Friday, November 10, 2017

The role of specialization in progressivism

The following article is about the "progressive" era, before and after WWI. It makes a case that the specialization that is the mark of modern life turns people into serfs of a kind.  So to avoid that entrapment, there needs to be in people's lives some source of general cultural and historical knowledge.  The only likely source of that knowledge is the educational system, particularly the High School years. 

Leftist educators have over the years ripped historical and cultural knowledge out of education.  All tests of the matter  show a profound ignorance of history among students.  We are lucky if they can name America's three branches of government -- let alone know anything of the teachings of the founders.  So it has become quite urgent to restore a general cultural and historical education to the schools. At the moment, only home schoolers are in a position to do that.  But it will be a very powerful education for their children if they do.

This article is to my mind the best case for a general education that I have so far seen. I myself had a very general education in a long-gone era when Eton was the model for government schools.  So I am constantly surprised at how little people know these days. To take just a tiny example of that, I just last night found out that a generally aware person I know had no idea of what the word "chagrin" meant.  And I will never forget finding out to my utter astonishment that my son had got to the final year of High School without even having heard the names of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Tennyson. He had however heard of Kath Walker, an angry black poetess of no distinction

The cultural role of specialization in progressive ideology has become more apparent to me over the years, especially as I learn more about them at the same time I am learning about the Founders. It shouldn't be overlooked any longer.

The progressives, they really enjoy specialization. Man #1, he is a professional organizer. Always has been, always will be. Man #2 is a professional Human Resources coordinator. Man 3# is a professional journalist. Man #4 is a professional teacher. Man #5 is a CEO. Man #6, he is a professional politician.

Wait a second. Professional politician? Go with me here for a second. What were the Founders?

Many of them were lawyers. But actually, they were historians. But actually, they were philosophers. But actually, they were politicians.

Some weren't lawyers, instead they were farmers. But actually, they were authors. But actually, they were theologians. But actually, they were politicians.

You see that? They weren't specialists. They were generalists. They did many things throughout their lives, and did not look at politics as a life-long career and certainly did not go off to college to achieve that one single goal.

This is actually a part of the problem - the old adage "those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it" - well, what does a specialist know BUT his specialization?(and let's not forget the role of university indoctrination)

How can a specialist in, say, fixing some sort of complex machine possibly know about Article 3, section 2? That's not his specialization, that's for the Constitutional experts to handle.

How can a specialist in, say, nuclear physics, possibly know about the constitutional debates between August 6th to August 18th, 1787? That's for the history experts to handle.

How can a specialist in, say, medicine, possibly know the meaning of God's Law/Natural Law and the Enlightenment? That's for religious experts to handle. Add into the fact that the doctor who works 18 hours a day isn't then going to go home and read the Constitution before bed. Sure, there may be a small handful who will, but not nearly enough to make up the difference.

You see how the weakness is necessarily bred into the mix? I'm referring in all cases to super smart people here. This isn't an issue of lack of intellect. It's a lack of exposure.

Hyper specialists are natural suckers for tyranny. Serfs in the waiting. "Eh, politics? Bah, that's for the politicians to handle. Fake news? Bah, that's not for me. That's for the journalists to handle. History? No, I will leave that to the historians. Economics? I'm not touching that one. Go ask an expert." Specialization breeds large amounts of weakness.

Listen to the wording of this small preface:

In an age of specialization, one's activities are necessarily delimited by the professional interest. However, the great war has affected more than the vocational superstructure of our lives. It has rocked the foundations of civilization, and compelled the revaluation of many standards far more vital and more basic than the vocational. This fact may explain, if it does not justify, this excursion afield of a student of economics.

The war has changed many of the conditions of living which demand analyis. Unlike the chemist or physicist, the student of the social sciences cannot vary the conditions of his experiments, but must wait until the processes of history afford him an opportunity to observe variations In phenomena, and to study their causes.

The war has upset some accepted articles of faith, but it has confirmed many others, which not only stood the test of war, but determined the victory. Many new needs have arisen and some old tendencies have become clearer.

We are entering a new era. We may do so blindly, or we may attempt to crystallize our ideas on the issues arising out of the war for the purpose of intelligently controlling social forces.

The problems of social and of political adjustment, and of the conservation of human resources, are neither less pressing nor less significant to the country than are the economic and financial questions, which have riveted the attention of statesmen and publicists during the past year. The little attention which the social problems have received is not a criterion of their relative importance in the life of the American people. It is characteristic of human nature to neglect those problems which, though they deal with the most fundamental aspects of the national life, lack the driving force of the economic motive.

This volume is a sequel to "American Problems of Reconstruction, a Symposium on the Economic and Financial Aspects." In the treatment of their subjects the contributors were requested to discuss:

1 . What have been the effects of the war?
a. What pre-war conditions have become more clearly defined?
b. What new conditions has the war brought to life?

2. What should be our policy during the reconstruction period?

Thanks for suggestions are due to Drs. Dickinson, Rogers and Wolman, and others of the group of men who gathered at the Cosmos Club during the war. The volume has benefited as a result of the advice of Dean William H. Welch, of the School of Public Health of the Johns Hopkins University, and of my brother, David, particularly in the section dealing with the social aspects of medicine. Grateful acknowledgment is also made to President Frank J. Goodnow, Professors Charles H. Cooley, Franklin H. Giddings, M. M. Kaplan, T. I. Parkinson, Roscoe Pound, E. A. Ross, and Arthur J. Todd, and Mr. Abraham Flexner, for helpful suggestions.

That's from "America and the new era, a symposium on Social Reconstruction" It's a book written by progressives, for progressives. Social reconstruction? Who but progressives look at the progressive era through the era after World War 1 as an era of social reconstruction. Progressives are very intense when it comes to their "fundamental transformation" of America, and they have been since day one.

Notice how the theme of the preface is entirely geared toward social control, with a sprinkle of economic talk. That's the job of the new specialist in the progressive era, social control. Control over you, over your life. In part, this is also why progressives worship the false god of "the economy" so intently. They can use it for control purposes. Sure, it can be said that in the short term, an economy comprised entirely of specialists will be more productive and prosperous with fatter bank accounts than the corresponding generalists. However, at what price?

Here we are, one century past the progressive era. Tyranny is knocking at our door, demanding payment. You ready to pay the price for abandoning generalization? The generalists then had more freedom than the specialists do now. Choose wisely.


Teach First has turned me into a free speech martyr

Toby Young
I had the unusual experience last Sunday of appearing on a panel to defend free speech having been the victim of censorship 24 hours earlier. As Claire Fox, the chair of the event, said: ‘We are lucky enough to have our very own free speech martyr on the panel.’

Martyr is putting it a bit strongly, but I was ‘no platformed’ as a result of expressing a verboten point of view. What made it quite upsetting is that the organisation responsible was Teach First, an education charity that aims to recruit top university graduates into teaching and which I have always supported. Indeed, it is because I am sympathetic to Teach First’s aims — it wants to make the school system of England and Wales fairer by deploying excellent teachers to deprived areas — that I agreed to speak at its annual conference and write a blog post for its website.

Now, it is fair to say that my blog, which was published on October 26, will not have made for comfortable reading for those who believe that schools can redress all the inequalities that are outside their control. I pointed out that the strongest single predictor of how well children do in their GCSEs is IQ, with differences in children’s general cognitive ability accounting for more than half of the variance in exam results. That’s a finding that has been replicated numerous times. I also pointed out that schools have enjoyed little success when it comes to raising the IQs of individual students, but I allowed that they may discover how to do so, particularly with the aid of new technologies.

No reason that should lead to doom and gloom for educationalists. While it is true that children’s genes account for between 60 and 70 per cent of the variance in GCSE results, with IQ responsible for about half that genetic influence, that still leaves the environment accounting for 30 to 40 per cent. A consistent finding in the literature is that the differences between schools, such as the amount of resources a school receives, the number of children in a class, the quality of the teachers etc, accounts for around 10 per cent or less of the variance in exam results. Admittedly, 10 per cent is not huge, but it is not nothing, either. Schools can still make a difference — and that 10 per cent is an aggregate figure, with some schools having more impact. These claims may sound controversial, but they are based on mainstream science. Before composing the blog, I discussed it with two leading experts in the field and I sent the first draft to two more so they could check I hadn’t made any howlers.

Unfortunately, Teach First decided my blog was unacceptable. In spite of the fact that it was billed as part of a ‘debate’, and appeared alongside another piece expressing an alternative point of view, the organisation decided to remove it from its website and issue an apology. That’s right, it apologised for publishing my piece. ‘It was against what we believe is true and against our values and vision,’ Teach First explained.

I was surprised by this decision, not least because the first I heard about it was on Twitter. Surely, the fact that Teach First disagreed with my post was not a reason to delete it, particularly as it appeared in the context of a debate? If Teach First disapproved of my views so strongly, why publish the piece in the first place? They could have turned it down and I would have given it to someone else. But to publish it and then unpublish it smacks of censorship.

The most disappointing thing about the whole affair is that I share Teach First’s values and vision. In my blog I was attempting to show how teachers could remain evangelical about raising standards without denying the mainstream scientific understanding about the heritability of IQ and the impact of IQ on educational outcomes. Teach First’s reaction and its description of my piece as ‘against what we believe is true’ suggests it doesn’t share my view that its values are compatible with mainstream science. Denying that science is an unwise position for any educational organisation to take, particularly one that prides itself on being guided by evidence.

Russell Hobby, the CEO of Teach First, has apologised and I’m happy to accept it and move on. But I hope his organisation takes a more open-minded attitude to debate in future, particularly when it’s informed by the latest scientific research.


I published Toby's essay here on October 31.  Toby has other interesting essays  here and here

Sydney University charging students a security fee for conservative events

A blatant attack on free speech

UNIVERSITY students are being told they will have to pay to hire security guards if they want to run events spruiking conservative ideals — including pro-coal ideas.

Student organiser Renee Simone Gorman said the Conservative Club was told by Sydney University it had to agree to pay “unlimited security fees” if it wanted to host an event called The Case for Coal.

The club was also hit with a $760 fee to pay for up to 10 security guards for an earlier talk on the “Dangers of Socialism” in August.

This was despite no protesters actually turning up.

“Students who don’t follow the left wing line of thought are paying for the left to throw tantrums,” she said.

A university spokesman rejected the fees were one-sided, but would not explain how the university decided who was charged.

“The University of Sydney makes its facilities available to staff, students and the community but all applicants are required to pay for the costs incurred for events,” he said.

“Students are charged whenever security assesses there is a need and all kinds of events are charged.

“We are not able to comment on methods used by Campus Security for operational reasons.”

Dr Peter Phelps, who is attending the forum on coal and energy said it was a clear attempt to curtail free speech. “It is disgraceful,” he said.

The Institute of Public Affairs research fellow Matthew Lesh slammed the fees as a “heckler’s veto”.

“It creates a strong incentive for students to disrupt events and make certain ideas unspeakable on campus,” he said. “Students should not have to pay for bad behaviour.”

Kelton Muir — from the university’s socialist Solidarity Student Club — said his group had not been charged for security guards for their events, including talks by left-wing activists as well as other campus events on the “madness of capitalism”. “We have not been asked to pay for security,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Young Socialist Alliance Club said they were only charged if their events were held on weekends or out of hours.


Thursday, November 09, 2017

UK: As a home-schooling mother, I won't let the inspectorate force my child into a mainstream school

We shouldn't crack down on the essential right to home-school just because of an extremist few

Ofsted is worried about home schooling. Matthew Coffey, its chief operating officer, says Islamic extremists are encouraging parents to pull their children out of mainstream schools. He fears they are exploiting a “loophole” which lets parents do so with very little surveillance or oversight. That sounds absolutely terrifying – unless you believe in the freedom of parents to educate their own children.

As a home-educating mother, I always find these stories carry a note of panic at those no-good radicals who dare to step outside the system. Normally, this would amuse me, but Mr Coffey's comments strike at the heart of what home schooling is about. What he calls a loophole exists for a very good reason, and we parents who wish to keep our children out of school should defend it


Education Jihad: Promoting Islam in American Schools

For decades, organizations and individuals have undermined our American education system by attacking our beliefs in a constitutional republic and our fundamental Judeo-Christian principles.  These have been supplanted with a "multicultural" viewpoint, which has taken the place of traditional American perspectives and values with accommodation and appeasement of protected minorities depicted as victims of the dominant culture.

 Oil-rich Arab-Muslim nations, including Saudi Arabia and its Muslim Brotherhood cohorts, have used multiculturalism to target impressionable youths in our public schools, promote Islam, and advance Islamic political agendas.  Under the subterfuge of promoting a multicultural educational environment, these agents have replaced time-honored educational materials of American ideals and historical perspectives with anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-Judeo-Christian, and pro-Islamic rhetoric.

This re-engineering of the education system to disproportionately highlight the virtues and contributions of Islamic ideology is part of "civilizational jihad," the enemy's term for the subversion of our society.  It was defined in the 1991 Muslim Brotherhood document "An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America," presented as evidence in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation terrorism trial.  The document calls for the stealth takeover of North America through infiltration of all of society, with the ultimate goal of destroying the U.S. and turning it into a Muslim nation.

Over the past 40-plus years, this infiltration has occurred in education, with the Saudi royal family contributing billions in gifts and endowments to U.S. universities to spread anti-American and anti-Israel propaganda.  Through creation of Middle East studies centers at top institutions of higher learning, the Saudis have influenced curricula and textbook content.  Those involved include several Muslim Brotherhood affiliates and Islamist organizations, such as the Institute on Religion and Civil Values (formerly the Council on Islamic Education), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Institute of Islamic Information and Education (IIIE), the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT), Saudi-endowed Islamic and Middle East studies centers, and others.  Their activities within our public schools include seminars and training programs for teachers, textbook creation and editing, curriculum development, lesson plans, student worksheets, and instructional videos.

Saudi success comes mainly from exploitation of Title VI of the Higher Education Act, which authorizes federal grants to university programs, including Middle East studies centers.  Title VI grantees must produce outreach programs for our nation's educators, and pro-Islamic organizations have attained legitimacy by partnering with top universities.  Using U.S. taxpayer-subsidized lesson plans and seminars for America's K-12 teachers with the imprimatur of schools like Harvard, infiltrators easily integrated Islamic perspectives into the K-12 curriculum, avoiding  public vetting and government oversight.  Materials promoting Islam, denigrating Judaism and Christianity, and criticizing alleged American prejudice against the Muslim world insidiously made their way into American education.  Some of the materials in use go so far as to blame America for terrorism and decry prejudice against Muslims in the U.S.

One of the key teaching resources promoted by Harvard's Center for Middle Eastern Studies outreach program was the controversial, propaganda-laden "Arab World Studies Notebook," a factually incorrect textbook purported to promote "the Arab point of view."  The text is almost devoid of citations and promotes a pro-Islam, Muslim-centric view of history.  According to a recent report by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), "Indoctrinating Our Youth: How a U.S. Public School Curriculum Skews the Arab-Israeli Conflict and Islam," the widely used text erroneously cites Jerusalem as "an Arab city" and fails to acknowledge ancient Judaic and Christian ties to the Israeli capital.  It fallaciously claims that Islam's ties are "equally long and much deeper," even though Islam emerged only in the 7th century A.D.  The Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) noted that the "notebook" implies that Jews have undue impact on U.S. foreign policy and that Israel was created after American Jewish lobbying.  It also proposes the supremacy of Islam and denigrates beliefs held by Jews and Christians, suggesting that the Quran "synthesizes and perfects earlier revelations."

Meanwhile, a key Islamic educational textbook author has been Muslim convert Susan Douglass.  A principal researcher and writer for the Institute on Religion and Civil Values (IRCV), Douglass was also an educational consultant for the Saudi-funded Georgetown University Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and a member of the editorial board of the Muslim Brotherhood's ISNA.  The IIIT, created expressly to influence higher education, teachers, and textbooks, published books written by Douglass used in American schools.  Douglass reviewed world history textbooks of three major publishers – McGraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin, and Prentice Hall – and was allowed to present a view promoting Islam and in accordance with IRCV recommendations.  Douglass and the IRCV have had a major impact on the textbook presentation of Islam, minimizing its violent aspects and making the ideology attractive to non-Muslim children.  Douglass was also instrumental in developing standards for teaching religion in public schools and providing teacher and curriculum guidelines.

Douglas and her husband previously taught at the Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria, Virginia, dubbed "Terror High" by some media outlets.  In 2007, the school was found in violation of federal law by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for using discriminatory materials that teach students to "hate" Jews, Christians, and other "unbelievers" and that espouse violent jihad as a religious duty for Muslims.

The organization for which Douglass has been an author, the Institute on Religion and Civic Values, is a national non-profit with a mission "to support and strengthen American public education" by drawing on "civic, ethical and educational principles in Islam."  The group's leadership and collaborators are connected to Muslim Brotherhood organizations such as IIIT, CAIR, and the Muslim American Society (MAS), among others.  IRCV focuses on portraying a positive view of Islam in K-12 education and vetting textbooks.  It developed a curriculum manual for students to "simulate becoming Muslims"; was instrumental in minimizing the teaching of Judaism, Christianity, and other faiths; and changed the educational approach in many schools from informational teaching on Islam to indoctrination and proselytizing.

Meanwhile, yet another organization, The Institute of Islamic Information and Education, an ISNA branch, began in Chicago as far back as1985 to convey the Islamic message throughout North America, open non-Muslims to Islam, and "remove fabricated materials from circulation."  It evaluates educational materials for their portrayal of Islam and monitors books, publishers, authors, and school districts for anything deemed "misinformation" and "misperceptions" of Islam and Muslims.  The institute also produces and distributes dawa booklets and videos.

In 2011 in the Newton, Massachusetts school district, the Muslim push came to a head.  Parents expressed concern about divergence from factual, objective accounts of history and current events, as well as one-sided materials designed to indoctrinate students in specific political agendas.  Research by Newton parents revealed that the concept of jihad was presented solely as an inner personal struggle of spiritual discipline and not the predominant, traditional obligation to wage war in Allah's name and bring the world under Islam.  Texts presented Islam as peaceful and tolerant.  Parents found that Islam received significantly more study time than was devoted to the avowed "false beliefs" of Christianity and Judaism.  Parental complaints about the controversial curriculum were characterized by school officials as "McCarthyesque."  School officials accused parents of jeopardizing academic freedom and defended the materials.

CAMERA examined the materials and concurred that textbooks and lesson plans focused on teaching students about Islam and presenting foundational Islamic beliefs, historical Islamic expansion, and the so-called Islamic "Golden Age."  Missing were negative aspects of Islamic history and societal practices, including the extensive and longstanding Arab-Muslim slave trade, honor killings, stoning of accused adulteresses, and treatment of women as property.  Muslim women were falsely claimed to have more autonomy than Western women, and extensive Muslim bigotry in the U.S. was presented.  Terrorism was falsely described as a deviation and misinterpretation of the tenets of the faith.  CAMERA published a monograph on its findings, further alarming parents with the many anti-American, anti-Judeo-Christian, pro-Islamic materials existent within the Newton school district.

Another Islamic indoctrination program, "Access Islam," has been instituted in various school systems nationwide.  Produced with assistance from Shabbir Mansuri, founding director of IRCV, and CAIR-affiliated Debbie Almontaser, and funded by the U.S. Department of Education, "Access Islam" teaches students how to follow the five pillars of Islam and instills the belief that Allah is G-d.  According to the Christian Action Network (CAN), students must learn and interpret verses from the Quran.  A video features a Christian convert to Islam who jubilantly explains how he now worships the one true G-d, in a direct slam against Christianity and Judaism.  Wherever "Access Islam" is presented, similar programs are not provided on Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, or any other religion.

All of the school programs cited above represent a multi-pronged approach to destroy Western civilization and impose an Islamist worldview through university endowments, educator indoctrination, and development of history textbooks and curricula for K-12 students.  Under the guise of teaching history and promoting multiculturalism, American students are indoctrinated in the supremacy of Islam above all other faiths.  In several cases, federal courts have upheld the right of public schools to indoctrinate students in the Muslim religion and its spiritual practices, categorically denying the same privilege to Christian doctrine.  In light of this doctrinal push, parents must be vigilant and steadfast as stewards of their children's educational and moral development.  Schools and administrators must be held accountable.

When President Trump recently presented the 2018 budget, he recognized Title VI as a vehicle to promote anti-American, anti-Israel, and pro-Islamic propaganda and eliminated its funding.  It remains to be seen if Congress implements his request and eliminates this insidious program.


Australian Universities offering new and specialist courses to combat crowded job market

SPECIALISATION may be the key to unlocking a career in an increasingly crowded job market.

Year 12 exams began this week and in between studying many students will be thinking about their next life-shaping level of tertiary education.

Prospective students have until January 4 to apply for main round university offers and experts advise they spend some of that time considering niche or emerging fields where demand outstrips supply.

Recognising some of these shortfalls, Perth universities have responded with a range of lesser-known courses that did not exist five years ago.

Edith Cowan University student Sharon Cooke is halfway through completing a Masters in Infant Mental Health, a course ECU has only offered since 2016.

“It is a funny name, but what they are trying to capture is really the relationship between the caregiver and the infant,” Mrs Cooke said. “In the first few years of life it’s vital the child feels safe, loved and understood, which acts like a vaccination protecting them from future adversities.”

Tired of working in an IT helpdesk role with limited prospects for career advancement, Enzo Zito enrolled in a Bachelor of Science specialising in cyber forensics and information security at Murdoch University.

With practically every aspect of modern-day life intrinsically linked to the internet, Mr Zito said there was growing demand for cyber security professionals both in Australia and around the world.

“It would be an exciting and rewarding opportunity to be able to work with companies to safely expose vulnerabilities and subsequently secure their networks,” he said.

Like many West Australians, Edward Swinhoe landed a job in the booming resources sector straight after high school.

When his work as a field ecologist dried up after the mining downturn, he turned to university and is now close to completing a Masters in Biosecurity at Murdoch.

“As an environmental consultant with experience in chemical capture and vertebrate pest management I’m finding myself inundated with work from property developers, primary producers and wildlife groups,” Mr Swinhoe said.

“I’m happy to say I think I picked a winner with this course.”

Aeromedical evacuation, data science, food security and electrical engineering degrees with a focus on renewables such as wind, solar and hydro are among the other courses established in the past couple of years.

ECU senior deputy Vice-Chancellor Arshad Omari said it was challenging for universities to predict future job markets and that it took a minimum of 18 months to develop a new course.

“In deciding to launch a new course, we look at social trends, changes in the workplace and we also engage with industry,” Professor Omari said.

Adzuna chief executive Raife Watson advised prospective students to look at fields with in-demand niches where they could stand out.

“Health is a good example because it is such a wide and growing area with dozens of sub-specialities,’’ he said.

“Demand for anything age-care related, in particular, is exploding.”

Hays Australia and New Zealand managing director Nick Deligiannis said “soft skills,” such as relationship building and critical and creative thinking, were also highly sought after


Wednesday, November 08, 2017

The Path Forward for K-12 Educational Excellence

“Last month marked the 38th anniversary of the establishment of the U.S. Department of Education,” writes Independent Institute Research Fellow Vicki E. Alger in a new piece for The Beacon. The department is nothing to celebrate. Math and reading performance of 17 year olds is virtually unchanged from the early 1970s, with a majority not reaching proficiency. The solution isn’t to increase funding for the agency, she argues, but rather to enact Education Savings Accounts.

“The ESA concept is simple,” Alger continues. “Parents [of K-12 students] use a type of dedicated-use debit card to purchase the educational services and materials they think are best for their children, and any leftover funds remain in students’ ESAs for future expenses, such as college tuition.” In Arizona and a few other states that have ESA programs, the accounts are funded by state governments. Alger, however, proposes that they be funded by non-profit groups whose donors would receive tax credits for ESA contributions, similar to the tax-credit scholarship programs in 18 states across the country.

“ESAs empower parents to customize their children’s education, from the schools they attend, to the teachers and tutors who instruct them, the online courses their children take, and even the special education therapies their children receive,” writes Alger, whose research has inspired much legislation.


Not a good anniversary

Last month marked the 38th anniversary of the establishment of the U.S. Department of Education.

Proponents insisted that elevating the Office of Education to a Cabinet-level department would improve federal education spending efficiency as well as student achievement. Opponents countered that there is scant (if any) evidence that increasing federal control over education would achieve either.

Turns out, oppoenents were right.

From fiscal years 1970 through 2016, U.S. Office/Department of Education (ED) K-12 spending outpaced student enrollment by more than 10 to one.

Over this period, ED spending increased more than 115 percent in real terms from $38.1 billion to $82.1 billion. Yet elementary and secondary enrollment increased by just 11 percent, from 45.5 million students to 50.6 million students.

Meanwhile, math and reading scores of 17-year-olds have improved by just two points each since the early 1970s, to 306 in math and 287 in reading out of a possible 500, on the Nation’s Report Card, the longest-running nationally representative assessment of American students.

The percentages of public high school seniors who now score proficient or better on this assessment are also alarmingly low.

Less than half of seniors who are not from low-income families score proficient or better in reading and math, 45 percent and 32 percent, respectively. Those percentages plummet for their peers who do come from low-income families, to 23 percent proficient or better in reading and 11 percent in math.

Average per-pupil expenditures now exceed $12,000, with the federal government kicking in around 10 percent or less of that amount.

So it appears the advent of ED has had a negligible impact at improving the productivity of education spending in terms of improved student achievement—particularly for low-income students.

But it’s also worth considering just how much the actual department is costing taxpayers in terms of administrative expenses.

By the close of 2016, there were more than 4,400 full-time ED employees whose average salaries exceeded $100,000—jumping to nearly $170,000 for senior and executive level staff. Altogether, ED’s personal compensation and benefits budget totaled nearly $630 million.

Last spring, President Trump proposed cutting ED’s discretionary budget by $9.2 billion, from $68.3 billion to $59.1 billion. Even though nearly two-thirds of that reduction (63 percent) came from eliminating programs that are duplicative or just don’t work, critics cried foul.

The response from Congress has been split. Senate lawmakers recommended a $29 million increase, while House lawmakers scaled back the President’s cuts to just over $2 billion.

Back in 1866, when the idea of a national education department was first being debated in Congress, opponent Rep. Samuel J. Randall of Pennsylvania predicted that it would amount to

...a bureau at an extravagant rate of pay, and an undue number of clerks collecting statistics . . . [that] does not propose to teach a single child . . . its a, b, c’s.

Randall was right, and today at least some members of Congress seem to know it.

Earlier this year, U.S. Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced a one-sentence long bill abolishing ED no later than December 31, 2018. The measure has growing national grassroots support fueled by the belief that it’s time to put the real experts back in charge of education: students’ parents. But how?

First, we should return all the program and administrative overhead funding we now send to ED to taxpayers in the states. Second, with those funds states could establish education savings accounts (ESAs) for K-12 students to help better ensure funding pays for the educational services students need instead of a bloated DC bureaucracy.

Arizona was the first state to enact an ESA program in 2011, and five more states have enacted them since then. The ESA concept is simple. Parents use a type of dedicated-use debit card to purchase the educational services and materials they think are best for their children, and any leftover funds remain in students’ ESAs for future expenses, such as college tuition.

Importantly, ESAs are fiscally accountable because quarterly expense reports (with receipts) from parents and ongoing audits help ensure funds are not misspent. Any misspent funds are repaid, or parents face legal prosecution.

Remember the last time ED repaid improper payments or misspent funds? Yeah, me neither (see here and here).

Rather than continue funding ESAs through government appropriations as current programs do, they should instead be funded through private donations to nonprofit organizations that would manage ESAs. Those donations would be eligible for credits donors could claim against their state income taxes (see here and here), similar to the 22 tax-credit K-12 scholarship programs operating now in 18 states.

Yet unlike scholarship programs, which enhance parents’ freedom to choose among various schools, ESAs empower parents to customize their children’s education, from the schools they attend, to the teachers and tutors who instruct them, the online courses their children take, and even the special education therapies their children receive.

Ultimately, parents know and love their children best, not the feds. They, not some far-off government bureaucracy, should be in charge of their children’s education.


Australia: Year 2s shown pictures of genitals, Year 3s studying the clitoris and Year 4s taught about being gay: Parents outraged at 'X-rated' sex education lessons

Parents are outraged after learning students in grade 2 are shown pictures of genitals, grade 3 the clitoris, and grade 4 being taught about gay couples in school.

Sex education in Victoria's primary schools came under fire from Opposition education spokesman Tim Smith this week, who said he was approached by parents and family groups about the appropriateness of the classes.

Speaking to Daily Mail Australia on Monday, Mr Smith said some of the concepts and images shown to children, as young as seven, 'belong in an X-rated movie'.

'Sex education is vital but there are certain aspects of the program that are age inappropriate, totally over-the-top graphic and just unnecessary,' he said.

'Some of this stuff belongs in an X-rated movie, and for seven and eight-year-olds to be exposed to this material is totally inappropriate. Just let kids be kids.

'You have to let parents decide when to have those conversations with children, when they're ready and in the manner they feel appropriate.' 

Mr Smith said the 'hyper-sexual' material was the difference between sex education and 'sexuality education'.

One father said his daughter who was in grade 2 at a Victorian primary school grew uncomfortable around her male classmates after she was shown drawings of genitalia in class.

'She didn't want to go swimming because the boys had their tops off. We never had a problem before and then all of a sudden she did,' he told the Herald Sun.

The sex education program divided different associations.

The conservative Australian Family Association called for a review of the program, with President Terri Kelleher branding the images used 'very explicit, very graphic', and 'not appropriate'.

Parents Victoria executive officer Gail McHardy disagreed. She said the program was 'normal and healthy' and students were otherwise exposed to much more explicit materials outside of the classroom.

'There is no shame in any of this teaching material. To ­suggest otherwise is wicked and potentially detrimental to students' health and well-being,' she told the Herald Sun.

Education Minister James Merlino also defended the program, which was introduced in 2011 under the Liberal government.

Mr Merlino questioned Mr Smith for his opposition, saying it appeared he was more interested in overhauling the sex education program than he was in the school system itself. 


Tuesday, November 07, 2017

UK: Why do so few men take gender studies courses?

Because they are useless crap?

It's a good job no one starts a postgraduate degree in gender studies to meet men: my MPhil class at Cambridge contains precisely zero of them. Apparently, this is anomalous, according to course director Dr Andy Tucker. In the three previous years there have been a quarter to a third men: a better turnout than on many gender programmes.

Yet at the LSE this year, it's not much better: out of 85 students on gender studies master's courses, eight are men. Last year it was five out of 89 students. As Dr Jonathan Dean, a feminist political theory lecturer at Leeds University, says: "Gender studies degrees and women's studies remain overwhelmingly female-dominated. When I started in this field I thought I was the only man doing it."

Why is there such a dearth of male students? Especially when there are so many male lecturers teaching gender studies. After all, it's not "women's studies" any more (apart from at Oxford, among others), a change that has taken place over the past decade as "gender" courses in the UK have sprung up, aiming at a wider audience both of women and men.

This imbalance comes as more men than ever, among my friends at least, seem involved or interested in gender debates. At Cambridge, talks with a gender angle are always packed, and nearly half with men – whether it's a female student philosopher arguing that patriarchy still oppresses women or a university keynote debate on differences between male and female brains. The problem is not that men aren't interested. But for many, a fear of "feminism" and its practitioners persists. And that's what needs to change.

One man I spoke to, an international relations PhD student, said: "I do not recognise gender studies as being a very important discipline. I do think women's rights are important. But I think in courses like these they are too critical of what they call male-dominated reality."

Another student said he would be put off a gender studies course, "interesting though it might be," because the assumptions made about him – particularly his sexuality — would be too onerous and uncomfortable to explain. "If I studied gender studies I would seem gay. I would have to justify myself all the time – there would be so many really different assumptions about me. I would have trouble finding a woman."

Another student echoed Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex in 1949, when he said: "I wouldn't take gender studies because I'm a man and we aren't different. Women are the ones who are considered different."

In reality, men (when present) are greatly valued in gender studies courses, not loathed as the living, breathing patriarchy. "It seems to me that the women students are extraordinarily protective of the minority of men in the seminar group," says Anne Phillips, head of the LSE's gender institute. In his feminist political theory class (about a third male), most of Dean's men "seem to be on board or sympathetic" to feminism. But feminism isn't the only topic in gender studies – just as important are masculinities and, of course, queer theory. Last year, a male gender studies MA student called Tom Martin tried to sue the LSE for offering an anti-man course – the claim was thrown out.

Tucker at Cambridge seems relaxed by this year's no-show from men. "We want the best people. And this year, the best people who were able to take up places happened to be women. In a few weeks we're having a whole session on masculinities. It's important that those on the course engage with a range of theories, which includes masculinities, and this can be taught successfully whether or not there are men in the group."

Perhaps. But I'm more inclined to agree with the geography student who said to me at dinner recently: "At some point men have got to get involved or the whole thing will collapse."

Have you ever studied gender? Were there any men on your course and do you wish there were more?


George Soros Funds America’s National Association of State Boards of Education

Progressive billionaire George Soros via his Open Society Foundations is listed as a “funding partner” of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE).

NASBE is holding its annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia November 1-4. The organization boasts a long list of progressive “partners,” which includes Soros’s foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – primary private funder of the Common Core standards, the College Board, tech titan Google, and textbook giant Pearson Education.

The conference’s keynote speakers include David Coleman – “architect” of the Common Core standards and current president and CEO of the College Board – which administers the SAT that is now aligned to the Common Core standards.

Salman “Sal” Khan, founder and CEO of Khan Academy, is also a featured keynote speaker at the NASBE conference, as is Dr. Pedro Noguera, a sociologist and education professor at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA.

According to an Eventbrite invitation, Noguera will speak on Saturday on the topic of how to achieve excellence through equity for all children.

Soros recently transferred $18 billion to his Open Society Foundations, which serve as the primary vehicle for his left-wing political activism.

Internationally, Soros is currently involved in efforts to turn Ireland and other pro-life nations into countries that provide abortion on demand. He also promotes demonization of the Israeli government and migration from Muslim countries into Europe.

In addition to promoting abortion and progressive public education in the United States, Soros and his foundations fund the Black Lives Matter movement and anti-conservative media outlet Media Matters.

NASBE has received roughly $5.5 million in grants from the Gates Foundation – much of it to help the state boards implement the Common Core standards.

As Breitbart News reported in June 2014 – soon after the state of Oklahoma had repealed the Common Core standards – petitioners organized by NASBE sued the state, arguing that the repeal of Common Core is unconstitutional under Oklahoma state law. The plaintiffs claimed the state legislature – the representatives of the people of Oklahoma – had no right to draft new standards to replace Common Core, and that this power belongs to Oklahoma’s state board of education. The state legislature, however, passed the adoption of Common Core even before the controversial standards had ever been released.

Panelists for NASBE’s conference include Dr. Linda Darling Hammond – Stanford University professor emeritus and former director of RAND Corporation’s education program, and Gene Wilhoit – CEO of the Center for Innovation in Education at the University of Kentucky and previous executive director of NASBE. Wilhoit was also a prior executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) that, along with the National Governors Association (NGA), owns the Common Core standards.

Betty Peters, a Republican member of the Alabama State Board of Education who has actively attempted to repeal Common Core in her state, tells Breitbart News regarding Hammond:

    Most seniors will remember a political activist from the violent 60’s and 70’s – Bill Ayers. He petitioned his long-time friend President Obama to fire Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and replace him with Dr. Hammond, who had helped Obama draft his education plan.

Peters continues regarding panelist Wilhoit, providing an “excerpt from an interview of him by Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE),” who became well known for his congratulatory “letter to Hillary Clinton” following the election of her husband as president of the United States in 1992:

    Here is an excerpt from an interview of him by Marc Tucker of NCEE:

    “Gene Wilhoit served as chief state school officer in Arkansas and in Kentucky before the Council of Chief State School Officers asked him to assume the leadership of their association. Two decades earlier, Wilhoit had served as an active member of the board of an organization, the New Standards Project, that I had put together to develop new, internationally benchmarked student performance standards for the American states, along with a set of assessments set to those standards. After he took the helm as Executive Director of the CCSSO, Wilhoit led the successful joint effort of the country’s chief state school officers [CCSSO] and its governors [NGA] to create the Common Core State Standards….  Marc Tucker: “Gene, you played the key role in the development of the Common Core, a remarkable achievement.”

“States pay hefty dues to NASBE, and NASBE trains new state school board members,” Peters says. “NASBE also offers help with searches for state superintendents, and its board and work groups write policies for use by its member states. Obviously, NASBE has a lot of influence on state school boards. That point has not escaped the many education groups and vendors who agree to be partners.”

Dr. Karen Effrem – president of Education Liberty Watch and executive director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition – observed that NASBE has stated part of the purpose of the Common Core standards and their aligned assessments is to test children’s psychological attitudes and attributes, primary components of social and emotional learning (SEL).

“Various elements of SEL [social emotional learning] can be found in nearly every state’s K-12 standards framework and in the Common Core State Standards for the English Language Arts,” NASBE states in its primer on the subject.

In April 2015, Dr. Sandra Stotsky – professor emerita of University of Arkansas and an invited member of the Common Core validation committee who ultimately refused to sign off on the controversial standards – wrote at Breitbart News that state boards and departments of education should be eliminated.

“It is becoming increasingly clearer that the main groups oppressing parents, local school boards, and local teacher unions with Common Core-based standards and tests (regardless of what they are actually called) are state boards of education and state departments of education,” Stotsky wrote, adding:

    [T]here is no research to support their effectiveness, their functions, or indeed, their very existence. They are a late 19th century addition to state government, and grew enormously in staff and importance only after the federal government began to provide funds for public education after 1965 with the passage of the first Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Stotsky explained most state board members are appointed by governors and not elected by state residents, and, therefore, “follow the party line of the appointing governor.”

“Most state boards do not provide public meetings for higher education academic experts and parents to discuss standards for the K-12 curriculum in English and mathematics,” she continued. “No state board is on record in 2010 for asking for a cost-benefit analysis of Common Core’s standards or tests. No state board is on record for asking higher education academic experts in their own state for their analysis of Common Core’s ‘college readiness’ standards.”


Tackling the gender STEM skills gap in Australia

WHY should it be tackled?  What is wrong with having different proportions of men and women in different occupations?  Men are more likely to be good at math so there will always be more of them in math-heavy jobs

According to a recent report by Australia’s Chief Scientist, women comprise just 16 per cent of the total STEM workforce. Much has been written about the lack of women in science, technology, engineering and math related roles, but why is this important? Well, it’s estimated that 75 per cent of jobs in the future will require STEM skills. If young girls aren’t taught those skills, then they’re automatically being sidelined for jobs in the future.

In the IT sector, where I’ve worked for the past 20 years, Australia has created 40,000 ICT jobs in Australia in the last two years and more broadly Australia’s Digital Pulse report says tech-intensive jobs outside the ICT industry are expected to grow at a rate of 2 per cent a year up to 2022, more than a third faster that the rate of general jobs growth. That’s another 236,700 jobs on top of an additional 81,000 ICT roles forecast for the next six years.

Of course, some great initiatives have sprung in recent years aimed at boosting female engagement in STEM education, and breaking through gender stereotypes, such as Code Like A Girl and Women in STEMM Australia, but what should companies be doing now to not only keep the few women in STEM related roles we have but encourage more to learn STEM related skills and potentially switch to STEM related roles today?

Companies need to invest in training

In 2017, It’s unrealistic to expect people to have all the skills required for one role. Instead of talking about a ‘skills crisis’, companies need to invest in training. It’s no use blaming the government for recent changes to 457 visas or looking to hire from overseas. Take a good look at the women you have in your organisation and think about how to you use them in STEM related roles. How are you cultivating your female workforce to undertake STEM roles within your organisation? What training do they need to do those roles? Would they be interested in taking on a different role to the one they have?

Then find a good partner who can deliver that training, in small, bite-sized chunks, whether via book or mobile phone and make it easily accessible anytime, anywhere.

Communicate the diversity of roles available and career opportunities

In the tech industry, we’re pretty bad at communicating the range of roles available. Just because you work in the IT sector, anyone will tell you, it doesn’t mean you have to code. There are so many important roles running IT companies, the variety really is huge and it’s not just tech companies that need tech talent. Today, in 2017, every company really is a tech company in some way, large banks, universities, private health companies — nearly every organisation uses technology to run their business and is therefore looking for people with digital skills.

Offer flexible working

Really offer flexible working and don’t just pay lip service to it. Without flexibility, it makes it extremely difficult to manage a successful career and family. Men need to be enabled and encouraged to work flexibly and take up more responsibility at home, so women can progress in the workplace.

One organisation that is helping promote this is Diverse City Careers. They conducted their own research earlier this year with 500 women working with large and small Australian businesses, government and not-for-profit organisations. The top two priorities of the women surveyed were: gender neutral parental leave policy and flexible work arrangements. Both feed into each other and deeply affect the career progression of each gender. Currently in Australia, less than 50 per cent of the non-public sector offers flexible working options.

Hire and promote more women

It sounds simple, but it just needs to happen. There is much discussion around quotas, but “you can’t be what you can’t see” and women need role models. Senior leaders need to be accountable to put more women into STEM based roles.

Women tend to not apply for roles when there are a couple of elements they haven’t got experience in, but a man will often apply for a role if there are only a couple of areas he’s confident he can deliver. Organisations need to develop programs to help promote and support women. At Skillsoft for example we’re very proud of our Women in Action™ leadership program, the industry’s first learning program specifically designed to help women across the workforce build specific competencies and immediately apply newly acquired skills.

In summary, Australia is making progress when it comes to teaching and inspiring young girls to learn STEM skills, but as an industry, we’ve got to do more. It’s down to us, as employers in STEM, to not only stop women leaving science, technology, engineering and maths related roles, but to hire more. Much much more. And to invest in training these women, to give them the skills they need to do the jobs of the future, to fuel Australia’s economy.


Monday, November 06, 2017

Education is inherited, and it is entrenching class

Both educational success and economic success are greatly influenced by IQ and IQ is largely inherited -- so the scope for change is not great

Philosopher Richard Reeves has come to a harsh conclusion about inequality in the US. “America has a meritocratic market but an unfair society,” he writes in the book Dream Hoarders, published earlier this year.

In Reeves’s view, the US is now a relatively “fair” society for people 25 and older. While he acknowledges that various forms of workplace discrimination still persist, he argues that the US job market increasingly rewards people for their skills, rather than just their race, gender, or who they know. The adult playing field is not quite level, but it is getting there.

The problem, according to Reeves, who is now a researcher with the Brookings Institution, is what happens earlier in life. Children of rich parents have many more opportunities to build skills than those with poor parents. A labor market that increasingly values skills highlights the inequities of education as a result. In other words, the game is fair, but the process of selecting players is rigged.

Reeves’ book, whose full title is Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It, details the many ways that wealthier children are advantaged educationally, and why this inevitably leads to inequality. It starts right from the beginning. Children of parents in the top 20% of income are healthier and thus better able to learn. Their parents speak with them more—approximately three more hours per week. They also spend more on “enrichment experiences” outside of school, like trips, books, and tutors.

Children from the top 20% are more likely to go to a highly rated private school, and if they go to public school, are twice as likely as the average kid to live near one that ranks in the top fifth. They also have better teachers. Reeves points to a study of teachers in Louisiana that shows 38% of teachers in wealthy neighborhood public schools were rated as “highly effective,” compared with just 22% in poorer areas.

Higher education only exacerbates the problem. While almost 60% of 25 year-olds from families in the top 20% in income graduated from college in the late 2000s, that is only true of about 12% of children from the bottom 40%. Children from the top 20% are more than twice as likely to attend a selective college as those from the bottom 40%. At elite institutions (the Ivy League Schools plus University of Chicago, Stanford, MIT, and Duke), more children come from the top 1% than come from the entire bottom 50% (pdf).

Pass it on

Education is inherited, and it is entrenching class. The chart below, based on research by Reeves and the economist Joanna Venator, shows the massive difference in educational attainment status by quintile for children born in the US between 1950 and 1968. Nearly half of kids born to a parent in the top 20% of educational achievement stayed in the top 20% (generally speaking, by earning a college degree). By contrast, less than 10% of kids born to a parent in the bottom 20% of educational status (high-school dropouts) managed to rise to the top quintile in terms of educational attainment. More recent data is unavailable, but limited evidence suggests this inequality is getting worse, not better.

To explain the unfairness of the current US system, Reeves turns to a thought experiment of the philosopher Bernard Williams. Williams describes a society in which becoming a member of the “warrior class” was highly prized. Historically, only members from a group of rich families were allowed to become warriors. A rule change is made to allow any member of the society to gain this status. But because becoming a warrior entails strength, and all the other families are undernourished, all of the warriors continue to come from the same rich families. Ostensibly, the rule change made society more fair. In reality, it didn’t. If you swap warrior for student, Reeves believes this is a good analogy for the US economy.

For the most part, Reeves doesn’t blame wealthy parents for these discrepancies. Naturally, parents want to give their children the best opportunities possible. This impulse should be celebrated.
He also doesn’t think we should move away from a labor market that rewards education. “Markets increase prosperity, reduce poverty, enhance well-being, and bolster individual choice,” writes Reeves.

The only remaining choice then, in Reeves view, is to even the educational playing field for poorer kids. “Rather than trying to rectify inequality post hoc, through heavy regulation of the labor market, our ambition should be to narrow the gaps in the accumulation of human capital in the first two and a half decades of life,” he writes.

What inequality?

One obstacle to getting people on board with such reforms is that Americans don’t actually recognize that there is a problem. A recent study by economists at Harvard University found that, compared with four other rich countries, Americans are unusually deluded in their beliefs about intergenerational mobility.
When surveyed about the probability of a child from the bottom 20% of income reaching the top 20%, British, French, Italian, and Swedish people all underestimated the likelihood of this happening in their country. Americans were the only group to overestimate it—they thought their country had the highest mobility, when it actually had the lowest.


There is encouraging skepticism about college education among many Californians

The burden of college loans can last for many years and good jobs after graduation are far from guaranteed

Is college necessary? It turns out about half of Californians don’t think so, according to a Public Policy Institute of California survey.

And the difference of opinions among ethnic groups is even more surprising: While two-thirds of Latinos answer yes, a slight majority of Asian- and African-Americans think so — but only 35 percent of whites agree.

The same disparity holds across different income groups, too: Almost 60 percent of those from households earning less than $40,000 say college is necessary, while only 42 percent from households making at least $80,000 agree.

So what’s behind the numbers? For one, the mounting costs of a college degree and mountains of student debt are big factors behind the growing cynicism, experts say. Another reason: It’s human nature for one group (whites) to underestimate the value of something that comes easier (college access) than it does for others.

But while Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg managed to do just fine without a degree, that’s hardly a recipe for the rest of us. Not everyone has a safety net that makes dropping out of college in the hopes of becoming a tech titan a feasible option, said Audrey Dow, senior vice president of the Campaign for College Opportunity.

Students of color generally don’t have access to the same wealth and capital as their white peers, she said, and their families view college as a path forward.

White families, on the other hand, are more likely to have sent several generations to college and might not recognize that some of their success is due to higher education.

Lower income families may be “feeling like something about their own training falls short,” said Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of the Public Policy Institute of California. “Most people earning over $80,000 think there are many ways to succeed. Obviously many do have college degrees, but maybe they feel their own personal qualities or social networks account for that.”


The survey of more than 1,700 California adults between Oct. 8-17 also found significant gaps between native-born Californians and noncitizen residents on the question of whether college is necessary, with 75 percent of noncitizen California residents saying college is crucial to success and just 38 percent of native-born California residents agreeing.

“Higher education has been the key to Asian immigrants achieving the American Dream,” said Frank H. Wu, a professor at UC Hastings College of the Law and chair of the Committee of 100, a nonprofit organization of Chinese Americans. “It’s been both incredibly important in the Asian cultures from which they or their parents or grandparents came, and in America, one of the ways to come to the country legally was to go to school or get a job.”

But still, 45 percent of Asian Americans don’t think college is a requirement for success these days.

That number surprised Darryl Cereno, a 17-year-old high school senior at San Jose’s Overfelt High School, who is Asian American. More precisely, the fact only 54 percent of Asian Americans polled said college is necessary was the real surprise.

“Usually Asian Americans, especially here in California, are first- or second-generation and there’s this sort of cultural bias where you want to go to college to have a better life, so I’d expect that number to be way higher,” said Cereno, who is applying to college this year.

Still he’s intimidated about taking on significant debt. “I’m scared of that,” he said.


He’s not alone. Overall, 56 percent of the state’s residents think college affordability is a major problem, the survey found. In other words, a significant number of Californians aren’t sure college is worth the investment.

Those views have implications for whether voters are willing to kick more funding toward the state’s higher education system. While most of the state’s residents don’t think the state gives its public colleges enough money, a third think schools waste a lot of the money they are given.

Regardless of race, Wu said, the survey shows there’s skepticism about the value of going to college.

“We’re at a turning point, a crossroads,” he said, “where people are saying I want education, but I don’t want to pay this price for education.”


UK: Police called as Oxford students jeer anti-abortion speakers

Debate at St John’s College

Police were called to a debate at the University of Oxford when student union activists heckled anti-abortion speakers.

The Oxford Students For Life group had organised the event for Wednesday and invited speakers to discuss proposals to legalise abortion in Ireland.

It said that the debate was disrupted by protesters who insisted on shouting for about 40 minutes, chanting slogans such as “Pro-life, that’s a lie, you don’t care if women die”.

Police were called after college porters failed to silence the protesters, who were escorted from the room.


Sunday, November 05, 2017

California School Officials Refuse to Fight Antisemitism

For years, Jewish college students across the country have been harassed and intimidated. Frighteningly, this ugly problem is seeping into our high schools and even our middle and elementary schools.

In Alameda, California, middle and elementary schools have been defaced with swastikas and a Jewish elementary school student reportedly received a death threat. Under pressure from the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and the parents of Natasha Waldorf — who received multiple antisemitic threats at Alameda High School — Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) officials are finally admitting that antisemitism is a problem and that they’ve made mistakes in how they’ve responded to it. But they are still not doing what’s needed.

The AUSD must implement a prevention, protection and proscription plan. Prevention means educating students and families about antisemitism and making it clear that harassing Jewish students won’t be tolerated. Protection means adequately training staff to recognize, stop and report antisemitism. Proscription means effectively responding to antisemitism, including by publicly condemning it, appropriately disciplining wrongdoers, and ensuring that targeted students are protected.

AUSD’s current protocols have failed. School officials never asked Natasha to formally report any of the antisemitic threats she endured from classmates last year, even though California law requires districts to have a process to receive and investigate harassment complaints.


A Traditional Marriage Student Group Has Been Branded a ‘Hate Group’

In today’s bitter political climate, there are few labels more intellectually lazy than “hate group.” When you label an entity as a “hate group,” you automatically demonize it and remove from your shoulders any mantle of responsibility to dialogue or engage in civil discourse with this denounced entity.

This cowardly melodrama is currently playing out at our nation’s oldest Catholic university, where a student group has come under attack for taking the allegedly “hateful” position that Christianity got it right when it said sexual relations were meant for marriage, and that marriage was meant to be between a man and woman.

Students at Georgetown University founded Love Saxa, an affiliate of the Love & Fidelity Network, because they saw a gaping void on campus. In the face of the hook-up culture, widespread pornography usage, increasing sexual assaults, and attacks on the institution of marriage, Love Saxa sought to be a voice that would argue for the cultivation of healthy relationships, the repossession of sexual integrity, and the defense of traditional marriage.

Love Saxa’s position is not a popular one, particularly on a D.C. campus of politically active millennials. But one would hope that its place at a Catholic university, even one so liberal as Georgetown, would provide some level of security. But when the utter complacency of the Georgetown University administration is combined with the insatiable appetite of social justice warriors, no strand of Orthodox Christianity can be left unthreatened.

Last week, members of Georgetown’s Pride group filed a petition to sanction Love Saxa and strip it of its university funding and ability to operate on campus. Several days earlier, the editorial board of Georgetown’s student paper The Hoya—whose staff clearly hold up CNN and The New York Times as paragons of journalistic integrity—penned an op-ed accusing Love Saxa of fostering hostility and intolerance because of its commitment to the Christian view of procreative marriage.

The authors of the article at least recognize that Love Saxa’s mission statement is in line with the Catholic Church’s view of marriage and sexuality; however, their faculties of logic fail them when they go on to claim that despite upholding the same faith as its university, Love Saxa is violating the university’s code of conduct by arguing against same-sex marriage.

But then, logic and rationality needn’t play a large role when one can simply bandy about “hate group” terminology. The left’s modus operandi appears to be to toss out words like “intolerant” and “dehumanizing” alongside a few accusations of “hostility” and “bigotry” and hope that in the subsequent maelstrom of indignant outcries, no one notices the utter lack of coherency in its position.

Unfortunately, their ploy has proven successful far too frequently. Even now, in the face of this sham of a petition, Georgetown’s official statement is predictably weak, and it even appears to be giving a semblance of credence to the calls to silence Love Saxa: “As a Catholic and Jesuit institution, Georgetown listens deeply and discerningly to the plurality of voices that exist among our students, faculty, and staff and is committed to the care of each member of our community,” Rachel Pugh, a university spokesperson, said.

Pugh provides no further clarification of how the school will deal with a “plurality of voices” when only one voice is defending the faith it purports to believe.

G.K. Chesterton wrote that “tolerance is the virtue of the man without conviction,” and, speaking as a Georgetown alumnae and a founding board member of Love Saxa, it is unfortunate—though I confess not entirely unexpected—that Georgetown is once again revealing the tepidity of its own commitment to Catholicism, and choosing the “tolerant” path over that of conviction.

Perhaps they think doing so will quiet the liberal voices calling for the disbanding of Love Saxa, but that is a position so naive as to be indefensible. The left has proven that it does not stop in its quest to silence its opposition, no matter how “discerningly” that opposition hears its complaints. No compromise is sufficient for it. Once given an inch, these forces of illiberal liberalism demand a mile.

Chad Gasman, a sophomore at Georgetown and the president of GU Pride, told The Hoya that this petition, which he helped to file, will “force Georgetown University to actually be queer-friendly and queer-affirming.” Such a statement reveals that nothing short of an open endorsement of all same-sex relationships, including marriage, will be enough, no matter how much it defies the faith of the institution they have chosen to attend.

On Tuesday, the university will vote on whether or not to defund the club. If Love Saxa is banned from defending the Christian vision of sexuality and marriage, how will the Jesuits of Georgetown be able to refrain from referring to their own church as a “hate group?” How long before they will be called on to condemn the doctrinal tenets of Catholicism?


Ort is the jewel in community's education crown, says Patel

Although Ort provides education and skills training in 37 countries, the focus of this year’s event, held on Tuesday night, was on its projects in Israel.

    Priti Patel, the Secretary of State for International Development, told attendees at Ort UK’s annual dinner that the organisation was the “jewel in the crown” of the Jewish community’s educational tradition.

    Ms Patel began her speech by quoting from the Shema prayer:    “And you shall teach your children, when you sit in your house, and when you walk on your way and when you lie down and when you get up,” she said.

    “For centuries you have recited these words twice a day in your most famous prayer, the Shema. But the Jewish community does not just recite these words. You enact them and have done throughout your history. And of course Ort is a jewel in the crown of that educational tradition.”

    She praised Israel, describing how during her time as Secretary of State at the Department of International Development, she had seen the bringing of “Israeli solar technology to remote villages in Africa, to produce clean running water and electricity.

    “This desire and responsibility to want to help others, coupled with that wonderful can-do attitude that is so central to the Jewish community and the heart of Israel, is… precisely the sort of Jewish homeland that was dreamt by Herzl, and was of course supported by that historic letter, the Balfour Declaration, a letter sent 100 years ago,” she continued.

    “Britain is proud of our important contribution to the creation of the state of Israel, and we continue to believe in Israel’s people, the right to self-determination, and the future prosperity of Israel.”

    However, Adam Overlander-Kaye, Ort UK’s chief executive, warned the crowd that Israel’s educational situation was not quite as rosy as it might appear.

    “We know Israel as the start-up nation, providing the world with cutting-edge medical devices, developing artificial intelligence systems that will enable farmers to produce more sustainable crops, and leading the way in cyber-security and hi-tech innovation and research”, he said.

    “So you might be surprised to hear that levels of education in Israel have fallen in recent years, so much so that Israel’s Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, recently declared a national state of emergency in the fields of medicine and science.”

    He told the 250-strong gathering at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower in Knightsbridge that ORT’s response had been “to devise a new programme in conjunction with the [Israeli] Ministry of Education and Google” to provide maths and robotics classes, with Simon Alberga, chairman of Ort UK, describing the charity’s “network of over 40 schools, youth villages and technological colleges, serving peripheral communities in the north and south… focussing on science and technology education.”