Friday, March 15, 2019

Good Job News for Americans without College Degrees

At an economic forum at the White House yesterday, CEOs of a number of companies told President Trump that they are hiring an increasing percentage of workers who do not have college degrees.

Apple and Lockheed Martin both stated that about half their hires last year did not have degrees, while IBM noted that there are strong opportunities for people without degrees.

This is good news for people who choose paths other than college, such as training and employment in the skilled trades. In fact, the skilled trades represent large, unfilled employment opportunities with often high salaries. Adecco has an infographic showing the demand for these trades here, and celebrity Mike Rowe has been on the forefront of calling attention to what he calls the “skills gap” through his Mike Rowe Works Foundation.

The “skills gap” is simply the fact that there is much demand by employers for people to fill positions in the trades, but not enough people to fill them; this is due to the prevailing emphasis on college as the only path for economic advancement and personal fulfillment after high school.

However, given that the graduation rate for people who attempt college is only about 60% and that there are great opportunities for people in the skilled trades, this illustrates the fact that many people’s calling lies not in pursuing college degrees, but rather in seeking vocational training for these trades.

The world needs people involved in trades, and America needs to better appreciate that these are honorable professions that are necessary to the life of our world. The path to vocational fulfillment has many branches: some go to college, some pursue the skilled trades. The point the CEOs are making is that there are wonderful opportunities for everyone on all these branches because all are needed for our society and economy to function and grow.


As UMass makes a big bet on online education, rivals offer words of caution

Five years ago, with much fanfare, the University of Florida introduced a bold online degree venture, aiming to reach tens of thousands of adult learners in the state and beyond. Officials imagined 24,000 students and $77 million in revenue by 2023.

But it didn’t take long for Florida officials to dramatically scale back their ambitions, as the online school found it difficult to recruit students and win over faculty. These days, they’re aiming for a modest 8,400 students and $29 million in revenue, which includes a $5 million subsidy from the state.

“The initial assumptions are that online education is cheaper, and it’s a global phenomenon,” said Evangeline Tsibris Cummings, assistant provost and director of University of Florida Online. “We’ve learned the opposite. Online education is more expensive . . . and it takes time to grow enrollment, and the students are surprisingly local. Success is possible, but it’s a matter of making sure we’re focused on the right thing.”

Florida’s experiences — and those of other public universities with similar enterprises — offer cautionary lessons for the University of Massachusetts, which is planning to launch a new online college that will compete for students from across the country.

A handful of public universities, including Arizona State University, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Maryland, have built successful, large-scale online enterprises. But others have quietly folded after struggling to recruit students, ensure a quality education, and manage costs. Last year, the University of Texas at Austin shelved a multimillion-dollar plan to reinvent undergraduate education with a focus on growing online enrollment — just two years after launching.

“It’s important that people think carefully about what they’re getting into,” said Sandy Baum, a fellow at the Center on Education Data and Policy at the Urban Institute who recently co-wrote a study suggesting that colleges and universities are falling short on delivering high-quality education online. “Technology holds a lot of promise. But the risks are really high.”

The UMass announcement, Baum added, “makes me nervous. I hope they do it right.”

The online initiative was introduced with much ceremony last week by UMass president Martin T. Meehan, to an audience that included Governor Charlie Baker, state legislators, and city mayors who made their way to the UMass Club in downtown Boston after a morning snowstorm. Facing declining enrollment of students from Massachusetts and limited support from the state government, Meehan said the online college will help ensure UMass’s long-term financial sustainability while reaching adults who may have limited employment opportunities.

“The time for us to act is now,” Meehan said. “It’s predicted that over the next several years four to five major national players with strong regional footholds will be established. We intend to be one of them.”

The online college would be a separate enterprise from digital courses UMass currently offers at its campuses. It would be aimed at adult learners, and admissions would likely be less competitive and open to more students.

The head of UMassOnline is Don Kilburn, a former executive with United Kingdom-based Pearson PLC, an education publisher that has worked with US public universities to expand their online offerings. Kilburn said he has spent the past year talking to other universities about how to model UMassOnline, and is aware of the potential pitfalls. But he believes UMass has the elements to succeed and offer adult learners a quality education.

Just within Massachusetts there are more than 1 million adults age 25 and older who are considering some sort of college degree, he said; and beyond the state, Kilburn said, UMass is a nationally recognized brand that could appeal to students.

“I do think if we build it properly and have high-quality educational programs, they will come to UMass,” Kilburn said. “It’s a population that needs to be serviced.”

Meehan and Kilburn hope the online college will one day bring in $400 million in revenue and employ 500 to 1,000 workers. The online school would likely rely on adjunct professors to teach classes, although UMass faculty would be asked to help, by designing courses, for example. It is unclear how many students UMass hopes to enroll, but many of the largest programs at other public universities have anywhere from 24,000 to 44,000 exclusively online students.

UMass has not detailed how much it will cost to run the enterprise, but Meehan said the university would borrow money to get it underway. While the UMass system maintains a high credit rating, agencies such as Fitch and Moody’s have warned the institution about taking on large amounts of additional debt.

Kilburn said the university is still deciding the timeline for the launch, where the school and its staff will be located, and the price of tuition and fees. UMass also needs approvals from regulators and has been in touch with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education and accrediting agencies, Kilburn added.

But even a report presented to UMass trustees last fall acknowledged the hurdles ahead, especially for a public institution. Only the University of Maryland’s University College and Purdue Global University enroll more than 10,000 students and have revenues of more than $400 million. Maryland took nearly a quarter of a century to get that large, growing the program through its relationships with the military and veterans. And Purdue University recently purchased the struggling for-profit provider Kaplan University to jump-start its online program.

Arizona State University had to persuade faculty to teach and design courses at the online venture, make changes to its business operations, and increase spending on technology and hiring, said Phil Regier, a university dean who runs the digital learning arm, ASU EdPlus. After about a decade, the program now has some 25,000 fully online students and offers 180 degree programs.

Even so, there are daily challenges traditional schools don’t face: chasing down transcripts for transferring students, for example, or having staff available after hours to answer questions.

“Online already has a degraded reputation,” Regier said. “We had to build a program that is as good as or better than on-campus.”

For UMass to compete with established programs, higher education experts said, it will have to make robust investments.

And one of the powerhouses of online academia is just up the road: the private, nonprofit Southern New Hampshire University. SNHU enrolls more than 93,000 students from around the world — including 15,000 from Massachusetts. It has flourished as many for-profit universities retreated from the online market after coming under intense government oversight because of high student debt loads and questionable degrees.

SNHU brought in about $95 million in net income in 2016. But even that success comes at a high cost. Marketing remains a huge expense, as SNHU spent $133 million on recruiting students that year.

Howard Lurie, a principal analyst with Eduventures Research, a Boston-based consulting firm, said UMass cannot look at the online school as just a business venture. As a public institution, UMass needs to ensure its online programs are providing students, many of whom may have previously struggled with college or are not prepared academically, with the support they need to succeed, Lurie said.

These students benefit from more one-on-one attention and support, which are expensive to provide and can be lacking in purely online programs, he said.

UMass has “done a good job improving curriculum on the ground campuses, but that’s because people have done the hard work of supporting the students,” said Lurie. “It depends on the execution.”

Cummings, of the University of Florida, said the ambitions outlined by Meehan last week sounded familiar.

“It did kind of harken back to UF Online. I would like others to learn from our experience,” she said. “I almost want to buy the new director a drink.”


Australia: Climate striking pupils told to ‘turn up to school’ by Education Minister

It began with a solitary, 15-year-old girl camped out in front of Sweden’s parliament next to a handwritten sign: “SCHOOL STRIKE FOR CLIMATE”.

Now Greta Thunberg’s message and her actions haves been embraced by the world — as tens of thousands of Australian school students prepare to down their pencils and take to the streets tomorrow — demanding political action on climate change.

Pupils from hundreds of schools in over 55 cities and towns across Australia are using the action to call on all politicians to stop Adani’s coal mine, say no to all new fossil fuels and power Australia with 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

Cynics say the movement is a ploy to weaponise children for political purposes, but some of the pupils taking part say they have seen the effects of climate change first-hand.

Harley Hickey, 13, from Walgett in northern New South Wales, said she was seeing her future disappear before her eyes.

“I see the temperatures reaching 50 degrees during summer in my community,” she said. “We have two rivers in Walgett - the Barwon and Namoi River but both are dry.

“No water means no life. Where did our water go? A lot of towns along these rivers are suffering because of our government’s bad decisions.”

However, not everybody supports the strike, with some schools warning of consequences for truancy and education ministers such as NSW’s Rob Stokes declining to back the political movement.

“As adults, we have a shared responsibility to encourage our young people to attend school,” he told 2GB this morning.

“So that’s really got to be the first message. Turn up to school. Don’t rob yourself of the opportunities to get a great, quality education.”

Columnist Gemma Tognini wrote kids were being used as “pawns in climate wars”.

“Kids are the perfect weapon when it comes to emotive issues because there’s never any sensible centre or intelligent debate when it comes to feelings, and who better to use than children,” she wrote in The West Australian.

However, striking pupils have won the support from other political leaders, such as NSW Labor leader Michael Daley who told ABC: “They do have a democratic right of assembly, they do have a right to protest.”

Tomorrow’s strike will spread over 100 countries and shapes as a “milestone moment” in a grassroots campaign to goad world leaders into confronting the threat of global warming, activists and experts say.

So far, the weekly walkouts have spilled tens of thousands of mostly high school students out into the streets in Germany, Belgium, Britain and France, with a smattering of actions in six other countries.

But on March 15, classrooms are set to empty in cities across the globe, from Boston to Bogota, Montreal to Melbourne, Dhaka to Durban, Lagos to London.

Here in Australia, The University of Sydney vice-chancellor Michael Spence has given permission for students and staff to walk out of classes – joining school students converging on Town Hall in the CBD.


Thursday, March 14, 2019

UK: Cambridge opens up extra places for "disadvantaged" students who perform better than expected in their A-levels

"Disadvantaged" here seems to be code for "black".  Last year, 63.4 per cent of Cambridge’s undergraduate intake came from state schools so whites would seem to be doing well already.  It is clearly no longer the preserve of "toffs" and products of private schooling

Cambridge University is opening up extra places for disadvantaged students who perform better than expected in their A-levels, in a bid to improve diversity.

This summer the university will give out up to 100 additional places which will be earmarked for pupils who have either spent time in local authority care, or those with a combination of characteristics including attending a state school and living in a deprived household or area.

It is the first time that Cambridge will take part in the Ucas “adjustment” system, where students who do better than expected in their A-levels are able to “trade up” for a better university place.

While many Russell Group universities offer places through this system, Oxford and Cambridge have traditionally abstained from doing so on the basis that they fill all their places in advance.

Dr Sam Lucy, director of admissions for the Cambridge Colleges, said that move is aimed at admitting more talented students from disadvantaged background who have already applied and had an interview, but “narrowly missed out” on an offer.

“Students have to apply almost a year before they start their course, and some may be on an upward academic trajectory and not demonstrating their full academic potential at the point of interview,” she said.

“Adjustment provides those students who go on to achieve highly with an opportunity to be reconsidered as soon as they have their final results, rather than having to make a reapplication the following year.

Universities are under increasing pressure to increase the number of students they admit from poor backgrounds.

Last year Russell Group universities spent £254 million on “outreach” activities, aimed at encouraging more students from disadvantaged background to apply, with a further £270 million due to be spent in the year ahead. Initiatives include bursaries, extra tutoring and support, and giving lower offers to those coming from state schools.

Last year, 63.4 per cent of Cambridge’s undergraduate intake came from state schools, compared to 58.2 per cent at Oxford.

The higher education watchdog has said that institutions must "eliminate" the gap in admissions between wealthier students and their less well-off peers within 20 years But the Office for Students has admitted that top universities will need to accept fewer middle class students in order to meet diversity targets.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, said that Cambridge's announcement is a “step in the right direction”, adding that he welcomed any new initiatives aimed at closing the “stubbornly wide” gap between rich and poor students at top universities.

"However, our research has shown that many poorer pupils with the grades to get into Oxford or Cambridge don’t apply, or have their grades under-predicted," he added.

“We also want to see universities like Cambridge giving poorer students a break by taking into account such factors as their school and parental background.”

He said universities should all move to post-qualification applications, where students apply only after they have received their A-level results. 


Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin's husband Mossimo Giannulli are both released from custody after making their first court appearances in the college bribery scandal

Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin's husband Mossimo Giannulli have been released after they were charged in a massive college admissions cheating scandal.

Huffman and Giannulli are among 50 people, including Lori Loughlin, who have been accused of paying bribes to get their children into America's top colleges.

The Desperate Housewives star was released on $250,000 bond on Tuesday. 

Huffman allegedly paid $15,000, which she disguised as a charitable donation, to arrange for someone to change her daughter's answers during the SAT exams. 

Charging documents state that both Huffman and her husband, actor William H Macy, agreed to the plan to help daughters Sofia, 18, and 16-year-old Georgia.  

Macy was in court on Tuesday to support his wife and sat in the front row. Authorities have not disclosed why he was not implicated in the scandal.

Huffman has been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud. A magistrate judge ordered the actress to restrict her travel to the continental US and she surrendered her passport to the court. 

Seven FBI agents showed up to Huffman's home in Hollywood Hills at 6am on Tuesday, drew their weapons, and ordered the actress to come out and surrender.

Sources told TMZ that Huffman, Macy, and their two daughters had been asleep inside the home when the agents arrived.

One FBI source said that the guns were drawn as a precaution - a decision that is always left to the agents' discretion when an arrest takes place. 

Huffman was then taken to a federal building and processed by federal marshals.   

Meanwhile, Loughlin is currently en route to Los Angeles and will surrender to authorities on Wednesday morning.

The Full House star, 54, is flying from Canada to Los Angeles to turn herself in. She has likewise been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

Both Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli were charged. They allegedly paid $500,000 to get their daughters Olivia Jade, 19, and Isabella, 20, into the University of Southern California.

Sources said that FBI agents likewise arrived at Loughlin's home on Tuesday morning, only to find out she was in Vancouver. They took Giannulli in custody. Giannulli's bond was set at $1million, forcing him to put the family's primary residence up as collateral to guarantee the bond. The designer also had to surrender his passport to the court, according to Variety. Like Huffman, his travel has been restricted to continental US.

Loughlin's attorney has requested that she be allowed to travel to Vancouver, where she films for the Hallmark Channel, after she is arraigned. The judge said the request sounded reasonable but must be decided at a later date.

Loughlin and Giannulli allegedly paid the half-million dollar sum to get their daughters into USC, which Giannulli graduated from in 1987, as fake rowing recruits. Neither daughter participated in crew.   

The scheme was uncovered by the FBI and federal prosecutors in Boston, who discovered the affluent parents involved had paid a total of $6million in bribes to get their children into elite schools including Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, and UCLA.

In many instances the children were unaware that their parents had paid these bribes, according to federal documents.

Most of those charged either paid to get higher SAT scores or faked an athletic resume that, with the participation of a bribed college coach, helped the children get accepted to a college as a team's recruit.

Prosecutors said in court on Tuesday that some students also lied about their ethnicity on applications to take advantage of affirmative action. 

William Rick Singer, the founder of Key Worldwide Foundation, had been identified as the alleged mastermind behind the scandal.

Singer was charged with racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and obstruction of justice. He has pleaded guilty.


New push in Australia for children to start school at the age of three

This push is basically bullshit. Finland does not start kids at school until age 7 and they have famously good results.  Let me quote just a small excerpt from someone who has surveyed the evidence on the question:

"University studies are often quoted to support the perceived academic benefits of preschool. What is not often mentioned is that whilst these studies demonstrate preschool in a favourable light when compared with an impoverished home environment; preschool environments and results do not compare favourably with the average home environment.

Even Professor Edward Zigler, credited as “the father of Head Start” a well-respected American preschool program admits “there is a large body of evidence that there is little to be gained by exposing middle class children to early education…(and) evidence that indicates early schooling is inappropriate for many four-year-olds, and that it may be harmful to their development.”

So what about the long-term academic effects of preschool? The longitudinal studies, often quoted to argue an academic advantage provided by preschool for lower socio-economic groups, actually also show that this “advantage” disappears by grade three.

If preschool were truly beneficial in terms of giving children a head start, those places with some form of compulsory preschool should do demonstrably better academically. The evidence does not bear this out. The two states of America which have compulsory preschool, Georgia and Oklahoma, have the lowest results for fourth grade reading tests in the country."

So why the deception?  The push is in fact just a push for free child-minding

Children should start school at the age of three to give them the best start in life and to stop Australia falling behind Europe and China, leading experts claim.

Lobby groups are urging the Federal Government to boost funding for more children to have access to school earlier.

More and more private schools and early learning centres are offering 'pre-kindy' which exposes children to play-based learning so they are better prepared for when they start school.

Many programs have lengthy waiting lists and now an initiative led by the Early Learning Benefits campaign wants extra funding so more children have access to pre-school education. 

'We have some children already having access to high quality learning, but many are missing out … equity is a big issue,' Early Childhood Australia CEO Samantha Page told The Courier Mail.

Latest statistics show only 58.5 per cent of three-year-olds in Australia are enrolled in pre-school programs, compared to 95-100 per cent of children in France, Denmark, Norway, Israel and Spain.

University of the Sunshine Coast senior lecturer Dr Ali Black, said international research showed children introduced to high quality education earlier were more likely to go to university, gain better jobs and even own their own homes.

They were more resilient, had better social skills and had fewer behavioural issues.

Australian Catholic University early childhood specialist, Laurien Beane, said the push would follow the lead of cutting-edge Scandanavian countries, who have invested huge resources to educating kids from birth to the age of five.

'We invest in the 5-18 age group and it starts too late … that's why as a nation we are languishing so far behind a number of other countries,' Ms Beane said.

Ms Beane said the main objectivity of early education was not about literacy and numeracy but to foster curiosity, creativity, imagination and social development. Children would typically attend two days a week for five-and-a-half hours.

They would have lessons in music, literature, languages, as well as more social-based lessons about respecting others and regulating emotions.

Ms Page said Labor made a commitment in October to extend funding to early education for three-year-olds by 2021.

Some parents say they feel pressured to be in favour of the push as primary schools are likely to give preference to children attending pre-kindergarten programs. Other fears include schools will favour children in those programs to boost rankings and funding.

Childcare and early learning provider C&K is among those leading the way with pre-kindergarten rooms, like Banyo in Brisbane's north.


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

UK: Those Birmingham parents are right

Teaching primary-age schoolkids about sexual matters is weird

Liberal and left-leaning observers have found themselves doing something they never normally do: criticising Muslims.

Specifically Muslim parents in Birmingham who have successfully pressured the local primary school to stop teaching their kids about homosexuality and transgenderism. Apparently it is outrageous for parents to exercise moral authority over their very young children and instead they should trust the state to impart the correct moral wisdom to their offspring. That’s the undertone of the coverage of this controversy: that officialdom knows better than a child’s own parents how that child should be raised and morally instructed.

The school in question is Parkfield Community School in Saltley, Birmingham. The school has a very large number of Muslim pupils. The parents of these pupils have been kicking up a storm over the school’s ‘challenging homophobia’ programme, which involves teaching the kids about gay relationships and the transgender lifestyle. They have protested outside the school with placards saying ‘No to the promotion of homosexuality to our children’ and ‘Education not indoctrination’. On Friday, 600 Muslim children aged between four and 11 were withdrawn from school for the day in protest. The school has reportedly given in to the parents and says it will no longer make it mandatory for all pupils to engage in discussions on homophobia.

Cue fury among the commentariat and in humanist circles. State-funded institutions should not capitulate to backward religious views, they say. At least we now know there is one group of people who come above Muslims in the chattering classes’ sympathy stakes: gay and trans kids. We are told that the right of gay and trans kids to feel safe and loved at school should override the right of parents to object to the teaching of certain sexual matters and ideas. This is wrong. Let’s leave to one side the problem of referring to kids as young as six and seven as ‘gay’ or ‘trans’ when such children are not sexual beings, far less au fait with the eccentric genderfluid thinking behind the transgender ideology – the more important point is that parental rights over children’s moral lives are incredibly important and must be defended.

Horrendous as this may seem to those who think they are right about everything, the fact is there are people out there who disagree with you about numerous moral and personal matters. There are communities that do not think same-sex marriage is morally equal to traditional marriage. There are people who do not believe a man can ever become a woman, no matter how many hormones he takes or surgeries he undergoes. There are fairly significant numbers of people who don’t agree that their kids should be taught about gay sex or any kind of sex for that matter.

Biology lessons are one thing – every teenager should be taught the scientific reality of penises, vaginas, babies, etc. But sexual education, relationships education, education which seeks not only to provide children with scientific facts, but also to shape them morally, to make them view everyday life through a particular PC lens – many people disagree with this. They would rather their kids were taught maths, English, science, history and sport, not why it is outrageously wrong to refer to a trans-woman as ‘he’.

When it comes to moral and religious matters, parents should exercise the greater authority over their children. It is crucial for the sovereignty of the family and the rights of parents that their moral purview is not casually traduced by officials who presume to know better. Does this mean parents who don’t believe in the Big Bang can take their kids out of physics lessons? Nope. This is an established piece of scientific knowledge and a rounded education demands the teaching of it.

Does it mean Muslim parents can demand gender-segregated classrooms? Again, absolutely not. Female equality is a long-established norm in the United Kingdom and it is right that nothing is done to undermine it, including in schools. But sexual-relationships education is something new. Transgenderism even newer. The idea that children as young as five should be educated about gay and trans people is an idea that didn’t exist just a few years ago – and as such it is parents’ right, everyone’s right in fact, to push back against it. It is their right to say: ‘This is a moral step too far and it undermines what my kid learns in the home.’

Something sinister is happening in both official and campaigning circles: people are using children, very young children, to try to reshape adult thinking and society more broadly. Perhaps fearing they will not be able to convince actual adults that transgenderism is a good idea or that children as young as six can be ‘gay’, instead the new moral instructors seek to inculcate kids with these ideas in the hope that the ideas will then filter into the home and into stupid adults’ brains. It is a highly undemocratic and sly way to try to bring about social change. If you want that school in Birmingham to teach children about gay and trans lifestyles, then convince the parents first – don’t use the kids as moral shields against what you clearly view as the imbecilic, backward adults they tragically have to go home to every night.

What a strange situation Britain finds itself in. When backward Islamist ideas are expressed on campus or in public life, liberals and leftists say very little and sometimes even accuse the critics of these ideas of ‘Islamophobia’. And so today’s growing and genuinely problematic Islamist outlook is never really confronted. But when Muslim parents demand something that is reasonable, something that many Christian and Jewish parents also desire – that is, the right to oversee their children’s internal moral lives – there is uproar. Islamist ideology goes unchallenged; appropriate Muslim concern with the state indoctrination of young children causes fury. Everything is turned on its head.


It’s Time for Congress to Defend Free Speech on Campus

As an undergraduate student during the ‘60s, the Vietnam War was often on our minds and in our conversations.

I vividly remember the discussions. Students were debating professors and each another. Ideas were being exchanged, opinions formed, and unique perspectives shared.

I saw firsthand how college campuses across the nation were hubs of free speech—and some of that speech I vehemently disagreed with, in all honesty. Yet as a soldier years later, I would fight to protect and defend this right to free speech. As a country, we were best served by allowing all sides to passionately argue their views.

In the decades since, our colleges’ commitment to protecting free speech has eroded. Examples have piled up of students silencing and attacking speakers with whom they disagree, as well as students being arrested for violating their college’s policies on “free speech zones.”

Time and again, university leaders stand by and just allow this to happen.

The designation of a “free speech zone” is a particularly egregious example of how colleges limit free speech. These small parcels of land—often just a tiny fraction of the campus—are the only places students can freely engage in expressive activity, such as distributing fliers or holding a rally or protest. Students caught engaging in these activities outside the free speech zone can be subject to arrest, harassment, and discipline.

Roughly 10 percent of American colleges now restrict constitutionally protected speech to a particular corner of campus, according to a recent report, and 30 percent of colleges have restrictive speech codes. These regulations prohibit the kind of student expression that is typically protected by the First Amendment.

And disturbingly, students increasingly approve of these policies. A national study last year found that about one-third of students supported restricting free speech on their own college campus.

President Donald Trump has shown a strong commitment to protecting the free speech rights of college students. He recently announced an executive order that will require colleges to honor free speech on their campuses in order to remain eligible for up to $26 billion of federal research funding.

The president’s proposal sheds critical light on this issue. We should continue to send a strong message to institutions of higher education that free speech restrictions are at odds with our constitutional rights.

Congress likewise cannot sit idly by while college campuses restrict free speech. For this reason, I have introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives supporting the right to free speech, and admonishing institutions that aim to limit this right. It also calls on universities to abolish their free speech zones and recommit themselves to protecting the free and open exchange of ideas.

My resolution affirms the House of Representatives’ commitment to being a guardian of free speech in America, including on college and university campuses. This isn’t about protecting conservative or liberal viewpoints. It’s about encouraging conservative and liberal viewpoints, and all viewpoints in between.

Twenty-one colleagues of mine in the House have co-sponsored this resolution, and I will continue to work on growing that number.

Fostering intellectual curiosity, robust debate, and passionate discussion on college campuses is vital for our nation’s strength and future. Passing this resolution will send a message to colleges and students throughout the country that the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment are alive and well in the 21st century.


KY: How Teachers Unions Are Holding Children With Special Needs Hostage

Teacher unions are now using strikes as a form of extortion.

For the second time this year, a state’s teachers union and its members have closed schools and are refusing to work until lawmakers stop considering proposals to give students with special needs more learning opportunities.

In recent days, the Kentucky teachers union, and administrators and teachers, in Jefferson, Bullitt, and Oldham counties closed schools and protested at the Capitol chanting “Teachers vote!”

Their opposition is to a proposal that would allow some K-12 students in Kentucky—including children in the foster care system and children with special needs—to access scholarships to attend private schools.

Unions, district administrators, and teachers are no longer just demanding higher pay, the issue at the center of the strikes and school closures in 2018. Now, they want to run the Capitol.

Kentucky teachers from the state’s largest district, Jefferson County, are making demands in spite of years of critical reports about district operations. The Louisville Courier-Journal reported three years ago this week that Jefferson County was grossly underreporting the number of times it physically restrained children with special needs.

It reported that the district drastically underreported the number of times children with special needs were “physically held down” or “confined to a room.”

The newspaper said that district records showed officials used physical restraint or removal on children with special needs some 4,400 times, but that Jefferson County Public Schools only reported 174 cases.

At one school, reporters found that “school staff slammed students’ heads into walls.”

District board members and national advocates for children with special needs said they were shocked by the scope of the findings.

The Courier-Journal reported problems were continuing as recently as last month.

It should be no wonder, then, that lawmakers are considering providing children in the state with more school options. And as more of the Jefferson County Public Schools’ woes are made public, parents should be demanding nothing less.

As if that weren’t enough of a problem, Jefferson County Public Schools have struggled to bridge a yawning achievement gap between minority students and their peers.

The Bluegrass Institute’s staff education analyst, Richard Innes, looked at Kentucky’s progress on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called “the nation’s report card,” and didn’t like what he saw.

“Based on Kentucky’s performance so far, it will literally take several centuries for the state’s black students to reach a reasonably high rate of proficiency on NAEP reading assessments in both the fourth and eighth grades,” Innes says.

There are also reports of indefensible overhead expenses. As research by The Heritage Foundation reported last year, a 2014 audit found Jefferson County Public Schools had 150 central office positions making $100,000 or more annually, a figure that far exceeded other districts of similar size around the country.

A 2018 management audit of the district said there is “a pattern of a significant lack of efficiency and effectiveness in the governance and administration of [Jefferson County Public Schools].” 

These strikes are part of a disturbing trend. About two weeks ago, the West Virginia teachers union and its members refused to work because lawmakers considered a proposal that would have allowed for the creation of seven charter schools in the state and 1,000 education savings accounts.

As in Kentucky, children with special needs would have been among the beneficiaries of these new learning opportunities.

In the wake of strikes last spring—which, then as now, included teachers unions in Kentucky and West Virginia—lawmakers gave in to union demands, agreeing to raise teacher salaries and even increase taxes in some states in order to spend more on government schools.

Yet state legislators did not ask for anything in return. Such inaction is remarkable considering the disturbing Jefferson County Public Schools audits in Kentucky, or the examples researchers found of vacant and underused school buildings that districts left open at taxpayer expense in states such as Arizona and Oklahoma.

It should come as no surprise, then, that unions are closing schools and refusing to work again this year—this time in an effort to intimidate lawmakers into abandoning certain education policy reforms.

It’s a tragedy that children with special needs will be losing out.

Lawmakers need to remember that they represent the children and families in their states—along with the unions and their members who are breaking the law by going on strike.

State legislators should point to the waste and inefficiencies in places such as Jefferson County Public Schools and say families at least deserve the option to choose where and how their children learn.

Before deliberating over spending increases, lawmakers should at least call for school district leaders to improve district operations and eliminate waste.

Until that happens, teachers unions will continue to be the schoolyard bully. 


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A culture of victimhood and intolerance

Bradley Campbell on the sociology behind the culture wars on campus

Safe spaces, microaggressions, trigger warnings and No Platforming have become ubiquitous on college campuses on both sides of the Atlantic. Identity-driven grievances, hair-trigger sensitivity to slight and a censorious policing of language have even bled out into mainstream society and politics. Could there be a sociological explanation for these phenomena?

Bradley Campbell is the co-author, alongside Jason Manning, of The Rise of Victimhood Culture. spiked caught up with Campbell to find out how today’s victimhood culture compares with other cultural and moral frameworks.

spiked: What made you realise that victimhood culture was distinct from past cultures?

Bradley Campbell: Most of my work is on the sociology of conflict and morality, particularly violence and genocide. My co-author, Jason Manning, was interested in that, too. We then became interested in conflicts happening around us on campus. I had become particularly interested in hate-crime hoaxes. I wanted to know why people would make false accusations and report false crimes. For instance, there was a woman at Claremont College, California, who had vandalised her own car with anti-Semitic graffiti.

Similarly, I was following a case at Oberlin College, Ohio, where there had been some racist graffiti which caused an uproar. Then, somebody reported spotting a Klu Klux Klansman on campus. All classes had to be shut down. It turned out that it was just somebody wrapped in a blanket. It wasn’t a hoax but people were very quick to believe the claim rather than scrutinise it.

In 2013, we came across a website called Oberlin Microaggressions, which was the first time we had seen the term ‘microagression’. Microaggressions are small slights directed at disadvantaged groups which are said to be important because they all add up.

We started thinking about microaggressions and what was going on on college campuses in terms of comparative morality. There are other kinds of environments where people will say, ‘sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me’. Or where people say that you should have thick skin and ignore minor slights.

We wanted to know why people were so concerned about a particular kind of minor offence and were publicising it to others. We connected this to the hate-crime hoaxes by understanding that we were witnessing a new kind of moral culture among left-wing campus activists. We called it victimhood culture, to emphasise the fact that victimhood had itself become a marker of status. We were also contrasting it with older cultures like honour culture and dignity culture.

spiked: How do these cultures differ?

Campbell: In honour cultures, honour confers status, based on your reputation for bravery. In honour cultures, people are sensitive to slight, so there is a similarity with today’s victim culture. Men would fight duels over minor insults. But the difference is that people in honour cultures portrayed themselves as strong and able to handle their conflicts themselves, rather than appealing to others.

There’s a conception of honour going right back to ancient civilisations. This then comes to be replaced by a dignity culture, where people are said to have equal worth and equal dignity. This emerges in the United States in most of the country around the beginning of the 1800s. You have Aaron Burr fighting a duel with Alexander Hamilton in New York in 1804, which is one of the last major duels. Honour culture continued in the American South until after the Civil War.

Cultural change is a gradual process, and not always complete. At first, despite there being a dignity culture, dignity was not realised for all people. You had Jim Crow laws and discrimination against women. But common assumptions about dignity could be appealed to. In the civil-rights movement, people appealed to the notion that people have equal worth and should be treated as such

Dignity cultures make a distinction between major and minor offences, between speech and violence. People are taught to not insult others, to not take insults personally, and to interpret others’ words generously. That is where the idea of ‘sticks and stones’ comes from.

Victimhood culture is different from both, in that calls attention to minor slights, but only if these slights are said to further the oppression of disadvantaged groups. Everything is interpreted in relation to perceived oppression. Of course, there are other moral values at play, but the central value of victimhood takes precedence over other values like compassion.

Concerns about microaggression or the establishment of safe spaces are also very different from the civil-rights framework that emerged from a dignity culture. Safe spaces are not demanding equality but protection, extending the notion of harm from physical violence and slurs to political disagreement and ordinary speech.

spiked: Why is victimhood culture so prevalent on the most elite college campuses?

Campbell: Certainly, the people making claims of victimhood are not those you would think of as the most disadvantaged. We were inspired by the sociologist Emile Durkheim, who, writing in the late 1800s, said that even in a society of saints, there would still be sinners. And so tinier offences would create bigger scandals. Environments like Oberlin or Yale are pretty tolerant places, with high degrees of diversity and equality. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any discrimination, disparity or disadvantage. But compared with poor parts of the inner cities, people are more equal and more tolerant of difference in terms of race, gender and sexuality.

Campus environments also have people to appeal to who can punish these offences or who can train people to change their behaviour. The presence of a responsible authority is important in driving these claims of victimhood. Genuinely disadvantaged people don’t have administrators who will listen to and respond to them.

spiked: How have appeals to victimhood manifested themselves on the right?

Campbell: Victimhood is stronger on the left because it has a moral framework based around oppression. But as victim status becomes more attractive and confers benefits and support, then others are going to take advantage of that, too. Social psychologists talk about competitive victimhood. You see this in particular with Donald Trump, who is constantly calling attention to the way he has been ‘victimised’ by the left.

On campus, conservatives have legitimate grievances – they are outnumbered and their opinions are marginalised. But it is about how you frame things. Conservatives might not use the same language of microaggressions or have the same moral framework around oppression, but they do make opportunistic appeals to others to recognise their victimhood.

spiked: Is the rise of victimhood culture an inevitable historical process or can we push back against it?

Campbell: Some of the factors that have created victimhood culture are pretty entrenched – and nor are they things we would want to alter. For instance, if increasing diversity and equality is contributing to a victimhood culture, I certainly would not want to challenge that. I would rather challenge the attacks on free speech and due process directly.

The way to combat victimhood culture intellectually is to understand that even though some of the concerns that people on the left have are good, claims to victimhood are likely to cause more conflict. They can make it impossible to get along. Worse still, they can provoke a reaction. I am worried that alt-right movements and some people’s embrace of racial hierarchies are arising in reaction to victimhood culture. So victimhood culture doesn’t actually help the people it claims to be helping and there needs to be a better way of dealing with conflicts when they arise.

In particular, we need to insist on the difference between speech and violence. Activists have tried to blur this distinction. This has meant that controversial speech has been met with violence. When Milo Yiannopoulos went to Berkeley and there were riots, a student newspaper said that the violence was ‘self-defence’ against his speech. That kind of idea is poisonous and destructive to free speech.


UK: Muslim parents and children chant against primary school lessons they say promote homosexuality

Muslims do something useful at last -- defying the homosexual tyranny

Muslim children were encouraged to chant 'shame, shame, shame' towards their headteacher who told them it was okay to be gay during a protest this week.

During the protest against Birmingham headteacher Andrew Moffatt's decision to introduce lessons on equality, same-sex marriage and relationships one speaker said being gay should not be given a 'positive spin'. 

He then called the lessons, designed to teach the children at Parkfield Community Scool about equality and introduce them to books called 'Mummy, Mama and Me' and 'King & King', 'toxic' and an 'aggressive indoctrination'.

More than 200 people turned up waving placards and shouting through loudspeakers outside the gates in Birmingham

He said: 'We have to make one thing very clear. 'This program is not just about telling people there are other families and other types of lifestyles exist it is actually aggressively promoting them.

'Giving a positive spin and telling people that it is okay or you to be Muslim and for you to be gay. Mr Moffatt. Shame, shame, shame.'

The speaker then questioned where the headteacher of the school received his religious education and called him a 'mufti moffatt' which caused a laugh from the crowd. A mufti is qualified to give an opinion on a point of Islamic law.  In history they were a scholar who interpreted what Islamic laws meant.

The speaker said: 'I did not want to make this personal but Mr Moffatt has decided to reinterpret our religious scripture. 'Our beliefs are not here to be changed.

'This is an aggressive indoctrination that we are against. If it was not aggressive promotion then you would not have had all these parents come out on the street.

'As I have said to you this program is very toxic. Not only are we going to have it abolished at this school but in every school in Birmingham and every school in the country. 'That is going to happen from parents coming out and fighting for their children’s rights.'     

Despite an earlier report the lessons had been scrapped the school has insisted the 470-pupils at Parkfield Community School learn about same-sex relationships in classrooms after Easter.

The school said 'equalities education' will continue at the school and that staff will be working in consultation with parents.

Parents at the school, where 99 per cent of pupils are Muslim, want the lessons scrapped because homosexuality is banned in Islam. They also said their children are 'too young' for the content while one mother complained her child told her 'it's ok to be gay'.

Today children and parents protested outside the gates waving banners saying the school is 'Exploiting Children's Innocence'.

Many of the children were dressed as fictional characters such as Captain America, Mary Poppins, and the Incredible Hulk, for World Book Day.

Placards being waved by the youngsters read: 'Say no to sexualising children' and 'Respect and be respected.'

Parents also created a podium in which they voiced their concerns from a microphone and speaker mounted on the back of a truck.

Seven police officers also attended the 45-minute protest which passed off peacefully.

Father-of-three Abdul Muhammad, 46, who has a two-year-old at the school said: 'We are here today to protest for our children's rights.

'The school is denying our right as a parent, the equality act of 1994 states it's the parents right, when it comes to education you cannot teach anything that the parents are not ok with. This school has made some kind of experiment thinking, they can do this behind the parents. 'The school has not provided us with any consultation.

'We are against this programme, we are not homophobic, we are not against anybody. 'We are saying this is not age appropriate for the children.'

Mariam Ahmed, 30, full-time mum-of-two, was one of the first mothers to protest 'No Outsiders' said: 'When I first saw it I had a few concerns. 'As I started speaking to other parents about it, they started coming forward saying that their children are coming out with saying 'it's ok to be gay.'

'Mr Moffat was telling them it was ok to gay and Muslim, you can be whatever you want to be. 'It just gradually got worse, it has been taught in lessons continuously, they are saying it's only five times a term but it's not. 'They're doing weekly assemblies and role plays.

'Mr Moffat even tells the children about his own personal life, I'm sorry but you shouldn't be doing that.

'My child is coming home to me saying 'I can swap clothes with opposite gender and change my name too.' 'Why is my four-year-old coming home and saying things like this?  'She should be concentrating on things like Maths and English and not homosexuality. 'It's way too young for children of this age.'

Last week the school denied making a U-turn after reports the classes had been shelved following pressure from parents.

Hazel Pulley, Chief Executive of Excelsior Multi Academy Trust which runs the school, said: 'The lessons are there for after Easter. 'Equalities education will continue.'

Parents say they will continue to hold protests outside the school every week until the 'No Outsiders' programme is scrapped.


Covert brainwashing of Australian kids is taking its toll

What are our kids actually being taught? It’s almost impossible to know because students won’t usually tell and their teachers will normally reveal only what they think we want to hear.

If the stats are to be believed, Australia is falling down the international league tables of school performance, despite ever higher levels of government funding. And while a couple of our universities figure in the top 50 rankings, there seem to be more and more students doing variants of lifestyle studies and fewer and fewer doing the hard disciplines.

The book "Reclaiming Education: Renewing Schools and Universities in Contemporary Western Culture" doesn’t exactly contain scarifying tales from the chalkface because its contributors’ concerns are about other teachers’ classrooms, as their own would be models of old-fashioned academic rigour. But while what really takes place across the nation’s schoolrooms and lecture theatres will remain largely hidden (at least until all classes and lectures are freely posted on the web), the authors draw back enough of the curtain to justify real concern about ideological force-feeding at every level.

All credit to editors Catherine Runcie and David Brooks for assembling a range of high-quality contributors and contributions. It’s a timely volume because, if education is tending to degenerate into postmodernist brainwashing, as these authors largely suggest, it’s our material wellbeing that’s at risk, as well as our cultural and spiritual wellbeing.

In their own way, all these contributors testify to the long march of the Left through the institutions, a kind of soft Marxist version of the old Jesuit maxim: “Give me the child for the first seven years and I’ll give you the man.” Our youngsters may well be emerging from educational institutions confident, articulate and affirmed in themselves (unless, of course, they betray signs of “toxic masculinity”), but what have they actually learned except that the traditional belief systems of the West should no longer be taken seriously?

You wonder why the traditional notion of marriage received so little public support in the 2017 vote; why hitherto taken-for-granted understandings of gender have suddenly become so fluid; and why even the hallowed idea of free speech now has to accommodate all sorts of politically correct “safe spaces”. This book helps you to understand. It’s because our kids are being deprogrammed by the teachers and by the curriculums that are supposed to impart the best that’s been thought and said.

All of these essays are challenging, and some are gems. One of the best is by David Daintree, who until 2012 was president of Campion College. “Far too many children,” he says, “leave school never having learned to read, write and think straight, before going on to university to become criminologists, sports psychologists — or teachers! The introduction of continuous assessment from the 70s onwards to take the stress out of exams and, as student numbers soared, to make it easier for the less intelligent to get degrees (that of course was never admitted to be the reason) has contributed greatly to the gravity of the situation. Education can now be chopped up into even smaller units or modules for ease of digestion and subsequent oblivion.” As Daintree points out, until a couple of centuries ago, knowledge needed to be collected. Due to the explosion of publishing, it now needs to be culled, so the challenge is knowing what to keep. His plea is for the continued general study of the works that have shaped the Western mind.

Another fine contribution is from Karl Schmude, the former long-serving librarian at the University of New England. Schmude points out the importance of a common educational tradition as the foundation for the moral and intellectual values that are required for a culture to endure. Like Daintree, he’s scathing of the modern tendency to premature specialisation, which not only produces narrow and unimaginative “experts” but makes any general public conversation hard to maintain.

“The concentration on vocational knowledge,” he says, “does not fully equip students for the experience of life. It does not supply a cultural breadth and depth, nor does it nurture the intellectual flexibility needed in the workplace and beyond, in the way that an educational grounding in the liberal arts can do. A professional degree has no time or capacity to deal with the ultimate realities that affect human beings — love and beauty, adventure, struggle, suffering and death — which inspire or haunt their lives. It focuses on the ‘how’ questions … rather than the ‘why’ questions”, which, of course, are the ones that matter most. “The person who knows ‘how’,” he points out, “will always have a job (but) the person who knows ‘why’ will always be his boss”.

Another contributor, David Furse-Roberts (disclosure: he’s helping to edit a collection of my speeches), cites Sir Robert Menzies’ affirmation that “history and literature must enter into any education; for they are the chief record of man and his ways”. Sir Winston Churchill, likewise, thought that a knowledge of history was essential because “in history lie all the secrets of statecraft”. Yet the study of literature has all too often become the treatment of “identity”; while history is invariably episodic rather than narrative and similarly suffused with identity studies.

What can be done? Politicians don’t get to appoint university and school heads, let alone academics and teachers, or to set curriculums. Our education system is more a reflection of our society than a product of political decision making. All that elected leaders can do is speak up for common sense at every opportunity and be ready for the inevitable push-back from the academic establishments that have let it go.

Recently, some Liberal students asked me what might they do to armour themselves against their left-wing lecturers. My response: familiarise yourselves with the bigger story of which we Australians are but part. And a good place to begin is to read and regularly re-read the New Testament (it’s our core document) and to read cover to cover Churchill’s History of the English-Speaking Peoples,because you can’t understand us without knowing that.


Monday, March 11, 2019

Fourth Grader In Tears After Teacher FORCES Boy To Wash Off Cross – On Ash Wednesday

Imagine if this fourth-grade boy was anything other than Christian. Would his teacher have forced him to wash off a religious symbol?

That was probably rhetorical. From New York Post:

SALT LAKE CITY — A teacher in the predominantly Mormon state of Utah was placed on administrative leave after she forced a Catholic student to wash off the Ash Wednesday cross from his forehead.

William McLeod, 9, had just returned to his school near Salt Lake City after attending Catholic Mass when his fourth-grade teacher called the ash marking “inappropriate” and gave him a hand wipe to clean it off in front of his classmates, grandmother Karen Fisher said.

At first William explained that he couldn’t remove it because it was important for the beginning of Easter, but eventually obliged, Fisher said.

“He went to see the school’s psychologist crying,” said Fisher. “He was embarrassed.”

The incident at Valley View Elementary in Bountiful, Utah, is being taken very seriously and an investigation into whether disciplinary action will be levied against William’s teacher has been opened, said Davis School District spokesman Chris Williams. In the meantime, she isn’t teaching, he said.

“The actions were unacceptable,” Williams said. “No student should ever be asked or required to remove an ash cross from his or her forehead.” If this isn’t a form of religious persecution in American education, then what is?

“1984” is becoming more of a reality with each passing day, no matter how much conservatives do to combat it. What’s next? Maybe Catholic kids won’t be allowed in public schools at all?

Is that so far-fetched given the state of liberalism today?


School Bus Aide Caught On Camera SCREAMING At Teen Over MAGA Hat, Rips It Off His Head

The left is so triggered by a hat that it has become comical.

Well, it was pretty funny at one point until liberals started getting violent about it. Here’s just the latest example…

An investigation regarding a school bus aide has opened up in Florida, after the woman was caught on a surveillance video yelling at a student to take off his MAGA hat, before removing it from his head herself.

Gunnar Johansson, 14, told WPTV that students at Hidden Oaks Middle School were allowed to wear a hat to school this week if they donated to the March of Dimes. However, he never expected to have his cap pulled off before he even got to school.

The footage obtained by the local Florida outlet shows the teen wearing a hat that says “Make America Great Again,” along with President Donald Trump‘s name. Johansson said he chose to wear it “to show my pride in Trump America.” The aide seemed to think that the show of support wasn’t appropriate.

“Boy, if you don’t take that hat off on this bus…” the aide is heard saying in the video. “Take it off!”

Johansson said that he was confused by the aide’s reaction and asked why he wasn’t able to wear it.

“She threatened me with a referral and threatened to turn the bus around,” he told WPTV. “I said, ‘Write me up, I didn’t do anything wrong.’ And then she yanked my hat off.”

Police in Martin County, Fla., are investigating after a school bus aide grabbed one of President Trump's "Make America Great Again" hats off the head of a student.

Surveillance video from school bus heading to Hidden Oaks Middle School showed the altercation between the aide and 14-year-old Gunnar Johansson, NBC affiliate WPTV reported Friday.

Johansson told the outlet that students are allowed to wear a hat to school this week if they made a donation to March of Times.

He said he decided to wear one of the president’s signature campaign hats to “show my pride in Trump America" but was confronted by an aide on the school bus.

“Boy, if you don’t ... that hat off this bus… take it off. Take that hat off… take that hat off…” the bus aide, who has not been identified, is heard saying in the footage obtained by the outlet.

Johansson said he was “really confused” as the bus aide continued to tell him to take the hat off and put it in his backpack.

“She, like, threatened me with a referral and threatened to turn the bus around. I said ‘write me up, I didn’t do anything wrong’, and then she yanked my hat off. It was crazy,” Johansson said.

Martin County Lt. Ryan Grimsdale told WPTV that they were reviewing the video and interviewing the witnesses on the bus amid the investigation.

“The crux of our investigation will be the interaction directly, physically with the child and how that panned out,” Grimsdale said.

Johansson was reportedly the only student who was told he couldn’t wear his hat on the bus. He texted his mother, Jackie Putt, from the bus.

“I immediately went to the school,” Putt told the outlet. “I needed to know what my son just went through and what she did to my son.

Putt said she believes the aide’s action are politically motivated so she filed a police report after learning she would not be able to see the video until after the school district’s investigation closed, according to WPTV.

“The district is aware of the family’s allegations. We’re taking it very seriously. We’re in the process of gathering all the facts right now,” said Frank Frangella, Director of Safety and Security for the Martin County School District.


h school student charged with assaulting classmate wearing MAGA hat

An Oklahoma high school student was reportedly charged with assault and battery this week after an altercation with a classmate wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and one of President Trump’s banners as a cape.

The charges against Kenneth Dewayne Jones, 18, were filed in a municipal court in Edmond, Okla., city attorney Steve Murdock told Oklahoma's Enid News and Eagle.

The charge comes after Jones, who is African-American, was seen on video knocking off the MAGA hat of a younger white student at Santa Fe High School.

The newspaper reported that the family of Lane Roberson, 17, released a press release about the incident.

“We were informed by him that a couple hours prior he had been assaulted by another student and that the school had done nothing about it,” David Roberson, the student's father, said in the statement.

The student was reportedly wearing the merchandise from the Trump campaign last month during the school’s annual Double Wolf Dare Week.

“Take it off or I’ll rip it off … do you want me to rip it off?” Jones is heard saying in the video.

Jones was also issued a ticket by a school resource officer, Edmond Police spokeswoman Jenny Wagnon told the Enid News and Eagle.

The families of the two students entered into a five-day mediation process offered by the city but did not come to a resolution, the newspaper reported.

David Roberson said he advised Murdock to pursue the criminal assault charges against Jones.

“We are proud that our son has and will continue to show his patriotism, love for his country, and support for the president of the United States of America, Donald Trump,” Roberson said.

The newspaper said that it did not get a response from Jones to a request for comment.


Sunday, March 10, 2019

South Carolina Stands Up to University, Defends Study of Founding Documents

Should college students be required to study America’s founding ideals and the founding documents from which they emanate?

Many people in South Carolina do.

Last month, the South Carolina Senate passed the Reinforcing College Education on America’s Constitutional Heritage Act (REACH Act), which requires all college students at state colleges to take a three-credit-hour class on the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers.

In fact, the REACH Act passed by the South Carolina Senate is not a new law, but merely updates existing law.

For 95 years, South Carolina law has required public colleges to teach students the founding documents of the United States for “one year.”

But in 2014, University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides called this law “archaic” and refused to comply with it.

He said the law was inconvenient to follow, in need of “modernization,” and that the University of South Carolina teaches the founding documents in ways that “best benefit modern undergraduate … exposure and understanding” by passing out pocket Constitutions on Constitution Day.

Under this logic, the university must also think it could teach chemistry by handing out copies of the periodic table on World Science Day.

As The Daily Signal previously reported, the college president’s argument for why he won’t comply with the state law hinges on a portion of the statute that requires that before a student can graduate, the “power of his loyalty” to the Constitution must be examined.

Pastides claims that’s “problematic” and would generate “lawsuits in the federal judicial system.” So, because he views one small non-essential portion of the law as unconstitutional, he has elected to ignore the other requirement that mandates classes on the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers.

This resistance by Pastides to teaching the Constitution—as required by existing law—is what prompted the South Carolina Senate last month to act to “update” the law by passing the REACH Act.

South Carolina Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey said he was more than annoyed that the “universities don’t think they have to follow the law.”

The REACH Act updates the existing law by removing the law’s loyalty provision and by revising the length of required instruction from “one year” to three credit hours.

The South Carolina Senate debated this legislation for more than three hours, with opposition from several Senate Democrats. Ultimately, by a vote of 29-7, the Senate passed the REACH Act and sent it to the state House of Representatives.

In 1776, 56 Americans signed the Declaration of Independence, recognizing God-given unalienable rights and pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor in support of that.

These were not just words for these men, but a commitment. Three of the four signers from South Carolina paid a price when they were captured by the British during the War for Independence.

The United States is an exceptional country because of its founding principles. Knowledge of those principles is not something with which we are born. It must be learned.

Therefore, it’s critical that students are equipped with a firm understanding of the documents where these principles are enshrined—the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers.

Let’s hope the South Carolina House of Representatives follows the Senate’s lead and embraces the REACH Act.


Remember the Professor Who Erased Pro-Life Messages on Campus? Here’s How His Actions Backfired

By: Bernadette Tasy

It has been almost two years since Fresno State Professor Greg Thatcher recruited students out of his classroom to help him wipe away university-approved pro-life chalk messages written by my student group, Students for Life at Fresno State.

All of this was caught on video.

Shortly after this incident, in May 2017, Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on our behalf to defend our First Amendment rights. And a few months later, we won the case.

As part of a settlement agreement, the court ordered Thatcher never to interfere with Students for Life at Fresno State’s activities again. On top of that, he was responsible for almost $26,000 in attorney fees, $2,000 to myself and another student club officer, and was required to attend a free speech training given by ADF attorney Travis C. Barham.

At the time, I did not realize how much of an effect this event would have on us. But looking back, it could not have come at a better time.

Up until that point, our group had struggled with low membership, as we had only three or four active members. When we put up fliers on campus, they were repeatedly torn down and defaced. This run-in with Professor Thatcher? That’s how we finished off an already-disheartening year.

Needless to say, we were discouraged in our on-campus fight to end abortion.

But what Professor Thatcher meant for harm, God used for good.

Within hours, the video reached hundreds of thousands of views, gained national media attention, and prompted individuals on both sides of the abortion issue to discuss free speech for weeks online and on other various platforms.

Since our victory, Students for Life at Fresno State has grown to over 25 active members and become increasingly involved on campus, in the community, and even at the California Capitol. This past January, Students for Life of America even named us the “College Group of the Year.”

And personally, I have been able to use my experiences to help enhance my group, fight against pro-abortion legislation targeting college students in California, understand our rights as a pro-life student group on campus, and grow in my faith.

I also learned this important lesson:

Our ability to spread the pro-life message on campus goes hand-in-hand with our ability to speak freely.

If it were not for this right, we never would have met Jess, a student at Fresno State. Jess visited an information table we held outside on campus, where we passed out 12-week fetal models showing that each child at that stage has arms, legs, fingers, toes, and all the facial features of any human being. Jess took one of these models with her and displayed it on her rearview mirror.

Soon after, she found herself faced with an unplanned pregnancy.

Frantic about financial instability and feeling unready for motherhood, Jess sought out her options at a Planned Parenthood, where a counselor tried to convince her that abortion was her only option. While driving in her car one day, however, the fetal model caught her eye. The model helped her to humanize the baby in her womb, and after speaking with her boyfriend, she decided to choose life.

A few months later, she gave birth to baby Eden.

That same semester, she earned a 4.0 GPA and reconnected with our group. She is now a co-vice president of Students for Life at Fresno State and is dedicated to helping other pregnant students choose life.

Jess is one of many pregnant and parenting students across America who are targeted by the abortion industry. They are told they can’t have a baby and go to school – that they won’t reach their full potential as a mother. But Jess is proof that isn’t true.

Thanks to ADF, we are now free to speak that message on campus, offering hope and help to pregnant and parenting students. Thanks to Professor Thatcher, we are now stronger and better equipped to face the challenges that greet us as we advocate for life on campus and beyond. And thanks to the way God works all things for good, at least one mom chose life, and at least one life was saved.


States Increasingly Police Family 'Thoughtcrimes'

As homeschooling rapidly grows, so too are state-level efforts to "oversee" families.

Oregon, Washington state, and even Iowa are trailblazing another assault on constitutionally protected individual rights. The state legislature in Oregon is currently mulling over a bill that “directs Oregon Health Authority to study home visiting by licensed health care providers.” The bill contends that home visits are “necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety.”

There’s a similar scheme being conjured up in Washington. In January, Gov. Jay Inslee (now a 2020 Democrat presidential contender) declared: “My budget would also offer universal home visits. This gives every new parent the opportunity to get a visit from a nurse during the first few weeks back home with their newborn to share important information and build confidence.”

“Iowa Democrats are also attempting to gain oversight of families, specifically those of homeschoolers,” The Resurgent’s James Silberman reports. “IA HF272 would mandate quarterly ‘health and safety visits’ to homeschool families by school district officials. The bill states that these visits would be with the consent of the parents but also specifies that parents can be overridden if a judge determines there is probable cause for home inspection.”

PJ Media columnist Paula Bolyard astutely observes, “As someone who has been involved in the homeschooling movement for more than 20 years, I have seen many attempts to increase the oversight of children taught at home by requiring home visits by a teacher or social worker. … Anytime a state or locality has tried to draft legislation requiring home visits for homeschooled children, the immediate response has always been, ‘What are they going to do next, require inspections for children from birth until they enter school?’ The answer to that, of course, is yes. That has been the plan all along.”

This is statism, pure and simple. The Daily Signal this week relayed the story of a parent who said, “I was shocked when my 13-year-old daughter told me she was really my transgender son.” The parent added, “Where did she get the idea she was transgender? From a school presentation.”

This is precisely why more and more families are pulling their kids from public schooling and increasingly homeschooling. And while their reasons for doing so are more than justified, statists are ensuring that no age and no home is off limits when it comes to regulating thoughtcrimes.