Friday, May 31, 2019

Wisconsin Choice Schools Deliver Better Achievement for Less Money

Private schools and independent public charter schools are more productive than district public schools, according to a new report.

“The United States invests over $660 billion on K-12 education, or over $13,000 per student, each year,” according to report author Corey DeAngelis, who adds:

That is equal to over $169,000 for each child’s K-12 education. Interestingly, real education expenditures in the U.S. have nearly quadrupled in the last half century without consistent improvements in student outcomes...Because education dollars are scarce resources, and because students’ academic success is important for society, it’s vital to examine which education sector delivers the most “bang for the buck.”

DeAngelis compares the productivity of schools in cities throughout Wisconsin based on per-pupil funding and student achievement. The Badger State offers a rich field for study because it’s home to the country’s longest-running modern voucher program, launched in 1990, and its first charter school opened in 1994. Wisconsin’s four private-school parental choice programs currently enroll over 40,000 students combined, and more than 43,000 students are enrolled in charter schools.

Because of the competitive pressures public charter schools and private schools face, one would expect them to be more productive than district public schools, as DeAngelis explains:

Economists argue that traditional public schools hold significant monopoly power because of residential assignment and funding through property taxes...If a family is unhappy with the education services provided to their children in traditional public schools, they usually only have four options:

(1) pay for a private school out of pocket while still paying for the public school through taxes,

(2) move to a more expensive house that is assigned to a better public school,

(3) incur the costs associated with homeschooling while still paying for the public school through taxes, or

(4) complain to the residentially assigned public school and hope things get better.

Private school vouchers reduce the costs associated with option one by allowing families to use a fraction of their public education dollars to pay for private school tuition and fees. Independent charter school laws give families the option to attend privately run public schools regardless of the default public school assignment. Private and charter schools must cater to the needs of families if they wish to remain in business, so they have strong financial incentives to spend their scarce education dollars wisely. In other words, more power is in the hands of the consumers – families – in a system with school choice.

Compared to Wisconsin district public schools, private schools participating in parental choice programs receive 27 percent less per-pupil funding, and charter schools receive 22 percent less. Yet these schools get more bang for every education buck, according to DeAngelis:

I find that private schools produce 2.27 more points on the Accountability Report Card for every $1,000 invested than district-run public schools [across 26 cities], demonstrating a 36 percent cost-effectiveness advantage for private schools. Independent charter schools produce 3.02 more points on the Accountability Report Card for every $1,000 invested than district-run public schools [throughout Milwaukee and Racine], demonstrating a 54 percent cost-effectiveness advantage for independent charter schools.

These are important findings, particularly in light of Governor Tony Evers’ attempts to limit parental choice in education. This year he has proposed freezing the number of students who can enroll in Wisconsin’s three low-income voucher programs, phasing out the special-needs student voucher program, and banning the creation of new charter schools until 2023.

DeAngelis recommends instead that full education funding follow all students, regardless of what type of school their parents think is best for them, including charter and private schools. That would introduce powerful incentives for all schools to use funds wisely to attract and retain students. He also suggests giving public-school principals more autonomy over budgeting to improve spending efficiencies.


UK: Down with the decolonisation movement

We’re at risk of treating black students as permanent historical victims

The University of Cambridge has launched a new research project. Nothing surprising there: this is what universities do. But this project is different. It is unlikely to result in any scientific breakthroughs or medical advances, because the primary focus of the research is the university itself. Academics will investigate Cambridge’s past relationship with slavery – specifically, how the university benefited financially from bequests and donations that originated in money made through the slave trade, and how scholarship conducted at Cambridge might have shaped the racial thinking that, at the time, provided a moral and intellectual justification for slavery. The project aims to acknowledge the institution’s past links to slavery and also address its modern impact.

Cambridge is not the only university reflecting on links to the slave trade. Last October, following a year-long investigation, the University of Glasgow declared it had, throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, ‘received significant financial support’ from the profits of slavery. In response, it announced a programme of ‘reparative justice’ to include the creation of a centre for the study of slavery and the building of a memorial dedicated to those enslaved.

The University of Oxford is also examining its past sins. A plaque has been laid at All Souls College to commemorate slaves from plantations in Barbados. Profits from these plantations were donated to the college by a former student to cover the cost of building the library. Meanwhile, at St John’s College a new academic post has been created to investigate how the college helped create and maintain Britain’s empire. As well as exposing donations from sources and individuals now deemed morally dubious, the researcher will look into the ‘monuments, objects, pictures, buildings that evoke the colonial past’. Revealingly, in announcing the post, the college declared: ‘The drive to “decolonise the university” or, at any rate, to think through the implications of institutional involvement in the imperial projects of the past, is now a global business.’

We have known for well over a century that slavery was an inhumane, barbaric, murderous practice for which there is no conceivable justification. It has long been considered a stain on our national history. But it is only now that ‘decolonising’ makes business sense. Universities gain moral authority from confessing past sins and seeking public atonement. This moral authority brings with it positive media coverage, a continued supply of bright young students with their tuition fees, and a new round of donations from alumni keen to assuage their guilt by association. What’s more, these newly announced projects have far more in common with global business and charities than they do with academic research. They may be dressed up in the language of scholarship, but their goal is not an intellectual pursuit of truth.

In the past, some academics did indeed promote a supposedly scientific theory of racial difference and inequality that was used to justify slavery and more recent degrading and discriminatory practices. This research is morally repugnant to us now, but, perhaps more importantly, it has also been scientifically discredited. No scholar today could make reference to phrenology, for example, to argue that some groups of people are inherently criminal. Scholars in the past no doubt reflected and contributed to the prejudices of their day. Scholars today have not suddenly become immune to this tendency. The best retort is always for better, more rigorous scholarship that does not simply reproduce pre-determined politicised outcomes.

Knowledge of the past is important, but knowledge in and of itself does not dictate any one particular course of action in the present. Uncovering how institutions gained financially from slavery now often leads directly to demands for reparations. Most obviously we see calls for statues to be pulled down and for buildings to be renamed. There are also growing demands for universities to provide financial compensation for the descendants of slaves, today’s students of Afro-Caribbean heritage. Geoff Thompson, chair of governors of the University of East London, has argued that universities known to have benefitted from slavery should contribute to a £100million fund to support ethnic-minority students.

But the idea that funding students in the present atones for the institutional sins of the past raises more questions than answers. If compensation is thought appropriate, then why give it to students, particularly ones who have managed to make it to the most elite universities and who are well on their way to making a success of their lives? Why compensate the ancestors of slaves, but not relatives of other historical atrocities? What about today’s teenagers who may have lost a great grandfather in the Battle of the Somme or a distant relative in the Irish Potato Famine? Universities have no doubt received money from all manner of former students who went on to be ruthless industrialists, politicians or warmongers at home and abroad.

A fund for black and ethnic-minority students suggests that this group of people are uniquely burdened by a historical legacy that continues to impact upon them in the present. MP David Lammy tweeted his praise for the Cambridge project: ‘The wounds of that period still reverberate today. Contrition and atonement for a grievous wrong is the only way to face the future.’ But at what point do we assume that wounds have stopped reverberating and that people can take ownership of their own lives unburdened by the legacy of history? The risk here is that we rehabilitate a racist double standard in the name of promoting social justice.

Of course, we should know more about the history of slavery, and we should know more about the history of our universities. But the new research being promoted is less about the past than it is about the present. It is driven less by scholarship than by institutional politics and the demands of academic-activists. Afro-Caribbean students risk being exploited as a mechanism for members of today’s elite to expunge their feelings of guilt and self-loathing.


Australia: UQ students loudly vote 'No' to Western history degree program

In a supreme example of irony, their lecturers have told them that the courses are "racist".  In fact it is they who are racist for discriminating against a study of white history

Almost 500 students crammed into every seat and aisle at the University of Queenland's under-threat Schonell Theatre to vote 'No' to the private humanities degree being offered to the university by the conservative Ramsay Centre.

They also voted loudly for students to retain ownership and management of the replacement theatre if the Schonell Theatre is demolished.

The UQ Senate last year proposed to demolish the theatre, build a new student union hub and add the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation degree to the university's program.

The two votes were taken at Wednesday night's general meeting of students, the first since the 1971 student protests against the touring Springboks rugby union team.

The meeting was called by the student union to gauge opinion on the "two big issues" involving UQ students, student union president Georgia Millroy said.

She said the strong vote gave the union a "very clear mandate" to negotiate with the university on both issues.

"A lot of students clearly felt quite strongly about these issues and when they come up in my discussions with the university, in the ensuing weeks and months, I will have a very clear mandate to represent what students think," she said.

Ms Millroy would meet with the UQ vice-chancellor in early June.

The debate needed 300 students as a quorum of the university's 53,000 students, of which almost 10,000 voted at the past student union election.

As the Schonell Theatre doors closed, 420 students were counted inside and another 30 students crammed in to the crowded theatre as the vote began.

"This shows that [some] students do actually care and do want to be involved," Ms Millroy said. "It shows students do value the power of a democratic vote."

The loudest response came as most students voted against the university administration continuing to negotiate with the Ramsay Centre.

About eight students voted in favour of the UQ Senate pursuing talks with the Ramsay Centre.

Before the vote, student union councillor Priya De described the Ramsay Centre's course as "racist" and its administration as belonging to the "go back to where you came from" arm of the Liberal Party. "They cannot stomach anyone in society – students in particular – challenging their white supremacism," Ms De said.

"These people are not academics, they are politicians," she said.

However, humanities student Kurt Tucker said the Ramsay Centre was offering $43 million to the University of Queensland to run its Western Civilisation degree course as part of UQ's humanities program.

Mr Tucker said the course offered about 100 student places, "in return for $43 million to be distributed across the humanities", he said.

Despite being described as a "right-wing heckler", Mr Tucker said the millions of dollars would employ lecturers to reduce humanities class sizes and allow some casual lecturers to be employed full-time.

"It would certainly alleviate some of the concerns that have been raised about the humanities."

Another supporter of the Ramsay Centre program said the university offered African studies and Indigenous studies and in the same way students should be offered the opportunity to study Western civilisation in one degree program.

"Why not? Are you scared some of your ideas are being challenged?" the student said.

However, a "proud" Torres Strait Islander student, who did not wish to be named, described the Ramsay Centre course as "abhorrent".

"He [the previous supporter of the program] forgot to mention genocide," he said. "He forgot to mention deaths in custody. He forgot to mention children stolen from their families."

"They aim to whitewash the black history of Australia," he said, as the large student crowd jumped to its feet and roared its support.

Earlier, three theatre and drama students spoke in favour of students keeping control of any new theatre being considered by the university because the UQ student union contributed at least $4 million to its construction. The Schonell is now largely leased as a live theatre venue for community groups.

One opera and voice student said her course was refused a practice room at the theatre. "We just don't have a proper rehearsal space to validate our degree," she said.

Student union representatives said they had to prioritise university clubs and societies in the practice space.


Thursday, May 30, 2019

Baylor University Prayer Denounces 'Straight, White Men'
Get a load of the racially charged prayer delivered at Baylor University’s 2019 commencement by Dan Freemyer, the pastor of Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth.

“God, give them the moral imagination to reject the old keys that we’re trying to give them to a planet that we’re poisoning by running it on fossil fuels and misplaced priorities — a planet with too many straight, white men like me behind the steering wheel while others have been expected to sit quietly at the back of the bus,” the minister prayed.

Did you notice the cheers from the crowd?

A friend from Get Religion sent me a link to an exclusive story about the prayer written by Rod Dreher, a fine writer for The American Conservative.

“This is appalling,” Dreher wrote. “Whoever would have imagined that ‘straight white men’ would be denounced in prayer at a Baylor University graduation ceremony? I wonder how many straight white men are Baylor donors? I wonder how many straight white male and female parents of high school students will understand the meaning of this signal, and look elsewhere for their children’s Christian college education?”

Folks, it is imperative that you do your homework before sending your kid off to what you thought was a Christian university. A Baylor degree may in fact just be a wolf-in-a-sheepskin diploma.

If you are a college-bound straight, white man, you might want to consider removing Baylor University from your list of schools. Your kind is not welcome at what was once a cherished Baptist institution.

And for that matter, if you are a college-bound follower of Jesus Christ, you might want to strike Baylor from your list of potential schools.

I reached out to the university’s director of communications for a statement about the politically and racially charged prayer. Does the university condemn the pastor’s prayer, or does it stand by the prayer?

What assurances can Baylor give to straight, white, male students that they will be welcomed and affirmed at the school? I’ll update this post if I receive a reply.



Great News! Catholic School Won’t Face Punishment for Hiring Employees That Share Its Beliefs

They thought tht they could win by stonewalling.  They didn't.  Sometimes only a lawsuit will budge Leftist supremacists

It took a lawsuit, but the city of South Euclid, Ohio has finally clarified whether a local ordinance threatens The Lyceum, a Catholic school, with fines and jail time.

Thankfully, the city has made it clear that The Lyceum has the right to hire employees that share its beliefs. This is great news! And it’s why Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) dismissed its lawsuit against the city.

From start, The Lyceum opposed this ordinance, which adds “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes under the law.

Right away, the school recognized that this ordinance likely posed severe threats to its religious freedom.

As a Catholic school, The Lyceum holds to the beliefs that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and that God created human beings in his image – as male and female. The school simply asks its employees to hold to these beliefs as well. This shouldn’t be too much to ask. Hiring employees that disagree with the mission and values of the school would harm both the school and the students it serves.

That’s why The Lyceum was concerned when this city ordinance was proposed. And that’s why it took action. Representatives from The Lyceum attended city council meetings to voice their concerns about the ordinance. But the city refused to engage with the school.

Before it passed the ordinance, the city council even removed an exemption that would have provided some protections for religious entities.

Once the ordinance was passed, The Lyceum even reached out to the city on several occasions to receive clarity on whether the school would be punished under the ordinance for operating consistently with its Catholic beliefs. They certainly had reason to be worried. The penalties for violating the ordinance would have threatened the very existence of the school and threatened its administrators with jail time.

The Lyceum also submitted a public records request to the city, which it twice illegally ignored.

After all of this – the city removing the religious exemption, providing no answer to The Lyceum’s concerns, and illegally refusing to reply to a public records request – The Lyceum had one choice left. ADF filed a lawsuit on behalf of The Lyceum against the city in April.

The city’s long-awaited response is a relief – not just for The Lyceum, but for all of us as well.

After all, if The Lyceum does not have that freedom to operate consistently with its beliefs and mission, what could that mean for freedom for the rest of us?


Students and Faculty at Christian University Walk Out in Protest of Mike Pence

On Saturday morning, Vice President Mike Pence gave the commencement speech at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. Dozens of students and faculty reportedly walked out before the speech began. The walkout followed a social media campaign condemning Pence — and Taylor for inviting him. As of Monday, more than 8,000 people signed petition protesting the decision. Another 6,000 signed a dueling petition supporting Pence, who received a standing ovation on Saturday.

The opposition to Pence's speech seems focused on LGBT issues, but some students also suggested that the vice president speaking at this Christian university would bring racial divisions.

Not only did faculty join the walkout, but according to students interviewed by The Indianapolis Star, faculty designed stickers to protest Pence's speech.

"After it was announced that Mike Pence was speaking, the Social Work department, our professors, designed these stickers for us to wear for graduation because some feel unsafe based on the decisions that the university has made," graduating student Anna Streed said in a video. "These stickers represent that we want to include people; we value people no matter their race, sexuality, so that’s where they came from."

Taylor University has not responded to multiple requests for comment as to whether or not the faculty who engaged in this protest would receive censure.

The controversy dates back to April, when the university announced that Pence would speak. A former Obama staffer launched the petition protesting the speech.

"Inviting Vice President Pence to Taylor University and giving him a coveted platform for his political views makes our alumni, faculty, staff and current students complicit in the Trump-Pence Administration's policies, which we believe are not consistent with the Christian ethic of love we hold dear," Alex Hoekstra, a former staffer for President Barack Obama and a 2007 Taylor University graduate, said in the petition.

Others proved more angry and visceral.

"I have never been made to feel so physically ill by an email before. Taylor University, you should be ashamed of yourselves," Claire Hadley, who graduated from Taylor in 2015, began in a long Facebook post. "I am physically shaking. The fact that the school who claims to love and support me, and each of it's [sic] students and alum, would invite such a vile individual to speak on the most important day of the year??"

"VP Pence is no friend of mine. He does not support me. He does not support equality," Hadley declared. "He does not uphold the values that are at the very core of the church, my own faith, and I would hope, of this University. He is rooted in hate. To stand beside President Trump would have been enough to put him on my watch list." She argued that Mike Pence "only values you if you fit in his very narrow, white, straight, box."

"Taylor University, I feel personally attacked," she concluded. "Please, I'm begging you. Don't do this."

"As a Taylor alum, I am severely disappointed," Abi Perdue Moore wrote on Facebook. "For this and other policies marginalizing members of the lgbtq+ community (not to mention students of color), you do not have my support. Do not invite this speaker to campus; do not burden the university with the cost of security and transportation; do not send the message that Taylor is a place where only straight/cis/white men are valued as leaders and disciples."

The other petition defended Pence's invitation, and more than 6,000 people had signed it by Monday.

"As students and active community members of Taylor University, we believe that the University's decision to host VP Mike Pence as commencement speaker should be supported," the petition reads. "By Pence speaking at this upcoming graduation, Taylor is by no means aligning themselves with the alleged controversial views of the Trump administration, they are simply giving a voice to all opinions and planes of thought."

"Mike Pence is also known for his personal beliefs in Christianity. If disagreements arise concerning the personal views of Pence, that does not justify calls to restrict Pence's speaking as a whole," the petition added.

LGBT activists have conflated disagreement with violence. When bakers, florists, and photographers gladly serve LGBT people but refuse to use their creative talents to celebrate a same-sex wedding or a transgender identity, activists accuse them of discrimination and violating LGBT people's civil rights. Activists demand that Christian schools and charities should have to hire employees who identify as LGBT, and celebrate their identities. When they heard that Mike Pence's wife was teaching at a Christian school that operates according to Christian doctrine about sexuality, outrage ensued.

Like the school where Karen Pence teaches, Taylor University holds to the Bible teaching on sexuality. The University's "About" page quotes the Bible on marriage, gender, and sexuality:

All human beings are created in God’s image and are, therefore, of immeasurable value (Gen. 1:26-27). Our male and female genders are also a part of God’s original good creation, and our sexuality is to be celebrated. The God-ordained context for virtuous sexual expression and procreation is marriage, a sacred covenant between one man and one woman (Gen. 2:24; Mt. 19:4-6; Heb. 13:4).

For Christians, the sanctity of the marital covenant is further reinforced by the New Testament use of marriage as a metaphor of Christ and the church (Eph. 5:31-33).

The biblical design for human sexuality demands sexual faithfulness for married couples (Exod. 20:14; 1 Cor. 6:13-20) and chastity for those who are single (1 Thess. 4:3-8). All premarital and extra-marital sexual activity (e.g., fornication, adultery, incest, prostitution, homosexual behavior, and all sexual activity involving children) is immoral.

And all use or involvement with pornographic materials is sinful, as are all forms of sexual abuse, exploitation, and harassment (1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Tim. 1:9-10).

Taylor University's Life Together Covenant requires students and faculty to avoid certain "prohibited behaviors" including "sexual immorality (including adultery, homosexual behavior, premarital sex, and involvement with pornography in any form)."

Yet it seems students and faculty who signed the statement consider the Bible's teaching wrong and not inclusive. The use of the rainbow flag — an LGBT pride symbol — on the mortarboard suggests that Pence's belief in the Bible's teaching on sexuality, and his actions to protect religious freedom as governor of Indiana, are unacceptable.

For faculty at a Christian university defined by biblical sexuality to engage in such a protest is alarming. If professors do not believe in the statement of faith or the Life Together Covenant, they should not be teaching at this university. It is one thing to protest the invitation of Pence, claiming it to be a political statement unbefitting an institution of higher learning. It is entirely something else for faculty at a Christian school to side with the vocal critics of Christian doctrine, especially when they themselves have signed Taylor's covenant.


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Educating the Children of America’s Heroes

“The United States of America regrets to inform you,” are the words she remembers hearing when the Naval officers came to her home. She was young, only seven years old, but it was an experience she’ll never forget, and she explained what happened next. “My mom started to cry. I knew something very bad had happened. I was right.”

That was how Brandi Anderson learned about the death of her father. Michael Anderson enlisted in the Navy after high school and served on the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal (CV-59). He left the Navy to return to civilian life but after the terrorist attacks of 9-11 he re-enlisted as a Navy Seabee. Petty Officer Michael Anderson was 36 years old when he died in Anbar Province, Iraq in a mortar attack. Brandi recently commemorated the 15th anniversary of her father’s death which occurred on May 2, 2004.

At this time of year, Americans recognize those laid to rest who sacrificed their lives for our nation’s defense. We also celebrate the next generation of professionals who are graduating from college and preparing to enter a workforce that is as dynamic and competitive as it ever has been. At Freedom Alliance, we do both by providing college scholarships to the sons and daughters of America’s military heroes.

Freedom Alliance has nearly 400 students on scholarship this year – each the child of a soldier, sailor, airman or marine who has given life or limb for our country. It’s an honor to know these students and a privilege to help them attain the college education their parent dreamed they would have. There’s no expectation on their part that their education will be free or easy. They are incentivized to do well because their ticket to higher education was paid for by a hero’s sacrifice that they wish to honor.

These military families stand in stark contrast to those who’ve used fat bribes or false pretenses to attain college admission. The lesson is unmistakable. Those who use illegal means to get their kids into school believe a college credential is the most important ticket to success. They teach their kids to lie, cheat, and steal to get what they want. Military members, in contrast, teach their kids that character counts. They offer themselves in the service of others, show concern for their fellow Americans, and put their faith in enduring values that are the true measure of a person’s worth.

Approximately 7,000 children have lost a parent in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. As our Student Ambassador, Brandi Anderson will represent those students who are on scholarship with Freedom Alliance and those who’ve recently graduated. She will share with them the advice she most remembers from her father – “never give up.”

“I have held on to this advice,” Brandi explains, “and have tried to live a life that makes both him and my mom proud every day.” She certainly has accomplished that. Brandi graduated from Stetson University this month with a degree in Public Management and her name on the Dean’s List. Brandi’s goal is to work for the National Park Service. Her father’s dream was for her to graduate college, and it’s an honor to help that dream come true.    

A great debate is taking place in our country about the value of higher education and the debt with which graduates are saddled. College graduates owe more than $1.5 trillion in student loans, exceeding the amounts outstanding to credit card companies and auto loan lenders. On average, they carry loan balances of $33,310.

After this weekend, that’s no longer the case for some 400 graduates of Morehouse College in Atlanta. They were pleasantly surprised when commencement speaker and philanthropist Robert F. Smith, the CEO of Vista Equity Partners, announced he and his family would make a gift to pay off the entirety of the graduates’ loans – an amount estimated at $40 million. Kudos to Mr. Smith and congrats to the Morehouse graduates; a substantial burden has been removed as they begin their careers.

But for Brandi Anderson and other students who lost a parent in service to our country, their story is not about the debt they owe to a government loan. It’s about the debt we Americans owe to them.


One's racial and economic privilege or lack thereof will be calculated in secret  

Earlier this year, students at Saratoga Springs High School were given a “privilege reflection form” and asked to calculate their privilege based on point totals added or subtracted from one’s score. Unsurprisingly, if one were white, male and/or heterosexual, points were added to one’s score. Those who were black, female, and/or homosexual subtracted points from their total. “At the end of the survey, students scoring negative 100 points or less were considered ‘very disprivileged,’ while students who scored above 100 points were told to ‘check it daily’ — as in check their privilege daily,” the Daily Gazette reported. Now, similarly poisonous nonsense has taken hold at the College Board: each SAT test-taker will be given an “adversity score” that purports to level the playing field between students from different social and economic backgrounds.

“The score will be calculated using 15 factors, including the relative quality of the student’s high school and the crime rate and poverty level of the student’s neighborhood,” The New York Times reports. “The rating will not affect students’ test scores, and will be reported only to college admissions officials as part of a larger package of data on each test taker.”

In other words, one’s privilege or lack thereof will be calculated in secret.

Why? Colleges are desperate to preserve the contemptible notion that diversity is more important than meritocracy. And while the Board insists race will not be part of the equation, it is the racial achievement gap, which has existed for decades and leaves many minority students un- or under-qualified to gain admissions to elite colleges, that remains the bane of colleges desperate to justify those admissions.

That Asian parents generally demand higher levels of academic achievement from their children than white or black American parents do? That white students from low-income households have fared better on the SATs than black students from upper-middle-class ones? That the University of California has determined that race predicts SAT scores better than class?

College Board CEO David Coleman, who is also credited with being the architect of the disastrous Common Core curriculum, is thrilled. “Merit is all about resourcefulness,” he insists. “This is about finding young people who do a great deal with what they’ve been given. It helps colleges see students who may not have scored as high, but when you look at the environment that they have emerged from, it is amazing.”

Nonsense. Merit is about merit. Moreover, vocabulary gives the Board away. A student’s “Overall Disadvantage Level” will be rated on a scale of one to 100. Scores over 50 points will indicate “hardship,” and scores lower than 50 points will indicate “privilege.”

No doubt it’s pure coincidence that “privilege” has been routinely used by leftists to vilify white Americans. Yet even if this effort is not about race, what’s so noble about discrimination by class?

In reality, the effort to subvert standardized testing is about two things. First, colleges want cover for admitting less-qualified students, and the College Board is more than willing to give to them. As the Daily Caller explains, the College Board “would not say how it makes the score or weighs the 15 factors considered.” Moreover the part of the total will be derived from “sources ‘proprietary’ to the College Board.”

Second? “The College Board is reacting to demand from colleges, many of which are making use if the SATs optional, or even dropping the requirement entirely, precisely because it does not yield the desired racial distribution of scores,” columnist Thomas Lifson reveals. “Fewer students taking the test, because colleges don’t require it, means less money for the College Board. By adding the adversity score and therefore a veneer of pseudo-science to the racial engineering of outcomes, the College Board is feathering its own financial nest.”

In other words, it’s all about the money.

And who’s kidding whom? The system is easily gamed, as one can rent an apartment in a bad section of town to use as an address, or hide income, to appear poor. Moreover, if this is a reaction to the college admissions scandal whereby 50 elitists, including Hollywood actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, simply bribed their child’s way into college, irony abounds: The College Board is also asserting that gaining the system is OK, as long as the gamesmanship accrues to the interests of its designated victims.

In fact, as Manhattan Institute fellow Heather Mac Donald astutely points out, black students who already know they are held to a different standard than their white and Asian counterparts will have less incentive to push themselves, making the problem worse. “At present, thanks to racial preferences, many black high school students know that they don’t need to put in as much scholarly effort as non-‘students of color’ to be admitted to highly competitive colleges,” she writes. “The adversity score will only reinforce that knowledge.”

Mac Donald further notes campus diversity bureaucrats will be the only guaranteed beneficiaries of this scheme. “They have been given another assurance of academically handicapped students who can be leveraged into grievance, more diversity sinecures, and lowered academic standards,” she adds.

What about equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of results? In a revealing paragraph, the Times insist that “families who hire expensive consultants and tutors” are also gaming the system, and that higher SAT scores “have been found to correlate with students from wealthier families and those with better-educated parents.”

In other words, absent a wholly classless society, equality of opportunity doesn’t exist. Thus, it becomes necessary to equalize the outcome — in the interests of preserving meritocracy, no less!

If such nonsense sounds Orwellian, that’s because it is. Furthermore, no amount of subterfuge can obscure the reality that many students conned into believing they are ready for college work will end up switching to less-demanding majors, or dropping out entirely when they discover they’re not.

The long-term consequences of this fraud? In a real world with far more exacting standards, even the most dedicated progressives will not entrust their well-being to those who’ve been taught that even where accuracy is critical, substandard efforts may be deemed acceptable if one’s socio-economic credentials demonstrate a sufficient level of adversity.

Nonetheless, the “soft bigotry of law expectations” doesn’t play well in places like operating rooms, or pilot seats — all the social justice warrior rhetoric in the world notwithstanding.

Regardless, the College’s Board’s “Environmental Context Dashboard,” which has already been field-tested by 50 colleges, will be embraced by another 150 schools this year, with a wider rollout scheduled for 2020.

“The whole purpose of standardized exams like the SAT is to implement one standard for everyone,” writes columnist Karol Markowicz.

Not any more. “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,” stated John Barnhill, assistant vice president for academic affairs at Florida State University.

Privileged? Better qualified is more like it.


Australia: Former US vice president Al Gore will lead a three-day climate change lecture in Queensland - and you'll be paying for the venue

Former US vice president Al Gore is set to visit Queensland to lecture students about climate change - but it will come at a cost to the taxpayers.

Mr Gore will speak at the Minister's Climate Change event in Brisbane from June 5 to 7.

The event comes at a cost to taxpayers with the Brisbane Convention Centre hire and one project co-ordinator costing about $142,000 and being charged to the Queensland Government, the Courier-Mail reported.

State Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the Queensland Government was supporting the climate leadership training by providing funding for the venue and a Brisbane-based Climate Reality Project manager.

Mr Gore, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, once commanded a $100,000 speaking fee, ABC reported.

The three-day event was set to feature an appearance by Labor leader Bill Shorten had he won the Federal Election.

Mr Gore is opposed to the Adani coal mine, which is due to operate in Queensland. 'The Adani mine doesn't have its financing, I hope it never gets its financing,' Mr Gore told the Guardian in 2017. 'It's not my place to meddle with your politics, but truly, this is nuts.'

Liberal-National MP Matt Canavan said he 'welcomed' Mr Gore to Queensland.

'I hope he can hear the message of how our state’s fantastic coal creates jobs, powers the world and produces a better environment because it is cleaner,' he said.

'We Queenslanders should think about what major dam or power station we want Al Gore to target so he can help us get that going too.'

Mr Gore will host climate leadership training for between 800 and 1000 business and community leaders from across Australia and the Asia-Pacific region during the climate change event.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Decades of government schools (kindergarten through grade 12) – have poisoned America’s intellectual well

An utterly pathetic school system which produces far too many people who can’t read the diplomas they’re handed – but can all roll a condom on a banana.

College IS for Dummies to be sure – a festering cesspool of totalitarian Leftist claptrap factories.

But before the universities can activate the radicals – the government schools must indoctrinate them.

All this time spent indoctrinating – cuts deeply into the time that should be spent educating.  This isn’t an accident.

Government schools have no interest in educating.  Let alone teaching America’s youth how to think – and think for themselves:

“Critical thinking is a type of reasonable, reflective thinking that is aimed at deciding what to believe or what to do. It is a way of deciding whether a claim is always true, sometimes true, partly true, or false.”

Thinking for yourself – is antithetical to the mission of government schools.  The late, great George Carlin knew this:  “Governments don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. That’s against their interests.  “They want obedient workers.  People who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork.  And just dumb enough to passively accept it.”

Communist vanguard Vladimir Lenin – long ago gave away the game:  “Give me just one generation of youth, and I’ll transform the whole world.”

US government schools – have had three generations pass through their indoctrination mills.

The late, great Ronald Reagan noted: “It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.”

To extrapolate: It’s not just that way too many Americans can not do math or understand English.  It’s that they know so much math and English that isn’t so.

We aren’t taught to do math or understand English.  Government schools force feed us bad math and fake English – and expect us to mindlessly parrot it whenever called upon to do so. Government schools – are Leftist talking point imposition devices.  “Socialism – good.  Capitalism – bad.”

But government school victims are incapable of explaining anything – behind and beyond the magic words they have been force fed to regurgitate.

Three generations of government school victims have entered the population – and the voter rolls.  The results have been disastrous. We now have a debilitating percentage of the population – completely incapable of reason or basic thought processes.

Forget math – rudimentary numbers are beyond their grasp.  Forget discussion – basic words are beyond their grasp.


Prominent professor warned Harvard of sex harassment threat to grad students

As Harvard University grapples with its failure to address decades of sexual misconduct by a former professor, some faculty and graduate students say they have been pressing for at least a year for greater urgency in changing a culture of tolerating "open secrets" on campus.

In particular, they have raised alarms and staged protests about the problems faced by graduate students at the hands of the powerful professors who are supposed to be their mentors.

One professor a full year ago said he was no longer comfortable staying silent, given his own concerns and those he was hearing privately from colleagues.

"We exhort students and other victims of harassment to come forward and speak up," Stephen Blyth, a statistics professor and the former head of Harvard's multibillion-dollar endowment, wrote in a May 2018 letter to then-president Drew Gilpin Faust. Yet Harvard has a history of failing to act, Blyth said: "Victims and witnesses need to have confidence that perpetrators will, when appropriate, be removed from the university."

A copy of the letter was obtained by the Globe in the wake of recent sanctions against Jorge Dominguez, a retired Harvard government professor who was found to have engaged in "unwelcome sexual conduct" with female students and junior faculty over four decades.

The Blyth letter was shared last year with other top Harvard officials, including president Lawrence Bacow after he took over in July, a university spokesman confirmed.

Blyth said he stands by his letter. "We have an urgent collective responsibility to tackle harassment at Harvard robustly and promptly, in order to deserve the full trust of our students," he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, graduate students at Harvard, who are in a labor dispute with the university, have been protesting for months, demanding greater protections against harassment as part of their negotiated contract.

Earlier this month, Harvard acknowledged - after a yearlong investigation - its findings against Dominguez, the retired professor and onetime vice provost. The school took the rare step of stripping him of the privileges granted to retired faculty and barred him from campus.

At the same time, Bacow agreed to an external review of the university's policies. The probe is meant to examine why alleged victims may be reluctant to report misconduct, and what barriers may prevent Harvard from effectively responding to complaints.

Harvard spokesman Jonathan Swain confirmed that Faust, Bacow, and other top Harvard officials had seen Blyth's warning letter. But he said Harvard has been tackling harassment on a number of fronts since 2015 and making vigorous changes in its practices, outreach, and training for at least the past two years.

"As President Bacow has said, the university's highest priority is providing a welcoming, healthy and safe community where all students, faculty, and staff can do their best work," Swain said in a statement. This includes "ensuring Harvard is an environment where individuals are empowered to come forward when misconduct occurs."

For graduate students, reporting misconduct by a professor can be particularly fraught. Professors and department chairs guide their research and apply for grants that can help fund their pay. They also provide important recommendations for future positions, and help students establish contacts that can propel their careers.

At Harvard, that power imbalance can be magnified even further: Professors are often superstars in their fields, known worldwide and teaching at one of the country's premier institutions, graduate students said.

"The power relationships in academia are difficult. Your supervisor has control over your whole career," said Ege Yumusak, a second-year graduate student in philosophy and a member of the graduate student worker union. "Harvard is a place where there are many powerful people."

Blyth, in his letter, said the bravery required for a doctoral student to complain about a top professor rivals what Hollywood actors had to summon in the face of Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual harassment.

Even younger professors, on whom students might lean for help if they are being mistreated, are often reticent to rock the boat, the letter said. "I encountered professors who would not speak on the record for fear of retribution or disruption to their own career."

Harvard is moving ahead in earnest, said Swain, the school spokesman.

He noted that in March of 2018, Faust had asked a committee that oversees Harvard's gender and sexual discrimination matters to look into harassment by faculty members, two months before the Blyth letter was written.

Harvard saw a 56 percent increase in reports of sexual or gender-based harassment in 2018 - from 266 incidents to 416, and the largest portion identified involve faculty or staff. Harvard officials attribute the rise in reports to more training and raising awareness among students, faculty, and staff.

Since 2017, under newly appointed Title IX officer Nicole Merhill, Harvard has offered students more ways to file complaints, officials say. Students can bring to her office reports of sexual harassment or assault by students or faculty members. Sometimes alleged victims don't want to file formal complaints and are informed of other options, officials say.

Harvard also has a formal complaint process handled by its Office of Dispute Resolution, which investigates allegations.

But Harvard officials would not say whether the spike in incident reports has led to more disciplinary actions against faculty or staff for violations. Sanctions against faculty are left up to each individual school on the campus and punishment for bad behavior can vary.

Recent publicized sexual harassment cases show that Harvard has not been good at policing itself, graduate students said.

"It's a systemic problem that needs a systemic solution," said Vail Kohnert-Yount, a Harvard Law School student and a founder of the Pipeline Parity Project, fighting to end sexual harassment and discrimination in the legal profession. She said a university wide examination is sorely needed and long overdue.

Aside from the Dominguez case, Harvard also is investigating complaints of sexual harassment by other professors. For instance, allegations have been made against Roland Fryer, a high-profile economist. Fryer is alleged to have discussed sex at work, sexualized female workers, and created a demeaning workplace at his research lab going back several years, according to an attorney representing a lab worker who filed a complaint.

In a letter to the editor of The New York Times, Fryer apologized for making "bad jokes," but denied retaliating against employees or fostering an environment where women felt alienated.

Fryer's attorney said recently the professor is still waiting for a ruling from Harvard.


UCLA student council condemns freedom center’s report on Jew hatred

Refusing to accept inconvenient facts about BDS and terrorism.

The UCLA Undergraduate Students Association just passed a resolution to condemn the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s newest report, “An Epidemic of Jew Hatred on Campus: the Top Ten Neo-Nazi Incidents” which was distributed in newspaper form on the UCLA campus on April 30. As the author of that report, I want to respond to the false and defamatory accusations made in the student council resolution.

The resolution passed by the student council charges the Freedom Center with “falsely and slanderously equating Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activism with Nazism and terrorism” and making “racist and demonizing accusations of campus activism [against Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)] being directly continuous with terrorism.” These charges are demonstrably and factually false.

Our report stated that the BDS movement against Israel is funded by terrorist organizations. It also stated that these terrorist organizations funnel money to SJP to propagandize for BDS on campus. These statements are not slanderous or demonizing because they are true.

In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Jonathan Schanzer, an expert who previously worked as a terrorism finance analyst for the United States Department of the Treasury—someone who knows what he’s talking about—described the how SJP’s propaganda activities and support for BDS are orchestrated and funded by a Hamas front group, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP).  Hatem Bazian—a cofounder of SJP and a professor at the University of California-Berkeley—serves as chairman of AMP. The organization’s leadership includes former officers of the Holy Land Foundation and other Islamic “charities” previously convicted of funneling money to Hamas.

Schanzer explained, “At its 2014 annual conference, AMP invited participants to ‘come and navigate the fine line between legal activism and material support for terrorism.’”  He described AMP as “arguably the most important sponsor and organizer for Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which is the most visible arm of the BDS campaign on campuses in the United States” and revealed that AMP “provides speakers, training, printed materials, a so-called ‘Apartheid Wall,’ and grants to SJP activists” and “even has a campus coordinator on staff whose job is to work directly with SJP and other pro-BDS campus groups across the country.”  Furthermore, he stated, “according to an email it sent to subscribers, AMP spent $100,000 on campus activities in 2014 alone.”

Further evidence comes from a recent study presented by Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Gilad Erdan at the recent Global Coalition 4 Israel Forum (GC4I). The study exposed a “Network of Hate” connecting the most prominent BDS organizations worldwide with the terrorist organizations Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Minister Erdan described how BDS organizations disseminate false propaganda provided by Hamas and the Palestinian authority and stated, “The relationship between terrorist organizations and the BDS movement has never been closer, ideologically or operationally.”

And there is no doubt that the BDS movement contributes to rampant anti-Semitism on campus. A recent study conducted by the Amcha Initiative found that there is a “strong correlation between anti-Zionist student groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and anti-Semitism.” The study’s results indicated that “99% of schools with one or more active anti-Zionist groups had one or more incidents of anti-Semitic activity, whereas only 16% of schools with no active anti-Zionist student group had incidents of overall anti-Semitic activity.”

As for equating BDS with Nazism, that is indeed a justifiable comparison. Just as Hitler’s reforms aimed to marginalize Germany’s Jews through increasingly restrictive laws and sanctions, the BDS movement seeks to isolate and delegitimize Israel, cut it off from the world community, and bankrupt its resources in the hopes of ultimately destroying it.

A more direct connection also exists between BDS and the Nazi movement. The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928 by Muslim scholar Hassan al-Banna. An ardent follower of Adolf Hitler, al-Banna translated Mein Kampf into Arabic in the 1930’s and launched the Islamic-Palestinian movement to “push the Jews into the sea.” According to Richard Clarke – the chief counterterrorism advisor on the U.S. National Security Council during the administrations of both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush—Hamas, along with al Qaeda and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, is one of the “descendants of the membership and ideology of the Muslim Brothers.” Therefore we can show that Hamas—the organization funding SJP’s BDS activism—has a demonstrable lineage extending back to Nazi Germany.

UCLA was one of the schools named in our report because of an incident that occurred there on May 17, 2018—although in truth there have been a great many anti-Semitic incidents at UCLA. On that date, members of Students for Justice in Palestine viciously disrupted a pro-Israel event titled “Indigenous Peoples Unite” which had been organized by Students Supporting Israel. While a participant was speaking about surviving genocide in his native Armenia, a protestor walked over and tore the Armenian flag off the wall and threw the speaker’s notes on the floor, while screaming directly in his face. SJP protestors used horns and whistles to create a chaos of noise and chanted slogans including “We don't want 2 states, we want '48,” a genocidal statement in favor of abolishing Israel and returning to a time before it existed. Due to SJP’s protest, the event was forced to halt for over 15 minutes until calm could be regained.

Despite SJP’s egregious behavior during this incident and others, the UCLA administration allowed SJP National to hold its infamous annual conference on the UCLA campus the following semester. The conference announcement even bragged about disrupting pro-Israel events.

And yet it is the David Horowitz Freedom Center that is being condemned by the UCLA student council for exposing the truth about this incident and others. Not SJP for its censorship of pro-Israel speech on campus and for espousing the anti-Semitic doctrine of BDS.

Instead of attempting to bully pro-Israel organizations like the Freedom Center and the Canary Mission into silence, UCLA’s student council would do better to look at the source of the Jew hatred lurking in their midst.


Monday, May 27, 2019

Cruz Launches Investigation into Yale Law School’s Treatment of Christian Students, Organizations

On Tuesday, Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz announced that he is looking into potential “unconstitutional animus” and discrimination by Yale Law School against Christian students and organizations.

Cruz has sent two letters to Yale regarding his concern that the school is targeting traditional Christian values and sexual ethics, the senator’s press release explains:

“U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Constitution, on Monday sent a letter to Yale Law School requesting that the school turn over documents related to its discriminatory policy against students serving in organizations professing traditional Christian views or adhering to traditional sexual ethics.

“The letter follows Sen. Cruz's letter in April, where he notified Yale Law School's Dean Heather Gerken of his intent to investigate Yale's policy, which he described as brought about by "unconstitutional animus and a specific discriminatory intent both to blacklist Christian organizations and to punish Yale students whose values or religious faith lead them to work there."

Monday’s letter requests documents pertaining to Yale’s “public interest funding” decisions, policies and practices.

In particular, Cruz asks for information on how much public interest funding has been provided to abortion activist and other liberal groups, such as Planned Parenthood, compared to conservative organizations like The Heritage Foundation and The Beckett Fund:

“Any and all documents stating the amount of funding that the following entities or organizations have received, or the amount of funding that students have received for their employment with or employment arranged through the following entities or organizations, over any time period, related to any or all of Yale Law School’s public interest funding programs:

a) Planned Parenthood


c) The Center for Reproductive Rights

d) The National Right to Life Committee

e) Susan B. Anthony List

f) Americans United for Life

g) Human Rights Campaign

h) Amnesty International

i) Lambda Legal



l) The Heritage Foundation

m) Beckett Fund

n) First Liberty

0) Alliance Defending Freedom, including the Blackstone Legal Fellowship program

p) The Cato Institute

q) Southern Poverty Law Center

r) The Organization of Islamic Cooperation

s) Any foreign government

The letter also asks Yale to disclose the amount of funding, of any kind, the school receives from the federal government.


New Adversity Scoring Of S.A.T. Exam is unhelpful

A common defense of affirmative action in college admissions is that it simply adjusts for difficult childhood circumstances. Under this theory, students from underrepresented groups score below their true ability level on the SAT due to poverty or discrimination or a lack of fancy test prep, but they will thrive once brought to an enriching university environment.

Many parents feel this is a backdoor way of using race as a factor over merit. National Review reports,

If true, affirmative action would not involve any lowering of admission standards, but rather a fairer appraisal of each applicant’s abilities.

It’s not true. Researchers have known for decades that SAT scores predict college performance for poor and minority students about as well as they do for everyone else. To the extent there is a difference, the SAT actually over-predicts their performance. Therefore, if the goal is to find the students who will be most academically successful, colleges should not bump up applicants’ SAT scores on the basis of poverty or race.

That’s one reason why the College Board’s new “adversity score” is so troubling. By providing schools with a secret quantification of each applicant’s childhood environment, the College Board furthers the myth that the SAT is predictively biased along socioeconomic lines. According to the New York Times:

Admissions officers have also tried for years to find ways to gauge the hardships that students have had to overcome, and to predict which students will do well in college despite lower test scores. The new adversity score is meant to be one such gauge.
If so, we already know it doesn’t work. The College Board’s own data (see page 42) show that test scores and high school grades predict college performance about equally across all adversity levels. An exception is for students at the highest levels of adversity where, once again, their college GPA is slightly below expectations, not above.

In reality, there is no merit-based case for affirmative action in college admissions. Proponents should acknowledge that their chief interest is not merit, but social justice. “Diversity is so important to our schools and to broader society that lowering standards is a worthy price to pay,” they should declare. That would be a reminder that affirmative action — like all hotly debated issues — involves inherent trade-offs, and it’s up to the public to decide how to weigh them.


Australia: Mother is furious after teacher THROWS OUT her child's sweet lunchbox treat because it's 'not fair' to other students

An outraged mum has sparked conversation about school lunchbox rules after her child's sweet treat was thrown out by the teacher.

Posting in an Australian budgeting group on Facebook, the Queensland-based woman asked members whether they thought it was appropriate to do this. 

'Do you think it's okay for a teacher to throw away an item of your child's lunch that you packed just because it's a "sweet" and the teacher believes it's not fair as not every other child has a sweet?' She wrote.

'When I say sweet I mean anything like a chocolate biscuit, chocolate coated muesli bar, cake, chocolate mousse etc. Regardless of whether it's fat, sugar reduced or not.'

Group members were quick to share in her anger with hundreds of commenters saying they thought the teacher was in the wrong.

Some said they should have just sent the treat home instead of throwing it in the bin.

'No. You paid for that. If the teacher is not happy, then by all means she can hold onto it and let you know why she took it,' one group member said.

'It’s never okay to throw it out! What a horrible experience for a child; we’ve gone insane when it comes to food but they cross a line when they shame a child like that,' said another.

Members agreed that although they support teaching nutrition, they think what was described in the post is 'shaming and hurtful'.

'This is not how we teach nutrition; I hate the way lunchboxes are policed now. Demonising food groups; embarrassing children,' a woman said.

Other people told the original poster to make a complaint to the school and a woman who used to work in a school office said teachers can advise but they cannot throw out food.

She added that it isn't up to teachers to police children's lunchboxes and suggested the mother put a note in the child's lunchbox to that teacher advising the same.


Sunday, May 26, 2019

Mass: Fine Art Museum slammed for taking precautions against boisterous behavior of black students

Boisterous behavior in black schools is well-known.  But that could lead to damage to sometimes frail objects in an art museum

The Museum of Fine Arts found itself under siege Thursday as educators, politicians, and civil-rights activists assailed the renowned institution over reports that minority students from a Dorchester middle school were subjected to racial insults and close security during a field trip.

The field trip - a reward for good grades and good behavior - left the students deeply hurt, said Marvelyne Lamy, a teacher who accompanied the group and posted about the incidents on her Facebook page.

One student, 13-year-old Corlaya Brown, said she noticed the group from the Davis academy were treated differently soon after they walked into the museum to see ancient Greek and Egyptian artifacts after studying them in a Western civilization class.

Upon their arrival, Brown said, a staff member explained the rules: "No food, no drink, no watermelon."

Then, Brown said, she and her classmates noticed security guards following them around the exhibits, telling them not to touch the artifacts and paying closer attention to them than they had to white students from other schools who were visiting the museum at the same time.

"I didn't feel comfortable," Brown said. "I didn't feel safe. I felt disrespected. I felt angry."

Her mother, Tara Brown, said her daughter came home that day asking why she and her classmates had been treated differently from other students.

Lamy, the Davis teacher, said one student overheard a patron likening the pupil to a stripper as she danced to music playing in a fashion exhibit titled "Gender Bending," and that another visitor complained that "there's [expletive] black kids in the way."

Corlaya Brown said the museum officials who came to the school Thursday did not seem to take their concerns seriously. "When they were talking, it sounded like they were nonchalant," she said.

The incident occurred amid an effort by the museum to broaden its reach to minority communities. In a 2015 interview with WBUR, museum officials said that 79 percent of their visitors were Caucasian. In addition, about 20 percent of the 700-plus member staff identified themselves as nonwhite; of those, only 14 percent were in "professional" jobs such as curators, conservators, educators, and management, according to the report.

In a 2017 series on race in Boston, the Globe Spotlight Team counted the number of patrons at the MFA on a Saturday, and found that about 4 percent of roughly 3,000 were black.

By contrast, more than 90 percent of the Davis school's 216 students are African-American or Latino, while 95 percent of the school's staff are people of color, said Arturo J. Forrest, the school's principal.

"This is disgusting and disheartening," state Senator Nick Collins of South Boston said in a tweet. "We need to listen to the experiences of young people of color. When they say they face discrimination & institutional racism daily, this is what that looks like."

Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, said the incident "shows just how pervasive racism is."

"From discriminatory practices in public spaces like museums, to our criminal legal system that disproportionately incarcerates people of color, there is much work to be done to achieve real and sustainable progress toward racial justice," she said.

In an open letter posted Wednesday on the museum website, the MFA apologized to the students and school for "a range of challenging and unacceptable experiences that made them feel unwelcome. That is not who we are or want to be. Our intention is to set the highest of standards, and we are committed to doing the work that it will take to get there."


Before Spending More on Vocational Training, Let’s Ensure It Meets Market Needs

As lawmakers and students grow weary of the rising cost of higher education, vocational training programs are drawing more attention and funding. But a new report finds that these programs are wildly out of step with the needs of today’s job market. To provide a real alternative to higher education, states and schools offering vocational programs should align vocational education with market needs.

Career and Technical Education programs offer options for students looking to avoid student loan debt. These programs equip high school and post-secondary students with the skills and credentials they need to secure jobs for tens of thousands of dollars less than the cost of a traditional 4-year college degree. However, most students are pursuing—and taxpayers are funding—credentials that offer little access to jobs, let alone well-paid ones.

The Foundation for Excellence in Education, a national education research organization, partnered with Burning Glass Technologies, a job market research firm to study U.S. vocational education. They found that in the 24 states they studied, the credentials students earn through career and technical education do not align with job markets.

In total, the study found that for 10 of the top 15 most popular credentials, students are earning more credentials than there are jobs available. In some cases, these credentials lead to no job opportunities at all. “General Career Readiness” credentials, such as financial literacy and basic first aid, for example, account for 28% of credentials earned, yet the study reported zero market demand for them.

Even when students do find jobs with low-demand credentials, they are often low-paying. According to data from the study and the Bureau of Labor statistics, only four of the top nine licenses earned by K-12 students lead to jobs with annual median salaries of approximately $35,000 or more. By contrast, median U.S. household income in 2017 totaled $60,336, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Worse yet, taxpayers are footing the bill for these programs. A recent oversight report found that in the last few years, the U.S. Department of Education spent hundreds of millions of dollars on vocational education programs including hair and beauty schools, gaming and bartending classes, refrigeration school, and a Professional Golfers Career College. Last year, Congress agreed to channel and additional $1.2 billion to career and technical education over the next six years, and states augment this funding with hundreds of millions of dollars of their own resources.

Instead of funding credentials that translate to few or no jobs, these resources could be helping students obtain credentials that position them for available jobs with significant salaries. For example, the Foundation for Excellence in Education study found that employers are looking to fill tens of thousands of jobs with employees who have EEG/EKG/ECG Certifications, CompTIA A+ Security+ certifications, and with Cisco Certified Network Associates—positions that come with median annual salaries between $50,132 to $82,296 per year.

If the states and nation are earnest about making career and technical programs a viable path to gainful employment, they must do more than fund these programs, they should align the credentials they offer with market demands.

Finland’s vocational education program, for example, is shaped by just such analysis. According to the National Center on Education and the Economy, The Finnish National Board of Education determines what vocational education will be offered throughout the country based on regularly updated analysis of projections for what the the nation’s industry needs will be in 15 years.

This program has proved both popular and successful at helping Finnish students secure jobs. At age 16, Finnish students choose whether to focus on preparing for university or to pursue vocational education. According to the Organization for Economic Development, Finland has one the highest enrollment rates in upper secondary vocational education, with 71% of upper secondary students enrolled in vocational education programs. And overall, Finnish vocational graduates (age 20-64) experience a 73.4% employment rate, several percentage points higher than average vocational graduate employment rate in the European Union.

The United States could do similarly. Industry needs vary from state to state, so states and schools could optimize career and technical education resources by auditing which credentials are in demand in the labor market, and then directing students and funding to those credentials. These adjustments would benefit employers seeking qualified employees in high-demand fields, students seeking cost-effective paths to employment, and schools whose increased graduate employment rates attract more potential students.

Vocational education programs offer students tremendous education opportunities, but with some intentional adjustments, we can make them even more practical.


UK: Oxbridge can force old professors to retire in order to boost diversity, tribunal ruling suggests

Oxford and Cambridge universities can force old professors to retire in order to boost diversity, a tribunal ruling suggests.

Prof John Pitcher, a leading Shakespeare scholar and fellow at St John’s College at Oxford, claimed that he had been unfairly pushed out at age 67 to make way for younger and more ethnically diverse academics.

He sued the College and university for age discrimination and unfair dismissal, claiming loss of earnings of £100,000 - but Judge Bedeau dismissed both claims.

Prof Pitcher, an authority on Elizabethan and Jacobean drama and poetry, had worked at the College for over three decades and wanted to continue beyond the university’s self-imposed retirement age, which at the time was 67.

But the academic, now aged 70, claimed that he was “forcibly retired” under the university’s Employer Justified Retirement Age (EJRA) policy.

Founded in 1557, St John’s is one of Oxford’s wealthiest colleges and counts the former Prime Minister Tony Blair and the writer Philip Larkin among its alumni.   

Prof Pitcher had argued that it was “degrading and humiliating” to have to re-apply for his job after “decades of impeccable service”.

He said he had to “satisfy an unreasonably high threshold test” by proving he is “virtually indispensable to the university”. 

The default retirement age of 65 was axed by the Government in 2011 but an employer can set its own compulsory retirement age if it is in the interests of the institution. Oxford says that its retirement age for senior academics - which has now been lifted to 68 - is aimed at promoting “inter-generational fairness and improvements in diversity”.

Academics can apply to the university to work beyond this in “exceptional circumstances”, for example, to complete a particular project or duty. 

But legal experts have said that other universities may now follow suit  and impose retirement ages, following the judgement in Oxford's favour.

Judge Bedeau said the Prof Pitcher case “exemplifies” the “much vexed question” for employers of how to create opportunities “for the advancement of those in its workforce from different backgrounds to achieve their full potential” while at the same “balancing the needs and interests of those in senior positions who desire to remain employed”.

John Bowers QC, principal of Brasenose College and an expert in employment law, said the case was “very significant”.

“It provides a thorough vindication of the University and College position to have a retirement age,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “There is a strong feeling that the only way to keep refreshing the diversity of the academic community is to keep a retirement age.”