Friday, May 18, 2018

Deadly Government Education Abuse

Back on February 14, violent criminal Nikolas Cruz opened fire in a Broward County, Florida, high school, killing 17 students and wounding another 17. Superintendent Robert Runcie said this deliberate mass murder was an “accident,” and denied that Cruz had any connection with PROMISE, the “Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education,” program that looks the other way when students commit crimes worthy of arrest.

Runcie attacked critics of the program and said it was “fake news” that Cruz was part of it. Then, on Sunday the Broward District acknowledged that Cruz had been part of PROMISE since 2013.

He was not arrested and therefore able to procure firearms. He talked up his desire to kill students, but the FBI, which excels at handcuffing lawyer’s wives at three in the morning, ignored numerous tips. Local cops followed Sir Robin’s call to “run away,” enabling Cruz to kill 17 students. In a tweet Ryan Petty, father of slain student Alaina Petty, called it “a stunning revelation & one that flies in the face of previous statements.” Coupled with the description of mass murder as an “accident,” parents would be hard pressed to find a more clear example of abuse, and a costly one at that. Last year Runcie bagged a $28,000 raise boosting his salary to $335,000 and keeping him aboard until 2023.

The PROMISE program maintains that differential rates of school discipline can only be explained by racism. That is not true, and as Thomas Sowell often pointed out, statistical disparities between groups are the rule rather than the exception. Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute is right that schools should dump PROMISE and similar programs that put political correctness over truth, safety and sanity. The Trump administration would be wise to pursue full parental choice in education as a matter of basic civil rights, but so far has showed little inclination to do so.


Genes and background do not determine children’s future

That there is a role for schools in imparting knowledge is not disputed but the degree to which good schooling can make a difference may be less than the author below believes

Reading is far more than just a basic skill: it opens up a world of knowledge and imagination. For this reason, teaching children how to read is a key goal of primary education, and the government’s recent announcement of more money to support reading should be good news.

But this extra money won’t be coming to schools. The government wants to close the so-called word gap that exists when children first start school, the difference between the vocabulary of ‘disadvantaged’ children and their more privileged peers. So, the schemes being funded will focus on parents – not teachers. They aim to ‘build the confidence of parents to support their children in language and reading at an early stage’.

Damian Hinds, education secretary, claims the money will be used to give parents ‘practical advice on activities like reading and learning the alphabet which are so important in making sure no child is left behind’. The idea that toddlers should be reciting the alphabet and beginning to read stands in stark contrast to recent orthodoxy that we should ‘look to Finland’, where the emphasis is on play and children don’t begin formal lessons until they are seven. More importantly, Hinds assumes that some parents are incapable of getting their young children ready for starting school and need professional help.

This focus on parents diminishes the role of the teacher. Not that long ago, it was assumed that teaching reading was the school’s job – and parents were warned not to get involved for fear of confusing children with different methods, or just putting them off by forcing them to read before they were ready. Now, the role of the teacher in a child’s educational achievement is being downplayed and the influence of the home environment – the child’s family background – is being emphasised.

Today, even when they leave school, a young person’s academic success is more likely to be explained by background rather than teaching or their own effort. Increasingly, leading universities are awarding places to prospective students using ‘contextual’ admissions data, meaning exam results are considered in the ‘context’ of a person’s postcode or the school they attended. The University of Edinburgh, for example, states: ‘We recognise that not everyone has an equal opportunity to demonstrate their full academic potential from their school or college qualifications alone. For this reason, we aim to identify applicants who could benefit from additional consideration in the admissions process.’ The Sutton Trust, an educational charity dedicated to improving social mobility, spells out what this means in practice: ‘Contextual admissions, where the social background of a university applicant is taken into account in the application process, leading to a reduced grade offer or other forms of priority, is a crucial tool in the battle to widen access to higher education.’

Elsewhere, employers are altering their entrance requirements to make allowances for the disadvantaged backgrounds of some applicants. Top accountancy and law firms are now using a ‘contextual recruitment system’ to compare the economic and social circumstances of prospective employees. Former education secretary Justine Greening has argued that companies should offer jobs to former students of underperforming state schools over alumni from elite private schools like Eton.

But academic success cannot be so straightforwardly contextualised on the basis of geography. Postcode is not necessarily a marker of economic deprivation. Wealthy people may choose to live in a particular area for all kinds of reasons – perhaps even to save money for school fees. Long gone are the days when all children simply attended their nearest school – parental choice has been a feature of the educational landscape for decades. Most significantly, the use of contextual data assumes family income codified through housing is the chief determiner of a child’s academic success, and that there is little a child, parent, teacher or school can do to overcome this. Parents might struggle financially, but that doesn’t mean they lack ambition for their children – they want them to succeed at school and will often do all they can to encourage them.

Allowing applicants from deprived backgrounds to apply for jobs and degree places with lower exam results makes universities and businesses seem inclusive and fair. But it degrades the role of the school. The idea that schools can take children from disadvantaged backgrounds and, through inspiring teaching, hard work and high expectations, enable them to excel academically has been abandoned. Try as they might, it seems teachers can never be expected to overcome the disadvantages of a child’s background.

The assumption that school has only a limited influence on a child’s academic performance finds echo in the recent rehabilitation of the old argument that intelligence is hereditary. Free-school founder Toby Young argues: ‘Secondary school exam results are between 50 and 60 per cent heritable… the general consensus is that schools alone account for less than 10 per cent of the variation in educational attainment.’ Young was involved in a research study claiming schools account for less than one per cent of variation in academic performance. Professor Robert Plomin from King’s College London explains, ‘We’re showing if you took kids and randomly assigned them to schools, it wouldn’t make any difference.’ He argues that, in the future, genetic testing of children to predict their academic potential ‘will probably happen’. Yet despite the best efforts of scientists, no ‘intelligence gene’ has yet been identified.

This focus on intelligence rather than knowledge exposes a limited view of education. It suggests there is a fixed feature of an individual’s personality that exists separately from what that person knows. In practice, mathematical intelligence cannot be readily separated from an ability to do maths; linguistic intelligence is not distinct from an ability to read and write. The better children are taught how to read, write and do maths, the more they will appear to be intelligent in these areas.

Today, the influence of school is talked down by those who think a child’s academic success is primarily determined by their social background on the one hand or their genetic inheritance on the other. This paves the way for schools to become responsible for a host of social and political goals that have nothing to do with teaching particular subjects. In the past few weeks alone we’ve had the suggestion that schools should weigh children in order to tackle obesity and teach girls about how and when to get pregnant. Teachers are expected to socialise children at the same time as parents are being told to teach their children how to read. This blurring of the two distinct roles weakens the authority of both parents and teachers.

Diminishing the role of the school in education erodes the agency, effort and determination of parents, teachers and pupils. Teachers are told their efforts to impart knowledge or to instil love for a particular subject are futile. Working-class youngsters applying to university might be labelled ‘very good, considering’, but never simply ‘very good’. Parents, meanwhile, are sent back to the classroom themselves for patronising lessons, delivered by government-approved experts, in how to communicate with their children. We need more faith in parents to raise their children as they see best, and more trust in teachers to be able to educate children irrespective of social disadvantages.


Australia: Genomics and nanotechnology to benefit from $393m research funding boost

Nanotechnology, genomics and remote ocean sensors to improve the health of the Great Barrier Reef are among the projects that will benefit from $393m over five years in new federal research funding.

On Tuesday, the federal government released its response to the national infrastructure roadmap, allocating funding to its research priorities after recommendations by an expert group led by the chief scientist, Alan Finkel.

The plan was submitted to the government in February 2017 but was allocated an additional $393m over five years – or $1.9bn over 12 years – in the 2018 budget on 8 May.

New funding announced in the current round includes grants over the forward estimates of:

$36m to the Australian National Fabrication Facility for nanotechnology manufacturing research

$22m for marine observation systems used by international marine and climate science communities, as well as $31m for the research vessel RV Investigator to operate for an extra 120 days at sea

$14m for microscopy and microanalysis equipment for applications including health and biomedical research

$48m for Bioplatforms Australia’s work in the field of gene sequencing

The government response states the public benefit of the research will include: improving weather forecasts; increasing the identification of cancer; better management of the Great Barrier Reef by using remote sensor data to detect coral bleaching; and using genomics to increase wheat yields and agricultural returns.

The program also includes “expansion of the southern hemisphere’s unique nuclear capabilities to drive world-leading advances in biotechnology, agricultural, chemical and material sciences”.

The government estimates the investment will create about 500 new jobs over the next 10 years, including for science, technology, engineering and maths graduates.

Finkel said: “The interdependence between national research facilities and scientific breakthroughs is a virtuous merry-go-round that that has been given a boost in the budget to spin faster for the common good.

“The benefits include new diagnostics for earlier disease detection, micro-sensors used in advanced agriculture, and new metal alloys for construction and machinery.”

In a statement the education minister, Simon Birmingham, said the Turnbull government “is partnering with researchers across our world-leading universities and other research institutions that will deliver a stronger economy, a healthier environment and cutting-edge medicines and treatments”.

“This is the single largest and most comprehensive investment in research by any Australian government,” he said. “Australia’s prosperity depends on the work being done in these research labs today and into the future.”

The budget papers stated the injection of $1.9bn over 12 years would bring to $4.1bn the total cost of government investment in national research infrastructure projects.

The plan will be reviewed every two years to keep investments in line with research priorities.


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Federal officials curtail probe into fraud at for-profit colleges    

They were subject to much hostile targeting under Obama so DeVoss may feel that they need a break

Members of a special team at the Education Department that had been investigating widespread abuses by for-profit colleges have been marginalized, reassigned, or instructed to focus on other matters, according to current and former employees.

The unwinding of the team has effectively killed investigations into possibly fraudulent activities at several large for-profit colleges where top hires of Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, had previously worked.

During the final months of the Obama administration, the team had expanded to include a dozen or so lawyers and investigators who were looking into advertising, recruitment practices, and job placement claims at several institutions, including DeVry Education Group.

The investigation into DeVry ground to a halt early last year. Later, in the summer, DeVos named Julian Schmoke, a former dean at DeVry, as the team’s new supervisor.

Now only three employees work on the team, and their mission has been scaled back to focus on processing student loan forgiveness applications and looking at smaller compliance cases, said the current and former employees, including former members of the team, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation from the department.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos scaled down the inquiry.
In addition to DeVry, now known as Adtalem Global Education, investigations into Bridgepoint Education and Career Education Corp., which also operate large for-profit colleges, went dark.

Former employees of those institutions now work for DeVos as well, including Robert S. Eitel, her senior counselor, and Diane Auer Jones, a senior adviser on postsecondary education.

Last month, Congress confirmed the appointment of a lawyer who provided consulting services to Career Education, Carlos G. Muñiz, as the department’s general counsel.

The investigative team had been created in 2016 after the collapse of the for-profit Corinthian Colleges, which set off a wave of complaints from students about predatory activities at for-profit schools.

The institutions had been accused of widespread fraud that involved misrepresenting the benefits of their programs, which could leave students with huge debts and no degrees.

Corinthian’s bankruptcy affected more than 2,000 Massachusetts students who had accumulated loans while attending the company’s Everest Institute campuses in Brighton and Chelsea. In 2016, the closure of ITT Tech, another for-profit institution, affected more than 550 students who attended campuses in Norwood and Wilmington. Most of those students were low-income.

Elizabeth Hill, a spokeswoman for the Education Department, attributed the reduction of the investigative group to attrition and said “conducting investigations is but one way the investigations team contributes to the department’s broad effort to provide oversight.”

She said none of the new employees who had previously worked in the for-profit education industry had influenced the unit’s work.

She also said the team’s deployment on loan forgiveness applications was an “operational decision” that “neither points to a curtailment of our school oversight efforts nor indicates a conscious effort to ignore ‘large-scale’ investigations.”

Aaron Ament, a former chief of staff to the office of the department’s general counsel who helped create the team under President Obama, said it had been intended to protect students from fraudulent for-profit colleges.

“Unfortunately, Secretary DeVos seems to think the colleges need protection from their students,” said Ament, who is president of the National Student Legal Defense Network.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, also criticized the team’s new direction.

DeVos has taken a number of actions to roll back or delay regulations that sought to rein in abuses and predatory practices among for-profit colleges — actions that Warren and other Democrats have said put the industry’s interests ahead of those of students.

“Secretary DeVos has filled the department with for-profit college hacks who only care about making sham schools rich and shutting down investigations into fraud,” Warren said.

DeVry did not respond to requests for comment, and Schmoke declined to be interviewed. Schmoke recused himself from matters involving DeVry, according to the department.

DeVry agreed to pay $100 million in 2016 to settle a separate Federal Trade Commission lawsuit alleging that it misled prospective students with ads about employment and salaries after graduation.

The Education Department announced a limited settlement with DeVry the same year after finding that the school could not substantiate claims that 90 percent of its alumni since 1975 were employed in their field of study within six months of graduating. But the investigative team continued to look into its job placement claims and other recruiting practices.

Hill confirmed the investigation, but said it had been suspended early last year before President Trump took office.

The former and current employees disputed Hill’s account and said the group and its work had become an issue of contention during meetings with the Trump transition team.

Several of the employees said that there had been a staff push to continue the investigation as recently as this year, with no result.

The group had also been looking into similar issues of recruiting and advertising at Bridgepoint and Career Education during the latter part of 2016, the employees said. Hill declined to comment on those cases.

In a statement, Bridgepoint said the company was aware of a review beginning in 2015 but had “not been made aware of any investigation or involvement by the enforcement unit.” Career Education did not respond to requests for comment.

Eitel, the senior adviser to DeVos, last year recused himself from issues involving both Bridgepoint and Career Education, where he was a top lawyer.

Jones, the senior adviser on postsecondary education, has not recused herself from matters involving Career Education, where she previously worked. The department did not say whether Muñiz had recused himself from issues involving the company.

Jones worked for about five years as a senior vice president at Career Education after serving as assistant secretary for postsecondary education for President George W. Bush. She joined the Trump administration early this year.

In a letter to DeVos last week, Warren and nine other Democratic senators called on the department to reveal the extent of Jones’s ties to the industry, suggesting she had worked “on behalf of bad actors.”

The department issued an extensive statement defending Jones, calling her background an “asset” that would advance the department’s goals. Jones has had “vast higher-ed experience in community colleges, research universities, and for-profit colleges,” it said in the statement, adding that she had spent only a fraction of her career in the for-profit industry.


Seize the moment on new education bill

They seriously think the black/white gap can be closed.  They have learned nothing from experience

LAST WEEK, the state Senate approved the most consequential piece of education legislation Massachusetts has seen in a quarter-century.

Fully implemented, the measure would pour more than $1 billion in new money into the public schools on an annual basis — providing a critical update to a funding formula that has failed to keep up with the ballooning costs of health care and special education.

By most accounts, action is long overdue. Although the Commonwealth’s schools are leading the nation by many measures, officials need to take steps to close the achievement gap separating white students from their black and brown peers.

But the bill isn’t perfect. Lawmakers must identify the resources to pay for this important investment.

The last time Beacon Hill made a transformational investment in K-12 education was in the 1990s. Former senate president Tom Birmingham, an architect of that effort, says legislative leaders made education a priority and fended off “scores of suitors” for state funding for other priorities.

But they also benefitted from a comparatively rosy budget outlook. The economy boomed in the mid-1990s, tax rates were relatively high, and health care costs ate up a relatively small portion of the budget.

Today, Medicaid is a huge expense, and tax rates are substantially lower. Lawmakers can’t just change the education funding formula and assume they’ll find the money in the coming years. They’ll need to identify a substantial revenue source in advance.

If they identify that money, they’ll need to deploy it in a smarter way. The genius of the 1990s education reform push was that it paired new funding with higher standards — helping to create the best public education system in the country.

The Senate bill, approved last week, has nothing to say about standards and does little to push the education system in new directions, even though the persistence of the achievement gap between white and minority students demands it.

A more creative approach might involve setting aside money for a competition between districts aimed at producing high-quality, evidence-based programs for closing that gap. The state could also provide incentives for districts to launch more innovation schools — unionized alternatives to charter schools, with many of the same autonomies.

The Legislature weighs big new spending on the schools only once a generation. With new money comes a rare opportunity to improve education for the children who need it most. Lawmakers shouldn’t waste it.


What Universities Need: More Skin In The Game

In the last couple of years, there are more cries for universities to have more “skin in the game,” that is to say greater incentives to show improved performance. The distinguished banker and financial scholar Alex Pollock, now of the R Street Institute, has written frequently about this:  he should have “Let's have skin in the game” inscribed on his tombstone when he passes on.

The context in which “skin in the game” is most discussed is with regards to student loans. When students default on their loans, it imposes a cost on U.S. taxpayers. Many schools accept a large number of applicants that they know are extremely risky and unlikely to graduate.  At some schools the six-year graduation rate is under one-third: there are at least two dropouts for every successful recipient of a bachelor’s degree. The admission and retention policy decisions of these schools ultimately impose a significant burden on taxpayers, as many of these dropouts simply do not repay their loans.

“Skin in the game” can work in various ways. Perhaps colleges could be made liable to repay at least part of the defaulted loan, maybe beyond a certain baseline expected default rate that arises from unanticipated adverse circumstances such as an accident or illness impeding an ability to work. A rule like this would impact most severely on schools with mediocre academic reputations, few endowment resources, and a high proportion of low-income, first-generation, and minority students.

Therefore a criticism of skin in the game is that it is inconsistent with the egalitarian view that higher education is a means to lessening economic and educational inequalities. But should the government be heavily subsidizing schools that fail to do what college should do–educate students well while helping them obtain productive remunerative employment? College dropouts are not only indebted but often perceived as failures.  How is economic justice promoted by high numbers of college dropouts?

As stated in previous blogs, higher education needs more “creative destruction” to deal with the imbalance between high enrollments and the considerable but less robust needs of the American labor market. Skin in the game is one way of helping achieve needed downsizing.

The concept of “skin in the game” already applies to most students, who pay tuition fees and forego income-producing employment in order to attend school. The graduation rates are higher at private schools that on average are more expensive than at lower cost public schools. As a general proposition, where students have more skin in the game, they have greater incentives to graduate in a timely manner, four years instead of five or six years - or not at all. . One of the problems with free tuition proposals is that by largely removing skin in the game for students, they dull incentives to excel academically.

The use of skin in the game can go even further: to other members of the university community and even to whole institutions. As often is the case, Purdue University under President Mitch Daniels is leading the way. Purdue is investing in some of its own students through Income Share Agreements, previously discussed here. The school pays some or all the cost of attending Purdue in exchange for a share of post-graduate income. If students fare well after graduation, reflecting presumably skills taught at Purdue, the university benefits. Highly endowed private schools perhaps ought to devote at least a small portion of their endowment to similar programs.

In what is often regarded as the first great work in economics, Adam Smith noted that professors at Oxford University were more effective teachers when they had skin in the game. Students paid the professors fees –the more students a professor had, the greater his income.  Today, by contrast, often professorial compensation has little correlation to clearly identifiable performance indicators.

A large portion of compensation of CEOs and other high-level employees in profit-seeking businesses comes in the form of bonuses, stock options and the like–employees clearly have skin in the game. We could do more of that in higher education as well, although admittedly it is difficult since the “bottom line” of universities is often difficult to define and measure. However, for higher education to become better, cheaper and more responsive to the needs of its customers and society, it needs sharpened incentives at all levels, that is more skin in the game.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Cambridge University students demand new sex assault rules

Stephen Toope, vice-chancellor, has been warned that Cambridge’s complaints procedure “actively discourages” sexual assault victims from coming forward

Cambridge University is considering a demand from students for it to lower the burden of proof in disciplinary cases amid claims that sexual predators are not being held to account.

More than 800 students have signed an open letter saying that the system “actively discourages” those affected from coming forward because of the high threshold. The university has previously admitted that it has a “significant problem” with sexual misconduct after almost 200 complaints.

At present the university relies on the criminal standard of proof — beyond reasonable doubt — for all disciplinary cases other than ones relating to fitness to study. Those seeking change say that the civil standard of proof — based on the balance of probabilities — should be enough.


INSANITY! Autistic Student Playing With ‘Imaginary Rifle’ Handcuffed By Police At Elementary School

What has our world come to? Handcuff a 5th grader at school? They say they really want to help this young man, so they proceed with what is sure to be one of his life’s most terrifying moments that was absolutely unnecessary.

According to

A fifth grade Texas student with autism was handcuffed and hauled away by police this week after playing with an “imaginary rifle” at school. Twelve-year-old David Sims brandished his “weapon” at his art teacher, who felt threatened.

“She [CISD Police Officer] just put handcuffs on me and told me I need to go with her,” the boy said after the ordeal.

“They just said, ‘We don’t tolerate that. We take it as a threat,’” his mother Amy said. “A threat? He didn’t threaten anyone. He didn’t do anything but play.”

According to the concerned mother, the school didn’t notify her of the incident until after her son was in police custody. She insisted that her autistic son didn’t understand that “make believe” gunplay was considered inappropriate behavior.

“Being put in handcuffs, not knowing what he did wrong, I could have had a talk with him and told him look, ‘I know you like to play guns, but you can’t do it in school,’” she said.

David spent over two hours at the Juvenile Detention Center, but Montgomery County Attorney J.D. Lambright indicated that charges would likely not come given the boy’s age and disability, saying, “We want to get them turned around and on the right path.”

According to him, David’s brandished the imaginary weapon before a verbal threat. In at least one previous occasion, David brandished an imaginary gun in class. Lambright also said David wasn’t the only one to draw police attention, as other students in the area reportedly had troubling outbursts after the shooting in Parkland, Florida.

“Right after the Florida incident, we were getting two a day, three a day and it wasn’t isolated to any particular school,” Lambert said. “We have six school districts in Montgomery County and they were coming in across the County.”

David has since been ordered to attend an alternative disciplinary school for the rest of his Spring semester. His mother believes he’s being discriminated against.

“Because he’s disabled, they automatically think he’s got something mental, so he might go shoot up a school,” she said.”


Crooked Idaho teachers' union

Labor union bosses and radical environmentalists have been unable to convince Idahoans to support their liberal agenda. So, they are now masquerading as conservative Republicans in their attempt to turn voters to favor the most left-leaning of the Republican candidates for governor, Brad Little.

In a recent mailing, the Independent Republicans for Idaho PAC tells voters that Little is “safeguarding conservative Idaho values.” Further, “Brad is the proven conservative leader who will stand up for the things we hold dear: family, freedom and a future worth fighting for.”

The question: Who are the “Independent Republicans for Idaho”?

The first clue as to the wizard behind the curtain comes from the group’s mailing address. The address is the same as that of the Idaho Education Association, also known as the teachers union. The union is fighting desperately to preserve the lucrative deal that allows the IEA to remain in the state’s taxpayer-backed pension program. The union is also trying to make sure local school boards continue to be required to participate in collective bargaining and that strong-arm labor union tactics, like card check, continue to be allowed when determining whether a union can represent employees at the negotiating table.

The IEA has also been fending off the creation of additional education choice programs that would give students better learning opportunities than those offered in government-run schools. Simultaneously, the teachers union has been building support for the creation of a statewide pre-kindergarten program, something that Little is also on record advocating. As of this month, the IEA contributed almost $77,000 to the Independent Republicans for Idaho PAC.

Although the “Independent Republican” group claims Little is best because he’s “the candidate from Idaho, for Idaho,” the far-left National Education Association, based in Washington, D.C., has dropped $75,000 into the Idaho political action committee. Lest you not know the NEA’s leanings, the organization has never supported a Republican presidential candidate and most recently backed Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 White House run. The NEA, too, opposes education choice and on a national level has fought efforts to rein in labor union power.

The PAC’s largest contributor so far — to the tune of $90,000 — is the Conservation Voters for Idaho Action Fund. The fund opposes state management of federally-controlled public lands and advocates public policies centered around climate change, neither of which are typical of conservative Idaho political values.

Several firefighters unions from all corners of the state and one from Montana donated to the PAC. All told, as of May, the PAC has raised $330,000.

Dishonesty always has been — and probably always will be — part of politics. Groups and candidates typically appropriate the words “conservative” and “freedom” to fit their purposes, even when such words diverge from the policy aims of the candidates or organizations.

Still, what the labor unions and environmentalists are doing this election season is a whole new level of fraudulence that reveals a sense of desperation mixed with cynicism. They have zero interest in promoting conservative principles. They also know that most primary Republican voters tend to lean conservative. Thus, the unions and the environmentalists are trying to deceive conservative Republicans into nominating the most liberal candidate on the GOP primary ballot.  The only way to win, they have theorized, is to use conservative rhetoric today so they can defeat the conservative agenda tomorrow.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

NJ: Hamilton teachers union prez resigns over Project Veritas fallout

The Hamilton teachers union boss who got suspended for making inappropriate comments to an undercover Project Veritas newswoman has stepped aside.

“I can confirm that David Perry resigned as HTEA president effective Thursday, May 3,” a spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association said Friday via email.

The spokesman, Steve Baker, did not give any insight on who is holding down the fort at the Hamilton Township Education Association now that Perry has jumped ship.

The HTEA website as of Friday afternoon still identified Perry as its president, and the HTEA office number still had an answering machine recording of Perry referring to himself as the union’s top leader.

Perry, who became HTEA president in July 2016, has been a longtime teacher in the district going back to the 1980s. Hamilton Superintendent of Schools Scott Rocco suspended him effective May 2, the same date when video emerged of Perry making eyebrow-raising statements on how he can “bend the truth” to protect teachers who hit students.

Perry’s resignation as HTEA president and his suspension as an employee of the Hamilton Township School District comes at a critical time for the 1,600-member union, which is negotiating for new contracts that would give pay raises to teachers, nurses, custodians, librarians and other support staff. The current HTEA contract expires June 30.

Prior to Perry’s downfall, the Hamilton Township Board of Education was “making gradual progress with the HTEA bargaining group” over contract negotiations, according to public comments board member Richard Kanka made at the March 28 school board meeting as reported in meeting minutes.

The school board’s negotiations committee was scheduled to meet with the HTEA bargaining group on May 2, but it was unclear whether the meeting took place in the wake of the Project Veritas exposé.

Project Veritas, an undercover news organization led by muckraker James O’Keefe, used deceit and bogus plotlines to bait Perry into making controversial and indefensible statements during a secretly recorded encounter on March 27.

The operative, who went by the fictitious name Joyce Miller, told Perry a false story that her imaginary brother in-law physically assaulted a student several weeks ago.

Some of Perry’s eyebrow-raising quotes during the encounter on March 27 were:

“I’m not here to hurt anybody. I’m here to defend. No matter, the worst teachers in the world, I have defended.”

“I got people who are on drugs. And she, five times was fired and I got her job back five times.”

“Listen, if he hit the kid, he hit the kid. It is what it is.”

“He needs to not tell a soul about this. Nobody.”

“If nobody brings it up from school, I don’t say, ‘boo.’”

“That’s why I would never want to bring it up. The longer we wait, the longer there’s no cameras.”

“Now if you go to the Hamilton Board of Education and report this, they’re going to call the police, and they’re going to call parents and all that sh*t. We don’t do that. We don’t do that here. I’m here to defend even the worst people.”

“But we can bend the truth if it’s that’s kid’s word and your brother in-law’s word.”

The former union head refers to himself as “Dr. David R. Perry” and previously boasted about having a Ph.D., but The Trentonian has been unable to verify his doctorate and unable to confirm whether he has authored a dissertation.

Hamilton Township School District personnel reports from April indicate Perry’s highest level of education is a bachelor’s degree. The Trentonian has been unable to reach Perry for comment Friday concerning his resignation as HTEA president and the status of his higher education background and credentials.


Homogeneous: The Political Affiliations of Elite Liberal Arts College Faculty

In this article I offer new evidence about something readers of Academic Questions already know: The political registration of full-time, Ph.D.-holding professors in top-tier liberal arts colleges is overwhelmingly Democratic. Indeed, faculty political affiliations at 39 percent of the colleges in my sample are Republican free—having zero Republicans. The political registration in most of the remaining 61 percent, with a few important exceptions, is slightly more than zero percent but nevertheless absurdly skewed against Republican affiliation and in favor of Democratic affiliation. Thus, 78.2 percent of the academic departments in my sample have either zero Republicans, or so few as to make no difference.

My sample of 8,688 tenure track, Ph.D.–holding professors from fifty-one of the sixty-six top ranked liberal arts colleges in the U.S. News 2017 report consists of 5,197, or 59.8 percent, who are registered either Republican or Democrat. The mean Democratic-to-Republican ratio (D:R) across the sample is 10.4:1, but because of an anomaly in the definition of what constitutes a liberal arts college in the U.S. News survey, I include two military colleges, West Point and Annapolis.1 If these are excluded, the D:R ratio is a whopping 12.7:1.

Why Political Homogeneity Is Troubling

Political homogeneity is problematic because it biases research and teaching and reduces academic credibility. In a recent book on social psychology, The Politics of Social Psychology edited by Jarret T. Crawford and Lee Jussim, Mark J. Brandt and Anna Katarina Spälti, show that because of left-wing bias, psychologists are far more likely to study the character and evolution of individuals on the Right than individuals on the Left.2 Inevitably affecting the quality of this research, though, George Yancey found that sociologists prefer not to work with fundamentalists, evangelicals, National Rifle Association members, and Republicans.3 Even though more Americans are conservative than liberal, academic psychologists’ biases cause them to believe that conservatism is deviant. In the study of gender, Charlotta Stern finds that the ideological presumptions in sociology prevent any but the no-differences-between-genders assumptions of left-leaning sociologists from making serious research inroads. So pervasive is the lack of balance in academia that more than 1,000 professors and graduate students have started Heterodox Academy, an organization committed to increasing “viewpoint diversity” in higher education.4 The end result is that objective science becomes problematic, and where research is problematic, teaching is more so.

The Nonconforming Few

A few liberal arts colleges are outliers and do not conform to the standard liberal slant. One, Thomas Aquinas, has thirty-three full-time faculty and all are Republican. The two military colleges in my sample, West Point and Annapolis, have D:R ratios of 1.3:1 and 2.3:1. Although it is debatable whether military colleges are liberal arts colleges, U.S. News’s inclusion of them in the liberal arts category is fortuitous because they offer evidence that when colleges provide supportive environments, intellectual diversity is achievable. There are other exceptions, such as Claremont McKenna, which adopted a viewpoint diversity strategy early in its history, and Kenyon, which is one of a few of the top-ranked liberal arts colleges located in a predominantly Republican state and which did not become coed until 1969.

Thomas Aquinas and St. John’s, another college with above average Republican representation, have emphasized interdisciplinary teaching and downplayed the publish or perish imperative, which Daniel B. Klein and Charlotta Stern have argued contributes to left-oriented groupthink.5 The exceptions to the Democratic-only rule indicate that institutional factors and discrimination might be key reasons for political homogeneity in the liberal arts colleges.

Trend toward Homogeneity

Noah Carl shows that in Britain the trend has been toward increasing leftward affiliation.6 The same has been true in the U.S. More than a decade ago, Stanley Rothman and colleagues provided evidence that while 39 percent of the professoriate on average described itself as Left in 1984, 72 percent did so in 1999. They find a national average D:R ratio of 4.5:1.7 More recently, Anthony J. Quain, Daniel B. Klein, and I find D:R ratios of 11.5:1 in the social science departments of highly ranked national universities.8 This study finds a D:R ratio of 10.4:1 across all liberal arts departments if the military colleges are included and 12.7:1 if the military colleges are excluded.


School District Apologizes After Student Wears Confederate Flag T-Shirt While Holding Gun

A school and one of its students are coming under fire in North Carolina after the yearbook published a photo that some say is deeply offensive.

According to The Charlotte Observer, the controversy started at Cape Fear High School, which is in the central part of the state. A senior at that school posed for a picture that appeared fairly innocuous at first glance … but a closer look has some pundits accusing the school of racism.

“A school district outside of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, has issued an apology after one of its yearbooks featured an image of a white teen wearing a Confederate flag T-shirt, holding a shotgun and standing in a cotton field,” the newspaper explained.

If you weren’t paying attention, you might think that the image is fairly common for that part of the country. An outdoorsman holding a hunting shotgun isn’t that out of place in the south, but the added elements of the Confederate flag and the cotton field backdrop might suggest something more.

“In light of all the publicity we’ve had lately over shootings in schools, I thought it was kind of tacky that we’re featuring photos publicizing guns,” a parent named Jay Butler told The Observer about the yearbook picture.

“It was a minute or two later that I noticed he was standing in a cotton field, wearing the Confederate flag. That’s when I thought: ‘This is appalling,’” the parent continued. “But I don’t blame the parents or the student, I blame the school.”

People seem split on how to interpret the image: Is it an innocent snapshot of blue-collar life in the rural south, a joke that went to far, or something overtly meant to be racist?

WTVD reported that it may not have been the senior who submitted the photo, but his mother. She told that news outlet that she “saw nothing wrong with it” when the picture was sent for inclusion in the yearbook.

Other parents like Butler, however, disagree. “It disrespects other students and nationalities,” the area father insisted. Presumably most students at the school are the same nationality — American — but he likely meant other races.

“Whoever did the yearbook really screwed up on this one,” the concerned parent continued. “People were beaten, whipped, raped just to pick that cotton. It is offensive because we’re trying to get past that.”

The school district, meanwhile, has issued a formal apology.  "We sincerely regret that a photo of this nature was overlooked. It does not reflect the values of Cape Fear High School,” Cumberland County Schools said.

“Our climate is one of inclusiveness. Moving forward, measures will be taken to ensure there is a more thorough review process of the yearbook in place before it is published,” school administrators continued.

On one hand, there is such as thing as over-sensitivity, and people may be projecting their own views onto a photo that was genuinely meant to be innocent.

On the other hand, however, it’s hard to say that the combination of elements — the Confederate flag, the cotton field, the shotgun — don’t evoke imagery from slavery.

Regardless of whether the image was meant to be offensive, the school is right on one thing: Somebody should have noticed that this was likely to create a controversy, and simply chosen another image instead.


Monday, May 14, 2018

The Left Tries to Kick the Right Out of Med and Law School

In a move very reminiscent of past discriminatory practices,   Leftists are clearly moving to hang signs saying, "Conservatives need not apply."

Imagine your son or daughter is applying for medical school. You’ve watched as they grew up and got good grades in school. You taught them to stand up for what they believe, and you’ve worked to get them in good financial shape for getting through college and medical school.

Then their Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) score comes back and it’s low — too low for the best medical schools in the country. Oh, they might get into a second-tier school, but the best internships and residences will likely be out of reach. But one reason that score might be low is because the Association of American Medical Colleges is rigging the test. Even if students do score high on the rigged test, the AAMC is working on other ways to filter out, shall we say, “deplorable” applicants.

According to The Weekly Standard, that process has been underway for a while, largely through the efforts of the AAMC’s president, Dr. Darrell Kirch. In essence, Kirch wants to kick conservatives out of medical school. Or at least those who don’t become what Dennis Prager calls American Marranos.

The goal is simple: Doctors are among the most trusted professions in the country — and if conservatives are excluded from the profession, then the Left has (yet another) a powerful platform. We’ve already seen “public health” used as a justification for gun control. There were dissenting voices then, but what happens if the dissenting voices are screened out? Or think of this: If pro-lifers are screened out from even being admitted to medical school, then how will crisis pregnancy centers function beyond counseling?

This effort to exclude conservatives is also extending to the legal profession. The American Bar Association has proposed a rule (Model Rule 8.4g) that seems to be tailor-made for use against conservatives. Ostensibly, it prohibits harassment based on “race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status.”

Now, nobody should be harassed for any of those reasons, but it all comes down to defining “harassment.” When the Left regularly accuses those who disagree with them of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and Islamophobia, among other things, it’s easy to see how this rule can be misused against any conservative would-be attorney who speaks out on a controversial issue.

But the implications reach further: If the worst aspects of college speech codes end up in the canon of legal ethics, what conservative would go into law as a profession? Rule 8.4g is a kill shot aimed at the next generation of conservative lawyers. Many states are voting down this rule for now, but it may only be a delaying action.

The sad fact of the matter is that the Left is clearly moving to hang signs saying, “Conservatives need not apply.” This is an attack that deserves the disinfectant of sunlight, but Congress and state legislatures need to act as well — to outlaw discrimination by the ABA, AAMC, AMA, and any similar group based on political affiliation and expression, and perhaps even to remove them as gatekeepers to the medical and legal professions, or both. Conservatives must act, or the Left will leave them no platforms to speak out.


Free Speech for Some, but Not for All
“I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” Few quotations are more quintessentially American than this (attributed in various forms to Voltaire, Oscar Wilde and others). You may not persuade anyone, but at least you can count on being heard.

That’s the idea, anyway. Civil society may have frayed in other areas, but right and left, surely we can agree that you have a right to speak up and not be silenced.

Unfortunately, even this bedrock principle has been weakening in recent years, and nowhere more, ironically enough, than at our nation’s universities. We may still refer to them as institutions of higher learning, but on far too many campuses, a dissenting point of view has become an endangered species.

By “dissenting,” of course, I mean dissenting from the liberal orthodoxy that prevails in much of academia. When a right-leaning speaker is coming to campus, one of two things often happens:

1) Angry students create such an uproar that college administrators cave in and force the speaker to withdraw.

2) The speaker has his or her speech disrupted by “protesters” who crash the event, interrupt loudly and repeatedly (at best) and even escalate to assault (at worst).

I put the word “protesters” in quotation marks because although the media usually calls them that, they’re wrong. Protesting has a long and hallowed history in American society. If a controversial speaker comes to a campus, and people who disagree with his message want to speak up, fine. Hoist your signs, distribute your literature, etc.

But you do it outside the event. You don’t fill the seats and scream at people, or block entrances, or even pepper-spray individuals, as has occurred on certain campuses.

Free speech is a two-way street. I would never defend anyone who treated a liberal speaker in such a deplorable way. I expect the same courtesy from the Left.

We both get a chance to speak. That’s how freedom works.

Or how it’s supposed to. Unfortunately, too many students arrive on campus with a poor grasp of the U.S. Constitution, let alone good manners. Hearing an alternative view to what they’ve been spoon-fed their entire lives sends them into a complete tailspin.

They don’t listen respectfully. They attack. “The 2016-17 academic year will go down in history as the year of the shout-down,” Stanley Kurtz of the Ethics and Public Policy Center wrote in a piece for National Review that cataloged some of the more notable outrages.

The bad news is, universities aren’t helping. The good news is, some states are. In a recent article for The Daily Signal, education expert Jonathan Butcher praised Arizona lawmakers for strengthening laws that protect free speech on public college campuses.

“While the First Amendment has long limited regulations to the ‘time, place, and manner’ of speech in public forums, now schools can only exercise that authority to restrict speech if it is ‘necessary to achieve a compelling governmental interest’ and is ‘the least restrictive means’ for doing so,” he writes.

Other states, such as North Carolina and Wisconsin, have taken steps to address the speaker shout-down problem — preventing campuses from disinviting speakers, for example, and stipulating that universities explain their free-speech policies during freshmen orientation. It’s a shame that such remedial steps are necessary, but here we are.

The need for action couldn’t be plainer. Many students understand the need to protect everyone’s free speech rights, but others? Not so much. In one recent survey, 10 percent of students said it is appropriate to use violence to stop a speaker sometimes, while 37 percent said speaker shout-downs are sometimes acceptable.

That’s frightening. Until both of those numbers are at zero percent, it’s obviously we have our work cut out for us.


Number of Australians with tertiary education qualifications to plunge

Good.  It might rein in credentialism

The number of Australians with tertiary education qualifications will plummet in the next decade unless current funding arrangements are overhauled, new research has found.

A new report released by the Mitchell Institute in Victoria on Monday warns that by 2031 participation in Australia’s tertiary education sector could fall to as low as 6% of the population aged between 15 and 64, down from about 10.5% in 2016.

Driven by a combination of the government’s freeze on the demand-driven university enrolment system and a sustained period of cuts to vocational education and training (VET) funding, the report cautions Australia could be “about to enter a decade of declining participation in tertiary education”.

Written by respected tertiary education expert Peter Noonan, the report paints a stark portrait of falling enrolments, particularly driven by a marked decline in the vocational sector.

“Really if we look at the tertiary education sector as a whole – both VET and higher education together – and think ahead, then we face a significant risk of declining participation rates in post-school education on current settings, and that’s mainly because of the alarming decline in VET enrolments and participation,” he told the Guardian.

Noonan’s report warns that based on current trends VET sector enrolments would fall from 5.3% of 15 to 64-year-olds in 2016 to 1.3% by 2031. That equates to more than half-a-million fewer enrolments in the sector in a 15 year period.

“Assuming the ongoing decline in student enrolments is not reversed ... in effect, VET would become a residual sector,” the report states.

“While this scenario may seem implausible, governments will need to act quickly and decisively to arrest the continuing decline in public investment in VET and the ongoing decline in publicly funded student enrolments.”

Noonan has long been critical of current funding arrangements for the vocational sector, and has called for a complete overhaul of the way the system is run between the states and the commonwealth.

Data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research has previously shown that VET operational funding from the states and territories has fallen steadily over the past four years, from $4.3 billion in 2012 to $2.9 billion in 2016.

He says current funding arrangements allow the states to match commonwealth funding allocations by taking money from their other parts of the VET system, and thinks the federal government needs to take a stronger hold of a sector he says has been allowed to fall into crisis.

“If you were a casual observer you’d think that the education system consisted of schools and universities because all the debate has been around Gonski and the various iterations of university reforms,” he said.

“At the same time the VET sector has been in free fall and no one has either noticed or cared.”

While the decline in VET enrolments means that even on current trends the number of students enrolled in tertiary courses will continue to fall, the report states that the freeze on demand-driven funding will impact on university enrolments.

The report’s modelling predicts the cap will see the proportion of 18 to 64-year-olds enrolled at university staying at below 5% by 2031, rather than lifting to above 6% based on previous trends.

“In a period when successful mass participation in tertiary education is essential to the country’s economic and social wellbeing ... this decline would, over time, also result in a decline in qualification attainment levels in the Australian workforce,” the report found.


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Horrifying video shows daycare teacher instructing kids to THROW ROCKS at their 4-year-old classmate 'to teach him a lesson'

Not a good lesson to teach

Shocking video shows a teacher ordering six of her students aged 4 to pelt another student with rocks to ‘teach him a lesson.’

The horrifying incident allegedly took place at the Teach N Tend Daycare in Forrest City, Arkansas on or around April 26.

Police say they received an email with cell phone video showing about a half-dozen children pelt another student with stones at the urging of their teacher.

The video was sent to police by another teacher who is said to have witnessed the incident, according to Fox 13 TV.

The witness said she and other employees of the daycare center were outside with kids when they say a teacher tell a child to sit down.

The child, 4, allegedly picked up rocks and threw them on the ground.

The child’s teacher than told other students to throw rocks at the boy to teach him a lesson.

About six students are seen hurling rocks at the boy, who is on his knees and crying.

The officer who saw the video said: ‘I observed approximately 6 toddlers throwing rocks at a white male toddler. ‘The toddler is kneed down covering his face crying.

‘A background voice says, “He'll learn to stop, ok that's enough”.’

The teacher who allegedly egged on the students to hurl rocks has been interviewed by police.

So far, no arrests have been made.


Class warfare! Primary school bans PENCIL CASES so poorer children don't feel 'stigmatised'

A school has banned pencil cases over fears poorer students are missing classes because they are ashamed of their stationery.

St Wilfrid's Primary School in Blyth, Northumberland is among a number of schools taking part in scheme aimed at reducing the 'stigma' felt by less well-off pupils.

As part of the measures, school bosses have banned pencil cases and brought in plain school bags to stop students envying each other's belongings.

St Wilfrid's headteacher Pauline Johnstone said the ban on pencil cases was to prevent 'comparison on the tables as children are learning'.

She told the BBC's Look North the school asked parents and pupils about their worries over the cost of schooling and were 'horrified' at their replies.

She said: 'We found it very traumatic when the feedback was given because we were sure that we had made our school very inclusive and what was coming back from the children was that, for some children, it wasn't inclusive.'

The pencil case ban is one of the range of measures encouraged by the charity Children North East, citing Newcastle University research which advises schools to review the numbers of non-uniform days and refrain from asking students what they did over the holidays or at the weekends.

While children who receive free school meals usually went unnoticed, they were identifiable to others on trips out as their packed lunches came in a brown paper bag, Mrs Johnstone said.

The school also calculated it could cost parents up to £581 per child per year - including uniform, meals, trips and if children attended every optional after school event.

Campaigners hope that the attendance of poorer students will increase if they feel less stigmatised.

But the moves have raised eyebrows among parents online, with some questioning whether changes mean schools are failing to prepare youngsters for the inequality in the wider world.

Euan Bass wrote on Facebook: 'It’s a fact of life some people have more money then others, surely is a fact of life that children need to learn.'

Adam Rhodes added: 'I remember kids coming into school with Adidas, Nike etc... I asked my parents why, they told me "Because you'll grow out of them before you make good use of them" and that was that. Surely people haven't lost the ability to explain this to their kids these days?'


British selective school expansion will create up to 16,000 new places, Education Secretary reveals

Grammar schools will be able to create thousands of extra places to help “close the gap” between wealthier and poorer children in the biggest expansion of selective education in a generation.

Damian Hinds, the Education Secretary, is announcing on Friday a £50 million Selective Schools Expansion Fund which forms the bedrock of Theresa May’s trimmed-down grammar revolution.

The money will be available to existing grammars on the condition they can prove they will take in more children from lower income backgrounds.

It is the first slice of a £200m fund which could see up to 16,000 extra grammar places created over the next four years.