Friday, April 20, 2018

Mystery Cambridge University student wins ‘best bum 2017’ and praises her ‘a**e and thighs’

A STUDENT known only as Vita has taken out “best bum of 2017”. She puts her success down to her “considerable a**e and thighs”.

THIS is the voluptuous winner of Cambridge University’s ‘best bum’ 2017 award — who admits she has a “considerable a**e and thighs”.

The undergraduate — named only as ‘Vita’ — believes her win over far slimmer entrants is a victory for “body acceptance”.

Her saucy winning shot, leaning naked against an oak tree, won 24.32 per cent of the vote among readers of The Tab student newspaper.

“I don’t have the most athletic figure and I have quite a considerable arse and thighs,” she said.

“It says a lot about how far the world has come in body acceptance.

“I have worked hard to accept my body. I wanted to prove that to myself by doing something I wouldn’t usually do.

“I didn’t even expect the photo would be in the top 10 — let alone be the winner.

“I’ve never been so proud of something like that. I’m probably more proud of that than getting into Cambridge.”

Vita only decided to enter the competition when her friend — a professional photographer — asked her the night before.

She said: “During the shoot, it was so cold and my feet were wet. You can’t notice in the photo but the photos were taken near a football pitch during a football match.

“I don’t think they saw us — we would have noticed if they had noticed us.

“It was also next to the train line and every time a train was about to go by, the photographer threw my coat at me to give me some modesty!”

She took victory by a one per cent margin ahead of second place ‘Virginia’, who polled 23.08 per cent with a similar pose in a tree.

Now Vita’s curvaceous derrière has become a star on campus with friends commending her for her boldness.

She said: “Everyone who has seen my photos has been so positive. I have seen comments online saying that I’m fat but I’m going to ignore the trolls.

“I know there are comments saying that Cambridge students are ‘snowflakes’ and not working but I think it’s sad and narrow-minded to call us that!

“It’s an old-fashioned point of view — I’m going to focus on the positives.

“I can understand why they would concerned but at the same time everyone was young once and quite a few people see their a**e!”

Vita added: “When I told my mum, I was really worried because she’s quite conservative but she thought it was hilarious!

“She even showed the photo to my old teachers and they thought it was hilarious too.”


Scotland: Pupils urge their school chaplain to quit in row over gay marriage

Hundreds of names have been added to a petition by pupils at Carnoustie High School, Angus, against the Rev Mike Goss. The petition demands that the school break its ties with Mr Goss, accusing him of being against gay marriage and claiming that he has stated his dislike for the LGBTQ+ community.

Mr Goss, the minister of Barry Parish Church, described the petition as lies and said that the allegations were potentially actionable.

He has offered to meet the LGBTQ+ community at Carnoustie High to discuss their concerns.


South Australia's trial of England's year one phonics check shows why we need it

The proposal to introduce a phonics check - employed in schools in England towards the end of year one - into Australian schools has created considerable controversy. It has been said it would prove stressful to young children and is unnecessary, because phonics is already taught adequately in most Australian schools as part of the literacy curriculum.
Read more: Explainer: what is phonics and why is it important?

The South Australian government commissioned a trial of the utility of the phonics check last year. The results allay many of the reservations about the check and confirm the need for its introduction.

The phonics check consists of 40 single words children read aloud to a teacher. There are 20 real words and 20 "pseudo words" - all of which can be read using phonic decoding. The pseudo words are included because they can't be read from sight memory and are a purer test of phonics ability.

The headline data on student performance shows the majority of children in Reception (the first "foundation year" of school) and year one found the test items difficult. The average number of correctly read items was 11 out of 40 for Reception students and 22 out of 40 for year one.

Given the phonics check is designed for students in year one, it was expected Reception students would score low. This confirms the wisdom of the SA Department of Education and Child Development's decision to expand the trial from the original design (Reception only) to include year one. But the year one performance was also low relative to their counterparts in England and the expectations of their teachers.

In England, student performance is reported against a "threshold score" of 32 out of 40. For the past two years, 81% of year one students in the UK achieved this score. Only 15% of children in the SA trial achieved at this level.

According to the trial evaluation report, teachers and leaders observed:

students did more poorly than expected, across the board. Numerous respondents reported feeling surprised and disappointed by the results based on students' known reading abilities and results on the Running Record.

This is a clear indication existing assessments in these SA schools were not providing an accurate measure of students' decoding abilities.

The distribution of scores in SA was very different to the distribution of scores in England. In SA, student scores were distributed on a bell curve. English student scores are skewed to the right of the distribution. This means most children in SA scored around the middle, whereas most children in England score at the higher end. In many English schools, 100% achieve the threshold score.

Four ways South Australia's phonics check was different
The phonics check trial in SA employed exactly the same word items used in England in 2016. But there were methodological differences in how the checks were conducted in SA and in England, which may cloud the comparability of the results obtained.

The sample. In SA, the group of 4,406 students in 56 schools who participated in the trial was from a self-selected sample of schools who volunteered. In England, all schools are required to administer the check annually. So, the SA sample may not be truly representative of the state as a whole, let alone of students Australia-wide.

The font. Teachers raised the issue that the font used in the check was different from the standard font used in SA schools. But by the end of year one, children will have encountered many different fonts in books and elsewhere. It's unlikely this will have been a major factor influencing performance on the check.

Timing. In England, the check is given to students about a month before the end of year one (after nearly two years of initial instruction). But in the SA trial, the check was given earlier, in term three. The SA students had about a term less to learn letter sound correspondences, and this needs to be kept in mind.

The "stopping rule". More significant was the decision to advise teachers to discontinue testing once a child had made three consecutive errors. This stopping rule has the potential to deflate scores on the check, because students who had been stopped might have gone on to answer few more questions correctly. The evaluation report also found the stopping rule was not consistently applied. It's unlikely many children failing three items in succession would be able to achieve the threshold score of 32 items out of 40.

A stop rule is not part of the standard conditions used in England, although teachers do stop children if they are struggling. As many as 41% have been found to do this.

Students liked it

Teachers and leaders in the trial reported all students responded positively, including struggling readers, and they were engaged and interested. There were no reports of anxiety or stress for students. Teachers "universally" commented that students "loved the one-to-one time with the teacher".

Teachers and school leaders were overwhelmingly positive
The feedback from teachers and school leaders was encouraging and positive about all aspects of the administration of the check and the information it provided, including:

the sufficiency of training and support materials

the ease of administration

the length and duration of the check for young students

the engagement and effort of the students, and

the usefulness of the data it yielded on student reading abilities, for the purposes of guiding instruction and for identifying and supporting students who "may otherwise be slipping under the radar".

The phonics check was reported to be a "good eye-opener for teachers", and widely seen as complementing rather than duplicating existing assessments.

What should happen next?

In spite of the differences in methodology compared with the phonics check in England, it's unlikely their combined effect could account for such a difference in performance between the two. SA's results suggest there is little room for complacency about the state of phonics teaching in SA.

Almost all teachers in the trial said they taught phonics using either synthetic or analytic methods, reflecting the claim that Australian teachers already teach phonics. But there was no information to verify that phonics teaching is systematic or explicit, and these results clearly suggest they don't teach it well enough.

The SA trial of the year one phonics check has been an important initiative. The evaluation report will be a valuable guide to changes that need to be made for a state-wide implementation.

Even more significantly, the trial has provided strong support for implementation of the year one phonics check across Australia. Or, at the very least, for other states and territories to conduct similar trials. It supports the findings of the expert panel for the Australian government, and has validated the arguments of advocates that the phonics check gives teachers vital information about decoding skills not gained from other systemic assessments, and is neither burdensome for teachers nor stressful for students.


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Purdue University Just Froze Tuition for the 7th Straight Year. Mitch Daniels Explains How

Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, the former governor of Indiana and director of President George W. Bush’s Office of Management and Budget, spoke exclusively to The Daily Signal’s Rob Bluey at the Reagan Institute Summit on Education on Thursday. Daniels explained how Purdue has been able to freeze its tuition for seven consecutive years and why free speech is flourishing on its campus in West Lafayette, Indiana. A transcript of his Daily Signal interview is below.

Bluey: We’re here at the Reagan Institute Summit on Education. What’s your message to the attendees at this event?

Mitch Daniels: I believe that higher education as we’ve known it is in some jeopardy. A lot of institutions, at least, are going to have difficulty persuading sufficient numbers of students and their families in the future that they’re providing value commensurate with the cost that they’re charging.

I also suggested that there are big opportunities that we need as a society to have addressed. Large numbers of people who could better themselves in life if they were to complete that degree that they started and didn’t finish, or maybe do one from scratch. We’re going to need new ways and means of reaching them, since many of them are well beyond the stage in life where they can engage in old-fashioned residential education.

Transform “Tax Day” into “Freedom Day.” Support the campaign to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent >>

Bluey: From a policy perspective, what are some reforms that you would like to see for higher education?

Daniels: Government’s not the answer to every question. It’s not the hammer for every nail.

There are just as many ways in which government involvement has been a contributor to this problem than it is its solution. Clearly, it could help if student financial aid programs were much less complex than they are today. If it would simply deregulate many of the requirements that have been piled on to schools. It’s part of the cost problem.

“Government’s not the answer to every question. It’s not the hammer for every nail.” —@purduemitch

We know that the explosion in federal grants and loans has contributed to driving up the costs. And I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have done it in the first place, only that it needs re-examination as to whether we’re really getting enough value out of it on net.

But this is a problem, mainly, for system to solve itself, or someone else will. Or the innovators, or so-called disruptors, will solve it for us.

Bluey: Just today, you announced that you were freezing tuition at Purdue University. This is the seventh straight year. That seems remarkable that an institution of your size has been able to do that. How have you been able to do that?

Daniels: It’s simpler than some people imagine, really. It was simply establishing this as our priority and asking everybody in the community, Purdue family, to contribute to it.

We have a wonderfully diverse community at Purdue. Faculty, students, staff. We disagree about all sorts of things, but one thing that almost everybody agrees with is we want our university to be accessible to students, if they’re up to our standards, from whatever socio-economic background. And so, there’s been a lot of support for doing it.

“We disagree about all sorts of things, but one thing that almost everybody agrees with is we want our university to be accessible to students.” —@purduemitch

We’ve grown the student body, and that was part of it. We’ve affected some efficiencies and cost savings, but we can do … believe me, we’ve not done nearly what I think should.

By solving the equation for zero, as opposed to first deciding how much to spend and then dialing up the tuition to match, which was the old formula still practiced by some, we have not found it that difficult. It has turned into a selling point for our school.

We started out doing it because we thought it was right to do. As we’ve been able to extend it and extend it, it has turned out it was a reasonably prudent thing to do. And it’s now the next academic quality, the second most often mentioned reason that a student applies to or accepts admission to Purdue.

Bluey: What’s your message to other college and university presidents?

Daniels: I don’t preach. Thank goodness we have a very diverse system. All sorts of variety across it. Small, large, public, private. The whole spectrum.

I always decline the invitation to suggest that anything that we’ve done at Purdue University is necessarily for others. Except just to say that in support of the system, really, with affection for the network that we have had.

I mean, it has been the finest in the world. We want it to stay that way. But to do so, it’s going to have avoid denial, face up to the fact that we have not provided enough value, enough quality for the dollar we’ve charged, and be quick and nimble to make adjustments before disruptors of our sector do what they did to newspapers and big-box bookstores.

Bluey: Free speech on college campus has been a big issue, along with political correctness more broadly. What’s your experience been at Purdue? Is it as bad as it’s perceived to be?

Daniels: Not at our university, I’m happy to say. And I think it possibly, as a problem, has somewhat crested, and I hope it’s receding somewhat. The authoritarianism, the intolerance, the stifling of alternative viewpoints, the insistence on so-called diversity in every respect except diversity of viewpoint.

“You can’t serve the ultimate purpose of higher education if you don’t have a genuine free speech environment.” —@purduemitch

But as Purdue University, we have the gold star rating for free speech, and have for years. We were the first school to embrace what we like to call the Chicago principles. We thought they were so good when the University of Chicago enunciated them, our trustees simply adopted them.

I’m very happy to tell you that people who disagree strongly about other things, about many of these issues, on our campus at least, have really supported strongly the idea that you can’t have freedom of inquiry. You can’t serve the ultimate purpose of higher education if you don’t have a genuine free speech environment.

Our freshman students, in a couple of months, our incoming students, along with the rest of the orientation, will go to a program we created, which we have shared with other schools, which explains these principles and role plays them so that from the first class that they take at Purdue, students understand that here, we may sanction conduct, but never speech. And the answer to erroneous or offensive or intolerant speech is better speech.


3 Student Journalists Sue University for Covering Up Teacher’s Role in Anti-Trump Campus Rally

Three student journalists have filed a lawsuit against their Illinois university and an instructor, alleging that the teacher grabbed and broke a smartphone as they tried to report on an anti-Trump rally.  

The three students’ federal suit against the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and instructor Tariq Khan says that the university got a restraining order preventing them from reporting on Khan’s involvement in the November protest against President Donald Trump.

Khan, 39, was charged with destruction of property after taking and smashing a student’s smartphone on the pavement, an action caught on video.

The suit contends that the instructor and university officials violated the students’ constitutional rights to free press, free speech, and due process, according to the law firm representing the students, Mauck & Baker, LLC.

“The First Amendment should not be a partisan issue or something only conservatives are willing to defend,” the law firm said in a formal statement.

The suit claims that the school punished freshmen Joel Valdez and Blair Nelson and senior Andrew Minik for reporting on the anti-Trump rally, the organizers of which included the Black Rose Anarchist Federation.

“During the rally, Black Rose spokesman and university instructor, Tariq Khan, assaulted Joel Valdez and also went after student Blair Nelson who was video-recording the event,” the law firm said. “Co-plaintiff Andrew Minik, who was not at the event, reported on the incident for Campus Reform, a college news organization.”

The university’s restraining order on Valdez and Nelson was “to prevent them from reporting on Tariq Khan,” their lawyers said in a press release.

A video of the incident appears to show Khan, a doctoral candidate and graduate instructor of history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, yelling at students, physically assaulting one, and taking and throwing the phone to the pavement.

“Our attorneys are reviewing this,” a university spokesman said Friday, declining further comment to The Daily Signal on the lawsuit.

Khan is seen in the video saying “f— Donald Trump” and telling Valdez and other members of Turning Point USA, a conservative student organization present during the demonstration, that he will “go tear down one of your flyers right now.”

The video shows Valdez appearing to anger Khan by suggesting the instructor had nothing better to do than protest Trump and asking, “Don’t you have kids to look after?”

Khan then accuses students of threatening his children at least 25 times in a span of about three minutes. He is seen raising his hand and apparently attempting to hit Nelson, who is recording him with a phone.

The video shows Khan shouting at students when they ask him how they have made a threat, accusing them of threatening his children.

Other times he chooses not to reply, as shown in this six-minute video, which contains language many viewers may find offensive:

The university instructor is seen saying to students: “You’d better check yourself, OK? Check yourself. I’ll f— you up.”

The broken phone reportedly had an estimated value of $700.

University police charged Khan with criminal destruction of property. His case is pending.

According to the lawsuit, the university secured a restraining order on the three students at the request of Khan after Minik, a senior, reported on the incident for Campus Reform.

“I was told that if I wanted the ‘situation to improve,’ that I should stop writing about Khan,” Minik told lawyers, according to the law firm.

The Daily Signal was not able to reach Khan, whose contact information was removed from the university’s website after the incident, and Campus Reform has said he has not responded to its requests for comment.

In February, the university’s Campus Faculty Association issued a statement supporting Khan, describing him as an Air Force veteran who is “an engaged, thoughtful, and committed scholar and a wonderful and effective teacher.”

The lawsuit alleges that Khan is “affiliated with a number of extreme left-wing groups including the Black Rose Anarchist Federation, an ‘Antifa’ group advocating revolution and expressly justifying political violence.”

Khan also is backed by Campus Antifascist Network, a far-left group that organizes protests against conservatives on campus, The Daily Signal has learned.

Campus Antifascist Network released a statement in support of Khan in January that accused Turning Point USA of instigating his actions.

The statement sought to link Turning Point USA to Campus Reform, saying the news organization is its “associated media arm.”

In fact, TurningPoint.News, not Campus Reform, is the group’s media arm.


Australia hosting unprecedented numbers of international students

Being in a similar time zone to China helps.  No jet lag

Australia is hosting unprecedented numbers of international students, who now make up more than a quarter of enrolments at some universities.

Department of Education figures show that in February, Australian universities, private colleges, English language courses, and schools registered a combined 542,054 enrolments.

That compares with 305,534 total enrolments five years ago.

Students from China make up the largest proportion of students at 31 per cent, followed by India, Nepal, Malaysia and Vietnam.

But universities have been seeking to diversify their international student markets, and the latest figures show there have been big rises in the numbers of students from Brazil and Colombia.

Western Australia has even opened up a market for students from Bhutan, with almost 1,000 students from that country enrolled in courses at WA institutions this year.

Grattan Institute higher education program director, Andrew Norton, said some universities were making huge profits out of the international student market.

"Because the Government has effectively capped the number of domestic students, international students are becoming an increasing percentage of all students," Mr Norton said.

"A lot of that revenue to universities is being invested in buildings and in research activities."

International students are concentrated in the larger Group of Eight universities and technology universities.

"That means there are huge numbers of international students living in the inner cities of Australia's big capitals," Mr Norton said.

"That is transforming the rental market, it's transforming the nature of the restaurants in the area, it's changing what the streets look like. So this is having a big effect on certain parts of Australia well beyond the university gates."

Chinese student Eva Li, 22, is studying finance at the University of Sydney. She said she chose the university because of its high international ranking. "There are lots of Chinese students here, education is very high level," Ms Li said. "It's not better than the good universities in America or England, but it's also quite A grade.

"The teachers are very good. It's a different type of education in Australia than in China. We have more chance to communicate with the teacher than in China. There are a lot of group works and it is not quite like this in China.

"It's a very good experience for me. Maybe I will be back to China for my job, but I will still have a good memory (of) here."

The value of the international student market has increased 22 per cent since 2016 and is now worth $32.2 billion a year.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the Government was committed to maintaining a stable regime of visa entry rules to provide certainty for international students.

"We'll continue to work to promote the value of our education system to the rest of the world," Mr Birmingham said.

Universities Australia's chief executive Belinda Robinson said the growth in the international student market reflected the quality that was on offer.

"We have almost doubled enrolments over the past decade and built international education into Australia's third-largest export sector," Ms Robinson said.

"This supports Australian communities, jobs, regional economies and our relationships in the world.

"These half a million international students will become tomorrow's global leaders, returning home as informal ambassadors for Australia and extending our nation's worldwide networks in business, diplomacy and politics."


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The costs, opportunities, and limitations of the expansion of 529 education savings accounts

The Brookings Institution Doesn't like the tax losses involved so downplays the benefits


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act substantively changed 529 college savings plans. In an effort to promote school choice, the Act expanded the list of eligible 529 expenses to include K-12 private school tuition. This federal change in the definition of qualified expenses will impact many states, particularly those that offer 529 tax deductions and credits.

In this paper, we examine the potential impact of the 529 expansion on the distribution of benefits across families, on the promotion of private school choice, and on possible fiscal implications for individual states. Our overall assessment of the likely impact in these three areas is that the 529 expansion to private K-12 schools will primarily benefit affluent families, produce limited incentives for promoting private school choice, and come at a nontrivial cost to states.

We discuss some ways that states might respond to promote progressive tax policy and expand private school choice. A simple roll-back of state tax breaks, and/or direct investment in school choice end up as the most straightforward ways to achieve these goals.


The key benefit of 529 plans is that earnings on contributions are not subject to federal taxes when withdrawn to pay for tuition and other select college expenses. When earnings from 529 contributions accrue over long time periods as they do, for example, when parents establish and fund a 529 plan when their child is young and begin to draw it down when that child enters college, the financial benefit of exemption from federal taxes can be substantial.[1] However, the time period between putting money into a 529 plan and withdrawing it for K-12 tuition will typically be far shorter.  The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimates the loss to the Federal Treasury will be a modest $600 million over 10 years.[2]

The federal tax code defines 529s and the expenses they may be used for, but states run the plans. All but two states, Washington State and Wyoming, offer 529 plans. Most importantly, more than 30 states offer state-level tax deductions or credits, which can be claimed on each year’s state tax return, for those who put money into the plans. These immediate state-level tax benefits are what will almost certainly draw more people who are paying private school tuition into 529 accounts – any family paying private school tuition in a state offering 529 tax benefits would be foolish, financially speaking, not to make use of them. The rub is that as more families start claiming the benefits, state revenues will decline.

More than two months after the passage of the TCJA, many states are still uncertain as to how they will accommodate this federal change in definition of qualified expenses. Most states will have to respond in some way—by changing state regulations or laws to block or welcome the expansion and by communicating those options to account holders. At last count, of the 34 states with 529 deductions or credits, eighteen automatically conformed or have passed legislation to conform to the federal 529 change, while sixteen have either argued that their state 529 incentives cannot be used for K-12 expenses, despite the federal change, or have yet to determine their course.[3] For some of these states, this could include new legislation that constrains the state tax benefits in their own specific 529 plan

The real question for states is whether they wish to use their own tax systems to support spending on private K-12 education through the vehicle of 529 plans. The answer to this question will clearly vary, depending on the political complexion of a state government, financial implications, and broader attitudes towards school choice. We focus on the fiscal implications for states (the cost to tax payers), distributional consequences for families (who will financially benefit most), and the potential for promoting private school choice. Our overall assessment of the likely impact in these three areas is that it will hit state revenue, largely help affluent families, and have only a limited positive impact on private school enrollment.


Student Journalist Says Discipline Policies Weakened School Safety Before Parkland Shooting

While the media continues to focus on gun control in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, one area student has dug into his school’s policies and found them wanting.

Kenneth Preston, a 19-year-old student journalist who attends high school in Broward County, Florida, has done an in-depth investigation of the superintendent and school board.

Preston’s thorough report, released on Tuesday, says that Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie and the school district failed to spend over $100 million of federal money intended for school safety upgrades.

Runcie once worked under former Obama Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in the Chicago Public Schools system.

Preston’s report says that the school had been sitting on this money since 2014, and that only about 5 percent of it had been spent.

“The findings of our investigation is [sic] two-fold. First off, a $100 million which superintendent and the school board had access to. Since 2014, roughly 5 percent of that money has been spent,” Preston said in an in-depth interview with Sirius XM host David Webb.

Preston said that Runcie gave him a “long-winded runaround” about what happened to the money.

In addition, Preston has called into question the school district’s use of the PROMISE program.

This program was aligned with a 2014 Obama-era federal initiative, which aimed at ending the “school to prison pipeline” as well as racial disparities in discipline by focusing on counseling and “restorative justice” instead of using law enforcement to correct on-campus misbehavior.

Preston spoke at a Broward County School Board meeting on Tuesday, but said during his remarks that just before the meeting started, his allotted time to speak was cut to three minutes.

The seven panelists Preston had lined up were removed from the schedule.

On the day before the hearing, Preston said he was forced to attend a two-hour meeting with the superintendent and the families of the victims to discuss his report.

“I was denied the right to have an attorney present. I was refused the opportunity to record the meeting, and I was told this was because the superintendent wouldn’t have any representation of his own,” Preston said.

He said that when he arrived at the meeting, it was “stacked with 10 district officials in addition to the superintendent.”

Preston continued: “It makes me wonder how committed to transparency and truth you are when I was denied the right to have an attorney present as well as the opportunity to record the meeting while the superintendent was allowed to bring 10 district officials who work for him and attempt to re-educate me.”

“Something doesn’t smell quite right in Broward, and this school district is the epicenter,” Preston said.

The Obama administration had touted the Broward school discipline program as a model of success.

But after a Parkland student went on a murderous rampage at the school, many wonder how an individual expressing so many red flags could have fallen through the cracks.

As the Manhattan Institute’s Max Eden wrote, Broward County’s discipline policies pressured Parkland officials “to post lower statistics on school-safety problems. This climate of disengagement could have allowed [Nikolas] Cruz to slip through the cracks in the system.”

Runcie, who was also at the school board hearing, reiterated previous statements from the school district, saying, “Contrary to what people believe or may have heard, Nikolas Cruz was never a part of the PROMISE program, he never had any infractions that would have made him eligible for the PROMISE program.”

However, a recent report in RealClearInvestigations noted that the school’s official discipline policy lists “‘assault without the use of a weapon’ and ‘battery without serious bodily injury,’ as well as ‘disorderly conduct,’ as misdemeanors that ‘should not be reported to Law Enforcement Agencies or Broward District Schools Police.’”

The RealClearInvestigations report also said:

A repeat offender, Cruz benefited from the lax discipline policy, if not the counseling. Although he was disciplined for a string of offenses—including assault, threatening teachers, and carrying bullets in his backpack—he was never taken into custody or even expelled. Instead, school authorities referred him to mandatory counseling or transferred him to alternative schools.

The lack of criminal record allowed Cruz to purchase an AR-15, according to the report.

At the hearing, Runcie essentially called criticism of the school’s discipline policies fake news.

“Connecting PROMISE to this horrific tragedy is truly unfortunate, I think it’s reprehensible, and we’re not going to dismantle a program in this district that is serving and helping kids appropriately because of news that is not fact-based,” Runcie said.

Runcie worked closely with the Obama administration on its school discipline policy, according to the Washington Examiner.

“Runcie was invited to the White House in 2015 for a Rethink Discipline summit, while the district received a $54 million federal Teacher Incentive Fund grant in October 2016 that was based in part on its efforts to keep high-risk students in school,” the Examiner reported.

While the school district maintains support of the controversial program, it has a growing list of detractors, including the deputy sheriff and president of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, Jeff Bell.

“If I have a weapon or even ammunition on school grounds, and I have certain things in my past, I could be arrested for that, but Mr. Cruz just gets off scot-free,” Bell said, according to the Examiner. “And that’s the thing. If he had gotten arrested just once for disorderly conduct or trespassing or something like that, that would have shown up on his criminal record, and could have sent up some red flags before he was ever allowed to buy a firearm.”

There have also been calls for the Department of Education to rescind the Obama-era school discipline guideline, which is being reviewed by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.


Australia: 'Is graffiti an art form or a criminal offence?': Schools accused of dumbing down English lessons with tests on STREET TAGS

English teachers  being asked to teach students to 'read graffiti' in Queensland

The sample assessment, detailed on the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority website, asks students to engage, examine and evaluate graffiti.  

Images of graffiti are provided to the students who are asked to explain, 'How do you know about the graffiti? Who produces the graffiti? Is graffiti an art form or a  criminal offence?'

The exercise even provides examples of student responses to the graffiti images, with answers including 'I have seen graffiti on the way to school' and 'It is mainly done by young people'.

Queensland's Education Minister refused to comment, while the curriculum authority described the assessment as an 'optional resource' for teachers, according to the Courier Mail.

'Decisions around the use of assessment items and contexts for learning are made at the school level,' he said.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

College Student Poses With Gun for Graduation Photo, Firing Up Twitter

A student at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga used her senior photo shoot to showcase support for the Second Amendment right to bear arms, but not everyone is happy about it.

Brenna Spencer, 22, tweeted out a picture of herself lifting up a pink T-shirt slightly to reveal a handgun in her waistband. The shirt reads: “Women for Trump.”

“I wanted my graduation photos to be personal and to be about my journey,” Spencer told The Daily Signal by text Wednesday night. “So with me loving the Second Amendment and conservative politics, it’s what inspired me to take and post the photo.”

Despite the backlash she has received from the Twitterverse, Spencer told Fox News Channel she has no regrets about tweeting out the photo.

She told The Daily Signal it was a “helpful” experience despite the negative reactions. “I believe standing up for what I believe in and trying to empower women to protect themselves is helpful,” she said.

One tweet suggested that Spencer take down the picture if she ever wants to be employed.

“You realize employers will see this right? Hope you enjoy living with Mom and Dad,” tweeted Lisa Simpson, who goes by Lisa Simpson Democrat on Twitter.

Spencer works at Turning Point USA, a nonprofit focused on conservative activism on college campuses. [Disclosure: The reporter of this story is president of Turning Point USA at Michigan State University.]

Co-workers were quick to point out that her employer supports her and the photo. The founder of Turning Point USA, Charlie Kirk, applauded Spencer in a tweet for exemplifying “real feminism”:

Another employee, Alana Mastrangelo, tweeted out a similar photo with the message: “Here I am in solidarity with Brenna, also carrying in public.”

The comments on Spencer’s tweeted photo range from GIFs, brief video clips, and memes suggesting she get some counseling.

One person called Spencer an “attention grabbing” young woman, while another wrote that she broke the law by bringing her gun near a building with a no-weapons policy. The photo was taken outside the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, which bans firearms inside.

One Twitter user, Victoria Silva, alerted police by tagging the Chattanooga Police Department.

“Per the thread, this young female is taking a photo [with] a firearm, in an area [with] a posted ‘no-weapons’ policy,” Silva tweeted. “This showboating behavior is irresponsible, reckless, and potentially dangerous. Signed, A concerned citizen.”

But Spencer told The Daily Signal that she doesn’t see the photo shoot that way. “My goal was to empower women to protect themselves, [so] yes, I think it was successful,” she said.


BOOK REVIEW: "The Case against Education. Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money"

By Bryan Caplan

Why we need to stop wasting public funds on education

Despite being immensely popular --and immensely lucrative—education is grossly overrated. In this explosive book, Bryan Caplan argues that the primary function of education is not to enhance students' skill but to certify their intelligence, work ethic, and conformity —in other words, to signal the qualities of a good employee.

Learn why students hunt for easy As and casually forget most of what they learn after the final exam, why decades of growing access to education have not resulted in better jobs for the average worker but instead in runaway credential inflation, how employers reward workers for costly schooling they rarely if ever use, and why cutting education spending is the best remedy.

Caplan draws on the latest social science to show how the labor market values grades over knowledge, and why the more education your rivals have, the more you need to impress employers. He explains why graduation is our society's top conformity signal, and why even the most useless degrees can certify employability.

He advocates two major policy responses. The first is educational austerity. Government needs to sharply cut education funding to curb this wasteful rat race. The second is more vocational education, because practical skills are more socially valuable than teaching students how to outshine their peers.

Romantic notions about education being "good for the soul" must yield to careful research and common sense—The Case against Education" points the way.

Bryan Caplan is professor of economics at George Mason University and a blogger at EconLog. He is the author of "Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun than You Think" and "The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies" (Princeton). He lives in Oakton, Virginia.


Lure teachers to the small towns with extra cash and nice houses, Australian government advised

Teachers "at the top of their game" would be lured from the city to the bush with extra cash, nice houses and a guaranteed right of return under a plan to improve student results in Australia's regional schools.

A lengthy review of regional education has urged the federal government to offer more incentives for established teachers to do a stint outside the city, and to break down the stigma around the bush as a place for teachers to work.

Teachers should also be given an "absolute, rock-solid guarantee" they can return to their original school, said the report's author, education professor and former teacher John Halsey.

He pointed to models used in mining and engineering industries to lure staff to regional areas by offering "very nice housing", and flying staff and their families free-of-charge to inspect their would-be homes.

A 34-year-old teacher moving to an isolated area does not want to share a house with strangers, Professor Halsey said. And people's enthusiasm about working in rural areas was often "drained away every day after work by complaints and disappointments about the quality of housing" from family members. "It's just a fact of life," Professor Halsey told Fairfax Media. "Housing and conditions in some locations - and in some more than others - is a major issue."

The report also recommended teachers be lured with "targeted salary and conditions packages" and a guarantee they can return to their original post, not just any school.

"If you're prepared to go to Broken Hill and you've come out of the green leafies in Sydney, being told you can return to greater metropolitan Sydney is not going to cut it," Professor Halsey said.

The Turnbull government commissioned the review last year in a bid to improve lagging results for country students compared to their city counterparts. The report, presented to education ministers on Friday, also recommended making the national curriculum more relevant to regional and remote students.

"The achievements of [country] students have in the main lagged behind urban students for decades," Professor Halsey wrote. "This has to be turned around in the shortest time possible."

The report acknowledged the drawback in luring teachers to the bush temporarily was that turnover would remain high. But it was still desirable to get more teachers "at the top of their game" into regional schools.

Beginner teachers were often seen as "an important [but] over-represented" component of staff in regional schools, Professor Halsey said. "Experience does count for something and accounts in some instances for a lot," he said.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said there was "no silver bullet" to fixing inequities in regional education but he would examine the recommendations and respond


Monday, April 16, 2018

2,000 Veterans, Relatives Back Education Savings Accounts for Military Families

More than 2,000 military veterans, spouses, and other family members have signed a letter in support of a bill creating federally funded education savings accounts for military families to provide more choices and flexibility in schooling the children of those in the armed forces.

The signers “are writing to express our strong support for the Education Savings Account for Military Families Act of 2018,” they say in the letter released Tuesday by Heritage Action for America, the lobbying arm of The Heritage Foundation.

The letter—sent to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees—supports a bill introduced March 7 by Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind.

The legislation would establish a new kind of education savings account that military families could use to increase school choice options by paying for certain expenses.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. But this can't be done alone. Find out more >>

“According to a survey conducted by Military Times, 35 percent of readers, largely active-duty military families, say that dissatisfaction with their children’s education was a significant factor in their decision to remain or leave military service,” the letter says.

In a statement provided to The Daily Signal, Banks said the number of signatures on the letter shows the importance of the issue to military families.

“It’s clear that military families want more choice on how to best educate their children,” Banks said. “Every single one of these families has made tremendous sacrifices to serve our country, but their child’s education should not be one of them.”

The bill, currently before the House Education and Workforce Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, would cover options such as private, online learning programs, private school tuition, individual classes and extracurricular programs at public schools, computer hardware, textbooks, and curriculums and other instructional materials, according to a report from The Heritage Foundation, which has supported the idea.

“Families who serve in the armed forces move from duty station to duty station with little choice in where they live or what schools their children attend,” the letter says. “Military-connected children are too often assigned to the district schools closest in proximity to military bases, regardless of whether those schools meet their needs. More than half of all active-duty military families live in states with no school-choice options at all.”

Sens. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and Tim Scott, R-S.C., introduced a companion bill in the Senate on March 7.

“This bill lets parents customize their kids’ education, letting them find the opportunities that fit their family’s needs,” Sasse said in a written statement. “All of us should want to make sure that the decision to defend our freedom doesn’t mean kids miss out on the best education options available.”

The signers of the letter ask lawmakers to consider including the Banks legislation in the National Defense Authorization Act, which sets policies and spending priorities for the Defense Department.

“As you consider adding new policies in this year’s NDAA,” they write, “please consider including Rep. Banks’ Education Savings Accounts for Military Families Act of 2018 to help strengthen the military and better serve military families.”


Fed-Up AZ Supreme Court Hits Dreamers with Costly Bad News in Blowout Ruling

Former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program created something of a legal limbo for a select class of illegal immigrants, shielding them from deportation without granting them legal status. Now, some of the program’s enrollees could quite literally be paying for that uncertainty.

According to The Washington Times, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that DACA recipients, also known as “dreamers,” are not eligible for the in-state tuition rates that some state colleges and universities were offering them, and instead will have to pay out-of-state rates.

That 7-0 decision upheld an earlier 3-0 state court of appeals ruling against the Maricopa Community Colleges, who had decided on their own volition to extend in-state tuition rates to DACA recipients. The ruling applies to all state colleges and public universities in Arizona.

The appeals court had ruled that both federal and state law granted that sort of decision-making power to the state’s political branches, and not the colleges or universities.

At the heart of the decision was a 2006 law passed by voters known as Proposition 300, which declared that illegal immigrants were not eligible to receive state benefits, including in-state tuition rates.

“While people can disagree what the law should be, I hope we all can agree that the attorney general must enforce the law as it is, not as we want it to be,” stated Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

The Arizona Republic reported that an estimated 2,000 DACA recipients are currently enrolled in community colleges or state universities at in-state tuition rates, and could now find themselves being compelled to pay nearly three times as much for out-of-state rates if they wish to remain in school.

As might be expected, advocates for DACA recipients are incensed by the court’s ruling. They have claimed the decision essentially blocks access to education for dreamers by making it “impossible” for them to afford, especially when considering these particular illegal immigrants aren’t eligible for any sort of state or federal financial assistance because of their lack of legal status.

But based on a clear reading of the 2006 law, those dreamers should never have received the lower in-state tuition rates from colleges in the first place.

As Brnovich stated, “It’s about time someone held (the colleges) accountable, and that’s my job. My role as AG is to make sure you’re following the law.”

Though Brnovich did express some sympathy for the plight of the dreamers, he nevertheless pointed out that the law is the law. “What makes this country unique and great … is because the rule of law means something,” the attorney general said.

However, the Arizona Daily Sun reported that some college-aged dreamers may not ultimately find themselves having to pay the substantially higher out-of-state tuition rates thanks to something of a middle-ground solution worked out by the state university system’s Board of Regents.

That policy, put in place years ago by Regent Jay Heiler, “sets charges at 150 percent of the in-state rate for any student who graduated from an Arizona high school after attending school” in the state for at least three years, the Sun reported.

While that policy could very well be challenged through litigation, Heiler and others believe it will survive because the special rate would actually cover the costs of tuition, meaning state taxpayers would not be subsidizing or offering a “benefit” to illegal immigrants.

The Republic noted that the Arizona supreme court has only released a three-page order at this point, and won’t make the full opinion explaining the ruling public until May 14.


Australia: Content warnings are simply making Millennials more scared of life
Luke Kinsella

SINCE beginning my studies at the Australian National University, I’ve noticed a serious flaw in my fellow students’ approach to mental health. Their frequent use of trigger warnings — or ‘content warnings’, as they’re more often referred — is a grave mental health concern that seems to be flying under everyone’s radar.

Typically found in classrooms and at the top of news articles and social media posts, content warnings alert students of potentially distressing content.

Their use is currently being pushed by extremely mobilised student leaders who dominate control of student unions and student media.

Content warnings originated in the feminist blogosphere to warn victims of sexual assault about vivid depictions of sexual violence. Recently however, I’ve witnessed an explosion of the list of subjects that require a warning. They’re now used for mere mention of potentially distressing subjects — it’s these warnings that, though well-meaning, I believe are doing serious damage to the mental health of my peers.

For example, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) released a report in 2017 about sexual assault at Australian universities. Mere mention of the report’s existence required a warning. Any reference to the same-sex marriage postal vote also required a warning.

I’ve seen content warnings for “discussion of invasion day”, “discussion of pornography”, “abortion” and “LGBT issues”. My student union has issued warnings for “holocaust denial”, “images of being bound” and “queerphobic behaviour”.

But it’s my student newspaper that has taken it to another level. They’ve used content warnings for discussion of “war”, “drugs”, “discrimination”, “sexism”, “racism”, “transphobia”, “homophobia”, “mental illness”, “displacement”, the #MeToo movement, “genocide”, “institutional betrayal” and “birth”.

In 2015, a highly influential article was published in The Atlantic titled: “The Coddling of the American Mind”. My student experience has convinced me that “The Coddling of the Australian Mind” has officially begun. And it’s not doing students any favours.

Rather than reducing fear towards certain subjects and non-progressive opinions, content warnings have only increased it. And rather than empowering students to conquer sensitive or disturbing subjects, they’ve only empowered the subjects’ ability to conquer students.

When the characters in Harry Potter called Voldemort “he who must not be named”, it only made him scarier. Dumbledore insisted that Harry call Voldemort by his real name. He knew that in the long-run, using the pseudonym only spread more fear and more emotional damage.

Content warnings are making Voldemorts out of certain subjects. They’ve created a milieu where certain subjects are considered taboo and inherently traumatising. According to psychologist Jonathan Haidt, we don’t just develop our fears form our own personal experiences, but also from our environment.

“If everyone around you acts as though something is dangerous — elevators, certain neighbourhoods, novels depicting racism — then you are at risk of acquiring that fear too,” Dr Haidt wrote in The Atlantic.

Psychiatrist Sarah Roff wrote in The Chronicle Of Higher Education that warnings “will apply not just to those who have experienced trauma, but to all students, creating an atmosphere in which they are encouraged to believe that there is something dangerous or damaging about discussing difficult aspects of our history”.

Students are repeatedly warned before discussing sensitive subjects and opinions. As a result, all students (whether they’ve experienced trauma or not) are slowly beginning to believe that there’s something inherently or necessarily traumatising about them.

“About a dozen new teachers of criminal law at multiple institutions have told me that they are not including rape law in their courses, arguing that it’s not worth the risk of complaints of discomfort by students,” Harvard law professor Jeannie Suk wrote in The New Yorker.

Should we really be training students to think there’s something dangerous about discussing rape law? Or same-sex marriage? Or reports by the AHRC? Or the #MeToo movement?

Progress requires people have the resilience to discuss controversial subjects, especially with those opposed to it. Content warnings have killed such discussion. They’ve created ‘sacred’ subjects that are policed by cadres of condescending students perpetually monitoring who’s not toeing the party line.

Students with contrarian opinions stay silent to avoid the risk of triggering someone or sparking a heated debate about some emotionally-charged subject. Discussing controversial political issues with opponents isn’t impossible, but it’s certainly gotten a lot harder. We more often seek refuge in our respective echo chambers, making us even more intolerant of different opinions.

Following pressure from their student union, Monash University in 2017 became the first Australian university to actually impose content warnings in the classroom. The next step will see students actually censoring course material for being ‘too upsetting’ — something the Monash student union president refused to rule out.

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) criticised content warnings for this exact reason: “If such topics are associated with triggers, correctly or not, they are likely to be marginalised if not avoided altogether by faculty who fear complaints for offending or discomforting some of their students.”

According to the American Psychological Association in 2017 (the same year Monash instituted content warnings), “there is little support for the idea that offering generic classroom warnings about sensitive topics is beneficial to students.” Given this, I find Monash’s decision to be at best, impulsive, and at worst, extremely reckless.

Harvard psychology professor Richard McNally argues classroom content warnings actually hurt sufferers of PTSD. “Trigger warnings are counter-therapeutic because they encourage avoidance of reminders of trauma, and avoidance maintains PTSD,” he wrote in The New York Times.

The most common and effective means of curing PTSD is through “exposure therapy”, which Dr McNally defines as “gradual, systematic exposure to traumatic memories” until one’s “capacity to trigger distress diminishes”. Avoidance of triggers is considered a symptom of PTSD, not a cure.

Dr McNally also pointed out that there’s a difference between experiencing trauma, and having PTSD. “Trauma is common, but PTSD is rare.”

According to Dr McNally, rather than diminishing the emotional resilience of all students, “universities can best serve students by facilitating access to effective and proven treatments for PTSD”.

Providing a content warning (that hasn’t even been requested) to the whole class every time any sensitive subject is mentioned, isn’t the answer. The minority of students with PTSD should be able to request temporary content warnings shortly after their experience of trauma. But individual accommodations only exist to provide students with enough time to seek help.

There should be an expectation that students learn strategies to conquer their triggers so they can rejoin the class without content warnings. If a student doesn’t yet have an effective strategy, short-term warnings in the classroom might be beneficial — but only if they’re requested and communicated privately, rather than broadcasted to the entire class.

We shouldn’t give academics, lecturers and journalists the job of constantly predicting the (often unpredictable) triggers of complete strangers. It’s the job of therapists to equip sufferers of PTSD with strategies to deal with those triggers.

And it’s the job of universities to firstly, mirror the real world in providing a reason to seek that treatment in the first place, and secondly, provide opportunities for sufferers of PTSD to practice their coping strategies, rather than providing an easy opt-out.

“I don’t want you to be safe, emotionally. I want you to be strong. That’s different ... I’m not going to take all the weights out of the gym; that’s the whole point of the gym. This is the gym,” CNN’s Van Jones once said. Jones’ differentiation between safety and strength is spot-on. The implicit undertone of mental health discussion at university is no longer ‘strength’ and ‘resilience’, but ‘safety’ and ‘protection’.

Instead of desensitising students to discussion of certain subjects, content warnings have made them oversensitive. And when you’re oversensitive, you’re vulnerable. Life is a (content-warning-free) sequence of stress, pain and offence. Yet my peers are being fattened up with content warnings and safe spaces like pigs for slaughter.

Rates of anxiety, depression and suicide among American students have shot up, and the trend has hit Australia. Dr Haidt has described this as a “crisis of resilience”.

“Growing numbers of college students have become less able to cope with the challenges of campus life, including offensive ideas, insensitive professors, and rude or even racist and sexist peers,” he said.

The transition from high school to university used to symbolise one’s first step into adulthood. But today’s students are prolonging their adolescence by demanding universities look more like high schools. Decades of helicopter parenting have forced students to find helicopter parents in new forms.

My generation have grown up relying on third party authorities to supervise us, resolve disputes between our peers and issue punishments. We’ve become accustomed to authorities that protect us and fulfil the role of mediator. During our childhood, the authority was our parents, and then our schools. Now, it’s our universities.

It used to be considered childish for a student to “dob on” another student to some university bureaucrat. Not anymore. The world is just so scary. And if you go to university, you’d assume it’s gotten scarier. Today’s students demand content warnings, safe spaces, bias response teams, on-demand therapy, micro-aggression policies and even more complaints procedures.

World War III nearly broke out at Yale in 2015 when a mob of students confronted a university administrator who refused to regulate which Halloween costumes students could wear. And Yale isn’t an anomaly. According to Pew Research, 40 per cent of Millennials support censorship of opinions they deem offensive. Some universities have capitulated to the students by banning certain public speakers.

In a massive shift in student attitudes, today’s students want university administrations to have more power over what they can say, hear and do. While students of the past wanted fewer rules and less protection, today’s students want more of both. They’re actually welcoming, if not demanding, their own infantilisation.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Fox anchors come under fire after they call a Houston teenager who was accepted to 20 colleges 'obnoxious'

Such exceptional results do speak of affirmative action, which is inherently obnoxious as a form of racism.  His apparently unhumble response was also in poor form.  So that would most likely be what drove the adverse comments

Anchor Holly Morris and contributor Sarah Fraser were having a discussion on April 3 about Michael Brown, the high school senior who was accepted into every school he applied to, including several top universities.

The two women criticized Brown for applying to so many universities, saying that he was depriving other hard-working students of spots at the schools.

'It's a little ridiculous that this kid applied to 20 [colleges] taking away a spot and basically wait-listing another kid,' Fraser said.

Morris replied: 'It's a little obnoxious because you can only go to one. You can only take one full ride, and you are taking a spot from someone else who worked really hard.'

Seventeen-year-old Brown has a 4.68 GPA at Lamar High School was accepted into Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Northwestern, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, Georgetown and Vanderbilt, receiving full-ride scholarships from them and every other school he applied to.

A NowThis video criticizing the piece - and cutting the anchor’s reaction with with Brown’s excitement upon learning of his acceptances - has been viewed more than 7.83 million times.

Fraser apologized for her comments on Saturday in a tweet and said had 'learned a lesson'.

'I don’t feel that way. I have apologized to Michael and he accepted my apology. Michaels [sic] accomplishments aren’t up for debate. I have learned a valuable lesson,' she wrote.

However, Morris remained more defensive and said that race had nothing to do with her opinion on the matter.

'I also said he is an amazing young man. This is not a racial issue. I would have the exact same opinion if the boy was white,' she wrote on Wednesday


Slutty sheep: Veteran academics warn college students are going off the rails

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio – Today’s college students are “situationally confused.” They have no room in their schedules for “intellectual curiosity.”

And their sexual promiscuity is practically the only part of their lives that their colleges refuse to police.

Two veteran academics who have diagnosed different plagues in modern higher education have little optimism for young people entering college for the foreseeable future, judging by their presentations to a conference this past weekend at Franciscan University of Steubenville, a conservative Catholic institution.

College students have no passions today and “aren’t trained to pay attention to the things they feel connected to,” former Yale English professor William Deresiewicz told the gathering on the “crisis” in American higher education at the Veritas Center for Public Ethics.

In fact, higher education has become “profoundly unintellectual” and student life has become about “accumulating gold stars,” said Deresiewicz, who publicly disavowed Ivy League education several years after leaving Yale.

The author of Excellent Sheep, which fleshes out his views on the failure of elite education, told the Franciscan crowd that most students nowadays think that being intellectual simply means getting good grades.

Deresiewicz explained that most students now engross themselves so much into learning the structural parts of their classes that they “don’t have time for intellectual curiosity.”

Students “can’t think for themselves because they don’t have time,” he said.

He began assigning A-minus grades to students whose papers simply checked all the necessary boxes for an A but didn’t add any real insight, while working with those students to help them find their own intellectual voice.

Deresiewicz recounted how a student once told him “‘I hate all my activities, I hate all my classes, I hated high school, and I expect to hate my job,’” and that she had accepted this as her reality.

Such students go into fields including law, medicine and finance because they assume it will yield a lucrative career, not because they actually have a passion for those disciplines.

“You might as well go to Wall Street and make a lot of money if you have nothing better to do,” he quipped.

Deresiewicz said there are “a large number of mentally smart, [but] situationally confused graduates,” too many of whom sign up for Teach for America because they see it as a next step after graduation. There’s nothing wrong with the nonprofit’s work, he clarified, but students use it as a crutch because they have no idea what they are actually going to do with their lives.

The former professor, who taught at Columbia and Yale before becoming a full-time writer in 2008, said “young people aren’t trained to pay attention to the things they feel connected to.” He said most of the students he had taught at Yale came there with a “passion for success” but no other particular goals.

In loco parentis – selectively enforced

A professor who made his name in 2005 by shining a light on the “anarchic and often dangerous sexual environment” on campus, meanwhile, warned that college students’ sexual behaviors are just as degraded as their intellectual undertakings.

Vigen Guroian, professor of religious studies in Orthodox Christianity at the University of Virginia, focused on the implications of “sexual libertinism” on college campuses in his talk.

His Christianity Today article “Dorm Brothel” launched a wave of attention for the professor, then teaching at Loyola College in Maryland. Readers flooded Guroian’s inbox with stories of their experiences with the collegiate sexual free-for-all.

Guroian said he wasn’t trying to shame Loyola into changing its policies on sexual activity by writing the article. He simply wanted to lament the destruction of courtship and marriage that those widespread sexual behaviors were causing.

“I believe that the college experience has an impact on the marriages our children make” and has probably affected the divorce rate, he said.

But rules were definitely on Guroian’s mind. He talked about his own experience living at a fraternity house as a UVA undergraduate, and the role that an institution has in policing its students’ behavior: “Whoever tells you that colleges aren’t practicing ‘in loco parentis’ is lying to you.”

But colleges only act in the place of a parent selectively, Guroian said: If colleges are policing alcohol and drug use, why aren’t they policing where and when students are in situations where they can behave promiscuously?

Historically, college has been where people often find their spouse, but “dating has taken a back seat,” Guroian said. “Where courtship languishes, marriage weakens.”

While much of Guroian’s talk was an indictment of student promiscuity and how “college is a parent-funded motel party,” the UVA professor made a startling claim about the debunked Rolling Stone article “A Rape on Campus.”

Guroian said the university preemptively hired psychologists and lawyers to defend itself from precisely the sort of allegations that would later form the basis of that story – that UVA turned a blind eye to a brutal gang rape in a fraternity house.

It wouldn’t matter if the accusation were true or not, he said: The university nonetheless was prepared to issue a swift and effective response, the essence of which would be “someone or something other than the university was to blame.”

Guroian also lamented the end of single-sex colleges as a “great tragedy,” claiming that many problems seen today would not exist if even just dormitories were single-sex. When he was a student in the 1970s, “no one thought unisex dorms was possible.”

He believes colleges are “unreformable,” and that any attempt at reining in the problem of sexual libertinism will only cause more problems. Guroian said he’s “dreading the idea” of his grandchildren reaching college age.


Australia: Deputy head to return to Trinity Grammar after 'unjustified' sacking

"Modern" administrators tried to fire a popular and dedicated teacher who did not share their shallow goals

Trinity Grammar's sacked deputy principal will return to the school next week after an independent review found his dismissal over cutting a student's hair was unjustified.

After weeks of unrest, the Kew private school offered deputy principal Rohan Brown his job back on Wednesday evening- an offer he swiftly accepted. "I want my job back," he told The Age, fighting back tears. "I am so proud of the Trinity community. It is a great profession and I adore the boys and parents."

The review by high-profile silk and former judge Ray Finkelstein, QC, and barrister Renee Enbom found that while deputy principal Rohan Brown's actions may have breached the school's code of conduct and constituted serious misconduct, his dismissal was unwarranted.

This was because principal Michael Davies had decided not to end Mr Brown's contract directly after the controversial hair cut incident and the school council had no authority to dismiss the popular teacher.

The findings will pave the way for a resolution to a chaotic chapter in the school's 115-year history.

School council chairman Robert Utter apologised to Mr Brown and said the school accepted full responsibility for a decision that had ultimately been deemed "wrong". "We would also like to extend sincere apologies to the wider Trinity community, with the original decision creating concern for many," he said in a statement. "The decision itself was not taken lightly at the time. It was based on an understanding of matters, which are now known to be different."

Maurice Blackburn employment law principal Josh Bornstein, who is acting for Mr Brown, said while it was unfortunate his client had been dismissed in the first place, he was pleased he was being reinstated. "Our client has always held the utmost respect for Trinity Grammar and its students, and he is very proud to be a part of the school community," he said. "He has only ever sought a fair process and he welcomes that an independent investigation has now confirmed that he should never have been dismissed from his role."

The review was commissioned by the school in March in the wake of an unprecedented backlash against its decision to sack Mr Brown.

Mr Brown's sacking last month thrust the Anglican school into an administrative crisis, with parents, students and alumni declaring they had no confidence in the school council or principal. There was a chorus of calls for the popular Mr Brown, who had worked at the school for 30 years, to be reinstated.

Student protests broke out in the schoolyard where children unfurled "Bring Back Brownie" banners, while their angry parents packed into town hall meetings and threatened to withhold their fees of up to $32,000 a year.

Some parents even paid for a truck with an electronic billboard to circle the school, airing messages calling for principal Dr Michael Davies and the school council to stand down.

Facing intense criticism from the school community, three school council members, including the chair, stood down last month.

Earlier this week the new school council chair, Robert Utter, opened nominations for an interim school council. He called for people with risk management, accounting and finance, legal, education, fundraising, wellbeing and welfare and infrastructure skills.

The Old Trinity Grammarians' Association criticised Mr Utter's announcement, saying it had undermined the role of the nominations committee, which has its own process for nominating to the school council.

The turmoil began brewing long before Mr Brown chopped a student's hair on photo day in February.

In December,  Old Trinity Grammarians' Association president David Baumgartner raised concerns with the school council chair and headmaster about changes to the school's culture. In a scathing letter, he accused the prestigious private school of being too preoccupied with high ATARS, fundraising and building projects.