Friday, May 24, 2019

American Colleges Are Now Just Left-Wing Seminaries

Most Americans are not aware how morally and intellectually destructive American colleges—and, increasingly, high schools and even elementary schools—have become. So, they spend tens of thousands after-tax dollars to send their sons and daughters to college.

But today, to send your child to college is to play Russian roulette with their values. There is a good chance your child will return from college alienated from you, from America, from Western civilization, and from whatever expression of any Bible-based religion in which you raised your child.

If you think this is in any way an exaggeration, here is some of what has happened on campuses in recent months:

Harvard University fired law professor Ron Sullivan from his position as faculty dean of Winthrop House, a student residential hall, because he was one of Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers. (He has since resigned from the Weinstein legal team.) Some female Harvard students said they felt “unsafe” with Sullivan as a faculty dean.

Alan Dershowitz, a professor emeritus at Harvard Law, said the decision “may be the worst violation of academic freedom during my 55 year association with Harvard.” Laurence Tribe, also a professor at Harvard Law, said he could not recall a “worse” blunder in his 50 years as a professor there.

Also at Harvard, all-black graduation exercises were initiated. And like most other colleges, Harvard has long allowed an all-black student dorm to exist on campus.

If nothing else, this provides additional proof of the vast difference between liberalism and leftism. That is why liberals such as Dershowitz, Tribe, and numerous liberal writers have condemned Harvard’s cowardly capitulation to a few female students.

Unfortunately for America, however, most liberals will not confront the fact that they have far more to fear from the left than from the right. Conservatives are not the enemy of liberalism; the left is.

In Minnesota, some students at South St. Paul Secondary petitioned the administration to allow students to wear sashes—stoles—with ethnic and LGBT colors to celebrate their identities. As one student said in leftist English, “I’m able to repurpose what was once an obstacle into a source of energy and pride.”

As reported in the Minneapolis Star Tribune: “If they’re not allowed to don the sashes, some students have talked about wearing them anyway, said Naomi Gedey, a Black Pride Organization leader. Gedey added that many immigrant students also hope to wear flags of their nations of origin.”

Other Minnesota schools already allow students “to don so-called ‘identity adornments.'”

Those who still believe that one of the primary purposes of American public (and most private) schools is to Americanize students should know this is no longer the case. On the contrary, most American high schools now celebrate every identity except American identity (which the left brands a euphemism for white supremacy).

Meanwhile, at its commencement next month, the City University of New York will award an honorary doctorate of humane letters to Al Sharpton.

Among the many nonhumane activities Sharpton has been involved in was the infamous Tawana Brawley hoax, in which he fabricated a charge that four white men had raped a young black woman named Tawana Brawley.

Sharpton also runs a phony civil rights organization called the National Action Network, which has collected many millions of dollars from corporations in what essentially amounts to an extortion racket that enables those corporations to buy racial peace.

And Sharpton helped stoke the Jew-hatred that sparked black anti-Jewish riots in 1991. In a book published in 2006, Edward S. Shapiro, a Brandeis University historian, described the riot as “the most serious anti-Semitic incident in American history.”

In Pennsylvania, the Sabold Elementary School in Springfield announced that its principal will no longer say “God bless America” after the Pledge of Allegiance. The school district released a statement two weeks ago stating that the principal saying “God bless America” “violated the law.”

And of course, college students across the country are increasingly taught, often from their first day at college, that being male and female is a choice, not a biological fact.

Other than Hillsdale and a handful of other colleges and religious colleges, the American university has become nothing more than a left-wing seminary.

Buyer beware.


The Myth of Free College

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, or free college. But that reality hasn’t stopped Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts from touting her trillion-dollar-plus plan.

Step one of her plan would cancel most or all of the student loan debt carried by nearly 45 million Americans, up to $50,000 per person as long as their household incomes don’t exceed $250,000. This step alone would result in a one-time cost of $640 billion.

Step two is ensuring students don’t accumulate loan debt ever again by making college “free” like K-12 public schools. Officially dubbed the Universal Free College program, the estimated cost of this part of her plan is a jaw-dropping $1.25 trillion over the next 10 years. But never fear: Warren will pay for it by imposing an Ultra-Millionaire Tax on the rich.

There are several flaws in Warren’s free college scheme, starting with the fiction that her proposed tax on “ultra-millionaires” will actually raise enough money to pay for it.

For example, most European countries have ditched their wealth taxes in large part because they generated so little revenue. So, when the free-college coffers come up short, average taxpayers will be stuck making up the balance—a very real possibility, especially since Warren also has vowed to bankroll her $70 billion-a-year “free” Universal Child Care and Early Learning plan with the same Ultra-Millionaire Tax.

One of the worst elements of Warren’s plan is that college degrees will become about as meaningless as many of today’s high school diplomas.

Americans already spend an average of more than $13,000 per pupil, per year, for every public elementary and secondary school student—almost as much as they spend for each student at public two-year colleges. That kind of money should buy a top-notch education. Yet nearly 75 percent of high school graduates are not deemed college-ready in English, reading, math and science.

If history teaches us anything it’s that we can’t subsidize our way to college affordability. The federal government’s reach into higher education has grown steadily over the past 60 years—and with it college inflation rates, which are about twice as high as general inflation rates. As a result, average tuition and required fees at public two- and four-year institutions have increased by more than 300% since 1963.

Contrary to what Senator Warren claims, the cause of these skyrocketing increases is too much government funding, not too little. Mounting evidence shows that colleges gobble up increases in federal funding, rather than use them to reduce the burden on families and students.

According to one estimate, if colleges actually did use financial aid to lower student costs, a typical four-year college degree would cost about $3,500 less, and overall higher education spending would be about $59 billion lower each year. Other research finds that tuition more than doubled from 1987 to 2010 in response to higher federal student loan limits. Absent those changes, net tuition would have increased by about 16 percent.

Perhaps the greatest cost inherent to Warren’s “free” college plan is nurturing the notion that attending college is an entitlement instead of something earned. Such an entitlement mentality helps explain much of the outrageous behavior transpiring on American college campuses largely on the taxpayers’ dime. No wonder Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman once quipped that higher education should be taxed instead of subsidized to help offset “its negative externalities.”

With federal debt exceeding $22 trillion, Warren’s proposed college free-for-all is another transparent attempt to buy votes by feeding the public’s insatiable appetite for entitlements.


Child Safety Accounts Would Protect School Children in Washington, DC

Thousands of public-school students in the nation’s capital could soon be a whole lot safer at school thanks to new legislation being considered in Congress.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) introduced a bill that would create Child Safety Accounts (CSAs) for public-school students in Washington, DC, which is the only school district under congressional authority.

The idea is a unique reform that Heartland Institute policy analyst Timothy Benson and I recommended in a policy report published last year, Protecting Students with Child Safety Accounts. As Congressman Banks explains:

School safety and the well-being of children is every parent’s number one concern. In today’s complex world, school safety problems have become more prevalent. Unfortunately, too many students are trapped in unsafe schools.

He’s correct. Today more than one in three parents are fearful about their child’s physical safety at school—up significantly since 2013 when just over one in 10 parents expressed such fear, based on results from Phi Delta Kappa’s 2018 national survey. Those fears are justified.

Consider Washington, DC. According to the latest available survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around one in 10 public district high-school students in the District reported that they were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property, bullied at school, electronically bullied, or forced to have sex. Even more, students reported carrying a weapon to school (19 percent), being in a physical fight at school at least once in the past year (16 percent), and attempting suicide (16 percent).

As a result, one in 10 students said they skipped at least one day of school during the previous month because they didn’t feel safe. If students regularly miss school, they put themselves at greater risk of lower academic performance and not graduating high school (see here, here, and here).

Students shouldn’t have to sacrifice their education because they’re afraid for their safety.

Congressman Banks’ legislation (H.R. 2538) would help by making CSAs available to elementary and secondary students facing the previously mentioned types safety issues and more, including gang activity, shootings, drug use, and food safety needs.

Similar to health savings accounts, or HSAs, CSAs are tax-free accounts that parents could use to pay for private-school tuition, tutoring, transportation, and other approved education-related expenses, including therapy to cope with a safety incident. Under Rep. Banks’ plan, students’ CSAs would be worth from 80 to 90 percent of the District’s uniform per student funding formula, depending on their families’ incomes. Based on current formula funding levels, CSAs could range from about $8,500 to $12,000 per student depending on their grade levels and other factors.

To help ensure parents can afford to pay for any eligible expenses above their children’s CSA amounts, Congressman Banks’ plan would also create a tax-credit donation program. Donors could take dollar-for-dollar credits against their District income taxes for contributions to help cover those expenses. Total annual donations would be capped at $100 million, and in any year that they reach 90 percent of the current cap, the limit would be increased by 25 percent the following year.

Last year, Florida became the first state to enact a student safety scholarship program, the Hope Scholarship Program. Yet if Congressman Banks’ CSA plan is enacted, Washington, DC, would be the first jurisdiction in the country to have a student safety education savings account (ESA) program.

Currently, six states have ESA programs, which allow parents of eligible students to use a portion of their children’s state education formula funding to pay for approved education expenses and services—including future expenses such as college tuition in some cases. Eligible students under those programs include children who are from low-income families, have special needs, are military dependents, are in or from the foster-care system, reside on Indian reservations, or who would otherwise have to attend a failing public school.

Unlike scholarships, which parents use to send their children to particular schools, most ESAs work like a type of dedicated-use debit card, which empowers parents to purchase the tutoring, curricula, courses, and other resources they believe best meet the unique educational needs of their children. All ESA programs, including Congressman Banks’ proposed CSAs for District students, have strong oversight to help prevent misspending. Such programs are also tremendously popular.

Nearly eight in 10 American voters favor ESAs, and three in five say they are more likely to vote for elected officials who support expanding education options. Research also finds that private-school students are much less likely than their public-school peers to experience a variety of safety issues, including bullying, fighting, gang activity, and student use of alcohol, drugs, or weapons. Additional research suggests that parental choice programs, including ones similar to Congressman Banks’ proposed CSA program, positively affect students’ mental health and are associated with lower student suicide rates. They also contribute to better, longer-term life outcomes, including lower incarceration rates and unplanned pregnancy rates for low-income urban students.

“This Child Safety Account program will give families choices to pursue educational opportunities that keep their children safe and secure,” says Congressman Banks. “While the scope of this bill is currently restricted to one city, it is my hope that the success of the program inspires more states to adopt similar policies and help children feel safe and free to learn at school.”

That hope could soon become a reality.

So far this year at least 11 pieces of CSA-style legislation have been introduced in nine states: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, Nevada, Oregon, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Add California to that list given the growing grassroots movement behind the School Choice 2020 initiative, which would amend the State Constitution to establish an ESA program for every elementary and secondary school student in the state.

No child should have to wait years at a time or be victimized before his or her parents are empowered to act. Congressman Banks’ proposed Child Safety Accounts program would help District of Columbia parents whose children are most at risk protect them right now.


Thursday, May 23, 2019

Oxford University agrees to let in disadvantaged students with lower grades

Starry eyed nonsense.  This will just increase the dropout rate.  Politics trump merit

Oxford University will offer places with lower grades to students from disadvantaged backgrounds for the first time in its 900-year history.

The radical scheme marks a “sea change” in the university’s admissions process. However, it comes amid criticism from middle-class Oxford rejects and headteachers that private school students are being “squeezed out” by the University’s current diversity drive.

From 2020, 250 state school students will receive free tuition and accommodation as part of a multi-million-pound recruitment bid for disadvantaged students.

However, 50 students in the new intake - which will include refugees and young carers - will be eligible to receive offers “made on the basis of lower contextual A-level grades, rather than the university’s standard offers”.

Typical offers from the university usually range between A*A*A and AAA depending on the subject. However, those studying under the new scheme could be accepted into the university with offers as low as ABB. This marks the first time under the current admissions system that lower grades will be accepted from some students.

In an announcement today, the University revealed that it will launch two new programmes, entitled Opportunity Oxford and Foundation Oxford, in a bid to boost diversity. Both schemes will be fully funded by the university. However, The Telegraph understands that education bosses will look into donor funding in the coming months.

Foundation Oxford will be open to 50 students with “high academic potential” who have personally experienced particularly severe disadvantage or educational disruption - as well as refugees and carers - and will last for a year. Students will have to pass the 'Foundation' year before being admitted to their undergraduate course.

Meanwhile, Opportunity Oxford will run for two weeks and is aimed at 200 students from more disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds who are on track for the required grades, but who “need additional support to transition successfully from school to Oxford”.

By 2023 the university aims for 25 per cent of its intake to hail from the UK’s most under-represented backgrounds, up from the 15 per cent currently.

Prof Louise Richardson, vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford, said that the new recruitment drive marks “a sea change in Oxford admissions”.

"Colleagues from across the University, its colleges and departments have united behind a commitment to accelerate the pace at which we are diversifying our student body and ensuring that every academically exceptional student in the country knows that they have a fair chance of a place at Oxford," she said.

Universities are coming under increasing pressure from the higher education regulator to admit more students from ethnic minorities and disadvantaged backgrounds.

Last year Labour MP David Lammy became embroiled in a Twitter row with Oxford University after he dubbed the institution “a bastion of white, middle class, southern privilege”. It came following data that revealed that eight of the 29 colleges included in a report accepted fewer than three black applicants in the past three years.

In 2017, Oxford admitted more pupils from the private Westminster School (49), than it did black students (48).

Earlier this month The Telegraph reported that black students were failing to apply for the University of Cambridge, according to Professor Graham Virgo, its pro-vice-chancellor, because there is a lack of Afro-Caribbean hairdressers in the city.

A number of top universities have launched "contextual offer" schemes in recent years, where pupils from poor backgrounds or lower-performing state schools can gain entry with lower grades.

Bristol University launched a scheme in 2016 whereby courses that may typically require top grades at A-level will be offered to “high potential” pupils from local schools with grades as low as C.

From September, students on an "access" scheme at University College London will also be made offers of up to two grades below what is ordinarily required.

However, the diversity drive has sparked frustration among some in the education sector.  Dr Anthony Wallersteiner, head of the £36,000-a-year Stowe School in Buckinghamshire, said that the number of privately-educated children getting places at Oxbridge had been “driven down” as part of efforts to boost diversity.

He recently told The Times that private-school parents claimed that their children were being “edged out” by social engineering.

Both of Oxford University’s new schemes are tailored for bright but low-income pupils who are offered a place but struggle to meet the final requirements, or need help making the transition.

Participants will all be based at Oxford colleges before they continue on to the undergraduate degree for which they were admitted.


UK: Sikh girl who wore religious knife to class caused parents to take their children out of school

A Sikh girl who brought a religious knife into class caused parents to boycott her primary school over safety concerns.

The schoolgirl brought a kirpan, a small blunt sword or dagger worn by Sikhs as a mark of their faith, into the school earlier this month.

Kirpans are one of five articles of faith, known as ‘the five K’s’, that Sikhs are commanded to wear at all times to demonstrate their religious faith. The Department for Education does not have a central guidelines on school uniforms and religious items. It is down to individual headteachers to set their school’s policy.

However the headteacher of Redscope Primary school in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, was forced to write to parents and reassure them that kirpans were “religious ornaments” and not weapons after some refused to bring their children to school over safety concerns.

Despite support from the school, the schoolgirl’s parents decided that it would be best for her not to wear the kirpan in future.  The Sikh family were new to the school and were keen to ensure that their daughter could “make friends and be part of the school community”.

Comments made online about the incident are now being investigated by South Yorkshire Police as possible hate crimes.

One parent said: "I'm sorry but, religion or not, a child's health and safety comes first." Another added: "Most girls aren't allowed to wear make-up in school, never mind carry a weapon."

South Yorkshire Police said they had been told about the situation, which reportedly sparked "race-related hate" comments on social media.

The row comes as the Government this week announced that an amendment to the ‘Offensive Weapons Bill’ has received the royal assent. This means that Sikhs will be allowed to carry kirpans and use them during religious and cultural functions.

The All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs had campaign for kirpans to remain exempt as weapons when the new Bill becomes ratified.

Speaking of the incident involving the kirpan, Paula Dobbin, the school’s headteacher, said: “We were made aware that a kirpan was being worn by a child at the end of last week. The item is not sharp, and is often worn in schools by children of the Sikh faith nationwide.

“However, having spoken to the parents of the child concerned, they have agreed that the child will no longer wear this item in school. Parents have been made aware of the situation and their children should be in school as normal.”

Ms Dobbin added: "Concerns have been circulating on social media around this issue, which has caused a number of you to delay bringing your children into school today. I reassure you there is no reason for you not to bring your children to school."

A police spokesman said: "Police are aware that a religious kirpan was brought into the school by a pupil. "Local neighbourhood officers continue to work closely with the school, providing advice and reassurance and talking to parents. There are no wider safeguarding concerns and no crime has been reported.

"A number of comments on social media have been reported to us as race-related hate crime, following this situation. South Yorkshire Police would like to remind the public that hate crime of any kind is not tolerated. An investigation into the comments is under way."


Education policy challenges for Australia

If Scott Morrison does what he said last week he would do and reappoints Dan Tehan to the education portfolio if he won the election, then we might at last see what this minister is about.

Since last August, when Morrison appointed him after the coup against Malcolm Turnbull, Tehan has mainly kept his counsel.

He’s been most vocal in speaking up for regional universities, pressing for more revenue-generating international students to go bush. He made a mild intervention in the culture wars, appointing former chief justice Robert French to review freedom of speech in universities. And, significantly, he started a possibly far-reaching review into so-called provider category standards which could open the way to a new model of tertiary education. But that’s been about it.

The elephant in the room — how universities will be funded when the present freeze ends next year, and how the lift in demand for university places from the Costello baby boom will be met — was left unaddressed.

As the Grattan Institute’s ­Andrew Norton points out, the Morrison government needs to deal with the bulge in university-aged young people caused by the Howard government, which, at the height of the resource boom in the early 2000s, lavished money on new parents through a generous baby bonus scheme worth up to $5000.

It was then treasurer Peter Costello who urged parents to have one for mum, one for dad and one for the country.

Now another Coalition government has to deal with the fiscal consequences as the growth in the number of 18-year-olds starts rising next year and peaks in 2024.

The government’s stated plan, to index growth of university funding to the adult population of the whole country from next year, doesn’t have a hope of keeping pace with this level of demand.

To be fair, Tehan inher­ited the university funding policy and higher education was not a priority of the government’s election campaign. So he let it sit. But now he’s going to have to pick up the baton and do something.

Tehan also faces another ­related crisis. As he is well aware, Australian universities have divided into the haves and the have-nots. The generally richer institutions are getting even richer from enrolling international students and the poorer ones are often missing out on this academic equivalent of the gold rush.

Following the imposition of the Turnbull government funding freeze in late 2017, cash-strapped universities turned to inter­national students for revenue. But it’s a crowded market and some compromised on academic standards and English proficiency to win students.

Now this volatile situation, which threatens to damage Australia’s reputation, needs to be sorted out and Tehan looks like being the one in the hot seat.


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Millennials Near Middle Age in Crisis: The cohort is in worse financial shape than prior living generations—and may not recover

Although it includes lots of statistics, the WSJ writers below  seem not to have fully grasped the implications of averages.  They fail to take account of the ever-spreading plague of credentialism -- where more and more young people are undertaking more and more degrees and taking them to a higher level at a higher price. Doctorates are now a dime a dozen. That has got to drag the net worth averages gown.

 And teachers used to be trained in an apprenticeship, meaning they started to earn from day 1. Now you need a Masters degree to progress in a teaching job. And four year teaching degrees are a huge crock anyway.  In "Teach for America", they get all their training in one summer school.  I taught High School with considerable success despite having ZERO teaching qualifications.  I just had a first degree.  For most people to be a teacher these days you have to pour four years of your life down the drain.

That has both explicit costs and opportunity costs.  Students could have been in the workforce and earning instead of taking degrees that end up being of little worth to them.

So students these days emerge from formal education owing a lot more and a higher proportion of young people are in that category.  The resultant debt has got to yank their average net worth and disposable income way down.  If you could take education costs out of the equation, I doubt that millennials would be at any disadvantage

American millennials are approaching middle age in worse financial shape than every living generation ahead of them, lagging behind baby boomers and Generation X despite a decade of economic growth and falling unemployment.

Hobbled by the financial crisis and recession that struck as they began their working life, Americans born between 1981 and 1996 have failed to match every other generation of young adults born since the Great Depression. They have less wealth, less property, lower marriage rates and fewer children, according to new data that compare generations at similar ages.

Even with record levels of education, the troubles of millennials have delayed traditional adult milestones in ways expected to alter the nation’s demographic and economic contours through the end of the century.

Millennials helped drive the number of U.S. births to their lowest levels in 32 years. That means fewer workers in the future to support Social Security and other public programs for the ballooning population of retirees.

Social Security last month estimated that in 2035, after nearly all baby boomers retire, there will be 2.2 workers per beneficiary. Last year, there were 2.8. The current birthrate of around 1.8 children per woman is expected to create a Social Security deficit of nearly $2 trillion over the next 75 years.

Prospects for a quick turnaround aren’t good. Men and women in their 30s are marrying at rates below every other generation on record.

“We’ll have to rethink a lot of things about taxation and how social programs are funded if fertility is really on a more permanent decline,” said Anqi Chen, assistant director of savings research at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Growth in property values and the stock market this past decade helped older households regain ground since the recession. Millennials, though, have made little headway.

“If I can’t afford a home, I definitely can’t afford kids,” said Joy Brown, 32 years old. She is a renter who is single and earns $75,000 a year. She also owes $102,000 in student loans and $10,000 in credit-card debt.

“Myself and a lot of my peers still feel like we’re playing catch-up in the game of life,” said Ms. Brown, a compliance officer for the city of Chicago More than half the 72 million American millennials are now in their 30s. The oldest will turn 38 this year, when their generation is expected to surpass the number of baby boomers.

Their slow start has been well-documented in the first years after the recession. New data show that millennials may never catch up with the generations of Americans that preceded them.

A generation apart

“Their economic fundamentals are fundamentally different,” said Christopher Kurz, an economist at the Federal Reserve. Mr. Kurz and his colleagues last year analyzed income, debt, asset and consumption data to figure out how millennials compared at similar ages with Generation X, people born between 1965 and 1980, as well as baby boomers, those born from 1946 to 1964. They found that millennial households had an average net worth of about $92,000 in 2016, nearly 40% less than Gen X households in 2001, adjusted for inflation, and about 20% less than baby boomer households in 1989.

Wages didn’t look much better. At the same ages, GenXmen working full time and who were heads of households earned 18% more than their millennial counterparts, and baby boomer men earned 27% more, when adjusting for inflation, age and other socioeconomic variables. Among women, incomes were 12% higher for Gen Xers and 24% higher for baby boomers than for millennials, using the same measures.

One explanation for their slowprogress is bad luck. Economists have found that entering the workforce during a downturn yields lower earnings for life. Till von Wachter, an economics professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that Americans who entered the labor market when unemployment rates rose by five points—about the same as in the 2007-09 recession—saw their cumulative earnings fall by 10% over the first decade of a career. “The effects have health and lifestyle consequences well into middle-age,” said Prof. von Wa chter. He reviewed four decades of earning data in his study, which was conducted with Hannes Schwandt of Northwestern University.

The disappearance of manufacturing jobs, which in postwar years paid middle-class wages to high-school graduates, is another misfortune. Those who lack a college degree are at the biggest risk of falling behind. Median household income last year was about $105,300 for millennials with a bachelor’s degree or higher, more than twice that of households headed by high-school graduates, according to the PewResearch Center.

Many millennials couldn’t afford to buy houses or invest in the stock market early enough to profit from the sharp escalation of prices over the past decade, said William Emmons, an economist at the Center for Household Financial Stability at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

About one third of millennials owned homes in 2016, compared with half of Gen Xers at similar ages in 2001, and just under half of baby boomers in 1989, according to Mr. Kurz’s findings. Even if millennials close the gap as they age, “asset prices are so high,” Mr. Emmons said, that their expected return on real estate is lower.

Losing out on a decade of gains in the stock and housing markets hurt the financial standing of millennial households. Between 2010 and 2016, Gen Xers, baby boomers and the older silent generation all recouped some of their recession losses, while the average family headed by someone born in the 1980s fell further behind the older groups, in relative terms.

The St. Louis Fed found the median wealth of a family headed by someone born in the 1980s was a third below the level that they would expect, compared with earlier generations at the same age and adjusted for inflation.

The regional Fed bank concluded that people born in the 1980s are at risk of becoming America’s lost generation, Mr. Emmons said, men and women who feel an almost insurmountable burden to catch up financially.

For richer, for poorer

Millennials, as a group, are better educated than any generation before them. About four in 10 ages 25 to 37 hold at least a bachelor’s degree compared with about a quarter of baby boomers, and three in 10 Gen Xers when they were the same age. Those college diplomas have come at a high price. The average student-loan balance for millennials in 2017 was $10,600, more than twice the average owed by Gen X in 2004, according to Mr. Kurz and his Fed colleagues.

For the Cochrans, the price was personal. Joseph Cochran, a real-estate manager, proposed to Tasha Brown in 2012. She said yes. Then Ms. Brown, a consumer finance attorney, realized that combining their salaries as a married couple could drive up their income-based student- loan payments.

They ditched their wedding plans but forged a life together. Each wear wedding rings. Ms. Brown, 36, legally changed her name and became Ms. Cochran. The couple run a financial-advice website, whittling away at their combined student debt of $377,000.

“If we had zero student loans we’d be married,” Ms. Cochran said. “We have to be far more strategic and creative in order to try to fit everything in around our student loans.”

Their strategy included moving from Philadelphia to Maryland four years ago. Ms. Cochran struggled to get pregnant, and the couple chose a state that mandated insurance coverage of in vitro fertilization, she said. The Cochrans now have a 3-year-old son.

Ms. Cochran also has a 17- year-old daughter from a previous relationship and has promised to pay for college as long as the teenager studies at an instate school. Last fall, the young woman enrolled in community college to get a head start. Her teenager “likes the idea of being able to graduate without having any student loans,” she said.

The family takes a more practical view of higher education, based, in part, on hardwon experience with jobs and school loans. “We tell her to think a lot about howmuch is a given major going to pay,” Ms. Cochran said.

The financial strain faced by many American millennials is driving shifts in their political views, reflecting a “feeling that as a citizen the system is not really operating as you expect it to,” said Mohamed Younis, editor in chief of Gallup.

A Gallup poll last summer found that millennials were the only generation that favored socialism over capitalism by a slight margin. The survey didn’t include Generation Z, people born in 1997 or later, and who are mostly too young to vote.

Tough times for millennials struggling to reachamore comfortable middle-class life have triggered support for populist candidates and promises of universal health care and free college education.

Tony Mancilla, a 31-year-old hospital maintenance technician in American Falls, Idaho, voted for Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, in 2016. Now, he is interested in Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, a self-described democratic socialist.

Mr. Mancilla, who earns about $35,000 a year, said he can’t afford the more than $600 a month it costs to insure his wife and two children on his employer plan. His children rely on a publicly subsidized plan. His wife is uninsured.

These health-care worries pointed Mr. Mancilla to Mr. Sanders’s Democratic Party primary campaign and “his way of looking at health care, trying to get that for everybody, taxing the rich,” he said. “He might have the best interest for the American people rather than just one class.”

As millennials approach middle age, more are asking for help from their employers. Ford Motor Co. two years ago expanded its financial-planning services after internal surveys found that the top monetary concern of millennials was saving for retirement. Ford’s planning services include one-onone reviews of employee investments. All 80,000 U.S. workers are eligible.

“A good number of them are in their 30s and are thinking about longer-term planning,” said Julie Lodge-Jarrett, chief talent officer at the Dearborn, Mich., auto maker. “While they want to save, and they inherently get the importance of saving and planning, they don’t know how to do it.”

ZillowGroup Inc., the Seattle real-estate company, earlier this year began offering a studentloan repayment program, contributing $25 a month toward the employee’s balance. The benefit was initiated after workers asked for help tackling college debts, said Dan Spaulding, the company’s chief people officer. About 580 workers have signed up, the company said, and they carry an average loan balance of about $28,000.

Mike Maughan, head of global insights at Qualtrics in Provo, Utah, which researches millennials, said the financial picture of the generation is rosier than it appears: “Millennials aremuch scrappier than we give them credit for.”

Employers have told Mr. Maughan that the desire of millennials for on-the-job feedback shows they are eager to improve their skills.

One other bright spot: Millennials are entering their prime earning years just as baby boomers retire. That should fuel demand for their skills and lift their earnings. “The job market is so much better, so much stronger than it was 10 years ago,” said Mr. Emmons, of the St. Louis Fed. “That’s a huge benefit.”


UK universities urged to adopt IHRA wording on antisemitism
Jewish students frustrated at slow pace of action at many universities

The government and Jewish student groups are urging universities to adopt an agreed definition of antisemitism to help tackle an upsurge in hate crimes on campus.

Jewish students say they are frustrated at the slow pace of action at many universities, as well as cases where Jewish groups have been billed by universities for providing security for on-campus events.

Chris Skidmore, the universities minister for England, said institutions should formally adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism – the same wording that caused controversy in the Labour party last year.

“There is no place in our society for hatred or any form of harassment and it is frankly appalling that the battle against antisemitism still exists,” Skidmore said. “It is unacceptable to oblige certain groups of students to incur additional costs because of their race or religion just to counteract the actions of others.

“Institutions like King’s College London are already displaying leadership in this area but I expect our universities, as vehicles of change, to show moral leadership and adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which shows that an institution and its senior leaders are serious about ensuring their campuses are tolerant environments where ideas and debate can flourish but persecution can never take hold.”

Daniel Kosky, the campaigns officer for the Union of Jewish Students, said a number of universities used the IHRA definition internally, and formal adoption would be “a practical step to allow them to really tackle antisemitism”.

The IHRA definition, a one-paragraph summary with 11 examples, was written in 2016 and has since been adopted by the UK government.

The definition states: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Kosky said his organisation was aware of four or five instances in the last year of Jewish student groups being asked to pay for security for hosting high-profile events on campus. “We see that as unfair and we want to nip it in the bud,” he said.

Another issue is the slow pace of university disciplinary proceedings involving antisemitism and other hate crimes, with students complaining of cases dragging on for as long as 10 months and a lack of information on progress.

Universities UK (UUK), which represents more than 135 universities in Britain, said its work in the area was ongoing. “We recommend universities do all they can to tackle antisemitism, including considering the IHRA definition, whilst also recognising their duty to promote freedom of speech within the law,” a spokesperson said.

Opinion remains divided within UUK, whose board voted not to adopt the IHRA definition last year. Some members argued the decision should be left up to individual institutions rather than infringe on their autonomy.

Nick Hillman, head of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said: “The government is recognising that Jewish student groups face particular challenges. Given recent rises in antisemitism in the UK and elsewhere, it is right that the minister shows support for Jewish students in this way.”


Australian Teacher accused of punching and spitting on students because she's 'not Muslim' plans to sue police because the kid's claims were MADE UP

A primary school teacher will take police to court after she paid costly legal fees to fight allegations that she assaulted four students after being told she was 'no good' because she's 'not Muslim'.

The southwest Sydney teacher, 58 - who cannot be named for legal reasons - was cleared of all charges that she mistreated her year three and four students on Monday after a judge slammed the evidence against her.

She has been out of work since last May after she was accused of pinching, pushing and punching three boys and a girl, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Magistrate Daniel Covington noted that police failed to interview adult witnesses who may have been in the classroom and that some of the evidence against the teacher was 'implausible'.

He said that the children's accounts of the alleged assaults changed or became more detailed as they spoke to teachers and police.

What's more, a boy who accused the teacher of spitting on him made no complaint to teachers on the day of the alleged incident.

Mr Covington said the boy only made the claim when he was interviewed by police much later.

The same boy also told the teacher on her first day that she looked like Donald Trump.

The court heard during a hearing that a student also told the teacher, 'you're no good, you're not Muslim'.

The teacher was later given the nickname 'Miss Trunchbull' after the nasty headmistress in the popular children's classic 'Matilda'.

The boy also claimed to have witnessed the teacher scratch a student and draw blood.

Mr Covington dismissed the evidence as either a 'fabrication or at best an exaggeration'.

During the hearing, one eight-year-old schoolboy said the teacher pushed him hard against a wall and whispered 'f*** off' in his ear.

The court heard the girl accuser was the only witness and Mr Covington dismissed the incident as highly unlikely to have happened. 'It is completely implausible in my view that no one else would have witnessed it,' he said.

Mr Covington criticised police for failing to interview any adult witnesses and went on to dismiss the charges against the teacher.

Her lawyer Ian Fraser told the magistrate police failed to properly investigate the matter and that his client would pursue them to cover legal costs.

The case has been adjourned until next month for the court costs to be drawn up.

The Department of Education said it would follow its own enquiries into the matter. 'It is not appropriate for the NSW Department of Education to comment on a court decision. 'Following court matters of this nature the department makes its own enquiries.

'This person has not been teaching at schools since the issue was first raised, with her future employment status pending the outcome of the court case and any subsequent investigation.'


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The case for low-cost private education in the UK

Parents are forced to pay for schools via taxation and if they opt out of that service, whether it be to homeschool or for private school, they do not receive a rebate. So schools are guaranteed an income even when their services are not valued by parents.

In particular, it is the parents who cannot afford private school fees or who cannot afford to move to neighbourhoods with higher-performing state schools who are stuck. This means that the poorest children get the worst deal out of the UK’s education system.

Introducing a low-cost private model is an opportunity to combine a ‘no frills’ approach to spending with the highly-academic, knowledge-rich curriculum and no-nonsense discipline currently accessible only to those pupils fortunate enough to be able to attend the best schools.

Research shows us that there is a demand for something like this model, why the model works, and examples of successes when looking to Professor James Tooley’s trials abroad. This option, to enrol in low-cost private secondary education, could challenge the state’s monopoly on education and drastically improve parental choice in the UK.


Is performing arts education worthwhile?

The UK has long enjoyed a global reputation as a centre for excellence in the performing arts, both as an exporter of talent and a destination of choice for lovers of culture. We gain a lot emotionally from the industry, which boosts our mental and physical health. But performing arts are also part of the fastest-growing sector of the economy, the creative arts, which contributed more than £100bn in 2017. Despite all this, the performing arts in the UK are facing an existential threat.

The decline of formal performing arts education in schools and the impact of the Ebacc have been well documented. In 2017, the number of entries for GCSE drama declined by 8.5%, while A-level entries for dance fell by 42%, drama by 33% and music by 38% between 2010 and 2018. A BBC survey in January 2018 showed nine out of 10 secondary schools had cut back on lesson time, staff or facilities in at least one creative arts subject. Meanwhile, cuts to local authorities have further decimated opportunities for young people to participate in the performing arts.

These cuts feel shortsighted when creative jobs are thought to be some of the least vulnerable to automation. In 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, historian Yuval Noah Harari notes that many pedagogical experts argue that schools should switch to teaching “the four Cs — critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity” – to prepare the children of today for the workforce of tomorrow. All four skills are hallmarks of a performing arts education.

Meanwhile, universities are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the government’s review of post-18 education funding. Two of the rumours around its recommendations could hugely damage performing arts courses. If headline tuition fees are cut without government funding to make up the shortfall, universities may struggle to fund high-cost, studio-based education and training. Equally, minimum A-level grade requirements might exclude many prospective students considering a vocational career in the performing arts, including those who start their higher education journey at 16.

My institution, the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama, is one of a number of world-leading specialists which focuses on dance, drama, circus arts, or music within higher education. In addition to the challenges mentioned, we also face a further threat from possible withdrawal of specialist support funding, known as ISTA (institution-specific targeted allocation). ISTA supports world-leading conservatoires in meeting the additional costs essential to deliver training of an intensity and standard which prepares our students to enter their profession at the highest level.

The benefits of this education are shown in the success of our students, including internationally renowned artists such as actor and Oscar winner Olivia Colman and choreographer Sir Richard Alston.

Performing arts education – along with low-paid but essential professions such as nursing, teaching and caring – has been repeatedly undermined by the government’s reductive narrative that equates a degree’s value with its graduates’ earnings. A recent Institute for Fiscal Studies report said that creative arts degrees will cost taxpayers 30% more than engineering degrees because of the lower salaries its graduates will secure, making them less likely to pay off their loans in full. It seems that the rhetoric of student as consumer leads us to the idea of graduate as product.

The returns on investment in performing arts are significant, but the strength of any country and its people is about far more than the financial wealth it generates. We must challenge the dangerous narrative that equates success with the level of a graduate’s income and which reduces education to a financial transaction. If we don’t, we risk losing the next generation of artists and all that they contribute to our wellbeing and society.


Sanders Reveals Plan To End Funding for Charter Schools, Cites ‘Educational Segregation’

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Saturday released his plan for reforming public education, including halting federal funding of new charter schools and banning those that are for-profit.

Saying charter schools are “exacerbating educational segregation,” Sanders called for increased transparency and accountability, as well as limits on the pay of their chief executives.

According to the campaign, the 10-point plan focuses on “reversing racial and economic segregation that is plaguing elementary and secondary schools.”

The current education secretary, Betsy DeVos, is an advocate for charter schools, which receive public funding but operate independently.

Sanders unveiled the plan Saturday ahead of a speech in South Carolina. The campaign said the release of Sanders’ Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education and Educators was timed to the 65th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.

As head of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Marshall served as chief attorney for the plaintiffs, more than a decade before becoming the first black U.S. Supreme Court justice.

The senator from Vermont is proposing “large new investments in programs that serve high-poverty communities, support special needs students, and augment local efforts to integrate school districts.”

That also includes a minimum on per-pupil spending in all school districts across the country, as well as a universal school meal plan and a goal of closing “the gap in school infrastructure funding to renovate, modernize, and green the nation’s schools.”

Sanders’ plan also proposes investment to raise starting teacher salaries to at least $60,000, as well as grants and tax credits to help teachers defray the cost of school supplies.

Completing this poll entitles you to The Western Journal news updates free of charge. You may opt out at anytime. You also agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.
This is Sanders’ first major plan of this campaign for K-12 education reforms. Dating back to his 2016 run for president, Sanders has repeatedly addressed reforms in higher education, including making four-year college free.

Some of the other nearly two-dozen candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination have come out with their own plans for elementary and higher education. Earlier this year, Sen. Kamala Harris of California made her first campaign policy rollout a federal investment in teacher pay.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has proposed alleviating almost all college debt for 42 million Americans, proposing an “ultra-millionaire” tax to fund the $640 billion cost.

Earlier this week, Warren said her secretary of education “will be a former public school teacher who is committed to public education.”


Monday, May 20, 2019

Most teens want free college — until they realize it costs money

Most teens want college to be debt-free — until they realize it still has a cost.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch or free college, and if more students had studied Milton Friedman, they’d know that the funding for debt-free higher education has to come from somewhere else in the economy, even out of their own paychecks.

According to a study by Junior Achievement, a nonprofit youth organization, 69% of 13- to 17-year-olds are in favor of “debt-free college.”

But when pollsters asked if they supported “debt-free” education funded by higher taxes, support dropped to 33%.

The study surveyed more than 1,000 teens in April, just before Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., laid out her free college and student-debt forgiveness platform, which would eliminate tuition for public universities and forgive up to $50,000 in debt for households with an income less than $100,000.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., popularized the “free college” movement among the Democratic Party in 2015, and “college for all” is also a talking point in his 2020 presidential campaign.

Politicians hope to draw out the youth vote by telling young and future voters that college could be free, which at first appears to be a shrewd plan. Almost all of the teens in Junior Achievement’s study, 94%, planned to go to college, and 41% weren’t sure how they’d pay for it.

Yet many teens are smart enough to know that free college isn’t free, and the money to keep the classroom lights on can’t magically appear. With that in mind, 2020 Democrats may want to consider imitating South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg rather than Warren or Sanders.

“I have a hard time getting my head around the idea a majority who earn less because they didn’t go to college subsidize a minority who earn more because they did,” Buttigieg said to an audience of college students last month.


Here’s My Plan to Fix Student Debt Without Raiding Taxpayers

Rep. Mark Green   

Confounded by rising piles of student debt, cash-strapped graduates across the country are realizing that their degrees don’t offer enough bang for the buck.

It’s time we rethink the way students pay for college.

College is an investment. The conventional wisdom tells us to borrow for college now and be proportionally rewarded in the job market later. But increasingly, Americans are learning—once it’s too late—that they borrowed too much, or studied a subject that won’t pay in the job market.

Collectively, 44.7 million Americans owe a total of $1.56 trillion in student debt and face an average monthly payment of $393, according to the Federal Reserve. And some can’t afford to pay it back at all: 11.5% of all student loans are delinquent for 90 days or more.

Why isn’t the investment working?

Chiefly, the cost of higher education has become unaffordable for many students. Between 1989 and 2016, the price of college increased eight times faster than wages. In 2017-2018, the average cost of tuition and fees was $34,740 at private colleges and $9,970 for state residents at public colleges, according to the College Board. Multiply that by four years, and students hit tuition costs between $39,000 and $139,000 for a bachelor’s degree.

For a recent graduate earning a median salary of $48,400, after you factor in rent, groceries, and other normal living expenses, there’s not much left to throw at their mountain of debt.

The good news is, there’s a way to reinvent the way we pay for college that corresponds to realistic earnings after graduation, thus tying tuition costs to demand in the job market.

Colleges could begin offering “income share agreements,” where students agree to pay for college with a percentage of their future earnings. This way, colleges and universities would be incentivized to help students secure good paying jobs after they graduate, because tuition payments would depend on it.

Responsibility would fall on the student as well. Income share agreements would encourage prospective students to research starting salaries for their major and learn what they can expect in return for their studies.

In a desire to see income share agreements more widely offered, my Democratic colleague Vicente Gonzalez of Texas partnered with me to introduce the Kids to College Act, a bipartisan bill that would encourage more schools to utilize these agreements.

But not all lawmakers are thinking big picture like this.

One Democratic senator offered a magic wand to “erase” up to $50,000 in student debt for loan recipients. As one columnist pointed out, this offer is akin to advocating “old-fashioned, Tammany Hall-style bribery” by “handing out dollars to buy votes.” Of course, astute taxpayers will see through the scheme and realize it’s their hard-earned money being offered.

More importantly, “erasing” student debt would send costs of higher education soaring even faster and would further distort the market for higher education. If the plan succeeds, college costs could inflate indefinitely without ever being responsive to demand in the job market. If a student can’t pay back their loan, the American taxpayer ultimately would be forced to shoulder the burden.

The problem with magic wands is they do not exist. Debt does not disappear—it merely shifts onto someone else. The student debt crisis is a sign of system-wide failure, and we need a system-wide solution to fix it.


Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Salvation Army Must Stand Up to Leftist Bigots

Todd Starnes

A bunch of radical LGBT activists at Trinity University (a Christian university, by the way) launched a campaign to banish Chick-fil-A from campus.

The beloved restaurant chain does not have a franchise on campus, but every two weeks it is permitted to sell its delicious sandwiches and crispy waffle fries to starving Presbyterian students.

Student government leaders at the San Antonio-based school passed a non-binding resolution calling for Chick-fil-A to be banned so they can affirm the school’s “commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

“Trinity’s values of diversity and inclusion and Chick-fil-A’s values regarding the LGBT+ community are mutually exclusive,” student lawmakers wrote.

Well, Chick-fil-A follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. Whose teachings does Trinity University follow?

And before we go any further, I should acknowledged that Trinity University is a private school — therefore it can do whatever it wants. Although, I am curious what the university donors think about Trinity’s anti-poultry bias.

Ty Tinker, the student government president, told the San Antonio Express-News they were spurred to action after "a lot of proactive folks, including PRIDE (Trinity’s student LGBT group), came to student government and university administrators.“

The resolution reads in part: "Underrepresented students from the LGBT+ community have expressed the drastic assault on their identities and beings as a result of Chick-fil-A’s ideals and actions, and SGA stands to represent all students regardless of the size of the community.”

I call BS, folks. That resolution is a load of grade-A fertilizer.

The student government association got its “evidence” that Chick-fil-A hates gay people from radical leftist organizations like Human Rights Campaign and Think Progress.

Human Rights Campaign is a flat-out anti-Christian hate group and it especially despises this writer.

Think Progress published a story alleging that Chick-fil-A donated money to “anti-gay” organizations like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army.

Both organizations require their members and leaders to follow the teachings of the Bible on issues like marriage and sexuality. That’s why they’ve been labeled “anti-gay.”

Sophomore senator Claire Carlson told The Trinitonian they also had issues with Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s personal belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.

He “has made a lot of problematic comments in the contexts of same sex marriage and things like that,” she said.

Presbyterians would think that university leadership would have been appalled at the behavior and the ignorance of the students who voted for the resolution. But that’s not the case.

“It’s our tradition and responsibility to foster open, free dialogue about issues of importance to our students,” Vice President for Strategic Communications Tess Coody-Anders said in a statement to the newspaper. “We’re proud of our students’ willingness to engage in difficult conversations and to amplify the voices of those who are often underrepresented and overlooked.”

Trinity University is doing its part to raise up the next generation of little fascists — hell-bent on shutting down any speech or religious belief they find offensive. They’ll fit in quite well with the grown-up fascists controlling the San Antonio City Council.

But my major beef is with the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I’m getting a little tired of defending organizations that refuse to stand up and defend themselves.

We offer these organizations an opportunity to refute the allegations and set the record straight, but more often than not, they choose to remain silent. And as a result of their silence, the perception becomes the reality.

As I write in my new book, Culture Jihad, Freedom-loving Christians cannot afford to remain silent. They must stand up and rebuke the anti-Christian bigots who want to eradicate Christianity from the public marketplace. Demand retractions. File lawsuits. Hold press conferences. Pack city-council meetings. FIGHT BACK!

Silence in the face of evil is evil itself, as one great Christian theologian once said.

The truth is that Americans should be able to enjoy a delicious chicken sandwich regardless of their political affiliation or sexual orientation.


Sunday, May 19, 2019

Christian Student Forced to Write Islamic Conversion Creed Appeals Case to Supreme Court

During the 2014-2015 school year, a Christian teenage girl was forced to recite the Islamic conversion creed — the Shahada — in writing for her 11th-grade class. She was also taught that "Most Muslims' faith is stronger than the average Christian." The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) sued the school responsible, and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled with the school. TMLC appealed to the Supreme Court, filing a Writ of Certiorari on Monday.

"Under the guise of teaching history or social studies, public schools across America are promoting the religion of Islam in ways that would never be tolerated for Christianity or any other religion," TMLC President and Chief Counsel Richard Thompson said in a statement. "I’m not aware of any school which has forced a Muslim student to write the Lord’s Prayer or John 3:16: 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'"

"Many public schools have become a hotbed of Islamic propaganda," Thompson argued. "Teaching Islam in schools has gone far beyond a basic history lesson. Prompted by zealous Islamic activism and emboldened by confusing court decisions, schools are now bending over backwards to promote Islam while at the same time denigrate Christianity."

"We are asking the Supreme Court to provide the necessary legal guidance to resolve the insidious discrimination against Christians in our public schools," he concluded.

In Wood v. Arnold, the parents of Caleigh Wood, John and Melissa Wood, are suing Charles County Public Schools in Maryland, the county board of education, and Evelyn Arnold and Shannon Morris, principal and vice principal of La Plata High School.

TMLC noted five specific pro-Islam teachings that the 11th-grade teacher told Caleigh Wood from the Powerpoint presentation she gave in class (the underlining is original): "Most Muslims' faith is stronger than the average Christian;" "Islam at heart is a peaceful religion;" Jihad is a "personal struggle in devotion to Islam, especially involving spiritual discipline;" "To Muslims, Allah is the same God that is worshiped in Christianity and Judaism;" "Men are the managers of the affairs of women" and "Righteous women are therefore obedient." (To be fair, the Powerpoint did mention jihad as a "holy war" as well as a personal struggle.)

According to the TMLC filing, Wood was required to profess in writing the statement that "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah." This statement is known as the Shahada, the Islamic conversion creed. A person recites this declaration in order to convert to Islam and then prays and repeats it during the Muslim call to prayer. Wood said she sincerely believes that it is a sin to profess, by word or in writing, that there is any god except the Christian God.

Yet the school required her to write the Shahada and docked her points when she did not.

Her father also testified that his daughter and her classmates "were instructed that the Islamic religion is a fact while Christianity and Judaism are just beliefs." The teacher told students that the "Qur'an is the word of Allah as revealed to Muhammad in the same way that Jews and Christians believe the Torah and the Gospels were revealed to Moses and the New Testament writers," and that Muhammad was visited by the Angel Gabriel who proclaimed that there is only one true god.

While some instruction in Islam is certainly defensible, many of these teachings crossed the line into advocacy for Islam. Some are also just false. For instance, Muslims believe God directly revealed the Qur'an word for word. This is emphatically not the case with the Jewish and Christian scriptures, which believers say were inspired by God but written by humans in history. In fact, Christians consider the Gospels historical, journalistic documents recounting events the writers personally witnessed.

Claims like Islam being "at heart" peaceful, that Muslims have stronger faith than Christians in general, and that women should be obedient to Sharia (Islamic law that often requires them to wear head and body coverings in public or to stay home unless accompanied by a male relative) are extremely debatable.

While many Muslims reject Islamism — the idea that Sharia should be enforced by law — this radical Islam has deep roots in history, tracing back to Mohammed, who founded the first Islamic state. American freedom is compatible with many Islamic sects, but many more militate against it.

Muslims often follow their religious law more strictly than Christians, largely because Christianity is not a religion of law. This does not necessarily make their faith stronger.

The Fourth Circuit Court argued that this biased teaching did not violate the Lemon test for establishment of religion because the teaching of Islam was driven in part by a secular purpose, had the primary effect that neither advanced nor inhibited religion, and did not excessively entangle Church and State. If the teaching had not been biased in a pro-Islam direction, this may be defensible. After all, Americans should learn about Islam — just as they should learn about Islam and Judaism.

Unfortunately for the Fourth Circuit, previous court rulings kicking Christian prayer and Bible reading out of public schools suggest this teaching of Islam is also unconstitutional. TMLC, which almost certainly disagrees with the excising of prayer and Bible reading, used these legal arguments against the teaching of Islam.

TMLC cited Abington School District v. Schempp (1963), in which the Supreme Court ruled that school-sponsored reading of the Bible was unconstitutional. "The pervasive religiosity and direct government involvement inhering in the prescription of prayer and Bible reading in public schools, during and as part of the curricular day, involving young impressionable children whose school attendance is statutorily compelled, and utilizing the prestige, power, and influence of school administration, staff, and authority, cannot realistically be termed simply accommodation, and must fall within the interdiction of the First Amendment," TMLC quoted from Schempp.

This citation shows that the Supreme Court "has forwarded a stricter application of the Establishment Clause" where "impressionable youths are involved."

At the time Schempp was decided, schools may have established Christianity to some degree. Yet since Schempp and similar rulings pushed the Bible out of public schools, Americans have lost out on the rich literary heritage and civic significance of the Bible. Religious literacy has reached dangerous lows, to the degree that journalists at America's newspaper of record, The New York Times, lack a basic understanding of Christian doctrine.

Americans should have a basic understanding of what the major religions claim, especially Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. These faiths have impacted history in important ways, and students should have direct access to their history and texts in the classroom.

Although I am a Bible-believing Christian, I learned the Shahada and have no problem saying or writing it. If there were a fair standard where schools taught all the major religious conversion creeds (including John 3:16 along with the Shahada), I think there would be no problem with requiring students to know them. Perhaps students could still get marks for alternate versions, such as writing "g-d" for "god" so as to avoid sin.

Yet current law restricts teaching about religion, on the theory that young minds are too impressionable and that schools teaching the Bible would constitute an establishment of religion. Perhaps in early elementary school this may have some merit, but at least in high school, students should gain a basic understanding of these things.

In any case, if the Supreme Court precedent prevents Christian prayer and Bible reading in schools, it should also prohibit this kind of skewed Islamic teaching.


SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ to Capture Social and Economic Background

New score comes as college admissions decisions are under scrutiny

The College Board plans to assign an adversity score to every student who takes the SAT to try to capture their social and economic background, jumping into the debate raging over race and class in college admissions.

This new number, called an adversity score by college admissions officers, is calculated using 15 factors including the crime rate and poverty levels from the student’s high school and neighborhood.

Students won’t be told the scores, but colleges will see the numbers when reviewing their applications.

Fifty colleges used the score last year as part of a beta test. The College Board plans to expand it to 150 institutions this fall, and then use it broadly the following year.

How colleges consider a student’s race and class in making admissions decisions is hotly contested. Many colleges, including Harvard University, say a diverse student body is part of the educational mission of a school. A lawsuit accusing Harvard of discriminating against Asian-American applicants by holding them to a higher standard is awaiting a judge’s ruling. Lawsuits charging unfair admission practices have also been filed against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of California system.

The College Board, the New York based nonprofit that oversees the SAT, said it has worried about income inequality influencing test results for years. White students scored an average of 177 points higher than black students and 133 points higher than Hispanic students in 2018 results. Asian students scored 100 points higher than white students. The children of wealthy and college-educated parents outperformed their classmates.

“There are a number of amazing students who may have scored less [on the SAT] but have accomplished more,” said David Coleman, chief executive of the College Board. “We can’t sit on our hands and ignore the disparities of wealth reflected in the SAT.”

The SAT, which includes math and verbal sections and is still taken with No. 2 pencils, is facing challenges. Federal prosecutors revealed this spring that students cheated on both the SAT and ACT for years as part of a far-reaching college admissions cheating scheme. In Asia and the Middle East, both the ACT and SAT exams have experienced security breaches.

Yale University is one of the schools that has tried using applicants’ adversity scores. Yale has pushed to increase socioeconomic diversity and, over several years, has nearly doubled the number of low-income and first-generation-to-attend-college students to about 20% of newly admitted students, said Jeremiah Quinlan, the dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale.

“This [adversity score] is literally affecting every application we look at,” he said. “It has been a part of the success story to help diversify our freshman class.”

Colleges could glean some of the information that the adversity score reflects from other parts of a student’s application. But having the score makes comparisons more consistent, Mr. Quinlan said.

James Conroy, director of college counseling at New Trier High School, which serves several affluent and mostly white communities north of Chicago, said the focus on diversity by elite colleges is already high and the adversity score would magnify that.

“My emails are inundated with admissions officers who want to talk to our diversity [black] kids,” Mr. Conroy said. “Do I feel minority students have been discriminated against? Yes, I do. But I see the reversal of it happening right now.”

The College Board tried a similar effort two decades ago but quickly dropped it amid pushback from colleges. In 1999, after California and Washington voted to ban affirmative-action preferences in public education, the College Board created a program it called Strivers.

The program aimed to measure the challenges students faced. It created an expected SAT score based on socioeconomic factors including, if schools chose to add it, race. Students who scored at least 200 points more on the SAT than predicted were called Strivers. Because minorities often had lower predicted scores, they were more likely to be Strivers.

The adversity score, by contrast, doesn’t take into account race and is superior because it is steeped in more research, said Connie Betterton, vice president for higher education access and strategy at the College Board.

“Since it is identifying strengths in students, it’s showing this resourcefulness that the test alone cannot measure,” Mr. Coleman, the College Board CEO, said. “These students do well, they succeed in college.”

The new score—which falls on a scale of one through 100—will pop up on something called the Environmental Context Dashboard, which shows several indicators of relative poverty, wealth and opportunity as well as a student’s SAT score compared with those of their classmates. On the dashboard, the score is called “Overall Disadvantage Level.”

An adversity score of 50 is average. Anything above it designates hardship, below it privilege.

"I believe this trend does more harm than good... Being accepted into a college is unlikely to repair 18 years of disadvantages. How can we help these kids when they are younger so they are better prepared for college? " -- Matthew Peters

The College Board declined to say how it calculates the adversity score or weighs the factors that go into it. The data that informs the score comes from public records such as the U.S. Census as well as some sources proprietary to the College Board, Mr. Coleman said.

The College Board began developing the tool in 2015 because colleges were asking for more objective data on students’ backgrounds, said Ms. Betterton. Several college admissions officers said they worry the Supreme Court may disallow race-based affirmative action. If that happens, the value of the tool would rise, they said.

“The purpose is to get to race without using race,” said Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. Mr. Carnevale formerly worked for the College Board and oversaw the Strivers program.

The dashboard may also be an advantage in a tight competition for market share with the ACT, another college-admissions exam. A spokesman for the ACT said it is “investing significant resources” in a comparable tool that is expected to be announced later this year.

At Florida State University, the adversity scores helped the school boost nonwhite enrollment to 42% from 37% in the incoming freshman class, said John Barnhill, assistant vice president for academic affairs at Florida State University. He said he expects pushback from parents whose children go to well-to-do high schools as well as guidance counselors there.

“If I am going to make room for more of the [poor and minority] students we want to admit and I have a finite number of spaces, then someone has to suffer and that will be privileged kids on the bubble,” he said.


Boy is sent home from school for 'not wearing enough pink' on an anti-bullying awareness day

A boy has been sent home school because he was not wearing enough pink clothing during an anti-bullying event.

His mother, Claire Lealiifano, alleged his New Zealand primary school sent the boy home unsupervised and without contacting her.

Ms Lealiifano claimed the Helensville Primary School teacher told her son if he wasn't going to wear pink than he should have come in school uniform.

Ms Lealiifano shared the photo of her son's shirt on Facebook said she was angry with the school's actions.

'When you send your son to school in pink for anti-bullying. Apparently what he was wearing wasn't good enough,' Ms Lealiifano said on Facebook. 'So the head of year sent him home to get changed WITHOUT CHECKING I WAS HOME..... WTF?'

Ms Lealiifano claimed she received an email from the teacher who sent her son home.  'I then received an email from this so-called teacher saying if he didn't return to school she would contact the truancy officers.

'My kid was pretty upset that he had been picked on for not wearing enough pink. But yet there were kids at school wearing different coloured tops that weren't pink. So my question is why pick on my son?

Ms Lealiifano claims her and the boy's father arranged a meeting with the school's principal who told the parents her son's clothes were appropriate and the teacher should not have sent him home.

Education authorities said they are taking the alleged incident 'seriously' and are working through a 'fair and robust process' of investigation.