Friday, June 07, 2019

Former Parkland security officer Scot Peterson charged with neglect for not entering school

About time the gutless wonder was called to account.  How did a coward get into that job?

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen said in a news release that Peterson's inaction cost people their lives.

A former Parkland, Florida, school safety officer who failed to confront the gunman when 17 people were fatally shot at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year, was arrested Tuesday on multiple charges, including child neglect and perjury.

Scot Peterson, who worked as a security officer at the campus, was charged with seven counts of neglect of a child and three counts of culpable negligence and one count of perjury, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said.

The charges carry a maximum potential sentence of 96 and a half years in state prison, the Broward State Attorney's Office said.

Lawyers for Peterson denounced the charges as "unprecedented" and "spurious." "The State’s actions appear to be nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt at politically motivated retribution against Mr. Peterson," attorney Joseph DiRuzzo said in a statement to NBC News. "The charges against Mr. Peterson should be dismissed immediately."

Seventeen students, teachers and staff were killed in the shooting on Feb. 14, 2018, and another 17 were injured. A former student, Nikolas Cruz, is charged with 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder.

Cruz has pleaded not guilty although his public defenders said he would plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence. Prosecutors want the death penalty.

Peterson, 56, was the only other person at the school with a gun when the shooter opened fire.

He was taken into custody in Broward County after a 15-month investigation that showed he "refused to investigate the source of the gunshots, retreated during the active shooting while victims were being shot and directed other law enforcement who arrived on scene to remain 500 feet away from the building," the state law enforcement department said.

Department Commissioner Rick Swearingen said in a news release that Peterson "did absolutely nothing" to stop the shooting, and that cost people their lives.

“There can be no excuse for his complete inaction and no question that his inaction cost lives,” Swearingen said.

The State Attorney's Office said the law enforcement department interviewed more than 180 witnesses, as well as reviewed video surveillance during the investigation.

"All the facts related to Mr. Peterson’s failure to act during the MSD massacre clearly warranted both termination of employment and criminal charges. It’s never too late for accountability and justice,” Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony added.

Peterson, who was fired Tuesday from the Broward County Sheriff's Office, said during a June 2018 interview with NBC's "Today" that he did not go into the building because of miscommunication.

"I didn't get it right," he said. "But it wasn't because of some, 'Oh, I don't want to go into that building. Oh, I don't want to face somebody in there.' It wasn't like that at all." "Those are my kids in there," he added. "I never would have sat there and let my kids get slaughtered. Never."

Peterson was booked into the Broward County Jail on a $102,000 bond. Under the terms of his bond, he must wear a GPS monitor, surrender his passport and is prohibited from possessing firearms while the case is pending.

Jeff Bell, president of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, told NBC News on Tuesday that the union has concerns with the child neglect charges due to the caveat that someone must be a caretaker.

"Does that mean now that any time an officer is assigned a detail that involves children around the country, are they now caretakers?" Bell asked. "I worry about future officers, not just Scot Peterson, being charged by overzealous prosecutors with child neglect when we’re not caretakers."

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime died in the Parkland shooting, told Peterson to "rot in hell" on Twitter Tuesday.

"You could have saved some of the 17," Guttenberg said. "You could have saved my daughter. You did not and then you lied about it and you deserve the misery coming your way."

The brother of Meadow Pollack, another student who died in the attack, said on Twitter that he hoped Peterson spends "the rest of his life in prison."

"He cowered in Parkland while my sister died defenseless and lied about his failure to confront the shooter," Hunter Pollack said.


Some Colleges are Committed to Ideological Diversity

When you send your youngster off to college, you might not mind that they will have to walk on eggshells, respect taboos, snitch on fellow students for politically incorrect jokes and learn to use ad hominem arguments as a means to attack ideas they find "disagreeable." If that's your preference, you can choose from a wide variety of America's top-ranked colleges. If you want to send your youngster to colleges that are seriously committed to civil and diverse debate, pick up a copy of the June 2019 edition of Reason magazine for some guidance.

Professors Debra Mashek and Jonathan Haidt authored "10 Colleges Where You Won't Have to Walk on Eggshells." Mashek and Haidt are, respectively, faculty members of Harvey Mudd College and New York University. Haidt is the co-founder of the Heterodox Academy and Mashek is its executive director. Heterodox Academy is nonpartisan and boasts a membership of more than 2,500 faculty and college administrators who advocate for open inquiry and civil disagreement on college campuses and in academic disciplines.

The Mashek and Haidt article discusses 10 colleges in alphabetical order. Among them is Chapman University, whose president, Daniele Struppa, is "an outspoken advocate of academic freedom and freedom of speech." Struppa has little tolerance for the political correctness so prevalent at most of the nation's colleges.

The University of Chicago has set the gold standard on free speech and open inquiry. In 2014, it created its "Statement on Principles of Free Expression" (aka the Chicago Principles). Those principles provide the framework for thinking about the importance of dissent as well as the role of the university for establishing the platform for debate. University of Chicago president Robert Zimmer says, "We have an obligation to see that the greatest variety of perspectives is brought to bear on issues before us as scholars and citizens." The Chicago Principles, or substantially similar ones, have been adopted by 55 schools across the nation. In June 2018, the University of Chicago received Heterodox Academy's Institutional Excellence Award in recognition of its stellar culture and support for open inquiry.

Other colleges listed in the Mashek and Haidt article, where students won't have to walk on eggshells include Arizona State University, Claremont McKenna College, Kansas State University, Kenyon College, Linn-Benton Community College, St. John's College, University of Richmond and Purdue University. It's worth noting that Mitch Daniels is president of Purdue University and former two-term governor of the state of Indiana. Daniels and his interim provost Jay Akridge wrote this message to the Purdue community: "At Purdue, we protect and promote the right to free and open inquiry in all matters and guarantee all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen challenge and learn."

In my opinion, it is truly a tragic state of affairs when free speech and free inquiry require protection at most institutions of higher learning. Indeed, it has been freedom in the marketplace of ideas that has made the United States, as well as other western nations, leaders in virtually every area of human endeavor. A monopoly of ideas is just as dangerous as a monopoly in other areas of our lives such as monopoly in political power and the production of goods and services.

At the end of Professors Mashek's and Haidt's article, they come up with a few suggestions for parents. Visit the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education website to find out about a particular college's agenda to suppress free speech. By all means, check out the Heterodox Academy website. Search the college's website for terms such as "open inquiry," "freedom of expression" and "free speech." Examine the college's calendar of events to see whether speakers with diverse opinions are invited. Visit the campus. Talk with actual students about their experiences. In this article, Mashek and Haidt give specific questions to ask. I'd add to their list of things to do on a campus visit: Talk to the local police, bartenders and hospital people about the college. They might give you insights that an admissions officer would choose to keep hidden.


Common Core Has a Core Problem

Instead of leading to better education, the standards have devolved into a battle over funding.

“Contrary to our expectation, we found that [Common Core] had significant negative effects on 4th graders’ reading achievement during the 7 years after the adoption of the new standards, and had a significant negative effect on 8th graders’ math achievement 7 years after adoption based on analyses of NAEP composite scores.” —The Center on Standards, Alignment, Instruction and Learning (C-SAIL) preliminary study, 4-1-2019

Uh oh. That Race to the Top money of 2012 — totaling over $400 million — that served as the bolus to prime the funding pump for America’s schools employing some form of Common Core State Standards didn’t work. It seems, the data shows, it even had a detrimental effect. But maybe it was that the money was insufficient. Right?

Wrong. That federal funding was accompanied by an additional $7 billion in Student Improvement Grants that directly targeted low-performing schools by Barack Obama’s secretary of education, Arne Duncan. Money seemed plenteous.

So, what exactly has happened? Based on data analyzing the outcome of all but four states — Alaska, Texas, Nebraska, and Virginia — that moved to adopt some version of Common Core, the 640 pages of K-12 curriculum and testing mandates from 2010-2013 that was promised to produce academic gains, kids’ education actually suffered.

It seems, according to a longitudinal study, that students not only failed to make gains but tracked with “troubling” results showing “the magnitude of negative effects tend to increase over time.”

Specifically, after billions of dollars spent on new textbooks, new curriculum, and a new world of aggressive and frequent testing — along with the hours of work devoted to the change required of our teachers and students — the declines in performance measured for 4th-grade reading and 8th-grade math reached statistical significance.

That means the results are scientifically sound and can be replicated using data, measurement, and objective means. Bottom line, Common Core cost American taxpayers dearly and was a headache for teachers who dealt with teaching tests and taking tests instead of mastering academic information. But students were the biggest losers with a measurable decline in scores not just looking at reading and math in K-12 but, according to The Federalist’s Joy Pullman in a November 2018 piece, both ACT and SAT scores reflected similar declines: “Students’ readiness for college-level English was at its lowest level since ACT’s creators began measuring that item, in 2002. Students’ preparedness for college-level math is at its lowest point since 2004.”

But is the media reporting the failure of another attempt to reconfigure public education? Are parents up in arms that proficiencies are still lagging after more promises and programs? Oh, no. The crisis is that President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has the audacity to ask questions like the following in searching for a better way to approach preparing our children academically:

Why do schools close in the summer?

Why are schools assigned by your address?

Why do students have to go to a school building in the first place?

Why is choice only available to those who can buy their way out?
Or buy their way in?

Why do we limit what a student can learn based upon the faculty and facilities available?

These were just a few of the questions asked by Secretary DeVos in a January speech at the American Enterprise Institute for a conference themed, “Bush-Obama School Reform: Lessons Learned.”

Americans have been taxed hundreds of billions of dollars for the purpose of public education under the guise that the U.S. Department of Education, created by the Carter administration, is the authority on educational excellence. DeVos’s comments reflect the hard truth that federal mandates, federally required testing, and federal standards to get federal money are tied to power that originates in Washington, DC, when parents working directly with teachers to provide the best options for their children are the ones who know best.

It’s 2019. America was told in 2000 that No Child Left Behind was the program to get our kids academically prepared for their futures. In 2008, the idea was the rigor of Common Core would be reinforced through new curricula as well as constant testing. And here we are, almost two decades later, waiting for some new-fangled-program to be the game-changer for students in our K-12 public schools.

Empowering parents to have more choice and control over the per-pupil-funding allocated for their child is a goal of the Trump administration and other states making reforms. But be prepared. When money is placed in the hands of taxpayers instead of a government bureaucracy to spend and steward, the fight is not about academic results. It’s about power and funding control.

That’s at the core of this critical issue.


Thursday, June 06, 2019

FBI is said to be investigating fraudulent admissions practices at T.M. Landry college

It qualifies unprecedented numbers of blacks for  university, who mostly then get a "black" degree, no mattter how much they learn or don't learn

T.M. Landry College Preparatory School, a private school in Louisiana that garnered national attention for helping underprivileged and minority students attend elite colleges, is under federal investigation over its college admissions practices after disclosures that it cut corners and doctored applications, according to multiple people contacted by the FBI.

The FBI opened the inquiry after a Times investigation detailed instances of transcript fraud and physical and emotional abuse at the school.

In the fall, dozens of former students and teachers told the Times that T.M. Landry’s founders, Michael and Tracey Landry, doctored school transcripts with fake grades, nonexistent school clubs, and fictitious classes. They said the couple embroidered their college application recommendation letters with fabricated stories of hardship that played on negative racial stereotypes.

The report also prompted the Louisiana State Police to open a local law enforcement investigation into more than a dozen allegations of physical abuse at T.M. Landry. That investigation is continuing.

While the scope of the Justice Department investigation is not known, the FBI has discussed T.M. Landry’s college application practices as part of the inquiry, according to one person interviewed by federal investigators who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is not public.

The inquiry comes against the backdrop of a wide-ranging admissions scandal this year, which exposed how ultrawealthy families bribed officials and faked elaborate athletic credentials to get their children into desirable colleges.

Despite the vast differences, the cases underscore just how important and competitive college admissions have become.

The FBI said it does not confirm or deny the existence of investigations and declined to comment. The Landrys did not respond to a request for comment.

The Landrys and T.M. Landry board chairman Greg Davis have told parents and donors that they have done nothing wrong, and they are working to expand the school’s enrollment and repair its reputation. The school has told investigators that it has lost scores of students after the Times article, and that its graduating class dwindled to four, from 16.

Davis has also played up the findings of a 23-page report that summarized an internal investigation into the allegations published in the Times. In letters to donors, Davis said the report, which was released in April, “validates the academic outcomes” of T.M. Landry students.

The New Orleans law firm that Davis hired to conduct the internal inquiry, Couhig Partners, worked with Paul Pastorek, a former state superintendent of schools, who described Davis as a personal friend in his glowing summary of the inquiry.

T.M. Landry “appears to have been a genuine incubator for success, particularly for self-reliant students willing to put faith in a nontraditional education model,” Pastorek wrote.


2019 College Grads Can Thank Trump For The Good Times

As springtime draws to a close, the college graduates of the class of 2019 stand ready to begin another chapter in pursuit of the American dream.

Their hard work has paid off, and they’re ready to enter the workforce as bright, young individuals set to tackle any problem and change America for the better. They’ve earned it, and America is glad to have the class of 2019 on board.

Like any other class, 2019 enters the labor force as free thinkers prepared to confront the challenges of tomorrow. This is thanks to having received an education from the American collegial system, one that millions of people cross oceans and continents to attend.

But what really sets the class of 2019 apart is that they have the great fortune of entering the workforce amid a resurgent American economy. The U.S. unemployment rate recently fell to 3.6 percent in April, what many economists consider to be full employment. While it’s certainly time for the class of 2019 to celebrate, graduates from a decade ago would caution them not to take today’s job market for granted.

Ten years ago, the unemployment rate was 8.9 percent. By June 2009, unemployment had risen to 9.5 percent. The federal unemployment rate peaked the following October at 10 percent, nearly triple what it is today.

The recession of 2007-09 killed job prospects, crushed the housing market, and plummeted consumer confidence. The heavy-handed government intervention that followed caused years of sluggish economic growth and delayed market recovery.

In some towns and cities, the financial devastation that occurred broke parts of their community — physically and psychologically — that still haven’t been fixed.

Ten years later, the Trump economy is finally restoring economic hope to these communities with record growth. The ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’ of 2017 (TCJA) gave the middle class a large tax cut by doubling the standard deduction and expanding the eligibility (and benefit) of the child tax credit.

For the first time in recorded history, there are more job openings than people actively seeking work. Wages are starting to rise, and the gig economy puts more power in the hands of the individual to create financial security, start a new business, and control their economic destiny.

Thanks to the TCJA, the Tax Foundation predicts that “long-run gross domestic product growth will increase by 3.9 percent above what it would have done otherwise, wages will rise by 3.1 percent higher wages, and we’ll create 975,000 more full-time equivalent jobs.” This will increase after-tax income for all those in the lowest and middle-income brackets.

The Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda has allowed the great companies of the United States, and the great businesses of our local Main Streets, to grow without the burden of excess regulations and increased operating costs.

Economic growth and free markets are the enduring tides that lift all boats, and allow Americans of all genders, races, and religions to achieve their own personal definitions of the American dream.

There are 74.9 million women in the workforce, the highest in recorded history. Of the 2.8 million new job openings since January 2018, almost 60 percent were filled by women. Forty percent of U.S. businesses are women-owned.

Minority unemployment rates are at historical lows across-the-board. Nearly 30 percent of classifiable U.S. businesses are owned by minorities, which are growing at twice the rate of non-minority businesses.

Recent data show minority-owned businesses employ over 6.3 million Americans and generate over $1 trillion in revenue. The workforce is more beautifully diverse than ever before. All Americans are benefiting from this booming economy.

In American today, if you want a job, you can get a job. This is great news, considering the average 2019 college graduate will have to pay off an average of $33,000 each in student loans.

You don’t have to enjoy the president’s Twitter account to agree the country needs more of this economic progress, not less.

The class of 2019, has spent the past four years learning how to operate as free thinkers and rational actors in today’s world. Looking at the data, which moment in history would you think they would have rather graduated into? The economy of 2009, or 2019?

Younger Americans will have some big decisions to make. Just as they currently face thousands of dollars in student loans, the U.S. is staring down a $22 trillion and growing national debt. We need to get the debt under control and protect the free-market policies that sparked America’s true economic comeback. Today’s college graduates are by and large open-minded, smart kids, and there’s good reason to be believe they’re cognizant as to what makes a healthy economy and human prosperity possible.

Adam Brandon is president of FreedomWorks, a nationwide grassroots organization dedicated to lower taxes, smaller government, individual liberty and the American rule of law.


'Australia: Sydney to get a new selective school

Leftists hate selective schools.  It conflicts with their insane belief that all men are equal.  But selective schools do ensure that the kids in them get full access to the available educational materials and opportunities, something that is often less so in chaotic mainstream schools

A new selective school will be built in south-western Sydney to help meet "strong demand", with fewer than 30 per cent of applicants currently getting a place at NSW's academically selective high schools.

The new school is to cater to families in the "key growth area", Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

"We know many students are travelling long distances to attend selective schools," Ms Berejiklian said.

"There is strong demand for selective schools, with around 15,000 applications for only 4200 places. This new school will provide another convenient local option for these students and their families."

There will be 49 fully and partially selective schools in NSW once the new school is built, the highest number in any Australian state or territory.

The announcement of the new school comes as the government begins overhauling the selective school entry test to make it less coachable and more equitable for students from lower socioeducational backgrounds and other groups that are under-represented.

The latest entry test results show minimum entry scores are at their highest for most selective schools, meaning that it is harder than ever to get into these schools.

Jae Jung, a senior lecturer in the University of NSW's school of education and a lead researcher of gifted education, welcomed the announcement.

"It's great that the government is promoting selective schooling in a comparatively disadvantaged area,'' Dr Jung said. ''The message is that we're going to look after gifted students across all socioeconomic backgrounds, who may not have the opportunities that other students may have.''

However, president of the NSW Teachers' Federation Maurie Mulheron said opening a new selective school is "a disgraceful decision".

"Selective schools have had an adverse impact on secondary schools wherever they exist,'' he said. ''They impact enrolments, social integration and broader curriculum options in many schools.

"For the government to announce this with no evidence on the benefit of selective schools and in the face of how negative these old-fashioned institutions are is incredible."

Labor's education spokesman Jihad Dib also said a new selective school "is not the way to go".

"It reinforces a two-tiered education system and ultimately, it's an exclusive school, so kids living in that suburb might not be able to go to that school," Mr Dib said.

"I want parents to be confident that their children will receive the best education at their local school."

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell's predecessor Rob Stokes, was also critical of selective schools and told the The Sydney Morning Herald's Schools Summit in February that "segregating schools according to labels has created more of a problem that we have to deal with rather than resolving the fundamental problem".

The NSW government has also announced two new initiatives aimed at lifting academic performance across all public schools.

The high-potential and gifted program will promote personalised learning for students who show talent in particular areas and "give them a chance to learn above their age".

The ''bump it up'' program will be expanded to all government schools and will give each school tailored targets for improving literacy, numeracy, wellbeing, equity and attendance.

The program is in 137 schools and more than one-quarter of those have achieved their targets in the first year.

Ms Mitchell said the two state-wide programs will support all students in reaching their potential.

"NSW is the largest provider of public education in Australia, and we are committed to [ensuring] that every student, from Gunnedah to Gordon, has access to a top-quality education," she said.

Dr Jung said having a high number of selective schools as well as initiatives in comprehensive schools will mean all gifted students are able to perform to the best of their abilities.

"I applaud these initiatives,'' Dr Jung said. ''It's great that all these options are being provided for gifted students, so you've got them catered to in selective school settings and you've also got opportunities for gifted students to be catered to in comprehensive schools.''


Wednesday, June 05, 2019

U.S. school district caught promoting Islam

A legal team has dispatched a cease-and-desist letter to a school district in Washington state that promoted Islam through a Ramadan policy that provides special privileges for Muslim students.

It’s the second district in the state found to have the special policy in just the last week.

The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund confirmed it has written to Michelle Reid, superintendent of the Northshore School District in Bothell, Washington, to insist that the policy be revoked.

The policy directs teachers to create “safe spaces” for Muslims, plan with Muslim students to let them “quietly slip away” from class for prayer, “privately offer information” about nutrition during their Ramadan fast, give “a lesson” on Ramadan and privately ask Muslim students what accommodations they want.

FCDF warned that if the district does not revoke the policy and begin compliance with the First Amendment, “then parents and students will have a legal cause of action against you and the school district.”

While students are allowed to practice their religion, the team said, and “nothing in the Constitution prohibits public schools from accommodating students’ religious exercise,” public schools are not allowed to have policies or practices that “convey a message that a particular religion, or a particular religious belief, is ‘favored.’

“Administrators and teachers must never be placed in the position of monitoring a child’s compliance with a particular religious requirement, such as prayer, dietary restrictions, or wearing a head covering,” the letter said.

The First Amendment requires, in those circumstances, neutrality on religion, the letter said.

FCDF said the district must “restore the rights of non-Muslim students of faith to be treated equally under the law” and review all instances in which the school’s Ramadan policy was enforced.

The letter followed “multiple complaints” to FCDF from members of the Bothell community as well as a teacher.

It was the district’s Diversity & Equity Department that recently issued the guidelines for Muslim students during Ramadan.

“The school district’s so-called Ramadan ‘accommodations’ run roughshod over the First Amendment and are a blatant insult to students of other faiths,” said Daniel Piedra, FCDF’s executive director. “Under the mantle of ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion,’ school officials have exalted Islam as the state-sponsored religion. Teachers and parents are outraged, and they should be.”

Just days earlier, FCDF sent a similar letter to the Dieringer School District in Lake Tapps, Washington, about the same issue.

The Ramadan policy had been recommended by the terror-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations.

After CAIR wrote to that school suggesting various changes in policy and practice that would benefit Muslim students, district Supt. Judy Martinson implemented CAIR’s suggestions as official district policy. She distributed the CAIR letter to school principals, who in turn circulated it to all teachers and staff, FCDF said.

The guidelines included having teachers greet students in Arabic for their Ramadan holiday.


Holocaust revisionism at Williams college

KC Johnson has an excellent piece at the Tablet about a recent controversy at Williams College involving the refusal of the student government to recognize a pro-Israel student group, and the College's administration's subsequent reaction. Perhaps the most striking part of Johnson's piece is the following:

The Holocaust bit speaks for itself. The "genocide against Palestinians" trope, regarding a population which has had among the highest population growth rates in the world, whose standard of living improved dramatically during the Israeli occupation but before Oslo gave them (limited) self-rule, is a great example of people believing something because they want to believe it, regardless of the facts. I've challenged many folks on social media regarding this particular trope, and have concluded that this trope is essentially is evidence-proof, and can only really be explained by a pathological hostility to Israel that not surprisingly often has a strong antisemitic component.

This sort of ignorance mixed with malice reminds me of a prior post of mine about Oberlin College, involving leftist students who dismissed the Holocaust as merely an example of "white on white crime."


UK: Going to university pays off faster for women than for men, new analysis finds

Within five years of graduating, women on average earn more than they would have if they had not gone to university.

However, almost one in five (18.6 per cent) male graduates are still paid less five years after they finish university than if they had taken a vocational qualification or gone straight into the workplace. 

The analysis, published by the think-tank Onward, is based on the Longitudinal Education Outcomes data published by the Department of Education (DfE).

The dataset, published for the first time last year, includes the tax records of thousands of university graduates after one, three and five years of completing their degree.

It comes ahead of the publication of the Augar review, expected this week, which is likely to recommend that tuition fees should be cut.

Last February Theresa May ordered a review of post-18 education led by Philip Augar, a former equities broker. The Prime Minister came under pressure on the issue after it was felt that the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's pledge to abolish tuition fees won support from young voters in the last general election. 

Ministers have previously criticised universities for running “threadbare” courses in a rush to get “bums on seats”.

The Education Secretary recently criticised the proliferation of “low value, low quality” courses which churn out graduates who go into poorly paid jobs and are unable to pay back their student loans.

The study by Onward found that men who have taken degrees in Creative Arts, Communications, English, Agriculture, Psychology, Philosophy and Languages at some universities will earn less than the national living wage, on average, five years after their graduation.

Male students studying Creative Arts from Bolton University earn an average of £14,400 five years after graduation, which is lower than the full-time national living wage.

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, has said that it is “irresponsible” to discourage people from studying at university when there are “such clear benefits” for graduates, business and public services.

“Students are right to expect value for money and universities are striving to deliver this and address any concerns,” he said. 

“However, salary outcomes shouldn’t be the only measure of value. Many graduates work in vital roles in the public and charitable sectors or creative industries that make hugely valuable contributions to society and enrich our lives.”


Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Save your money on private school – DNA will decide whether your child does well at school not quality of education, leading geneticist claims

Plomin is basically right.  But a disorderly school can prevent a child from acquiring the knowledge he needs to pass exams. So that would normally require either a move to an area with better government schools or sending the kid to a private school.

But for many people top exam results are not sought.  Medium achievement may be more socially acceptable and a pleasant, safe  and peaceful school environment may be the aim.  But again moving or going private may be needed in some areas.

But most important of all for many parents the main aim is not educational at all.  The main aim is social.  Will the kid meet at school people who will be useful to him in later life? And private schooling is the big solution to that.

And most important of all is status maintenance.  Your family  has to be rich to use a private school so that usually means that you would like your son to marry a girl from a similarly elevated family. And private schools are VERY good for that.  The sons tend to marry the sisters of their fellow students -- who are almost always very "suitable"

A leading geneticist has told parents they don’t need to send their children to top schools like Eton – because genetics has already determined how well they will do in academics.

Robert Plomin, a professor of behavioural genetics at King’s College London, said prestigious schools ‘don’t add anything’ to children’s grades.

Speaking at the Hay Festival, he said that a child’s success is pre-determined by their genes, and ‘nature’ plays a much larger part in our lives than ‘nurture’ or external environmental factors.

When asked why a parent would spend money sending their child to Eton, he replied: ‘The reason why education is universal is literacy and numeracy are innate – children need to learn to read. We’re talking about what makes them different. So the issue is do differences in the quality of school make a difference in outcomes like GCSE scores or getting into universities?

‘There’s a correlation there – kids who go to selective schools have a GCSE score that is one full grade higher than kids who go to comprehensive schools. That’s a correlation though and correlations don’t necessarily imply causation and in this case they don’t.

‘If you correct for what the schools selected on, there’s no difference in GCSE scores. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you select the very best kids academically, yes they go on and do well. But have you added value? The answer is no.

‘So why send your kids to Eton? Don’t. If all you’re doing it for is educational achievement. But if you scratch the surface and talk to the parents it isn’t just for that. It’s for reasons like ‘I want them to be with the right sort of people, I want them to get access and credential, more than actual achievement.

‘But achievement itself – they [Eton] don’t add anything. Schools matter – kids have got to learn all this stuff. But do they make a difference? The answer is no.’

Eton, which costs £42,500 a year in tuition fees, has seen the likes of David Cameron, Eddie Redmayne and Boris Johnson grace their halls. Prince Harry and Prince William also attended the college.

But Professor Plomin argues they would have achieved the same grades if they had gone to a public school.

In his book, ‘Blueprint: How DNA makes us who we are’, he writes: ‘Students select schools and are selected by a school in part on the basis of the students’ prior achievement and ability, which are highly heritable.

‘Students in selective and non-selective schools differ in their DNA. Because the traits used to select students are highly heritable, selection of students for these traits means that students are unintentionally selected genetically.

‘Even though schools have little effect on individual differences in school achievement, some parents will still decide to pay huge amounts of money to send their children to private schools in order to give their children whatever slight advantage such schools provide.

‘I hope it will help parents who cannot afford to pay for private schooling or move house to know that it doesn’t make much of a difference in children’s school achievement.’


The lynch mobbing of Noah Carl

Cambridge’s dumping of a research fellow raises serious questions about academic freedom.

The subversion of intellectual life at Oxford and Cambridge continues apace, as shown by the treatment of Noah Carl, removed from a Cambridge research fellowship following a sustained campaign aimed at having him sacked.

To recap, Dr Carl, then a postdoc at Nuffield College, Oxford, was elected last year to a research fellowship in social science at St Edmunds, Cambridge. He was known to be politically right-wing. He had written a series of articles on, among other things, attitudes to race and immigration that were unwelcome to the left. And he had attended an event called the London Conference on Intelligence, where eugenics, race and intelligence had reportedly been discussed (though not by him).

The college’s students’ union protested against the appointment. Later a Cambridge mathematics professor stirred the hornets’ nest by writing an open letter to St Edmunds accusing Dr Carl of producing work that was ‘ethically suspect’, ‘methodologically flawed’, and amounting to ‘racist pseudoscience’ which had been weaponised by the far right. The professor demanded an investigation into Dr Carl and how he had been selected. This was passed round the academic grapevine and signed by some 1,400 academics and students from the UK to Mexico and Taiwan, only a fraction of whom can have had much idea of what was going on.

Nevertheless an investigation was held. Afterwards, the Master of St Edmunds, The Hon Matthew Bullock, made the announcement everyone wanted. His statement amounted to a grovelling apology to the student body. It said Dr Carl’s work did not ‘fulfil the criteria we expected for academic scholarship’ and announced that Dr Carl had left. Within days Dr Carl became an academic unperson: even the original announcement of his election has been airbrushed from the college website.

That the college chose to cave in to a leftish academic lynch-mob seems pretty clear. The master’s complete omission of any reference to the open letter and his implicit suggestion that St Edmunds was merely responding conscientiously to concerns raised by its student body is disingenuous. Colleges do not remove fellows on the basis of student pressure to do so.

But a closer look at the master’s statement shows that there is more to the affair than this.

For one thing, the thesis hinted at by the master – that the whole debacle could be reduced to an academically informed determination of poor scholarship, with politics an irrelevant side issue – will not hold water. True, Dr Carl had published lightweight pieces in a couple of academically dodgy journals (Mankind Quarterly and OpenPsych). But a glance at his publication list, on the basis of which he was presumably elected, shows a highly impressive academic CV, including impeccable journals such as PLoS ONE, the American Sociologist, European Union Politics, Electoral Studies, the British Journal of Sociology and the Political Quarterly.

Cambridge colleges do not make a habit of terminating research fellows at the beginning of their tenure merely because of a few dud articles in a line of very good ones. Indeed, Sir Patrick Elias, the very shrewd retired judge (and ex-Cambridge academic lawyer to boot) who was asked to investigate the appointment process, was forthright: the college had, he said, ‘fairly selected the best candidate’. Given the keenness of competition for research fellowships, that is highly telling.

Secondly, note that the allegations made against Dr Carl – the offending articles, and his prior attendance at the London Conference on Intelligence – related not to what he had done while a fellow, but to activities before he had even been elected. No matter: in the master’s words, Dr Carl’s writings had had ‘a detrimental effect on the atmosphere within the college with feelings of hurt, betrayal, anger and disbelief that the college could be associated with such views’. In other words, we now have a situation where a college regards it as acceptable to elect a fellow and then remove him because it later finds out it is uncomfortable with some opinion he has previously expressed and wants to change its mind. If this is the new practice in academia, it is distinctly worrying.

Thirdly, for all the implications of a legal process impeccably conducted, the master’s statement leaves a strong suspicion that the college was desperate to do anything to avoid the storm that was breaking over it, if necessary at the expense of sacrificing the interests of a young scholar. Take a look at the list of the findings of the college’s Investigation Panel. Apart from alleged poor scholarship (see above), there were two. One was that Dr Carl had ‘collaborated with a number of individuals who were known to hold extremist views’, and that therefore his appointment ‘could lead, directly or indirectly, to the college being used as a platform to promote views that could incite racial or religious hatred, and bring the college into disrepute’. The other was the way in which Dr Carl had conducted himself with regard to his publications (by which presumably they meant that he had defended them), which, it was said, had ‘a detrimental effect on the atmosphere within the college’.

One might have thought it obvious that such matters should be irrelevant to an academic appointment. But there is a more important point. If push had come to legal shove, it seems obvious that neither finding gets remotely near providing a justification for removal of a fellow. For this the college’s own statutes require proof of ‘grave misconduct’ and a two-thirds vote of the fellows. Collaboration with the holders of lawful political views, extreme or otherwise, is hardly grave misconduct; nor, we hope, the fact that an article written in all innocence might be taken up by some boneheaded political zealot somewhere and twisted to suit his perverted purposes. And this is quite beside the fact that all these events had in any case happened before Dr Carl became a fellow, and (as Sir Patrick Elias pointed out) he had been under no duty whatever to tell the college about them unless asked.

Indeed, reading between the lines, one suspects the college knew that it might be on thin legal ice. Interestingly, the master’s statement does not announce that Dr Carl was removed from his fellowship – which one might have expected him to say if he had been – but that his position as a research fellow had become ‘untenable’. Put another way, what seems likely is that he informed Dr Carl, presumably with the connivance of a large proportion of the 60-odd fellows (the lack of objection from whom is itself cause for concern), that he would do well to resign, with the vague threat that his life would be made impossible at the college if he did not. If this is right, the sanctimonious reiteration at the end of the master’s statement of the college’s commitment to academic free speech rings somewhat hollow. What really mattered, it seems, was saving the college’s record as a promoter of diversity, inclusion and the abhorrence of racism. The image was everything; the principle of free speech, and the idea of a college as a place for debate and vigorous argument, came a poor second.


Your university degree might be useless

When Fiona Pok first enrolled in her business degree, she was convinced it would lead to a glittering future career.

But after graduating in 2013, her hopes were dashed and she soon lashed out at her university and the “mickey mouse” degree she says she was left with.

Then, last year, she revealed plans to sue the UK’s Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) over a breach of contract, arguing the course failed to deliver the chance of “a rewarding job with prospects”.

Now the 30-year-old has finally triumphed after being awarded a £61,000 ($A111,192) payout.

The sum was agreed upon in an out-of-court deal, with the campus handing over a £15,000 ($A27,342) settlement as well as £46,000 ($A83,850) to cover her legal fees.

Ms Pok, who also goes by the name Pok Wong, told the UK’s Sunday Telegraph the result was a win for her and other disgruntled students.

“The payout means this is a victory for me despite the university strenuously fighting my case and denying any responsibility,” she said. “In light of this settlement, I think universities should be careful about what they say in prospectuses. “I think they often make promises which they know will never materialise or are simply not true.”

But an ARU spokesman told the paper the settlement did not mean Ms Wong’s claims were correct.

“Ms Wong’s longstanding litigation … has been settled at the instruction of our insurers to draw a line under these matters and to prevent a further escalation of their legal costs,” he said. “The claims were wholly without merit and resulted in cost orders made against Ms Wong by the Central London County Court on two occasions.”


The beginnings of the landmark case started back in 2011 when Ms Wong, originally from Hong Kong, moved to the UK to study at ARU’s Lord Ashcroft International Business School in Cambridge after being impressed by the institution’s prospectus.

She graduated with a first-class degree in international business strategy in 2013 but was convinced the organisation's claims it was a “renowned centre of excellence” that offered a “high quality of teaching” were false.

Last year, she told the UK’s The Sunday Telegraph her two years of study left her with little more than a “mickey mouse” degree, and she was entitled to compensation as a result.

“The prospectus convinced me that the university is really impressive,” she told the publication at the time. “But, as soon as I started in 2011, I realised there were failings. Although I graduated with a first-class degree in 2013, it is a mickey mouse degree.

“I hope that bringing this case will set a precedent so that students can get value for money, and if they don’t, they get compensated. Anglia Ruskin talked a good talk but then they didn’t deliver.”

Ms Wong complained of lecturers arriving late to classes and claimed students were regularly instructed to “self study” with little guidance.

She also alleged she was once “locked” in a room by staff members when she tried to protest against the university at her graduation ceremony.

A picture on Ms Wong’s public Facebook profile from October 2013 shows the woman in her graduation cap and gown holding a large multi-coloured sign that says “ARU sucks”. In the caption accompanying the photo, Ms Wong described being “forcibly removed from the stage” during the ceremony.

When the case first made headlines last year, legal experts claimed it could potentially set a precedent for other unsatisfied students to pursue similar legal battles.


Monday, June 03, 2019

‘Instincts just took over’: Coach describes stopping gunman at Portland high school

Former University of Oregon football star Keanon Lowe said he had just entered a classroom at the Portland high school where he works as a coach and security guard when a student armed with a black shotgun appeared in the doorway.

Lowe had just seconds Friday to react. He lunged at the gunman and wrestled with him for the weapon as other students ran screaming out a back door, Lowe told reporters Monday at a news conference.

Lowe said he managed to get the gun away from the student and pass it to a teacher while Lowe held down the student with his other hand. Lowe wrapped the student in a bear hug until police arrived, he said.

No one was injured. Police are still trying to determine if any shots were fired.

“I saw the look on his face, the look in his eyes, I looked at the gun, I realized it was a real gun and then my instincts just took over,” Lowe, 27, said.

“I lunged for the gun, put two hands on the gun and he had his two hands on the gun and obviously the students are running out of the classroom.”

Lowe, who is head football and track coach at Parkrose High School, said he had a few moments with the teenager, who was distraught, before police arrived.

“It was emotional for him, it was emotional for me. In that time, I felt compassion for him. A lot of times, especially when you’re young, you don’t realize what you’re doing until it’s over,” Lowe said.

“I told him I was there to save him, I was there for a reason and this was a life worth living.”

The suspect, 19-year-old Angel Granados-Diaz, pleaded not guilty Monday during a brief court hearing to a felony count of possessing a weapon in a public building and three misdemeanors.

His public defender, Grant Hartley, declined to comment.

Granados-Diaz turned 19 in jail on Monday, the same day students at Parkrose High returned to class after an emotional weekend that included their prom.

Parkrose School District Superintendent Michael Lopes-Serrao said two students had previously informed a staff member of “concerning behavior” by the student before the incident.

He said school security personnel were responding to those concerns when Granados-Diaz arrived at the classroom.

A police report says the incident was a “suicide attempt with a gun” and someone added in bold handwriting “enhanced bail/suicidal.”

Granados-Diaz was being held on $500,000 bail and has another court appearance next week, according to court papers.

Lowe said he was called on a radio to go to a classroom in the fine arts building and get a student. When he got there, the substitute teacher told him the student wasn’t in class. Lowe said he was about to leave when Granados-Diaz entered the room.

“The universe works in crazy ways so I just happened to be in that same classroom,” he said.

“I was within arm’s length of him so it happened fast and I was able to get to him,” he said. “I’m lucky in that way.”


Leftist racism: Teachers allegedly told to favor black students in ‘racial equity’ training

In controversial “implicit bias” training, New York City’s public-school educators have been told to focus on black children over white ones — and one Jewish superintendent who described her family’s Holocaust tragedies was scolded and humiliated, according to firsthand accounts.

A consultant hired by the city Department of Education told administrators at a workshop that “racial equity” means favoring black children regardless of their socio-economic status, sources said.

“If I had a poor white male student and I had a middle-class black boy, I would actually put my equitable strategies and interventions into that middle class black boy because over the course of his lifetime he will have less access and less opportunities than that poor white boy,” the consultant, Darnisa Amante, is quoted as saying by those in the room.

“That’s what racial equity is,” Amante explained.

Mona Davids, president of the NYC Parents Union, was appalled.

“It’s completely absurd — they want to treat black students as victims and punish white students. That defeats the purpose of what bias awareness training should be,” said Davids, who is black.

DOE spokesman Will Mantell would not say whether Chancellor Richard Carranza supports Amante’s statement about favoring black children.

“Anti-bias and equity trainings are about creating high expectations and improving outcomes for all of our students,” Mantell said in a statement. “These trainings are used across the country because they help kids, and out-of-context quotes and anonymous allegations  just distract from this important work.”

The DOE’s anti-bias training — a $23 million mandatory program for all DOE employees — has irked some administrators, teachers and parents who contend parts are ugly and divisive.

Four white female DOE executives demoted under Carranza’s new regime plan to sue the city for racial discrimination, claiming whiteness has become “toxic,” The Post revealed last week.

At a monthly superintendents meeting in the spring of 2018, shortly after Carranza’s arrival, members were asked to share answers to the question: “What lived experience inspires you as a leader to fight for equity?”

One Jewish superintendent shared stories about her grandmother Malka who told of bombs falling in Lodz, Poland, and running from the Nazis in the wee hours by packing up her four children and hiding in the forest, and her grandfather Naftali, who spent nearly six years in a labor and concentration camp, where he witnessed the brutal execution of his mother and sister.

“My grandparents taught me to understand the dangers of ‘targeted racism’ or the exclusion of any group, and the importance of equity for all people. This is my core value as an educator,” the superintendent told colleagues.

“At the break, I stood up and, to my surprise, I was verbally attacked by a black superintendent in front of my colleagues. She said ‘This is not about being Jewish! It’s about black and brown boys of color only. You better check yourself.’”

“I was traumatized,” the Jewish educator said. “ It was like 1939 all over again. I couldn’t believe this could happen to me in NYC!”

However, two other superintendents — one black and one Dominican — defended the Holocaust comments as valid and vouched for their colleague as one who fights to level the playing field for all students.

In Manhattan, a middle-school teacher with her own kids in public schools, said the DOE training “is a catalyst for hate and division.”

“I have colleagues who won’t participate during ‘Courageous Conversations’ (the DOE protocol for implicit-bias workshops) because they don’t feel safe.”

She cringes at training phrases like “replacement thinking” and the disdain for “whiteness.”

“My ancestors were enslaved and murdered because of their religion, I am now being forced to become ‘liberated’ from my whiteness. I am being persecuted because of the circumstances of my birth. I was not aware that I needed to be liberated from how God created me.”

Despite Carranza’s contention that those who complain about the training need it the most, she said, “I will never be brainwashed by Richard Carranza and his minions. I cannot support a schools chancellor who is implicitly biased against me and my children.”

Emboldened by his support, some of Carranza’s top managers openly use the expression “disrupt and dismantle” as a new battle cry for equity.

In her training session in February 2019, consultant Amante told DOE higher-ups to face the fact that issues of race, power and privilege will rise to the forefront and shake things up.

“Through this process of moving towards racial equity, we will have to pull layers back on who we are. You are going to have to talk about your power and your privilege. You will need to name your privilege,” Amante is quoted as saying.

She also warned that jobs in the new climate may be shaky.

“You are going to have to acknowledge that you will have to step back. You might fear losing your job. When we get to true racial equity you will have to define new institutional policies. This might feel dangerous because you are going to have to talk about race daily.”

Amante, a lecturer at Harvard University Graduate School of Education, is CEO of Disruptive Equity Education Project, or DEEP, a group aimed at “dismantling systemic oppression and racism,” it says. She did not respond to emails seeking comment.

The DOE’s Office of Equity and Access has contracted DEEP for $175,000. Another anti-bias consultant, Glenn Singleton, the author of “Courageous Conversations,” which includes a critique of the “white supremacy culture,” has a $775,000 contract.

Some parent leaders support Carranza’s campaign.

“We agree with the chancellor that those who do not see the value in this work are the ones who must look inward harder,” said Shino Tanikawa, a parent in Manhattan’s District 2 and member of Mayor de Blasio’s School Diversity Advisory Group.

“This work requires everyone, including people of color, to look inward and confront prejudices we all harbor. For some of us, this work also requires us to acknowledge the privilege bestowed upon us by the power structure. It creates a great deal of discomfort but that is the nature of the work. Disrupting the system is difficult and sometimes painful.”


Australia: Catholic schoolgirls are being taught that God is GENDER-NEUTRAL and are banned from using the words 'Lord', 'Father' and 'Son' in prayers

This is theologically unobjectionable but repudiates church tradition.  And church tradition is very important to the Catholic church.  It undermines church claims to authority

Catholic schoolgirls are being taught that God is gender-neutral and banned from using the words 'Lord', 'Father' and 'Son' in prayers.

A number of elite Catholic schools in Brisbane are making moves to teach their students to use inclusive language when referring to God.

Top schools including All Hallows, Stuartholme, Loreto College and Stuartholme School are leading a push towards a feminist interpretation of the Christian Bible.

Students at Stuartholme School in Brisbane's inner-city, which charges upwards of $40,000 a year, are taught to use the word 'Godself' instead of 'himself'.

'As we believe God is neither male or female, Stuartholme tries to use gender-neutral terms in prayers … so that our community deepens their understanding of who God is for them, how God reveals Godself through creation, our relationships with others and the person of Jesus,' a spokeswoman told The Sunday Mail.

Loreto College in Coorparoo has taken the word 'Lord' from their prayers as it is a 'male term'.

The school's principal Kim Wickham said prayers written for use within the college didn't assign God a gender.

Ms Wickham said the school had a commitment to inclusive language, but admitted there were instances where gendered language is appropriate.

St Rita's College Clayfield tries to use gender-neutral terms but for traditional prayers still uses gendered language.

The assistant principal Richard Rogusz said context is important and helps decide what language is appropriate.

The Catholic Office for the Participation of Women director Andrea Dean told the publication that she was 'thrilled' and it was 'terrific' schools were moving towards inclusive language.  

The Queensland Catholic Education Commission  does not provide guidelines for what language is appropriate but the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference did suggest schools use gender-neutral terms where appropriate.

Brisbane's top Catholic boys' school St Joseph's College has replaced the term 'brothers' with 'sisters and brothers' and 'brotherhood' with 'international community'.

'This has been an area of growth for us in recent times,' a spokesman told Sunday Times. 'We have made changes to a number of prayers to be more gender-inclusive.'


Sunday, June 02, 2019

Sen. Ted Cruz Fights for More Flexible Education Savings Accounts

Before Congress adjourned for Memorial Day weekend, Sen. Ted Cruz objected to a new retirement saving bill passed by the House because it left out one important reform.

The Texas Republican is standing up for expanded access to personal savings options for family education choice.

In 2017, college savings plans, or “529s,” were modified to allow parents to use money in those accounts for K-12 expenses.

Cruz’s Student Empowerment Act would build on those good reforms by allowing the money saved to go toward home schooling, apprenticeships, student loan expenses, and education support for students with disabilities.

Named after their section of the Internal Revenue Code, 529 college and K-12 savings accounts allow family members to save and invest after-tax income for future expenses.

Unlike most other forms of savings that get taxed once when the income is first earned, and then again when the savings are spent, any earnings on investments in 529s are tax-free.

Expanding the uses of 529 accounts help parents and students pay for education options outside the traditional school system, giving Americans more choice in their education.

For parents who still want to save and accrue tax-free earnings until college, nothing changes. It’s just more choice for those who want it.

Last week, the House passed the Secure Act, a retirement savings bill that has some good and bad changes.

Two of the good reforms are that the bill would increase eligible retirement savings and expand new families’ access to their 401k to support parental leave for the birth or adoption of a new child.

The bill also includes new taxes on middle-class retirement savings and would allow select community newspapers to use otherwise-required contributions to their employees’ pensions to instead prop up their own balance sheets, making newspaper employees’ retirements less secure.

The original bill that passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee after a unanimous, bipartisan vote also included the important 529 expansion Cruz is fighting for in the Senate.

Although the Secure Act is a mixed bag, the 529 provision was one of the good reforms in the original bill.

In a last-minute decision, Democrats removed the education provisions from the bill on a party-line vote in the House Rules Committee before sending the bill to the floor.

The Democrats reportedly caved to special interests representing teachers unions, which object to American families being allowed to spend their own 529 savings on home schooling.

Now, Cruz is fighting to have the previously unanimously agreed-upon expansion of 529 accounts put into the Senate version of the bill before the vote.

A similar amendment was offered and passed the Senate in 2017 as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. After a procedural objection by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., some of the expanded 529 rules, including those for home-schoolers, were stripped out.

The Secure Act also included a last-minute addition to repeal the “kiddie tax” reforms included in the 2017 tax cuts that raised taxes on some Gold Star Families and other dependents who receive unearned income.

The Secure Act makes important reforms to expand some areas of retirement savings, but stops far short of significantly simplifying existing retirement systems and includes many counterproductive provisions that could make retirement less secure for many Americans.

As it stands under the House version, the bad outweighs the good. Including the expansion of eligible education savings could tip the scale back to a neutral package.


Why inclusion isn’t working

Calls to lower Oxbridge admissions standards ignore the great work that schools can do.

Disadvantaged students will soon be able to enter Oxford University on lower grades than their more affluent peers. This is part of a raft of ambitious measures by Oxford to tackle accusations that it is socially exclusive. The university hopes to ensure that a quarter of its students come from disadvantaged backgrounds by 2023.

Such announcements are nothing new. The top universities’ signal their commitment to inclusion and diversity every year around exam time. The only difference between one year and the next is the shrillness of the headlines.

In the late 1970s, French sociologists Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron coined the term ‘cultural capital’. It identified the resources that elites use to preserve their power, position and privileges. Cultural capital is everything that educated parents give to their children. It is the accumulation of years of reading, music lessons, private tuition, days out to museums, theatres and the countryside, guided TV viewing, exotic foreign holidays and shared meals around the dinner table, at which discussions might be held about current affairs.

Children who have been given these things go on to combine them with the knowledge they learn at school. According to this view, this puts them at a distinct advantage. Children who lack cultural capital, on the other hand, often find it impossible to make up the deficit.

Consequently, Bourdieu took a dim view of schools. Pupils with cultural capital tend to end up in the kind of schools where they teach Latin, whereas pupils at schools for the disadvantaged get given comic books. Schools, he argues, do little more than entrench the inequalities caused by imbalances in cultural capital, while universities are primarily fortresses for preserving elite power.

Bourdieu’s view is now mainstream. Despite the countless attempts by universities to open up admissions, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner knows many will agree with her when she describes leading universities as a ‘privileged, closed club’.

But this argument comes with a host of assumptions that deserve to be challenged. Why should universities be held responsible for the academic ability of those who apply to them? Can social inequalities like a lack of cultural capital be simply engineered away with access schemes and quotas? Oxford has promised ‘support’ for disadvantaged students with additional seminars. But are universities the appropriate place to make up for years of missing knowledge?

Bordieu was right about cultural capital to a certain extent. Beyond raw intelligence, cultural capital is often what determines whether someone has what it takes to get into Oxford or Cambridge. While it cannot be obtained overnight, there is no need for it to be the preserve of a wealthy elite. It is perfectly possible to provide children with cultural capital in schools.

All cultural capital really is is a love of knowledge and learning. Good schools can provide pupils with experiences and ways of thinking that are truly liberatory, enabling them to explore new places and things, both physical and intellectual, that are beyond their immediate experience.

The constant attempts to get universities to ‘open up’ to disadvantaged applicants shows that we have wrongly given up on the potential for our schools to provide an inspiring, well-rounded and knowledge-rich education.


Australia: Wealthy white parents are turning away from selective schools because they fear their children will be an ethnic minority

This is mainly a NSW concern as only NSW has much in the way of government funded selective schools.  It is also about Chinese students -- who star in selective schools -- which can be demoralizing for all but the very smartest white kids. In some years ALL the top students are Chinese, many from selective schools.  Their combination of hard work and high IQ is unbeatable.  Their talent makes it easier for them to get into selective schools in the first place.  So they get a high quality education for free.  Why would they go elsewhere?  White parents are more aware of the important social advantages of private schools

Wealthy white parents are avoiding sending their kids to selective schools because they fear they will be an ethnic minority, according to an expert. 

Christina Ho, a social scientist from the University of Technology, says Anglo families were choosing to send their kids to private schools while migrant families are choosing selective schools. 'We do have this self-segregation going on,' Dr Ho said.

And part of the reason appears to be based on the fear of being a minority.  'A lot of Anglo families are saying, 'I would be a minority if I went to a selective school,' Dr Ho said.

The same concern impacts the schooling choices of rich migrant families, who previously preferred private schools. As with Anglo families, they were now choosing selective schools because they were worried about being a conspicuous minority in private schools.

'We do have a lot of wealthy migrants in this country who are living in the eastern suburbs and north shore, who could potentially afford to send their kids to private schools but they are not.' said Dr Ho.

In NSW, more than 80 per cent of students in fully selective schools came from language backgrounds other than English (LBOTE).

Of the 99 schools with fewer than 10 percent LBOTE students, over half were private and in affluent areas.

Dr Ho's research indicates that the process of self-segregation is leading to a wider problem across Sydney where many schools are more ethnically divided than the suburbs in which they are located.

'The increasing diversity of our communities is not reflected in our education system,' Dr Ho told  

The process of self-segregation worries Dr Ho who argues that when schools no longer reflect their local communities, students have less opportunity to develop cultural understanding.

She adds that the reason for the ethnic divide lies in policies that encourage parents to shop for schools, over selecting their local school.

Pranay Jha, the son of Indian migrants, had the choice of attending a selective school or attending the King's School in North Parramatta on a scholarship.

His parents decided on the private school option, and Mr Jha, admits he felt isolated, and suffered from some cultural shame. 'I was surrounded by white people, and so to socially succeed in the school you needed to play down your ethnicity a lot,' he said.

Mr Jha also remembers being racially abused while playing sport and believes that if there had been more diversity at the school it would provide students from migrant backgrounds with a greater sense of solidarity.

However, the ethnic make-up of The King's School has changed since Mr Jha's graduation in 2015. At that time 31 per cent of students were LBOTE. By 2018 the number had risen to over 40 per cent