Friday, July 13, 2018

University of Kansas flies defaced American flag on campus (on purpose!)

Todd Starnes

Patriots in the Heartland are furious after the University of Kansas raised a defaced American flag on campus. And it was intentional.

The flag, defaced with what looks like black paints and the incongruous image of a sock, is part of an art installation hosted by the Spencer Museum of Art called, “Pledges of Allegiance.”

One of my readers passed along photos of the red, white, blue and black flag flapping in the breeze. And like any right-thinking, red-blooded American patriot he was enraged.

“I’m ashamed to be a Jayhawk,” he told me. “Wake up, America.”

The defaced and desecrated flag is the work of Josephine Meckseper, according to Creative Time, a public arts organization.

“The flag is a collage of an American flag and one of my dripped paintings which resembles the contours of the United States,” Meckseper said in a post on Creative Time’s website. “I divided the shape of the country in two for the flag design to reflect a deeply polarized country in which a president has openly bragged about harassing women and is withdrawing from the Kyoto protocol and UN Human Rights Council.”

So she defaced Old Glory to take a cheap shot at President Trump? How avant-garde.

But that still doesn’t explain the black and white sock printed onto the side of the Star-Spangled Banner. Static cling, perhaps? Maybe she ran out of Bounce?

“The black and white sock on my flag takes on a new symbolic meaning in light of the recent imprisonment of immigrant children at the border,” she said.

I’m not sure I follow the symbolism unless the illegal immigrants are crossing the border sockless.

“Let’s not forget that we all came from somewhere and are only recent occupants of this country – native cultures knew to (take) care of this continent much better for thousands of years before us,” she said. “It’s about time for our differences to unite us rather than divide us.”

Speak for yourself, Ms. Meckseper.

A university spokesperson said the photo is of a display from the nationwide "Pledges of Allegiance" public arts project that went up July 5 and is at 13 locations nationwide.

The university said the exhibit is being funded by private donations.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach tells me he is outraged by the exhibit.

"It's outrageous that you would see a public university displaying a desecrated flag," said Kobach, a Republican who is running for governor. "The fact they call it art does not make it any less of a desecration of our flag."

Kobach said it was "doubly outrageous" that the flag is being flown at a university supported by taxpayer funds.


Britain must stop pressuring young people to go university to expert warns

Government’s candidate to head the social mobility commission says a lot of kids are forced down the academic route when vocational education would suit them better

TOO many children are being forced into a university education that does not suit them, says the Government’s candidate to head the social mobility commission.

Dame Martina Milburn told MPs she wants more vocational education to ensure children from all walks of life get the same opportunity.

She said: “There are a lot of kids forced down an academic route that doesn’t suit them and doesn’t play to their strengths.

“I don’t think, as a country, we kind of need everyone to have a degree from Oxford.

“If I’m using a carpenter to build me a new cupboard, I want someone who loves what they do and can do it. I don’t really care whether they’ve got a degree or not.”

Dame Martina was announced in May as the Government's preferred candidate to become the next chairwoman of the commission.

At a pre-appointment hearing before the Commons education committee yesterday she was asked what she will “challenge the Government on first”.

She said: “I would like to really look at vocational education. That, for me, is a huge key to making a real difference in social mobility.”


Australian parents selecting a school for their children are shunning those with low vaccination rates after it is revealed two children per class are unprotected

Parents choosing a school for their children are being swayed by vaccination rates. One-in-three parents claim they would not send their child to a school they thought was ideal if it did not have a high rate of vaccinations.

About 28 per cent of parents are concerned about their children catching a contagious disease at a school with a low immunisation rate, the Courier-Mail reported.

Up to two children per class are unprotected, according to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data.

One in every 15 five-year-old children have not been immunised in south Brisbane, and the Gold Coast has the lowest vaccination rate in Queensland at 92.2 per cent.

Of 2,000 parents surveyed by, 28 per cent considered a lack of vaccinated children one of their biggest concerns when choosing a school. It was found to be of more concern for mothers than for fathers.

'Alongside vaccination rates, things such as academic performance, distance from home and canteen ­hygiene are also influencers,' Bessie Hassan from said.

Vaccines for many preventable diseases are provided free by the National Immunisation Program Schedule in Australia for children under 10-years-old.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

How Accreditation Is Cheating U.S. College Students

Americans mostly embrace competitive markets and grasp that less competition means greater rigidity, reduced innovation, and lower quality of products and services. One sector in which people may not realize competition is thwarted is higher education. Perhaps the greatest obstacle to robust, meaningful competition between institutions of higher learning—and certainly an obstacle that few people outside of educational administration understand well—is the system of accreditation, explains Independent Institute Senior Fellow Richard K. Vedder, in a recent column at Forbes.

Accrediting organizations—and there are hundreds of them—are not a completely bad idea. They can, for example, discourage unscrupulous diploma mills, ensuring that colleges and universities meet basic levels of competence. “There are at least nine problems, however, with the current system,” Vedder writes. The system is too complex, costly, secretive, of limited use to students and parents, filled with conflicts of interest, focused more on educational inputs than outcomes, anti-competitive, and the means by which the federal government wielded influence and control over schools.

Consumers get better information from Forbes magazine’s America’s Top Colleges rankings and Department of Education’s College Scorecard than from accrediting organizations, according to Vedder. While a uniform, useful measure of educational product quality and outcomes has yet to be applied to all of the nation’s colleges and programs, this is an idea whose time has come. “At the minimum, accreditation needs to be significantly remodeled—simplified, made transparent, less prone to conflicts of interest, etc.,” Vedder writes. “Perhaps accrediting agencies should be the vehicle for providing far more detailed and consumer-friendly data on such things as student vocational success rates by major, student satisfaction with courses, etc. Then let consumers, not bureaucrats, decide whether the institution is worth attending.”


California university works to reduce number of white people on campus

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo works on massive diversity and inclusion effort

In keeping with the diversity and inclusion movement sweeping campuses across the country, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo recently released a 30-page report outlining plans to “improve diversity” via a series of initiatives.

One goal is to increase the number of people of color on campus beyond the increases that have already occurred over the past few years, as “applications from underrepresented minority students doubled between 2008 and 2018.”

“In 2011, the campus was 63 percent Caucasian,” the May 2 report informs readers, “in fall of 2017, it was less than 55 percent … but there is still much work to do.”

The public research institution states it wishes to get those numbers more in line with the state’s percentage of white people, which recent polls hold at 39.7 percent of the population.

“To further advance its goals of reflecting the demographics of California and creating a more diverse and inclusive campus community, Cal Poly administration has developed the following Diversity Action Initiatives document,” the report states.

In it, administration details a multi-year effort with dozens of intitiatives, including ones to further lower the percentage of white students on campus and increase the number of faculty of color.

For students, the school plans on recruiting applicants more heavily based on race. For instance, the school has recently implemented several new scholarships “aimed at recruiting more African-American and other underrepresented minorities.” It’s also working to recruit low-income and first-generation students by partnering with high schools that enroll a high percentage of these students, according to the report.

Cal Poly SLO has eliminated applicants’ ability to apply to the school in Early Decision since the process, according to the report, “disadvantaged low-income students.” All applicants, regardless of their level of interest in the school, are viewed in one big pool in regular decision admissions.

And the college announced its intention of forcibly increasing diversity in “traditionally male-dominated majors” such as STEM and Architecture and Environmental Design, according to the document.

For faculty, the university states diversity will be a criterion considered in cluster hiring faculty “every other year.” And the university has received $150,000 from the Cal State University system “for a cluster hire of up to 10 faculty positions that focus on diversity and inclusion in a variety of scholarly areas throughout the university’s six colleges.”

This fall campus leaders will “require a diversity statement from candidates for all faculty and staff searches,” the report states. It adds that search committees will now be made up of diverse membership and Academic Affairs has “set [an] expectation that search committees will be based on best practices regarding diversity.”

Meanwhile, many initiatives remain in the offing.

For instance, the document calls for the implementation of a “pre-enrollment diversity training for new first-year and transfer students.” This “diversity training” will be in addition to the two mandatory orientation programs — “SLO Days” and “Weeks of Welcome.”

Additionally, “Poly Reps”—the Cal Poly ambassadors who provide campus tours to potential applicants—must now receive mandatory diversity training. Spokesperson Matt Lazier tells The College Fix “unconscious biases could inadvertently come into play” when they gave tours.


U.K.: Chief school inspector accuses minority groups of 'entitlement' in hijab row

The head of Ofsted has again stepped into the debate over the wearing of the hijab by primary school pupils, accusing minority groups with a “sense of religious or cultural entitlement” of attempting to exert an outsize influence on school policy.

In a speech on Monday evening, Amanda Spielman urged school leaders to resist pressure on issues such as what children should wear or what is taught to pupils.

She highlighted a “worrying” trend in schools where headteachers were being lobbied by groups seeking to influence school policy “whether or not members of that group constitute the majority of a school’s intake”.

The importance of teaching British values in schools has become a familiar theme in the 18 months since Spielman . In her latest intervention, she urged headteachers to step up their efforts so children learn about democracy and civil society, rather than leaving a vacuum that can be filled by extremist groups.

Spielman has previously attracted criticism for her comments about the wearing of the headscarf by Muslim girls as young as five. Last year, she announced Ofsted inspectors had been told to  wearing a hijab, warning that expecting pupils to wear the headscarf “could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls”.

She also came under fire for her intervention in the case of St Stephen’s, a state primary school in east London, where the  pupils from wearing the hijab in class after an outcry from parents and others. Spielman vociferously argued it was up to headteachers to set uniform rules.

In her speech to the Policy Exchange thinktank in London, she said for some children “school may be the only time in their lives that they spend time every day with people from outside their immediate ethnic or religious group, or at least where the values of people outside their own group can be explained and openly discussed”.

She said: “Islamist extremists, particularly fuelled by the online propaganda of Daesh [Islamic State] and others, prey on a sense of isolation and alienation in some minority communities.”

Earlier this year, teachers at the annual conference of the National Education Union accused Spielman of  to girls wearing the hijab and said her remarks had gone beyond the remit of the schools’ watchdog.

In her latest foray, the chief inspector of schools in England took a defiant stance, insisting that Ofsted had a vital role in making sure that schools promote British values and vowing to continue to call out poor practice.

“For many people, the things I have been talking about today are too sensitive and too difficult for them to want to risk giving offence. They are easy things to skirt, yet the risk of doing so is great,” she said. “If we leave these topics to the likes of the English Defence League and British National party on the one hand and Islamists on the other, then the mission of integration will fail.”

She said too many pupils were being taught British values such as tolerance and democracy in a “piecemeal” fashion, with wall displays and assemblies. Instead they should be taught as part of a strong academic curriculum that would help pupils identify “fake news and siren voices”.

In a long and detailed speech, the chief inspector said the problems were confined to a small number of state schools, as well as some independent schools and unregistered provision.

She denied that Ofsted was biased against faith schools and said Muslim state schools were almost three times as likely to be judged outstanding by Ofsted than the national average, and Jewish and Christian state schools were more likely to be good or outstanding than their secular counterparts.

She also flagged up the dangers of the far right in response to a growing disenchantment with the status quo. “That disenchantment can so easily be exploited by extremists, who promise a better tomorrow by scapegoating and blaming minorities today. This is why it is right that the Prevent duty also focuses on tackling the growth of the far right.”

Responding to the speech, the Muslim Council of Britain expressed concern about a “top-down, mono-nationalist and establishment British values approach” which put the “moral onus on ethnic minorities for the supposed failures of integration”.

The MCB called on Spielman to tackle Islamophobia in schools with the same sort of gusto as she advocated British values and added: “The hijab is a religious right, and just as no one should be obligated to wear, nor must people alienate and vilify those who choose to adopt this practice.”

Mary Bousted, the National Education Union joint general secretary, accused Ofsted of being out of touch with schools on the issues of values. “The speech does nothing to help schools develop a culturally inclusive curriculum.

“Ofsted seem oblivious to the levels of racism faced by BME children and teenagers, and faced by BME professionals in education. Schools work tirelessly to support children to develop positive values – to both think for themselves and act for others. Ofsted should be supporting this work instead of making it harder.”


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Liberal Students Furious Over Trump’s Unannounced SCOTUS Pick

The below was written before Trump's announcement

President Donald Trump is expected to announce his pick Monday for a judge to replace the opening on the Supreme Court created by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

It’s expected that no matter who the president selects, it will anger those on the left.

In fact, some college students are already calling Trump’s pick a racist — even though the name of the judge hasn’t been announced.

A reporter for the website Campus Reform went to New York University and did man-on-the-street style interviews to ask students what they thought of Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court.

The students all seemed to have very negative views about the president’s selection — despite the fact a pick had not yet been announced.

A male student said the nonexistent pick sets a frightening precedent. “I saw the new nominee is like racist, and he’s starting a new wave of something very negative, and I’m really scared about the future and what choices he will make,” the not-so-informed student said.

Another male student said the pick — who again, has not yet been named — is what you would expect from a “white supremacist” like Trump.

“His entire Cabinet and everyone he’s chosen has been the white supremacist, Legion of Doom (type),” said the unidentified male. “They should all wear white hoods and burn crosses at the Capitol. That’s the move they’re going for.”

Meanwhile, a white female said the president’s choice — and let me stress this again, a choice who has not yet been announced — was an insult. “The fact he would put someone up there that is so racist and not practicing the equality we need to see, it’s insulting,” she said.

Another student admitted he didn’t know much about the person who has not yet been chosen, but he had it on good authority that it’s not someone he wants to see on the Supreme Court. “My dad was not a huge fan of the decision that (Trump) made,” the student said.

A female student said only one pick by the president would make her happy. “I want them to be liberal and look to the views of the minorities,” the female said.

She added that Trump should not be limiting his picks to conservative judges. When the Campus Reform reporter pointed out that former President Barack Obama selected two liberal justices during his tenure in the White House, an embarrassed look came over her face. “But now it’s all conservatives,” she said, trying to save face.

We know liberals are going to oppose whoever Trump selects as his Supreme Court nominee, but the fact so many college students have been programmed to assume anyone who is conservative is automatically a racist by nature is further evidence of how the liberal indoctrination has been successful in the U.S. school system.


It’s Time to Put Down the Participation Trophy

Allen West:

Last week, I had the distinct pleasure to sit with a young black man in his early 30s who is an Air Force Academy graduate. He is a Texan, who, after his stint in the Air Force, was accepted into a financial management graduate program with Goldman Sachs and now works with another financial management firm in the area of high-income wealth management. We met over at the Paradise Bakery near the Dallas Galleria Mall. The young man had run into me previously and wanted to meet and have a chat. I was completely humbled by our honest and direct conversation and the highly astute questions he presented. Here again, he was an Air Force Academy graduate.

Yes, he was a conservative, young black man, who, as we talked, embraced the concept of equality of opportunity versus the equality of outcomes. He did not come from a silver spoon background, but he had parents who set high standards, which he obviously has and will continue to meet. The seminal question he posed to me, that framed our entire discussion was: “How do we get my generation, the millennials, to come around?” My response was that they had to put down the participation trophy.

Sadly, we are witnessing a generation that is the result of the insidious notion by some adults that kids should be given something for doing nothing to boost their self-esteem. This phenomenon has become the “culture of the participation trophy,” that worthless little plastic trinket that supposedly made kids on little league fields feel better about themselves. The immediate response from my new friend was total agreement. He had played football at the Air Force Academy and understood working hard to make the team – opportunity. He also realized that the Air Force Academy, as well as all the service academies, rank among the most scholarly institutions of higher learning in our nation. There are no more than 4,000 attending West Point, Annapolis, and the Air Force Academy.

And why not?

What these young Millennials must guard against is the new wave of adult stupidity, continuing the nonsense of the participation trophy – the progressive, socialist ideological agenda. The leftists in America are bent on not recognizing excellence and achievement. They want to end such things as Valedictorians and Salutatorians. Heck, you want to be a cheerleader but could not make the cut, just complain to mommy, and all standards and criteria will be dropped. Hey kids, put down the participation trophy, as the left in America is selling you a dangerous lie.

When Barack Obama came out with the campaign theme “Yes We Can” he was not addressing you as an individual being able to accomplish something. He was addressing it as something government “can” do, and that you could not be an individual with dreams (unless an illegal immigrant kid), goals, desires, and determinations to excel and succeed. Obama and his ilk were referring not to the great opportunities America affords, but rather to the outcomes that government can guarantee. For my young Millennial Americans, the generation that gave us the “selfie,” for the left you are not an individual but rather just a number, part of a collective based upon race, gender, sexual orientation, and any other means by which they can classify you.

Think about the most egregious and disrespectful thing an American president could have said, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” For the progressive, socialist left, as Barack Obama stated back in Roanoke, Virginia in 2012, individual achievement is irrelevant, unrecognized when it confronts the will of central government planning. And so it is, we now have these delusional adults who promise everything from the right to have a job to free healthcare, free college education, and we know how well the whole right to own a home fiasco ended up in 2008.

The grand scheme of progressive socialism is to render the individual non-existent. There is only one purpose for individuals with this political philosophy: provide the largesse by way of wealth redistribution to resource the grand welfare nanny-state, or as I call it, the dependency society. Bottom line: someone must produce the participation trophies that will be doled out, as promised.

And what happens in societies where this formula, this recipe for disaster is undertaken? Just look at Venezuela, or any other place that touted itself as a socialist country. Millennials, a very important lesson y’all must learn, and quickly, is that a free people are not equal, and an equal people are not free. The reason why you must learn this lesson quickly is because you cannot run to “safe spaces” for the rest of your lives when confronted by the truth. You cannot decry idiotic terms such as “micro-aggression” when facing those with whom you cannot adequately debate, or those who refuse to provide you a participation trophy.

Life is about getting onto the field and playing. Yes, you may get hit and you may get knocked down, but the true measure of a person is not how many times you get knocked down but how many times you get back up. You must learn this lesson quickly because the opioid crisis that is plaguing our young people today is a result of their not being able to cope when they do not get that participation trophy, which comes in many different forms.

My message to the American Millennial generation is to put down the doggone participation trophy. Any and everything worth having is worth earning. Adults have sold you a very bad bill of goods. Being exceptional is cool. And always remember, progressive socialism is all about taking away your stuff. America just celebrated 242 years of exceptionalism, our independence, and it is a place where you can indeed, as the Army tagline once was, “Be All that You Can Be.”

Yes, “you can,” but it starts with putting down the participation trophy and rejecting the enticing, but enslaving, message of the progressive, socialist left. They believe that you cannot, and that if you can, well, you should be punished for it.

And that, kids, ain’t American. Class dismissed.


All teachers  must learn math?

Not everyone is good at it so are they to be barred from teaching (say) English>

The federal government could use funding agreements with Australian universities to force them to make science and maths a priority in teaching degrees.

In a speech delivered in Sydney on Monday, education minister Simon Birmingham signalled that the government was willing to use university funding as a way of addressing falling participation rates in high school maths and science.

The government says that in 2013 one in five year 7 to 10 general science teachers had not completed a year of university study in that area, a figure Birmingham said was “unacceptable”.
Private schools on funding 'hitlist' actually increase their funding

On Monday he said states and territories should “be willing to make clear to universities where their employment priorities lie” and create incentives for more students to consider specialising in maths and science subjects.

“Between better workforce planning and smarter use of technology every high school should have access to specialist teachers to teach specialist science and maths subjects,” he said.

“And we should strive to achieve this within the next five to ten years.”

While Birmingham conceded the federal government cannot force states to hire teachers with maths or science backgrounds, he indicated he could “influence” the teaching students entering university by tying it to university enrolment funding.

“If need be, federal funding powers over university places could be used to help the states to influence enrolments to secure the science teachers we need for the future,” he said.

It comes after a report from Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel which noted a long-term decline in year 12 students enrolling in science and challenging maths subjects.

The report, released in April, found the number of students choosing science had dropped from 55% in 2002 to 51% in 2013. And while maths participation had remained steady, Finkel’s report found a trend towards students choosing easier subjects.

The Finkel report argued that not enough universities required mathematics subjects for degrees – saying it is only a prerequisite for five of 37 universities offering a bachelor of science, four of 31 for a bachelor of commerce and one of 34 for an engineering degree.

He also called for a complete overhaul of the Advanced Tertiary Admission Rank system, or Atar, saying it encouraged students to game the system by aiming for higher scores by doing less demanding subjects.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Ted Cruz Introduces Legislation Expanding School Choice

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas introduced legislation Thursday that would expand school choice and give access to tax-free savings plans.

The Student Empowerment Act further broadens 529 accounts, also known as college savings plans, to include “K-12 elementary and secondary school expenses for public, private, and religious schools, including homeschool students.”

These expenses can include things such as tutoring costs, books, fees associated with standardized tests and educational therapies for students with disabilities.

The bill amends the Student Opportunity Amendment, which was signed into law in December 2017 as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and expanded 529 accounts to include tuition for the aforementioned institutions.

A 529 account is a versatile tax-free savings plan sponsored by the federal government, states, state agencies, or other educational institutions designed to incentivize savings for forthcoming education costs.

“By investing in the next generation of students and expanding school choice, we’re able to allow more students to have access to an education that truly fits their child’s needs, and to escape the one-size-fits-all approach to education. #EmpowerOurStudents”, Cruz tweeted on the issue.


First, They Came for the Biologists

The postmodernist left on campus is intolerant not only of opposing views, but of science itself

Who would have guessed that when America cleaved, the left would get the National Football League and the right would get uncontested custody of science?

The revolution on college campuses, which seeks to eradicate individuals and ideas that are considered unsavory, constitutes a hostile takeover by fringe elements on the extreme left. Last spring at the Evergreen State College, where I was a professor for 15 years, the revolution was televised—proudly and intentionally—by the radicals. Opinions not fitting with the currently accepted dogma—that all white people are racist, that questioning policy changes aimed at achieving “equity” is itself an act of white supremacy—would not be tolerated, and those who disagreed were shouted down, hunted, assaulted, even battered. Similar eruptions have happened all over the country.

What may not be obvious from outside academia is that this revolution is an attack on Enlightenment values: reason, inquiry and dissent. Extremists on the left are going after science. Why? Because science seeks truth, and truth isn’t always convenient.

The left has long pointed to deniers of climate change and evolution to demonstrate that over here, science is a core value. But increasingly, that’s patently not true.

The battle on our campuses—and ever more, in K-12 schools, in cubicles and in meetings, and on the streets—is being framed as a battle for equity, but that’s a false front. True, there are real grievances. Gaps between populations exist, for historical and modern reasons that are neither honorable nor acceptable, and they must be addressed. But what is going on at institutions across the country is—yes—a culture war between science and postmodernism. The extreme left has embraced a facile fiction.

Postmodernism, and specifically its offspring, critical race theory, have abandoned rigor and replaced it with “lived experience” as the primary source of knowledge. Little credence is given to the idea of objective reality. Science has long understood that observation can never be perfectly objective, but it also provides the ultimate tool kit with which to distinguish signal from noise—and from bias. Scientists generate complete lists of alternative hypotheses, with testable predictions, and we try to falsify our own cherished ideas.

Science is imperfect: It is slow and methodical, and it makes errors. But it does work. We have microchips, airplanes and streetlights to show for it.

In a meeting with administrators at Evergreen last May, protesters called, on camera, for college president George Bridges to target STEM faculty in particular for “antibias” training, on the theory that scientists are particularly prone to racism. That’s obvious to them because scientists persist in using terms like “genetic” and “phenotype” when discussing humans. Mr. Bridges offers: “[What] we are working towards is, bring ’em in, train ’em, and if they don’t get it, sanction them.”

Despite the benevolent-sounding label, the equity movement is a highly virulent social pathogen, an autoimmune disease of the academy. Diversity offices, the very places that were supposed to address bigotry and harassment, have been weaponized and repurposed to catch and cull all who disagree. And the attack on STEM is no accident. Once scientists are silenced, narratives can be fully unhooked from any expectation that they be put to the test of evidence. Last month, Evergreen made it clear that they wanted two of its scientists gone—my husband, Bret Weinstein, and me, despite our stellar reputations with the students they claimed to be protecting. First, they came for the biologists . . .

Science has sometimes been used to rationalize both atrocity and inaction in its face. But conflating science with its abuse has become a favorite trope of extremists on the left. It’s a cheap rhetorical trick, and not, dare I say, very logical.

Science creates space for the free exchange of ideas, for discovery, for progress. What has postmodernism done for you lately


Survey: Men Spend a Measly 15 Minutes Per Day Reading

So not much hope of self-education either

Several months ago, I  wrote an article explaining why people (specifically Christians) should dump Facebook. One reason is that Facebook is a very skilled waster of people's time, as are all other social media sites. I've also written an article about many Americans' inability to separate opinions from facts. Today, I write about a possible result of Americans being addicted to the great time waster called social media and a possible cause of "American's inability to separate opinions from facts." You see, the latest American Time Use Survey has been released and I have yet to cease sadly saying "Wow!" whenever I think about what the survey reveals about Americans' reading habits.

Under the auspices of the United States Department of Labor, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the results of the survey every year. The report contains boring yet useful information like:

Among workers age 25 and over, those with an advanced degree were more likely to work at home than were persons with lower levels of educational attainment--46 percent of those with an advanced degree performed some work at home on days worked, compared with 12 percent of those with a high school diploma. Workers with an advanced degree also were more likely to work on an average day than were those with a high school diploma--73 percent, compared with 68 percent.

The American Time Survey doesn't just focus on work-related activities, though. The survey also reveals how Americans spend their leisure hours, which is a separate category from household activities. For example, under household activities, "On an average day, 19 percent of men did housework--such as cleaning or laundry--compared with 49 percent of women. Forty-six percent of men did food preparation or cleanup, compared with 69 percent of women. Men were slightly more likely to engage in lawn and garden care than were women--11 percent, compared with 8 percent."

However, leisure activities are a little more democratic, if you will. "On an average day, nearly everyone age 15 and over (96 percent) engaged in some sort of leisure activity, such as watching TV, socializing, or exercising. Men spent 33 minutes per day more in these activities than did women (5.5 hours, compared with 5.0 hours)."

As expected, watching TV takes up the most of Americans' time spent in leisure with the average American spending just under three hours a day watching TV. The leisure activity engaged in the least appears to be reading. "Time spent reading for personal interest varied greatly by age. Individuals age 75 and over averaged 51 minutes of reading per day whereas individuals ages 15 to 44 read for an average of 10 minutes or less per day."

According to table 11A, men spend less time a day reading than do women. Not by much, mind you. Taking into account that the much higher time spent reading by seniors skews the overall average, men spend on average fewer than a quarter of an hour a day reading while women spend on average around a third of an hour a day reading. (If you go to table 11A you should note that the numbers are percentages of an hour and not minutes.)

The average adult reads around 300 words per minute. That means that Americans between the ages of 15-44 read on average 3,000 words or less a day. It truly boggles my mind how little my fellow Americans read. If I wasn't cynical about the future of this country before the release of the American Time Survey, I am now. The dismally low amount of time spent reading by Americans is shameful!


Monday, July 09, 2018

Texas Educators, Employees Showing Increased Interest in ‘School Marshal’ Program

A program in Texas which trains armed educators and employees has seen increasing interest since the recent deadly school shootings in Parkland, Florida, and Santa Fe, Texas.

One of the training programs, run by the Alamo Area Council of Governments Regional Law Enforcement Training Academy (AACOG) in San Antonio currently has 16 participants, the biggest group to sign up since it began in 2014.

Adjunct instructor Richard Bryan said enrollees don’t want to be helpless in deadly situations.

“From what we’ve seen, just talking to the participants, they want to do something in these type of situations. If something was to go bad, they want to be able to help.”

“Last year when we scheduled it, we actually had to cancel it because there wasn’t enough interest at the time,” Bryan said.

According to the School Marshal Program, which was approved by the Texas State Legislature in 2013, trainees must complete 80 hours of instruction that will teach them prevention strategies, law enforcement techniques, and proficiency with a handgun.

“School districts across Texas now have the option of training selected employees to be armed marshals,” the program states.

“These marshals will serve to protect students from armed intruders in accordance with HB 1009. Individuals participating in this newly designed program will be a current district employee and already possess a current concealed handgun license. This training gives school districts another option for protection of students.”

Florida Senate Bill 7026, enacted in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, came up with a program that allows its school districts to choose whether or not to participate in a school guardian program if it is offered in their county.

However, a summary of the bill states that teachers are not required to be part of the program or to carry a weapon.

“No teacher will be required to participate. In fact, the legislation provides that personnel that are strictly classroom teachers with no other responsibilities cannot participate, with specified exceptions.”

However, during an interview last month, Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner said he was not yet on board with the idea of arming teachers in the classroom.

“Trained professional officers, on our middle school, high school and moving forward our elementary campuses is what we want. Things have to be organized. Things have to be well thought out, so at this moment, I don’t think that any of us quite frankly, are prepared to implement a policy like that in the short term.”

During a hearing last month with Texas lawmakers to discuss ways to prevent future school shootings, Mike Matranga who is head of security for the Texas City school district said that hiring a police officer to patrol the school would be a better option than arming teachers and employees.

“If you’re going to designate a marshal or a guardian, why not just hire another police officer and put them in a school? They’re better trained. They’re better equipped. They have the ability to make judgments. It seems like you’re putting a Band-Aid on a hemorrhage.”

Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) spokeswoman Gretchen Grigsby said she estimated that 110 people have already signed up for the summer course.

“School safety is on a lot of people’s minds now,” Grigsby told KSAT news.


University Rejects Professor’s Statement That Men And Women Are Different

The University of Washington publicly condemned a professor’s op-ed explaining that there aren’t as many women in the field of coding as men because men and women are different and make different choices.

Computer science professor Stuart Reges wrote a June 19 essay explaining why there aren’t more women in the field of coding, alleging that it’s unlikely the percentage of women in the tech industry will surpass 20 percent because women are simply less interested in the profession than men.

“If men and women are different, then we should expect them to make different choices,” he continued in the piece. “There has been no period of time when men have been increasing while women have been decreasing.” He surmised that “Women can code, but often they don’t want to.”

The school took issue with the professor’s essay, even sending out an email rejecting the piece and its premise. “We disagree with the conclusions drawn in the article,” UW School of Science Director Hank Levy wrote in an email to the whole campus June 23, Campus Reform reported Monday

“We disagree with the assertion that gender differences and preferences explain the disparity between men and women in computer science and engineering,” spokeswoman Kristin Osborn said, according to Campus Reform. She would not confirm whether Levy had read Reges’ essay or if the research the professor cited in his piece had been reviewed before the university publicly rejected the essay.

Reges pushed back against the university’s comment, alleging that his essay “is what science should be about.” He added that “UW already decided based on ideology, not science, that they disagree with my conclusions.”

Reges noted in his essay that women generally avoid risk more than men, while men respond more aptly to economic incentives. While the number of female computer science majors rose from 15 percent in 1965 to 37 percent in 1984, according to the National Science Foundation, that number fell to under 20 percent in 2015. Reges explains this drop by positing the lower percentages reflect women’s choices rather than discriminatory behavior against women in tech.

Reges’s colleagues also lambasted the professor shortly after he published the op-ed, and the university’s Diversity Allies drafted a petition asking students how they felt about his statements after the professor’s essay came out.


Two elite colleges dropped their requirement for prospective students to submit an SAT or ACT essay score on Thursday

Princeton University and Stanford University dropped their SAT/ACT mandate for applicants, reported The Washington Post. Brown University is the sole remeaining Ivy League school to require students to submit the essay scores.

While the requirement is gone, Stanford admissions dean Richard Shaw said the school would still “strongly recommend” that 2019 candidates for admission submit ACT or SAT writing tests. The school did not respond immediately to a request to a request for more detailed comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Meanwhile, Princeton now mandates that applicants submit a high school writing sample, preferably from an English or history class.

“With this policy, Princeton aims to alleviate the financial hardship placed on students, including those who have the opportunity to take the test without writing during the school day and for free,” the New Jersey school said in a Thursday statement obtained by WaPo.

Students who opt to take the essay portions of the ACT and SAT need to pay an additional fine of up to $16.50 or $17, respectively.

Almost every Ivy League school has dropped the required ACT and SAT writing sections, but they still mandate that students take the rest of the tests. The University of Chicago became the first top-10 research school to scrap the entire test as a requirement in June.

“Because Chicago has long been recognized as an admissions reform leader (e.g. Ted O’Neill and the ‘Uncommon Application’), it is now much more likely that peer national universities will follow suit,” FairTest public education director Bob Schaeffer told The Daily Caller News Foundation regarding the school’s switch. “From a broader ‘movement’ perspective, Chicago’s decision extends test-optional momentum from top-tier liberal arts colleges, where more than half no longer require ACT/SAT scores for all or many applicants, to a broader range of brand-name schools. An accelerated trickle-down effect is likely — FairTest’s internal ‘watch list’ already includes about three dozen schools that we know are considering dropping ACT/SAT scores.”


Sunday, July 08, 2018

Our Children Are at Risk

I’m sure President Obama’s heart was in the right place.  A few years ago, his Department of Education, in conjunction with the Department of Justice, studied school discipline data and came to a troubling conclusion: African American students in the 2011-12 school year had been suspended or expelled at a rate three times higher than White students.

This news sent shock waves throughout the community and government. here were already concerns of a “school-to-prison pipeline” that funneled disadvantaged children to jail. Now, there was renewed agreement that things had to change.

And so, in 2014, the Departments of Education and Justice put public schools on notice. If they suspended or expelled students of any racial group more than any other, they could face a federal investigation. In place of discipline to punish bad behavior, they were urged to use positive reinforcement instead.

As the grandmother of five school-age kids, I watched this closely. And as one of the Black students who integrated an all-White Richmond, Va., school in 1961, I was hopeful.

I hoped this policy would lead to safer schools. I prayed it would help students get a better education. And I felt confident it would open the door to a brighter future for our kids.

But like so many other parents and grandparents, I was wrong.

The federal government’s warning had an immediate impact. Schools across America quickly changed their discipline policies and reduced their suspension and expulsion rates. In doing so, they avoided the investigation threatened by the President. But at the same time, they put our children at risk.

Today, kids who bully and assault their classmates too often do so without fear of punishment. They know teachers have lost control. And they realize they can get away with behavior that never used to be tolerated.

As a result, when this summer is over, many students will once again face the fear of going back to school. That’s a tragedy! Schools should be joyous places where learning takes place. That’s what my classmates and I fought for in 1961. And it’s what should be the reality today.

Instead, danger lurks behind schoolhouse doors.

Joevon Smith is a heartbreaking example. A 17-year-old student with special needs who attended Ballou High School in Washington, D.C., Joeven was beaten up in his classroom and sprayed with a chemical. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, but never recovered. A few weeks after his brutal assault, Joevon died.

According to media reports, Joevon’s assailants wanted to steal his cell phone. That may be so. But because they were repeat offenders, loosened school discipline policies are also at fault.

That’s the case up the road in Baltimore, too. There, Jared Haga (age 10) and his 12-year-old sister Tamar have been bullied and threatened with violence. Tamar has even been sexually harassed and assaulted. In school!

As chronicled by “The Daily Signal,” Jared and Tamar’s mother tried to get this to stop. But when she complained to the principal, she was told nothing would – or could – be done.

Joevon, Jared, and Tamar aren’t alone. According to numerous reports, public schools are now less orderly and more dangerous. As Walter E. Williams has observed, the policy President Obama put into place has allowed “miscreants and thugs to sabotage the education process.”

Teachers apparently agree. In anonymous surveys, they describe how badly school safety has deteriorated. As one stated, “We have fights here almost every day. The kids walk around and say ‘We can’t get suspended – we don’t care what you say.’”

That sentiment was echoed by another teacher: “Students are yelling, cursing, hitting and screaming at teachers and nothing is being done but teachers are being told to teach and ignore the behaviors. These students know there is nothing a teacher can do.”

This is crazy. Every child deserves to get the tools they need to make their dreams come true. But if they are too scared to focus, they won’t get them. Many will drop out, limiting their chance to get a job, raise a family, and pursue their life goals.

All because directives from Washington have made school districts fear they’ll be investigated for keeping their classrooms safe.

We can’t bring Joevon back, and Jared and Tamar may never forget the trauma they’ve experienced. But we can take action to fix the mistake that has been made.

For starters, the Education and Justice Departments’ school discipline policy should be rescinded. And if any threats remain, every family should be empowered with school choice so they can choose safer learning options for their children.

I know President Obama meant well, but his administration’s action was wrong. So it’s now time to make things right. Our children should be at risk no more.


Rolling Back Obama's Legacy With 24 Rescissions

Live by the pen and phone, die by the pen and phone. This week, President Donald Trump’s administration undid yet more malfeasance perpetrated under the previous regime’s rule-by-fiat. And leftists are losing their minds. Again.

We start with education admissions practices. One of the most exciting days in a parent’s life is that day a letter comes from the college of their child’s choice — a letter stating that, yes, that child has been accepted into the next incoming freshman class. Unfortunately, some students don’t make this cut due to insufficient grades, test scores, extracurricular activities or other less objective factors.

But when the students in question are academically superior and natural leaders and yet are denied admission when more ordinary students are being accepted because of their race or economic status, that clear-cut discrimination is cause for action. In some cases, aggrieved students — with the aid of an advocacy group — have filed suit. One of these, a lawsuit by a group of Asian-American students, targets Harvard University with a discrimination claim that even the school found to be true through its own investigation.

Even so, Harvard continued to downgrade Asian-American applicants anyway — ironically, in the name of “diversity.” Documents unsealed as part of the Harvard suit revealed that the school used a subjective, personality-based rating system to artificially lower the number of Asian-Americans admitted.

That case could eventually be heard by the Supreme Court, but in the meantime it’s prompted the Trump administration, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to act. This impetus accompanied an earlier executive order from President Trump directing government agencies to scrap wherever possible such guidance as spelled out in the infamous “Dear Colleague” letters administered during Barack Obama’s administration.

These executive end-runs were little more than edicts and coercions aimed at institutions of higher learning and lacking legislative input. Their goal? To create a more “diverse” student population solely based on race and economic status.

The rescission of Obama’s direction that diversity is “a compelling state interest” generally means a return to George W. Bush-era policy, which held that the factors of race and economic status should be a last resort in promoting a diverse student body. As Robby Soave at Reason opined, the Bush approach “was consistent with Supreme Court precedent that has permitted affirmative action but narrowly limited its use.”

These admissions regulations were among the biggest changes made by the rescission of 24 previous guidance documents, a decision Sessions announced Tuesday. “The American people deserve to have their voices heard and a government that is accountable to them,” he said. “When issuing regulations, federal agencies must abide by constitutional principles and follow the rules set forth by Congress and the President.”

“In previous administrations, however, agencies often tried to impose new rules on the American people without any public notice or comment period, simply by sending a letter or posting a guidance document on a website. That’s wrong, and it’s not good government,” explained Sessions as part of a release accompanying the list of rescissions. “In the Trump administration, we are restoring the rule of law. That’s why in November I banned this practice at the Department and we began rescinding guidance documents that were issued improperly or that were simply inconsistent with current law,” the AG concluded.

In all, the count of Obama-era guidance documents rescinded is now 49, and Sessions and Co. aren’t through yet. “The [DOJ Regulatory Reform] Task Force is continuing its review of existing guidance documents to repeal, replace, or modify,” Sessions added.

Since the Sessions announcement had the effect of a classic Friday afternoon document dump (coming as it did on the day before a holiday), the caterwauling from the Left wasn’t quite as pronounced — but it was there. Leading the charge was the ACLU, with its Racial Justice Program director Dennis Parker using the occasion to take a gratuitous swipe at Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — who was nowhere to be found in the Sessions release.

Meanwhile, ACLU National Political Director Faiz Shakir played the good old-fashioned race card: “This move from Attorney General Sessions is a concrete signal that there is a war being waged on civil liberties from the highest levels of government,” Shakir whined. “This is another attack by Sessions and President Trump on people of color.” Ironically, Shakir is the son of Pakistani immigrants and attended … Harvard.

Clearly, the greatest lack of diversity on college campuses is the dearth of conservative thought. If these institutions of higher learning are genuinely interested in diversity, they should strive to include among their faculty and staff viewpoints that aren’t strictly held by the Left.


College graduates feel less patriotic than non-college graduates: survey

Independence Day might not be a time for strong patriotism among the college-educated anymore. A new survey found that college graduates feel less pride about being Americans, which reflects an overall downward trend.

Gallup surveyed American adults as part of an annual survey conducted around the Fouth of July. The survey reported that 47 percent of all American adults said that they describe themselves as “extremely proud” to be American, a decrease from 51 percent in 2017 and a huge drop from the peak of 70 percent in 2003.

The number stayed consistent in the high-50’s range between 2006 and 2013 before starting its slow descent.

This year, just 39 percent of college graduates said that they were “extremely proud” to be American, compared with 52 percent of non-graduates who said they were extremely proud.

The number of graduates who report feeling strong patriotism has consistently been lower than non-graduates: in 2013, 53 percent of graduates said they felt extremely proud against 59 percent of non-graduates. In 2015, 51 percent of graduates said they felt extremely proud, compared with 55 percent of non-graduates. The numbers held steady in 2016 and 2017 at 47 percent and 54 percent, respectively, for both years, according to Gallup.

The survey also broke down divisions between sex, race, and age. In general, older Americans feel more proud, white Americans feel more proud than non-white Americans, and there is little difference between men and women.

Across the board, though, the number of Americans who feel extremely proud to be American has decreased steadily over the past few years.