Friday, July 05, 2019

Is Harvard an Embarrassment? Part II: Kyle Kashuv and David Hogg


Let me get this right. Kyle Kashuv was second in his class at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with a 1550 SAT score and acceptance at Harvard—fairly typical credentials for students at America’s oldest university. David Hogg, attending the same high school and a classmate of Kashuv, was a dramatically weaker student grade-wise, with, according to news reports, a much less impressive 1270 SAT score, over one standard deviation below the average SAT score of those accepted at Harvard.

While a good, well above average high school student, Hogg’s academic credentials strike me as typical of a Floridian who might attend Florida State University or the flagship University of Florida—but definitely not Harvard.

Hogg also is a progressive student who demanded gun control in the aftermath of the Douglas high school shooting tragedy and became a liberal media darling, while Kashuv is a conservative who after the Parkland shooting advocated for school safety measures (subsequently adopted by Congress), but said banning guns was not the answer.

What is the bottom line? Hogg will be going to Harvard this fall, but Kashuv will not, his admission rescinded. It seems like having the correct (politically left) political views helps get into Harvard while having conservative views clearly is detrimental.

To be sure, there is a respectable argument that Kashuv’s acceptance should have been rescinded, because as a 16-year-old high school student, he revealed appalling immaturity (not an uncommon teenage trait) and lack of judgment in writing private derogatory racist comments that were sent by others years later to the media. He used the N word a dozen times. He also used some anti-semitic expressions, perplexing since Kashuv himself is Jewish.

But to me, based on news accounts, he seemed to show genuine remorse and even anguish over this shameful behavior and says, and I am inclined to believe him, that he is not a racist and certainly not anti-semitic (as he often attends his synagogue). I think David Brooks of the New York Times got it right when he said: “sin is an opportunity for redemption.”

Bright teenagers are capable of quickly learning from immature behavior arising out of adolescence. I have seen bratty immature kids go into the Army and return, a couple of years later, as mature, disciplined adults. Similarly, out of the trauma of the Parkland shootings, both Hogg and Kashuv reinvented themselves, turning typical teenage kids into public media attractions, quickly maturing to speak up on issues of the day, albeit from different political perspectives. Kashuv became active in a conservative group for young people, Turning Point USA, while Hogg spoke up frequently and rather effectively for his cause, gun control. Both these 18-19-year-old men, David Hogg and Kyle Kashuv, are vastly more mature individuals than they were only 2-3 years earlier.

Nonetheless, I have the impression that Harvard transmits the vibe that the people of Harvard are not only intellectually but also morally superior to others today, and also unfortunate Americans from the past who lived during bigotry and oppression. Harvard seems to say, we are politically correct academic aristocratic leaders—we love racial minorities, hate guns, despise Harvey Weinstein and even sanction faculty wanting to provide him legal representation, etc.

This unrelenting sense that Harvard promotes the goodness of the most virtuous philosopher kings as opposed to the crassness of the “little people” is profoundly anti-democratic and grating to ordinary Americans, those living in that vast wasteland between Harvard and Stanford, the ones who elected Donald Trump president of the United States. It is partly why public support for higher education is declining at a time it is most needed.

Two other thoughts. We are becoming much less respectful of free speech, even abhorrent free speech, in our country, to our long term detriment.

Second, in light of the Varsity Blues admissions scandal and this latest brouhaha, I think Cal Tech is right—admit students almost entirely on their academic qualifications. End “holistic” admissions based on some individual’s assessment of a person’s worth, an assessment working to the detriment of conservatives like Kashuv and brainy Asian Americans who allegedly lack “leadership” qualities as perceived by the minions working for William Fitzsimmons, the gatekeeper deciding who enters the gated academic community in Cambridge known as Harvard University.


Tussle Over Charter Schools Puts These NAACP Branches on Side of Betsy DeVos

The NAACP’s support for a moratorium on new charter schools across America has put the nation’s oldest civil rights group at odds with three of its local branches—and in California, of all places.

Not only that, but the local NAACP chapters appear to agree with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that charter schools offer valuable opportunities to black students.

DeVos, a longtime school choice advocate who some on the left paint as anti-minority, says the NAACP’s adoption of a charter school moratorium three years ago doesn’t reflect the views of black parents and students she has spoken with.

“There’s a disconnect between the leadership of the national [NAACP] organization and some of the local chapters … and parents and students,” DeVos said in a recent interview with LA School Report. “I think there is a clear disconnect.”

The San Diego, Southwest Riverside, and San Bernardino NAACP branches of the California Hawaii NAACP cover territory that holds California’s largest population of black students.

All three branches submitted resolutions to the state NAACP’s board opposing the national organization’s 2016 ratification of a resolution calling for a moratorium on charter school expansion.

The NAACP’s Position. The NAACP resolution called for a moratorium on charter school expansion until:

—Charter schools are subject to the same transparency and accountability standards as public schools.
—Public funds are not diverted to charter schools at the expense of the public school system.

—Charter schools cease expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate.

—Charter schools cease to perpetuate de facto segregation of the highest performing children from those whose aspirations may be high but whose talents are not yet as obvious.

Some local NAACP branches, however, offered their own resolutions to end the moratorium on opening new charter schools.

“We’re hopeful that it can be adopted in California, and then the national board will do their research and investigate the facts in order to look at this again from the perspective of what is really going on with the African American students locally, statewide, and nationally,” said Christina Laster, education chairwoman for the NAACP’s Southwest Riverside branch.

Under NAACP rules, a local branch can submit a resolution when it disagrees with the national board. The national board will review the resolution before the group’s annual convention, but all branches ultimately must abide by policies set from the top.

‘Breaking Ranks’

“It sounds like NAACP branches are breaking ranks with the California state NAACP and national board,” Myrna Castrejón, president and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association, told LA School Report.

“Everybody knows black students are the lowest-performing subgroup, other than students with special needs, and the system has done nothing to provide targeted support,” Castrejón said.

According to the San Diego NAACP branch’s resolution, African American student groups have a “severe and persistent” achievement gap throughout the state in math and English language arts.

The resolution also notes how well African American students are performing in charter schools compared to traditional public schools. Only 10 public schools in California with a majority African American student enrollment fall in the top half of student performance statewide in English and math, according to the resolution, but eight of the 10 are public charter schools.

“I think they’re totally mistaken,” DeVos said about supporters of a charter school moratorium in California in the LA School Report interview, “and they’re not really acting or speaking in the best interests of those they profess to represent.”

The secretary of education said that one need only talk to a student who has benefited from school choice to understand her point of view.

The California Hawaii NAACP has called for the three local branches to “rescind their position because it conflicts with the state branch position” as led by its education chairman, Julian Vasquez Heilig.

“I don’t think anybody would characterize Betsy DeVos as a civil rights leader,” Vasquez Heilig said in a phone interview Monday with The Daily Signal. “I just don’t think she really has any standing in this conversation.”

Vasquez Heilig has been at the forefront of the national NAACP board’s push for charter school restrictions in California as a professor of educational leadership at California State University, Sacramento. In early June, he was named dean of the University of Kentucky College of Education and was expected to take that post this month. 

Vasquez Heilig told The Daily Signal that charter schools in California lack accountability and transparency.

“We haven’t made any modifications to the California charter school law in decades,” he said.

But Brittany Chord Parmley, a spokeswoman for the California Charter School Association, sharply criticized the national NAACP’s education chairman.

“Julian Vasquez Heilig hacked the NAACP to serve his own anti-charter political agenda,” Parmley told The Daily Signal in an email. “Shame on him for exploiting a trusted civil rights organization to trap black kids in failing schools and deny black parents the right to choose where their children go to school.”

“Everybody knows black kids are being massively failed by the public school system,” she added. “It’s ironic that Dr. Heilig would try and shut down those within the NAACP who support public charter schools from using the same resolution process he used himself to call for a moratorium. Sure doesn’t sound very democratic.”

Vasquez Heilig brushed off such criticism, saying:

I think everybody is very aware that while the California Charter School Association will tell anybody who will listen to them that they’re in favor of transparency and accountability for charter schools, behind the scenes, they’re spending tens of millions of dollars and working hard to make sure that does not happen.


Australia: Self-loathing activists have created a parallel university

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the noun “university” is derived from the Latin expression universitas magistrorum et scholarium, which roughly translated is a “community of teachers and scholars”. I am curious as to what is Latin for “a community of taxpayer-subsidised, freeloading, self-loathing activists bent on universities succumbing to primitivism,” as that would best describe where today’s tertiary institutions are headed.

Admittedly, the once great humanities departments have long been lost to academic charlatans, but this malaise has spread to the STEM faculties — you know, the ones that still impart information that is actually useful. Last week The Australian reported that science lecturers at the University of New South Wales have been told it was inappropriate to assert that indigenous people have been in Australia for 40,000 years.

The reason for this, lecturers were informed, is that assigning a date, irrespectively of how scholarly that estimation would be, “tends to lend support to migration theories and anthropological assumptions’’. Well yes. Much like the balcony railing on a high-rise building tends to lend support to the theory of gravity and metallurgical assumptions, I suppose.

Some indigenous people, the guidelines further specified, “see this sort of measurement and quantifying as inappropriate”. It would be cynical of course to suggest it more likely than not that indigenous people on the whole could not care less about this practice, and that the document was compiled by various well-remunerated diversity consultants whose primary aim was to justify their existence.

Sadly, this idiocy is not confined to the HR department. The UNSW science faculty research centre declared last year that indigenous people “arrived soon after 50,000 years ago, effectively forever, given that modern human populations only moved out of Africa 50,000 to 55,000 years ago”. Note to the person who wrote this: the planet is over 4.5 billion years old, and it is laughable to suggest that 50,000 years equates to “effectively forever”. To put things in perspective and based on the calendar of the earth being only one year old, Homo Sapiens emerged around 11.36pm on December 31.

As ludicrous as the UNSW mentality is, it provides fantastic opportunity for the budding entrepreneur. Imagine, for example, tendering for a university catering contract to feed, say, 5000 students for a year. You secure it by significantly undercutting your competitors. When the time comes to feed the mass of students, simply produce five loaves and two fish while you invoke Matthew 14:13-21 and declare yourself a doctrinaire Christian. How dare others deny the well-documented miracle and suggest this is insufficient to feed the multitude? This is blasphemy!

It gets even better. UNSW encourages lecturers to promote a court in “ethnoscience” and the “science of indigenous knowledge”, involving “traditional indigenous knowledge about the natural world, including astronomy, weather, medicine, geography and mathematics,” together with “ways in which indigenous knowledge can inform and benefit Western science”.

These are extraordinary claims, but this revisionism is part of a wider movement that claims many Western achievements should in fact be attributed to indigenous Australians. “Aborigines invented democracy”, wrote author and indigenous woman Melissa Lucashenko for Meanjin in 2015. “As a result, the many First Nations here were able to enjoy millennia of what Bunurong writer Bruce Pascoe has called ‘the Great Australian Peace’.”

That wasn’t quite the phrase that observers of the First Fleet used when they documented the appalling, widespread and brutal treatment of indigenous women by their menfolk. But to speak of that now is to invite criticism, even if you are an eminent Australian historian. Professor Geoffrey Blainey, wrote University of Newcastle professor John Maynard in 2015, “has been unable to let go of his fixation with the supposed violence of Aboriginal life”.

Students of indigenous history, at least those wishing to gain approval of their tutors, would be well-advised to ignore Blainey and instead quote from Pascoe’s best-selling book Dark Emu. Among Pascoe’s claims are that indigenous people cultivated crops, constructed villages, and designed complex dams. “Many academic experts also believe Dark Emu romanticises pre-contact indigenous society as an Eden of harmony and pacifism,” wrote Richard Guilliatt in The Weekend Australian in May, “when in fact it was often a brutally tough survivalist way of life. It’s a criticism most are reluctant to air publicly, given the sensitivity of contradicting a popular indigenous historian”.

In UNSW’s indigenous studies course outline, students are advised they will “learn about the history of colonial ‘scientific’ practices that disempowered indigenous people and led to environmental damage and unsustainable practices”. Presumably lecturers will avoid mentioning that more than 85 per cent of Australia’s mega fauna became extinct after the ancestors of indigenous people arrived in Australia. As Herald-Sun columnist Andrew Bolt noted when SBS reported those findings, the broadcaster conveniently omitted any references to the noun “Aboriginal” in that article, instead using terms such as “early Australians” and “early humans”.

In fairness to these institutions, they are following a worldwide trend. A few years ago I holidayed in Canada, a beautiful country with lovely people, aside from its insufferable prime minister, Justin Trudeau, whom I can only surmise entered politics because he was too flamboyant to continue working as a drama teacher.

While visiting a museum in Vancouver, I was bemused by the excessive curatorial tiptoeing in reference to Canadian native tribes, otherwise known as ‘First Nations’ peoples. A young museum guide of that demographic solemnly informed us that he possessed esoteric and magical skills that far science could never explain. Perhaps anticipating my question, he added he could not elaborate on or disclose this knowledge as it would be “dangerous” in the hands of an outsider. My fellow palefaces lapped it all up.

In November, the chair of Universities Australia and vice-chancellor of Monash University, professor Margaret Gardener, reacted indignantly to the federal government’s review into freedom of speech on campus. “Australian universities have been on the public record through the ages affirming our longstanding commitment to informed evidence-based discussion and vigorous debate,” she stated. Through the ages, maybe. Not the present. It was once heresy to dispute the church’s teachings that planets and stars orbited the earth. Now universities promote the philosophy that victimhood and primitivism are at the centre of our universe.

So what subjects can future students expect? My prediction is Gaslighting 101, which begins with unlearning the indoctrination of whiteness. Students will be taught to despise themselves and everything associated with Western Civilisation. By the end of this course students will be able to provide informed discourse on themes such as hegemony, imperialism, racism, disenfranchisement, and genocide. Pretty straightforward really. Recognise your unconscious bias, check your privilege and defer to those in the intersectionality hierarchy.

Then there’s Virtual Orchidectomy 203, which will explain why it is insufficient for male students to renounce their “toxic masculinity”, given there is no other kind. Students will explore theories such as whether ‘Sir’ Isaac Newton was in fact a trans-woman lesbian, and they will be subjected to bouts of abuse by guest lecturer Clementine Ford as she explains why feminism is a kinder and gentler philosophy. Required pre-course reading: ‘Tony Abbott’s women in white a symbol of what’s to come,’ Sydney Morning Herald, 2015, by Deakin University research fellow Dr Michelle Smith.

In Technocracy 203 students will learn why government by experts, particularly scientists, academics and human rights officials, is the leadership our society requires. Required pre-course listening: ABC Radio National podcast ‘The Minefield’, 2019 — otherwise known as Grandiloquence Central — where hosts Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens ask ‘Is democracy an impediment to addressing climate change?’

Religion of Peace 401 will take students through the many misunderstandings about Islam. As part of this students will be regularly bussed to Gosford Anglican Church to gaze at billboard messages as they recite Father Rod Bower’s platitudinous homilies concerning the burqa.

As for what universities choose to teach about indigenous history, perhaps they will take inspiration from the Uluru Statement from the Heart, released in 2017, which among other things called for a Makarrata Commission to oversee a process of truth-telling about Australia’s history and colonisation. Regrettably, I suspect this “truth-telling” will be more of a narrative reinforcement.

But if universities still have a problem acknowledging unpalatable facts about indigenous history or keeping the pseudo out of science, government should give them a simple message when their vice-chancellors demand taxpayer funding. Tell ‘em they’re Dreaming.


Thursday, July 04, 2019

California Public College Bosses Still up to Hidden Money Tricks

“The California State University stashed away $1.5 billion in discretionary reserves,” the Sacramento Bee reports, “while raising tuition and lobbying the Legislature for more funds, according to a report released Thursday by California State Auditor Elaine Howle.” According to the audit, “CSU kept legislators, students and the public in the dark about the $1.5 billion surplus, which nearly doubled the cost of tuition from 2008-18.”

CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White called the report misleading and told the Bee, “reserve funds are like a family savings account” and “it is a strong mischaracterization to call it a surplus.” The CSU boss didn’t explain the relation of the hidden $1.5 billion to the increase in tuition. For California students, parents and taxpayers, Howle’s audit may revive some memories.

As we noted in 2017, University of California president Janet Napolitano, a former Arizona governor and Department of Homeland Security boss, was beating the drum for tuition hikes when another state audit came up with a surprise. The office of the UC president was hiding more than $175 million in discretionary reserves. As the audit revealed, the UC president hiked administrative spending by 28 percent over three years but deployed no method for tracking expenses. The UC president’s office also “intentionally interfered” with investigators and tampered with the responses of the various UC campuses, removing statements critical of the office of the president.

In November, 2017, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 562, which makes state employees who willfully mislead the California auditor subject to fines and criminal charges. By all indications, Janet Napolitano suffered no penalty for her deception and obstructionism, and she remains president of the University of California.

However the hidden CSU $1.5 billion shakes out, students, parents and taxpayers should not be surprised if tuition keeps rising and Timothy P. White keeps his job.


The Growth in Tuition Insurance

People buy insurance seeking protection from unanticipated events posing significant financial hardships. Most homeowners insure against their house being destroyed by fire or other natural calamities, and also against unanticipated illnesses or accidents requiring expensive medical treatment. An owner of a car worth, say, $15,000 or $20,000 usually has auto insurance providing protection from theft or destruction from an accident. Yet until fairly recently, most persons going to college did not even consider purchasing tuition insurance, even though a semester of fees (including room and board) at some schools costs far more than the value of a typical car. As college expenses become bigger, the case for purchasing insurance has grown.

With that in mind, a few days ago I chatted with Paul Richardson, an executive at a major national insurance company, Liberty Mutual, which entered into the tuition insurance business just a couple of years ago, motivated by increasing numbers of holders of other policies (e.g, auto or homeowners) inquiring about its availability. Mr. Richardson tells me a small number of companies sell their product directly to consumers, while others make arrangements with colleges to offer protection through the school.

What does tuition insurance protect the policyholder against? Mainly, dropping out of school in mid-semester owing to some totally unexpected circumstance, most prominently a health issue involving the student, or, in some cases, a parent providing substantial financial support. Most schools themselves provide modest protection; a student dropping out after only a few days at the beginning of the semester, for example, usually can get nearly a full tuition refund. While policies vary considerably from school to school, at most of them a student dropping out in the middle of the term, say, after seven or eight weeks, will get relatively little, maybe nothing, in refunds from the institution.

The risk to a typical healthy young person of unanticipated health issues is pretty small, and for affluent students who are not very risk averse, the cost of the insurance (perhaps around one percent of the tuition and fees) may not be worth it. But insurance is a way of providing some piece of mind as a significant amount of money is at risk.

I suppose disputes could arise. A student might get tired of school and want to run off with a friend on some adventure, for example, and claim that he/she is suffering from anxiety or depression or some mental health-related issue, requiring the insurance company to have the student examined medically. Or, the student is floundering academically and wants to cut his/her losses, so feigns an illness. But disputes of this sort are routine any time big amounts of money are involved, and insurance companies deal with them routinely, such as with damages to a home.

When tuition insurance was brought to my attention, I immediately thought of the multitude of unintended consequences the federal student financial assistance programs have had. The government makes low-interest loans available on terms no private lender would consider, enhancing the demand for colleges, which respond by vigorously raising their tuition fees. College financing becomes a much bigger issue in the lives of Americans, and that, in turn, spawns secondary impacts, such as the rise of tuition insurance.

There are other risks associated with attending college, most notably the possibility of dropping out—about 40% of students fail to graduate in six years. The financial consequences of this are potentially nearly devastating—no degree and perhaps $50,000 in college loan debts. In recognition of this, new forms of financing college are evolving, notably income share agreements, which shift most of the financial risk of college attendance from the student borrower to a professional investor who hopes to profit from the student’s postgraduate earnings. This is an idea whose time has come, and its use is growing.

Will the tuition insurance business grow and become a standard expenditure made with respect to college? Possibly. It appeals to the risk-averse and those attending more expensive schools—probably fewer insure over lost tuition fees at low-cost community colleges. Insurance companies, however, must face one reality: college enrollments are actually in decline and the pool of 18- to 22-year-olds will probably be smaller in 15 years than it is today.


In-Class Technology, Too Much of a Good Thing?

While teachers, parents, and politicians push for more technology in school, a new study by the Reboot Foundation offers a word of caution. As with much in life, the study suggests, moderation is king.

Most parents—66 percent according to a 2018 report by the global nonprofit, Project Tomorrow—say that regularly using digital tools, content, and resources in classrooms helps children develop essential skills.

Teachers seem to agree. A 2018 ed-tech teacher survey, Teaching with Technology, found that 81 percent of teachers surveyed favored the idea of schools providing devices to students. Teachers’ favorite technologies included laptops (37 percent), Chromebooks (14 percent), and mobile phones (14 percent).

Around the world, in-class technology use reflects these perceptions. The Cambridge International Global Education Census surveyed almost 20,000 teachers and students and found that 48 percent of students worldwide use a desktop computer in class, 42 percent use a smartphone, 33 percent use smartboards, and 20 percent use a tablet. The survey also found that more students in the U.S. use smartboards (59 percent) and smartphones (74 percent) in class than students in any other surveyed country.

“At school, I regularly use the desktop computers in the IT suite,” one 17-year-old U.S. student said on the survey. “There are whiteboards in lessons and I also use my smartphone and a pen and paper during class. I don’t have homework to complete every day, but when I do, I use a laptop or a desktop computer, my smartphone and a pen and paper.”

Those rates of technology use are likely to continue climbing as more states and localities integrate technology into the classroom. In New York for example, voters approved a $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act to fund new school computer servers, interactive whiteboards, tablets, desktop and laptop computers, high-speed internet, and wireless connectivity. Alabama too has approved record levels of education funding, including $199 million for Advancement and Technology. And in San Jose, California, schools are undertaking millions of dollars in debt to procure Chromebooks for students.

But a new study by the Reboot Foundation suggests that we may be wrong about the value of technology use, especially in the classroom. Reboot, a Paris-based research organization devoted to elevating critical thinking, evaluated the performance of students from 90 countries on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The study weighed student performance against how often students reported using technology in class.

The foundation found that internationally, students perform best with low or moderate levels of computer usage per day. In France for example, the study found that students who used the internet moderately, tended to perform best. Those who used the internet for a few minutes to a half-hour in school per day, for example, consistently scored higher on the PISA math assessment than those who spent more time online and those who spent no time online. On PISA’s reading test, French students who used the internet in class every day for more than six hours scored 140 points lower than those who reported no internet time.

In the United States, the study found that, generally, students who reported using a computer in some classes tended to outscore students who never used computers in class. Grade-specific results, however, were less positive. For reading, higher rates of in-class computer usage translated to worse scores on NAEP reading assessments. For mathematics, students who reported using a computer to practice math “once or twice a year” performed five points higher than students who used a computer or digital device “every day or almost every day.” The same trend proved true even in classes where teachers reported receiving appropriate training.

The study also suggests that technology in the classroom may prove more negative than positive for young students in particular. Fourth graders who reported never using tablets in their classes scored one point higher than those who reported using tablets in “some classes” and 14 points higher than those who used tablets in “all or almost all” classes.

“When teachers use computers or tablets to teach, we don’t find that there’s a gain in knowledge or an actual impact on standardized test scores,” Helen Lee Boygues, co-founder and President of Reboot told The Daily News. “And what our analysis shows is that in younger ages, in third and fourth grade, in all subject matters, there was no benefit to using technology to learn. And in reading, we found a negative benefit.”

As lawmakers, educators, and parents continue to make tough calls about where to invest precious education resources, Reboot’s findings suggest that they should be careful not to depend on their perceptions about the value of technology or pin their hopes or dollars on its use in class.


Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Education in Israel

Israel has to devote such a large part of its bugdget to  defence that other sectors are short-changed.  Voluntary organizations such as World ORT help take up some of the slack

According to the OECD, in 2015 Israel was fifth from bottom in ranking students’ mathematics, science and reading levels. For expenditure per child at the secondary level, Israel fared even worse: fourth from bottom.

It is putting great strain on hard-working educators to expect them to produce skilled and knowledgeable students when no investment – either of money, of faith or of confidence – is made in their education.

Many students find themselves in extremely difficult life situations: unemployed or underemployed parents, language barriers, recent arrival in a new country, frightening security situation, living in the periphery and suffering from a lack of government investment in general.

Effectively, the Start-Up Nation will lose its reputation unless its education improves. To reverse the trend, meaningful and well-directed investment is needed. Of course, the government must take chief responsibility for this. But philanthropy must also play its part. This is where World ORT has a crucial role to play. Since our establishment in Israel 12 years ago, we have invested more than $100 million in working to reduce these gaps.

We have invested in communities in the country’s geographic and socioeconomic periphery. We have provided support to immigrants, non-Jews, strictly Orthodox Jews, Muslims, Druze, Bedouin and poorer Jewish communities. But what we are doing is a drop in the ocean. We need the wider, more sustained support of the state and world Jewry.

This crisis takes on more importance given the global rise in antisemitism. Education is the most effective way to combat hatred. This must begin from an early age.

Our schools in Latin America, Europe and the former Soviet Union are mixed Jewish and non-Jewish schools. Our non-Jewish students study Jewish history, culture and traditions, promoting increased understanding between children. We are partners in the Scholas program – Pope Francis’s initiative to encourage understanding and cooperation between youngsters of all backgrounds. We run Tikkun Olam programs and initiatives to support non-Jewish communities.

These are all geared toward providing not only an academic education, but also a social education, encouraging students to be good citizens of the world and promote Jewish values.

These aims – a strong Israel, a strong Diaspora and a strong reputation for Jews worldwide – are what ORT has been working toward for the past 139 years. As we approach our 140th anniversary, we will continue to strive to place the future in the hands of the next generation.


Student-Loan Forgiveness: Moral Hazard on Steroids

Democrats appeal to people's self-entitlement with a massive income-redistribution scheme.

It’s almost impossible to maintain a current list of Democrat Party efforts to buy votes. “Free” health care, “free” college tuition, and reparations for slavery, Native Americans, and gay and lesbian couples are just the tip of the iceberg for a party that would also decriminalize sneaking into America, provide health care to illegal aliens, and raise taxes on middle-class America to pay for it, even when such proposals would blast an already unconscionable level of national debt further into the stratosphere. Yet the most pernicious pandering — courtesy of Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — is the idea that $1.6 trillion of outstanding student-loan debt should simply be canceled.

“People are not truly free when they are unable to buy a home, start a family or pursue the career they want because they owe tens of thousands of dollars for the crime of getting an education,” Sanders declares. “This is why, as part of my proposal for a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights, I have this week introduced legislation to free generations of Americans by canceling the $1.6 trillion in outstanding student loan debt.”

If a shamelessly suck-up proposal with the words “21st Century” attached to it has a familiar ring, it’s because “socialism of the 21st Century” was the term used by the late Hugo Chavez, who promised it put Venezuela on the road to utopia.

Sanders thought so too, as recently as 2011. “These days, the American dream is more apt to be realized in South America, in places such as Ecuador, Venezuela and Argentina, where incomes are actually more equal today than they are in the land of Horatio Alger,” he wrote. “Who’s the banana republic now?”

Certainly not Venezuela. It has devolved from a banana republic to a completely failed state.

In contrast to Sanders, Warren’s giveaway is more intricate. She would eliminate $50,000 in student-loan debt for every person with household income under $100,000, partially cancel debt for those with household incomes between $100,000 and $250,000, and make private student-loan debt eligible for cancellation — and also provide free college to everyone. In a tweet Warren called her plan “the kind of big, structural change we need to make sure our kids have opportunity in this country.”

Structural change? The same shopworn socialist/Marxist redistributionism that has produced “equality” — of misery and poverty — everywhere it’s been tried, is more like it.

How dishonest are Democrats? What could be more dishonest than the word “free” attached to any government proposal? Nothing is free, and the use of the word to describe any transfer of costs from one group of Americans to another is Orwellian doublespeak.

Moreover, it reeks of elitist contempt. Democrats are convinced a large percentage of Americans are either so bereft of common sense and economic acumen or so imbued with a sense of self-entitlement that they’ll climb aboard the socialist gravy train.

No doubt much of that contempt is derived from knowing that they themselves have heartily embraced the wholesale dumbing-down of America’s public-school system, where contempt for a nation in need of “fundamental change” has become an integral part of the curriculum.

Yet who’s kidding whom? There are two primary reasons that college students have accumulated $1.6 trillion of debt Democrat would “forgive.” First, all student-loan defaults are ultimately underwritten by the taxpayers, many of whom have never even sniffed the inside of a college classroom. Thus colleges can — and have — raised their costs with impunity: since 1985 tuition has increased at nearly quadruple the rate of inflation. Moreover, a large percentage of those increases have been dedicated to expanding college bureaucracies, whose costs rose at nearly twice the rate of teaching outlays between 1993 and 2007.

What kind of bureaucracies? Last April, Georgetown University President John DeGioia announced the creation of a Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. One month later, University of Rochester created the same position with the same title. Ivy League colleges Yale and Harvard also inflated their ranks of diversity “specialists,” all of whom are undoubtedly tasked with making their respective universities what DeGioia described as bastions of “racial justice” and “educational equity.”

Second, many students can’t pay off their loans because they can’t get good enough jobs to do so. “I was expected to make a $400 loan payment every month, but I had no money, no sustainable income,” stated Chad Albright, a graduate who fled to China to escape paying his $30,000 debt. “College ruined my life.”

Perhaps. Or perhaps obtaining a degree in public relations was a bad choice.

Yet maybe he wouldn’t have made that choice if colleges were required to publish data on student graduation rates, the level of debt they’ve accumulated, and what students earn after graduating — so potential enrollees know exactly what they’re getting before they go into debt. And maybe colleges wouldn’t be so expensive if they were required to underwrite a percentage of those student-loan defaults, largely engendered by majors that do virtually nothing to prepare students for real-world jobs.

Such truth in advertising coupled with market-based cost controls would produce genuine structural change. Yet for panderers like Sanders and Warren, what it wouldn’t do is far more important: it wouldn’t burnish their social justice warrior credentials.

Thus, both prefer preserving an utterly corrupt system and forcing the “rich” to pay for it.

Yet far worse is something few people talk about any more: moral hazard. Like their obsession with providing a “pathway to citizenship” for millions of people who entered the nation illegally — and making an utter mockery of those who have emigrated here the right way — Sanders and Warren would make a similar mockery of all those former students who have struggled to pay back the money they willingly borrowed.

In short, for nothing more than political gain, they would toss honor, integrity, and commitment to one’s legal obligations on the ash heap of history.

Unsurprisingly, they have their champions. “Student debt is a potent issue that has the potential to drive turnout and influence votes, in 2018 and beyond,” gush columnists Richard Eskow and Sean McElwee. “Individuals holding student debt may well decide which party will control the House of Representatives next session.”

Really? And then what? Columnist Dov Fischer sarcastically ups the morally hazardous ante for the rest of the “woke” Democrat contenders. “Howzabout a zero-percent candidate shooting up from the pack with this proposal: Buy off the whole American Middle Class by promising Home Mortgage Loan Forgiveness!” he writes.

Why not? And why stop there? How about car loans, credit card debt, or even one’s gambling losses at the race track? Isn’t it just as unfair that millions of Americans struggle to cover those costs? Once moral hazard is eliminated, shouldn’t any debt that engenders even the slightest iota of hardship be forgiven?

As our Nate Jackson has wryly noted, “Never get in a bidding war with a true socialist.”

No doubt. Moreover, don’t get into moral arguments with people who believe the accumulation of power — by any means necessary — constitutes the totality of their “moral” universe.


Why are Australia school standards still falling?

Despite all the policy differences in the election, there was little to distinguish between the two major parties on the subject of increasing school funding. They only differ in the extent: the Coalition promised a large spending increase, and Labor promised an even larger one.

But neither of those promises were based on evidence.

Australia’s results on international tests have been declining over the past 10 years ¾ both in absolute terms and in comparison to other countries ¾ despite continually increased school funding.

According to the Productivity Commission, per-student funding increased in real terms (above inflation) between 2007-08 and 2016-17 by over 14 per cent.

While non-government schools received a larger percentage increase (though coming off a much lower base), government schools still received an 11 per cent per student increase.

It’s been argued this was actually only a very small increase for government schools, because if teacher wages growth is taken into account then schools on average don’t actually have much more discretionary spending.

But this notion — that extra school funding spent on higher teacher salaries doesn’t actually count as extra school funding — fails the common sense test.

The reality is funding has increased for government schools. Some state governments have chosen to spend the extra money on higher teacher salaries. We can argue about the merits of this, but the fact remains that much more is being spent on government schooling than 10 years ago.

And this highlights an important fact that often gets missed in the funding debate: the states have the responsibility of running the government school systems.

State spending on government schools increased by only 3 per cent across 10 years, while federal spending on government schools went up by a whopping 93 per cent (albeit compared to a far lower funding starting point). If people are concerned that government schools are underfunded, they should be blaming state governments, not the federal government.

In any case, the OECD has concluded there are diminishing marginal returns to school funding. In other words, beyond a certain point there is no clear relationship between school spending and student outcomes.

Australia already spends more per student as a dollar amount than the OECD average — and several top-performing countries like Finland and Japan — after adjusting for purchasing power parity (taking into account cost differences between countries). There is very little evidence that further funding increases in Australia would substantially boost results.

But school funding in Australia can definitely be better allocated. And that doesn’t mean the simplistic attitude of ‘let’s take money from greedy non-government schools and give it to poor government schools’. Money for disadvantaged students should be allocated on the basis of evidence, not on the basis of school sector.

We’re often told government schools are below their ‘funding target’, but this doesn’t mean much ¾ because the current target is arbitrary and unreasonably high.

For example, the criteria for being a disadvantaged student is so broad that the majority of all Australian school students are classified as ‘disadvantaged’ and attract extra school funding. This isn’t evidence-based, but it is hugely expensive ¾ and means funding for disadvantage isn’t efficiently allocated to the schools that need it most.

The new government should commit to reviewing the funding formula.

And there are many ways to improve Australia’s school system that don’t require significantly more taxpayer money. For example, ensuring university teacher education degrees pass on evidence-based content would be a cost-effective approach to improving teaching.

The focus of the education policy debate must shift from how much money is spent to how it is spent.


Tuesday, July 02, 2019

The purge of trans-sceptical academics  in Britain

Moves are afoot to expel from the academy anyone who doubts transgender ideology.

In the UK academy, we have become accustomed to students deploying the ‘No Platform’ policy to silence external speakers. Now this same censoriousness seems to have spread to the world of academic journals, as evidenced by the pressure put on two academics recently to stand down from their editorial roles.

In the first instance, Sarah Honeychurch, one of the editors of the journal Hybrid Pedagogy, received a formal email from Chris Friend, the journal’s managing editor, asking her to resign her position. This was all because she had signed a letter to The Sunday Times, in which a number of academics critiqued the close relationship between the LGBT charity Stonewall and UK universities. The letter argues that via the education section of the Stonewall Diversity Champions Programme, trans-awareness workshops are being delivered to academics which present only one set of ideas on gender, some of which are anti-scientific yet presented as objective fact.

In the second instance, Michele Moore (full disclosure: I have just co-edited a book with her), another signatory of The Sunday Times letter and honorary professor at Essex University, found herself the subject of a petition demanding her resignation from the journal Disability and Society, where she is editor-in-chief. This was sparked by the letter, but her thinking on transgender issues is well known: she is concerned that children with complex psycho-social needs, including autistic children, are vulnerable to being pushed towards transitioning, exposing them to a lifetime of medical intervention and potentially sterility.

Friend, in justifying his decision to push out Honeychurch, says that ‘just as marginalised students who feel unsafe in school face obstacles to learning, marginalised authors who feel unsafe in journals face obstacles to writing’. ‘Before any debate can take place, our authors must be safe’, he continues. ‘[This] is not a matter of shutting down an argument or censoring a perspective. It is about holding space for a group that needs protection against the entrenched powers of authority already in place.’

Dr Angharad Beckett, associate professor of sociology at the University of Leeds, and an editor at Disability and Society, resigned her post over Moore’s involvement with the letter. She says that Moore’s views are ‘damaging to the wellbeing of trans children and their families’ and that the Sunday Times letter ‘will do little to make transgender colleagues and students feel welcome in universities’.

Thankfully, Taylor and Francis, the journal’s publisher, is standing by Moore and has not asked her to resign. Jessica Vivian, a director at Taylor and Francis, tells The Times: ‘Having seen both the petition and social-media discussion online, we are working with the journal’s editor and board to put into place a review of the journal’s editorial policies.’ But, she stresses, ‘our focus remains on ensuring the journal continues to challenge, debate and publish research from across the full spectrum of views’.

The words ‘unsafe’ and ‘unwelcome’ as they are applied to Honeychurch and Moore remind us of the dominance of transgender theory today. Even experienced editors with considerable reputations can be threatened or punished for failing to go along with the trans ideology. The ‘victims’ here are reasonable and ideology-free, apparently, asking nothing more than a space where they can be safe from abuse. Dissenters, in contrast, are unreasonable and ideologically driven people who are tantamount to some violent oppressor.

This is a clear attempt to silence people, with anyone who disagrees labelled a right-wing bigot. And this is all despite the fact that the concerns of people like Moore about the medical transitioning of children are widely held among the public, including among medics themselves. Under the banner of ‘diversity and inclusion’, academics as well as students are busy building a pampering culture, in which there is a refusal to countenance any view that challenges transgender ideology.

These people are campaigning not for freedom of speech, but freedom from speech. This is why they want to break off any association they might have with people whose values they do not share. Personal feelings trump other trifling principles such as intellectual freedom and the free exchange of ideas. And there is no acknowledgement that another’s ethical values, although different from one’s own, might be deeply held, based on evidence, and grounded in the principles of human diversity and social inclusion.

As I write, the backlash to Taylor and Francis’ decision rages. I applaud the publisher for standing firm. It is wrong that academics such as Honeychurch and Moore can find their scholarly reputation in tatters because of slurs and unsubstantiated allegations. What’s more, this debacle resonates beyond the walls of the academy. Free speech on the issue of transgenderism is very much under threat.


UK: Universities should teach students, not ‘safeguard’ them from controversy

University administrators do a disservice to students when they constantly tell them they’re victims.

The idea of universities ‘safeguarding’ students has a comforting ring to it. Unfortunately, what it means in practice is bureaucracy by the yard and severe limitations on what passes for freedom in these institutions. The latest demonstration of this truth comes in a new report from Advance HE.

About three years ago, a supposed epidemic of university sexual harassment and hate crime engendered a moral panic, and later a report from Universities UK (essentially the trade body for higher education) called Changing the Culture. The Office for Students (OfS), the government body tasked with funding and regulating universities, made a series of grants to universities ‘to explore new approaches to protecting students’ from, among other things, hate crime and online harassment. It then commissioned the present report from Advance HE. Advance HE is a body run largely by senior university figures and administrators: it operates as a sort of academic equality tsar cum super-management-consultancy, bankrolled by membership fees from most universities in the country.

This report is unfortunately couched in the kind of strangulated semi-English we have come to expect from second-rate managers and HR executives. Translated into plain English, it says the following. Hate crimes and hate incidents need a higher priority, more research (especially on specific protected groups), and constant everyday monitoring by senior managers. Every alleged incident must be logged and reported to governing bodies. Victims’ voices need to be heard, again with particular reference to protected groups and ‘intersectionality’. If students are indifferent, compulsory safeguarding sessions should not be ruled out.

Furthermore, the OfS should draft, and enforce on every university, ‘minimum safeguarding practice’. This should apparently include blanket publicity for students about the problems of hate crime or hate incidents, the aim being to encourage ‘very high reporting levels’. Anyone making a report should have a right to demand an internal investigation or a police report, together with ‘victim/survivor support’. Any idea of a criminal standard of proof with regards to those accused must be firmly scotched. Instead, a balance of probability must suffice, since this may ‘help encourage more students to come forward to report’.

It is not difficult to see why this is disconcerting. For one thing, what are ‘hate incidents’? The report characterises them as ‘everyday harassment’ or ‘microaggressions’ connected with disability, gender identity, race, ethnicity or nationality, religion, faith or belief, and sexual orientation. For its part, the original 2016 Changing the Culture report, on which this report is built, had gone further and incorporated the police definition of hate incidents as ‘incidents which appear to the victim to be based on prejudice towards them because of their race’, etc. What we have here is a demand for universal reporting, recording and managerial monitoring of anything whatsoever said or done by a student which anyone, however foolishly or misguidedly, characterises as a microaggression or aspersion on someone’s race, sex, religion and so on. The mind boggles. One might also be forgiven for thinking that universities had something better to do – such as teach.

It is not only the problem of bureaucracy. Think for a moment about the demand that all complainants be offered the option to call for an internal or a police investigation of their allegations. What happens to a complaint that is obviously ill-founded or trivial? The obvious solution – telling the complainant to accept that he has no case, or to get a sense of proportion – is closed off: the institution has no choice but to set the wheels in motion against the subject of the allegation, with all the stress that that involves.

Which brings us to the next point: we are talking about alleged perpetrators. Expelling or sanctioning a student on account of a non-academic matter (such as an alleged hate incident) is a big decision; any university wanting to do it should face a heavy burden. Yet the report is adamant that even where it is a matter of a student’s word against a complainant’s, it is unacceptable for a university to demand anything more than proof on a bare balance of probabilities, since anything else might reduce the amount of reporting. Or, put another way, what matters at the end of the day is the university’s perceived commitment to safeguarding. Fairness to the student who wants to study, which one might have thought vastly more important than the desire of the complainant to see him punished, can apparently go hang.

If this report is followed through, it is not hard to see what the result will be. Identity politics will become the official university line. From the moment they arrive on campus, students will be encouraged from above to see themselves as potential victims. They will be informed, possibly in a meeting that they have no choice but to attend, that if they are female, black, gay, etc, then they are natural victims of oppression, and especially so if they fall into more than one of these categories (intersectionality). They will learn, again officially, that if they don’t like any remark concerning race, sex, disability or any of the other ‘protected characteristics’ under the equality legislation, then this could be legitimately viewed as a microaggression or hate incident. They will be told that they should report all such remarks; that if they do they will be given every support, while they will be able to insist that proceedings be taken against the student they have reported.

Meanwhile, what is the message to the student who may disagree with all of this, or have views that are controversial? It is to be careful. You never know who’s listening, or who might read what you say online. Your life may well be made hell if you say the wrong thing, and the university is committed to make it easy to find you guilty of some kind of hate incident. Even if the complaint eventually proves unfounded, you will be regarded as a troublemaker. So instead, go with the flow, keep your views to yourself, and don’t stick your neck out. It is hard to think of a climate so at odds with the culture a university ought to foster – one in which learning and discussion can openly flourish.


Australia: Major student loan change comes into force TODAY as government tries to claw back $62BILLION in student debts by slugging low-paying workers

A new law change going into effect today will force more than 130,000 Australians to start paying off their student debts earlier.

Graduates earning $45,881 will have to start making payments towards their loans after the Higher Education Loan Program's repayment threshold was lowered from $51,957. 

This means those with the minimum salary will be paying one per cent of their taxable income on tuition fee repayments, which works out at a minimum of $459 a year.

Meanwhile, grads earning over $134,573 will have to pay ten per cent.  

The move has been supported by economists who deemed the law change necessary in order to tackle the nation's outstanding student debt which as of last year has risen to $62billion.

'It's become quite a serious budget problem,' University of Canberra economist Lewis told the Canberra Times.

'The system is already quite generous compared to say the US. That being said, a single person renting on their own or with kids will find it tough.'

ANU graduate Zoe Tulip said she is now concerned over whether or not she can secure a good job and pay off her debts.

'I took on this debt because I thought it was going to get me a better job but now it better be a great job,' she told the publication.

'There's less time to make myself secure.' 

When the deferred student loan program was introduced in 1989, under Labor prime minister Bob Hawke, graduates didn't start paying back their debt until they earned an average salary.

In today's money, graduates weren't paying off their loans until they earned more than $83,500.

Now those earning less than Australia's median salary - effectively putting them in the bottom half of workers - are repaying student loans.

The threshold was dramatically reduced in 1997, when John Howard was in his first term as Liberal prime minister.

Almost 2.7million Australians now have a student debt, which stands at an average of $20,000.

But Professor Bruce Chapman, who in 1988 designed Labor's original Higher Education Contribution Scheme, said asking graduates earning $46,000 a year to start paying off their student debt was fairer than demanding more subsidies from taxpayers.

'The only way you can keep the subsidies low is to have a relatively low threshold,' the economist and Australian National University academic told Daily Mail Australia earlier this month.

The former HECS program, now known as HELP, replaced a costly system known as free education, which Gough Whitlam's Labor government had introduced in 1974.

Professor Chapman had a message for left-wing student activists campaigning for the return of free education.

'I think the word ignorant comes to mind,' he said.

'The taxes being paid for it were coming from a percentage of people who didn't know where a university was.

'Basically, you're giving lifetime advantages at some taxpayer expense.'

Professor Chapman said those activist left-wing students also misunderstood Karl Marx, the German philosopher and revolutionary who founded the ideal of communism.

'If they were good socialists, they would read Karl Marx on this who basically said it is so unfair that the proletariat is, through their taxes, supporting the bourgeoisie,' he said. 'Karl's got it right.'

In an 1875 letter to a left-wing German political party, Marx argued free tertiary education for the rich was unequitable.

'If … higher education institutions are also "free", that only means in fact defraying the cost of education of the bourgeoisie from the general tax receipts,' he said in the Critique of the Gotha Program


Monday, July 01, 2019

The poison of black defeatism

Constantly inculcated by Leftist paternalism that says you cannot succeed without our help  

As quiet as it’s kept, many in the black race have suffered some time or another from the Inferiority Complex. The Inferiority Complex makes a person immediately excuse their shortcomings as being due to their race, socioeconomic status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, or social class. Being inferior is always attached to subconscious emotions that make a person feel less than good, although they are more than what they realize.

A few years ago I was chaperoning high-school students on a college tour. I spoke to a young man waiting for his inner-city school doors to open. He looked like excellence. His uniform was neatly maintained and his demeanor was that of a scholar. While his peers were cursing, talking loudly, and air boxing he was calm and mild tempered. I went over and struck up a conversation with him about attending the college tours that day. He said, “No, sir, I won’t be attending. I’ve already been to Tuskegee and Alabama A&M to visit. My mom actually went to A&M.” He was only a high-school sophomore.

Since his attitude stood out, I surmised the only reason he was attending this school was his zip code. I asked, “So why this school?” What he was about to say may shock you, but I didn’t flinch because I know so well the mindset of the typical black experience.

He shared with me that he had an opportunity to attend a local private school that is tops in the nation. He said, “I had a full academic scholarship, but I turned it down.” I pretended to be shocked to make him feel the magnitude of his ill-advised decision. “Wait, what? You’ve got five seconds to give me five reasons why you decided to turn down that private school education!” I counted as he spoke. #1 He said, “To [prove] a black person can come out of this school and make it” #2 He said, “To [prove] these [white folk] wrong about [us] not making it” #3 He went blank and I desperately told him to stop.

I asked him where he got the notion that white people didn’t want him to succeed. He exclaimed, “My first-grade teacher told me I wasn’t going to make it out of high school! She was Caucasian. I looked at him and said "Your teacher didn’t just walk up to you and say that. Did she?” He was staring at me as still as a mannequin as if he knew what was coming. He was quiet and I went on to say, “This is what your teacher said: If you keep cutting up in my class in first grade, then you won’t make it out of high school!” He shamefully dropped his head and looked up at me and nodded “Yes.”

He was ashamed because he knew he lied about her and was living as a victim of the Inferiority Complex. I felt sorry for him because up to this point, no black man had challenged his thinking of how he viewed himself and those who looked different around him. I reached out with both my hands and placed them on both of his shoulders. I looked right in his eyes and said convincingly, “Young man, [white folk] don’t care about what you’re trying to prove. First of all, it’s not even about them, it’s about you!” He looked at me as if he had seen a ghost. It was like tons of weight had been lifted from his shoulders to prove something. I told him he wasn’t being challenged there as he would be at that private school. He just grinned and nodded yes again. He thanked me for having a bold conversation with him and promised to see things differently going forward. Today, he’s excelling with a 4.0 in college.

This young, black scholar had embraced years of victimhood since the first grade not realizing that teacher saw something special in him that was going to waste. By accepting victimhood, he had simultaneously taken on inferiority and his “victimizer” in some way became superior to him and those who looked like him. The moral to the story is this: If black people think white people control them, then they must also believe whites are superior to them. Having a preoccupation with your importance or having an under appreciation for others is summed up in one word: Pride. Pride comes before the fall. It doesn’t matter if you’re white or black.


Parents Call Out School Board’s Transgender Policy Proposal

ARLINGTON, Va.—A group of concerned parents held a press conference just ahead of a scheduled Arlington County School Board meeting Tuesday evening about the adoption of a policy concerning transgender student protections in the school district.

“[Arlington Public Schools] has far overreached its authority in this matter, and needs to be reminded by concerned parents and community members that political and cultural pressures should never outweigh the school’s responsibility to make safe and healthy educational policy,” said Maria Keffler, spokeswoman for the Arlington Parent Coalition.

The press conference’s purpose was to publicly air that parents of children in Arlington Public Schools have felt unable to voice their concerns for child safety regarding the proposed policy implementation procedure, or PIP.

The coalition’s website says it promotes the district’s policies, “which respect parents’ constitutional right to maintain responsibility and authority over their children and their children’s education, and to raise children according to the family’s values.”

“[The proposed policy] is an accommodation procedure, wherein transgender students are given preferences and privileges that deny other students their rights, such as Title IX protections for girls, and privacy rights for both boys and girls,” added Keffler.

Keffler said the school district has been working on the policy “exclusively” with Arlington Gender Identity Allies, a group made up of “parents [and] community members working to make Arlington Public Schools a welcoming place for transgender, nonbinary, [and] gender expansive youth/staff.”

She also complained that specific information on the policy proposal could only be received through Freedom of Information Act requests.

The policy being considered outlines a number of new rules for the treatment of transgender students.

Under the policy, the definitions for “gender identity” and “transgender” that are deemed acceptable by the school board are clearly spelled out.

Access would be granted to bathrooms and locker rooms that “correspond to a student’s gender identity,” and students would have the ability to participate in any “‘co-curricular or extra-curricular activity consistent with their gender identity,’ as regulated by the Virginia High School League.”

Overnight school events would allow students to sleep in a quarters consistent with the student’s gender identity.

Students would be allowed to use names and gender pronouns of their choosing that match their gender identity, with school staff making updates as needed to classroom records.

It is also stated that disclosing a student’s “transgender status, legal name, or gender assigned at birth” may be a violation of privacy laws.

If the policy is adopted, teachers would have to undergo periodic training to to keep up with transgender issues.

The policy proposal came after what Superintendent Patrick Murphy said is needed to ensure compliance with the school board policy known as J-2 Student Equal Educational Opportunities/Nondiscrimination.

“It is the responsibility of each Arlington Public Schools staff member to ensure all students, including transgender students, have safe, supportive, and inclusive school environments,” reads the policy document, which would serve as a supplement to the existing J-2 policy.

After the press conference, 39 community members showed up to voice their thoughts on the proposed policy at the public school board meeting.

Of those, 21 were parents of students in support of implementation and five were against it. Four Arlington Public Schools teachers and five current students also showed their support of the policy.

One student told the story of a friend, a 9-year-old fourth-grader who goes by “Griffin.” Griffin, who identifies as a transgender girl, wrote to the school board: “Thank you for supporting me and others. I will feel safe and more comfortable at school next year.”

The Daily Signal spoke with Sarah Priestman, an Arlington Public Schools teacher, about the policy at the school board meeting.

“I’m here because I support all the work these parents have done, and my own son is transgender and so years ago we did some work to create a more opening and supportive environment in the schools,” she said.

Now he’s in college so I’ve been sort of observing the work the parents are doing whose kids are in [Arlington Public Schools] now, and it’s amazing work and I want to support what they’re doing.

The most common complaint of parents at the meeting who oppose the policy echoed those from the Arlington Parent Coalition.

“The whole community should have been a part of it from the start,” one parent said to the school board. “The questionnaire didn’t even ask if people were residents of Arlington, yet that was the way for us to have an input.”

Another parent, who works as a psychiatrist, told the school board that “research on this topic (transgenderism in young children) isn’t clear yet.”

He wanted the school board to consider a “broader survey of research,” and wanted to “pause” action taken on the policy implementation program until those things could be completed.

Another parent expressed concern for students like her daughter who struggle with a mental disability. She also said she was frustrated with the school board’s lack of transparency concerning the policy, saying that “everything had to be requested by FOIA.”

During the school board meeting, Murphy, the superintendent, said a few major concerns surfaced in his morning meeting with citizens.

“We need additional time to come to a consensus, additional engagement for greater understanding, and that we need to establish consistency with guidelines for the upcoming year,” Murphy said.

However, when asked by school board member Barbara Kanninen if there would be any delay in implementing the policy implementation procedure, Murphy replied, “No, we will continue to move forward and place this by the start of the school year.”

The school board first considered the transgender youth policy last September. It sought suggestions from the Arlington Gender Identity Allies, and the school board “staff team” produced a draft of the policy in March.

A community questionnaire was released in June for Arlington residents to voice their opinions; however, the results of the questionnaire were not released by the school board.

The policy proposal will go through a two-week “office process” before any further development action is announced. The next scheduled meeting will be Monday, June 24, at 2 p.m. to host the School Board Policy Subcommittee on general policies.

It is not specified whether this meeting is open to the public.


Australia: Nothing but downsides in demand-driven education

I have never been a fan of demand-driven university enrolment, a system that involves “qualified” students being guaranteed a subsidised place in higher education.

For years the universities called for its introduction — and why wouldn’t they? — while making reference to dodgy estimates of “unmet demand”, defined as those “qualified” students who were unable to secure a place at university.

You might ask why I put qualified in inverted commas. The reason is that what constitutes qualification for entry to univer­sity is a movable feast.

Some may think a very decent Year 12 score is the least that should be expected. But, these days, passing the final year as measured by an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank of over 50 is optional when it comes to getting into uni.

In my view, it is entirely appropriate for taxpayers to place limits on the amount of money that should be allocated to subsidise undergraduate students. In other words, the spending should be capped and adjusted only to accommodate predetermined factors such as population growth.

Obviously there are opportunity costs associated with spending more on higher education tuition subsidies (and, of course, all types of government spending).

The additional spending could be directed to other activities that yield higher social benefits or it could be returned to put-upon taxpayers.

In this context, higher education advocates will point to the evidence, which is not beyond dispute, that spending on universities generates high rates of return, with some estimates above $10 for every $1 spent.

But here’s the point: these estimates are for average returns, and what we are interested in, in the context of this discussion, are marginal returns — the additional benefits that flow from spending more money on undergraduate tuition subsidies.

It’s worth looking at the figures here. Between 2009 and 2017, the period during which demand-driven enrolment operated, the number of domestic bachelor degree students rose by about one-third. Government spending increased, in real terms, from $6.4 billion in 2009 to $9.3bn in 2017, an increase of 45 per cent.

The Productivity Commission recently has assessed the demand-driven system and has issued a mixed report card.

But reading through the analysis, it’s actually hard to see very many upsides, only downsides, particularly in the context of the amount of spending involved and the outcomes for the students themselves.

Some of the most important findings include the fact universities have accepted much less qualified students as a result of the new funding system.

The additional students who were accepted into the system had much lower levels of literacy and numeracy than the cohort as a whole and most of them had ATARs below 70. (And, as noted, some had ATARs below 50 and were accepted into teacher education courses!)

And here’s a very depressing but unsurprising finding: the additional students had much higher dropout rates than other students. According to the Productivity Commission, “by age 23 years, 21 per cent of the additional students had left university without receiving a qualification compared with 12 per cent of other students”.

Surely the appropriate response is “what a waste” and note that many of these young people will have collected some Higher Education Loan Program (the old HECS) debt in the meantime, to be paid off during their working lives or written off.

To be sure, there was some increase in the participation of “first in family” students whom the Productivity Commission deemed to be disadvantaged. But for young people living in rural and regional areas and young indigenous people, there was no change in their participation.

It’s worth considering what has been happening in the graduate ­labour market in response to the expansion in the number of ­subsidised undergraduate places.

In short, there has been a ­collapse in graduate salaries as well as a marked deterioration in the employment prospects of graduates.

Consider median graduate starting salaries. Before the introduction of the demand-driven enrolment, these salaries were about 80 per cent to 82 per cent of male average weekly earnings. They are now closer to 75 per cent.

And when we look at employment outcomes, we observe a sharp fall in the proportion of graduates securing full-time work — from about 85 per cent to 70 to 75 per cent. Note also that a higher proportion of graduates report that their degrees are largely irrelevant to their work.

It is also worth noting that the HELP loan book is valued at $46bn and is expected to grow to $53.2bn by 2022, an increase of more than 15 per cent. There is little doubt that a reasonable proportion of this debt — perhaps up to 20 per cent — eventually will be written off.

That the Coalition government decided to pull the plug on demand-driven enrolment was not entirely surprising, although the reasons for this, as well as the replacement arrangements, do not exude much confidence in terms of rational decision-making.

The refusal by the Senate to pass measures to reduce certain spending on higher education forced the government to use non-legislated means of achieving the same outcome while putting in place a complex deal for universities, pending a review in a few years.

The clear message that the Education Minister should be giving university administrators is that there will be no return to the open-ended and wasteful demand-driven enrolment.

The Productivity Commission concludes that “while universities will be the best option for many, ­viable alternatives in employment and vocational education and training will ensure more young people succeed”. This point was always obvious, notwithstanding the universities’ spiel about the need for problem-solving, cognitive skills in the future.

Given the content of the cour­ses into which many of these additional students were accepted and the dismal record on economy-wide productivity during the period in which the number of graduates has swelled, the jig is surely up on this line of argument.


Sunday, June 30, 2019

American Private Schools With Religious Background Are Attracting More International Students

The 2019-2020 admission season for international students into American Private Schools has come to end. According to Amerigo Education, the number of international students applying for their religious American private schools has doubled. Private schools with religious background are attracting more international students for their excellent performance in academic and moral standards.

Currently, more than two-thirds of private high schools in the United States are religious schools and they are well-known to be prestigious and offer top notch academic and extracurricular programs. Compared with non-religious schools, the school style of church schools is relatively "rigorous", because the school uses religious concepts and management models to regulate student learning or behavior. In addition, because of their religious beliefs, most teachers and students are generally friendly and helpful in dealing with people and things, and they are more accepting to students from different backgrounds. Amerigo believes that international students are more easily to adjust to new environment in such a supportive and caring atmosphere.

One Amerigo student from Russia said that before he entered into Amerigo campuses, he had worries about whether studying in a Catholic school would have conflicts with his own belief. After one-year studying, he said there should not be any worries because there are no restrictions on the religious background of students. And each staffs and students respect the idea of freedom of religions.

In addition, the student said that taking religious classes helped him to better understand western history, culture, art and social changes of the ancient western world. The so-called religious curriculum, in fact, is similar to a course integration on history of world civilization and western ideology which helps international students build a thorough understanding of American society in a holistic way.

Currently, all ten campuses from Amerigo are Catholic High Schools. Besides its advanced facilities, each campus also is made up of first-class teachers. In addition, Amerigo attach great importance to cultivating students' well-being and personal growth in and out of the classroom, and helping students to successfully enter the ideal top university in the United States.


Freedom From Consequences Isn't Freedom

Ben Shapiro

On Monday, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., desperate to revive his flagging campaign, proposed a far-reaching plan to wipe out all student debt. That plan falls hard on plans by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., his chief far-left rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, to make college "free" moving forward. Sanders' justification for allocating over $1 trillion of taxpayer money to relieving relatively more well-off people from debt freely incurred: True freedom means living free of consequences. Sanders tweeted: "Are you truly free if you graduate hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt? Are you free if you cannot pursue your dream because you don't make enough to cover your student loan payments? We will #CancelStudentDebt because there is no freedom without economic freedom."

This is an Orwellian redefinition of the term "freedom."

Freedom has traditionally meant the ability to make your own decisions — and to live with the consequences of those decisions. I am free to buy a Lamborghini on credit, if Visa will extend me that credit; I am not deprived of freedom when Visa comes calling with a bill. Economic freedom amounts to the ability to make non-compelled decisions in the economic sphere. Sanders' economic plans offer precisely the reverse.

But Sanders' rhetoric here is merely the latest in a long line of such redefinitions from the American left. Franklin Delano Roosevelt suggested that "true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence" — and proceeded to make more Americans dependent on government than ever before in American history. He declared "freedom from want" in January 1941, in the midst of a second Great Depression of his making — the prior year, the unemployment rate in the United States was 14.45 percent. The mere declaration, as it turned out, did not end want. And the redefinition of freedom as government-sponsored dependency did not end in prosperity or freedom.

Nonetheless, the suggestion that freedom lies in prosperity — not that freedom is the precondition for prosperity — still retains draw. That's mainly because the human heart will always embrace the notion that our shortcomings spring not from choice but from circumstance. Sometimes that's true. But in a free country, it's far more often untrue. Still, that notion relieves us of responsibility while making demands of others. After all, if freedom lies in lack of college debt, then those who demand that you pay your debts are curbing your freedom.

In reality, here's what the #CancelStudentDebt plan would do: continue to drive up the cost of college tuition, with the taxpayer footing that cost. That's precisely what has happened in the past few decades as the feds have involved themselves in the supposedly vital task of ensuring that everyone goes to college. Never mind that many people don't need to go to college — that coming out of college without a skill set but with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt is a bad bargain. College for all became the mantra; the government stepped into the breach; costs rose. Now government once more steps into the breach.

Canceling student debt may mean a more carefree life for those who voluntarily took on debt, but it means a more burdensome life for those who have paid off their debts, who didn't go to college or who haven't yet been born. And carefree doesn't mean free. It simply means that someone else may be taking responsibility for your decisions. My children are carefree; they're certainly not free.

Going to college is often seen as an important step toward adulthood. Responsible financial decision-making is a far more important step. Disconnecting the two just continues the infantilizing of American adults. But that's all part of Sanders' agenda, isn't it?


The plight of boys in a misandrist world

The poison of revenge feminism in Australia

I worry more for my 19-year-old son than for my daughters, both in their early 20s. At a dinner party recently, a young woman told me that my son’s school was teeming with rape culture. That’s not true. I tried to explain why — that one bad boy, even a few, does not make a rape culture. But she didn’t seem to be interested in listening to this.

My son’s school has swallowed the fabrication hook, line and sinker. That is the wretched power of misguided accusations and outright lies. Repeat them enough and people believe them.

The confected panic became so ridiculous that at one assembly senior boys were told not to use the word moist as it might offend girls. The boys responded rationally. They muttered for the rest of the day about moist sandwiches, moist weather and so on. Some teachers joined in because, as a rule, overreach is rarely taken seriously.

Now I read that if my son, or one of his gorgeous and clever friends, studies medicine and becomes an obstetrician and gynaecologist, motives need to be checked. Are they in it for power? To enjoy watching women in pain? To perve at women’s private parts?

This is serious. Seriously wrong. I wouldn’t normally respond to another writer in this newspaper. We are a broad church, despite the claims of some ideologically blind critics that we all lean one way. Live and let write, I say. Sometimes their arguments sharpen mine.

Nikki Gemmell’s piece two weeks back needs addressing, not to sharpen opposing views given her claims are so easily sliced and diced. They need to be positioned as part and parcel of a wicked movement that seeks to punish men en masse, even smearing boys for the past deeds of some men.

Gemmell may not have meant to join this miserable movement. Maybe she was naive. But her claim that we should question the motives of why a man would want to be an obstetrician gives cover to others who choose gender as a determination of good or bad motives. Think of the obsessions about the white patriarchy and toxic masculinity. Rather than ­encourage more of these mindless accusations, can’t we agree that this genre of revenge feminism deserves no helpers? And that men should not have to defend themselves against inchoate claims about bad motives?

Revenge feminism is one part of a larger body of grievance politics, each offshoot with its own misguided postmodernist pursuit.

Post-Marxists assert power imbalances, regard objective knowledge as a construct of power, assume bad motives from those who have power, and then they prop up those deemed to be oppressed and punish those assumed to be oppressors. Many are so consumed with finding power imbalances, they do not stop to check whether they have found a real one, or whether they are making sense even when they have found the locus of power.

The redeeming feature of the postmodernist movement is that it is increasingly incoherent. Hence, it will not likely enjoy the same longevity of past, more comprehensible political movements. ­Rational people simply cannot, and will not, abide by the increasingly outlandish claims that emanate from the many parts of postmodernism.

From identity politics more broadly to narrower agendas of intersectional feminism and queer theory, along with their absolutist claims about cultural appropriation, unconscious bias, toxic masculinity, cisgender privilege, heteronormativity, and so on, more people recognise these as ­regressive, not progressive. All are aimed at judging people, not as individuals but as members of assumed oppressed and oppressor classes according to race, sexuality, culture and more.

Revenge feminism that reflexively impugns the motives of men is just another incoherent part of the mother ship of 1960s postmodernism that reworked itself in the 80s. But before each bit is ­finally dumped as part of modernity’s biggest political con, clumsy assumptions about power and gender are exceedingly unfair to men and do nothing good for women either.

My own experience points to the pointlessness of using gender to judge doctors. Three children. Two obstetricians. The first, a woman, was dreadful. Rough, rude, dismissive, she had many complaints against her I learned later. My second obstetrician was gentle and caring and he listened too. I judged both of them not by gender but by their individual skills, or lack of them.

My former father-in-law, a more decent man you could not find, was a GP in country NSW for many years in an era when the local doctor did all manner of things. He delivered so many ­babies that his family frequently bumps into those babies or the mothers and fathers, all much older now. This gentle man does not deserve to have his motives questioned for bringing babies into the world.

Gender stereotypes can blow back on women, too. Working as a young lawyer at a large law firm in Sydney more than two decades ago, I noticed that a higher proportion of senior female lawyers, partners in particular, were rude and dismissive. Kind of like that ­female obstetrician I would encounter some years later.

What was their beef? Maybe some thought young female lawyers had slid too easily into our chosen profession compared with their harder road. But why punish us for their trials and tribulations? Others didn’t discriminate on the basis of sex; they were equally awful to young men and women. The point is that some of us grew wary of older female lawyers and preferred to work for men. The men weren’t necessarily caring or gentle but they were fair.

Today, the pendulum has swung even further. In our biggest companies, in government bureaucracies and at universities too, gender is more prominent than ever. The way it is panning out, with quotas and special privileges for women, we are focusing less on people as individuals.

Today, if you want a genuine equal opportunity employer, your best bet may be a small business that is mercifully free of gender rules, and HR departments that enforce them.

Postmodern quests by social justice warriors have made us more sexist, and more racist, too.

Think of frequent accusations about toxic masculinity, not to mention bogus claims against white privilege. It is not corrective justice to smear all men with bad motives or to claim all white people are privileged. It is not justice of any kind. And it is not good for any of us.

There have always been sporadic contests over the core idea of the West that we treat people equally, as individuals who should be neither punished nor promoted by reason of their race, creed, ­gender or sexuality.

But today there is an escalating drive, under the auspices of identity politics, to divide people into smaller and smaller groups, starting from clumsy assumptions about power, replacing objective knowledge with unverified claims, ascribing bad motives to one class and good motives to another, punishing some, promoting others. It is driving people apart, creating default settings of distrust. Intersectional feminism, for example, is at war with itself, different groups of women laying claim to be the biggest victims.

In the victimhood sweepstakes, a woman of colour beats a white woman hands down, a lesbian woman of colour beats a lesbian white woman, and a trans woman beats a lesbian woman of colour. And a trans woman of colour? That is intersectional bingo. Meanwhile, trans activists in general are at war with biological women, and none of these groups is listening to the other. It is a shouting race to the top of a wonky ladder of victimhood.

It is no wonder then that identity politics is more morose and divisive, infantilising and illiberal now compared with, say, a decade ago. Given that we do not know where this ends or what the point of no return looks like, each of us should surely commit to being living, breathing examples of the great liberal mission.

Respecting and judging people as individuals is the road to genuine and enduring equality. If we start from this first principle, real empowerment and human flourishing will follow too. And a new social justice movement can better judge who holds power, who abuses it and how best to protect those at the mercy of real oppression.

We have to start somewhere. Not impugning the motives of male obstetricians is as good a place as any.