Friday, January 11, 2019

Professor is facing dismissal after writing 20 fake scientific papers on 'dog rape culture', 'a conceptual penis' and re-writing a chapter of MEIN KAMPF

A professor faces losing his high-powered job at an American university after writing 20 fake scientific papers. Seven of these fake pieces of research were accepted and four were published online.

Peter Boghossian, an assistant professor of philosophy at Portland State University in Oregon now faces the sack after a widespread backlash from the scientific community.

Steven Pinker and Richard Dawkins, prominent academics and science communicators, have defended the controversial stunt.

Dr Boghossian claims he conducted the questionable experiment to challenge the 'nonsense' which features in many social science papers. Some of the works included convoluted papers on 'dog rape culture', 'a conceptual penis' and even a re-wrote a chapter of Mein Kampf.

Dr Boghossian and two collaborators said their aim was to expose how 'absurdities' get published in legitimate peer-reviewed academic papers due to a lack of critical review.

In total the team of three researchers wrote 20 hoax papers on a field of study loosely defined as 'grievance studies'. These papers were based on 'nutty or inhumane' ideas that featured 'a little bit of lunacy'.

Portland State University officials said Dr Boghossian had not received proper ethical approval for the exercise.

By challenging the protocols implemented by journal staff and peer-reviewers the university say the academic breached guidelines when he manipulated these 'human research subjects'.

He is also being reviewed for falsifying data and the penalty for this is dismissal from the institute.

The authors claim their prank shows that higher education's fixation with identity politics has created 'absurd and horrific' scholarship, according to an in-depth piece by Wall Street Journal. 

The other two researchers involved in the deception were mathematician James Lindsay and Helen Pluckrose, who is editor-in-chief of current affairs magazine Areol.

Their aim was to expose how easily morally fashionable political ideas are published as academic research. One paper, published in Gender, Place & Culture, claimed to be based on a year observing sexual misconduct among dogs in a US park.

The paper said that parks were 'petri dishes for canine 'rape culture'' and said people needed to be aware of the way dogs were treated depending on their gender.

The year before they had publised a paper called 'The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct,' in the journal Cogent Social Sciences. Another paper published in the journal Fat Studies claimed that body building is 'fat-exclusionary'.

They published a paper in the Journal of Poetry Therapy was about feminist spirituality meetings. It was written by an algorithm.

Another paper published in peer-reviewed journal 'Affilia' was a rewrite of a chapter from Mein Kampf which was accepted despite going through a double peer review.

The authors claim their prank shows that higher education's fixation with identity politics has created 'absurd and horrific' scholarship.

'I think that certain aspects of knowledge production in the United States have been corrupted,' Dr Boghossian told the Wall Street Journal.

The year before they had published a paper called 'The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct' in the journal Cogent Social Sciences. 

Their scribblings included the phrases 'gender-performative, high fluid social construct', 'exclusionary to disenfranchised communities', and 'isomorphic to performative toxic masculinity'.

They even associated male anatomy with climate change.

Talking about the hoax, Dr Lindsay said each paper 'combined an effort to better understand the field itself with an attempt to get absurdities and morally fashionable political ideas published as legitimate academic research'.

They believe that people are so keen on identity politics that they will accept papers despite 'outlandish' data.

Another paper – which was just a rewrite of a chapter from Mein Kampf – was published in the journal 'Affilia'. It was accepted despite going through a double peer review.

As well as having papers published, the team were also asked to peer-review journals.

Richard Dawkins, an outspoken atheist and Emeritus Charles Simonyi Professor at the University of Oxford, wrote to the university: 'Do your humourless colleagues who brought this action want Portland State to become the laughing stock of the academic world?

'Or at least the world of serious scientific scholarship uncontaminated by pretentious charlatans of exactly the kind Dr Boghossian and his colleagues were satirising?'

'How would you react if you saw the following letter: Dear Mr Orwell, It has come to our notice that your novel, Animal Farm, attributes to pigs the ability to talk, and to walk on their hind legs, chanting ‘Four legs good, two legs better’. 'This is directly counter to known zoological facts about the Family Suidae, and you are therefore arraigned on a charge of falsifying data…”

Steven Pinker, the Harvard psychologist, wrote of the false data charge: 'This strikes me (and every colleague I’ve spoken with) as an attempt to weaponise an important principle of academic ethics to punish a scholar for expressing an unpopular opinion.'    

This was not the first instance of academics have published fake papers. Twenty-two years ago, a respected New York University physicist called Alan Sokal published a hoax paper to the journal Social Text.

He wanted to prove people would publish 'an article liberally salted with nonsense' if it sounded good and flattered current ideological preconceptions.

The paper, which was titled 'Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity', was accepted.

The trio behind the latest hoax say their work was research in itself. 'For us, the risk of letting biased research continue to influence education, media, policy and culture is far greater than anything that will happen to us for having done this', Dr Lindsay said.


Are Universities progressive or regressive?

There is tons of evidence that in general American higher education has a strong left-of-center political orientation. Surveys show an overwhelming majority of faculty in disciplines with a strong public policy orientation are left of center. Political donations go mostly for Democrats. Polling by both Gallup and the Pew Research Center suggests that Democrats are far more supportive of universities than Republicans and, indeed, declining support by Republicans has been particularly pronounced in recent years.

Two goals historically cherished by most individuals and groups with a progressive orientation are the reduction in income inequality and the elimination of race-based discrimination against persons. How have universities fostered the achievement of these goals? A very good case can be made that higher education’s increased involvement over time has worsened achieving both of these goals.

Compare America of 1970 with that of 2018. In 1970, about 10% of adult Americans had bachelor’s degrees or more, compared with more than 30% today. In the past half century, college has become attainable by more than rich or even prosperous upper middle class individuals. Many liberals thought that by providing a ticket to good jobs, college education would reduce inequalities in America, furthering the achievement of the American Dream.

Yet the evidence suggests otherwise. The expansion of higher education has occurred almost in lockstep with rising income inequality as conventionally measured. Census Bureau data show that family, household or personal income has become more unequally distributed since the early 1970s, after having become more equal between 1929 and about 1973.

College diplomas have helped employers identify individuals who are smart, dependable, ambitious, and honest, characteristics often largely acquired even before entering college. Labor markets over the past two generations have generally favored those with superior mental qualities, disfavoring those with strong physical attributes like strength and endurance. Factory workers have lost ground to brainy computer programmers, accountants and scientists.

The “sheepskin effect” of the diploma is great, and Bryan Caplan’s The Case Against Education demonstrates that most of the income increment associated with gaining a degree has little to do with skills acquired while in college.

The diploma-granting status of universities has unwittingly promoted greater income inequality. High school graduates over the past half-century have had earnings decline relative to those with college degrees (although that is not so true in the past decade). Colleges have, in effect, encouraged young Americans to get a diploma so they can see their income increase relative to those failing to do so.

This has been exacerbated by colleges’ selective admissions policies. Although the more prestigious selective admissions schools whose graduates earn especially high incomes talk constantly about their commitment to diversity and serving a broad population, evidence accumulated by Harvard’s Raj Chetty and associates strongly shows that the probability of attending a top-quality school is dramatically greater for those from higher-income backgrounds. High-income parents invest in their children, sending them to the best public or private schools, financing all sorts of supplemental nurturing of their minds. Thus, the Ivy League and a few dozen other schools form an academic aristocracy, favoring rich kids over poor ones. Legacy preferences reinforce that tendency. Is it no wonder that income inequality has grown with increased college attendance?

Colleges are falling over each other to bring in racial minorities, creating vast “diversity” bureaucracies, showing blatant preferences towards people of color. This often promotes less “diversity” than it does old-fashioned race-based segregation, most obviously manifested in such things as buildings where only blacks (or some other favored group such as Hispanics) are welcome.

Colleges feel guilty because they are predominantly white, so they brag about their diversity and then often make decisions more on the basis of color or other group characteristics than on the basis of merit. Martin Luther King showed a truly liberal, progressive spirit in calling for a color-blind society. Today’s university “diversocrats” are doing the opposite. So many universities talk about being progressive and liberal, but often truly behave quite differently.


Honoring the Emancipation Proclamation with Educational Freedom

New Year’s Day marked the 156th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which guaranteed:

That on the 1st day of January, A.D. 1863, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free...

On this day, Booker T. Washington serves as a shining example of the importance of freedom and education. As Pepperdine University Economics Professor Gary M. Galles explained in a recent Foundation for Economic Education article:

Booker T. Washington...sought ‘the most complete freedom compatible with the freedom of others,’...born a slave, [Washington] was seven when the Emancipation Proclamation was announced. At 11, he got his first book and taught himself to read. He thought to ‘get into a schoolhouse and study...would be about the same as getting into paradise.’ At 16, he went 500 miles to the Hampton Institute, where he attended classes by day and worked nights to earn his room and board. After graduation, Hampton made him an instructor. In 1881, he founded the Tuskegee Institute. ...Washington recognized that for blacks’ advancement, starting from the legacy of government-enforced slavery, coercion of others was not the answer.

Today, a majority of African-Americans, as well as Americans in general, embrace Washington’s legacy of liberty as opposed to coercion regarding the education of their children.

Assigned public schooling has been on the decline since 1999 for students overall, but the decline is twice as high for African-American students compared to the general student population, down by 10 percentage points versus 5 percentage points.

Yet the proportion of African-Americans reporting that their children’s school was their first choice has remained stuck at around 10 percentage points below the overall population since 2012, the earliest year available from the U.S. Department of Education

Not surprisingly, African-Americans want more educational options that better meet their children’s needs.

According to the most recent EdChoice national survey, a majority of African-Americans believe American K-12 education is on the wrong track, 55 percent, the same percentage as the general population (p. 63). However, support for a variety of parental choice programs is noticeably higher among African-Americans compared to the general population:

Compared to 74 percent of the general population, 79 percent of African-Americans support universal education savings accounts (ESAs), which are programs that put parents in charge of their children’s education funding so they can buy the services and products that best meet their children’s unique needs, including private school tuition, tutoring, online courses, and special education therapies (pp. 47 and 64).

While 64 percent of the general population support government-funded voucher scholarships, 70 percent of African-Americans support them (pp. 51 and 65).

Likewise, two-thirds of the general population support donor-funded tax-credit scholarships, compared to 70 percent of African-Americans who do (p. 66).

Finally, 61 percent of the general population support public charter schools, jumping to 71 percent among African-Americans (pp. 52 and 67).

These results mirror findings from several other surveys, including those conducted by Education Next, Beck Research for the American Federation for Children, the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, Gallup, the Black Alliance for Educational Options, and even PDK’s annual survey of Americans’ attitudes toward public schools (in spite of their pollsters’ dubious framing of educational choice-related questions)

“The most complete development of each human being,” according to Washington, “can come only through his being permitted to exercise the most complete freedom compatible with the freedom of others.”

Full and unfettered parental control over the education and upbringing of their children is the ultimate exercise of freedom and perhaps the best way to fulfill the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation that “all persons held as slaves...shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Students hate Trump's immigration, border wall quotes, don’t realize they’re from Dems

This month, the federal government entered a partial shutdown after Congress was unable to reach a budget agreement, primarily on funding for President Donald Trump’s proposed wall along the southern border.

The wall, a key talking point for Trump throughout the campaign, has been decried by leaders in the Democrat party as anti-American and immoral, among other things.

But their opposition to the wall and embrace of looser immigration laws seems to be a new development.

In recent years, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, President Barack Obama, and Secretary Hillary Clinton have all stated the danger in embracing illegal immigration and ignoring the laws we have on the books.

“Illegal Immigration is wrong, plain and simple. Until the American people are convinced we will stop future flows of illegal immigration, we will make no progress.” -Senator Chuck Schumer, 2009

“We simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented and unchecked” -Barack Obama, 2005

“I voted numerous times… to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in. And I do think you have to control your borders.” -Hillary Clinton, 2008

Wanting to know if opponents of Trump’s border wall had opinions on these past quotes from Democrat leaders, Campus Reform's Cabot Phillips headed to American University.

But there’s a catch… the students were told the quotes actually came from President Trump.

Upon hearing the quotes, students said Trump’s words were “dehumanizing,” “problematic,” and “jingoist.” “I just really think it’s hateful speech,” one student said, while another added, “the way he’s referring to people across the wall is dehumanizing.”

One student said the comments held racist undertones, claiming “there are racial biases deeply embedded in there.”

But this was all before they knew these quotes were actually coming from political idols of theirs.


Pricey campus housing triggers a debate in Boston

At the newest residence hall for Northeastern University students, kitchens come with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. Floor-to-ceiling windows bathe rooms in sunshine, and residents can exercise in a state-of-the-art fitness center or study by a fireplace in the lobby.

The dorm room has gone upscale.

But when they open this fall, units at LightView Apartments will come at a price, one likely out of reach for many low-income Northeastern students or those on financial aid.

Run by a private developer, LightView requires an annual lease that makes it more expensive than traditional campus housing with eight-month terms: beginning at $16,008 a year for a shared room, and $19,068 for a single, compared to $12,504 for the most expensive on-campus shared dorm, and $14,698 for a single.

Meanwhile, students on full financial aid at Northeastern receive about $15,660 for room and board, leaving them far short of LightView’s annual costs.

“This is luxury-style housing,” said Nick Boyd, 22, a senior at Northeastern studying electrical engineering and member of the Northeastern Housing Justice Coalition. “They should be building housing at price points that students across the income spectrum can afford.”

But Northeastern officials hail LightView as a major saving because the costs were shouldered by a private company, one of the first such partnerships between local universities and developers. The apartments are proving popular among juniors and seniors; nearly 85 percent of the 825 beds are already leased.

“This novel approach means that the university didn’t have to spend in excess of $100 million to build a new residence hall,” said Michael Armini, Northeastern’s senior vice president for external affairs. “Those funds can now be invested in our core mission of teaching, research, and providing even more financial aid.”

Across the country, universities facing financial constraints and pressure to cater to higher-income students are increasingly turning to these private partnerships. Institutions can also make additional money charging for amenities such as air-conditioning, kitchens, and views of the city.

Critics argue this stratification of university housing erodes one of the key aspirations of higher education: to create environments where the students live with and learn from peers of diverse backgrounds and incomes and take those lessons after they graduate into wider society. Instead, they argue, universities are building communities of haves and have-nots, mirroring the income divides that have split much of the country in recent years, sparking conflict and fraying common bonds.

“There is reason to think it was an equal experience when the campus housing was much more homogenous,” said Kevin McClure, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, who has studied university partnerships with private developers.

At Tufts University this coming fall, students will no longer pay a flat rate for housing. Instead, the university is offering multiple tiers, ranging from $8,220 to $10,220 for the academic year, depending on whether it’s a single, has a kitchen, is apartment style or newer construction. Tufts officials said the university is following the example of many peers, including Boston University, Babson College, and George Washington University, but students on the Medford campus have been protesting the move.

“It seems to be classist, with rich kids staying in the nicer housing, but the poor kids staying in other housing,” said Mauri Trimmer, 22, a junior anthropology major at Tufts. “We understand the tiered housing is like the market setup, but a university should be trying to create the best possible world.”

Several area schools are exploring partnerships similar to Northeastern’s deal with American Campus Communities, an Austin, Texas-based student housing developer. ACC built the $153.4 million LightView on Northeastern land that it leases from the school just off campus on Columbus Avenue. Suffolk University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst are also in discussions with ACC. UMass Boston’s first dormitory, which opened last fall, was built under a public-private partnership.

These partnerships allow universities to provide more housing options without taking on additional debt, McClure said. The buildings tend to be close to campus and offer appealing amenities, he said, but charge slightly higher rents.

And in cases where developers pay the upfront costs and control the building, they can dictate rent levels in order to recoup their investments, McClure said.

Students with less money, McClure added, may be left to choose between more bare-bones residence halls or cheaper off-campus housing farther from campus.

“My fear is what we’re seeing is a steady uptick in pricing for housing,” he said. “It’s kind of an upscaling effect. You start to create pockets of affluence around campus that only certain students can take part in it.”

Housing has long been central to the college experience, with many institutions controlling where and with whom students, particularly freshmen and sophomores, spend their out-of-class time.

Some don’t allow students to choose roommates, to ensure they mix with peers from a variety of perspectives, places, income levels, and races. Some schools reserve floors or entire buildings for students studying the same subjects, to foster networks and support systems that can help them succeed academically.

“It’s the informal part of learning,” said Bob Gonyea, associate director of the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research, who has studied student engagement.

But colleges also need housing that will attract and retain students, Gonyea said, and that will make money to help fund education and services.

“You want students to be satisfied, you want to give them choices. On the other hand, you want them to learn and have different experiences,” Gonyea said. “There’s always been a tension.”

Tufts officials said they considered the effect on campus culture and the university’s mission as they debated switching to tiered housing. But the university wants to add 600 more beds and update its existing dormitories to entice students back on campus from the surrounding residential neighborhoods, said James Glaser, Tufts dean for the school of arts and sciences.

The new plan would increase housing costs for some Tufts students anywhere from $285 to $1,485, depending on their living arrangement. Tufts expects that tiered prices, along with new beds on campus, will yield millions of dollars more annually.

The university does plan to increase financial aid so lower-income students can access the pricier units with kitchens and other amenities, Glaser said.

“We do not want to have a stratified campus,” he said “We really do try to make values-based decisions; we try to make financial-based decisions too.”

The variety of housing, universities say, also gives students more choices. Northeastern’s options range from traditional dorms to pricier, apartment-style suites with kitchens and more privacy. Undergraduate tuition and fees currently run around $51,000, and food plans vary, from as little as $445 for a small block of meals to $7,940 a school year for the top plan. The university also provides $280 million a year in financial aid, mostly based on need.

“We are creating equity,” said Robert Reddy, Northeastern dean of student financial services. “We have housing options that we think are livable, that aren’t substandard that we can offer students. . . . Is it any university’s responsibility in some senses to subsidize to a level they [the students] want to be subsidized at? The business we’re in is to provide access to education and that includes living somewhere, in a standard that is livable.”

LightView is also an effort by Northeastern to steer juniors and seniors away from residential neighborhoods where they contribute to Boston’s ever-higher housing costs.

American Campus Communities consulted with Northeastern on LightView and held focus groups to determine what students wanted, said ACC senior vice president Jason Wills.

Early indications are that ACC succeeded. The building is nearly full, with only about 120 beds still available, all in the lower-cost shared rooms, Wills said.

While the annual cost of LightView is more expensive than campus options, on a monthly basis its rents are comparable and even cheaper than Northeastern’s, Wills said.

“Our goal is to have the communities full,” he said. “I don’t think they’re overpriced . . . We’re very focused on affordability and maintaining occupancy.”

Seth Freedman, a 19-year-old sophomore and chemistry major, said he and his roommates could get lower-cost housing in Mission Hill about a mile from campus. But LightView’s proximity to campus and association with the university, its amenities, as well as ACC’s offer to find someone to rent his room if he decides to do a semester-long internship outside Boston next year, were too appealing.

“It’s going to be the nicest housing that I’ll be living in,” Freedman said. “It’s just a one-year lease, so I decided to splurge.”


Australia: Leftist bias at a university law school

The University of Sydney was last night forced to delete a Facebook post in which it pledged support for left-wing activist group GetUp’s new campaign to target 18 conservative MPs in the lead-up to the federal election.

In a post yesterday that drew angry responses before it was ­removed, the university’s law school publicised an article by The Guardian about GetUp’s push for the public to name the “worst” Coalition MPs so the group could finalise its targets for the election.

“New Year fun: GetUp asking you to nominate which conservative Coalition MP you would most like to see out of Parliament,” the University of Sydney Law School said on its Facebook page.

The article provided a link to GetUp’s website in which it asks supporters to each choose three MPs they believe should lose their seats based on their “hard-right” views on climate change, immigration policy and social ­justice issues.

Among the Coalition MPs that can be nominated are Scott Morrison, Peter Dutton, Tony Abbott, Josh Frydenberg, Christian Porter, Greg Hunt, Barnaby Joyce, Alan Tudge, George Christensen and Michael Sukkar.

Facebook users, some of them former University of Sydney law students, were highly critical of the post.

“I wouldn’t call myself a ­defender of the far Right, but it’s completely inappropriate for the law school, as a body, to engage in such flagrantly biased political advocacy,” one wrote.

Another responded: “At least the law school is open about its bias now.”

After being alerted by The Australian, the University of ­Sydney last night investigated how the post was published.

A spokeswoman said the university did not support GetUp’s campaign to remove some ­Coalition MPs from parliament.

“A junior staff member posted this in error and the post has been removed,” she said.

On its website, the union-backed GetUp said Mr Dutton, who holds his Queensland seat of Dickson on a margin of 1.7 per cent, would be targeted for leading last year’s leadership coup against Malcolm Turnbull, as well as overseeing immigration detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru.

Federal Attorney-General Mr Porter is blamed for the robo-debt scandal, authorising the prosecution of an ex-spy known as Witness K and for instructing Liberal MPs to vote for Pauline Hanson’s “OK to be white” ­motion in the Senate. Mr Porter is already under severe pressure to retain his West Australian seat of Pearce, which he holds on a margin of 3.6 per cent.

GetUp blamed Mr Abbott for his “destructive” campaign to reinstall himself as prime minister, along with his comments questioning climate change.

Mr Abbott, who holds the NSW seat of Warringah with a margin of 11.6 per cent, is under attack from some within the Liberal Party who want him replaced. He is also facing a challenge in the seat from ­independent candidate Susan ­Moylan-Coombs, an indigenous broadcaster.

A spokesman for Mr Abbott, who earned degrees in law and economics from the University of Sydney, said last night the former prime minister was unavailable to comment on his alma mater’s Facebook post.

The influential GetUp is fighting attempts to have its independent status revoked and to force its registration as an affiliated ­entity of Labor.


Wednesday, January 09, 2019

It's the Phonics, Stupid

Studying why kids can't read, some teachers have rediscovered a tried-and-true method

Nothing imperils our nation’s future more than our education system. A reasonably educated populace would have little use for orchestrated polarization, gutter-mouth politics, the cultural sewage that passes for popular entertainment, and the complete abandonment of decency, decorum, and common sense that is now the norm.

Nothing reinforces that norm more effectively than raising a nation of American students who cannot read.

The numbers are stark: 32% of fourth-graders and 24% of eighth-graders aren’t reading at a basic level, while 37% are proficient or advanced, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress’s (NAEP) 2017 assessment. Remarkably — or is that pathetically — 37% represents the high-water mark for proficiency. When the NAEP began assessing literacy stats in 1992, only 29% of students had proficient or advanced reading skills.

A recent article written by Emily Hanford is a real eye-opener because it inadvertently reveals an astounding level of denial on the part of the Educational Establishment. An Establishment so enamored with “cutting edge” educational theories they have been willing to sacrifice the futures of millions of students to validate them.

It tells the story of Jack Silva, chief academic officer for public schools in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In 2015, Silva was deeply concerned that only 56% of third-graders were proficient in reading, according to state tests. In beginning his journey toward improving that outcome, he hit his first ideological roadblock. “One excuse that educators have long offered to explain poor reading performance is poverty,” Hanford writes. “In Bethlehem, a small city in Eastern Pennsylvania that was once a booming steel town, there are plenty of poor families. But there are fancy homes in Bethlehem, too, and when Silva examined the reading scores he saw that many students at the wealthier schools weren’t reading very well either.”

It seems neither Silva nor Hanford are familiar with Thomas Sowell. In an article published several years ago, Sowell not only debunks the poverty myth, he reveals that the now-infamous minority achievement gap in reading and other academics didn’t exist until the 1950s. And he explains exactly what happened. “The quest for esoteric methods of trying to educate these children proceeds as if such children had never been successfully educated before,” he writes, “when in fact there are concrete examples, both from history and from our own times, of schools that have been successful in educating children from low-income families and from minority families.”

Silva was apparently unfamiliar with those concrete examples, so he tasked his new director of literacy, Kim Harper, with discovering the roots of the ongoing failure.

What she discovered should surprise no one. Attending a professional-development day at one of the district’s lowest-performing elementary schools, Harper learned that actual reading was largely irrelevant. For example, if a child was reading a picture-book story about a “horse” and said “house,” the child was corrected. However, if the child said “pony” that was considered correct — because horse and pony mean the same thing.

Except that they don’t. Moreover, Harper wondered what a child would do if there were no pictures to aid their reading efforts. “The contextual guessing approach is what a lot of teachers in Bethlehem had learned in their teacher preparation programs,” writes Hanford in an updated article for NPR. “What they hadn’t learned is the science that shows how kids actually learn to read.”

That article ultimately gets to the “radical” scientific method that proved successful. At Bethlehem’s Calypso Elementary School in March 2018, veteran teacher Lyn Venable promised six children she was going to teach them something “brand spanking new.” Using a story about pets and what they do, she taught a student how to associate sounds with the various letters that made up the word “bark.”

In other words, this “brand spanking new” approach to reading was phonics. And in a testament to the current state of education, many of the teachers referenced in the article has never heard of phonics, which was presented to them as a “new, science-based” approach to reading.

New? “In 1955, Rudolf Flesch published a book titled Why Johnny Can’t Read, and What You Can Do About It,” wrote Laurie Endicott Thomas in a 2012 column. “Flesch explained that the only sensible way to teach anyone to read English, or any alphabetic language, is to teach them the relationships between letters and sounds, then teach them how to combine those sounds into words. He called it intensive phonics.”

Both Thomas and Flesch insist ideology had nothing to do with the Education Establishment abandoning what worked. “I am not one of those people who call them un-American or left-wingers or Communist fellow travelers,” Flesch stated. Thomas agreed. “The people who led the anti-phonics crusade were the ones getting the big royalty checks from the publishing companies and who were depending on wealthy philanthropists for their jobs and for the funding for the colleges where they worked,” she insisted, further stating that people who serve the upper middle class at the expense of the working class “are being bourgeois, not left-wing.”

Nonsense. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA) respectively contribute 100% and 98.6% of their campaign donations to Democrats. That would be the same NEA that stated the following policy standard — in 1936: “We stand for socializing the individual.”

At the college level, a study by the National Association of Scholars reveals 39% of surveyed schools did not have a single Republican faculty member, and among the 8,688 full-time professors with Ph.D.s taken from a sample of 51 of the 60 top-ranked liberal arts colleges, the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is 10 to one.

That’s as left-wing as it gets.

Their ultimate goal? Fundamental transformation. “Every child in America entering school at the age of five is mentally ill because he comes to school with certain allegiances to our founding fathers, toward our elected officials, toward his parents, toward a belief in a supernatural being, and toward the sovereignty of this nation as a separate entity,” stated the late Harvard University Professor and psychiatrist Dr. Chester Pierce at the International Education Seminar — held in 1973. “It’s up to you as teachers to make all these sick children well by creating the international child of the future.”

Educational Establishment icon — and avowed socialist — Thomas Dewey was even clearer. “You can’t make socialists out of individualists,” he declared. “Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society, which is coming, where everyone is interdependent.”

International, interdependent, children of the future who can’t think for themselves, lest they spoil societal harmony? Children who must eschew American exceptionalism and faith in a higher power, lest they be deemed mentally ill? Most Americans are still inclined to see the failure of our Education Establishment, or more accurately, our Democrat Education Complex, as some combination of incompetence and ineptitude.

When six in 10 school kids remain well on their way toward functional illiteracy — and the dumbing-down of curriculums that accommodate it — nothing could be further from the truth.


Parents File Suit Against School District That Wants To Allow Teachers To Carry Guns

Parents and a grandparent filed a lawsuit against a Pennsylvania school district on Thursday over a policy allowing teachers to carry guns in school.

Tamaqua Area School District in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, approved the policy in September 2018, according The Associated Press reported Friday. The policy allows teachers, staff and administration to carry district-issued guns after going through the appropriate training.

The lawsuit claims approving the policy “endangered their community” and broke state law.

“It’s uncharted territory, but there is no law that says we can’t have legally trained armed staff,” school board member Nicholas Boyle said, WHYY reported.

State law allows campuses to have trained school resource officers or school police, The AP reported.

Executive director for gun control group CeaseFirePA, Shira Goodman, said she found the district’s interpretation of the law questionable, WHYY reported.

“I would say it’s not at all clear that they can be doing this,” Goodman said, according to WHYY.

Boyle said that the initiative would make the rural school district less vulnerable against an attacker, according to WHYY.

“The rationale for the policy is to prevent the apocalypse,” Boyle said, The AP reported. “When we have a shooter in the building, how are we going to stop that shooter from killing more and more and more people? We have to have an armed presence there.”

The school district, which is nearly 90 miles away from Philadelphia, is believed to be the first in the state to pass a policy where teachers could be armed in school, The AP reported. Boyle said the district has not received push back from the state.

Teachers in Missouri, Texas and Ohio are allowed to be armed in school, according to The AP. Other states are considering the option.

The debate around guns in school was amplified after President Donald Trump called on arming teachers following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Feb. 14, 2018.

The Parkland, Florida, shooting left 17 students and staff members dead. A state commission’s report on the deadly shooting recently recommended arming teachers.

Tamaqua Area School District did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.


Australia: Brisbane private schools raise tuition fees up to three times inflation rate

Note that these are tuition fees, not boarding fees.  And they are getting close to the average wage.  There is a strong belief in private schools in Queensland, however, so those who can afford it will.  News of low discipline levels in government schools will help the committment to private schools.  If all Catholic schools are included, 40% of Australian teenagers go private.  Families save up for it.

The expensive private schools do ensure that there will be a relatively impenetrable economic elite in Australia -- which is generally deplored -- but while the government schools are so chaotic, that will continue.  No Queenslander with financial options would be likely to send his kids to a government school.  But while  Leftist ideas of educational methodology rule government schools they will reinforce a two-speed educational system.  Left-run schools are the enemy of social mobility.  Despite being "free", they provide very little competition to the private schools

PRIVATE schools across Brisbane will raise tuition fees this year by two to three times the rate of inflation.

Brisbane Boys’ College, which is owned by the scandal-stricken Presbyterian and Methodist Schools Association, will increase fees by 6.3 per cent in 2019 – more than three times the inflation rate of 1.9 per cent.

The school will charge $23,300 for high school students this year – $1384 more than last year’s tuition costs.

Its sister school, Clayfield College, will increase its Year 12 fees to $18,330, a 3.5 per cent increase.

Somerville House, another PMSA school, will increase fees by 3 per cent to $22,680.

The increases follow controversies over PMSA finances, a data security breach, lewd texts and the dismissal of Somerville House principal Flo Kearney last year.

Elite Catholic girls’ school Stuartholme will increase fees by $1092 to $19,176.

Queensland’s most expensive private school, Brisbane Grammar – which charged senior students $25,900 last year after making a $7.9 million surplus – has not published its 2019 fees.

But its sister school, Brisbane Girls’ Grammar, will increase fees for senior students by 3.2 per cent to $24,910 in 2019. The elite girls’ school made a $2.1 million surplus in 2017 and paid principal Jacinda Euler a $476,483 salary package.

Independent Schools Queensland executive director David Robertson said governing bodies tried to keep fees down, but rising costs, including increasing teacher wages, forced them up.

“Queensland independent school governing bodies are responsible for setting school fees each year, with fee levels varying from school to school depending on a range of factors such as their curriculum offerings, size of their teaching and non-teaching workforce, student needs and future plans,” Mr Robertson said.

“Boards strive to main affordable fee levels for their communities. They carefully consider the circumstances of their parent communities, their school’s level of public funding and the broader economic environment...

“Independent school boards are very conscious of the investment and sacrifice many families make for their children’s education, and endeavour to set tuition fees that are affordable for their communities, while at the same time balancing increasing staff wages, technology and other costs.

“Continuing increases in enrolments in the independent sector confirm that parents value the education provided by independent schools.

“Staff salaries, which account for about 70 per cent of school costs — and have been growing at rates above CPI, depending on the school’s enterprise bargaining arrangements — are a significant factor in school fee levels.

“Many independent schools offer scholarships or bursaries, sibling discounts and all-inclusive fee options to ensure an independent education is available to as many Queensland families as possible.”

Good Education Group’s Sam Sapuppo said parents may be unaware of hidden costs that could increase quickly. “These hidden costs could be the increasing costs of OH&S,” he said.

“Some educational costs shouldn’t be considered ‘additional costs’ but rather should be considered part of a holistic learning experience, what schools these days are calling ‘learning beyond the classroom’ such as excursions, camps, extra curricular activities, technology programs.”


Monday, January 07, 2019

7 Reasons to Say Goodbye to Teachers Unions

This is a rather long article so I will be posting only one other article with it today -- JR

Every year, my school district hosts a beginning of the year meeting with every employee in the district. Amidst all the pomp are 15 minutes during which my school district provides a platform for the head of the local teachers union. He doesn’t say much, keeping it vague and general. He says the union works with the school board and other leaders to fight for both teachers and students.

He also spends time in the teachers’ lounge occasionally, handing out pamphlets. A note in defense of unions was left at a table in the lounge recently. It details accomplishments of unions past and the evils of corporations. This note and this speech are a nice review of a high school civics course, but they have one glaring flaw: they focus entirely on the past.

Contexts change. For instance, the necessity of stationed US troops in Germany has shifted since the Cold War. The same goes for unions at large as the US reaches historical levels of prosperity. We can appreciate the accomplishments of the past while still reconsidering the utility of unions in the present. There are of course defenses of unions within a modern context. That said, they are ultimately lacking. Here are seven reasons why we should support the dissolution of teachers unions in 2019.

They are advocacy groups as much as unions

Two years ago, while I was a first-year teacher, I mistakenly stumbled into a members-only meeting in my school’s library. Before being shooed away and denied a scone with coffee, I saw pamphlets in stacks next to the treats. One column was topped by a glowering Donald Trump over a dark red background like a Sith lord; the other had a smiling Hillary Clinton.

While teachers are stereotypically liberal, a survey done by Education Week found that 43 percent of educators define themselves as moderate, with a near equal number identifying as conservative or liberal. In 2016, 50 percent of teachers voted for Hillary Clinton and 29 percent for Donald Trump. Teachers are a moderate and politically diverse crowd.

That being said, in the past 28 years, teachers unions have given 96 percent of their funding to Democratic candidates. In the agenda from the National Education Association (NEA)’s most recent annual meeting, the business items include a commitment to:

Responding to the “heartless, racist, and discriminatory zero-tolerance [immigration] policies of the Trump administration”

Supporting Black Lives Matter

Opposing arming teachers in schools

The removal of Confederate leaders from school monuments

Posting a public list of individuals who have refused service to LGBTQ people

The postponement of the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh

The prohibition of private jails

Opposing charter schools and voucher programs

Describing and deconstructing “the systemic proliferation of a White supremacy culture and its constituent elements of White privilege and institutional racism”

Regardless of your views on all of these, there is a clear disparity between the agenda of the largest teachers union in the nation and the views of its teachers. Perhaps even more glaring, many of these issues have only a tangential relation to education, if that. While they speak of defending teachers, much of their energy is spent advocating for various, non-educational political initiatives.

They have more money in politics than just about everyone

Both Republicans and Democrats complain about money in politics. Both sides have their boogeyman: George Soros and the Koch Brothers. And yet, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the NEA was the second largest contributor to political campaigns of any individual, corporation, or union in 2014. In 2016, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and NEA collectively gave $64 million in political contributions compared to only $11 million and $28 million by the Koch brothers and George Soros, respectively.

Their policy ideals won’t cut it

Unions fight for increased funding with the intent of raising teacher pay and purchasing better academic materials. Some research shows that it is beneficial. Other papers don’t. An analysis by Johns Hopkins finds a synthesis between the two, arguing that how school achievement is defined and how money is spent determine whether funding correlates with improvement. Until structural reforms are put in place to apply market pressure to the schools, any funding increase will be little more than waste.

At the first school I worked at, the book room had thousands of books, worth thousands of dollars, and I was one of the only teachers in our building who used them. My department had a supply closet filled with toys and gadgets no one used. There are curriculum teams and staff members collectively paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to create a curriculum that is either followed without fidelity or ignored entirely.

Per pupil spending, school achievement, and teacher pay give data to substantiate this claim. In current dollars, school spending has increased by roughly $3,000 per pupil since the early 1990s; yet teacher pay has declined or remained flat in most states, while student achievement on test scores has remained stagnant or even decreased in some states. Money is increasing, but it isn’t creating results.

More generally, teachers unions promote a strict pay scale that rewards any teacher for years taught—be they exceptional or mediocre or lousy—incentivizing longevity, not performance. They also make it nearly impossible to fire teachers, taking up to two years and $200,000 according to Stanford Professor Terry Moe. Social stances, funding, and strict pay scales just won’t do in the face of crumbling urban education.

They block meaningful reform

Unions block the reforms that will structurally change a broken system and in return, promise increased funding, which will, in turn, be drained away by the broken system. Namely, they oppose school choice, merit-based pay, standardized tests, and the Praxis, an entrance exam for teachers.

Research shows that the pressure this funding structure places on schools increases student performance, saves money, and improves students’ mental health.

School choice, while not a panacea, is one reform that has tremendous potential for improving schools. Research shows that the pressure this funding structure places on schools increases student performance, saves money, and improves students’ mental health.

Educational reform has been stymied. Across the board, Republicans have advanced comprehensive reforms from charter schools to more stringent teacher evaluations and merit-based pay. After a blue wave, many fear that the growth it has enacted may be at an end.

They breed a culture of entitlement

I allow my students to set some classroom rules to provide a sense of ownership. One student expressed that he didn’t want a star or candy simply for following directions. It’s condescending, he said, to praise a student for the minimum. That assumes you only expect the minimum.

In my role, I watch many teachers teach, and not everyone necessarily deserves a star. I have heard teachers tell their kids to ask fewer questions. I have seen teachers celebrate over pregnant students. I have heard teachers speak of students using language one would expect from the villain in a Scorsese movie. All the while, teachers denigrate any test that shows stagnant scores or an administrator who questions their efficacy.

The unions tell us that we, the teachers, deserve our jobs and better pay regardless of the success of our students, but in reality, we deserve more money and respect only if we do our job well.

The unions tell us that we, the teachers, deserve our jobs and better pay regardless of the success of our students, but in reality, we deserve more money and respect only if we do our job well. To suggest anything else is a disservice to the profession.

They bargain for mediocre benefits

I was new to teaching and sat across from the school's manager of our 403(b) plans. I asked if the school district would match my contribution. They don’t, because the district pays toward our pension. I rolled my eyes, and so did she.

Chad Aldeman, a former analyst at the Department of Education, explains the problem well. He says that “states are paying an average of 12 percent of each teacher’s salary just for debt costs. If states didn’t face these large debts, they could afford to give that money back to teachers in the form of higher salaries—an average of $6,801 for every public school teacher in America.” In education, teachers receive retirement benefits based on a formula, unable to invest any more than the predetermined amount.

Under a 401(k) plan, any employee could choose to be frugal and invest more, as well as receive more from their employer and thereby more from their retirement plan. In education, teachers receive retirement benefits based on a formula, unable to invest any more than the predetermined amount.

That $6,800 dollars could go to much better use. For those of us who choose to save, we would end up with a retirement portfolio that would outdo most teacher pensions. Others may counter that some do not have the disposable income to save for themselves, but even in this case, those teachers should be allowed to keep their money and spend it on whatever medical bill or child care they need.

We can bargain for ourselves

Factory workers during the Industrial Revolution were expendable. They had no specialized skills or education with which they could bargain in a labor-flooded market. Conversely, teachers are a highly-skilled and educated workforce in a market where they are in short supply.

A friend of mine, one of the best teachers at our school, was falsely accused of hitting a student. Under convoluted district rules, the principal wanted to fire him. This teacher walked into the office with test scores, student testimonials, projects demonstrating mastery by some of our school’s most difficult students, and hallway video records that proved him innocent. We can bargain for ourselves.

As a rule, I try not to stand in opposition to things. It breeds resentment instead of changing minds and casts no vision for a way forward. I’m not against unions. I’m for teachers. For us to flourish financially and professionally, we need the freedom to bargain for ourselves, the respect that comes with accountability, and meaningful reform. Therefore, I stand with teachers—not unions


Australia:  Western civilization course to be progressive, include 'marginalised voices'

The architect of Wollongong University's controversial Western civilisation degree has urged critics not to "judge a great books course by its cover", saying the course would be progressive and include marginalised voices.

Philosophy professor Dan Hutto will design and run the degree, which has become the first in Australia to be funded by the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation despite widespread opposition from UOW academics.

Professor Hutto said the course would be philosophically-driven, with some subjects focusing on historical periods, such as the works of ancient Greeks, and others exploring wider, enduring philosophical questions.

In those broader subjects, he was looking "absolutely to bring in the non-Western perspective in a number of places, to ensure that marginalised and under-represented voices are captured," he said.

"[I'm planning a course that] makes comparisons and links to other non-Western traditions. One that makes sure that in bringing in modern-day research, you make sure that you have a good distribution of female voices, and minorities.

"My interest there is to make those links, not to avoid them."

A unit on the philosophy of religion, for example, would compare relevant passages of the Bible and Koran. "Buddhism is another natural point of connection," said Professor Hutto. "We'd have a course down the line on the nature of the self."

Professor Hutto said course material could even include the public debate around their own degree,  in which critics have argued a Western civilisation degree is backward-looking and Eurocentric, while other say it is an important field of study.

"People are saying it's going to be an ideological brain wash," he said. "It couldn't be further from that. The questions that are being played out will make amazing fodder for students, to see why these thing matter."

The Ramsay board - which includes former conservative prime ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott - would not be able to influence teaching, even though they would be allowed to observe classes from time to time. "Nobody is going to tell me what to do in this course," said Professor Hutto.

Professor Hutto, who will head the new School of Liberal Arts set to house the course, said the curriculum was still being developed, and would be influenced by the expertise and views of academic staff hired over coming months.

It would also have to conform to the university's curriculum design principles, which involved connection with Indigenous perspectives. He asked the course's many critics at UOW to suspend judgment until they knew more about it. "You shouldn't judge a great books program by its cover," he said.

The so-called Ramsay Scholars - who would receive scholarships of up to $27,000 each - would not only need ATARs of at least 95.

"[They will need] intellectual curiosity, and a willingness to embrace these questions," Professor Hutto said.  "I hope they become articulate, erudite, ask reflective questions. They will be critical and creative thinkers, just the kind of people who can make a reasoned response to every kind of question.

"We are actually teaching them how to think, not what to think. It gives them very general and very desirable [skills] ... to speak well, write well, to articulate, and make a rational and civil argument, they are pretty valuable in today's world."

The Ramsay Centre is also talking to Sydney and Queensland Universities about funding courses there.


Sunday, January 06, 2019

Boston to boot older students from high school

Tucked between red brick row houses in Bay Village, Boston Adult Technical Academy has helped scores of immigrants over the years realize their dreams of earning a high school diploma so they can flourish in college.

Rebecca Datus enrolled last year, shortly after arriving from Haiti, speaking barely any English. She has gained a stronger grasp of the language and has been looking forward to graduation in June. She would like to become a doctor. “It is my dream since I was a little child,” Datus said through an interpreter one day after school. “I want to be somebody and help my family.”

But Datus might not get that diploma after all. When she turns 22 in March, the School Department plans to kick her out, a situation about two dozen of her classmates will also face before commencement.

School district officials this year are taking a hard-line approach in enforcing a two-decade-old policy that calls for ejecting students from school on their 22nd birthday — an edict they had routinely ignored in the past if overage students were on track to graduate.

The reversal is causing an uproar among students and teachers, who argue strict adherence is creating an unnecessary barrier for students — many of whom have already overcome steep odds — to earn a diploma, go to college, and build a better life for themselves in America.

In a school system that has been trying for years to boost graduation rates, even knocking on dropouts’ doors to lure them back to class, teachers say rigid enforcement of the age limit just a few months before commencement is nonsensical. “We say students are welcomed, then we give them the birthday gift of being kicked out,” said teacher Gage Norris.

The Boston School Department declined an interview request. In a statement, it said it is planning to discuss the issue with teachers and administrators in the coming weeks.

Massachusetts is one of the few states nationwide that do not set a cut-off age for students to earn a diploma, leaving it up to local school systems to decide. Debates often include emotionally charged questions, such as how long school systems should give students a chance to earn a diploma and whether it’s wise to have young teenagers and students old enough to purchase alcohol in the same building.

The Boston School Committee passed its policy in 1999 as the school system grappled with more than 1,000 students over the age of 20. At the time, some educators worried about whether immigrant students, who made up a big portion of the over-20 population, would receive enough support in part-time adult education settings that are not designed to support students with major language barriers.

Those concerns persist. The programs typically hold sessions only a couple times a week for just a few hours at a time — considerably less than the nearly three dozen hours of weekly instruction at a high school.

“Those programs are in shambles,” said Roger Rice, executive director at  Multicultural Education Training and Advocacy, a Somerville-based nonprofit that works on behalf of linguistic minorities, noting adult education programs are significantly underfunded. “Newcomers to this country get virtually no support.” He added, “What is the social good of booting them to the curb midyear?”

Teachers at Boston Adult Technical Academy, also known as BATA, are seeking to formally loosen the policy so 22-year-old students with good academic records can receive their diplomas in June. “It would be such a simple policy change,” said Gina Cogan, a teacher. “The number of students it would affect in the district would be very small, but the benefits would be tremendous.”

The dispute is the latest flashpoint in the school system’s ongoing struggle to educate off-track and overage students. A city-commissioned report last May slammed the school system for failing to do enough to help these students get to graduation, calling for an overhaul of alternative education.


Commission OKs recommendation to arm teachers in Florida

The commission investigating a shooting massacre at a Florida high school unanimously approved its initial findings and recommendations Wednesday, including a controversial proposal that teachers who volunteer and undergo training be allowed to carry guns.

The 15-member Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission’s 446-page report details what members believe happened before, during, and after the Feb. 14, 2017, shooting attack that left 14 students and three staff members dead and 17 wounded.

The report, which the commission sent to Governor Rick Scott, incoming Governor Ron DeSantis, and the Legislature, is also critical of the Broward County sheriff’s deputies who failed to confront suspect Nikolas Cruz, and of Sheriff Scott Israel, whose office did not at the time have a policy requiring them to rush the three-story freshman building where the shooting happened. Israel’s critics hope the report will result in DeSantis suspending Israel shortly after the new governor takes office Tuesday.

The report also details failures in the county school district’s security program that members believe allowed Cruz, a former student known to have serious emotional and behavioral problems, to enter campus while carrying an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle in a bag.

Even since the shooting, not all Florida school districts and campuses have been taking security seriously, the report says, noting that several districts have been slow to complete mandated reviews of their safety plans and procedures.

‘‘Safety and security accountability is lacking in schools, and that accountability is paramount for effective change if we expect a different result in the future than what occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas,’’ the report says.

State law should be changed to allow teachers who pass an intense training program and background check to carry concealed weapons on campus, the report says. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the panel’s chairman, argued last month for the change, saying teachers are often the ones who have the best chance to stop a school shooting quickly.

Under a law passed after the shooting, districts can elect to arm nonclassroom employees such as principals, other administrators, custodians, and librarians who undergo training. The only teachers allowed to arm themselves are current or former police officers, active military members, or Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps instructors.

Thirteen of the state’s 67 districts arm nonteaching employees, mostly in rural parts of the state. The state teachers union and PTA oppose the proposal to arm teachers. They argue that adding more armed people will make campuses more dangerous and say teachers should not also be acting as armed guards.


Teacher unionism under challenge

Organized labor suffered a major loss to its right-leaning foes last year when the US Supreme Court ruled against an important funding source for public-sector unions.

Now, that fight comes to Boston.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is scheduled on Tuesday to hear an appeal that was filed on behalf of several public-sector educators — two professors and a computing director at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a Hanover school teacher — who argue they shouldn’t be forced to support a union. The force behind this case: the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the same group that won at the Supreme Court in the so-called Janus case.

As with that decision, this Massachusetts case initially focused on whether nonmembers should be forced to pay agency fees to unions. Until Janus, public-sector unions could collect fees from nonmembers to cover the costs to represent them in labor talks and disputes, but not for political work. That changed last June when the Supreme Court’s conservative majority decided this practice went too far, infringing on workers’ First Amendment rights.

Janus is the law of the land now. So the case here in Boston — let’s call it the Branch case, after the first listed plaintiff — now revolves around one unresolved issue concerning unions’ exclusive collective bargaining role.

The plaintiffs say they deserve a seat at the table — a voice and a vote, as they put it — in union deliberations, even if they choose not to join. The argument: They’re essentially coerced into paying dues if they want a say in their workplace conditions, a First Amendment violation.

It’s an argument that Massachusetts AFL-CIO president Steven Tolman finds ridiculous. His organization filed a brief with the SJC saying the plaintiffs essentially want unions to open the doors to people who oppose them. Dissenting employees, the labor group says, already have plenty of ways to air concerns about their working conditions.

Tolman is fired up. As he puts it, this case is just the latest “attack on working people.” There’s no doubt the Janus decision weakened unions’ clout, although Tolman says he doesn’t know of any local ones that have taken a big financial hit yet. But he’s upset about the efforts to chip away at union authority across the country.

Most business groups aren’t getting involved. But the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents smaller employers, has signed onto a brief backing the plaintiffs. Chris Carlozzi, the group’s Massachusetts director, says his group has long been frustrated by the financial clout of public-employee unions and the edge that gives them in political debates on Beacon Hill. These debates have major impacts on private-sector issues: minimum wage increases and paid family leave requirements, to name just two.

Meanwhile, union-friendly state lawmakers are gearing up to pass a “Janus fix” after time ran out on a previous effort last year. Senator Joseph Boncore says he will resume the fight this month, as a new two-year session begins. His approach would essentially help unions to represent nonmembers for specific work — such as grievances and arbitration hearings — and charge them directly for those costs, on an a la carte basis, as opposed to the subscription model that existed pre-Janus. Boncore says organized labor is under assault by Corporate America. It’s time, he says, to stand up.

Union officials might have hoped that the Janus decision would be the last major attack. But now, here in Massachusetts, they’ve got at least one more legal battle on the horizon.