Friday, March 08, 2019

Boston exploring new entrance test for exam schools

"Exam schools" = Selective schools. 

Not everything here meets the eye. Why is the admission exam held on a Saturday at regional sites?  Because regional sites are more convenient for richer families and such families are more likely to make the effort of a special trip on a Saturday.  In other words, poor blacks are subtly discouraged from even applying. 

Is that bad? For most blacks applying would be a waste of time anyway.  They are rightly discouraged from getting into a situation that is too difficult for them. 

The existing system sounds about right for everybody. The schools get students who can handle the work and not others. Any change would probably lead to a lot more frustrated blacks.  The whole point of a good selection system is to keep everybody reasonably satisfied -- not encourage students to enrol in courses they cannot handle

No system will do perfect justice for everyone but being just for most can reasonably be aimed at. 

One change that might be an improvement would be to make a special effort to identify unusually capable black children at the end of grade school and encourage just them to apply to an exam school.

Interim Boston schools Superintendent Laura Perille said Tuesday that her administration is exploring the idea of replacing the controversial exam that has determined the fate of tens of thousands of students vying for coveted spots at Boston Latin School and the city’s two other exam schools.

Perille disclosed the review during a City Council hearing that scrutinized exam-school admission policies. Her comments came six months after a Harvard University report found the school system’s reliance on a test designed for private school admission was blocking thousands of students of color from an education at some of the city’s best public schools.

“We are certainly keeping on the table the possibility of a different exam,” she said, adding that her administration is “basically looking at the different providers on the market.”

Changing the admission criteria for the city’s exam schools has long been a polarizing issue in Boston. Families that know the admission process well — mostly well-to-do ones — often pay for private tutoring in an all-out quest to get what many consider to be a private school education for their children at no cost.

But many civil rights advocates say the frenzy to snare an exam school seat in a city rife with many failing high schools has come at the expense of some of the city’s most disadvantaged students, whose families lack the financial resources or know-how to give them an edge in the admission race. Civil rights advocates have also repeatedly raised questions about potential racial bias in the admission exam.

“It’s high time we start reforming the admission policies of our exam schools,” City Councilor Kim Janey said at the start of the hearing.

In October, Harvard University’s Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston found that the Independent School Entrance Exam presented one of the biggest barriers for black and Latino students to gain admission to Latin School, Latin Academy, and the O’Bryant School of Math and Science. For instance, black and Latino students with MCAS scores similar to their white and Asian peers did not score as well on the ISEE, dashing their chances for admission. They also were significantly less likely to take the ISEE.

One reason for the performance gap was that the ISEE covers material in literature and algebra that is not part of the BPS curriculum and the test is administered on a Saturday. By contrast, if the school system relied instead on the MCAS, which is given during the school day, its exam schools would wind up with greater student diversity, according to the report.

Pressure to change admission criteria has only intensified. Just last week the NAACP, Lawyers for Civil Rights, and other groups concluded nearly two years of public forums on overhauling exam-school admission requirements and proposed their own solutions. They recommended having BPS develop its own admission test, offering seats to top students from each school or ZIP code, or creating a “holistic” approach that could include such factors as a student’s socioeconomic status and accomplishments in sports, the arts, and community service.

Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director for the Lawyers for Civil Rights, said the school system’s willingness now to explore the possibility of changing the ISEE is a step in the right direction, saying “it is in response to significant community-driven efforts to democratize access to Boston’s elite exam schools.”

“Right now the city’s reliance on the ISEE is completely misplaced,” he said in an interview. “The city should absolutely reconsider the entire admissions process.”

Initially, school officials were cool to the idea of replacing the ISEE after Harvard released its report, preferring instead to focus on efforts to expand opportunities for black and Latino students to take the exam. For instance, starting next year, sixth-graders will be able to take the ISEE during the school day instead of having to travel to a testing site on a Saturday. City students can take the exam for free.

School officials also have been trying to increase the caliber of instruction in the lower grades, although efforts have not been systemwide. A key program, Excellence for All, is in just 16 schools.

Discussions about possibly replacing the ISEE appear to be in the early stages.

In a statement after the hearing, the School Department said no changes to the exam would be proposed for this fall.

“Boston Public Schools will continue to review the exam school entrance assessment for planning purposes, but there is no timeline for any potential changes at this moment,” the statement said. “Any changes to the exam provider would likely include an opportunity for public input and a request-for-proposal process.”

During the hearing, Perille said that if the BPS switched to the MCAS, legal issues may need to be worked out. For instance, state rules may need to be changed to allow the MCAS, which was designed to measure public school performance, to be given to private-school students hoping to win a place at the city exam schools.

City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George, chair of the council’s Education Committee, said she was unsure about the MCAS.

“As a former teacher, I’m not a super fan of using the MCAS,” said Essaibi-George, whose children attend Latin School and Latin Academy.

One data point released by school officials during the hearing struck a nerve with City Councilor Michael Flaherty. Officials said that about 40 percent of black and Latino students who registered for the ISEE exam the last two falls did not show up, which officials blamed in part on the exam being held on a weekend at regional sites. That, they said, can create transportation barriers.

But Flaherty argued that parents bear some responsibility. He said he understands that many families lead complicated lives, but he doubted assertions that many families lack awareness about the exam school and the admission process.

“Where are the parents in this discussion, and why does the BPS let them off the hook?” Flaherty said.

The Rev. Willie Bodrick of the Boston Network for Black Student Achievement later leaped to the defense of the system’s parents, especially those in marginalized communities.

“The parents in our communities are strong, they are resilient, they care, they love, and they work hard, sometimes two jobs, sometimes through language barriers,” he said. “They want what’s best for their kids.”


Lest we forget:  The story below is from 2002

Skin color is no substitute for intellectual ability

Dr. Patrick Chavis is dead. Will the liberal politicians and gullible media who made him a poster boy for government-imposed affirmative action shed a single tear, or will they continue to ignore what a shameful tragedy his life became?

According to a Los Angeles County Sheriff's detective I spoke with last week, Chavis was murdered on the night of July 23 in Hawthorne, an economically depressed neighborhood on the southern edge of Los Angeles. Three unknown assailants shot him during an alleged robbery at a Foster's Freeze. They remain on the loose. The news has yet to be reported anywhere else, but sources told me it was the buzz of the Los Angeles medical community last week.

Seven years ago, Chavis became the toast of the media elite and the racial preference crowd when he was profiled lavishly by New York Times magazine writer Nicholas Lehmann. Chavis, who made the cover of the magazine, was a black physician admitted to the University of California-Davis medical school under a special racial-preference quota. In 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court later struck down the program after a landmark challenge by white applicant Allan Bakke. Lehmann contrasted what he considered Bakke's unremarkable career following the lawsuit with Chavis' noble and booming ob-gyn practice in the ghetto of Compton.

Three months later, Jane Fonda's ex-husband, left-wing California politico Tom Hayden, heaped praise on Chavis in defense of affirmative action. "Bakke's scores were higher," Hayden wrote in an article for The Nation, "but who made the most of his medical school education? From whom did California taxpayers benefit more?" Sen. Ted Kennedy picked up the banner a year later, calling Chavis "a perfect example" of the need for lowering admissions standards in the name of racial diversity. The doctor, Kennedy crowed, was "making a difference in the lives of scores of poor families."

What the New York Times never got around to reporting, as JWR columnist Jeff Jacoby first noted and journalist William McGowan later chronicled in his award-winning book Coloring the News, is that the "difference" Chavis made in the lives of several young black women involved gruesome pain-and death-as a result of botched "body sculpting" operations at his clinic.

An administrative law judge found Chavis guilty of gross negligence and incompetence in the treatment of three patients. Yolanda Mukhalian lost 70 percent of her blood after Chavis hid her in his home for 40 hours following a bungled liposuction; she miraculously survived. The other survivor, Valerie Lawrence, also experienced severe bleeding following the surgery; after Lawrence's sister took her to a hospital emergency room, Chavis barged in and discharged his suffering patient-still hooked up to her IV and catheter-and also stashed her in his home.

Tammaria Cotton bled to death and suffered full cardiac arrest after Chavis performed fly-by-night liposuction on her and then disappeared.

In 1998, the Medical Board of California suspended Chavis' license, warning of his "inability to perform some of the most basic duties required of a physician." In a statement filed by a psychiatrist, the state demonstrated Chavis' "poor impulse control and insensitivity to patients' pain." A tape recording of "horrific screaming" by patients in Chavis' office revealed the doctor responding callously: "Don't talk to the doctor while he is working" and "Liar, liar, pants on fire."

If Allan Bakke, the white doctor, had engaged in such disgraceful behavior and met such an ignominious end, you can bet the Left would never let us forget it.

But Ted Kennedy and Tom Hayden, who spoke so voluminously about the poor black patients who supposedly benefited from medical affirmative action, had nothing to say about the poor black women who were brutally victimized by the incompetent Chavis. As for the New York Times, Bill McGowan wrote: They "ran nothing to amend their false portrait of an affirmative action hero, or question the legitimacy of the race-conscious social policy that had made him a doctor. A riveting, nationally newsworthy story central to the country's discussion of racial preferences somehow ended up completely falling through the cracks."

Will the Times editors bother to run an obituary about their fallen affirmative action hero? Will Ted Kennedy send his condolences?

Don't hold your breath. 


Dr Bakke, the white man Chavis initially displaced from medical school, went on to live a competent and blameless life as an anesthesiologist in Minnesota.  After retirement, he went into the medical devices industry. The harm done by Chavis was directly traceable to the racist policies of UCD

College Dean Refuses To Stand by After School Bans Chick-fil-A on Campus

Exclusion in the name of inclusion?

A dean at New Jersey’s Rider University will no longer be in a position of leadership next fall after resigning her post to protest the school’s decision to ban Chick-fil-A because the Christian fast-food chain is supposedly at odds with the university’s values of “inclusion.”

According to Campus Reform, students were sent a survey last spring to determine which restaurant they wanted to bring to campus — Chick-fil-A was the No. 1 choice, but the school decided to ban the restaurant anyway.

In November, the university sent an email to students claiming that Chick-fil-A’s “values have not sufficiently progressed enough to align with those of Rider,” adding that the school was trying to promote “inclusion for all people.”

That’s a ridiculous position on its face, because banning a restaurant over its Christian values is the opposite of “inclusive.”

The university is using the typical liberal trick of being exclusive of Christians under the guise of “inclusiveness.”

Thankfully, someone is taking a stand against the madness. Rider’s College of Business Dean Cynthia Newman decided she wouldn’t stand by while the university pushed an anti-Christian agenda.

The dean announced her resignation last month, though she will remain at Rider in a teaching position. She cited her faith as her reason for no longer being part of the school’s administration.

“As some of you already know, I am a committed follower of Jesus Christ,” Newman said in her announcement, according to Campus Reform.

“As such, I endeavor every day to do exactly what Chick-fil-A puts forward as its overarching corporate value: to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to me and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with me.”

Newman told Campus Reform on Monday that she felt like she was “punched in the stomach” by the university’s decision because she’s “a very committed Christian.”

Check out her interview with Campus Reform below. It’s an eye-opening view of what life in the academic bubble looks like, but it was about the 8-minute mark, where Newman was asked what advice she had for other academics, or anyone in a similar situation, that Newman summed up the situation perfectly:

“You’re the one that has to live in the world that’s around you,” she said. “If you feel something is not right in that world, you have an obligation to stand up and to say what your perspective is on that.”

Chick-fil-A has been under relentless assault from liberals after its CEO, Dan Kathy, said that marriage is between a man and a woman in 2012.

But liberals conveniently ignore the restaurant’s track record of helping those in need, such as paying its workers for community service while a store was being remodeled.

The company is also known to help out when devastating natural disasters strike.

Chick-fil-A isn’t the evil boogeyman liberals want it to be — it’s simply a company that is run on Christian values, and as we already know, the left doesn’t like Christians.

Rider University’s decision is deeply insulting to Christians because there would be no reason to ban the restaurant unless the school was intentionally targeting Christians and their faith.

Newman’s resignation as dean becomes effective Aug. 31, according to Campus Reform. She will remain on campus as a marketing professor, but she will no longer be party to the university’s administration.

“I am not willing to compromise my faith and Christian values and I will not be viewed as being in any way complicit when an affront is made to those values,” Newman said told Campus Reform.

That shouldn’t be a choice anyone has to make.


Thursday, March 07, 2019

The Trump Administration’s Bold New School-Choice Plan

The Education Freedom Scholarship program proposed by Betsy DeVos and the administration’s congressional allies would be a huge step in the right direction.

American parents are demanding more and better K–12 options, and they deserve the freedom to choose the best educational environment for their children.

While most of the K–12 educational-funding and -policy decisions are appropriately housed in the states, an innovative new policy idea would allow the federal government to play a constructive role in expanding educational opportunity in America. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has unveiled a proposal for Education Freedom Scholarships, with corresponding legislation introduced by Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Bradley Byrne.

The plan would invest $5 billion annually in America’s students by allowing individuals and businesses to make contributions to in-state, non-profit Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs) that provide scholarships to students. Contributors would receive a non‐refundable, dollar‐for‐dollar federal tax credit in return for their donations. No contributor would be allowed a total tax benefit greater than the amount of their contribution, and not a single dollar would be taken away from public schools and the students who attend them.

The plan mandates that scholarships must be used for an individual student’s elementary or secondary education, or for their career and technical education. Importantly, the plan’s implementation — including governance of SGOs, education providers, and education expenses as well as student-eligibility decisions — would be left to each state that chooses to participate. The plan would require states to distribute at least 90 percent of the funds as scholarships. Other than that, everything else about the program would be left up to each state.

To be clear, this legislation would not create a new federal program. No state or SGO would be forced to participate, and no family would be forced to accept a scholarship. The legislation respects federalism, the autonomy of parents and education providers, and the appropriate role of the states in K–12 education. It leverages the tax code in an innovative way to facilitate greater educational opportunity, and ultimately greater economic benefit for millions of students.

Why is this legislation needed? Our nation’s K–12 system is denying too many children access to a high-quality education; access to such an education is a moral and economic imperative; and school choice is overwhelmingly supported by voters and it works.

There are thousands of outstanding traditional public schools with fantastic teachers delivering a great education to students. But there are also millions of children throughout our country assigned to public schools that are not meeting their individual learning needs. According to the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), less than 40 percent of fourth- and eighth-graders are proficient in reading and math, and nearly 30 percent are scoring below a basic level. Fewer than 30 percent of young people today are eligible for military service owing in part to “inadequate education.”

Because the K–12 system is leaving so many children behind, voters are demanding more and better options. According to a January 2019 Beck Research poll commissioned by the American Federation for Children, 67 percent of likely voters support school choice. This includes of 80 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of Democrats, 69 percent of independents, 67 percent of African Americans, 73 percent of Latinos, and 75 percent of Millennials. An even higher overall percentage of voters — 69 percent — support a federal K–12 tax-credit scholarship.

True school choice means giving parents the full range of K–12 options for their children, including private school, the most maligned of those options among opponents of choice, despite years of research showing that it works for students. The Urban Institute recently released a second study of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which serves more than 100,000 lower-income students, 68 percent of whom are African American or Hispanic. According to the study, students in the program are far more likely to enroll in and persevere through college than their public-school peers. Depending on their length of time in the program, scholarship students are up to 99 percent more likely to enroll in college, and up to 56 percent more likely to attain a bachelor’s degree.

There is simply no question that access to the best learning environment for every child will improve educational outcomes across the board. There is also no question that this is a moral and economic imperative. The government tells us we have an 84.6 percent public-high-school-graduation rate. What is not well known is that we spend more than $7 billion annually on remedial education for high-school graduates, and untold billions more incarcerating teens and adults who never learned to read. Why should any family in this nation be told that it has to wait five or ten years for its assigned school to improve, or be forced to rely on a bouncing lottery ball to see if its kids can go to the school that best meets their needs?

Education Freedom Scholarships are not a silver bullet for what ails our educational system. But they would facilitate a much-needed expansion of educational choice and opportunity for America’s families and students. They’d give states wide latitude to expand students’ access to a variety of educational opportunities, including advanced, remedial, and elective courses; private and home education; tutoring; educational therapy; concurrent and dual enrollment; apprenticeships; industry certifications; summer and after-school education programs; transportation; and more.

The administration’s plan is an unprecedented opportunity for Republicans and Democrats to come together and allow states to directly empower families with greater educational freedom and choice. It should be supported by every lawmaker with a desire to put families and their children first.


Increasing diversity is a challenge at Harvard graduate schools

The only way known to achieve it is to dumb the education right down -- and that would be a tragedy for Harvard graduate schools

Facing a stiff legal challenge to their admissions practices, Harvard officials have made an insistent case that they put a premium on assembling a racially diverse class of students for the undergraduate college, that, in fact, it is of utmost importance.

That sense of urgency means that minorities now make up slightly more of the student body than white students. But achieving diversity at Harvard’s 10 prestigious graduate schools has proven to be far more challenging.

Notwithstanding Harvard’s reputation and allure, few of its graduate schools enroll minority students from the United States at the same rate as the undergraduate college, even as foreign-born students flood those campuses.

At the design school, dental school, government school, and graduate school of arts and sciences, the percentage of African-American students doesn’t crack 5 percent, compared to 8.5 percent at the undergraduate level.

At six graduate schools, including the law school and the T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Hispanic enrollment is below 6 percent, compared to 11 percent of undergraduates.

At Harvard’s much-vaunted business school and the Kennedy School of Government, the share of black or Hispanic students has either barely budged or declined over the past decade. In the business school last fall, 5 percent of students were black — the same as in 2008. Hispanic students, who were 6 percent of Kennedy School students in 2008, were down to 4 percent last fall. Meanwhile, the percentage of students who identified as white increased during that time.

Harvard is not an outlier. Across the country, graduate schools provide students with advanced training that can often lead to higher earnings, but minority enrollment remains stubbornly low. Cost, fewer opportunities for financial aid, a lack of diversity among faculty, and curriculum are among the reasons experts say many minority groups remain underrepresented on these campuses.

“We still have a very long way to go,” said Suzanne Ortega, president of the Council of Graduate Schools, a trade group that represents graduate deans.

As they have throughout the recent federal trial over whether Harvard discriminates against Asian-American applicants, school officials insist diversity is crucial to the university’s educational mission, including at the graduate schools.

“Bringing together students from different academic, professional, and life experiences is central to the mission of graduate education at Harvard,” said university spokesman Jonathan Swain. “A learning and research community that is diverse on multiple dimensions enriches the education experience for all students.”

Harvard’s top administrators declined to comment on whether the graduate schools should do more to recruit and admit underrepresented minorities. Admissions priorities and strategies, Swain said, are left to the individual schools.

Several Harvard graduate schools said they look at diversity broadly, including race, gender, economic status, and international origin. Foreign students make up a far greater share of the student body at the graduate schools than at the undergraduate college. While foreign students account for about 12 percent of undergraduates, they make up about half the student population at the Kennedy School and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and are about a third of all students at three other graduate schools.

Still, some of Harvard’s graduate schools acknowledge that more must be done to expand diversity among students from the United States.

“We’re taking this very seriously,” said Douglas Elmendorf, who has been dean of the Kennedy School since 2016. “I don’t think there’s a single way to address these challenges. . . . Moving these numbers can be difficult. We have to keep at it.”

Harvard officials contend that graduate school admission officers necessarily draw from a smaller, more specialized applicant pool, making comparisons to undergraduate admissions difficult. They say the high price of graduate schools, with tuition ranging from $29,000 to $73,440 annually, can be a deterrent for minority and low-income students. Harvard does offer many students earning master’s degrees partial financial aid, but full scholarships for tuition and fees are rare, and students are expected to take out loans to attend.

Donors are eager to expand access and affordability for undergraduate education, but graduate education is still seen as optional, said Maritza Hern√°ndez, associate dean of enrollment and student services at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

“We can’t cover 100 percent of need, but we try to spread what we have among as many students as we can,” said Hernandez. The university’s education school is considered among the most diverse on campus, with African-Americans making up 10 percent of its students, an even larger share than enrolled in the undergraduate student body.

Even for Harvard, recruiting graduate students can be surprisingly difficult, Hernandez said. Many are older, settled in life, and sometimes reluctant to move to the Boston area from across the country for a master’s or doctoral degree, she said. The results have been disheartening to some students and have sparked protests and rallies at Harvard in recent years.

“The number of students of color at the graduate school is abysmal,” said Ivy Yan, 25, a second-year law school student, who also earned a bachelor’s degree at Harvard.

Harvard’s graduate schools are among the premier master’s and doctoral degree programs in the country, training future physicians, politicians, CEOs, academics, scientific researchers, and theologians. Right now, Yan said, those schools don’t reflect the diversity of the country as a whole.

At the law school, nearly 10 percent of students are Asian-American, slightly more than 6 percent are black, and about 5 percent are Hispanic.

Officials from several of Harvard’s graduate schools said they are expanding recruitment and adopting new approaches. But the efforts vary.

Some schools are growing programs that introduce prospective minority students to Harvard by bringing them to campus events. Many have bolstered relationships with tribal colleges and historically black institutions. Some are trying to get on the radar of high school students who might one day consider an advanced degree, and reaching out to nonprofits that work with low-income, first-generation students.

Harvard Business School is trying to incorporate more black business leaders and black-led businesses in the case studies professors use and it plans to hire its first chief diversity officer. The Kennedy School last year hired an associate dean of diversity, inclusion, and belonging.

“We want to do better on achieving diversity than we have done before,” said Elmendorf, the Kennedy School dean.

Some of the fastest-growing jobs require master’s degrees for even entry-level work, and if minority students aren’t earning advanced degrees, they will be left behind by the transforming economy, said Ortega, the president of the graduate schools group.

Ortega sees reason for some optimism. Hispanic student enrollment in graduate schools has been increasing by about 6 percent annually for the past decade, according to an annual survey by the council.

Growth of African-American students, however, is expanding at a much slower annual rate of 1.3 percent, compared to 2.7 percent for Asian-Americans, according to the report. Native American enrollment in graduate schools has been shrinking by 3 percent a year.

“Progress is unevenly distributed,” Ortega said. “There’s a real need in all communities for leaders with the skill sets that graduate education empowers.”

Several Harvard minority students said they are seeing some changes, whether it’s a more inclusive curriculum that incorporates discussions of race and equity, or an acknowledgment that some schools may need more faculty of color.

But several said Harvard, with its $39 billion endowment, must do more to help graduate students with financial aid and provide more support to help students succeed when they get to campus.

For those on campus, being among a handful of minority voices can be isolating.

Raquel Sofia Sandoval, 24, a second-year student at Harvard Medical School, said that in one introductory class she was the only Latina and much of the work had to be done in teams. Her teammates often ignored her comments or kept talking over her, Sandoval said, making her feel like an outsider and forcing her to consider whether she belonged at the university.

“When you’re on the receiving end, it really makes you question: What have I done?” said Sandoval, whose family is originally from Colombia and now lives in Houston.

After talking to other minority students, she realized it wasn’t unique to her. Sandoval worked with medical school faculty to develop more curriculum offerings that incorporate readings and discussions about race and micro-aggressions into the team work, so minority students could be more certain to have a voice.

“There’s so much room for change,” Sandoval said. “We’re training the physicians of tomorrow, and we’re thinking about the populations these physicians will serve. We need to think about what kind of students we should be admitting.”


Colleges and Income Mobility: Undermatched, Overmatched and More

A potential academic contretemps between some giants in the economics profession has emerged relating to the issue of the role that colleges play in promoting intergenerational income mobility—the ability of lower-income Americans to use education as a means of achieving prosperity and sharing in the American Dream. One remarkable thing about this dispute is that it is led largely by women and nonwhite males, not the white males who dominate most of modern economics.

On the one side is Raj Chetty, a Harvard educated economist now at Stanford, and his team of colleagues located mostly at East Coast Ivy League schools. Chetty is an economics wunderkind, a recipient of the American Economic Association’s highest award, the John Bates Clark Medal, as well as the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant. The team’s data on incomes of students attending American colleges is widely used, recently by myself on a widely watched national news commentary show. On the other side is the remarkably prolific writer on the economics of education, Stanford’s Caroline Hoxby, arguably America’s most distinguished African-American female economist, and her coauthor, the University of Virginia’s Sarah Turner. Among other things, Professor Hoxby is known for advancing the “undermatch” hypothesis, namely that some very bright members of minority groups often end up going to schools of lesser quality than those they are capable of attending. Some able members of minority groups reduce their chances for future national distinction.

Chetty’s Opportunity Insights project uses a massive amount of federal income tax data to look at the incomes of parents of students attending college and the subsequent post-graduate earnings of their student offspring. They demonstrate, for example, that at some 38 colleges, more kids attended school from the top 1% of the income distribution than the bottom 60%. The data purportedly show the degree to which colleges promote income mobility—by low-income kids moving up the economic ladder. But the Hoxby and Turner findings show that some findings of, for example, low-income mobility, are skewed by such factors as the geographic location of the college. It is harder for the University of Connecticut to attract lots of low-income students, for example than the University of Maine because Maine is a poorer state.

The Chetty findings, heavily promoted by the New York Times, have led many colleges to alter admissions policies, but in some cases in devious and questionable ways. For example, the number of students barely eligible for Pell Grants seems to have soared (denoting greater interest in low-income students), while the number of low-income students just above the Pell Grant eligibility line has declined because colleges are gaming the system to claim they have more “Pell eligible applicants.”

I have always been a little mystified by this debate. It is unquestionably laudable to encourage kids with lower incomes to apply to good schools. But for every “undermatched” student I suspect there have been at least five that have been “overmatched” —accepted at schools above the level best fitting their academic record. This has been argued by others (e.g., Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor) to be a negative result of well-intended affirmative action programs, leading to unfortunate unintended consequences such as low bar examination passage by minority law school students.

The Chetty data show the average income of families of kids attending Ivy League schools is roughly $500,000 a year, with the median income much lower but still a hefty $200,000 or so. Our nation through tax policies and lucrative government subsidies for research favors public assistance to these schools. This is arguably inappropriate on equity grounds. The reality is that many low-income students, burdened by dysfunctional family and school attributes, have difficulty faring well in college, and some of them end up without degrees but with significant college debt. And it is true that some colleges give discriminatory treatment for children of mostly affluent alumni (legacy admissions). If colleges reach out with a wide net in recruiting students, accept them strictly based on academic potential with deep discounts for kids from poor families, they would be doing the right thing. For those seeking quotas based on income, gender, race, etc., this might seem inadequate but would be consistent with a merit-oriented system showing compassion for the less fortunate.


Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Ivy League President Publicly Shuts Down Anti-Israel Group’s Demands

Cornell University President Martha Pollock rejected the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions demands of an anti-Israel coalition led by the Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine in a letter that also rebuked the group’s overall purpose.

Her response was prompted by a list of demands delivered by letter to Pollock in late February.

The demands demonized Israel, Cornell’s “active role” in perpetuating colonialism and continued work “with companies and institutions that facilitate the dispossession of the Palestinian people.”

The group demanded Cornell “divest its endowment pool from companies complicit in the morally reprehensible human rights violations in Palestine.”

Pollock countered Thursday by sharing her “broader perspective,” detailing her strong opposition the group’s principles, in her written response rejecting the group’s request.

“BDS unfairly singles out one country in the world for sanction when there are many countries around the world whose governments’ policies may be viewed as controversial.”

“Moreover, it places all of the responsibility for an extraordinarily complex geopolitical situation on just one country and frequently conflates the policies of the Israeli government with the very right of Israel to exist as a nation, which I find particularly troublesome.”

SJP hasn’t published an official response, but William Jacobson, a Cornell Law School professor who has closely followed the group’s developments since they first appeared on campus, said he believes the group expects Pollock’s reaction.

“The divestment, boycott or sanction is not the goal. The goal is to delegitimize, demonize and dehumanize Israel and Zionism in furtherance of the goal of destroying Israel. So the purpose of campus BDS movements is not to obtain actual divestment, it’s to force student government and the campus to devote weeks to debating how bad Israel is — is it merely bad, or so bad that it should be boycotted, divested and sanctioned.”


Teachers in Oakland win big

It's only money

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Oakland teachers will be back in their classrooms Monday after union members voted to approve a contract deal with district officials.

The Oakland Education Association voted in favor of the deal on Sunday after postponing the vote for a day. The agreement must also be ratified by the Oakland Unified School District.

“We look forward to being in our classrooms again after having to strike to bring our Oakland students some of the resources and supports they should have had in the first place,” union president Keith Brown said in a statement.

The agreement was reached after 3,000 teachers went on strike Feb. 21, prompting seven days of marathon negotiations for higher pay, smaller classes and more school resources.

The strike effectively cleared out the city’s 86 schools. Oakland teachers were the latest educators in the U.S. to strike over pay and classroom conditions.

The union announced Friday that the teachers won everything they demanded.

“This victory, accomplished through our collective strength on the picket lines with Oakland parents and students, sends the message that educators will no longer let this school district starve our neighborhood schools of resources,” Brown said.

The deal includes an 11 percent salary increase and a one-time 3 percent bonus.


Federal Report Finds U.S. Department of Education a Massive Failure

A new report raises questions about how the U.S. Department of Education monitors the performance of its wide-ranging elementary and secondary education programs.

The department currently receives $38 billion for its major K-12 education programs. Yet the assessment says those programs are plagued by “complex and persistent” challenges, many of which have been identified previously, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the official “congressional watchdog” charged with ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent efficiently.

Specifically, the GAO identified four key shortcomings in the department: oversight and monitoring, data quality, capacity, and evaluation methodologies. As the GAO makes clear, it is not the only oversight agency raising concerns about the department’s program management. What’s more, such problems have plagued our federal education departments since the first one took form back in 1867.

Not Paying Attention to Where the Money Goes

The GAO found that various education department offices failed to document consistently required monitoring activities in their official grant files. For example, its review of 75 grants totaling $21 million in discretionary funding revealed that “almost all” of them “were missing key monitoring documents, including grantee performance reports, which describe the results grantees achieve with grant funds,” according to the GAO.

The department’s own Office of Inspector General (OIG) reached a similar conclusion in its 2016 audit of the office responsible for oversight of the Rural Education Achievement Program, which receives about $170 million in annual funding. Additionally, the OIG audit found that what little program data was collected was not being used to improve monitoring efforts or help grantees meet program goals.

While the department has taken some steps toward improving program monitoring and oversight, the GAO notes that challenges will likely persist in the coming years as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the largest federal K-12 law, continues to be implemented. “The flexibility ESSA provides for state and local educational agencies under various grant programs complicates efforts to design program-level performance measures,” according to the GAO, “because state and local educational agencies’ program goals vary based on their unique needs.”

Low-Quality Data the Department Doesn’t Evaluate Well

There have also been ongoing quality issues with the data K-12 grantees submit to the department, complicating efforts to assess program performance. Even though it issues guidance to grantees about submitting accurate data, “Education did not independently assess the accuracy of these program data submitted by grantees or perform basic logic checks,” the GAO concluded.

Poor-quality data has been an ongoing issue, one previously documented by both the GAO and the department’s OIG. Moreover, “Education officials said that data quality challenges will likely persist under ESSA because Education and its grantees continue to face challenges collecting reliable, comparable program performance data in a minimally burdensome manner.”

Proper grant oversight and monitoring requires sufficient funding and staff capable of conducting effective evaluations. In 2015 Congress granted the department the authority to consolidate the funds necessary to conduct program evaluations. In response, it was able to hire some additional staff and conduct additional evaluations of strategic programs that would not have been possible otherwise. Yet problems remain.

Effective program monitoring requires highly skilled staff who are specially trained in rigorous evaluation methods. The Education Department, however, has not updated its hiring plan since 2009, despite officials’ assurances that a new plan would be released in 2017.

Complicating matters is the fact that, as grant guidelines allow more program flexibility, more sophisticated evaluation methods are needed to isolate the effects of various programs. Additionally, even though grantees provide the department large amounts of data, it still has not developed plans for using that information. The largest K-12 program, Title I, poses a particular challenge.

Title I is supposed to help improve academic outcomes and opportunities for low-income students, as well as close achievement gaps. States and local school districts that receive Title I grants have broad discretion when choosing activities they believe will accomplish those goals. Yet because the program goals are so sweeping and grantees’ plans are so varied, the department has opted to measure the program’s effectiveness according to broadly defined, long-term goals and report on grantee’s interim progress toward meeting those goals.

We Knew This Was Happening For Decades

The GAO’s findings underscore more fundamental problems with having a Department of Education. In the United States, education is supposed to be a strictly state and local matter under Article 10 of the Constitution. In fact, the word education does not even appear in the Constitution and, until the Civil War era, Congress took no action to extend its authority into K-12 education.

That changed shortly after the Civil War, when proponents insisted that education was a matter of national concern best directed by experts in a cabinet-level education department, rather than being left to the “caprice of individuals and the States.”

During the congressional debates preceding the establishment of the Department of Education in 1867, opponents predicted the problems routinely identified today. Rep. Samuel J. Randall of Pennsylvania, for example, objected the proposed national education department insisting that “a bureau at an extravagant rate of pay, and an undue number of clerks collecting statistics...[that] does not propose to teach a single child...its a, b, c’s.”

Although 19th-century proponents prevailed in establishing a national education department, their victory was short-lived. A year later, in 1868, it was defunded and downgraded to an office-level agency. It wasn’t until the Carter administration in the mid-1970s that proponents’ call for re-establishing a cabinet-level department was acted upon.

Once again, opponents objected on various grounds, including the ability of a national department to oversee education programs for tens of millions of school children. Rep. Lawrence H. Fountain (D-NC) was particularly outspoken in his objection, arguing that:

I find it disappointing that the administration has not given attention to another management option—namely, a critical review of those 150 plus education programs to determine how many of them are really needed today...It would be far more useful, in my judgment, to concentrate on weeding out programs that have outlived their usefulness, that duplicate one another, or that simply don’t work, than to devote our energies to creating a new organizational structure which might well help to perpetuate many of these programs.

Federal Agencies Are Not Built for Performance

A leading reason for re-establishing a cabinet-level U.S. Department of Education in 1979 was better coordination and administration of hundreds of federal education programs. The latest GAO report, however, adds to a growing body of evidence that far-off bureaucracies in Washington, D.C., are ill-suited for this task.

The department is just one of numerous federal entities operating nearly 300 federal social, education, and training programs. In a separate report published nearly a decade ago the GAO concluded that no uniform definition for “education program” even exists across 25 federal departments and agencies. Not much has changed since then.

Full public disclosure of all entities receiving federal funding has been required since 2006, and a public inventory website managed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was launched the following year. Subsequent legislation enacted in 2010 and 2014 expanded federal transparency requirements, including linking program and funding data.

The OMB’s revised inventory published in 2013 revealed that more than half of all education department programs were either deemed ineffective or their results were unproven. Yet in 2014, the results of that inventory were deemed unreliable, largely because of inconsistencies in how federal agencies define education programs. As of the fall of 2017, the GAO estimated that, at best, just 1 percent of federal agencies had submitted consistent program and budget data. Then, in December 2018, the GAO noted ongoing problems with data integrity and public accessibility of the OMB’s program inventory.

As things stand now, the U.S. Department of Education spending and performance are reported separately. The latest performance report from the department contains several elementary and secondary education goals, but most of them don’t provide any recent information.

We Shouldn’t Spend Billions to Get Bad Results

It shouldn’t be this hard to figure out whether specific education department programs are working. What we do know from publicly available spending and achievement data is that, since 1970, education spending has roughly tripled in real, inflation-adjusted terms, but student achievement has remained largely flat.

The Trump administration proposed merging the education and labor departments last June to streamline education programs and minimize bureaucracy. The plan was met with bipartisan criticism, including by members of several conservative education organizations. Fixing the failures of the Department of Education, however, does not need to mean fiddling with the federal organizational chart.

Rather, the fundamental problem with the Department of Education is that it removes decision-making authority from the real education experts: parents and taxpayers in local communities.

Currently, the federal government provides just 8 percent of total K-12 education funding. Yet states and school officials have to agree to myriad federal mandates to access that funding. Given the ongoing problems with the department, in contrast to the growth of successful state-level parental choice programs, it is well worth considering abolishing the U.S. Department of Education once and for all.


Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Is Harvard Racist?

Harvard University's admissions policy is proof that some are doomed to repeat history. Can you imagine, in this day and age, an educational institution discriminating against a racial minority? Can you imagine what the outcry would be? “You mean, you’re preventing these qualified students from attending your college because of the color of their skin?!”

Well, you don’t have to imagine it. It’s happening. And at arguably the most prestigious college in America — my alma mater, Harvard.

The ethnic minority isn’t blacks or Jews, as it was in years past. The target this time is Asian Americans. And it’s just as wrong.

After millions of dollars in legal fees, millions of records examined, and hundreds of hours of depositions and testimony, Harvard’s once purposely opaque admissions policies have been laid bare. It’s not a pretty picture.

Here’s what we now know:

Harvard Admissions rates student applicants in three main ways: 1) Academic performance; 2) Extra-curricular achievements; 3) “Personal qualities.” That’s fine, as far as it goes, if the criteria were applied fairly. But they’re not.

Asian American applicants consistently score higher in the first two criteria–academics and extra-curricular activities, which can be objectively assessed–than white students, Latinos and African Americans.

So how does Harvard justify its Asian American quota? With the help of category three — “personal qualities,” which include vague and largely subjective factors like “likability,” “maturity,” “integrity,” and “effervescence.”

According to Harvard’s own internal reports, Asian American applicants are routinely and systematically marked much lower on this personality scale by Harvard admissions officers who almost never meet or interview applicants. But here’s the kicker: the personality ratings given to Asian students by admissions officers are vastly different than the personality ratings Harvard gets from its own alumni interviewers, who actually meet the applicants in person. Alumni interviewers score Asian applicants as high as whites.

In other words, Harvard artificially and fraudulently downgrades Asians on “personality” to get the results it wants. And what Harvard wants is to suppress the number of Asian Americans admitted.

Based on the data that Harvard was forced to turn over, economist Peter Arcidiacono of Duke University concluded that with the same application profile in terms of test scores, extracurricular activities and personality factors, an Asian American male applicant would only have a 25% chance of admission–versus 32% if white, 77% if Hispanic, and 95% if black.

What’s the real-life result of all this?

In 2013, Asian Americans made up 19% of the incoming freshmen class. According to Harvard’s own Office of Institutional Research, if the personality factors had not been rigged, that percentage would have been 43%.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 guarantees that “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color or national origin, be excluded from participation in, or be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

Each year, Harvard takes hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government.

In Grutter v. Bollinger, the Supreme Court upheld the University of Michigan Law School’s affirmative action policies, deciding that race could be used as a “plus factor” to achieve diversity, but never as a quota. Yet, by placing strict limits on the percentage of Asian American applicants it will admit, racial quotas are exactly what Harvard is using.

One strongly suspects this quota system isn’t limited to Harvard. In the last ten years, Asian American students have been limited to an 18-22% presence across the Ivy League. Or maybe that’s just a coincidence.

Writing for the majority in Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote that the Court “expects that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today.”

With less than a decade to go, the Ivy League shows no indication that it’s giving up on those racial preferences. Instead, these colleges have doubled down. Objective standards regarding admissions continue to be increasingly disfavored as the illegal goal of racial balancing is advanced. This racial balancing is justified by the left’s desire to achieve “racial diversity” — its insistence on seeing every person only through the prism of race, as if the most important thing any of us has to offer is the color of our skin.

Not long ago, that was called “racism.” It’s still called racism.

It needs to end, once and for all — for the sake of deserving Asian American students, for the sake of Harvard’s own integrity, and for the sake of the American principle that the rules must be the same for everyone.

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts said it best: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

It’s time we did just that. I’m Lee Cheng, of the Asian American Legal Foundation, for Prager University.


North Carolina Democrats want to change school grading scale so 40 percent is passing

Yes, all of the bill’s sponsors are Democrats. I checked for you.

And look, if this had been in place when I took high school French, I might have done all right in spite of the fact that my teacher was a fast-talking Chinese woman. Then again, I probably still would have gacked it. Who can understand a language in which the verbs have genders?

But this is not really about learning. This is about covering up the failures of public schools, and you won’t be surprised to know that both racial politics and Common Core are factors in this effort:

The factors that go into the A-F school scores include weighted calculations of students achievement and school growth. One is student grade-level proficiency, the other is growth.

Critics of this scoring system say the rankings only look at the achievement levels and that it unfairly judges and stigmatizes schools with a high number of minority students or students living in poverty.

Keep in mind that the most recent school grade report put around 22 percent of North Carolina’s 2,537 schools at a D or F, and that less than half of all students in grades 3 through 8 were scored as grade-level proficient in state tests in reading and math.

Parents can look up their child’s school and consider what House Bill 145 will do to that score. For example, a middle school scoring 70 and has a C would be ranked a B.

This action in this bill is similar to past changes in student proficiency scores.

Originally, North Carolina students were ranked on a 1-4 scale. That was changed to a 5-point scale, and the level a student was considered grade-level proficient was designated as being 3 and up.

The idea to shift the student proficiency levels to a wider scale came a year after the implementation of Common Core following poor test scores.

This is all about the public education establishment not wanting to be held accountable for poor performance, which is why the sponsors of the bill are all Democrats – likely beholden to the teachers’ union, which will be looking to protect school funding so they don’t lose the means to demand massive raises and benefits.

North Carolina clearly has a system by which schools are ranked according to student performance. Too many students getting D and F grades means the school is rated as failing, and that usually carries some sort of consequence related to funding.

The Democrats’ solution? Change the definition of success so students who are learning less are labeled as learning more. Dumb it down, if you will.

By the way, why are Democrats such anti-black racists? They’re the ones who think the grade scale is unfair to schools with lots of minorities. Why do Democrats think minorities can’t get good grades? Why do they think they have to dumb down the grade scale for minorities’ benefit?

If a Republican or some private-sector CEO said you have to make things easier for black people, they’d be tarred as racists and drummed out of their jobs and polite society. But when Democrats base policy on that very belief, no one pays attention.

If you can’t get 60 percent of a subject right, you haven’t learned it and you don’t deserve to pass. And no one is doing you a favor when they pass you on to the next level when you haven’t learned the current one. These politicians are dooming a bunch of kids to lifetimes of failure so their constituents in the education establishment won’t have to explain their own failures.


School Board Voted Against Armed Security Before Shooting, Now They’re Reversing Course

Reality has a way of bringing people around. Just a month after a school board in Baltimore voted against allowing armed officers in area schools, they’ve changed their minds after seeing firsthand what happens when determined criminals strike.

At first, all ten members of the board resisted the idea of “good guys with guns” in the Maryland schools. They unanimously turned down a measure that would have supported armed police officers — not teachers or private security — to help safeguard schools.

Then tragedy struck. “Neil Davis, a 25-year-old family member of a student, came into (Frederick Douglass High School) on Feb. 8 and shot special education assistant Michael Marks, according to police. The 56-year-old longtime staffer was seriously injured but survived,” The Baltimore Sun reported.

Two weeks after that shooting, the board members have a very different perspective. They’re now backing legislation that would permit trained police officers to be armed in local schools.

“(T)he city’s school board reversed its position on whether school police should be allowed to carry weapons, voting 8-2 in support of legislation that would amend state law to authorize officers to patrol schools with guns,” The Sun explained.

That show of support could help a school security bill proposed by state delegate Cheryl Glenn, a Democrat, pass in the state capitol.

“It would be nice if we lived in a world where we didn’t need guns at all, but that’s not the reality for us in Baltimore City,” Glenn told the Baltimore newspaper.

“This decision will give the bill a lot of the support the delegation needs to see,” she added. “This is all about public safety.”

But while the recent shooting and the reversal by the school board has certainly boosted the bill’s chances of passing, there’s still opposition.

“It’s not a given what will happen in Annapolis,” school board chair Cheryl Casciani said, “and after it happens we will have some real decisions to make about how we’re going to do this.”

Interestingly, sworn police officers are already permitted to carry their firearms on school grounds outside of school hours, but must surrender their guns when they’re arguably needed the most: during classes when the hallways are filled with young students.

“Under current law, the city’s roughly 100 school police officers are allowed to carry their guns while patrolling the exterior of school buildings before and after school hours, but they are required to store their weapons in a secure location during the day,” explained The Sun.

“Baltimore is the only jurisdiction in Maryland with a sworn school police force. In surrounding districts, local police or sheriff’s departments patrol schools and are allowed to carry their weapons,” that outlet continued.

The large Maryland city is 100 percent controlled by Democrats, without a single Republican on its council. Baltimore has the second-worst murder rate in the entire United States.

One of the voices who is most frustrated with bureaucrats preventing officers from doing their jobs is a cop himself.

“I wonder how that 10-0 vote feels now?” Sgt. Clyde Boatwright asked. Boatwright serves as president of the school police union.

Meanwhile, Michael Marks, the educator who actually took a bullet during the school shooting a month ago, has added his voice to the side supporting armed police.

It’s frustrating that America’s schools have become locations of violence, but ignoring reality does not make it go away. Criminals don’t respect laws, and when one of them walks into a place of learning with a gun, the best defense for the students are trained, prepared officers who are ready to protect them.


Monday, March 04, 2019

Seriously Delinquent Student Loan Debt

U.S. government-sponsored student loan debt has become an escalating problem for the finances of many American households. The latest household debt report from the New York branch of the Federal Reserve indicates that Americans collectively owed $1.46 trillion in student loans at the end of 2018, more than any other category of non-housing related debt.

Federal Reserve Bank of New York: Non-Housing Debt Balance of American Households, 2004:Q1 through 2018:Q4

Worse, the percentage of student loan debt that is in “serious delinquency”, where no debt payments have been made for at least 90 days or longer, has remained stuck within a range between 10.7% and 11.8% of the total borrowed since 2012, the highest of all forms of household debt.

Federal Reserve Bank of New York: Percent of Debt Balance 90+ Days Delinquent

Bloomberg Quint‘s Alexandre Tansi crunched the numbers and found the amount of delinquent student loan debt has reached a new high.

Student-loan delinquencies surged last year, hitting consecutive records of $166.3 billion in the third quarter and $166.4 billion in the fourth.

Bloomberg calculated the dollar amounts from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s quarterly household-debt report, which includes only the total owed and the percentage delinquent at least 90 days or in default.

That percentage has remained around 11 percent since mid-2012, but the total increased to a record $1.46 trillion by December 2018, and unpaid student debt also rose to the highest ever.

Since most of that money was borrowed from the U.S. government, the inability of American households to repay student loans represents a drain on the U.S. government’s finances, where seriously delinquent student loans drive up the nation’s budget deficits.

At the same time, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has stated that the burden of student loan debt hurts American households and will hurt the nation’s economy:

“You do stand to see longer-term negative effects on people who can’t pay off their student loans,” he said. “It hurts their credit rating, it impacts the entire half of their economic life.”...

While Powell said he couldn’t quantify what the longer-run economic effects would be, he said there is danger down the road.

“It will over time,” he said when asked whether student debt could undermine broader economic growth. “It’s not something you can pick up in the data right now. As this goes on and as student loans continue to grow and become larger and larger, then it absolutely could hold back growth.”

For example, growing student loan debt can crowd out home purchases by claiming a portion of a household’s income that might otherwise go to build its wealth. Because of this effect, student loans contribute to putting home ownership out of reach for many American households.

Powell has also suggested that student loan debt should once again be allowed to be discharged in personal bankruptcy proceedings. This solution would go a long way to providing tangible relief from the negative burden that student loan debt is having on American households, without increasing the problem of moral hazard that would explode if it were simply forgiven by government fiat.

Unfortunately, doing so would increase both the U.S. government’s deficits and the national debt unless other serious reforms are adopted.

First and foremost, the U.S. government needs to get out of the business of making student loans altogether, which has been a costly money loser for the federal government ever since it took over the industry in 2010. Returning the business to the private sector will directly protect U.S. taxpayers from the growing costs of student loan delinquencies.

Second, public policy needs to recognize that the main reason these serious delinquencies exist is because student loan borrowers did not get their money’s worth for the education they received at the academic institutions where they spent the proceeds from their student loans, where their post-education incomes are proving to be insufficient to pay back the money they borrowed.

Under current law, academic institutions will only bear a portion of that cost by having funds they receive from the federal government cut if as many as 30% of its student loan borrowers default on their student loans. That extreme exemption should be reformed so that any federal funds an academic institution might receive, either directly or through tax credits, will be reduced one-for-one for every dollar their former students are seriously delinquent on any student loans issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government.

Academic institutions threatened by the loss of federal funds or tax credits could then avoid that outcome by providing timely rebates to their financially struggling former students, and could even help bring their student loans payments down to more affordable levels by paying down the principal owed. Many institutions could even fund such a debt reduction program by reversing the administrative bloat that most have experienced during the last decade.

Shrinking that bloat would even make the cost of college more affordable in the first place. If we’re serious about reforming student loans, why shouldn’t all Americans exploited by the current system benefit?

Tags: education reform, Federal Direct Student Loan Program, student debt, student loans


California Parents Object to New Sex Ed Program in Public Schools

Fed-up California parents participated in a “Sexxx Ed Sit Out” Tuesday morning to protest the state’s sex education curriculum, calling it “pornographic,” “age-inappropriate,” “highly biased and medically inaccurate instruction.”

In an open letter to principals, lawmakers, and state Department of Education officials, the grassroots effort organized by Informed Parents of California rebuked what’s being taught under the 2016 California Healthy Youth Act and the proposed California Health Education Framework.

“Children are taught negotiation skills for consent to sex,” the letter says, adding: 

They are instructed in their rights to confidential reproductive health services and directed to local Planned Parenthood clinics for abortion, birth control and STI [sexualy transmitted infections] testing without parental notice. Some children have even been prescribed puberty blockers for gender transition, and sadly, parents have been so bullied by social workers they are afraid to speak publicly about it.

Under the California Healthy Youth Act, sex education would be expanded to include topics such as gender and sexual orientation, bullying and abuse, and birth control, including emergency contraception.

“The reason parents and teachers and school board members are protesting is the way this law is being implemented,” former California teacher Rebecca Friedrichs said in an interview with The Daily Signal. “Children are being instructed at school against the parents’ will and behind their back to do things that are ethically risky and life-altering.”

Friedrichs, author of the book  “Standing Up to Goliath,” has been featured by The Daily Signal in reports such as this and this for her Supreme Court battle against teachers unions.

Friedrichs said the new curriculum educates students in junior high and high school on how to use insertive condoms and dental dams for anal and oral sex. Friedrichs warns that schools may introduce the curriculum at any grade.

In coordinating the protest, Informed Parents of California instructed parents to take their kids out of school and gather in front of their local school district offices as a show of solidarity against the state-mandated curriculum. Parents were to submit a letter to the principal to explain their child’s absence.

America Figueroa, a mother of five who serves as the Hispanic spokeswoman for Informed Parents of California, said about 100 families from the three Desert Ridge Academy school districts in Indio, California, signed up to participate in the protest.

The proposed Health Education Framework, set to be adopted in May by the State Board of Education, says high school students “will explore and discover their identities, gender expression, and sexuality throughout their education and into and beyond their high school years.”

According to the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, parents may opt out only from topics such as “human development, pregnancy, family planning, and sexually transmitted diseases and not topics like sexual orientation and gender identity lessons.”

The public comment period for the Health Education Framework closed in January.

Although parents have written letters to lawmakers and attended school boards meetings, “parents are feeling completely ignored,” Friedrichs said.

She said some parents “are being harassed and bullied” by sex ed proponents at school board meetings.


Australia: Schools face being shut down for a YEAR to weed out Muslim extremist teachers

Schools face being shut down for up to a year in a bid to tackle Muslim extremism in the classroom if a leading election candidate gets his way.

Teachers and students would also face disciplinary action for failing to shake hands with the opposite sex.

One Nation's New South Wales leader Mark Latham, who previously led the Labor Party, has revealed to Daily Mail Australia his five-point plan to eradicate Islamic radicalisation and Sharia law preaching at school.

He is campaigning for government schools to be shut down for six to 12 months, with new principals and teachers hired, if there was evidence of radical Islam being preached to impressionable students without any attempt to stop it.

'Any radicalised student runs the potential of acts of public violence,' he told Daily Mail Australia. 'Young people are being radicalised and the consequences in terms of acts of terrorism are horrendous.

'We're allowing a problem to fester because of political correctness. 'You're talking about something that's a supreme, public danger.'

It comes two years after Muslim students at Punchbowl Boys High School in Sydney's south-west allegedly threatened to behead non-Muslim staff and declared themselves ISIS sympathisers.

The former principal Chris Griffiths and his deputy Joumana Dennaoiu were stood down after they failed to co-operate with departmental deradicalisation programs.

One Nation's plan to tackle Islamic extremism in schools:

1. Zero tolerance: closing radicalised schools and placing radicalised students in youth detention

2.  A regular, transparent system of public reporting on incidents involving radicalised Islamic behaviour, and the action taken by schools in response. These reports should be tabled in NSW Parliament

3.  A strict Code of Conduct for the way in which teachers explain to students acts of radical Islamic terrorism. The emphasis must be on evidence and reality rather than Leftist apologies and rationalising away violence of this kind

4.  Insisting on Western standards of respect and courtesy at all school events, overriding Islamic practice

5. Ensuring outside organisations with a history of radicalised views (campaigning against our culture and our civilisation) are not given access to NSW schools. The Bankstown Poetry Slam should be banned immediately

'The school had become an Islamic school and the leadership was believing in Sharia law,' Mr Latham said. 'That's a radical move in itself that we can't tolerate in government schooling.

'If there's a school that's being transformed from an open government school into an Islamic institution, which seems to have happened at Punchbowl Boys High, then the public deserves an open account how it happened, what the school leadership was doing about it, how the education department responded.'

A former teacher at nearby Punchbowl Public School also claimed radicalised students as young as 10 had menacingly recited the Koran in Arabic at her and on one occasion even made throat-slitting gestures.

Mr Latham is demanding that radicalised students be placed in youth detention.

The former federal Labor leader stands a strong chance of being elected to the NSW upper house at the March state elections, and could share the balance of power with Fred Nile's Christian Democrats and the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party.

He also wants teachers and students to face disciplinary action for failing to shake hands with the opposite sex, which fundamentalist Muslims regard as sinful. 'They must. It's a courtesy of our culture that must be practised in our schools,' he said. 'It would be a disciplinary matter that should be taken seriously.'

In 2017, Muslim students at the Hurstville Boys Campus of Georges River College, in Sydney's south, were given permission in 2017 to put hands of their hearts as an alternative to shaking hands with female teachers.

Mr Latham accused the major political parties and the education bureaucracy of failing to properly tackle Muslim extremism in the classroom.

'If there wasn't a religious dimension to this, if there wasn't a minority dimension to this, the education system one assumes would come down on the students like a tonne of bricks,' he said.

'The prevailing attitude would be "we can't pick on minorities", "we can't tell the full truth of what's happened here". 'The main problem is it's swept under the carpet.'

One Nation wants the Department of Education to compile a report twice a year outlining radicalised behaviour and the school's response to it, which would have to be tabled in Parliament.

'The real problem is we haven't got transparency,' Mr Latham said.

'My feeling is these problems are common enough in the education system to be very worried about.'

Under Mr Latham, events like the Bankstown Poetry Slam in south-west Sydney would also be banned, where arts workshops and school visits are held.

The event, funded by the federal government and Canterbury-Bankstown council, featured a poem called 'F*** Pauline Hanson'. 

The anger wasn't just directed at One Nation's federal leader, with videos denouncing the police and mocking the laying of wreaths on Anzac Day.

'It had nothing to do with poetry, it's just ranting against Western civilisation and against our society,' Mr Latham said. 'I was horrified to find out they were allowed to go into eight western Sydney schools as mentors.

'I find that a very, very disturbing trend. The people who are clearly anti-Western political agitators with a radical message.

'They shouldn't get any government funding and they shouldn't be allowed within coee of any school.'

Despite his misgivings about radicalised Muslim teachers at public schools, Mr Latham acknowledged Islamic schools often produced good academic results and made a contribution to Australian society. 'If they're peaceful and constructive and they fit in with Australian values, they get good education outcomes, of course we've got to support them,' he said. 'Some Islamic colleges have been a wonderful success.'


Sunday, March 03, 2019

The Bullying problem

It is generally handled badly, even making the problem worse. The author below thinks he knows a better way -- see his site -- but I think I would go the way of heavy physical punishment for bullies.  That should stop it in its tracks

Thanks to the successful political activism of the anti-bullying field, schools are now required to function as totalitarian police establishments responsible for children’s interpersonal relationships 24/7. School staff need to do double duty as security guards, detectives, and judges, treating any complaint of subjective harm as a serious crime needing thorough investigation, interrogation, adjudication, reporting, and punishing. Rather than eliminating bullying, these laws have led to a growing epidemic of bullying and intensified hostilities among students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Today is the most stressful time in history to be a school administrator, as they can face lawsuits for failing to accomplish the impossible. (Research has shown that the most highly regarded anti-bullying programs barely cause a dent in the problem, yet schools are supposed to know how to stop all children from being bullied.)

Just today, the news reported that a Pennsylvania court awarded a student $500,000 dollars, because the school district could not stop fellow students from ridiculing her “gender-nonconformist presentation” — in all three schools she attended! Half a million dollars! American dollars, not Canadian! For a mere $500, I could have taught the girl how to stop being bullied, but now we, the taxpayers, have to fork out half-a-million bucks because schools can’t force all children to respect nonconformist gender presentation. In actuality, the schools’ attempts to stop the bullying made the bullying escalate.

Almost all school shootings are committed by victims of bullying. These kids are consumed with anger, hatred, and desire for revenge. Anti-bullying policies were intended to reduce the frequency of these horrific massacres. Instead, mass shootings happen with tragic and increased frequency. Should this surprise us? Ever since preschool, students have been taught to think of anyone who upsets them as an evil bully who deserves to be hated and eliminated from society. Even adults have taken to blaming bullies as justification for committing murder.

Have you seen the German film, The Lives of Others, about life under the East German totalitarian police state? The underlying political theme is the high rate of suicide resulting from government surveillance of citizens' social lives.

Many children who take their own lives do so because they can no longer tolerate being bullied. Anti-bullying policies are intended to prevent suicides by victims of bullying. Instead, the suicide rate has skyrocketed among kids — tripling among girls — during the same period that schools have been officially combatting bullying. Why? For two reasons.

What happens when kids are taught that words can scar them forever or kill them? They become more upset when they are insulted, which unwittingly fuels the bullying, so they get insulted even more.

Second, schools have been informing children that they must tell the school authorities when they are bullied. What happens when kids get the school authorities to investigate the bullying complaint? Hostilities immediately escalate, as each side and their parents try to convince the school that they are right and the other is wrong, and the informer becomes known as a snitch, which can be a social death sentence.

If the child is lucky, the school authorities will succeed in making the bullying stop. But too often, the bullying spirals out of control, even leading to serious violence. The victim of the bullying, feeling betrayed by the school’s false promise to make the bullying stop, may eventually despair and decide to put a permanent end to their suffering (and occasionally, to the suffering of schoolmates and teachers).


Stop the campus scaremongering

A new report, published by the charity Brook and the student database Dig In, claims that ‘more than half of UK university students across the country are being exposed to unwanted sexual behaviours’. This headline-grabbing claim is based on 5,649 student responses to a survey.

And what precisely are ‘unwanted sexual behaviours’? According to the report, they could be anything from ‘cat-calling’ to ‘explicit text messages’ to ‘inappropriate touching’ to ‘being followed’ to being ‘forced into sex or sexual acts’. Given this definition encompasses such a wide range of behaviours, from the trivial to the very serious, it is perhaps unsurprising that the figure is so high. (Only a tiny proportion – three to four per cent – said they had been forced into sex or sexual acts.)

Only eight per cent of the 56 per cent said they had reported their experiences. Brook chief executive Helen Marshall told the Guardian that the ‘worryingly low reporting rate suggests that much more needs to be done at every stage of academic life’.

This is the narrative Brook and Dig In are pushing: that too few of those 56 per cent of surveyed students, especially female ones, ‘believe they are victims of sexual harassment’. Hence Marshall says that more needs to be done to encourage students to report ‘unwanted sexual behaviours’. These students need to start thinking of themselves as victims, even if they only experienced something as trivial as an unwanted text message.

Most of the respondents to this survey were not victims of any crime. The law does not criminalise something as vague as ‘unwanted sexual behaviour’. When you look more closely at the figures, it is clear that the less serious the behaviour, the less likely the women were to report it. Of the 49 per cent of women in the survey who said they had been cat-called, only three per cent reported it. Similarly, just five per cent of the women ‘inappropriately touched’ said they had reported it. I would hazard a guess that most of them slapped the hand that touched them, and left matters there – is that not a legitimate response?

The report’s definition of what does and doesn’t constitute consensual sex is also troubling. It claims that ‘only 52 per cent of students understand that it is not possible to give consent if you are drunk’. Really? There is no law that states that alcohol removes the capacity to give consent. If this was the case, every adult who has ever copped off with someone in a bar would be considered a sex offender. Drunk sex is different to raping someone who is incapacitated due to alcohol.

But most concerning of all is the survey’s conflation of serious and trivial incidents under the catch-all category of ‘unwanted sexual behaviours’. Being cat-called or receiving dirty texts is not comparable to rape. To think otherwise denigrates the seriousness of sexual assault and rape – acts that are already criminal and, thankfully, committed very rarely on campus.

Moreover, when sexual behaviour is unwanted but not breaking any laws, how helpful is it to encourage female students to interpret it as abuse, to see themselves as victims? Surely it would be more effective to empower women to call out bad behaviour when it happens, and therefore change the climate around women’s sexual freedom. This tendency to see unwanted behaviour as abuse does nothing to empower young women – in fact, all it does is freak us out about the dangers of sex.

Buried deep in the report’s press release is one scrap of positive data: 90 per cent of all respondents said they ‘felt confident to say no to unwanted sexual advances’. This shows that despite the attempt to tell us that we’re more victimised than we realise, most of us still know our red lines and stick to them.

It’s a shame that Brook is engaging in these kinds of puritanical scare stories about sex. Its founder, Helen Brook, established it to give women the knowledge they need to feel empowered in their sex lives. Reports like this one betray that ambition.


Australia: Sydney University Truth Blitz

Bettina Arndt 

Wow, what a day! I am writing this on Wednesday night (Feb 27), just back from what I am calling our ‘Truth Blitz’ at Sydney University. We pulled off an amazing raid this morning, using student from other universities to put under student doors at most colleges a very detailed flyer warning male students about the dangerous consequences of the rape crisis scare campaign- namely the establishment of an alternative ‘believe-the-victim’ justice system based on a lower standard of proof. We also circulated a similar document aimed at male students in general, which we placed in many STEM lecture theatres. You can read the flyer here

It was a highly-orchestrated, clandestine raid conducted during the day when most students were at lectures. My students did a great job getting through most of the colleges before being discovered by security guards who warned the police would be called if they persisted.

I then spent a few hours this afternoon, with a group of volunteers, wandering around campus chatting to students and handing out the flyer. That was really revealing because we ran into absolutely no problems at all. Many students reported they knew nothing about the feminists’ rape scare campaign, they certainly didn’t believe there was a rape problem on campus and were shocked to hear the university had introduced regulations to get involved in adjudicating rape cases. I talked to many young women as well as male students and some staff, most of whom appreciated being told what is happening. 

That was actually very reassuring but also clearly revealed the utter corruption of the university administration acting against the interests and without the knowledge of the majority of students, knowingly ignoring the real facts and promoting lies about the rape crisis. These administrators must be aware of the disastrous cost of the American university tribunal system which has so damaged the reputations of colleges over their failure to offer fair treatment to male students. It is just extraordinary that our institutes of higher learning are so under the sway of a tiny feminist group that they will betray their institutions’ interests and sell out young men.

Anyway, the Sydney Uni Truth Blitz was a great success and we have plans to follow up in due course.

Pushback at UWA

Next I am getting ready for my campus talk next Thursday evening, March 7, at the University of Western Australia. This one has proved a huge battle because the student groups were all too intimidated by the activists to host the event. I had to organise to stage the event on my own and UWA hasn’t allowed me to do any advertising – no posters, no flyers circulated on campus, nor any publicity in their events social media pages.

I’m really struggling to get people to come along. I assume many people are nervous about possible protesters – which is most disappointing. Come on, people. There’s going to be heaps of security. I had to pay $352 for two security guards for the event, who will be adding to the normal campus security guards. (By the way, I am working quickly through the generous donations I received last year through the crowd-funder  for my campus tour. I’m using the funds to pay for printing for the Sydney University and UWA flyers, the security guards, airfares, paying some student helpers and so on. It would be wonderful if some of you could contribute a little more.)

I need all you Perth people to show a little more fortitude and show up to support my efforts. We’re not charging students to attend now – here’s the Eventbrite link to book your tickets. It will be so disappointing if I have to cancel the event because I am not able to pull together a decent audience. Wouldn’t the feminists love that?  They have already put together a petition to try to get UWA to close down the event. And look at the student magazine seething that the university has allowed me to speak on campus.

The UWA event is particularly interesting because Chancellor of UWA is former High Court Chief Justice Robert French who is conducting the government enquiry into free speech on campus (which was prompted by my Sydney protest.) The Vice-Chancellor Dawn Freshwater has been saying all the right things about free speech recently. She’s trying to redeem the reputation of the university following the fuss last year when UWA  cancelled the talk by Quentin Van Meter, the American doctor who was speaking about medical intervention with children dealing with gender fluidity. 

All of this makes it even more important that the event is a success. Perth people, please book in now so we know the event can go ahead. And let me know if you can help promote it.  

Email from Bettina --