbyists for the programs got Congress to ban the Education Department from setting up control-group evaluations of TRIO and GEAR UP.

Another sign of dysfunction is that—despite a demonstrable lack of success—grants to run TRIO and GEAR UP programs almost always get renewed. For example, in California, 82% of those who had grants in 2006 to manage this “no detectable effects” TRIO program still had those grants a decade later.

The K-12 programs proposed for elimination in the Trump budget are similarly ineffective.

In 1994, the Clinton administration started the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which promised to provide disadvantaged children with after-school enrichment to improve their academic performance. Nearly $18 billion spent over two decades later, there’s scant evidence of success. “It’s a $1.2 billion after-school program that doesn’t work,” according to Mark Dynarski of the Brookings Institution. He should know.

Dynarski worked at the U.S. Department of Education during the Clinton administration and directed the 21st Century Community Learning Centers’ national evaluation while he was a researcher at Mathematica Policy Research. The three evaluations published between 2003 and 2005 concluded that the achievement of participating students was virtually the same, but their behavior was worse, compared with their peers who weren’t in the program.

Another program deservedly put on the chopping block is the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program. Enacted in 2001 as part of President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, this program gave poorly performing schools fistfuls of cash to turn themselves around and raise student achievement. Turned out the SIG program was more buck than bang—lots more.

Total SIG program funding under the Bush administration was less than $126 million. Regular annual appropriations skyrocketed during Obama’s presidency, starting at $526 million. They remained near or north of a half billion dollars throughout his administration, totaling more than $7 billion to date—including a one-time infusion of $3 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding.

The Obama administration publicly revealed the SIG program’s colossal failure on Jan. 18, 2017, just hours before President Obama’s appointees departed. According to the final evaluation by the American Institutes for Research and Mathematica Policy Research for the Education Department, SIG had “no significant impacts” on math achievement, reading achievement, high school graduation, or college enrollment across school and student subgroups.

Commenting on the evaluation, Andrew R. Smarick, a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of education, called SIG “the greatest failure in the history of the U.S. Department of Education.” Seven billion dollars in taxpayer money was spent, and the results were the same, as Smarick put it, “as if this program had never existed.”

Cutting costly, ineffective government programs isn’t the end of the world. It’s part of “[our] moral duty... to make our government leaner and more accountable,” as Trump stated during a budget meeting in February. His budgetary effort to cut waste includes the Education Department for good reason.


UK: Changing the Conservative Party to attract the youth vote

“Yeah I did; he was gonna write off my student loan. Come on!”

These were the words of a 25-year-old voter who text me early this morning, who had always voted Conservative and, up until the campaign began 5 weeks ago, was anti-Corbyn.

If you want to understand why the youth vote surged for Corbyn, I want you to read that line and look at the offer the Conservatives have made to the youth of Britain from our own manifesto. From this 25-year old’s own words, “the Conservatives have done nothing to reach out to those under-35”.

Now while most us would agree that the promises of wiping out debts and free university education by Labour were dangerous, unaffordable policies, we need to remember that the youth of the UK have been lumped with endless debts, rising costs in homes and education, and lower potential of earnings.

Much like in the US election, where voters turned out for Trump’s pro-employment message, youth voters in the UK turned out for a party which actually addressed their concerns.

Youth voters have finally figured out that if they turn out and vote, they can impact a national election. We ignore them at our peril. Below are three recommendations to address their concerns and in the process plan for the Conservatives to retake our majority.

* Brexit and immigration: The tone of hard Brexit has not gone down well with young people (and, I’d argue, with people generally). The assumption that all those who voted leave are all strong Brexiteers has been shown to be a poor assumption. Young people voted overwhelmingly for remain and aren’t likely to change their mind. Corbyn’s ability to dodge the question on his view on Brexit and the result he truly desires, means he’s snapped up the remain vote.

The negative and hostile language to the EU and the upcoming negotiations needs to be changed, and our views on freedom of movement and single market should be softened.

* Cost of higher education: The UK has the highest average tuition fees in the world, second only to the USA (which is at around £5300 a year compared to £6,000 in the UK). We cannot lump all this debt on to young people. Education in general needs more investment and should be protected at all costs.

We also need to change people’s views on apprenticeships, making it a more attractive option. We need to promote technical routes of education, rather than sending young people to pointless, wasteful degrees for simply a piece of paper. This could mean the UK no longer funds lower quality universities, or funds only degrees which are of economic value.

* Taxation and property: We’ve done a brilliant job in reducing the amount of tax the lowest earners pay, but the system simply does not address the unfairness of wealth being hoarded by older people, or both those in the finance sector who get paid by bonuses only.

It’s unfair for those on £100,000 a year (and more) to be able to use clever techniques to avoid tax. Similarly, the ability for many, many older people to people huge numbers of investment properties with sky high rents, generates anger in Britain’s youth. Addressing youth access to affordable starter homes is a critical issue.

I’ve said many a time that one day, the youth of Britain are going to realise the power in their vote when they turn out in large numbers. They’re just beginning now to figure it out, and now they’ll be seeing that they have the ability to strip the older generation of the many benefits they have enjoyed at the cost of Britain’s youth.

In order to build a fairer society for young and old, the Conservatives need to address the concerns of the under-35s, or forever be out of the reach of a majority.


More evidence-based education policy is needed in Australia

Blaise Joseph

If you asked any of the key players clamouring for more money in the Gonski 2.0 rumpus at the moment for (a) evidence that more funding will improve student outcomes, or (b) evidence-based policies the extra money should be spent on, you would likely receive a blank sheet of paper in reply.

While the federal government, the opposition, the Greens, the states, and the Catholic system will all admit funding isn't the only important education issue and more money by itself will not improve student outcomes, this is certainly not reflected in the way they are approaching the Gonski 2.0 debate.

This is an endemic problem in Australia's education system: investments are not necessarily informed by evidence and teaching practices are not subjected to rigorous evaluation.

A recent report from the Productivity Commission details the current issues with the education evidence base. The report identified a number of gaps in existing education data, most notably a lack of evaluation of school policies and programs. This particular gap means less accountability, making it difficult to identify best practice and subsequently turn this into common practice.

It is important the federal and state governments carefully read and respond to the report. It behoves Australia's school system to invest in evidence-based practices that are cost-effective in boosting results -- for the sake of both student achievement and fiscal responsibility.

The Gonski 2.0 plan risks getting the process back to front: the government committed to spending an additional $18.6 billion over the next 10 years and commissioned David Gonski to look at how the money can best be spent. In other words, they decided how much to spend before thinking about what it should be spent on.

As Sir Humphrey Appleby said: "Government policy has nothing to do with common sense."


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Women hold most of the US’s student loan debt

Debt will only go down when costs go down. And costs will only go down when "frills" such as psychiatric services are banned. Universities are there to provide an education, not free psychiatry

Stuck in a hospital office job that offered no hope of promotion and little inspiration, Ginnelle Vasquez did what she thought she was supposed to: She went back to college.

Vasquez, 38 and a mother of five, spent weekends in classes at Springfield College to finish her bachelor’s degree, and is on track to earn her master’s degree in social work through Simmons College’s online program next year.

She hopes to land a job helping families and make a bit more money to support her own. But that dream is coming at a steep price: more than $100,000 in student loans from the two schools.

Vasquez is among the millions of American women who now shoulder almost two-thirds of the $1.3 trillion in outstanding student loans, even though they account for just 57 percent of students enrolled in colleges and universities.

The student loan debt crisis has been blamed for hobbling a generation of young Americans, delaying their plans to get married, have children, and buy a house. According to a new study, that burden has disproportionately fallen on women.

Women owe $833 billion in student loans, according to the American Association of University Women, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit focused on education. That’s up from $223 billion in 2004.

The reasons women hold the bulk of student debt are varied and sometimes interrelated. Women borrow more money for college and attend more expensive private colleges. They are also more likely to enroll in for-profit schools that can be convenient for working mothers and low-income women but require large loans and don’t always provide the skills needed to climb the economic ladder.

On top of that, the persistent gap in pay between women and men leaves women struggling longer to pay off their loans, straining their finances and placing them at a greater risk of default, according to the study. Women on average earn about 10 percent less than men when differences in occupation, education, and experience are factored in.

“It’s a systemic problem,” said Kevin Miller, a senior researcher at the American Association of University Women, extending beyond the choices women make about what schools to attend and careers to enter.

For Vasquez, her student debt load means worries that much of the extra money she’ll earn from her new career will have to be plowed into paying down her loans. She knows that her plans to leave subsidized housing and one day own her own place are now further out of reach. And she wonders how she will finance her children’s college educations.

“I don’t regret it, but jeez, I wish my situation was better,” Vasquez said. “I’m trying to improve my situation. But I wonder, is it really worth it?”

The average woman also borrows more money in student loans than men do. A woman graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2012 had about $21,000 in student loan debt, $1,500 more than a typical man, according to the study.

Why is not entirely clear.

One possibility is that more women than men opt for pricier private colleges. Yet even women in public colleges take on more debt than their male classmates, said Miller, the AAUW researcher.

Black women are especially burdened with college debt, more than $29,000 on average. Their parents may have less in income and savings to help defray the cost of college, forcing many of them to borrow larger sums to earn a degree.

In addition, women are likely borrowing additional money to help pay for other living expenses, aside from tuition, such as groceries, rent, and child care while in college, Miller said.

About a quarter of students pursuing college degrees are parents, and a vast majority of them are women.

Even women who received some financial support from their parents are being pinched by student debt.

Natalie Higgins, 28, was the first in her family to graduate from college, and later, law school.

Her parents helped her pay for her undergraduate degree. But when she graduated with a law degree from Northeastern University in 2014, the Leominster native also became the first in her family to start her professional life burdened with student loan debt — $135,000 in her case.

Those loans have dictated much of Higgins’s life since. She has cut out cable television and shelved plans to save for retirement.

She could only afford her first home because she bought it from family and avoided a down payment. She is counting down the days — still two years away — to when she will pay off one of her loans and can replace her 10-year-old Hyundai.

“That’s a hard thing,” said Higgins, who is a state legislator representing her hometown, and earns $62,000 annually. “I’m making a middle-class income and having a hard time making ends meet.”

Female students also see the wage gap come into play, researchers said.

Women who work during college are likely making less than their male counterparts, forcing them to borrow more to offset their expenses, according to AAUW.

The differences in pay for men and women kick in early on in their working lives and contribute to the increased student loan payoff time. Women are likely to take two more years than male borrowers to repay their student loans.

Just out of college, women this year made on average $17.88 an hour compared with the $20.87 that men earned, according the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute.

While all college graduates are seeing their wages climb again after the 2008 economic crisis, for women, the increase has been much slower and they are still making up lost ground. Male college graduates earn 5.4 percent more than they did in 2000, while women earn 2.2 percent less than they did at the start of this century, according to the economic group.

The wage gap has been persistent, even as more women go to college and earn advanced degrees, said Elise Gould, a senior economist at the institute.

“It’s hard to not think there’s some discrimination in pay or promotion,” Gould said. “There’s a sizable gap. It’s pretty striking.”

And the disproportionate load of student loan payments is one likely side effect. Four years after graduating college in 2008, women had paid off only 31 percent of their debt, compared with men who had pared down their student loans by 38 percent, according to the AAUW study.

Still, for many women as for men, an undergraduate and advanced degree are still viewed as a ticket to a better job and greater financial security. It just requires some tough choices.

Charlotte Kelly, 23, graduated last year from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with about $30,000 in student loans. Yet she heard from recruiters that if she wanted to go into politics, she needed a master’s degree to advance in her career.

Kelly, who grew up in Medford, also knew she didn’t want to borrow anymore.

So when the University of Copenhagen offered her the chance to get her master’s degree in political science, tuition free, she packed her bags for Denmark.

Kelly said she hopes to complete her degree in a less than two years to save money. She’s also working two part-time jobs to help pay for rent and other expenses while in college.

“I miss home and miss being in the US,” said Kelly, who returned home for a few weeks this month. “But the financial side of having a free master’s degree has been hard to turn down.”


‘Free college’ shows how big ideas always get sanded down

FREE COLLEGE IS BACK from the dead. But, just like the living dead in the movies, it came back wrong. What began as Bernie Sanders’ bold proposal to reduce inequality — to equip all Americans with knowledge they need in an unforgiving economy — has itself been reduced to a proxy for real action. Boston’s new “free college” plan, Boston Bridge, will likely do much more for the reputation of Mayor Marty Walsh and Governor Charlie Baker than for the class of 2018.

Donald Trump’s election seemed to kill the dream of free college. Then New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that his state would be making the SUNY and CUNY colleges free for all New York residents with a household income less than $125,000. Tennessee made free community college universal. Rhode Island may do the same. According to researchers at Penn Ahead, which studies college promise programs, there are 219 states or municipalities that already have or have proposed some form of free two- or four-year college tuition.

Given the high sticker price of higher education, it’s no wonder that voters are drawn to the simplicity and power of universal free college. Politicians trying to capitalize on that popularity, however, are running into the hard problem of cost. As a result, they’re coming up with solutions so pared down that they make college free often in name only, for a relatively small number of students.

It’s a striking example of an all-too-common phenomenon: A grand block of idea is sanded down and sanded down in an effort to please different constituencies. Eventually, all the corners are gone, it rolls away, and little remains but the name. And yet the name alone is often enough to claim the credit for the big idea, never delivered. Arne Duncan, former secretary of education, praised Boston Bridge in a recent tweet.

Like most promise plans, the Boston Bridge program eliminates only tuition and fees; it doesn’t address the full cost of college, which also includes room, board, textbooks, and other expenses that can top $10,000 per year. At University of Massachusetts Amherst, for instance, they add up to more than $13,000 per year. Low-income students will still need to take out loans to cover these expenses, so it is inaccurate to call it free college.

It also isn’t universal, at least not in the way public K-12 education is. Boston Bridge promises two years of free school at a public college or state university to all Boston public and parochial high school students who are also eligible for Pell grants, which typically go to students whose household income is less than $50,000. They must also first attend a community college in the city and earn an associate’s degree in two and a half years while maintaining a 3.0 GPA.

Boston Bridge sets expectations higher for its beneficiaries than for paying students, which makes it a merit scholarship, not free college. Requiring an associate’s degree in two and a half years means a student will almost certainly take no remedial courses and attend school full-time, which is tricky when many students need to work while in school. Maintaining, rather than graduating with, a 3.0 means that a student lives under constant threat of losing his free tuition should he have a sub-par semester. Colleges do not remove students for having GPAs below a 3.0, nor do public high schools start charging students when they’re grades slip.

We should probably ask whether community college makes the best sense for the student who can meet the requirements of the Boston Bridge. Given the relatively low cost of Massachusetts state four-year schools, why not go straight to college and take advantage of the John and Abigail Adams scholarship, which already waives tuition for high-performing students?

That might be precisely the intention. Last year, the city’s Tuition Free Community College program covered only 50 students, although over 4,000 students were eligible. Granting that program was only in its first year, the number should be seen as discouraging, unless, that is, the city and the state want the credit for creating free college without actually paying for it.

The danger is that the voters will let them.


Parents Horrified by Drag Queen Performance at Grade School Talent Show

Children as young as 5 years old were exposed to a man's erotic drag show performance at the end of a school district talent show. Irate parents yelled and left the auditorium, but not before a full-grown man had begun gyrating, flipping his tongue, and flashing a G-string.

"People were horrified," Raquel Morales, a mother in the audience with her 10-year-old son, told the New York Daily News. "It looked like a nightclub performance. I've been asking for an apology from the district for the last week, and they've been ignoring it."

The two-hour talent show held on May 25 in Manhattan had billed the final performance as a "Special Surprise Performance!" After parents watched endearing performances by children who played various instruments and sang, they saw a grown man take the stage — in a black sequin dress, a flaming red wig, and pumps. He grinded the stage and spread his legs up in the air.

"My first reaction was what the hell is going on," Morales told Fox News' Todd Starnes. "I saw her doing things like sticking her legs out and shaking her bottom and it felt weird," her son said. "I don't know why they would do that for an elementary school."

When the drag queen dropped to the floor, the audience erupted.

“I left the show the minute he started sticking his tongue out,” one parent told the Daily News. “I had my children with me and I wasn’t going to allow them to see that.”

Morales filmed the seven-minute routine on her cell phone and gave Starnes the video.

"Once he got to that part it was chaos," Morales recalled. "People were yelling and leaving. A lot of parents were saying had they known this was going to happen they would have taken their kids out after they had performed."

The man who performed the drag routine was identified as Public School 96 Parent Association President Frankie Quinones.

The mother explained that "the school district told me the performance was about LGBT awareness," but her problem is not with the LGBT movement.

"I'm 100 percent against discrimination," Morales told Starnes. She insisted that her complaints are not about sexuality but about age-appropriate behavior. "The superintendent was the emcee — and she has a responsibility to protect all children," she said. "That wasn't a child performing. It was an adult."

Starnes suggested a new policy for elementary school talent shows: "If a drag queen wants to spread his legs and show off his G-string he should do that at a nightclub — not a public school talent show."

But Dr. Michael Brown, founder and president of FIRE School of Ministry in North Carolina, explained this phenomenon as a result of the widespread acceptance of the LGBT movement. Brown explained that the most offensive elements of the gay community led the original movement — drag queens were on the front lines of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, out, proud, and unashamed.

In the 1980s, gay leaders altered the strategy, putting forward a more family-oriented, less promiscuous, and less bizarre image.

"But now that so many of the goals of LGBT activism have been realized, there's no reason to push some of their own to the back of the bus, so to say," Brown argued.

Drag queens put pressure on Facebook in 2014 to alter the policy that users have to use their real name, not a made-up name, like a drag queen persona. Facebook caved.

A concerned parent from Bloomington, Indiana, wrote to Brown about a summer reading program for children. There was an announcement of an event this July — specifically for kids ages 2-6 — involving drag queens. "Learn about someone new! Local drag queens present stories and encourage us all to embrace our uniqueness," the announcement reads. Yes, the event is intended for kids between 2 and 6 years old.

Brown fittingly paraphrased the event this way: "Parents, bring your toddlers and little children to the library where local homosexual men who dress up as flamboyant women will read stories to them." This is just a clearer explanation of what will happen on July 21 at the Monroe County Public Library.

When Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote about the importance of "dignity" in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that legalized gay marriage across the country, did he have this in mind? When "love is love," where does society draw the line?

Now that the LGBT movement has achieved many paramount goals, their less savory elements start to emerge. Biological boys who identify as transgender are allowed to defeat biological girls in track. Transgender 9-year-old children are put on the cover of National Geographic. "Sesame Street" brought up the issue last year.

In 2013, Slate's Jillian Keenan noted that many social conservatives warned that gay marriage is a slippery slope. "Gay marriage is a slippery slope! A gateway drug! If we legalize it, then what's next? Legalized polygamy?" she wrote. Watch what comes next: "We can only hope." Yes, people are pushing for legalized polygamy and normalized polyamory.

 Drag queens are performing in front of kids, either in reading groups or talent shows. Parents are not amused — they thought Americans can live and let live, now that gay people can get married and transgender people won't get discriminated against. Instead, they find that the LGBT narrative is totalizing — it must pervade the culture, your children's innocence be damned.

Every line must be crossed — private things being shown in public, children being exposed to adult themes, and "age appropriate" boundaries crossed in every way possible. The idea of a childhood innocent of complicated issues like sexuality, gender identity, and drag queens may be a thing of the past, unless parents speak out, yesterday.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Resegregation in American schools

The writer below shows how people are reclaiming their liberty over where to send their kids to school.  He makes no attempt to understand why most parents strive to avoid "integrated" schools -- the fact that black students are notoriously disruptive and damage education for everyone. To his limited Leftist brain, it is all just "racism"

He also seems oblivious of the fact that increased funding does not of itself lead to better educational outcomes.  So his diagnosis of the cause and his proposed solution are both empty-headed

A federal district court judge has decided that Gardendale—a predominantly white city in the suburbs of Birmingham, Alabama—can move forward in its effort to secede from the school district that serves the larger county. The district Gardendale is leaving is 48 percent black and 44 percent white. The new district would be almost all white.

The idea that a judge could allow this is unfathomable to most, but the case demonstrates in the most stark terms that school segregation is still with us. While racial segregation in U.S. schools plummeted between the late 1960s and 1980, it has steadily increased ever since—to the the point that schools are about as segregated today as they were 50 years ago.

As a former school desegregation lawyer and now a scholar of educational inequality and law, I have both witnessed and researched an odd shift to a new kind of segregation that somehow seems socially acceptable. So long as it operates with some semblance of furthering educational quality or school choice, even a federal district court is willing to sanction it.

While proponents of the secession claim they just want the best education for their children and opponents decry the secession as old-school racism, the truth is more complex: Race, education and school quality are inextricably intertwined.

In some respects, Gardendale is no different from many other communities.

Thirty-seven percent of our public schools are basically one-race schools—nearly all white or all minority. In New York, two out of three black students attend a school that is 90 to 100 percent minority.

In June 2017, New York City released a plan to diversify its public schools. The plan includes an advisory group that will evaluate current diversity pushes and recommend additional ones by June 2018.

In many areas, this racial isolation has occurred gradually over time, and is often written off as the result of demographic shifts and private preferences that are beyond a school district’s control.

The Gardendale parents argued their motivations were not about race at all, but just ensuring their kids had access to good schools. The evidence pointed in the other direction: In language rarely offered by modern courts, the judge found, at the heart of the secession, “a desire to control the racial demographics of [its] public schools” by “eliminat[ing]… black students [from] Gardendale schools.”

Still, these findings were not enough to stop the secession. As in many other cases over the past two decades, the judge conceded to resegregation, speculating that if she stopped the move, innocent parties would suffer: Black students who stayed in Gardendale would be made to feel unwelcome and those legitimately seeking educational improvements would be stymied.

Simply put, the judge could not find an upside to blocking secessionists whom she herself characterized as racially motivated.

As such, the court held that Gardendale’s secession could move forward. Two of its elementary schools can secede now, while the remaining elementary and upper-level schools must do so gradually.

Unfortunately, there’s no middle ground in segregation cases. No matter what spin a court puts on it, allowing secessions like Gardendale’s hands racism a win.

While it’s true that stopping the secession may come with a cost to members of that community who have done nothing wrong, our Constitution demands that public institutions comply with the law. That is the price of living in a democracy that prizes principles over outcomes.

In this case, the constitutional principles are clear. In Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court held that there is no such thing as separate but equal schools: Segregated schools are “inherently unequal.”

Rather than stick to these principles, the judge in the Gardendale case seemingly tried to strike a bargain with segregation. As long as Gardendale appoints “at least one African-American resident” to its school board and does not do anything overtly racist moving forward, the court will allow the city to pursue its own agenda.

The ruling in Gardendale is a step toward reinforcing an unfortunate status quo in Alabama.

Alabama is one of a handful of states that amended its state constitution in an attempt to avoid desegregation in the 1950s. The amendment gave parents the right to avoid sending their kids to integrated schools and made clear that the state was no longer obligated to fund public education. Alabama preferred an underfunded and optional educational system to an integrated one. Courts quickly struck down the discriminatory parts of the new constitution, but the poor state education system remained.

Today, student achievement in Alabama ranks dead last—or near it—on every measure. Most communities don’t have the resources to do anything about it. Funding is relatively low—and unequal from district to district. Even after adjusting for variations in regional costs, a recent study shows that the overwhelming majority of schools in Alabama are funded at ten percent or more below the national average and another substantial chunk is thirty-three percent or more below the national average.

Parents trapped in under-resourced schools understandably feel like they need to take action. But rather than demanding an effective and well-supported statewide system of public schools, parents with the means often feel compelled to isolate their children from the larger system that surrounds them.

And while whites and blacks struggle over the future of Gardendale’s schools, the real culprits—the current state legislature and the segregationists who gutted public education in Alabama decades ago—go unchallenged.

The education system in Alabama, like in so many other states, is rigged against a large percentage of families and communities: Those with less money tend to get a worse education. Until these states reform their overall education funding systems, the inequalities and inadequacies that they produce will continue to fuel current racial motivations.

The lawsuit in Gardendale was a poor vehicle for fixing Alabama’s education system: The state’s overall education system was not on trial. The only issue before the court was a racially motivated district line in one small community.

But our small communities are connected to larger education systems.

In my view, we cannot fix those systems by way of more individual choice, charters, vouchers or school district secessions. The fact is, educational funding is down across the board, when compared to a decade ago. If we want all students to have a decent shot at better education, we need to recommit to statewide systems of public education. Only then will our base fears and racial biases begin to fade into the background


Why Higher Education Is Stagnating

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a good explainer on the expanding layers of bureaucracy that are making American higher education cost more and more without measurably improving the quality of thinking or breadth of knowledge among graduates:

    When students arrive on a campus, they’re looking for services and amenities, many of which colleges have not traditionally offered. Student services — such as help applying for a scholarship, aid in landing a job, mental-health counseling, top-notch residence halls, wellness centers, study-abroad opportunities, and orientation programs that include adventure trips — are all a given on many campuses these days. And each new service or amenity comes with the professional staff to run it. […]

    Growing organizations grapple with problems that bureaucrats tend to think can be solved by creating more bureaucracy. For example, an institution that wants to become more sustainable would probably name a chief sustainability officer and then build a staff for that person to oversee.

One reason this problem is hard to tackle is that the Left and Right disagree on the ultimate cause of the bloat. Many progressives see it as a product of the free market: If students and parents select colleges based on the quality of student spas and diversity centers and other amenities, then of course colleges will tailor their offerings to meet that demand. The real question is how to make access to college even more universal. Conservatives, meanwhile, are more likely to point to overweening government, including unnecessary regulations, which require more staff to implement, and to federal student loan programs, which pay the salaries of well-organized bureaucrats and end up funding superfluous services that colleges might otherwise forego.

There is some truth to both of these analyses, but neither side is offering a realistic program for how to address the underlying problem. “Free college” programs, now popular among Democrats, will simply make the underlying cost even higher, even if they shift it to taxpayers rather than consumers. And GOP slash-and-burn efforts at state universities often extract theatrical budget cuts without actually excising the source of the rot. Student tuitions go up and faculty salaries are frozen, but the bureaucratic bloat isn’t actually rolled back.

Perhaps the best hope for reducing bloat is the entrance of new types of educational institutions into the market—ones that don’t have state-of-the-art gyms and legions of guidance counselors, but that offer a high-quality education at a significantly lower price. There have been germs of efforts along these lines at the elite level. Whether they can get a big enough foothold in the higher education market to make a difference remains to be seen.


What Happens When We Don’t Raise Kids to Become Adults

Sen. Ben Sasse   

When I was little, mom would leave detailed lists of chores on the kitchen counter each summer morning for my siblings and me to complete before we could play baseball, ride bikes, or go swimming.

And when I arrived at college, basically everyone with whom I became friends, a group from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds, had also done real work growing up.

Not everyone had worked in the field like I had—most had spent summers in retail or taking orders at a fast-food place or sorting the mail or doing some other kind of grunt work at a local office—but it was at least a job with certain expectations and set hours.

I didn’t presume everyone was as gritty as Elda Sasse, but I knew that my siblings and I hoped we would one day prove as perseverant as she was—and I honestly believed that this was a universal aspiration.

Without deliberate reflection, I assumed that basically all young people everywhere had similar placeholder role models in their minds, and thus that the transmission of a work ethic to each next generation was more or less inevitable.

My passive assumption that all kids have some meaningful work experiences as teens was shattered in late 2009 when I arrived as president of Midland University.

The university’s board of directors had hired me, as a 37-year-old, not because I had any special insight into shaping 18- to 22-year-olds, but because I was a “turnaround” guy who specialized in helping troubled companies become solvent.

This liberal arts institution was in big trouble, in terms of both finances and enrollment, the latter at its lowest point in a century.

My job was to tackle the college’s unsustainable deficits, skyrocketing debt, enrollment shortfalls, and flagging morale among faculty and staff. None of my initial charter had anything to do with current students and their emotional health.

Immediately upon arrival, however, it became apparent that in addition to dealing with other so-called “big picture” concerns of a university in crisis, I would also have to reshape the student affairs leadership and structure.

When my team and I arrived at Midland, the school had been on the verge of missing payroll four months in a row, which would mean that families would miss mortgage payments. That’s a pretty urgent crisis.

Yet finances might not have been the biggest problem at the school.

More stunning to me was that it was an atypical experience for an incoming freshman to have done really hard work, not even the sorts of elementary farm tasks common to Nebraska kids from the homesteaders of the 1860s until just a few years ago.

Teenage life, I soon learned, had been stunningly remade in the two decades since I’d gone off to college. Elda’s and Elmer’s childhoods were far removed from these kids’ experiences and understanding.

Let’s be clear that there were many wonderful human beings and delightful students at Midland, but many of the teens I met upon arriving on campus also had an outsized sense of entitlement without any corresponding notion of accountability.

For example, a student staged a sit-in in my office one day, announcing that he would not leave until I resolved a scheduling problem for him. He was upset that the registrar wouldn’t be offering a particular course he needed the following semester.

Obviously, college presidents don’t usually solve the Rubik’s Cube of course scheduling.

The student was emphatic that he wasn’t leaving, and while I was clear that the course registrar had a job to do and that she did it well, I realized it might be a teachable moment, a chance for the student and me to have a conversation.

At one point he proclaimed, “You need to figure this out. I pay tuition to go to this school, which means I pay your salary. So you work for me.”

Well, ummm… no. That isn’t how it works at all. My job did include serving him, but in a defined way. It was not my job, for instance, to wash his car or fetch him pizza on Friday night.

I patiently explained that Midland exists for many people and many purposes; the board of directors hired me; and I serve at their pleasure—but that my leadership of the institution as a whole relies on my empowering a team of people to fulfill their specialized vocations.

I then gently pointed out to the student that he was attending the university on scholarship. In truth then, he worked for—or had a debt to—the generous donors who made his scholarship possible.

But even if he’d been paying for his education himself, the college is a living institution of partners, with thought-out, intentional divisions of labor.

He was approaching the situation and this whole living-learning-working community only as a consumer. He was not thinking or talking or acting like a maturing young man aware of the dignity of the work of the many other people in the equation.

During the five years I was president, we conducted surveys annually about the highs and lows of students’ university experience.

The survey takeaway that repeatedly woke me in the middle of the night was the aching sense not just that the students lacked a work ethic, but more fundamentally that they lacked an experiential understanding of the difference between production and consumption.

Dispiritingly, students overwhelmingly highlighted their desire for freedom from responsibilities. The activities they most enjoyed, they reported, were sleeping in, skipping class, and partying. A few mentioned canceled classes as the best part of their four years.

I too love a good Midwestern blizzard, but I loved them in college so that we could explore the beauty, or ski, or snowmobile—rather than merely be free from class.

Almost nowhere did the student surveys reveal that they had the eyes to see freedom to categories—to read, to learn, to be coached, to be mentored in an internship.

If you have done any real work, you begin to see a broad range of work differently. And if you’ve been reflective about your and other people’s work, you start to ask questions about where goods and services come from.

Who did the work that got these non-Nebraska items to this store in this Nebraska small town?

As hard work is baked into your bones, you begin to feel great gratitude for the other workers who built the stuff and plotted the distribution system that got these toasters and sneakers and books to this place.

On the other hand, if you’ve never worked, you are more likely blind to the fundamental distinction between production and consumption. And these students, I learned from interviewing many of them, had mostly not done any hard work prior to arriving in college.

Although it is not universally fair, millennials have acquired a collective reputation as needy, undisciplined, coddled, presumptuous, and lacking much of a filter between their public personas and their inner lives.

As one New York Times story about millennials in the workplace put it, managers struggle with their young employees’ “sense of entitlement, a tendency to overshare on social media, and frankness verging on insubordination.”

“Well, what’s the alternative? Are you asking us to be fake?” one young woman asked me after a speech in which I’d made a passing comment about the virtues of “deferred gratification.”

No, of course not. Of course we all struggle with selfishness, and of course there are times to simply have fun, avoid responsibility, and seek escape—or perhaps, as noted in the last chapter, to pause the daily churn to reflect.

But growing up involves coming to recognize the distinction between who we still are today and who we seek to become. Our hope is that our young people will begin to own the Augustinian awareness that not everything we long or lust for is something we should really want.

Healthy people can admit that there are unhealthy yearnings. It is not “fake” to aim to mature. And it is not fake to begin modeling the desired behavior even before it is a full and fair representation of who you are in the moment.

I remain selfish and impatient today, but it is surely not fake or wrong to seek to sublimate these traits. I want to grow beyond who I am today, and I aim to begin better modeling that idealized future right now.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

DeVos on Obama’s ‘Race to the Top’ Program: ‘We’ve Seen That Movie; We’re Not Going to Do That Again’

Testifying in front of Congress on President Donald Trump’s new budget for education, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said Tuesday that she will not follow the footsteps of Obama’s “Race to the Top” grant program.

James Lankford (R-Ok) asked Devos whether the $1 billion increase in Title I funds she proposed, dedicated to “furthering options for children to unlock success,” will be different from Race to the Top, a grant announced in 2009 by Former President Barack Obama and Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

According to the website of the U.S. Department of Education, Title I provides financial assistance to local educational agencies and schools highly attended by children from low-come families to ensure that every child meet state standards.

“There was a concern in this dais that [the program] was really a requirement from the government that, if you want these dollars, then you’ll have to do these curricula.” Lankford said. “Do it our way and, if you don’t do it our way, you can’t get the dollars that came out of your state to come back to your state.”

But according to DeVos, her proposal will allow individual states more flexibility on educational procedures.

“It’s only if states want to, and local education agencies and authorities want to, attempt an experiment to allow students to attend other public schools in their region,” she said. “It is, no way, going to be mandated from the top that this has to happen or how it has to happen.”

The increase, Devos said, will serve as a financial aid if the students choose to utilize it. That is the framework around which states or local districts would be able to opt into or adopt, she said.

Lankford asked if the proposal would give instructions to those states or those entities on how to do curriculum, how to do teacher evaluations, how to do testing requirements.

“Not at all,” DeVos replied. “No, we’ve seen that movie; we’re not going to do that one again.”

A report by the Education Department on American’s schools under Race to the Top reveals that although the program was voluntary, 46 states and the District of Columbia applied.

“The administration used the money to encourage – Obama’s critics would say coerce – states to embrace its education policies, including charter schools, college and career-ready standards and evaluations of teachers using student test scores,” NPR Ed reported.


Scottish universities slip down the global rankings under socialist rule

St Andrews, Edinburgh and Glasgow in top 100.  That is very good for such a small nation as Scotland but very sad against the traditional reverence for education that has long marked the Scots

Scotland’s universities have plummeted down a global league table, leading to fears that underfunding is putting the country’s reputation for excellence in higher education at risk.

In the respected international survey, the University of Edinburgh dropped out of the top 20, while the University of Aberdeen and University of St Andrews fell significantly in 12 months.

Of the ten Scottish universities ranked by QS analysts who consider factors such as views of academics, employers, graduate job prospects and quality of research, only one recorded an improvement in their performance, with Heriot-Watt, in Edinburgh, rising from 327th to 312th in the world.

St Andrews kept its place in the top 100, but fell 15 places, to 92nd. Aberdeen fell 17 places, to 158th. The University of Edinburgh dropped four places, to 23rd, and the University of Glasgow fell two places, to 65th.

Across the UK, two thirds of universities recorded a drop in their ranking, compared with 90 per cent north of the border, while universities in other countries overtook them.

Ben Sowter, head of research at QS, warned against blaming Brexit for the UK-wide decline in performance, saying “continued strain on university resources” is a more significant factor.

Alistair Sim, director of the Universities Scotland umbrella group, said that there were some positives to take from league tables that showed four Scottish universities in the global top 200, but he admitted that declines in rankings were “disappointing”.

He added: “Scotland cannot afford to let this become a pattern. Higher education is a global sector and our competition is not other universities in Scotland, or even the rest of the UK, it is the rest of the world.

“The rankings focus on excellence, and protecting that excellence will be what determines whether we can continue to attract the best international students, greater inward investment into Scotland, the biggest research contracts and the smartest minds to work on them. This drives universities’ contribution to Scotland’s success.”

Mr Sim has warned before that current funding levels for higher education are unsustainable. His organisation has claimed that universities have been subject to a 12 per cent cut in public funding since 2010.

Caps are imposed on the number of Scottish and non-UK EU students universities can recruit, because of the SNP’s policy of offering free tuition fees.

He added: “Scotland’s universities have a deserved international reputation for excellence. We look to the Scottish government to support us to build that further.” In the rankings, released today, the University of Dundee dropped 23 places, to 267th, while the University of Strathclyde fell from 272nd to 277th.

Iain Gray, Scottish Labour’s education spokesman, said the drop in university league rankings followed similar declines in the performance of Scottish schoolchildren in international surveys in areas such as maths, science and literacy. He said: “Falling down global league tables is becoming a theme for the SNP and education. A Tory hard Brexit will be a blow too for higher education in Scotland, but the initial problems in this report can be traced back to chronic underfunding of the sector under the SNP.”

Massachusetts Institute of Technology maintained its place as the world’s leading university, according to QS. Cambridge, the top UK institution, is ranked fifth, down from fourth, one place ahead of Oxford in sixth.


Lawmaker raises bill to defund The Evergreen State College

Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, is fed up with what is going on at The Evergreen State College in Olympia and recently introduced a bill to pull state funding from the school.

The Evergreen State College has been embroiled in controversy following biology professor Brett Weinstein’s decision to oppose an optional event that asked white students to leave campus, in order to discuss race relations. The event was intended to be a reversal of the institution’s annual “Day of Absence,” which encourages minorities to attend off-campus programs, according to the Associated Press.

Weinstein’s decision led to a firestorm of criticism from Evergreen students and the public, with the college shutting down for a couple of days due to threats.

“These so-called campus activists want to set us back 50 years to the days of segregation. Threats have been made and it is deeply concerning, especially when the college president said he is ‘grateful’ for the ‘passion and courage’ demonstrated by students responsible for what is happening,” Manweller said.

House Bill 2221 would require The Evergreen State College to work with the Office of Financial Management to develop a plan by Dec. 1, 2018 to transition the college to a private institution over five years. If passed, the bill would require the Evergreen Board of Trustees to start implementing the plan July 1, 2019. In turn, state lawmakers would then start reducing state support for the college by 20 percent a year for five years, until the college receives no state financial support.

“We should not be spending taxpayer dollars on a public institution that condones and encourages this type of behavior,” Manweller said. “The state has plenty of other higher education institutions we can focus our resources on where students are interested in learning and the faculty is committed to actual academics.”

In addition, Manweller sent a letter to the Washington State Human Rights Commission requesting a formal investigation into what is going on at the college.