Friday, May 11, 2018

Invest education dollars wisely

Teachers are striking for higher salaries and more resources again. Some say spending more on education is simply a matter of good economics, because better education means a stronger workforce. But given our nation’s track record — and the empirical evidence — I am not as optimistic.

Public education spending in the U.S. has nearly tripled over the past half-century while math, reading and science test scores have remained flat.

In fact, Stanford University economist Eric Hanushek reviewed nearly 400 studies on the subject and found that increases in education spending generally do not lead to meaningful improvements in academic outcomes.

Pouring more tax dollars into a school system that does not produce better outcomes is obviously a waste of money. You wouldn’t invest in any company that tripled its operating costs without improving its product in 50 years.

Unsurprisingly, more money doesn’t seem to matter when school leaders do not have strong incentives to change. Indeed, research by Kennesaw State University professor Ben Scafidi finds that most increases in education expenditures go toward administration and support staff. No wonder teachers are striking.

But this doesn’t mean that education dollars never matter. Instead, we should consider where education dollars matter the most. For example, a recent University of Arkansas study I co-authored found that charter schools produced a 53% higher return on investment, in terms of students’ lifetime earnings, than traditional public schools. Further, most of the 17 studies on private school choice programs find positive effects on test scores for some or all students.

To make education investments that improve our economy, we should stop investing in the schools that don’t deliver, until their leaders have stronger incentives to spend wisely. Instead, we should invest in the future — our children — by allowing education dollars to follow them to the schools that best fit their unique needs.


Scotland: Classroom abuse blamed as new teachers quit and move abroad

One in eight newly qualified teachers in Scotland is leaving the profession or the country, adding to classroom shortages, according to new figures.

Almost 1,000 teachers quit or moved abroad to teach over the past three years. Many say they cannot cope with the workload and bureaucracy despite pay of more than £27,000.

Concerns have been raised about salaries, workload and abuse in the classroom driving teachers into other careers. A survey published last month revealed that 70 per cent had suffered “serious verbal abuse” while 19 per cent had been physically assaulted at some point in their careers.

The country’s largest teaching union, the EIS, said it was aware of trainees moving abroad after gaining a year’s experience to earn more money.


Education funds switch  to school safety

Before the ink could dry on Florida Governor Rick Scott’s signature last month, critics cried foul over the bill he signed into law to spend $400 million boosting security at schools across the state following February’s Parkland mass shooting.

School officials, local sheriffs and Democrats opposed different provisions, including one to provide $67 million to arm teachers. Educators, in particular, voiced concerns that the state will strip money from core education funding to pay for the new school resource officers and beefed up buildings.

“We are a very lean state,” said Florida state Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Democrat who voted against the bill. “If we’re spending money somewhere, we’re taking it from somewhere else.”

In the wake of the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people, at least 10 U.S. states have introduced measures to increase funding for hardening of school buildings and campuses, add resource officers and increase mental health services, according to Reuters’ tally.

Many of the proposals outlined the need for bulletproof windows, panic buttons and armored shelters to be installed in classrooms. Some legislation called for state police or sheriff’s departments to provide officers to patrol public schools.

Altogether, more than 100 legislative bills to address school safety, not all of which have funding components, have been introduced in 27 states since the Feb. 14 shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, according to data provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

But states do not usually have extra money on hand or room to raise taxes. So to pay for the measures, states are mostly shifting money away from other projects, dipping into reserves or contemplating borrowing.

“I would characterize these proposals and the bills that were passed, for example Florida and Wisconsin, as primarily shifting funding from other priorities,” said Kathryn White, senior policy analyst at the National Association of State Budget Officers.

Calls for more gun control and more safety measures have come during peak budget season for nearly all states, whose legislatures spend the spring in debates that shape the coming year’s budget starting July 1.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

On the 19th Anniversary of Columbine—Child Safety Accounts: Protecting Our Children with Freedom

Safety in schools has become of paramount concern to students and parents, especially on days like today, the nineteenth anniversary of the horrific Columbine school shooting. It’s not just school shootings causing this concern, however. It is the bullying, sexual harassment, and assaults many students deal with on a daily basis. With the rise of smartphones and social media, the bullying suffered at school can now follow children anywhere, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Parents of children with special needs or health issues also must have concerns about whether their child’s school is equipped to keep them safe.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent for the Atlantic, explained in a recent talk the struggles many students now face: “I grew up in West Baltimore... so when you went out into the world, you had to negotiate a different kind of logic, and that logic often had to do with making yourself safe. It wasn’t just enough to do X, Y, and Z in school, you had to always think about making yourself safe... I would say each day a third of my brain was dedicated to negotiating violence.”

When so much energy is spent on figuring out how to keep yourself safe just getting to school, you can imagine the sense of exhaustion setting in on a child even before they crack open their first book in the morning. No wonder then, after negotiating this violent maze day in and day out, that many students aren’t performing well in class. Scores on the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) tests, colloquially known as the “Nation’s Report Card,” continue to be stagnant, even though there has been a significant increase in recent decades in school funding and regulations passed in the name of creating better education outcomes.

School safety isn’t a problem for just a tiny minority of students anymore, either. Nearly 21 percent of all students ages 12 to 18 report being bullied at school. While that statistic represents important progress since 2005, when 28 percent of middle- and high-school students reported being bullied, it’s little consolation to the estimated 6.1 million students who are being bullied today.

Close to one-third (31 percent) of 6th grade students say they have been bullied, as well as 25 percent of 7th graders. Around one in five 8th, 9th, and 10th graders also report being bullied, along with 15 percent of high school juniors and seniors. Findings from the CDC indicate that the overall high-school bullying rate is 20 percent.

Students should not have to wait years at a time or become victims of violent crime before their parents are allowed to transfer them to safer schools. That is why the Heartland Institute is currently working on a proposal for states to create a Child Safety Account (CSA) program that would allow parents to immediately have their child moved to a safe school—be it private, parochial, or a different public school—as soon as they feel the public school their child is currently attending is dangerous to his or her physical or emotional health.

The Florida Legislature recently recognized the issue of bullying and violence against children in schools. To solve this issue, they passed the Hope Scholarship, allowing students who are victims of bullying and other violence to choose another school within their district, outside of district boundaries, or a private school. This bill became law this March, receiving strong approval in both the state’s House and Senate.

Parents worry about the safety of their children at school just as much as their children do, if not more so. Unfortunately, as it currently stands, parents don’t have many options at their disposal to rectify the problem if they feel like their child’s school is an unsafe place for them. Unless they can afford to send their child to a private school or homeschool them, their child’s fate is determined by circumstance and an entrenched bureaucracy.

It shouldn’t be that way, and that is why CSA programs are so desperately needed. Heartland’s program would offer parents and their children a near-instantaneous solution to school violence by allowing parents to quickly and easily move their child to the school they determine to be the best and safest fit for them—whether that school be another public school, charter school, or private school. Even more importantly, it makes the parents themselves, not some disinterested bureaucrat, the final arbiter of whether or not the child’s school environment is an unsafe one for them.

Right now, thousands of students across America are frustrated, hurting, and dreading having to wake up in the morning and to spend a day in a place where they are poorly treated and possibly physically harmed. Their parents are hurting for them, worried about what the news from school is going to be each day and feeling exasperated and helpless because they think there is nothing they can do to help their child. That is why Child Safety Accounts or so desperately needed. There is no time to act like the present.


The Consequences of Historical Ignorance

America is suffering through a crisis in education, especially when it comes to history.

Many were horrified when a poll, released in April, showed that two-thirds of millennials don’t know what Auschwitz is, despite the fact that it was the most notorious Nazi death camp in World War II.

That was hardly the only worrisome poll of late.

Americans should be outraged that our schools have failed to teach even the most basic historical facts to the younger generations. Worse, the education they receive has often only turned into a justification for superficial social activism, lacking in depth and veracity.

David Hogg, the teen survivor of the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, who became a gun-control activist, exemplifies this worsening problem. He recently tweeted:

 Throughout history violence and war only creates more of itself for example WWI->WWII->Cold War ->Korean War->Vietnam and up to today. While nonviolent moments like Gandhi’s, the suffrage movement or Civil Rights movement lead to peace and long lasting change. Ours will too.

This is little more than bumper sticker history, demonstrative of Hogg’s historical illiteracy.

For one thing, it’s unlikely that Gandhi’s pacifism would have been of much use against the Nazi war machine. People willing to put other humans in ovens are unlikely to be moved by passionate pleas for peace.

It should be noted, too, that Hogg’s two examples of nonviolent movements succeeding—Gandhi’s Indian independence movement and the U.S. civil rights movement—were not exactly nonviolent.

The Partition of India was incredibly violent, and led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of people. And the civil rights movement certainly wasn’t an entirely nonviolent affair, either. The rights of many black Americans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were secured almost entirely by gun ownership.

These so-called nonviolent movements occurred in countries with a tradition of respecting the rule of law and individual rights, giving them an actual chance to succeed through ballots instead of bullets.

In China, nonviolent student protests in the 1980s were crushed by the state—literally in the case of the Tiananmen Square protest. Historically, repression has been the norm, not the exception.

For Americans, the right to speak freely and protest was only secured because young men, mostly teenagers, were willing to take up arms—arms that Hogg and others have so relentlessly crusaded against—and risk their lives to fight for their God-given liberties against the British Crown.

At one time, every American would have known this and would have acknowledged the blood and suffering of the Revolution that secured our freedom and independence.

War is a terrible thing, but it is often just and necessary, and it has certainly served to stop tremendous evil in this world. To deny that is absurd.

Despite the clear gaps in his historical knowledge, Hogg hasn’t shied away from insulting the civic acumen of others and hectoring them. He once said, “Our parents don’t know how to use a f—ing democracy, so we have to.”

Not content to simply insult his parents’ generation, he then followed up in a later interview claiming that those who were against him were on the wrong side of history—a history that his generation would presumably be writing.

“Regardless of what your opinions are or where you come from, you need to realize we are the future of America,” Hogg said in an NPR interview. “And if you choose not to stand with us, that’s OK, because you’ll be on the wrong side of the history textbooks that we write.”

If that’s so, then future history textbooks will look more ideological and baseless than accurate portrayals of the historical record. But perhaps that’s because many current textbooks are, too.

Americans are free, regardless of their education or knowledge level, to use a public platform to espouse their views. At the same time, it’s hard to have a substantive and productive debate on the issues of the day when even the most basic facts of history are unknown to those doing the debating.

Platitudes begin to sound like profound insights when one has an extremely narrow view of history and world events.

It would be nice to see a little more humility from those who have such an incomplete understanding of that history.

Nevertheless, we have only ourselves to blame if we are not doing more to fix the increasingly deplorable state of American schools.

We must admit that the public school education model is failing our youths, despite how much money we’ve pumped into the system.

We should take it upon ourselves to improve our republic through better schools—perhaps charter schools, or even better, private schools funded by caring parents who increasingly can use vouchers or education savings accounts to escape the current institutions that have failed them.

Currently, many of our schools don’t meet even the basic requirements of what Americans need to be informed citizens. Worse, the education students are receiving, especially in civics, is heavily skewed toward left-wing politics.

As my wife, Inez Stepman, wrote for The Federalist:

If education reform is going to be about more than ticking up the United States’ score on international exams, and if school choice is also our only opportunity to break a left-wing ideological monopoly on public education, we must deliver meaningful, universal education choice to parents now, while Generation X parents are still the majority of those with school-age children.

We must give all parents the opportunity now to choose education options that align with their values, or the values we cherish will continue their slide into extinction.

Historical ignorance and cultural disintegration are only going to become more pronounced until we find a way to expand the net of education that works for the youngest generation.

School choice can no longer be treated as a back-burner issue.

Our future and our freedom depend on it.


Australia: School chaplain program's $247m budget extension rejected by teachers' union

The Australian Education Union has joined a chorus of secular groups in opposing the Coalition’s decision to extend the school chaplains program in the 2018 budget.

Tuesday’s budget confirmed the federal government will give $247m over four years to continue the controversial program, which places 3,000 chaplains recognised by religious groups in schools to provide pastoral care.

According to budget documents, the renewed program will have “an enhanced focus on addressing bullying in schools”.

Luke Howarth and dozens of other Coalition MPs have pushed to expand the program, despite warnings from the Rationalist Society of Australia that it “interferes with the right to religious freedom and involves religious discrimination in hiring decisions” because secular pastoral care workers cannot be hired.

The Australian Education Union president, Correna Haythorpe, said: “We do not support the chaplains program.

“Our schools need these funds to invest in programs such as school counsellors and student wellbeing programs in schools. We prefer to see that money invested in our schools more broadly.”

In March the education minister, Simon Birmingham, said he had received “representations from many, many schools around the country, arguing in favour of the continuation of that program”.

Alison Courtice, a spokeswoman for Queensland Parents for Secular State Schools, said the government had ignored “many representations opposing the program and urging, at the very least, that the religious requirement be removed”.

Courtice said the Queensland guidelines allowed for groups employing chaplains to apply for a temporary waiver of minimum qualifications, but “no such waiver applies to the faith requirement ... which clearly illustrates that the program is about religion more than what’s best for students”.

Although chaplains are not allowed to proselytise, Courtice noted the same people were allowed to deliver religious instruction when not on chaplaincy hours. She called this “a concerning blurring of the lines, with students potentially failing to distinguish between the roles”.

Secular groups are concerned chaplains can skirt the rules by telling a personal story of embracing religion, inviting guests who encourage children to attend religious services or other religious events, or using materials such as the Qbla app, which contains more overt religious material.

In a 2015 consultation report the Australian Human Rights Commission reported that at almost all the public meetings it held, complaints were raised about the chaplains program.

But the commission refused to review the program in 2018 when the Rationalist Society raised a complaint, citing the fact the review conducted by former minister Philip Ruddock is already investigating freedom of religion.

In April Guardian Australia reported the federal and several state governments had stopped counting complaints against the school chaplains program after responsibility for administering the program was transferred to the states in 2015 as a result of a high court challenge.

In 2015 federal Education Department officials told Senate estimates that in the previous year, 2,312 of the program’s 2,336 chaplains were Christian. The rest were adherents of Islam (13), Judaism (eight) and one each from Bahá’í, Buddhism and Aboriginal traditional religions.


Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Here’s How Gutless Bureaucrats Are Helping Antifa Mobs Censor Speech with Threats of Violence

This past week, the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada effectively canceled an event sponsored by the Laurier Society for Open Inquiry (LSOI) by hiking the original security fee of Can$1,600 up to Can$28,500.

The reason administrators gave for the increase was negative “community response.” The event featured Dr. Ricardo Duchesne, professor of sociology and author of “Canada in Decay: Mass Immigration, Diversity, and the Ethnocide of Euro-Canadians,” and Faith Goldy, a far-right independent journalist whose previous talk at Wilfrid Laurier University (also organized by LSOI) was shut down last month after a protestor unlawfully pulled the fire alarm.

In response to the Duchesne-Goldy event, Kitchener-Waterloo Against Fascism organized a protest they called “Rally Against White Supremacists in Waterloo.” And the university’s Indigenous Students’ Association petitioned the administration to “protect” its students and refuse Faith Goldy and Dr. Ricardo Duchesne a platform. The hashtag “#NoNazisAtWaterloo” briefly picked up on social media before the event was officially canceled due to the exorbitant security costs. Once the Laurier Society for Open Inquiry announced the cancellation of the event, many people who opposed it went to Twitter to celebrate the censorship.

The use of the heckler’s veto and the threat of violent disruption of speech is nothing new. It is rather new, however, that so many organizations and venues are folding to both the use and threat of the veto and the associated threat of adjacent violence.

This past winter, Norwegian black metal band Taake had to abruptly cancel its North American tour because of threats of violence originating from members of Antifa.

Taake is a band with a 25-year history which has toured the United States (and even Israel) in the recent past. However, this time around Antifa members (who falsely labeled the band as “Nazi”) went on an aggressive campaign to reportedly threaten the venues, fans and workers would be at the band’s performances.

As one post (new removed) from “Kansas City Revolutionary Collective” (an Antifa social media account) stated, “The scumbags at the Riot Room have invited notorious nazi (sic) metal band Taake to Kansas City. We call on all area antifascists to show up the night of the show p***ed and ready to send a message to the Riot Room and any other venue that might consider booking nazi acts, that if you bring Nazis to our city you will get f**ked up.

Come out on Saturday, March 31 at 7pm to the Riot Room, prepared with masks, sticks, shields and whatever else you might need to make Taake, their fans and enablers fear for their safety. Enough with nazi metal bands, enough with the Riot Room and their nazi apologia. Death to fascists!”

The Riot Room, and many other venues (who were similarly threatened) cancelled the event. Many of these venues were weary of the violent threats from a known radical entity comfortable with the use of physical force and the potential costs incurred stemming from the violence. These music venues claim to promote art and painfully few would admit they act as censors, yet the reality is that they are, with chilling effects across the greater live music landscape.

Closer to home in academia, the heckler’s veto has been successfully utilized in speaking events at many institutions including DePaul University and Lewis and Clark University. In fact, a number of individuals have celebrated the successful use of the heckler’s veto. The Toronto Star’s race and gender columnist, Shree Paradkar, wrote an article with the headline “Faith Goldy’s talk at Wilfrid Laurier was cancelled. And a damn good thing, too.”

What has significantly changed in recent months is that this latest incarnation of the heckler’s veto does not necessarily come in the form of heckling or merely the threat of violence at an event. It now more often comes in the form of excessive security fees to prevent an event from ever happening. This has been become common at universities and is a way for these institutions to mask their displeasure with the content or disposition of the speaker.

Are you a venue that doesn’t like Faith Goldy but still want to make it seem like you wish to protect free speech and are against censorship? Simple. Just charge excessive security fees — and maybe make fee hikes very last minute. Crisis averted, right? We know that many university administrators will experience pushback for preventing a talk based on content, and maybe even for threats of violence. The use of excessive security fees, however, gives universities an “out” for shutting down speech without actually “shutting it down.”

And it should be of little surprise that many of these speakers being shut down are those on the right, who are held in extremely low regard and general disgust amongst the vast majority of university administrators who unabashedly lean left and label themselves as “progressives” or “social justice warriors.”

While many universities in the United States have found ways to deal with security concerns in an appropriate and economically viable fashion, many still hide behind the fees. Thankfully though, many are fighting back. The University of Washington’s College Republicans sued the university this past February over a $17,000 security fee planned for a talk by the leader of Patriot Prayer, Joey Gibson.

Institutions like the private Franklin & Marshall College have adopted (or closely adapted) the Chicago Statement demonstrating a commitment to free speech on campus. In just this past year Franklin & Marshall has hosted talks from very public and very polarizing figures as such Jeffrey Lord and Jasbir Puar without incident. Princeton and Georgetown are other adopters.

We can only hope that universities like Waterloo and Laurier can look to these institutions that facilitate the expression of ideas and open discourse. The reality is that students and community members truly experience the ability to develop and grow when they are allowed to actually engage in dialectics, challenging art and open debate. Institutions, both public and private, need to dig in and stop allowing themselves to be controlled by violent mobs.

Who knows what these mobs will demand next.


UK: Crackdown on university students silencing free speech

Students will be banned from refusing speakers a platform at their universities under the first government intervention on free speech on campus for 30 years.

Sam Gyimah, the universities minister, will announce tough guidance on the issue at a meeting today, calling attempts to silence debate “chilling”.

He will accuse some student societies of “institutional hostility” to certain unfashionable but perfectly lawful views. A “murky” legal landscape, with guidance from various regulators, lets zealots censor those with whom they disagree, Mr Gyimah will say.

The new rules signal the seriousness with which the government is taking free speech on campus. The previous universities minister Jo Johnson said last year that the Office for Students, the new university regulator, would enforce existing measures.


Destroying America, One Miseducated Student After Another

A corrupt public school system indoctrinates semi-literate cannon fodder for the Democrat Party

Last Wednesday, the Miami Herald reported that Venezuela’s inflation rate rose from an astonishing 4,966% to an almost incomprehensible 18,000% in the months of March and April alone. If the trend holds steady, the annualized rate could top 100,000%. The same day, Hillary Clinton opined that being a capitalist hurt her election chances because “41 percent of Democrats are socialists or self-described socialists.” The day before that, the National Assessment of Educational Progress’s (NAEP) 2017 test results released by the U.S. Department of Education revealed that 65% of eighth graders lacked proficiency in reading and 67% lacked proficiency in math. In short, a corrupt public school system indoctrinates semi-literate cannon fodder for a Democrat Party that now clamors for the same socialism devastating Venezuela.

How corrupt is the current system? “The atrocious NAEP performance is only a fraction of the bad news,” explains columnist Walter Williams. “Nationally, our high school graduation rate is over 80 percent. That means high school diplomas, which attest that these students can read and compute at a 12th-grade level, are conferred when 63 percent are not proficient in reading and 75 percent are not proficient in math. For blacks, the news is worse. Roughly 75 percent of black students received high school diplomas attesting that they could read and compute at the 12th-grade level. However, 83 percent could not read at that level, and 93 percent could not do math at that level.”

Such machinations are nothing less than outright fraud, which continues in large part because of collective bargaining.

Collective bargaining has recently manifested itself a series of teachers’ strikes that began in West Virginia on Feb. 22, and spread to Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona and Colorado. What are these strikes about? With the exception of Kentucky, where the primary issue was pension reform, they were about teacher pay. To be fair, teachers in Arizona, West Virginia and Oklahoma have salaries that rank near the bottom nationally, even when cost of living is factored into the equation. Yet many of those same teachers get pension benefits that dwarf comparative private-sector benefits, and many get retiree health coverage that has become virtually nonexistent in the private sector.

As American Enterprise Institute education expert Frederick Hess explains, the media would like to blame “stingy taxpayers” for stagnant teacher pay. Yet he notes per-pupil spending actually grew by 27% between 1992 and 2014. “Between 2003 and 2014, even as teacher salaries declined, per-teacher average benefits spending increased from $14,000 to $21,000 — much of which goes to paying down pension debt rather than benefits for current teachers,” Hess reveals. On top of that, there’s been a substantial increase in the number of non-instructional staff precipitating “top-heavy bureaucracies that add nothing to students’ learning, but do add to union membership rolls and make teachers’ jobs easier,” as Investor’s Business Daily puts it.

They also add to the inconvenient reality that funding the current system has pushed many states to the brink of insolvency.

Moreover, while pay raises may be the teachers’ impetus for striking, their union leaders have other ideas in mind. “What do all of these strikes and protests have in common?” asks columnist Kevin Boyd. “They are taking place in states where Democrats are either trying to make gains or consolidate their power in this fall’s elections.”

Columnist Jenni White takes this assertion further, insisting school officials used the strikes as a pretext for promoting the Democrat agenda. One parent reported that her child was required to write a paper on her feelings about the walk-out, and another student told her mother that teachers were offering pupils extra credit if they attended a student rally in support of the teacher strike.

And then there’s American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten. Last month, Weingarten made a phone call during a train ride to New York. Unfortunately for her, she was overheard plotting a teachers’ strike in Puerto Rico.

Why? Because Gov. Ricardo Rosselló signed legislation aimed at increasing the number of charter schools and voucher programs that pose the greatest threat to union hegemony. “We never use the word strike,” Weingarten said. “We are a human shield for the kids … teachers are doing this in the stead of parents and kids.” Weingarten also referenced the strikes in Oklahoma and West Virginia, saying the union’s goal should be “cloaking” their efforts. “Let everyone call in for a personal day so they can’t open schools,” she said. “Let them call in for a sick day. They’re sick to death about the schools. They’re so anxiety ridden about the schools.”

When she realized she’d been outed Weingarten remained defiant, insisting support for school choice and vouchers was tantamount to “feeding Wall Street vultures,” and a “perversion of priorities.”

Whose priorities? Charts of 2017’s eighth grade reading and math proficiency rankings in 27 large urban districts published by the DOE reveal the most successful districts sport a 41%, proficiency rate in math, and a 36% proficiency rate in reading.

In a better nation, “success” rates that condemn six in 10 children to compromised futures would be considered appalling. In this one, they are union priorities. And since Democrats are more than willing to march in lockstep with those priorities, it should surprise no one that the worst performing districts are all Democrat strongholds.

“Teachers’ unions have immense political clout, and can demonize anyone who disagrees with their agenda,” Investor’s Business Daily explains. “They’ve been tremendously successful, becoming one of largest contributors to Democratic and left-wing political candidates to get their generally hard-left union agenda past local legislatures and through our nation’s Congress.”, a website dedicated to tracking campaign contributions, translates that clout into monetary terms revealing that from 2004 to 2016 political donations by teachers’ unions “grew from $4.3 million to more than $32 million — an all-time high.”

Such clout has real-world consequences. A 2017 Investor’s Business Daily editorial asks if we’re becoming “too ignorant” to save our constitutional republic. A Rasmussen survey released April 30 suggests a highly disturbing answer: 46% of Americans favor government-guaranteed jobs for all.

In 2001, Venezuela was the richest county in Latin America. Seventeen years later, the nation that embraced “21st Century Socialism” stands on the brink of total collapse. The Democrat Party and its unionist education allies, “socialists or self-described socialists” as Hillary Clinton describes them, endeavor to put America on a similar path to self-destruction.

Every political war currently occurring in this nation is secondary to this one. Yet it remains the only one where only one side is doing the fighting.

If this dynamic remains unchanged, American exceptionalism will cease to exist — one mis-educated student after another.


Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Needy students squeezed at UMass Amherst

Once again we encounter the sense of entitlement that leftists encourage.  Some students think they are entilted to go to Amherst simply because they want to.  The reality is that  Amherst charges high fees in order to pay for what it takes to support its vast facilities and elite reputation. 

But poor students are not deprived of a good education.  They could go to UMass Lowell with very little out-of-pocket costs. Lowell is a big, selective, well established research-based university in a pleasant riverine location that will give you all you need if you have the ability.  And Lowell is much closer to Boston

Until recently, Massachusetts students of limited means could readily find a path to the state’s flagship public university and earn a degree that would likely catapult them up the economic ladder. But increasingly, the University of Massachusetts Amherst is moving out of reach for the state’s best and brightest if they don’t have a big enough bank account.

Rising tuition costs, fewer federal loan options, and a dip in financial aid have left some high school seniors in Massachusetts struggling this year to come up with thousands of additional dollars to pay for tuition.

After federal loans, institutional aid, and work-study money have been factored in, some of the neediest admitted freshmen will still have to come up with $8,130 on average this year if they want a seat at UMass Amherst, compared with $5,500 each of the last two years — a 48 percent increase. For some, that out-of-pocket expense is even bigger.

“This is not a good look. . . . A public university is supposed to be affordable,” said Kevin Fudge, the director of consumer advocacy at American Student Assistance, who is advising a single mother who has to finance $14,000 in costs annually to send her daughter to UMass Amherst. “A $14,000 bill for a high-needs student at a public university is pretty surprising. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I hope it’s not the start of a new trend.”

UMass Amherst officials said the university continues to support low-income state students and offers a much more generous financial aid package than many other flagship schools across the country.

“We stack up well,” to other large public universities, said Ed Blaguszewski, a UMass Amherst spokesman, when it comes to helping its low-income students. “Our commitment to this is longstanding.”

But officials acknowledge that the financial burden on families climbed for the incoming freshmen class. University officials blamed several factors.

The estimated in-state tuition for UMass Amherst for the upcoming school year increased by about $1,300, or more than 4 percent over last year, to $31,330. In addition, the federal government ended the Perkins Loan program, which provided low-interest loans of about $1,000 to needy students. The school also slightly decreased the need-based grants it offers students by $250 to $15,700.

Taken together, that means the neediest freshmen will have to cover on average about $8,130 of the costs annually, according to UMass Amherst’s calculations.

That spike is much higher than at UMass Lowell.

Incoming needy freshmen will have to cover $2,600 of the tuition costs at the Lowell campus this fall, compared to $2,200 last year and $1,950 in 2016.

UMass Amherst has traditionally been more competitive and expensive than the other campuses, such as UMass Lowell and UMass Boston. But Lowell also provides more grants and institutional aid on average to its needy students, about $18,820 to offset the $29,920 in tuition and fees.

UMass Lowell officials said the school also hasn’t relied heavily on the Perkins Loan and stopped automatically offering it to incoming students in 2015, because of fears the government would end the program.

For low-income students aiming for UMass Amherst, the options are limited, college admissions counselors said.

They can choose to take on more debt, such as parent-student loans or private loans. They can also apply for as many scholarships as possible in the hope of covering the difference between the costs at UMass Amherst and the aid the school has offered them. Or they can take on a part-time job.

“I worked really hard all high school to be hit with this reality, ‘Oh, you can’t afford it,’ ” said Yaleiny Feliz, a senior at Margarita Muñiz Academy in Jamaica Plain. “It feels that there’s such a heavy burden on students who are low income. It’s a setup for failure.”

Feliz, whose mother is a medical assistant and still paying off her own student loans, received grants and a federal loan to help offset the cost but was still left to pay $8,000 on her own next year.

This week, she learned that a scholarship will help her cover some of those costs; she will also have to take out a more expensive unsubsidized federal loan.

Across the country, students such as Feliz are increasingly having to scramble to afford their state’s flagship public university or are being shut out, said Stephen Burd, a senior policy analyst with New America, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

Faced with declining financial support from state legislators, many of these universities are directing their limited financial aid dollars to attract wealthier students, many of them from out-of-state, who will pay more in tuition and help the campus climb up in the competitive rankings, burnishing their reputations, Burd said.

“Public flagship universities were meant to serve the children of all of the citizens in a state, not just the financial elite,” Burd said. “Unfortunately, more and more of these institutions are increasingly spending financial aid to attract wealthy students, while closing their doors to those who need the help the most.”

UMass Amherst continues to spend a bulk of its nearly $100 million in institutional aid money on low-income students, and more than three-quarters of its undergraduates are from Massachusetts. But the school’s share of money devoted to students without need has been climbing dramatically in recent years.

In 2016, 26 percent of the scholarships and grant funds awarded by UMass Amherst went to students who didn’t need money, up from just 8 percent in 2010, according to statistics the campus has reported. The number of freshmen without need who were awarded financial aid increased from almost 370 students in 2010 to more than 1,320 students during that same period.

These more economically well-off, out-of-state students are bringing in revenue to UMass Amherst and helping to lower costs for the state’s students, said James Roche, the university’s vice provost of enrollment.

The university this school year spent $30 million on merit aid to offset tuition costs for out-of-state undergraduates. But those students also brought in $85 million through net revenue, according to UMass Amherst. “The out-of-state students are supporting the lower tuition for in-state students,” Roche said. “It makes the whole institution stronger.”

Still, for Vivian Du, a senior at Malden High School, the price of UMass Amherst after she received her financial aid package came as sticker shock. She will have to take out about $8,000 in federal and private loans annually, even after getting a private $5,000 annual scholarship, Du said.

“It’s really hard,” Du said. “It’s my top choice, and I have to pay so much money for it. It was not as affordable as I was thinking.”


Teacher Shows Class a Photo of Trump With Mussolini, Caption 'Il Douche'

On Wednesday, a New York City high school teacher showed students a meme  showing President Donald Trump alongside Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, with the captions "Il Duce" below Mussolini and "Il Douche" below Trump. An appalled mother told PJ Media the teacher later apologized, although he said he has showed the image in a lesson about fake news. He had also showed images attacking former President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"My daughter is a 9th grader, she sent me a photo of this meme with Mussolini and President Trump displayed in her social studies classroom," the mother, who opted to remain anonymous, told PJ Media. "She couldn't tell me why it was displayed other than the fact that they are studying world dictators"

The mother, disgusted, reached out to authorities. "I was appalled, contacted the teacher, principal and school board via email," she told PJ Media. "Her social studies teacher called me after I sent the email, agreeing with me the image is disgraceful and stating he was using this image to help teach the kids about fake news."

According to the teacher, he had also shown "a photo of former President Obama and Mussolini. He also said it is sad to see the lack of respect displayed for our leaders this day and age."

"I told him his point of fake news was not made clear in class and should be reiterated the following day," the mother recalled.

"I have not heard from the principal or the school board regarding the inappropriate classroom content, but did send them all a follow-up email," she told PJ Media. "My email restated what the teacher said, then made a suggestion to use something more tactful such as to teach the students how to spot fake news."

The mother, shaken, concluded that she has no other option than to trust the teacher's version of events. "At this point I must take his word and keep a watchful eye on the content in the classroom," she concluded.

To some degree, her daughter's account verified the teacher's story. "She did say there were memes up before this particular one with Hillary Clinton dressed as Hitler. She was uncomfortable and it seemed the other students were as well," the mother said.

On Thursday, the teacher apologized to the class, the mother told PJ Media. "The teacher apologized to the class today because of an outraged parent, saying he was wrong for displaying this sort of 'fake news.'"

Needless to say,  Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Barack Obama aren't comparable to dictators like Adolf Hitler and Bento Mussolini.

Benito Mussolini ranks among the worst dictators in world history. He infamously teamed up with Adolf Hitler, even going so far as sending Jews to the concentration camps. He reportedly killed 80,000 in the Pacification of Libya, 661,500 in Italian-occupied Ethiopia, and 153,200 Italian civilians, including the Jews he killed at Hitler's request. All told, he was responsible for nearly 900,000 deaths.

As for the captions, Mussolini was referred to as "Il Duce," a title that translates to "the leader." A douche, by contrast, is a device to shoot water inside a woman's vagina in order to clean it. While comparing Trump and Mussolini is offensive enough, the insulting caption put that meme into another disgusting category.

As for, it is a site dedicated to fighting fake news, founded by investigative journalist Lee Stranahan. Stranahan has written for Breitbart News, The Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Sputnik, a Russian government-controlled news agency. For this reason, may prove a rather controversial alternative.

Teachers should know better than to give such offensive memes airtime in class — whether they attack Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in such a way. At least this teacher did not just display offensive memes against one side, and at least he apologized the very next day.

Students should learn about fake news, but there are many examples far less offensive and more fitting for the classroom.


University of Florida is forced to apologize after black and minority graduates were SHOVED off stage by a white faculty member while they celebrated

It appears that he was not in tune with the African tendency for celebratory dance

The University of Florida is facing allegations of racism after a faculty member forcibly yanked several minority students off the stage during their graduation ceremony.

Shocking video shows the graduates walk across the stage to receive their diplomas as their names are called.

But when some students take a moment to do a celebratory dance, a white male in regalia aggressively grabs them to move them along.

The videos has sparked outrage by alumni, parents and current students who claim the staff member was only physical with black and other minority students.

The incident forced the University of Florida president to issue an apology for the 'inappropriately aggressive' behavior.

Throughout Saturday's two-and-half-hour graduation ceremony the man, who has not been named by the school, is seen hurrying students of all ethnicities along as their names are called.

It appears his role was to make sure the students were orderly and swiftly walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.

However, he may have been getting impatient near the end as he aggressively grabs and shoves several of male and female students when they stop to do a victory dance.

Those at the graduation posted video footage on Twitter, sparking outrage as people claimed that he was discriminating and only acted excessively violent with the black students.

One Twitter-user wrote: 'Every time a Black student took more than TWO seconds, he aggressively pushed them.'

An alumni wrote that she is 'completely disgraced at the treatment of these students who earned their spot on that stage.' 

University of Florida president Kent Fuch issued an apology on Twitter early Sunday morning.

It reads: 'During one of this weekend’s commencement ceremonies, we were inappropriately aggressive in rushing students across the stage. I personally apologize, and am reaching out to the students involved.

'The practice has been halted for all future ceremonies, and we will work to make sure all graduating students know we are proud of their achievements and celebrate with them their graduation.'

Even then, 1985 graduate Todd Simmons raised his concern over the 'practices' the the president was referring to.

Simmons, who is also Associate Vice Chancellor for University Relations at North Carolina A&T State University, responded in a tweet.

'I appreciate your candor. I [would] also respectfully suggest an inquiry is in order regarding how such a “practice” came to be approved & carried out in the 1st place, w/ what appear to be clear racial differences, in front of thousands. The vids are disturbing,' he wrote.

It is unclear if any action will be taken by the university against the faculty member.


Monday, May 07, 2018

Arizona Passes Education Budget To End Teacher Walkout

You can see that the article below is from a Leftist source.  The author shows not the slightest curiosity about where the extra money is coming from.  Leftists really do think that money grows on trees

Arizona teachers appeared ready to head back to their classrooms after the governor signed a budget bill Thursday that will pump more money into schools and give teachers the first of what should be two pay raises.

The massive teacher walkout, carried out under the banner #RedForEd, began a week ago and closed schools for a majority of Arizona students. Thousands of teachers flooded the Capitol and turned downtown Phoenix into a sea of red each day, urging lawmakers to restore education funding after years of deep cuts since the recession.

The legislation signed by Gov. Doug Ducey (R) early Thursday did not meet all the demands initially laid out by the groups coordinating the walkout, and some teachers had hoped to keep schools closed until legislators committed to a larger budget. But it was enough progress for union leaders to recommend teachers return to the classroom and prepare for another battle later in the year.

Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, told Phoenix’s 12 News that teachers overall were unhappy with the legislation but viewed it as a start. Many teachers, he acknowledged, were hoping for more money for their classrooms.

“I think they’re pretty frustrated. They wanted to see a more robust package,” Thomas said, adding that the bill would not reduce class sizes. “What we do see is a lot of promises by the governor that are not going to come true.”

But after a week of school closures, Thomas added, teachers will now “be moving toward the classroom” with an eye on the November elections.

The budget bill gives teachers a 9 percent pay raise next year, which, combined with a 1 percent raise already given, gets them halfway to the 20 percent hike they have called for. Ducey has promised that the second installment will come by 2020, though that is not guaranteed by the package he signed.

The plan steers bulk money to districts and gives them the discretion to dole out the raises as they see fit, meaning not all teachers will receive the same percentage pay bump. An analysis done by the Arizona Republic found that a minority of districts under the plan will not receive enough money to give all their teachers 20 percent increases.

The bill also hikes state spending on schools by $200 million per year more than Ducey originally proposed at the start of the year. Still, it comes up well short of the walkout organizers’ demand that funding be restored to 2008 levels, adjusted for inflation.

The Arizona protest came on the heels of similar walkouts in West Virginia, Kentucky and Oklahoma ― all red states that have seen education funding drop and teacher salaries stagnate in recent years. The Arizona walkout was being planned for weeks, after West Virginia teachers successfully negotiated raises by closing schools for nine days. A grassroots group, Arizona Educators United, organized the walkout in conjunction with the union.

As in those other states, Arizona lawmakers have carried out significant tax cuts over the years, leading to budget shortfalls and little money to devote to schools. Per-student funding has dropped by 14 percent over the past decade, when adjusted for inflation.

The unions leading the wave of teacher strikes around the country have had to make hard decisions about how long to hold out for their demands. Parents have largely been supportive of the walkouts and their aims, but public backing can flag over time as schools remain closed and family’s daily lives are disrupted.

While Arizona teachers did not get all they asked for in the budget bill, the union probably called for teachers to return to work for fear they would lose leverage over time, even if some teachers wanted to continue the walkout.

As one teacher put it on the Arizona Education Association Facebook page: “Keep fighting for the children, the future of education in Arizona!! Don’t throw in the towel, this is NOT over yet!!”


The Politicization of the MCAT

In 2015, the Association of American Medical Colleges revised the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) for the first time in nearly 25 years, stretching the full exam-day experience from around five hours to eight or more. The test drew attention at the time for its sheer length; less widely noted was the explicitly ideological bent of the new exam.

The AAMC occupies a curious place in the world of medicine. It forms one-half of the only government-approved accrediting entity for U.S. medical schools, and it is solely in charge of administering both the MCAT and the national standardized medical school application. Unlike the American Medical Association, which represents physician groups without exercising much direct control over doctors, the AAMC has immediate and significant authority over its constituent medical schools and academic health centers. And in recent years, it has used this leverage to fundamentally alter the way medical schools assess applicants.

Dr. Darrell Kirch, president and CEO of the AAMC, expressed his vision in a candid 2011 speech at the University of California, Davis: "I am a man on a mission. I believe it is critical to our future to transform health care. I'm not talking about tweaking it. I'm not talking about some nuanced improvements here and there. I'm talking about true transformation."

In that address and others, he described the AAMC's "Holistic Review Project," which the organization launched in 2007 with the goal of "redefining what makes a good doctor." The project's objectives included revising the MCAT and a wide range of other reforms. A series of new guidelines (some of which have yet to be implemented) called on medical school admissions teams to place less emphasis on applicants' grades, changed the requirements for letters of recommendation, and altered the standardized application by requesting a great deal more information about students' upbringing and life experiences. The AAMC is also planning to add "situational judgment tests"—carefully crafted interviews in which applicants will be presented with a variety of hypothetical scenarios involving ethical conflicts—to the current admissions requirements. Along with the new MCAT, these changes are part of Kirch's plan to shift the focus of medical-school admissions toward a "new excellence," a standard based less on test scores and more on "the attitudes, values, and experiences" of applicants.

The AAMC has also successfully advocated for changes in medical curricula. A philosophy major, Kirch likes to tell the story of his unconventional journey to becoming a psychiatrist, stressing the importance of integrating perspectives from non-medical fields into medical training. He has repeatedly expressed his desire to move medical studies "away from the accumulation of facts" and toward "a new paradigm." Whether this is scientifically sound or not, it has become the norm in many pre-med programs, which now offer "interdisciplinary" majors such as Columbia University's "Medicine, Literature and Society" track or Cornell's "Biology and Society." A number of medical schools have also revised their mission statements to better align with the AAMC's principles.

These changes might not seem worrisome at first glance. But when combined with Kirch's political statements, the reforms raise questions about what the AAMC's "new paradigm" will entail. Kirch often insists that social justice is the neglected core tenet of medical ethics; in a 2015 essay, he praised the White Coats for Black Lives movement, a medical-student organization inspired by Black Lives Matter, for "sparking dialogue rather than division" by "staging on-campus die-ins." White Coats for Black Lives lobbies, among other things, for the creation of "national medical school curricular standards" that would mandate the teaching of "structural racism" and "unconscious racial bias" in medical schools.

Kirch has also praised the AAMC's political advocacy efforts, which lean left on most issues. Anyone who registers to take the MCAT automatically receives frequent "action alerts" issued by the AAMC's Government Affairs and Advocacy division, which serves as the organization's lobbying arm. In recent months, the AAMC has weighed in on immigration reform and the Trump administration's travel ban. Kirch once boasted, half-jokingly, that "the AAMC was the author of some of the most vague language [in the Affordable Care Act]."

But it is Kirch's reform of the MCAT that raises the most concern. The AAMC began redesigning the test in 2009, but only received approval for the revisions in 2012. In an announcement reported by the New York Times that year, Kirch explained, "The goal is to improve the medical admissions process to find the people who you and I would want as our doctors. Being a good doctor isn't just about understanding science, it's about understanding people." One new section of the exam, entitled "Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior," requires test-takers to respond to multiple-choice questions in which both the question's premise and the available answers are, at best, often distantly related to medicine.

One MCAT practice question (from a collaboration between the AAMC and online-education nonprofit Khan Academy), for example, asks whether the wage gap between men and women is the result of bigotry, sexism, racism, or biological differences (no other options are provided, and the "correct" answer is sexism). Another asks whether the "lack of minorities such as African Americans or Latinos/Latinas among university faculty members" is due to symbolic racism, institutional racism, hidden racism, or personal bias (the correct answer is institutional racism). Yet another asks test-takers to select from a list of debatable definitions for "the terms 'sex' and 'gender.' "

Taken on their own, these questions may not seem particularly invidious. And it would be easy enough for a good test-taker to select answers that would be marked as correct, whether he or she agreed with them or not. But the changes nonetheless reflect Kirch's greater goal: to test "not just what students know," as he said in a 2015 interview about the test, "but how they think."

In response to questions about these developments and their effects, the AAMC's executive vice president, Dr. Atul Grover, referred to a set of core principles guiding the organization's recent work. An AAMC report outlining those principles describes the organization as "a powerful voice for compassion, equity, and justice" on behalf of the nation's academic medical institutions, and stresses the importance of "advancing a well-trained, culturally competent, and diverse health and biomedical workforce." Grover further explained that the revised MCAT "tests students on the knowledge and skills that future physicians need to practice in a changing health care system and serve a changing patient population" and establishes a foundation for learning "about the socio-cultural and behavioral determinants of health."

According to Grover, the periodic review and updating of standardized tests "are considered a best practice," and the changes to the MCAT were called for "in part because the health system of tomorrow requires a different kind of physician." He explained that the impact of these changes on applicants and medical schools is currently being evaluated by a group of 18 medical schools.

If the AAMC's objective were merely to improve the bedside manner and general sensitivity of physicians, or even to increase diversity in the medical field through conventional affirmative-action policies, few people would likely object. Unfortunately, what Kirch in particular seems to want to create is a medical community that aligns as closely as possible with his particular political views—and to insist that future doctors accept those views as settled fact. This leaves students who don't share Kirch's (and the AAMC's) transform­ative vision with a difficult choice: Will they violate their own integrity in order to succeed?

The AAMC is not alone among accrediting institutions seeking to steer professions leftward. The American Psychological Association, which accredits a variety of graduate-level psychology programs, has taken strong positions on topics such as pay equality and gun control. The Council on Social Work Education, which accredits college-level and graduate social work programs, has also been outspoken on a range of issues, particularly regarding "social and economic justice." Yet this shift among medical educators is particularly alarming. One would expect the leaders of a scientific discipline to carefully distinguish between verifiable fact and opinion; the new MCAT blurs that line.

In his address at the AAMC's most recent annual meeting, Kirch said he "refuse[s] to live in a post-truth world" and insisted that doctors cannot "let bias influence patient care." But the AAMC's policy of imposing political litmus tests on future physicians is contributing to this trend. Integrity is among the most important qualities a doctor can possess—it entails doing the right thing when no one else is watching. With its politically loaded MCAT questions and "holistic" admissions recommendations, the AAMC is teaching aspiring physicians to compromise their integrity and adherence to the truth before their careers even begin.


Mathematics teachers disapointed by new education report

The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) says today's Government response to this week’s Gonski 2.0 report, Through Growth to Achievement: Report of the Review to Achieve Education Excellence in Australian Schools, must consider the time and resources needed to tackle deepening issues surrounding mathematics education.

A ‘system view’ is needed to understand the maths education ecosystem, including the extent of the damage caused by Australia’s absence of university mathematics prerequisites and out-of-field teaching.

Only 14 per cent of universities require intermediate mathematics for entry into science and students are able to enter almost half Australia’s engineering degrees without a requirement for intermediate or higher mathematics.

“The current lack of university maths prerequisites is sending a worrying value message about the impact and need for mathematics to students, schools and parents,” says AMSI Director, Professor Geoff Prince.

Professor Prince said the report undersold this issue, as well as the difficulty in graduating qualified secondary maths teachers and the extent of out-of-field teaching. The Institute believes that it would take a considerable amount of time to turn around the current lack of interest in teaching amongst mathematics graduates.

At least 26 per cent of Years 7-10 maths classes are taught by an out-of-field teacher, a figure that almost doubles for remote regions. An issue, Professor Prince, warns will not be solved through graduate recruitment alone.

“Insufficient attention has been paid to the professional development of out-of-field teachers, an explicit recommendation put forward by the Institute in its submission to the review panel. It is critical to support student learning with adequate teacher content knowledge, an issue only partially addressed by the report,” he said.

AMSI supports greater transparency around relevant teacher qualifications to provide this much overdue professional development and enhance workforce planning as recommended by the report.

“It is critical we understand the true extent and trends of out-of-field teaching; as the report identifies this is acute and endemic in regional and remote areas with mathematics teaching positions hardest to fill,” said Professor Prince.

Not just about what happens in the classroom, AMSI also continues to call for a national campaign to tackle behavioural and cultural attitudes towards mathematics to strengthen student engagement. The Institute’s Schools program is already a leader in this area through its national Choose Maths project.

“If we want students to stick with mathematics, particularly girls, we need to tackle engagement barriers beyond the classroom. As well as deeper understanding of career pathways, this is essential to challenge community attitudes to mathematics and its value and impact,” says Professor Prince.

Media release from AMSI. Media Contact: Laura Watson,

Sunday, May 06, 2018

American University orders students to agree women can revoke consent after sex

If a man and a woman are both drunk and they have sex, the man is the rapist if the woman decides he is at some point, regardless of how she felt in the moment.

This is what American University is teaching students in a required sexual consent module, according to Red Alert Politics.

The module “asks students personal behavioral questions like how many sexual partners they’ve had and how often they drink,” according to Red Alert, which says the program is called “Campus Clarity: Think About It.”

That appears to refer to CampusClarity (since acquired by training provider EverFi), whose invasive questions were pulled from mandatory student training by Clemson University in 2014 after they drew outside scrutiny.

Former AU student Sydney Jacobs said she was threatened with academic probation if she didn’t complete the training a year ago, and when she did, the module called her a “N00B” (gamer slang for “newbie”) because her answers were wrong:

“I was shocked,” said Jacobs. “The program explicitly says they’re both too drunk to give consent but then says the man coerced the woman into a dangerous situation. The hypothetical specifically says neither gave consent but then says the woman can take certain steps towards legal options. It concludes the man likely committed sexual assault.” …

“Ultimately my problem with the whole thing is it’s creating a culture on campus that it’s okay to re-write history and rescind your consent when you’re not happy with the outcome. People are scared to hook up without facing repercussions that aren’t warranted.”

Jacobs is further incensed because the same training is used at public universities including the University of Florida and Kansas State University, meaning taxpayers are funding the message that “it is okay to rescind consent and then [the] man is always at fault.”

CampusClarity owner EverFi admitted to The College Fix in 2014 that some of the statistics in its sexual consent training were questionable.

It relied on a survey that that included attempted and completed “forced kissing” as sexual assault and identified every admission of drunk sex as rape, even though consent is only negated by incapacitation, a much higher threshold. (In a due-process lawsuit against Ohio State University, recently validated by a federal judge, the university’s own pharmacology professor said even a “blackout” state doesn’t in and of itself negate consent.)

EverFi’s “impact report” for the University of Oregon in 2013-2014 disclosed that it was lumping together “yes” and “not sure” answers to boost the numbers in response to a survey question on whether “someone pressured me into a sexual experience without my explicit consent.”


Can We Make American Education Great Again? Not With Teacher Walkouts

The National Assessment of Educational Progress is known as the nation's report card. So what kind of grades are our nation's schools getting? Not passing, we're afraid. And that goes for the teachers, too.

The results released a couple of weeks ago were disappointing, showing that scores on reading and math tests for fourth and eight graders remained flat in 2017. Meanwhile, as those results were coming out, across the nation, in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona and Colorado, schools were hit with teacher walkouts and strikes. The bad test scores and the walkouts are not unrelated.

The weak test scores say a lot. After a brief burst of improvements in the early 2000s, test scores have shown little change or improvement for nearly a decade — essentially the Obama years until today. For all their talk, the Obama administration was a huge failure at continuing early-2000 improvements in 8-12 education.

More damning, however, is that few test-takers are considered by the testing standard to be "proficient." When it comes to reading, just 37% of fourth-graders and 36% of eighth-graders tested high enough to be considered proficient. In math, only 40% of fourth-graders and 33% of eighth graders were proficient.

These are the future citizens, voters and taxpayers in this country, the people who will inherit the greatest and wealthiest country in history. We're failing these young people by not preparing them adequately to care for the great gift that will be bequeathed them.

What's wrong? Whole books have been written about this subject. But the fact is, many things have gone wrong. They all contribute to the problem.

Sure, parents deserve part of the blame. And, in some cases, as teachers often argue, individual schools do need more funding.

But the problems are far broader and more profound. And as cross-country comparisons clearly show, there is no link — none — between more spending per student and performance. It's a myth.

Truth is, as others have said, the U.S. education system struggles with a host of problems, including the federal government's meddling in local schools through Common Core and other failed initiatives, ineffective spending by schools, the ongoing attacks on school choice and charters, a loss of classroom discipline and a refusal to link teacher performance to higher pay, to name a few.

Education As Indoctrination

And thanks to the intrusion of far left ideology by unions and progressive "curriculum experts" into our education system, we have turned our public schools into academies of political correctness that poorly teach the tough subjects and rigorous thinking that kids need to thrive in an increasingly competitive world.

Yet today, even as the country faces more union-fomented teacher walkouts and unrest, we're being asked by these very same unionized teachers to spend more on them — which, they assure us, will benefit the students.

Unfortunately, the evidence for that is nonexistent. But that doesn't mean they won't win their fight.

Teachers' unions have immense political clout, and can demonize anyone who disagrees with their agenda. They've been tremendously successful, becoming one of largest contributor to Democratic and left-wing political candidates to get their generally hard-left union agenda past local legislatures and through our nation's Congress.

As the web site notes, "From 2004 to 2016, (teachers' unions) donations grew from $4.3 million to more than $32 million — an all-time high. Even more than most labor unions, they have little use for Republicans, giving Democrats at least 94% of the funds they contributed to candidates" since 1990.

The problem with this is simple: The union is more interested in getting money for its members than in student learning. That's a fact, despite the school unions' non-stop propaganda. They control the schools and the classrooms, and test scores have gone nowhere. They must be accountable, as everyone else is. They're not.

Pay For Performance

The best thing that could possibly happen would be to link teacher pay to clearly measurable student improvements. Unions should welcome the competition from home schooling and charters, rather than treating them as mortal enemies. Meanwhile, rewarding excellent teachers and requiring less certification — something that adds little to teaching skills — would attract better teachers with deeper knowledge of their subjects.

That's something that really does work when it comes to improving student skills and test scores.

U.S. teachers, for instance, often claim that they're paid less and treated with less respect than teachers abroad. That's sometimes true. But why?

One big reason why teachers abroad have such tremendous respect is because their students tend to perform better than ours. A recent McKinsey report on global education noted that "the top-performing systems we studied recruit their teachers from the top third of each cohort graduate from their schools system."

In the case of highly excellent schools in Singapore, Finland and Korea, for instance, they recruit all of their teachers from the top-third of their university classes. In the U.S., it's just 23%. They get the cream, we often get the dregs.

It is true that many teachers in the U.S. have faced stagnant wages, for which unions often blame "stingy" taxpayers. Not true. While teacher salaries adjusted for inflation fell by 2% from 1992 to 2014, spending per pupil actually grew by 27%. How can that be?

Much of the money spent on schools went to hiring more administrators and non-teaching staff. The result: top-heavy bureaucracies that add nothing to students' learning, but do add to union membership rolls and make teachers' jobs easier. That, too, is a union problem.

And while teachers take-home pay has fallen, overall compensation hasn't. It's risen sharply. From 2003 to 2014, while take-home pay shrank slightly in real terms, average benefits paid to teachers rose 50%, from $14,000 to $21,000, notes American Enterprise Institute education expert Fredrick Hess.

As Chad Aldeman, an official in the Obama administration, recently noted in a report, "While the average civilian employee receives $1.78 for retirement benefits per hour of work, public school teachers receive $6.22 per hour in retirement compensation." That's a huge difference.

The point is, the recent teacher strikes make a few valid points, as we said. But they miss the far bigger picture. Because unions make everything about money, not results, they are doomed to failure.

Teachers' unions reject and actively sabotage reasonable reforms that would loosen their grip on public school education and require teachers to strive for excellence. Despite their slick PR campaigns, this at the heart of our nation's failed education system, as evidenced by our abysmal test scores.

America led the world in innovation and economic growth for generations without teachers' unions. Maybe it's time for Americans to ask the question: Do we really need unions running our schools?


Australia: New education plan skims over key indicators such as discipline in schools

“Not good enough.” That’s what Malcolm Turnbull said this week about Australia’s declining results in international school tests.

As noted in the Gonski 2.0 report, Australia has fallen in absolute performance and relative to other countries in the three Program for International Student Assessment tests run by the OECD. These assess the science, maths and reading abilities of 15-year-old students.

The factors linked to good outcomes are well known: they have to do with the quality of teaching, including classroom management. Yet they barely rate a mention in Gonski 2.0.

The OECD notes the five strongest factors associated with student performance, for good or for ill. Those associated with higher achievement are teacher-­directed instruction, adaptive instruction and school disciplinary climate. Those associated with lower achievement are inquiry-based instruction and perceived feedback.

What comes through loud and clear is that four of the top five factors influencing student achievement are about instruction: that is, methods of teaching.

The fifth factor is the level of disruption in the classroom, which indirectly is also associated with instruction. Gonski 2.0 has little to say about this well-established body of evidence.

The OECD factors in play need some explanation. Teacher-direc­ted instruction is defined as the teacher explaining and demonstrating ideas, leading whole-class discussions and responding to student questions. Consistent with decades of research, the OECD findings indicate that teacher-­directed instruction is highly bene­ficial for student learning.

Inquiry-based teaching, which in some ways is the opposite of teacher-directed instruction, is characterised by class-led learning activities and encouragement of discovery through group collaboration. This style of teaching is ­associated with less student achievement.

On the surface, adaptive instruction sounds similar to one of the main recommendations of the Gonski 2.0 report, adaptive learning. This refers to teachers adjusting their teaching to cater for the needs of their class and individual students.

Most teachers try to do this as much as they can, with varying degrees of success. For teachers to know the levels and range of ability in their classes, and to calibrate their teaching accordingly, is an important skill.

However, Gonski 2.0 went much further. It recommended students be assessed based on their growth in learning rather than according to age-based or year-based curriculums. The idea is to give teachers an online assessment tool to continuously measure learning growth, with the expectation they would provide “tailored teaching” for individual stu­dents depending on their ability.

Adaptive learning as described by the OECD is much simpler. It means teachers adapt lessons, provide individual help to struggling students and change the structure of lessons when covering difficult topics. It does not mean going to the great lengths of using a continuous online assessment tool or coming up with an individual learning plan for every student.

Taking the OECD data as a guide, the task of teachers adapting to the needs of students is much simpler than the Gonski panel’s proposal and Australian students think teachers are already doing this reasonably well.

This is where Gonski 2.0 could have made a valuable practical contribution — an objective and detailed investigation of the factors that have the biggest impact on student learning, and an analysis of how to deploy them in Australian classrooms.

Discipline is the other key issue that Gonski could have tackled. School disciplinary climate is the factor that most clearly differentiates Australia from the top 10 performing countries, and not in a good way. According to students themselves, Australian classrooms are unsettled and disruptive to learning. The data is clear.

The “disciplinary climate index” is based on how often these things happen in class: students don’t listen to what the teacher says; there is noise and disorder; the teacher has to wait a long time for students to quiet down; students cannot work well; and students don’t start working for a long time after the lesson begins.

This PISA data on student behaviour and school discipline in Australia is corroborated by the most recent results from two other international education datasets — the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and the Teaching and Learning International Survey — which both indicate Australia has relatively high levels of student misbehaviour relative to other countries.

These results are not surprising, given a series of recent studies showing Australian university teacher education degrees in the main do not adequately equip new teachers with classroom management techniques based on evidence.

And recent research from Macquarie University researchers found school discipline is far more important than school funding in determining a country’s educa­tional performance.

The OECD has found that for developed, high-income countries such as Australia there is no clear relationship between school funding and student outcomes. This should give us pause for thought as the federal government puts an extra $23.5 billion of taxpayer money into schools across the next 10 years.

But on the factors that do make a difference — teaching method and school discipline — the Gonski 2.0 report stayed almost silent.

As a coda, some qualifications of our argument are necessary.

The PISA 2015 analysis of the factors in student achievement deals specifically with science classes — so we need to be cautious about generalisation — but the results correspond with similar analyses in previous years and with other educational research.

Also, the data is based on self-reporting, thereby limiting the conclusions that can be made.

However, the PISA result involves a large sample size and there are no obvious biases in the survey and assessment instruments.

It’s true that Australia performs above the international average on adaptive and teacher-directed instruction, which are both associated with high student achievement. But there are question marks over the categories and descriptions of instruction at issue.

Notwithstanding these caveats, instruction — or teaching method — is clearly the big-ticket item for student achievement and should have been a major focus of the Gonski 2.0 report.