Friday, February 08, 2019

UK: Denying loans to students with weaker A-levels will ‘penalise poor families’

More likely to help poor families by protecting them from spending that is unlikely to benefit them.  As is acknowledged below, children from poor families tend to do badly throughout the educational system.  They should be encouraged to find work that suits them, not pushed into likely failure. Besides, Britain is in more need of tradesmen than possessors of useless degrees in any of the Mickey Mouse courses that abound these days.

As one person below says: "More support for FE would be a good thing because it has been “neglected and underfunded for years”. FE is is Further Education -- education typically leading to trades qualifications and technical certificates.

The whole article below is founded on the typical Leftist refusal to acknowledge individual differences.  Most of my academic career was devoted to studying individual differences.  But what is good for one -- or even the majority -- is NOT good for all.  Not even a university education is good for all.  There is more money in the trades for many people

I am not disrespecting Northerners in any way.  At the risk of being laughed at, I can even say that some of my best friends are Northerners.  But the reality in Britain is that the North is poor and smart people tend to move South to where the money is.  Some move as far South as Australia.  I have met many of them.

But the upshot of that is that the North is these days a lot like Ireland:  Enough of the smart people have left to leave the average IQ there depressed.  As it says below:  "There is an attainment gap of more than four months between disadvantaged children and their classmates when they first start school".  And IQ is by far the biggest predictor of educational success. Nothing else comes close.  So the article below is by and large wailing at the inevitable

Plans to deny student loans to those with lower A-level grades would hit poor families in regions where social mobility is already stalling, data obtained by Education Guardian shows. In the north-east a third of students who would be denied a university education come from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

Four months ago, the education secretary, Damian Hinds, launched Opportunity North East, a £24m campaign to raise aspirations and stop children in the region feeling they’ve been “left behind”.

But the prime minister’s review of post-18 education is, according to leaks, proposing that young people with less than 3Ds at A-level should not be allowed a loan.

Data from Universities UK, the vice-chancellors’ umbrella body, shows the change would hit the north-east – where 33% of students with lower than 3Ds are from the most disadvantaged families – much harder than any other region.

A prominent Conservative MP, who asked not to be named, told Education Guardian: “Are we seriously saying young people in the north-east are thicker than those in the south-east so they don’t deserve to go to university? This is penalising young people for failures in the school system.”

The north-east has the worst youth unemployment rates in the country, and although it has some of the best-performing primary schools, poorer children are much less likely than in other regions to have access to a good secondary school, according to the Social Mobility Commission.

The MP adds that the policy wouldn’t stop students from wealthier backgrounds who perform badly at A-level from going to university, because their parents could pay for them to do retakes or simply bypass the loans restriction by pay their fees.

“Tarquin still gets into university. But you create a secondary modern/grammar school situation where some people are just written off,” the MP says.

The second-hardest-hit region in terms of social mobility would be Yorkshire and the Humber, where UUK’s data shows that 22% of those no longer entitled to a loan would be the most disadvantaged students.

Vice-chancellors have branded the idea hugely regressive. They say poorer students are more likely to have low attainment, but this doesn’t mean they can’t succeed at university – and that universities, not the government, should make judgments about who has potential.

Alistair Jarvis, the chief executive of UUK, says: “If the government is looking for a policy that keeps large numbers of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds out of university, it would be hard to come up with anything more exclusionary than setting a flat minimum entry tariff.”

He points out that there is an attainment gap of more than four months between disadvantaged children and their classmates when they first start school, and this rises to more than 19 months by the end of secondary school.

But he says students can overcome this disadvantage and thrive at university, with 73% of students from the poorest areas [who get in] netting a first or 2:1 degree.

Anand Shukla, the chief executive of social mobility charity Brightside, says: “Attainment at the age of 18 is not a measure of potential at all. It is typically a measure of the amount of resource you’ve been able to benefit from at school.”

The PM’s review, which is being chaired by former equities broker Philip Augar, is also widely expected to recommend cutting £9,250 university fees to £6,500.

Sources close to the Department for Education say that No 10 is keen to go public with the review’s recommendations as soon as possible, to demonstrate that “domestic policy is back on track” despite the chaos surrounding Brexit. But they say the Treasury wants to delay publication until the next spending review.

Vice-chancellors fear the review is being used as a means of pushing more students who would have gone to newer university into further education instead. One leak said Augar’s team was considering offering loans to college as well as university students.

Shukla says more support for FE would be a good thing because it has been “neglected and underfunded for years”. But he warns: “We need to be very careful about creating a segregated system in which richer students go to university and poor students are hived off down a different route.”

He adds: “Britain is a very class-ridden country. If students with lower grades are funnelled in one direction and students with higher grades in another direction, I think we all know how that story ends.”

Claire Callender, professor of higher education policy at UCL’s Institute of Education and Birkbeck, University of London, says: “You could argue that we need more vocational training, but if we push more people into the FE sector are we really sure they will get jobs? We know employers really value degrees.”

She says that if employers want graduates and there is a shortage of them, graduate salaries will rise. “That means there will be an even greater divide between those who have been to university and those who haven’t.”

According to the CBI, 79% of employers expect to need more staff with higher skills in the future, with two-thirds saying they aren’t confident there will be enough people to fill highly skilled jobs.

One source close to Westminster says: “Augar is doing the easy part because he will say fees must be cut but the funding per student should stay the same. But the DfE knows the Treasury can’t do that. Even if they put in a bit of funding in the first year, within three years it will be gone.”

University heads say that if they have to shoulder a loss of £3,000 per student, spending on trying to encourage more disadvantaged young people to come to university will be one of the things they will have to cut.

The VC of one Russell Group university says: “I don’t think they are thinking through the consequences of all this. If we face cuts of this size, some of the investment we would immediately have to cut would be on outreach.”

Prof David Green, vice-chancellor of Worcester University, says he has heard other universities saying they will have to cut widening participation budgets, but that this is a grave error. “If we threaten to cut the widening participation budget we threaten our students, our raison d’etre and our institutions.”

At present universities are required to invest 30% of all fee income over £6,000 to widening participation programmes.


Massachusetts lawmakers propose to regulate student loans — all but inviting a lawsuit

Beacon Hill lawmakers are reigniting efforts to scrutinize student loan companies, a move that could inject Massachusetts into a still-unfolding legal battle pitting states against the Trump administration — with millions of borrowers in the middle.

Proposals filed in both the House and Senate would subject loan servicers to new registration requirements, create an ombudsman to field complaints about unfair practices, and empower the state to investigate and pull the licenses of “deceptive” companies.

The bills’ proponents frame them as consumer protection measures that would fill the void created when the Trump administration rolled back Obama-era policies designed to protect borrowers. But even the authors recognize that state legislation would probably draw a lawsuit amid an escalating fight nationwide between the states and the loan servicers, which have been backed by the Trump administration.

Similar efforts in other states have prompted a rash of litigation, with some courts allowing states to go after companies for allegedly unfair practices. Others, however, have sided with the servicers, which argue that federal rules supersede state and local laws, potentially complicating how, and whether, local officials craft student loan rules.

“Whenever you see different decisions out of separate circuits, that is a case that’s ripe for Supreme Court action,” said Adam S. Minsky, a Boston attorney who represents student loan borrowers but is not directly involved in any of the servicer lawsuits.

Minsky cautioned that there’s no guarantee the high court will hear a case. But with the “arguably minimal federal oversight” of loan servicers, he said, states are trying to give borrowers tools to navigate a trillion-dollar industry.

“I think there are solid legal arguments for allowing states to regulate,” he said.

The loan servicers often work as middlemen for the federal government, ensuring that borrowers make their monthly loan payments. But the companies have also faced increasing scrutiny amid complaints about errors and allegations that they have overcharged borrowers.

At least five states and Washington, D.C., have passed legislation to bolster borrowers’ rights, according to Higher Ed Not Debt, a coalition of labor and progressive groups that advocates on student debt issues. The laws run the gamut from creating new regulatory frameworks to establishing an ombudsman to aid borrowers. Some — such as Connecticut’s, the first laying out a so-called student loan bill of rights — feature both, as do the Massachusetts proposals.

The Trump administration, however, has repeatedly pushed back. It warned last year that state attempts to rein in the companies “may conflict with legal, regulatory, and contractual requirements,” and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has singled out efforts in Massachusetts, where Attorney General Maura Healey has sued the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, alleging deceptive practices.

And federal officials have alleged that the District of Columbia, via its ombudsman’s office, tries to “second-guess” federal evaluations of contractors. That’s according to paperwork federal officials filed last year in support of a lawsuit brought by the Student Loan Servicing Alliance, a trade group that counts roughly 30 servicers as members.

In November, a federal judge delivered a split decision in the case, ruling the city is not allowed to license companies servicing federal direct loans or those owned by the federal government, but it is within its rights to regulate commercial loans. Both the city and the Student Loan Servicing Alliance are appealing.

Against that backdrop, Massachusetts lawmakers are weighing the state’s role. While the Senate passed its measure last year, a bill never emerged from the House. The sponsor of the House bill this session, Representative Natalie M. Higgins, said there were questions about how to structure licensing fees and properly fund the ombudsman position the bill would create. “I think that is the biggest piece to this,” the Leominster Democrat said.

The legal wrangling could also give pause to the more conservative members of the lower chamber. House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo last week spoke of the importance of tackling student debt issues, but was noncommittal on specific proposals, saying he’d wait for the bills to make their way through the relevant committees, which can take months.

“I think one of the biggest issues we have right now is student loan debt,” he said.

Higgins and Senator Eric P. Lesser, the sponsor of the Senate legislation, argue the state should be more proactive.

“This is no longer a conceptual idea,” said Lesser, who pointed to the growing number of states that have passed similar legislation, including Virginia last year. But he acknowledged that should the Legislature pass a bill, the state would probably be sued. “And so be it,” the Longmeadow Democrat said. “My hope is, frankly, that there would be a lawsuit. Because I think we need to defend ourselves, and we need to make our case . . . ”

Lesser said he crafted the initial bill with Healey’s staff, and under the Senate proposal, the ombudsman would be housed in the attorney general’s office. In the House version, it would fall under the Division of Banks. A spokeswoman for Healey said she would support “new strategies” to protect students but did not specify how active Healey would be in pushing the legislation.

Any move is likely to be watched closely on the national level. Scott Buchanan, executive director of the Student Loan Servicing Alliance, said servicers want to work with the states, but he pointed directly to the federal decision in the suit his group bought, arguing that “states can’t license federal contractors.”

“Conflicting requirements at the state and federal level could make it more confusing to the very borrowers we both want to help,” he said in an e-mail.

Seth Frotman, former student loan ombudsman at the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, argued the states have long had consumer protection obligations.

Frotman, who quit his federal job in August, has since launched the Student Borrower Protection Center, which has opposed the government’s argument that its rules preempt state laws on regulating student loans. “The fact that the federal government came into a state trial court in Massachusetts and argued that the state’s power to stand up for its citizens didn’t apply to student loan borrowers is outlandish,” Frotman said. “The federal government has walked away from this battle.”


Australia: Teachers to push for students to read more books featuring gay characters after study encourages educators to 'challenge heterosexism'

Rubbish! If you want to get kids into reading you have to have stories that they can relate to

University researchers have called for high school students to read more books with gay characters to better reflect sexual diversity.

Researchers from the Queensland University of Technology found two of the 21 texts recommended for study during English classes by the national curriculum authority have gay characters or themes - The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

In an analysis of their research, the group behind the findings said teachers should 'challenge heterosexism' and 'give voice to a wider range of perspectives on love'.

In an editorial published in English in Australia - the Australian Association for the Teaching of English's journal - the group made reference to the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2017, calling it a 'watershed moment in Australian history'.

'English teachers surely need to respond to this endorsement of same-sex marriage on the part of an overwhelming majority of the population,' the editorial said.

QUT researchers Kelli McGraw and Lisa van Leent have asked those who choose the texts used in school curriculums to better represent 'diverse sexual identities', The Australian reported.

'By queering the senior ­English sample text list in the Australian curriculum … at the very least, LGBTIQ+ youth will see aspects of their lives reflected at school,' they wrote in the editorial.

In their analysis, Dr McGraw and Dr van Leent said the texts on the current curriculum 'grossly represents that under-represented queer life'.

Jennifer Buckingham, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Independent Research Studies, said the selecting of books should be based on quality rather than 'fulfilling an arbitrary quota of LGBQIT characters'. 

Associate professor in social work at Flinders University Damien Riggs, supported the calls for more diverse sexual representation in texts studied at school. 'Children who are gender or sexually diverse get to see themselves reflected,' he said.


Thursday, February 07, 2019

Coastal Domination of Elite Higher Education and Progressive Politics: Are They Related?

A recent Wall Street Journal article profiled 13 Democratic leaders, mostly House members, in the new Congress. I was struck by the fact that every one of them lived in a coastal state—bordering the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean, not one coming from one of the 31 states where 187 million (a large majority) of Americans live, located in the interior of the country—flyover territory to some. But then I realized something else: all were college graduates (no surprise there), with 12 of them having at least one degree from a school in the northeastern quadrant of the United States. Many of them have degrees from expensive elite private eastern schools: Harvard (two), Columbia, Tufts (two), Middlebury, Mount Holyoke, Georgetown. The eastern elite private schools are truly the home of the nation’s future leaders.

Two facts are largely indisputable: first, the most progressive politicians in the country overwhelmingly come from states with direct coastal access (Pennsylvania is not on the ocean but Philadelphia has direct access to it). Second, the overwhelming majority of the schools perceived as the nation’s best and therefore most selective are in the coastal regions.

Regarding politics, look at the current U.S. Senate. The Republican majority comes overwhelmingly from the interior—42 of 53 senators (the rest are mainly from southern states bordering the Atlantic). In vivid contrast, a large majority of Democratic senators (29 of 47) come from a coastal state (counting Pennsylvania). Colleges, of course, are located all over the country. But the top ones tend to be concentrated in coastal regions. Looking at the latest Forbes Top Colleges list, for example, the top 15 schools are all in coastal states, as are 25 of the top 30 (the exceptions: University of Chicago, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Michigan, and Rice). Expanding the list a bit, some 41 of the top 50 schools are in a coastal state.

Questions arise. Is the similar geographic concentration of progressive politics and prestigious university locations merely a coincidence? If it is a causal relationship, what is the determining factor? Is the East Coast, for example, liberal because it has so many prestigious universities, or are the universities predominantly liberal in their political orientation because of the neighborhood in which they are situated?

In examining those questions it is interesting to observe that the coast/interior distinction politically has sharply grown over time. The U.S. Senate in 1981, for example, was divided very similarly to today (54 Republicans, 45 Democrats, one independent who traditionally had been a Democrat). However, in vivid contrast to today, there were more Republican than Democratic senators from the coastal states (20 vs. 17; if Pennsylvania is considered coastal, it is 22 to 17.) The proportions were similar with regards to the interior states—a modest Republican plurality.

Over time, the country has become more college-educated, and prestigious elite universities with their heavy left-of-center political orientation have increased their association with the political elite. I took 18 key national political leaders—the last five U.S. presidents, the nine sitting Supreme Court justices, and four top congressional current leaders (two each from each party and each house). Between them, they have 21 degrees (averaging more than one apiece!) from just four schools: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or Columbia. More had attended Britain’s Oxford (three) than all the academically respectable 14 Big Ten schools located in the country’s interior combined (zero).

Contrast that with 18 top corporate CEOs, the head of the 15 largest companies in the Fortune 500 plus three very highly valued high tech companies (Alphabet/Google, Microsoft and Facebook). While all in this group attended college, only three attended one of the four elite schools mentioned in the previous paragraph, and one of them dropped out (Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg). More typically, they attended the University of Arkansas and the University of Tulsa (Walmart’s CEO), the University of Central Oklahoma then the University of Oklahoma (AT&T’s CEO), or Illinois State University (United Healthcare’s CEO). Much of the political elite spent their critical formative years while becoming adults attending elite private eastern schools (and a few coastal schools like Stanford), while the corporate leaders more often went to less exclusive and conspicuously liberal schools in Middle America. While that proves nothing, it reinforces my suspicion that the left-wing political orientation of coastal elite schools increasingly explains the geographic dimension of the nation’s increasingly acrimonious political divide.


The Islamisation of Britain intensifies: Muslim school will not allow girls to eat lunch until after boys have finished

Al-Hijrah school in Birmingham is still segregating boys and girls despite a Court of Appeal ruling in 2017 that found it was unlawful, according to Luke Tryl, director of corporate strategy at Ofsted.

Addressing the women and equalities select committee, he said that Ofsted inspectors are trying to hold schools account for discriminating against girls but feel “isolated” when their stance is not backed up by ministers.

Mr Tryl said that Al-Hijrah school was enforcing a “very strict gender segregation” which included “denying the girls to have their lunch until the boys had had theirs”. “And we had some very discriminatory texts for instance, encouraging violence against women”, he added.

He said that Ousted welcomed the Court of Appeal’s ruling that gender segregation within the school fell foul of equalities laws, but despite the case concluding in mid-2017 the school has still not de-segregated.

While Ofsted inspectors can highlight segregation in their reports, the power of enforcement falls to officials at the DfE.

Mr Tryl told MPs: “The Court of Appeal rightly said that schools needed a transition period where they were segregating and yet still we have not just Al-Hijrah but countless other schools, mixed schools which are segregating on the basis of sex.”

“Similarly other schools who have refused to teach about sexual orientation issues. We have commented on reports but we haven’t seen a change there.”

“This is where I talk about the isolation. We go out there. We make these tough decisions and we often take quite a lot of criticism for the stance we take but we don’t always see the enforcement action we would like to see”, he concluded.


Stricter background checks could ensnare thousands of child care workers

Should someone convicted of assault for a schoolyard brawl decades ago be banned from working in child care?

What if that person was charged but never convicted?

A sea change in state and federal laws governing criminal background checks for child care workers, intended to improve safety in day care, could force out thousands who have a prior offense, even if they’ve worked without problems for years.

The new rules are sparking intense anxiety among Massachusetts day care administrators, who are already scrounging for good employees in an industry with chronically low pay and high turnover. As many as 30 percent of day care workers in Massachusetts leave each year, and many are making little more than minimum wage.

Now, administrators worry the stringent new background checks will drive out many valued employees, especially women, in a tight labor market. Limited screenings began last fall, but the bulk of the early education workforce will come under the microscope soon.

“Everyone is concerned about the safety of children, and at the top of our minds is making sure our centers are as safe as they can be,” said Sharon Scott-Chandler, executive vice president of Action for Boston Community Development, which serves about 2,300 children at 31 sites. “But let’s make sure [the law] doesn’t have a disparate impact on the people we serve and we hire.”

The federal law imposes a lifetime ban on anyone convicted of any one of eight felonies, including murder, arson, and assault, or of a violent misdemeanor against a child, such as sexual assault or child pornography. Banned workers may appeal only the accuracy of the record, not the ruling that says they can no longer work in child care.

But the related new Massachusetts regulations go significantly further. The rules allow regulators to demand legal records from any child care employee or job applicant for virtually any prior criminal offense, such as disorderly conduct or drunken driving, even if the offense is decades old or was committed when they were juveniles.

Regulators at the state’s Early Education and Care Department will review each background check that indicates a conviction — or a charge without a conviction — along with the related documents. Those may include a recommendation letter from a current or prospective employer.

The department will decide whether that person can be hired or retained, and the state will tell child care center administrators only if a worker or prospective employee is “suitable” or disqualified, but won’t share details about the reason for the decision.

That’s a change that makes many administrators uneasy, said Bill Eddy, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Early Education and Care, the industry’s trade association.

The state has long required background checks for new child-care workers and screens current employees every three years. But, until now, the state has sent the results to day-care centers and let them decide whom to hire.

“An employer has a responsibility to be able to look parents in their eye and say, ‘I know the background of my employees and I am comfortable,’ ” Eddy said. “But now employers will not be able to say that, because they won’t know the background of their employees.”

Workers disqualified under the state rules can reapply in five years.

Ann Reale, the state’s education undersecretary, said regulators need to be tough: Children’s lives are at stake.

“We are making sure that no one has unsupervised access to children who has a crime in their background we think poses a risk,” she said.

Reale said that regulators wanted the authority to review cases in which people were charged but not convicted, because even if authorities didn’t have sufficient evidence to prosecute a person, there may be warning signs of a potential problem.

The new background checks were supposed to go into effect Oct. 1, as required by federal law. But the department, which has struggled for years to hire enough day-care inspectors, is still working on its new computer system. So it has been notifying only candidates whose background checks turned up convictions for the serious felonies and misdemeanors that require mandatory disqualification under federal rules. That translates to 32 candidates, fewer than 1 percent of the background checks run since Oct. 1, the department said.

That’s a fraction of what’s to come.

The department said it anticipates about 15 percent, or roughly 15,000 of the 100,000 checks run annually under the new system, will indicate a prior conviction or charge that needs to be reviewed. It said it intends to hire seven staffers over the next year, in addition to 23 it already has, to review these cases.

But day-care administrators in urban areas say up to 30 percent of their workers have incidents in their backgrounds that would trigger a state review.

Stephen Huntley, executive director of Valley Opportunity Council in Holyoke, said his organization hires staff who look like, and can relate to, the families they serve. Staff members are often women who have been through bruising marriages and child custody battles that end up in court, with related charges or convictions.

Huntley and other urban administrators said their mission is to give people second chances, hiring them to work under strict supervision. They have, he said, rarely run into problems.

He said one model employee in her late 30s, who worked for him for a decade, was convicted of assault for a schoolyard fight 20 years ago as a juvenile. Under the new rules, that’s a mandatory disqualification. She quietly left a few weeks ago.

“I would trust my own kids with her in the blink of an eye,” Huntley said.

Providers also said they worry the state reviewers will not have the cultural sensitivity to understand the conditions and context many low-income workers face, including racism, that contributed to their conviction or charges.

Reale, the state undersecretary, said the state is providing “bias training” to reviewers and insisted the new system will be fairer to workers than one that lets program administrators decide.

“By having our people do it in-house, we have a way of training consistently to the same set of expectations and cultural sensitivity and risk to children that we cannot do when it’s being spread across thousands of programs,” she said.


Wednesday, February 06, 2019

School Officials Vote ‘No’ To Allowing Police Officers To Carry In Schools

The Baltimore school board has rejected a proposal that would have allowed police officers assigned to the city’s schools to carry guns while patrolling inside school buildings.

About 90 specially trained Baltimore officers patrol the schools. They currently can have their weapons when they patrol outside of the building, but must store them when they are inside.

A state-level bill had been introduced to allow armed officers in schools, but after the school board’s 10-0 vote to reject the idea at a Jan. 22 meeting, Democratic Delegate Cheryl D. Glenn said she would withdraw her proposal.

Arming what are known as school resource officers was bitterly opposed on racial lines in a community that was divided by the Freddie Gray case, in which Baltimore police officers were accused of allowing a young black man to die in police custody in 2015.

The Obama-era Justice Department intervened to order changes in the police department amid allegations of institutional racism.

That past was very present as the board considered allows police access to their weapons in schools, The Baltimore Sun reported.

“The SROs are under federal consent decree,” said Kimberly Humphrey of the ACLU of Maryland.

Parent Melissa Schober said 89 of 90 arests by the school-based officers were of black citizens.

The meeting eventually dissolved into disorder after students with the Baltimore Algebra Project interrupted the meeting with a demonstration. “No guns in schools,” they chanted, according to the Sun. “We gonna fight for our lives.”

Glenn said she was “very disappointed” by the board’s action, which she said reflected the pressure board members felt from the students. “I think that this is a very unwise decision,” she said. “These are sworn police officers. They are not security guards. They have more training than Baltimore police.”

During the public debate on the proposal that led up to the board’s meeting, Sgt. Clyde Boatwright, president of the school police union, said the measure was essential, according to the Baltimore Sun. He called it “common sense” to end a farce in which police were “running around with empty holsters.”

“I would hope that a little bit of common sense kicks in,” Boatwright told the Sun in October. “The decision-makers need to fix it, and fix it now.”

“Time is of the essence. Each day we recover another gun, we’re rolling the dice. We’ve gone from recovering guns to guns being fired in schools,” he said. “The question is: Who is going to be held responsible when these guns are used to strike a student?”

Parent Aimee Harmon-Darrow, however, launched a petition drive to oppose allowing police officers to have their guns in school.

“Arming school police may lead to a student’s unfortunate death,” she wrote in the petition, invoking the Freddie Gray case and signaling her concerns in uppercase, bold type.

The petition said parents must let board members know “that guns have no place in our school, especially in the hands of officers who feel empowered to pull the trigger if they feel their personal safety is at risk. THIS IS A TRAGEDY WAITING TO HAPPEN.

“Our schools should not resemble prisons with armed guards. This is not the way to create a conducive learning environment,” the petition stated. “This is not the way to further restorative practices.”


DeSantis Issues Order To Get Rid of Common Core

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday he will get rid of Common Core in the state and wants to have parents and teachers help implement a revised set of standards in 2020.

“Common Core has failed teachers, parents, and our children,” DeSantis wrote on Twitter Thursday.

“That’s why I am issuing an Executive Order to eliminate Common Core in Florida. We will streamline standardized testing, make civics a priority in schools and increase the literacy rate.”

Common Core aimed to establish high academic standards in K-12 English and math. Critics of Common Core said it was too rigid, confusing teaching methods for parents and takes away control from locals, according to Fox 13.

DeSantis wants to implement a new plan, with the input of parents and teachers, in 2020. “I told you I was going to do something about this,” DeSantis said at a press conference, WFTV reported.

Broward County Public Schools superintendent Robert Runice, whose district experienced the Parkland shooting in February 2018, is on board with DeSantis.

“I welcome the opportunity to work with the governor and the commissioner of Education on revising standards and regulations to give local districts greater flexibility on curriculum and testing,” Runcie said in a statement, according to Local 10.

“We need fundamental reforms in public education that will give our teachers the freedom they need to better engage students. It is time to reduce our reliance on a testing culture that is more about ranking students on their potential, when our focus should be more on developing their potential.”

DeSantis’s office did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.


How To End Socialism in America’s Schools

Jan. 20 marked the beginning of National School Choice Week. This year, more than 40,000 events were held to highlight the benefits of school choice—an important effort considering the abysmal track record of the nation’s public schools and the fact that government schools have a near-monopoly on education. In 2018, more than 91 percent of American K–12 students attended a public school.

Although National School Choice Week is traditionally a time to celebrate freedom, it also provides an important opportunity to reflect on the disturbing fact that the U.S. government-run school system abhors individual choice and now serves as one of the world’s largest socialist propaganda organizations.

The government’s education monopoly emboldens an army of left-leaning administrators and teachers to indoctrinate students with their political ideology, which is much closer to Karl Marx than James Madison.

It’s no wonder then that 51 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 and 57 percent of self-identified Democrats now have a positive view of socialism, according to a 2018 Gallup poll.

How did this happen? Could it be that the majority of those surveyed flunked U.S. and world history? Did they fall asleep during the history lessons on the horrors of the Soviet Union and Mao’s China? Probably not. It’s much more likely these people, like millions of others, have received an education teeming with socialist propaganda.

One doesn’t have to look far to find evidence socialism has permeated government schools. The National Education Association, which includes more than three million members (the largest union in the United States), doesn’t even try to hide its socialist philosophy. Among its “Core Values,” NEA lists: “Collective Action. We believe individuals are strengthened when they work together for the common good … we improve both our professional status and the quality of public education when we unite and advocate collectively.”

Additional examples abound of teachers and administrators engaging in socialist activities inside and outside classrooms. For instance, Jesse Sharkey, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, is a member of the International Socialist Organization. He even moderated two panels at the 2018 Socialism Conference in Chicago. Other participants on the panel have been linked to the ISO and Democratic Socialists of America, the largest socialist organization in the United States.

During the 2018 West Virginia teachers strike, Zac Corrigan, a member of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality, called for “living wages,” single-payer health care, a government-run universal jobs guarantee program, and the need for getting students—your children—more involved in teachers’ union activities.

Many parents recognize that something is amiss in the government-run school system, but they feel trapped because they cannot afford to transfer their child to a private school or don’t have the time or money to homeschool.

It doesn’t have to be that way, however. Parents can break this broken model by demanding universal education choice, which can best be provided through a universal education savings account program.

ESAs allow parents to remove their children from socialist classrooms by providing them with a tax-free account that can be used to pay for education-related expenses at other public schools, private schools, or even for homeschooling. ESAs, which are funded using the money already allotted for public schools, would empower parents to enroll their children in schools that teach our nation’s founding principles of freedom, self-reliance and limited government.

Giving parents and students education freedom would finally bring robust competition to the education sphere, forcing government-run schools to rethink the wisdom of maintaining their socialist-driven curriculum programs, including those linked to Common Core.

The best way to stop the march toward socialism in the United States is to provide all parents the opportunity to choose the educational path that most aligns with their values. Until parents have the freedom to choose their children’s education, students will be unable to escape these socialist indoctrination centers.

As President Ronald Reagan so eloquently warned us: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it.”

The fate of freedom hangs in the balance. Unless Americans demand education freedom, Reagan’s warning will become reality: “you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.”


Tuesday, February 05, 2019

DC School Won't Play Sports Against Christian School Where Karen Pence Teaches Due to Students Feeling 'Unsafe'

Yeah! All those Christian jihadis would make anyone feel unsafe.  They might thump you with a Bible

A Washington, D.C. school has said it will not play sports at the school where Second Lady Karen Pence teaches part-time, because of concerns over perceived safety.

Sheridan School serves K-8 students in northwest D.C., and has an annual tuition of over $36,000 per year. Headmaster Jessica Donovan sent a letter to parents stating that the policies at Immanuel Christian School, where Pence works, are “an obvious challenge” due to the school’s “fundamental belief in diversity and inclusion.”

Initially, the plan was for students playing in away games to wear rainbow socks or warm-up jerseys in order to demonstrate LGBTQ support. But now, Donovan has completely banned the students from playing sports at the Virginia elementary school on account of some of them saying “they feel unsafe” in that environment.

"As we talked more, we understood that some students did not feel safe entering a school that bans LGBTQ parents, students or even families that support LGBTQ rights," she wrote.

“Forcing our children to choose between an environment in which they feel unsafe or staying home was not an option,” wrote Donovan. “So we decided that we would invite ICS to play all of the games at Sheridan. Since ICS declined our offer to host, we will only play our home games and will not go to ICS to play.”

Sheridan administrators, faculty, and students reportedly had several conversations about playing in sports games against Immanuel. They had played them in the past, according to Donovan, but that was apparently before they learned of the school’s policies surrounding LGBTQ issues.

Immanuel Christian School requires that employees pledge that they believe marriage is both monogamous and heterosexual, and that they won’t pursue “homosexual or lesbian activity” or promote “transgender identity.” The school is apparently able to deny admission or remove a student who’s engaged in behavior that is “in opposition to the biblical lifestyle the school teaches.”

Since Pence took the part-time job as an art teacher at Immanuel, the school has been targeted by a number of progressive groups. Fox News reports that the NOH8 Campaign, the Human Rights Campaign, The Trevor Project, and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo have all come out in opposition to both Pence and the school, claiming that it ascribes to historic Christian values in the areas of marriage and sexuality.

The hashtag #exposechristianschools was also trending on Twitter, prompting Vice President Mike Pence to defend his wife and the school, saying “the attacks on Christian education must end.”

Kara Brooks, spokeswoman for Karen Pence, said in a statement that Pence had worked at Immanuel Christian School for 12 years prior to when she and Vice President Pence began working in the White House.

“It’s absurd that her decision to teach art to children at a Christian school, and the school’s religious beliefs, are under attack,” Brooks said.

But according to Donovan, the administrators at Sheridan School strive to “separate the ideals of Christianity with the policies of this particular school, as we play many Christian schools that support LGBTQ rights.”

Going forward, Sheridan will play against the Virginia Christian school in home games, but students will wear rainbow socks to demonstrate their support of LGBTQ rights.


UK Children’s commissioner to publish home education figures for every school

The children’s commissioner will publish figures for every school in England showing how many of their pupils withdraw to be home educated amid huge rises in some parts of the country.

New data from 11 local areas shows a 48 per cent rise in the number of children disappearing from schools to be educated at home between 2015/16 and 2017/18.

Among those council areas, academies saw children move into home education at a higher rate – but local authority schools were catching up.

The research, published in a report out today from the children’s commissioner Anne Longfield, shows that many pupils who are home educated are off-rolled, with the analysis suggesting a “small number” of schools could be responsible.

It comes after a survey of local authorities, published in November, showed the number of home educated pupils rose by 27 per cent from 2017 to 2018, and council children services chiefs warning many more are likely to be “hidden from sight”.

Longfield is now calling for a compulsory register of “off the grid” children, stronger measures to tackle off-rolling, more support for families who home educate and decisive action against unregistered schools.

Later this year, the children’s commissioner’s office will also collect data from all councils in England and publish it, school by school, identifying which have high numbers of children being withdrawn into home education. [One guess:  "Black" schools]

“Our investigations have revealed thousands of children are ‘off the grid’ because they are being home schooled,” Longfield said. “The numbers are rocketing and no-one knows how they are doing academically or even if they’re safe. Many are being off-rolled.

“We need to know who these children are, where they are, whether they are safe and if they are getting the education they need to succeed in life.”

Today’s report shows there were almost 60,000 children in England being home educated at any one time in 2018, although the precise figure remains unknown because parents do not have to register home-educated children.

According to data from 11 councils, academies had 2.8 elective home education referrals per 1,000 children last year, compared to 2.4 for LA-run schools.

However, between 2015-2016 to 2017-18, the number of children moving from academies rose by 43 per cent, compared to 58 per cent in council schools (across nine councils that had the data for all years).

In Hackney the number of home educated pupils rose by 94 per cent between 2015/16 and 2017/18, and in Newham it was 176 per cent. [Hackney is poor and crime-ridden and has a substantial black minority]

Between 2016/17 and 2017/18, Hackney’s academies saw an increase in children moving into home education of 238 per cent.

The report accompanies a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary “Skipping School: Britain’s Invisible Kids”, presented by Longfield, which will air tonight.

The children’s commissioner’s office said research undertaken by Dispatches suggests 22 per cent of the children withdrawn from school to be home-educated in 2017/18 had special educational needs.

Meanwhile, 92 per cent of councils “do not feel they have enough powers to assure the safety of home-educated children”.

When local authorities offer to visit a home educating family, in 28 per cent of cases the family refuses, according to today’s report.

“There is a clear case for the government to introduce a compulsory register for all home-educated children, without delay,” Longfield said.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Where children are being home educated, we know that in the vast majority of cases parents are doing an excellent job.

“We also know, however, that in a very small minority of cases children are not receiving the standard of education they should be, which is why last year we ran a call for evidence on proposals to introduce a register, as well monitoring of provision and support for home educators. We will respond to that in due course.”


Enquiry-based learning isn’t evidence-based

You have to wonder how many times something has to be tried before people stop calling it ‘innovative’ and ‘new’. Especially when it has fallen short of expectations as often as enquiry-based learning.

Decades of research has shown the student-centred approach — where there is a focus on students discovering new information for themselves with minimal structure and without teacher guidance — to be less effective than teacher-directed instruction.

In New South Wales, some alternative (but not new) models of schools are opening up. In some cases, schools like this may have been successful (especially in more socially-advantaged areas), and it’s possible that new schools opening up under this model will be great schools — we all wish them the best and want them to succeed. But it’s important to question if this educational approach would be beneficial or practical for all students or across the entire school system, particularly when the evidence suggests that it won’t be.

We may hear success stories about how revolutionary new schools have done away with the ‘industrial model of schooling’ in favour of a ‘whole-child’ approach, but often when you dig deeper the story is far less clear.

A 2018 OECD report found enquiry-based learning in Australia is associated with significantly lower science scores in schools with a poor disciplinary climate, and not associated with significantly higher science scores even in schools with good disciplinary climates. In contrast, the report concluded that teacher-directed instruction is positively associated with student science results, across almost all countries — and this is regardless of school funding, classroom disciplinary climate, and student proficiency and socio-economic background.

And a recent meta-analysis — which considered the findings of over 300 studies across 50 years — showed that direct instruction has significant positive effects on student achievement across all subjects and non-academic indicators, including for disadvantaged students. The implication is that direct instruction is practically always a beneficial teaching practice.

Generally favouring teacher-led direct instruction over student-centred enquiry-based learning isn’t a ‘back to basics’ approach or defending the ‘old’ against the ‘new’. It’s simply following the evidence where it leads.


Monday, February 04, 2019

Attacking Christian Schools

But they're producing citizens who are compassionate, thoughtful, fair-minded, and principled

The attack on the students of Covington Catholic is just one example of the extent to which the Left is willing to go to stigmatize Christianity and force it out of our history and culture. The most innocent actions of Christians are now thrust into the spotlight and mocked by the media — and one of their favorite targets is mainstream Christian education.

For example, when Vice President Pence’s wife Karen revealed that she’s returning to the classroom to teach in a Christian school, a self-described “exvangelical” named Chris Stroop started a hashtag campaign called #exposechristianschools. Stroop calls Christian schools “bastions of bigotry.”

Not wanting to miss out on the action, New York Times reporter Dan Levin posted this on Twitter: “I’m a New York Times reporter writing about #exposechristianschools. Are you in your 20s or younger who went to a Christian school? I’d like to hear about your experience and its impact on your life.”

Disgraceful, isn’t it? It’d be hard to imagine a reporter soliciting former public-school students to share stories of sex abuse, violence, bad teachers, peer pressure, suicide, politically biased class assignments, and lack of resources. Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey wonders “why an obscure social-media hashtag would be worthy of an in-depth report by a major media outlet, regardless of the topic.”

We know why: Because there’s a widespread assault in this country on Christian values, beliefs, and practices.

Of course, we shouldn’t make broad assumptions about the experiences of students in public schools any more than we should be characterizing Christian schools as cults.

Before the Times piece was published, The Resurgent’s Erick Erickson wrote, “With Democrats in the Senate attacking the Knights of Columbus, the left in Texas attacking Christian businesses, and the left nationally trying to kill religious liberty legislation, it is entirely predictable that the Times would join the fight against Christians in America.”

On the surface, Levin’s piece in the Times seems to be an honest, open attempt to paint an unbiased portrait of the experiences of students who’ve attended Christian schools. His opening explanation merely sets up a few categorical first-hand accounts. But despite a few positive anecdotes to make it seem fair, one can’t help but reach a lukewarm conclusion about Christian schools as institutions that, at best, don’t sufficiently educate kids and, at worst, are perpetuating homophobia, sexism, narrow-minded values, and religious dogma.

It’s no wonder that Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, a professor of politics and religions at Northwestern University, said, “There’s a real profound sense among a large part of the Christian population that the rug is being ripped out from under them. They feel their moral certitudes and sense of community are being ridiculed.”

The good news is that Christian schools are becoming more popular, and they’re producing citizens who are compassionate, thoughtful, fair-minded, and principled. They’re also turning out pretty good scholars.

William McGurn writes at the Wall Street Journal, “One of the lesser known things about Catholic schools is that they boast a 99% high-school graduation rate — with 86% going to a four-year college, nearly twice the 44% rate of public schools. Particularly in the inner cities, these schools are a lifeline, not least for the tens of thousands of non-Catholic children of color who without that education might be condemned to lives lived at the margins of the American Dream.”

The appeal of a Christian education isn’t limited to Christian schools. More states are considering offering Bible classes in public schools. In Tennessee, there’s a successful Bible curriculum offered to middle- and high-school students at no cost to taxpayers. Starting in 1922, and affirmed by a church-and-state federal court challenge in 1980, the courses are currently available to 81% of public-school students in grades 6-12 — the largest program of its kind in the nation. Enrollment in the classes increased 9% last year and is projected to increase 12% this year. And based on student testing and surveys, the curriculum is very successful.

Reflecting on the trend in recent years to expand religious education in public schools, The Daily Signal’s Daniel Davis recently wrote about a range of programs designed to offer Christian and Bible history education in Kentucky’s public schools, with six other states considering the same.

Christians should continue celebrating all the good that’s taking place in Christian schools, notwithstanding mainstream media attempts to vilify those educational bastions. The American people need to know the truth, because they’re not ever going to get it from the media. What happened to the kids from Covington Catholic is just the beginning. Until Christians across the country start defending themselves, we can expect one assault after another on our beliefs and values.


Colorado Dems Push LGBT Sex-Ed Requirements

Indoctrination into leftist sexual ethics will be the only perspective allowed in public schools.

Following hours of heated debate and public testimony, Democrats on a Colorado House committee this week approved HB19-1032, which, if passed by the General Assembly, would require the state’s public school sex-education curriculum to include instructions on LGBT relationships. The legislation not only adds these requirements but, more significantly, it “prohibits instruction from explicitly or implicitly teaching or endorsing religious ideology or sectarian tenets or doctrines, using shame-based or stigmatizing language or instructional tools, employing gender norms or gender stereotypes, or excluding the relational or sexual experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals.” In other words, the bill forbids any instruction on sexuality that doesn’t conform to the Left’s “new morality” dogma.

A number of concerned parents showed up at the committee meeting and voiced their objections. One father of four stated, “If you’re for House Bill 1032, then you’re for exposing nine-year-olds to sexually explicit techniques. We don’t want to expose our children to this kind of forced sexual education.”

Stephanie Curry of Family Policy Alliance noted, “It tells schools you can teach it our way or not teach it at all. I think what is most upsetting is parents do not have a choice.” And that’s precisely the direction that Democrats have been moving — where the state controls what children learn, not their parents. With this type of leftist authoritarianism being wielded over public education, is it any wonder that more parents than ever are either homeschooling or sending their children to private schools?


Australia: Bettina Arndt on campus

Below are some excepts from a very long and rambling article by a supercilious Leftist writer named Tim Elliott that appeared in the "Sydney Morning Herald".  I reproduce the bits about Bettina only -- as they are reasonably factual. Much in the rest of the article is biased to the point of misleading. 

Bettina objects to the false and misleading talk about men by feminists.  You can imagine how well that goes down among feminist bigots and their male sycophants.  Now that there are more female university students and graduates than male, any war for equal treatment of females has long ago been clearly won.  All that feminists have left is their hate

Welcome to LibertyFest 2018. Run by the non-profit LibertyWorks, LibertyFest bills itself as a "massive free-thinking conference, bringing in speakers from all over Australia to present and discuss genuinely dangerous and disruptive ideas".

But the event's main drawcard, the marquee attraction, is Bettina Arndt. A former journalist and trained psychologist, the 69-year-old Arndt made her name in the 1980s as one of Australia's first sex therapists. "I was a feminist," she tells me when we meet in the hotel cafe. "I was trying to help women. But men also started to talk to me, firstly about sex and then about other aspects of their lives. So I started to realise that there were many issues where men and boys weren't getting a fair deal."

So she became a feminist apostate, an original "women's libber" turned men's rights advocate. Arndt's latest crusade is against what she calls the "manufactured crisis" around sexual assault at Australian universities. (A report by the Australian Human Rights Commission, released in 2017, found that 1.6 per cent of the 30,000 students surveyed were sexually assaulted in a university setting in 2015-16. Nina Funnell, from the support group End Rape on Campus, describes the problem as "very concerning".)

According to Arndt, the figures have been manipulated by feminist activists in a campaign to demonise men. So in August she embarked on what she called her "Fake Rape Crisis tour", a series of university talks aimed at debunking the "myth" that Australian universities are unsafe for women.

It didn't go well. The first event, at Melbourne's La Trobe University, was cancelled after the administration claimed it wasn't compatible with the university's values. (The university soon backtracked and allowed the talk to go ahead.) The next event, at the University of Sydney, turned ugly when about 40 protesters, led by the students' Wom*n's Collective, attempted to block Arndt and others from entering the venue. There was much pushing and shouting and chanting.

"They had megaphones and were calling me a f...wit," Arndt says. (In the end, police were called to remove the protesters, and the talk proceeded as scheduled.) Arndt wasn't bothered by the abuse, per se, but by the attempt to shut her down. Rather than contest her ideas with ideas of their own, the students wanted to deny her the chance to talk altogether. "The fact this happened at a university," Arndt says, "a supposed bastion of thought-provoking ideas and rigorous inquiry, is just terrible." '

What occurred at the University of Sydney has been cited by the media as an example of "de-platforming". De-platforming is, quite literally, denying someone a platform from which to express their views. High-profile cases tend to be on social media, as in the case of Alex Jones, a hugely popular American radio host and conspiracy theorist, whose sites were blocked, in August, by Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify, for repeated instances of hate speech and bullying. Jones has accused Robert Mueller, former FBI director and Special Counsel for the US Department of Justice, of being a paedophile and threatened to shoot him; Jones has also said that singer Jennifer Lopez (J-Lo) should go to Somalia and "get gang raped", and claimed that former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton ran a satanic child sex ring out of a pizzeria.

De-platforming is nothing new: Holocaust deniers have long been shut out of the conversation, sometimes literally. Author David Irving, who claimed that Nazi gas chambers were a hoax, has been barred from entering Australia multiple times since 1993.

But de-platforming appears to be creeping into other areas. In July last year, the Brisbane Writers Festival disinvited outspoken feminist Germaine Greer, whose most recent book, About Rape, was deemed too hot to handle. During the lead-up to the book's publication, Greer said sentences for rapists were "excessive", and suggested that a more fitting punishment might be 200 hours' community service and perhaps an "r" tattooed on the offender's hand. The festival also "disinvited" former Labor foreign minister and NSW premier Bob Carr, who was due to discuss his political memoir, Run for Your Life, in which he advocates for lower immigration, and discusses bullying by the pro-Israel lobby.

The festival's acting chief executive, Ann McLean, denied de-platforming anyone, arguing that the Greer controversy might have overshadowed other events. As for Carr, McLean said she was concerned that he could have gone off topic. (In a letter to MUP publisher Louise Adler, later leaked to the press, McLean acknowledged that Carr's talk might clash with "the brand alignment of several sponsors we are securing for the festival".)

The organisers were accused of censorship by everyone from conservative commentator Andrew Bolt to Booker Prize-winning author Richard Flanagan. Greer, meanwhile, called the Brisbane Writers Festival "the dreariest literary festival in the world, with zero hospitality and no fun at all", and described her disinvitation as a "great relief".

Greer's choice of the word "fun" is instructive. As a seasoned intellectual combatant, it's safe to say that her idea of "fun" includes, among other things, the robust and frank discussion of big ideas, like the definition of rape, and the suggestion, as she put it at the Hay Literary Festival in the UK last May, that most rapes "don't involve any injury whatsoever", and are merely "careless and insensitive". To other people, namely those who have been raped, Greer's ideas might not be fun, and may even be deeply offensive. In the past, these two groups might have faced off; these days, however, they refuse to even be in the same room.

De-platforming is like one of those exotic illnesses, such as Ebola or Morgellons, the origins of which no one can agree upon. Some blame the proscriptive effect of political correctness or the drift toward political polarisation, whereby ideological foes move so far apart they are no longer willing to listen to one another, or social media, where unhearing opinions you don't like is as easy as pressing the "block" button. Complacency, even a degree of arrogance, might also play a part.

"Some young people think that certain issues, like racism, sexism and homophobia, have been settled for all time and there's no debate to be had," writer David Marr tells me. "What they don't realise is that the really difficult debates never end."

What almost everyone agrees on is that de-platforming is mainly practised by the left. This has been a boon to the right, which can now plausibly claim to be the real free-speech warriors. As Renee Gorman, a University of Sydney student and national manager for the free-market think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs, put it at LibertyFest: "We are the counterculture now."

In early December, Arndt launched her latest book, provocatively titled #MenToo. A collection of her writings from the past 30 years, the book essentially restates her thesis that feminism has "gone off the rails", morphing from an equal-rights movement into "a long crusade to crush male sexuality". She spruiked the book on morning TV, and spoke at Parliament House in Canberra. She even met Tehan, to discuss a suggestion by Tanya Plibersek, the Deputy Opposition Leader and shadow federal minister for education and training, to set up an independent taskforce to investigate rape on campus.

Arndt also mentioned doing events with Milo Yiannopoulos, the far-right provocateur and internet troll who has, among other things, mocked victims of child sexual abuse, and allegedly encouraged his followers to bombard black actress Leslie Jones with racist tweets, including sexually explicit memes and pictures of apes. (In 2016, Twitter found he had breached its conditions of use and permanently banned him.)

Arndt tells me she doesn't agree with everything Yiannopoulos says. "But he's done great work in calling out the free-speech problem on campus. And he's funny." The prospect, however speculative, of a campus event with Yiannopoulos fills Arndt with an almost palpable excitement. Doubtless the protests would be noisy, widely publicised and great for publicity for her book.

Meanwhile, Arndt keeps fighting the good fight, beavering away, challenging the "fake rapes" and the "victimisation of our young boys on campus". When I speak to her on the phone, just before Christmas, she seems supercharged with a sense of mission, ever vigilant for "all the lies and the rubbish and the propaganda". After all, she adds, "That's what keeps me in business."


Sunday, February 03, 2019

PR boss says parents are lazy and don't teach children respect or discipline

She is obviously right that parents are confused about what values to teach their children -- now that the Leftist dogma "there is no such thing as Right and Wrong" prevails. But the Left do not at all apply that dogma to their own beliefs.  They just use it to discredit non-Leftist values. And they go on to teach their values in the schools.

But the transfer of value education to the schools is fundamentally wrong. Take the trendy belief that physical punishment such as spanking is wrong and harmful. The evidence for that is very poor -- with only extremes of it being demonstrably harmful.

And the prevalence of that false belief has had a huge impact. Discipline in many school classrooms has collapsed, with unruly children ruining the education of  their classmates.  When the Biblical injunction "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: But he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24) was the prevaling influence, classes were much more orderly and most kids actually learned something.  In some places these days you have High School graduates who can barely read and write

So schools cannot at all be entrusted with values education and should not be entrusted with it.  They should confine themselves to teaching academic subjects -- literacy, numeracy, history, geography, sciences, languages etc.

And under those circumstances many parents would step up to give their children moral and ethical guidance

Controversial commentator Prue MacSween has labelled the young student who was dragged along the concrete by his principal on the first day of school 'a little smart a** kid'.

Footage quickly went viral on Thursday of Steve Warner, principal of Manor Lakes school in Wyndham Vale, Melbourne, pulling the boy, 9, by one arm.

MacSween took to Channel Nine's Today Show on Saturday to defend the 'poor principal' as she highlighted the so-called problem of 'lazy parenting' across Australia.

MacSween quickly got fired up when discussing the idea that schools could introduce courses for parents to boost their skills in order to help children.

'Our biggest problem is that there is an erosion in our society of people who have respect and who have discipline, and we have these cotton-wool kids,' the PR boss said.

'We have a situation where we have parents who are totally inept, they're lazy.'

MacSween said parents don't have any idea what their responsibilities are, and instead lean on their children's teachers.

'We have bred a generation of people who just want it all, who don't want to work hard for it - pay their dues,' MacSween said.

The outspoken commentator said the younger generation had been failed by poor parenting, with 'yummy mummies' who care more about making it to Pilates rather than how their children behave at school'.

'We saw that yesterday with that poor principal having to drag that little smart a** kid and had to contend with the parents to explain himself,' she said.

'Why are people having children who shouldn't be bloody parenting? Buy a cat, buy a dog, don't have bloody kids!'

False rumours from students and parents at the P-12 school have circulated on social media, claiming the boy kicked a pregnant teacher in the stomach. 

However, the boy's sister Bianca Moore rubbished such claims, saying he kicked a trolley during a 'tantrum' on his first day at his new school.

'He suffers from ADHD and anxiety and obviously starting at a new school has upset him, he was having a tantrum,' she said.


Higher education struggles are hitting Vermont hard

Green Mountain College and the other higher education institutions sprinkled across Vermont have felt as permanent as the mountains and valleys they stand on, but that ground is shifting quickly.

Higher education is the third-largest industry in Vermont, yet the state faces a particularly acute version of the challenges that threaten the industry nationwide. It has the most colleges per capita yet one of the fastest-declining high school populations in the country — offering a sobering look at what might be in store for the rest of the nation.

With its announcement last week of impending closure, Green Mountain has become the face of this existential struggle, but many other colleges in Vermont are more quietly staring down the same problems.

“There is no doubt that we’re living in a time of profound, disruptive change in higher education,” said Tom Greene, chairman of the Vermont Higher Education Council, an association of all the college presidents in the state.

Greene, who is also founder and president of the Vermont College of Fine Arts and served until recently on the regional accreditation agency, said more schools are likely to close in New England, possibly in Vermont.

The school in Poultney, Vt., cited financial pressure stemming from declining enrollment in deciding to close after the end of spring semester.

“Some of it is demographic, some is climate, some is fundamentally you have an education system that was built in the 19th century,” he said.

Vermont has 21 public and private colleges and universities, a lot for a state with just over half a million residents.

In addition to a network of public colleges and universities, there is elite Middlebury College, Norwich University military academy, quirky Goddard College, and a smattering of other private liberal arts colleges.

All have experienced in some way the repercussions of the population trends.

Much of the problem comes down to simple math. Enrollments are dropping, and costs are rising.

The College of St. Joseph in Rutland has 32 percent fewer students now than a decade ago. The school is set to lose its accreditation at the end of this semester if it does not remedy its financial problems.

Goddard, in Plainfield, is on probation with accreditors, also for financial problems.

Vermont Law School revoked tenure for three-quarters of its faculty this year as part of an effort to plug a budget gap.

Marlboro College, where enrollment has dropped 26 percent in the last 10 years, sold a building.

Even Middlebury, with its $1 billion endowment, announced voluntary buyouts last year in an effort to save $8 million in staff salaries to close an operating budget deficit.

Schools have closed before. Burlington College shut its doors in 2016 after controversy that began with its purchase of a much larger campus it ultimately could not afford. Trinity College of Vermont closed in 2000; Woodbury College, in Montpelier, merged with Champlain College in 2008.

The situation in Vermont is particularly important because it is something of a harbinger for what might be in store for the rest of the country.

The state has led the nation in low fertility for more than a decade, according to Nathan Grawe, a professor at Carleton College in Minnesota and national expert in how shifting demographics will affect higher education.

Today, the US fertility rate is just slightly higher than Vermont’s was a decade ago. The national decline is also relevant for Vermont, because 60 percent of its college students come from other states.

Experts predict that the number of high school graduates nationwide will stagnate in the next few years, after 15 years of steady growth.

Then, after 2025, this population will begin to drop. In Vermont, however, the population of high schoolers has been dropping since 2008 and is expected to plummet further. From 2000 to 2017, the number declined from 36,000 to 31,000, according to state data.

Public colleges in Vermont face challenges, too. The state system receives the least amount of state aid per student in the country, making public schools nearly as dependent on tuition as private colleges.

The University of Vermont, in Burlington, has addressed this shortfall by attracting a large number of out-of-state students, about three out of four undergraduates.

The state’s community college network plus its technical college and two regional universities, however, educate a large number of Vermonters, who must make up for the state’s negligible contribution from their own wallets.

Amid declining enrollment, two regional colleges, Lyndon State and Johnson State, merged last year into Northern Vermont University, a budget-saving measure that officials said has already proved effective.

Jeb Spaulding, chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges System, said the system is searching for more efficiencies as well as ways to reach new students. This includes apprenticeships, online programs, shorter semesters, weekend classes, and non-degree credentials for people who need job skills.

In Vermont, about 42 percent of high school graduates do not go on to college, and that percentage increases to 63 percent among economically disadvantaged students. Spaulding said that simply reaching those people is another way to increase enrollment.

When Green Mountain College’s president announced its closure last week, he described the attempts that officials had made to keep it in business. But ultimately, he said, it was most responsible to close.

The loss will affect more than just the students.

Higher education employs more than 12,000 people who are paid more than $589 million total annually, according to a 2017 report by the council Tom Greene chairs. Schools like Green Mountain also bring money to local communities. “It’s a big impact when a college closes,” he said.

Greene said the schools best-equipped for success are those with unique specialties that differentiate them from the many mid-tier liberal arts schools.

That includes Norwich’s military training program, Sterling College’s agriculture program, or Greene’s own school, which specializes in low-residency graduate degrees in writing, art, and film.

Goddard College runs an unusual low-residency program that lets students come to campus for a week at the beginning of each semester then complete the rest of the class online.

But Bernard Bull, who started Nov. 1 as Goddard’s president, said he is candid with anyone who asks: His school is in trouble. “I tell people our future is not certain, but we are committed to doing everything we can,” Bull said.

Bull worries that school closures will kill the diversity of the college landscape. “It grieves me to think that we are moving to a higher education ecosystem that is less diversified, and that means there is going to be less access and opportunity for people,” he said.


UK: Can you be a class traitor?

The Leftist below says that underclass life is so distressing that any opportunity to climb out of it should be taken  -- without that making you a class traitor.  That many of the burdens of an underclass life are self-inflicted is not addressed

In this week’s news cycle, online trolls and old establishment media alike have lost their figurative rag over Hasan Patel: 16-year-old socialist, loud critic of private school elitism, and now, Eton scholarship holder. From a Leyton council estate and son of two immigrant parents, he has been the target of a heavily racialised Twitter witch-hunt, in which adults are flinging around terms like “class traitor” and “champagne socialist” at a child. The Times waded in with a smug headline euphemistically identifying Hasan as a hypocrite. Times readers retweeted it, likely having not even read it, with equal smugness.

It’s easy to be self-righteous and smug when you don’t live on a council estate. Not all politicos are held to the same puritanical standard. The charge of hypocrisy is not regularly flung with this level of vitriol at the numerous high-profile commentators on the left who went to famous private schools. In the case of white excellence, the process of how someone becomes excellent is obscured. That process is one of the right dinner table conversations, being surrounded by the right ideas, and—most commonly—being sent to the best schools and universities.

Equipped with the metaphorical tools of political battle, of debate and rhetoric, we can wage war. So, what does it mean when we refuse to equip young brown kids in this same way? When not only right-wing commentators but white people on the left brand a 16-year-old a hypocrite for seeking access to the type of opportunities they benefitted from, they are gatekeeping access to a political discourse. It is almost as if they do not want the wrong people to rise up and change how politics works.

East London is not Shoreditch or Columbia Road. East London is Newham, Ilford, Hackney, Tower Hamlets. The people who built that East London are being systematically impoverished, by gentrification—sorry, “regeneration”—and by successive cuts to local authority funding. Brampton Manor Academy School has been in the news recently for being the exemplary East London state school; 41 kids into Oxbridge, most of whom are BAME; a huge feat and undeniable win for all involved.

But we must be careful not to extrapolate outwards from Brampton Manor; all is not well, educationally speaking, in East right now. Newham is predicted to lose £611 per student in educational funding by 2020. Teachers are having to do more with less, and communities are cracking under the pressure. Brampton Manor may look like a beacon in the darkness, but due to oversubscription, competition for sixth form places is 10:1—more competitive than some Oxbridge courses. That’s 10 young, bright, capable Newham kids fighting for one, increasingly defunded, school place. How does that look like an educational solution to anybody?

Class is defined by one’s material conditions; it’s not an identity. Class is not confusing; it is perfecting the art of avoiding the bailiff at the door, of understanding how to make 5 different meals out of a tin of beans, of predicting, with clairvoyant accuracy, how long you can get away with leaving your rent unpaid before you get served a section 21 eviction notice. And when you realise that’s what it is, you also see that given the choice, none of us would choose to live like that.

It is not possible to be a class traitor. You cannot ‘betray’ conditions that have been inflicted upon you. If we get frank about class and admit that ‘working class’ is largely a euphemism for “worse off than most people” or “alienated from one’s labour,” we may uncover that there isn’t much there to stay pedantically loyal to. Socialist politics are instinctive for many working-class people; socialism is a structural way out, a fundamental overhaul in the way we live, a redistribution of resource for the many. It’s also not our current political reality—but one we are slowly acquiring the means to strive towards.

I’ll be upfront about my stake in this conversation: I am an East London girl, state-educated for most of my life. I was born in a council flat, raised by a single mother, as close to a Jeremy Kyle byline that the voyeuristic liberal gaze requires me to be. In Year 9 of secondary school, I won a full scholarship to a private school. The classes were small, the teachers were not overworked or underpaid; when a student was troubled, they noticed, and they had the resources to intervene. I got the pastoral and emotional support I needed; they even paid for me to go to therapy. These are the invisible support networks that elite educational spaces are able to provide to a select few, and that comprehensives, increasingly, can no longer afford to. It’s no wonder that the privately educated-elite continue to dominate top jobs in almost every field.

If I had not taken that scholarship, I wouldn’t be writing this article. I wouldn’t have the same words. I wouldn’t have time; my education has meant that I can get higher paid jobs than I used to, so I can afford to sit around and think about class and education in abstract ways. When you live in the grip of mortality—when you’re hustling to put a tenner on your gas meter only for a fiver of it to instantly disappear on an ancient debt recovery plan—you don’t have time to write articles about funding cuts to education. This is how communities become systematically impoverished: by being too overwhelmed by the need for survival such that there is simply no space to do political work. Hasan has found a way to carve that space out for himself, even if it’s through the flawed model of private-school scholarships. They are not a political solution, but they might just be the means to one.