Friday, December 29, 2017

Wisconsin middle school caught brainwashing young adolescents into guilt with 'privilege test'

They didn't do anything wrong, but they promise they won't do it again.  Not as blatantly, at least.  Another government school has been caught brainwashing its charges at a vulnerable age. 

West Bend, Wisconsin, a city of 31,000 that is 95% white, has a history of parental resistance to efforts by the establishment that dominates our educational and cultural institutions to propagandize their children using taxpayer dollars.  But that didn't deter Badger Middle School from administering a 55-question "privilege test" to 150 young adolescents who read To Kill a Mockingbird.

An optional test given to some eighth graders in West Bend is sparking controversy and prompted the district to cancel the questionnaire altogether. ...

This wasn't the first year for the test. District officials say they would have done things differently, but they stand behind the idea of the exercise.

They don't admit to doing anything wrong, but they promise they won't do it again.  That means they have to be less blatant in their indoctrination efforts. Parents were furious that their children were being compelled to face sexual and behavioral issues beyond their level of maturity:

"Some of the language in the questionnaire I can see why, as a parent of a 13, 14-year-old eighth grader, some people may feel as though those are topics that should be discussed in the home and not the classroom," said Badger Middle School Principal Dave Uelman.

Another question, "I have never been catcalled," bothered Goldman. "My child doesn't know what that means and she's 13," said Goldman. "This is the age they're teaching it? She doesn't know what being catcalled means."

In a prosperous city whose African-American population is less than one percent, a city where many people work in manufacturing and blue-collar trades, something has to be done about attitudes that do not conform to the multiculturalist orthodoxy. 

There were questions like, "I have never tried to hide my sexuality" or "I have never been called a terrorist." ...

Lots of questions suggest topics a 13-year-old might not be ready to deal with and plant suggestions:

"I never doubted my parents' acceptance of my sexuality."
"I have never tried to hide my sexuality."
"I feel comfortable with the gender I was born in."

The educrats believe that it is their duty to enlighten the vulnerable young minds whose care has been entrusted to them by the state.  Adolescence is a time of identity formation for adulthood and is full of insecurity and pain, hard enough without being pushed into thinking of yourself as the guilty victimizer of people you've never met.  But such worries do not trouble the school authorities:

"If we want our students to be successful when they go out into their careers in the future, they have to understand that not everyone is like them," said Assistant Superintendent, Laura Jackson.

The presumption here is that people with degrees from an education school have absolute knowledge of the correct ways to think about sex and race, so they should be in charge of deciding what values our children should hold and how they should regard themselves as they forge adult identities.  That's the theory our taxpayer money is backing, and it is resulting in continued brainwashing.


Top Execs Continue To Flee Clinton-Linked Education provider

No more big donors now Hillary lost

The most prestigious board member of Laureate Education has announced his departure from the firm, continuing a rapid exodus of top-level executives at the Clinton-connected company.

Robert Zoellick, a former World Bank president, will leave the company at the end of December, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned. His resignation follows on the heels of a number of unexpected departures since the company went public last February, as previously reported by TheDCNF. Those departures include the company’s founder and CEO, Douglas Becker, as well as its chief operating officer, chief legal officer, and its chief human resources officer.

The for-profit education company is best known for paying former President Bill Clinton nearly $18 million to serve as the “Honorary Chairman” at Laureate International Universities (LIU), the company’s main corporate entity. LIU also donated up to $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to the Clinton Foundation’s website.

The departure of such high-level executives “is very unusual,” according to Aswath Damodaran, a professor of finance at the Stern School of Business at New York University, where he teaches corporate finance and equity valuation.

“Right after an IPO, the top management departs. It’s not good news,” Damodaran told TheDCNF last October, stressing that executives fleeing for the doors following an IPO is “never a good sign.”

A World Bank entity called the International Finance Corporation awarded a $150 million investment to Laureate in Jan. 2013 during Zoellick’s term. IFC later increased the amount to $200 million. The company announced in Dec. 2016 Zoellick was joining the firm’s board.

When Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, Laureate’s Becker also received $17 million for another of his organizations called International Youth Foundation. The IYF funds came from the State Department’s Agency for International Development. IYF also collaborated with many Clinton Foundation programs.

Laureate runs for-profit schools, that came under fire during former President Barack Obama’s administration. Unlike American competitors in the for-profit education industry, about 75 percent of the school operations are located overseas in about a dozen countries. Tuition from its international operations constitutes the organization’s largest single source of revenue, according to the company’s SEC 10-Q filing, a quarterly report for the period ending Sept. 30, 2017.

Laureate has been characterized as a classic “pay-to-play” operation by critics that include the company’s hiring of former heads of state and the leaders of international multinational organizations to assist in overseas operations.

The company came under fire for ties to the Clintons and a relationship with their foundation. Sixty-five members of Congress asked the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Trade Center to probe the Clinton Foundation in July 2016 on corruption charges that included a request to specifically examine the foundation’s relationship with Laureate.

After hiring Bill Clinton, Laureate continued its aggressive recruitment of political heavyweights with its decision in 2013 to add Zoellick to the board.

Interested in packing the company with international figures, Laureate also named former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo its “Presidential Counsellor” in 2015. Zedillo governed Mexico as head of the Mexican political party called the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), that had a monopoly on power for 71 years. The PRI is a full member of the Socialist International.

Laureate’s largest single revenue source comes from Latin America, where the company operates schools in Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, Peru and Ecuador and Mexico, according to the company’s 10-K quarterly SEC filings.

Laureate did not issue a press release announcing Zoellick’s resignation, but only reported it to the SEC under an 8-K filing that requires companies to announce “material events” affecting a company. Laureate stated Zoellick “did not express any disagreement with the Company,” in the SEC filing dated Dec. 16, but the company did not state the reasons for his resignation.

TheDCNF contacted Laureate, but did not receive any reply.

Zoellick was richly rewarded for his board membership. He received $225,000 in total compensation in 2016, according to a Laureate SEC filing.

Zoellick also was awarded 18,558 Class “A” shares in the company on Jan. 31, the day before the company went public.

Laureate’s stock has performed far below its original estimated initial public offering (IPO) price of $21 per share, later adjusted downward before it went public Feb. 1 at a price of $14 to $17 per share. The company experienced a brief breakout on June 19, hitting a year high of $18.51, but continued its falling streak, hitting a low of $10.53 on Nov. 15, according to NASDAQ.

The company in May informed the SEC of the 40 million shares originally issued as an IPO and 5.4 million shares were never issued. They informed the SEC on May 24, 2017, the company “deregistered” 5.4 million shares.

Kohlberg, Kravis Roberts (KKR), a private equity firm, was one of the largest investors in Laureate. KKR received nearly 30 million Laureate shares below the market price, paying $11.90 per share, according to the company’s SEC filings shortly after it went public.

After Zoellick left the World Bank he became the “non-executive chairman” of AllianceBernstein, a global investment management firm that offers research and investment services “to institutional investors, individuals, and private wealth clients in major world markets.”

Zoellick also serves on the boards of Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, Rolls Royce and AXA, a French insurance firm, among other companies.

Zoellick joined Laureate’s board in 2013 and also rejoined Goldman Sachs in 2013, this time serving as the chairman of its international advisory board. He previously served as vice chairman of Goldman Sachs.

Zoellick is a Republican and most recently served in a number of roles in former President George W. Bush’s administration, including as a U.S. Trade Representative and as deputy Secretary of State.

He was a close confident of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Zoellick was a signatory to a March 12, 2016 open letter opposing the President Donald Trump’s candidacy. The letter accused Trump of being “fundamentally dishonest.”

His highest profile job, however, was when he became World Bank President in 2007. He replaced Paul Wolfowitz, who rocked the bank in a sex scandal involving a foreign national who also worked at the bank.


Australia: Attack on free speech means university is no longer a place to learn life lessons

I did an English degree in the 90s and as far as rites of passage go, it was awesome. It was for the most part, uncomplicated. It was wholly free from a dialogue of victimhood, political correctness and timidity of thought.

Now, as my 17-year-old nephew prepares to go to university in a month or so, I confess to being a little nervous about the environment he and hundreds of thousands of Australian young adults are going into.

For some time at least anecdotally there have been concerns about the erosion of critical thinking at Australia’s universities. The odd opinion piece, like this one, the occasional news report, all hinting at, warning of an odious slide into mental protectionism.

What do I mean by that? Well, campuses have seemingly become overrun by the notion of providing a “safe space” either in word or in deed, where nobody disagrees, nobody is allowed to get offended and truly diverse ideas inevitably die like dogs in the gutter.

Now, let me be clear from the get-go. This is not about curriculum, although that’s one for another day. It is about social engineering and deliberate restriction of free speech.

Research conducted by the Institute of Public Affairs and published at the end of last year in the Weekend Australian paints a clear and frightening picture of just how real this issue is. The IPA conducted an audit and analysis of university policies, procedures and guidelines. It found 81 per cent of Australia’s 42 universities are actively hostile to free speech. Actively hostile. That means the people running these joints are actively trying to restrict intellectual freedom.

At universities. Let that sink in for just a minute.

The IPA also found that 17 per cent go so far as to threaten free speech. It found hundreds of policies, including in one case, a 1600-word “flag policy” (the mind boggles), yet the majority of unis fail to comply with their legislated obligation to have a policy that “upholds free intellectual inquiry”. Only eight universities complied.

It went on to describe an environment in which there have been violent protests against certain speakers, and students instructed not to express their viewpoint. Violent protests.

Apart from violence being, you know, a criminal activity, does that not just scream a lack of intellectual depth? If the best response students have to a differing view is to torch the joint or belt someone with a piece of 4x2, you’re not really talking about our nation’s brightest. What is even more sobering is that the audit found almost all of the regulations and restrictions extend beyond the law itself. Students are more censored, restricted and gagged by their universities than in real life.

It seems the culture behind all of this has been allowed to quietly thrive and spread like lantana on your gran’s back fence because nobody thought they’d ever need to prune it.

I know it’s the habit of every generation to look back and think they did things better. I’m not so foolish nor blinkered to suggest it was perfect, because it wasn’t.

But what it was, was an environment in which we learnt not just in lectures (and let’s be clear, sometimes not even in lectures) but in the day-to-day social navigation around differing views, ideas, cultures and beliefs and the basic life skills that navigation teaches a person.

The reason we should be taking notice of this lies in the black and white numbers of the IPA’s audit. Sure, it backs up a view I’ve held and many of my peers and mates have held for some time, but it’s not about being right, it’s not even about that. It’s about the kind of place a university should be.

It’s about the systematic removal of circumstances in which young people can, through normal, everyday life, develop independent and critical thinking by dealing with people who hold opposing views — even ones most of us might find a tad gauche.

I’m going to go a step further. Learning to deal with offence — rather than the offence itself, is a gift. It’s a life lesson. It teaches you to think for yourself, toss out the garbage, keep what works, listen with an open mind, and respectfully walk away without setting fire to something or calling a lawyer.

And if university isn’t one of the places young people get to learn this, then change is way overdue.


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Senate Democrats Target Homeschool Families in Last-Minute Tax Reform Tantrum

Leftists hate home schooling.  It takes kids out of their power

As the Republican Party edged closer to passing historic tax reform, Democrats in the U.S. Senate used a last-minute procedural protest to attack homeschool families. Their petty complaint struck the short title of the tax reform bill, one provision of the endowment tax, and the extension of college savings plans to homeschool expenses.

The homeschool attack proved particularly revealing. The Republican tax bill would extend the use of 529 tax-advantaged saving plans — originally intended to foster saving for college tuition — to K-12 public and private schools, as well as homeschooling. Rather than complaining that 529s should only be for college, the Democrats struck the homeschool provision, leaving the K-12 school extension in place.

Make no mistake: this was a disgusting attack on the families of approximately 1.5 million American children who are educated at home, perhaps in an attempt to privilege teacher's unions.

On Tuesday night, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) issued a joint statement in a last-ditch attempt to halt the passage of the tax reform bill. Ironically, they blamed Republicans for breaking the rules, in the very act of applying the rules as a bludgeon against homeschool families.

"In the mad dash to provide tax breaks for their billionaire campaign contributors, our Republican colleagues forgot to comply with the rules of the Senate," Sanders and Wyden said. "We applaud the parliamentarian for determining that three provisions in this disastrous bill are in violation of the Byrd rule."

The Byrd rule lays out six criteria deemed "extraneous" in any reconciliation bill. Presence of these "extraneous" parts of legislation would increase the threshold for a bill to pass the Senate — 60 senators, rather than just 50, would be required to vote for it.

Sanders and Wyden admitted their intent in pushing the Byrd rule: "It is our intention to raise a point of order to remove these provisions from the conference report and require the House to vote on this bill again."

Ironically, the Democrats attacked the Republicans for supporting the wealthy and corporations — in the very act of eviscerating aid to homeschool families, a likely move to reward their teachers' union donors. "Instead of providing tax breaks to the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations, we need to rebuild the disappearing middle class."

The upshot of this particular tantrum, however, will not help the middle class against the wealthiest corporations — it will slam homeschool families and one particular college in Kentucky. This complaint also engaged in the petty revision of the tax bill's short title, as if the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" is an attack on the poor.

Senate Democrats "Slander" Hillsdale College in Attacking "Hillsdale Exemption" in Tax Reform
The Republican tax reform bill added a new tax on the endowments of wealthy private colleges. This new tax inspired a similar Democratic tantrum, when Wyden himself pushed a special amendment to make sure colleges that reject federal funding would not get a pass from the tax.

In this version, Wyden's tantrum involved striking the words "tuition-paying" from the tax. This minor complaint would bring Kentucky's Berea College under the tax.

Berea College is a "work college." It enrolls mostly low-income students and charges no tuition. Berea enrolls slightly more than 1,600 students, with an endowment of $1 billion. The endowment's value — around $625,000 per student — passes the cap of $500,000 set by the tax law.

Even so, "that money goes towards helping low-income students attend and finish college," Steven M. Bloom, director of government relations at the American Council on Education, told The Chronicle of Higher Education. "Berea College is the crown jewel for what higher education can do for low-income people."

Lyle D. Roelofs, president of Berea College, emphasized the noble use of the college's endowment. "Berea College uses its entire endowment to educate students who could not otherwise afford to attend college, serving them on a no-tuition basis," he said.

"We agree that there need to be incentives for schools to make higher education accessible to all students, but it seems so unfortunate that the political strife over tax reform in our country will result in greater difficulty for colleges seeking to serve low-income students," Roelofs declared.

The Berea president was spot on. Democrats, in wrangling over tax reform, have only cost the poor students at Berea College — and the thousands of homeschool families across the country.

Politically, Democrats gained little to nothing from this tactic. They prevented tax reform from passing Tuesday night, and pushed it to Wednesday. This is why the homeschool attack proved particularly disgusting.

Again, if Democrats had complained that 529s should only be used for college savings — and therefore should not be employed for K-12 schools, be they private, public, or home schools — that would have been a legitimate complaint. Instead, they targeted homeschooling families, and exempted public schools from their ire.

When Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) achieved the amendment to extend 529 savings to K-12 education of all kinds, he made a powerful statement.

"As part of this historic effort, we've also invested in our children and expanded educational opportunities, with the expansion of 529's to include K-12 elementary and secondary school tuition, including educational expenses for homeschool students," Cruz declared. "By expanding choice for parents and opportunities for children, we have prioritized the education of the next generation of Americans, allowing families to save and prepare for their children's future educational expenses."


New college for conservative Christians planned in Boston

In a city full of colleges and in an economy increasingly perilous for small schools, one wealthy businessman is making an unlikely investment. Next fall he will open a college in Boston geared toward conservative Christian students, using an innovative model that incorporates online learning.

Sattler College, named after a 16th century martyr, will be entirely funded by Finny Kuruvilla, an investment fund manager with a medical degree and a PhD from Harvard. He has guaranteed $30 million of his money to fund the school.

In his view, the traditional college model is broken. The new four-year school is his attempt to start from a blank slate. He said his goals are threefold: to teach a strong core of liberal arts courses, provide students with a Christian community, and keep the cost extremely low. Tuition will be $9,000 per year, about a fifth of the cost of a typical private college.

Kuruvilla, who attends and preaches at a small church in Medford called Followers of the Way, said he lived as a residential assistant in Harvard undergraduate dorms while in medical school and was disturbed by what he saw. College corrupted students’ character instead of developing it, he said.

“The whole notion of education has become generally confined to academic thought, not so much to developing of the whole person, character, and integrity,” he said. “I think that’s a great tragedy.”

At typical colleges, Kuruvilla believes, students are susceptible to pornography, cheating, and even being sexually assaulted or abused. At Harvard, he said, he saw students take certain classes because they were easy or fun, such as Japanese cooking or a course on fairy tales.

He said Sattler will be academically rigorous and spiritually nurturing. The school’s stated mission is to “prepare students to serve Christ, the church, and the world.”

The college is targeting the home-schooled and other Christian students wary of a typical college environment. And indeed, some applicants said they were not interested in college until they heard about this school.

One applicant, Austin Lapp, lives in a community in rural Ohio where, he said, most people he knows work for a family business.

Lapp, 25, worked for his father’s kitchen-construction business for several years and taught at a religious school but said his dream is to teach English overseas.

He was apprehensive about attending college because he has heard that many young people lose their faith in college. That is why Sattler appeals to him.

“I had to ask myself how will four years in a secular school affect my character and my worldview and my faith, my relationship with Jesus,” he said.

The college is not affiliated with a specific denomination, but according to its website and application to state regulators, its beliefs correspond with a movement of Christianity known as Anabaptist. The school’s founding principles include the ideas that Christians should not serve in war or remarry after divorce.

To keep expenses low, the school will operate in an office building at 100 Cambridge St. and not offer housing or other amenities. The college will have three faculty and about 25 students the first year, with the goal of eventually enrolling 300.

The college’s academic model is unique. The faculty will teach some core courses in biblical languages and religious history, but many academic courses will be taken online. Students will watch lectures through free online learning platforms such as EdX, then attend classes to discuss the material with other students and professors. Faculty, who will be named later, will also mentor the students spiritually, Kuruvilla said.

The school will offer five majors: business, computer science, human biology, biblical and religious studies, and history. School officials hope to eventually expand to include engineering, physics, and journalism.

Only four new colleges have been approved in Massachusetts in the past five years, including Sattler, according to the state Department of Higher Education, all of them niche schools. Two are education schools, and one is for the maritime industry.

Yet small colleges especially are suffering lately and have increasing difficulty justifying their high costs to students worried about debt. For that reason, Chris Gabrieli, chairman of the state Board of Higher Education, said Sattler offers value to students.

Gabrieli said the board wanted to encourage the kind of innovative, cost-saving model the school is adopting while making sure its religious tenets do not discriminate.

“It’s fascinating,” he said.

The state board approved the college in 2016 and plans to monitor it for the first five years. The school is also seeking approval from a regional accrediting agency, and until then its students cannot access federally subsidized loans.

For now, Kuruvilla is running the school out of the office of his values-based investment firm, Eventide Asset Management, on the 35th floor of One International Place. Students have submitted their applications and will soon hear if they have been accepted.

Hannah Milioni, an applicant who lives in Medford, said she was not planning to attend college until she heard about Sattler. She said she wanted to attend a Christian college but worried the academics at a religious school might not be rigorous.

“Often in religious schools you have to choose between having a Christian school and a really good education,” she said.

Milioni, 17, was home-schooled and said she heard about the school from Kuruvilla because they attend the same church.

Kenneth Godoy, of Bedford, Pa., also heard about the school through church friends. The 21-year-old is interested in photography, graphic design, and poetry, but since the college does not offer those majors he said he might study history if he is accepted.

He said he is interested in the school for its religious affiliation and emphasis on community.

“It’s a Christian community, it’s a Christian atmosphere, and there is to some extent safety in that,” he said.


Teaching spoon-fed students how to really read

Writing below is Tegan Bennett Daylight, an Australian  Leftist lady with a love of literature, Australian literature particularly.  Her essay is very long-winded in the usual Leftist way so I have just picked out below some paragraphs that may summarize what she is driving at.  To be rather cliche about it, she seems to think that reading creative fiction broadens your horizons.  I think it does too but would choose quite different books to the ones she does.  Some of the books that have interested me are  listed here and here.  She refers to the novel "Monkey Grip" below.  It is about druggies, dropouts, single mothers and "arty" types. Not my scene

I’ve recently finished marking 40-odd exams, mostly written by people between the ages of 18 and 21. In them our students had to answer questions about aspects of literature, such as free indirect speech or genre. They also had to write an essay of 1,000 words, on the work of Helen Garner, Christos Tsiolkas, Judith Wright, Jack Davis or Tim Winton.

My students are, for the most part, education students who live in regional Australia. If they get their degree, they are bound for early childhood centres, preschools, primary schools, high schools. These are our new teachers.

If you have little to do with tertiary education you might not have noticed this: that there is a whole new cohort of young people attending university, people who might not have done so 30 or 40 years ago. Our economy has been transforming itself from blue to white collar for decades; an education that relies on the written word is newly necessary.

The first time I taught "Monkey Grip" in English One I was struck by two things. First, by how many of my students were offended by it. They found it too sexually explicit, too full of “profanity”, and they deplored Norah’s method of parenting: the shared household, the children exposed to drug taking and other radical behaviours.

The second thing that struck me was how difficult my students found the 10-page extract. They didn’t know who Helen Garner was, the 1970s were too far away to mean anything to them, and they couldn’t locate themselves in the story. They didn’t know who was speaking, and who she was speaking to. How old was she, where was she, what was happening?

Well, there is only one way to go on, as I tell students – and that is to go on. This is the first and greatest difficulty they face. There’s no reason for them to continue reading. There is so much else to read that is shorter, and not just aimed at them, but, in the case of their Facebook feed, tuned to their experience. Marketed to them. Why would they bother reading something that was neither for them nor about them?

But then there are moments like this one, early on in my English teaching, when my class were reading and struggling with Les Murray’s The Cows on Killing Day. I’d always loved this poem. In it the poet imagines the death by knife of an old cow, from the point of view of the herd. Murray uses a first person compound pronoun, all me, to speak in the cows’ collective voice:

All me come running. It’s like the Hot Part of the sky

that’s hard to look at, this that now happens behind wood

in the raw yard. A shining leaf, like off the bitter gum tree

is with the human. It works in the neck of me

and the terrible floods out, swamped and frothy.

I had a student who had already responded very positively to Helen Garner’s Against Embarrassment, a simple essay that makes a plea for unselfconscious pleasure in performance. Like many students would after her, she had read Garner’s essay in the light of her university enrolment; it made her determined to enjoy herself, to unselfconsciously engage in learning, to stop being critical of herself. She’d worked several years as a dairymaid after leaving school early, thinking she was “too stupid” for university. As we read The Cows on Killing Day aloud, her voice came ringing from the desks at the back of the class: “But this is exactly what it’s like!”

The Cows on Killing Day elicits a variety of reactions from my students, many of whom have been brought up on farms. I’ve had young people furious with me. They say, “I hate this poem. This shouldn’t be written about,” or, “No one likes it. But it’s a part of life.” I’ve also had city or mountains-bred students – there are a couple of them each year – who’ve never killed an animal in their life, and self-righteously feel that the poem is a paean to vegetarianism.

But this student, the ex-dairymaid, read the poem as it is meant to be read. Murray doesn’t ask for sympathy for the cow: his job is simply to use his art to show what it’s like. After this class, my student went from a pass for her first assignment to a distinction for her second. At the end of the semester she told me she’d decided to switch her teaching specialisation to English.

This is what my students have learned: how to read more than 200 words of a text at a time. How to write something about the way they feel. And, finally, how to notice that a text is doing something. Not to simply slump, bored, in front of a block of writing and hope that it goes away. How to notice that it is up to something. Perhaps, in the future, to read a little differently. To feel those ideas about literature, so angrily learned, change the way they see.


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Rolling Stone Reaches Final Settlement After Botched UVA Rape Story

Rolling Stone magazine, the legacy music and culture publication spanning 50 years, has reached its final settlement stemming from the infamous 2014 “A Rape on Campus” article that subsequently ended up mostly unsubstantiated.

The article centered on an alleged gang rape of a freshman girl named “Jackie” by fraternity brothers at the University of Virginia. The article was later retracted after multiple aspects of Jackie’s story appeared inconsistent or entirely contrived.

The magazine settled a defamation lawsuit Wednesday, brought by members of the Alpha chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, where the alleged rape took took place. The fraternity’s claims were initially dismissed by a federal judge, but the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to hear the case in September. Instead of going forward, the two parties agreed to a settlement.

Wednesday marked the third settlement in the aftermath of the article, written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely. The first settlement went to the University of Virginia’s former associate dean, Nicole Eramo, because Erdely wrote that Nicole “silenced” and “discouraged” Jackie from reporting her alleged rape. Eramo received $3 million in court, but eventually settled with the magazine after an appeal was granted.

Phi Kappa Psi’s Virginia chapter also received a $1.65 million settlement in June, a significant drop in the $25 million in damages that was initially sought.

The third and final settlement comes at an interesting time for Rolling Stone. On the same day the settlement was announced, the magazine disclosed that cofounder Jann Wenner was selling his stake to Jay Penske, the owner of Variety magazine and Penske Media. The deal reportedly valued Rolling Stone at $100 million.


What is an example of American culture being dumbed down?

Susan Bertolino, Lecturer of Instruction in Intellectual Heritage, former classroom teacher, gives her answer

I have several examples, as I teach college undergraduates, plus I used to teach in public schools. I deal with it daily, and please know I am not some highbrow elitist.

In general, reading has become a lost art. Those of us who still read constantly are seen as geeks or just weird. Reading is not perceived as an enjoyable activity.

Why don’t people like to read? The elementary education experience takes all the fun out of it. You have to memorize quotes, study certain words, go into literature circles with bullies that taunt you. Then you get wrong answers if your view doesn’t correspond with the answer book.

Huh? Reading is about interpretation. Yes, give the students tools on reading to learn. Teach them what is a metaphor, symbolism, round characters, flat characters, plot versus story. Test them on that, and if they get it wrong, they need to learn the terms. Don’t mark an answer wrong because a reader may think Katniss from The Hunger Games is annoying. Don’t mark an answer wrong because a student decides that Voldemort does not epitomize evil as much as privilege and selfishness. Let people see characters and stories as they appear to them. Interpretation isn’t fun when there is only one answer. Grrrr!

Look hard for a bookstore in America. Borders no longer exists. Most independent bookstores got swallowed up by Barnes and Noble, which is as much a trinket store selling Starbucks lattes as it is a bookstore. Once people spent hours in bookstores, getting lost in all the beautiful covers and peaceful atmosphere, looking at books the way some people adore paintings.

Now bookstores are agitating and one cannot find a comfortable seat just to look at the books. It isn’t peaceful, nor is the bookstore an escape from the daily grind. I used to live at bookstores. I graded papers at Borders or local independent bookstores. No one cared. I always bought things, and I brought other people into the store. Now we don’t have many stores and the few that exist with new books are just not enjoyable.

We are swamped with visual media. I watch certain television shows like Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. However, it is now conceivable to watch a television show or a movie on the phone, on the computer, or on a tablet all the time. Watching seems easier than reading, and it gets people out of their head for a while, but they also lose the ability to distinguish what is going on in a written text.

Eventually, they have trouble following basic storylines in television and movies. If a person cannot follow an episode of Game of Thrones, then how will they do when someone assigns them Homer in college? Oh, I know, they will look at the wiki or Spark Notes. That brings me to my next point…

When asked to read, it is about shoveling information into the brain, not interpretation. Students ask: what do I need to know? Which quotes matter? What is the story? Tell me what happened. If I refuse, they go to Spark Notes or another online source. Sure, some do it because they can’t be bothered to read, but others are terrified of flunking an exam, so they want data, not dreams.

Their elementary education taught them to memorize for some test in the spring that is all important to the school. Students have been habituated into knowing, not thinking. Then they get someone like me in their lives who will fire the question back at them: Okay, what did happen? Why do you think the character chose to react this way? They panic. They did the reading, but they don’t know how to answer these questions.


Australia: NSW teachers behind homosexual "education"

We were told during the same sex marriage postal survey that the issue had nothing to do with what our children were being taught in schools and that concerns about the expansion of the Safe Schools Program and promotion of gender theory were red herrings.

However no less than 24 hours after the passing of same sex marriage into law op-ed pieces appeared online claiming that the next cause the movement should champion is LGBT inclusive education in schools.

What many people weren’t aware of during the postal survey was that many teachers and education unions support the yes campaign. The most prominent supporter was the Australian Education Union which represents school teachers at both primary and secondary level and is the largest union in the education sector.

State governments can remove Safe Schools type programs and ban the teaching of gender theory, but they cannot stop activist teachers from inserting their political agenda into the everyday classroom. This something that parents should be aware of as teachers’ political agendas are not exactly hidden.

The latest display of their agenda is that the New South Wales Teachers Federation wants to have a float in the 2018 Sydney Mardi Gras which has been the case in previous years. The organisers of the Mardi Gras appropriately declined with the official reason being that next year being the 40th anniversary of the parade they are already over their float capacity and can’t approve all applications.

Despite the inappropriateness of the teachers marching in what is a blatant political event not to mention contains explicit sexualised content the New South Wales Teachers Federation is not taking no for an answer. They have launched a petition on to pressure the Mardi Gras to accept their application. So far it has gained 1800 signatures.

Parents should be deeply concerned about any teachers marching in such a parade and what it means for the education of their children. If teachers believe that the Mardi Gras is an event they should participate in a public capacity, then what does it mean for how they approach their job in the classroom?

Developments such as this certainly point to the fact that more radical aspects of the LGBT agenda are being pushed after the legislation of same sex marriage especially to our youth by the people we entrust with their education. Teachers should be sticking to the three Rs and if they want to be politically active do it in their own time and not in a capacity as an educator.


Sunday, December 24, 2017

Suspension Reform Is Tormenting Schools

Under an Obama-era directive and the threat of federal civil rights investigation, thousands of American schools changed their discipline policies in an attempt to reduce out-of-school suspensions. Last year, education-policy researchers Matthew Steinberg and Joanna Lacoe reviewed the arguments for and against discipline reform in Education Next, concluding that little was known about the effects of the recent changes. But this year, the picture is becoming clearer: discipline reform has caused a school-climate catastrophe.

Philadelphia is the latest city to fall into crisis, according to a new study conducted by Lacoe and Steinberg. The Philly school district serves 134,000 students, about 70 percent of whom are black or Latino. In the 2012–13 school year, Philadelphia banned suspensions for non-violent classroom misbehavior. Steinberg and Lacoe estimate that, compared with other districts, discipline reform reduced academic achievement by 3 percent in math and nearly 7 percent in reading by 2016. The authors do report that, among students with previous suspensions, achievement increased by 0.2 percent. But this only demonstrates that well-behaved students bore the brunt of the academic damage.

Lacoe and Steinberg report another small improvement among previously suspended students: their attendance rose by 1.43 days a year. But again, this development was more than offset by the negative trend in the broader student body. Truancy in Philadelphia schools had been declining steadily before the reform, but then rose at an astonishing rate afterward, from about 25 percent to over 40 percent.

Perhaps students were staying at home because they were scared to be at school. Suspensions for non-violent classroom misbehavior dropped after the ban, but suspensions for “serious incidents” rose substantially. The effort to reduce the racial suspension gap actually increased it; African-American kids spent an extra .15 days out of school.

What in the world was going on inside these schools? Fortunately, Steinberg and Lacoe’s quantitative studies are complemented by qualitative research from the University of Pennsylvania’s Consortium for Policy Research in Education. The researchers’ conclusions are bleak: the district has taken away a disciplinary tool that teachers believe in, and made meager efforts at training teachers in an approach that they don’t find credible. Despite five years of hearing from their overseers that suspensions don’t work, more than 80 percent of teachers believe that suspensions are essential to send a message to parents about the seriousness of their child’s misbehavior, ensure a safe school environment, and encourage other students to follow the rules. About two-thirds of teachers believe that suspensions deter further student misbehavior.

Early in 2014, Arne Duncan, President Obama’s education secretary, accused teachers who suspended unruly kids of “racial discrimination” and threatened their superintendents with federal investigation if their districts didn’t reduce suspensions. Duncan declared that schools needed to shift to “evidence-based” discipline, such as the Department of Education–backed “Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports” (PBIS.) PBIS is a multi-tier, whole-school approach to instilling socially appropriate behavioral norms. Regarding discipline, “the emphasis is on the use of the most effective and most positive approach to addressing even the most severe problem behaviors. Most students will succeed when a positive school culture is promoted, informative corrective feedback is provided, academic success is maximized, and use of prosocial skills is acknowledged.” PBIS deemphasizes punishment, instead encouraging schools to “remove antecedents and consequences that trigger and maintain problem behavior.”

Some evidence suggests that PBIS can work, if schools have extra funding, training, and deep teacher buy-in. But those conditions don’t hold in major urban school districts. In Philadelphia, three years after banning suspensions for bad behavior, only 30 schools had received extra funding from the district to implement PBIS. According to the consortium’s study, many teachers harbor doubts about policies that they see as too soft; teachers at one school set up a “shadow” disciplinary system to circumvent the principal and do what they think works. Teachers reported feeling unsupported by administrators and were no more likely than teachers at non-PBIS schools to report that their principals handled discipline effectively. Even administrators dedicated to PBIS have their doubts. “I feel it’s kind of like banging your head against the wall,” one said. “So, all the things that I want to do are just not working.”

Remarkably, teachers at schools using suspension-averse policies proved no less likely to suspend kids than teachers at schools practicing traditional discipline—the ostensible point of the whole reform in the first place. Teachers in the reformist schools were, however, less likely to hold student-teacher conferences. That’s a disheartening finding, because the professed intention of the new policies is to encourage teachers to engage students before reporting misbehavior directly to the principal. Teachers report that principals have turned a blind eye to misbehavior and left it up to teachers to handle discipline. But principals are mirroring central office administrators, who have ordered schools to stop suspending students, while offering little in the way of workable alternatives.

Philadelphia’s story is the story of discipline reform nationwide. Philadelphia did this to itself, before Arne Duncan used the threat of a federal civil-rights investigation to make other districts follow suit. Last year, we knew next to nothing about the consequences of discipline reform. But the more we learn, the more reason we have to fear that Duncan’s deeply misguided federal guidance has put at-risk children at far greater risk. Current education secretary Betsy DeVos should rescind Duncan’s guidance on discipline, and parents should press their teachers and principals about what’s happening in their children’s schools.


Parents Triggered over Ivanka Trump School Visit, One Pulls Kid from School

Some Connecticut parents were angry over a surprise visit that first daughter and White House advisor Ivanka Trump paid to their children’s school on Monday. Parents were not informed about the visit due to security concerns.

“Only one parent withdrew their student for the school day Monday after hearing of the visit,” Brenda Williams, Norwalk Public Schools Chief Communications Officer told Fox News on Wednesday. “With the exception of those who were directly participating, the visit was kept confidential for security reasons, and parents understood that.”

"This should have been brought to our attention, although I do understand security reasons," parent Karey Fitzgerald told News 12. "I think we should have had the choice to send our child to school or keep them home."

Ivanka discussed the importance of career education and technical skills at the Norwalk Early College Academy along with IBM CEO Ginni Rometty.

The Norwalk Early College Academy teaches according to the “P-TECH” model, developed by IBM in 2011, in which students receive a high school diploma, an associate’s degree and technical skills all during their four years in high school.

Trump said it was an honor to meet with the students and that their education model will enable them to thrive in the modern economy.


Australian Parents accuse high school of 'indoctrinating' their children after teachers gave them assignments on changing the Australian flag and criticising President Trump

A Brisbane high school has been accused of 'indoctrinating' students by asking them to complete assignments on changing the Australian flag and criticising US President Donald Trump.

Parents of students at Kenmore State High School in Brisbane, Queensland, have complained of overtly political homework assignments which they say have no place in the classroom.

One particular assignment asked students to argue 'persuasively' in favour of Australia having a new flag, Sky News reports.

'I was really incensed because all these reasons for changing the flag were very political,' said Marion Tomes, grandmother to a male student at Kenmore State High School.

The criteria of the assignment read as followed: 'Write a persuasive speech that explains and justifies the design of your new flag and how it represents contemporary Australia.'

Another 'politicised' assignment Ms Tomes objected to was her grandson's English homework which asked him to write about saving Antarctica from melting.

The woman's granddaughter also previously attended the high-school, but she has since left after Ms Tomes took issue with the curriculum. 

She claims the teacher threatened bad marks to anyone who had positive things to say about the US President. 'The teacher did say that anyone who says a good word about Donald Trump won't get a good mark,' Ms Tomes added.

Author and former teacher Mark Lopez echoes Ms Tomes' concerns and said is it not uncommon for Australian students be taught with a fierce political bias.

'Absolutely typical of what goes on in the Australian education system... one side only. Politically correct left-wing view,' Mr Lopez told Sky News.

However the Queensland Department of Education and Training said in a statement that the examples of study are 'aligned to the intent of the Australian curriculum'.