Friday, November 29, 2019

UK: Judge bans anti-LGBT protesters gathering outside primary school gates

Is he Islamophobic?

A judge has banned a religious protest over LGBT lessons outside a school after finding the demonstration exposed children to more sexualised language than they would have heard in the classroom.

Muslim parents began the controversial action outside Anderton Park Primary earlier this year after discovering that their children were being taught about same-sex relationships.

The parents argued that the lessons go “against the teachings and beliefs of our children’s individual faith” and it was discrimination to make them continue.

One Imam was filmed outside the School accusing teachers of “pushing a paedophile agenda” by teaching LGBT rights. Another female protester claimed that pupils were being taught to touch themselves inappropriately, videos shown before the court revealed.

Ruling against the parents, Mr Justice Mark Warby concluded: “It is noteworthy that the Imam’s wild and untrue statements were made in front of a large crowd, including children. The children were thereby exposed to sexualised language going far beyond anything they were exposed to in the controversial teaching of the School.

An interim injunction was granted to the council in June amid safety fears about repeated large-scale demonstrations, often involving people with no direct connection to the school or from outside the West Midlands CREDIT: RICHARD VERNALLS/PA
“Some of it would seem, on the protestors’ own view of matters, to be inappropriate for the ears of children.

“In a democratic society protest must be allowed, but that does not carry with it a right repeatedly to cause distress to primary school children by aggressive shouting through megaphones or microphones using amplification, or to inflict months of distress on teachers and local residents, causing anxiety to the staff, and leading some residents to consider selling up their homes.”

Yesterday’s decision followed legal proceedings that began in June, when an interim injunction was granted to Birmingham City Council amid safety fears about the protests.

Mr Justice Warby yesterday upheld the ban indefinitely, adding that what was being taught at the school had been "misrepresented, sometimes grossly” by the protesters.

Anderton Park Primary School is located in Sparkill, an inner-city area of Birmingham with a large muslim population, and the majority of their pupils are of British Pakistani heritage.

The protests began in March after one muslim parent noticed that her four-year-old son was sent home with extracts from a book called ‘Princess Boy’.

It sparked months of demonstrations with parents gathering to chant slogans including ‘Our children our choice’ and ‘Don’t confuse our kids’.

Shakeel Afsar, who led the protests despite not having any children of his own at Anderton Park, said the protesters would not accept the outcome.

"These young children are not being taught the status of law,” he said. “What they are being taught is that there is nothing wrong with this: that it is ok to be gay and it is ok to marry the same sex.

"Well, like it or not, we do not accept this and will not accept this.

Despite keeping the physical injunction outside the school gates in place, Mr Justice Warby yesterday lifted restrictions he had placed on social media criticism of the LGBT lessons in the June hearing.

His acceptance of the argument for free online speech came after the intervention of a Christian blogger John Allman.

“The judge has accepted the distinction between vocal protests outside a school and legitimate discussion on social media about what children should be taught about sex,” Mr Allman said after the judgement. “We need a grown up discussion; not the closing of debate.”


Geography has become 'soft option for not very bright, posh 6th formers', complains Oxford professor

He sounds a very unhappy man

It's a subject that has been studied by luminaries including Prince William, Theresa May and Mother Teresa.

But a leading Oxford professor says geography has ‘become a soft option’ for teenagers from wealthy backgrounds who do not have the sharpest brains.

Professor Danny Dorling claimed geography departments ‘have some of the narrowest and poshest social profiles’ at universities.

He insisted: ‘Geography in the UK has become a soft option for those who come from upper-middle class families where increasingly you are expected to go to university.’

Professor Dorling said geography’s association with the ‘English upper classes’ can be traced back to the late 1970s.

Previously, boys from top private schools tended to enter the military or the City aged 18.

Writing in the journal Emotion, Space and Society, the academic said of students: ‘They were more and more usually seen by their peers as not having done that well and hence having had to apply to study geography.’

The 51-year-old, who went to state schools, also attacked the careers that geography graduates embark on.

He said: ‘Many of them can then take their university degrees and head out to banking, advertising and management and make the world an even worse place.’

He claimed geography remained ‘the favourite subject of those who create hostile environments for immigrants, who create political parties that border on the fascist, of warmongers, bankers and imperialists’.

He said climate change and growing global inequality has helped revive interest in the subject.

‘But geography in the UK has become a soft option for those who come from upper-middle class families...especially for those who were privileged (and so often have high GCSE marks) but are not actually that good at maths or writing or reading or science or imagination,’ he added.

He also criticised the exams system. He said: ‘As educators we are left in Britain with the very tricky job of explaining to students who may have been awarded an A, A*, or 9 or 8 at maths or English at GCSE that this does not mean that they are brilliant at these subjects and will be able to think imaginatively about data or write engagingly about a topic.

It usually just means they were taught how to jump through the hoops of the British GCSE marking system well.’

Yesterday, Professor Dorling conceded that the outlook for geography is ‘beginning to change’. But he stressed: ‘We could do, nationally, with a far wider range of applicants.’


A politically correct but mostly imaginative rewrite of Australian Aboriginal history

If indigenous author Bruce Pascoe is correct, most of what we were taught of how Aboriginals lived prior to the arrival of Europeans was based on a combination of ignorance, omissions and lies.

In his landmark book Dark Emu, Pascoe claims indigenous Australians were not hunter-gatherers but were sophisticated in the ways of food production, aquaculture, and land management. They were not nomads but lived in large towns in permanent dwellings. Their civilisation was, he wrote last year, “one that invented bread, society, language and the ability to live as 350 neighbouring nations without land war, not without rancour … but without a lust for land and power, without religious war, without slaves, without poverty but with a profound sense of responsibility for the health of Mother Earth for more than 120,000 years.” According to him they also invented democracy and government.

The book won the 2016 NSW Premier’s Literary Award and has sold over 100,000 copies. The ABC and Screen Australia have provided funding for a documentary series written by Pascoe. According to the head of ABC Indigenous, Kelrick Martin, the book “offers a revelatory context for future generations of Australians and ABC Indigenous is proud to work alongside Bruce Pascoe … to correct these stereotypes.” A children’s version, “Young Dark Emu: A Truer History”, is now part of school curriculums.

Much of Dark Emu’s positive reception has to do with Pascoe’s masterful presentation skills, for he is naturally telegenic. Showing a knack for reading his audience, he can be avuncular, affable, disarming, reserved, and even melancholic. He is articulate, an orator, persuasive and endearing. Complementing this is his disdain for modernity and his claim that we can control climate change by using the techniques of the “old people”, as he refers to them, thus “calming the bush down”.

He has admirers aplenty. Such is their effusiveness, you could say Pascoe is the Tom Jones of historians. To his detractors, he is a revisionist and fantasist. Writing for the Weekend Australian Magazine in May this year, journalist Richard Guilliatt observed “many academic experts also believe Dark Emu romanticises pre-contact indigenous society as an Eden of harmony and pacifism, when in fact it was often a brutally tough survivalist way of life”. But as Guilliatt also noted, there is a reluctance in academia to make public these criticisms given the author’s popularity and aboriginality.

If you think that is too much of a stretch, remember that this year the University of NSW’s science faculty distributed guidelines to lecturers, warning them that it was “inappropriate” to specify an estimate of when the first human migration to Australia occurred. Instead, staff were told it was “more appropriate” to say Aboriginals have been here “since the beginning of the Dreaming/s”, as this “reflects the beliefs of many Indigenous Australians that they have always been in Australia, from the beginning of time, and came from the land’’.

That a science faculty would resort to this is ridiculous. While some studies estimate that Aboriginals have been here for as long as 65,000 years, the conservative estimate is 50,000 years ago. You would think then that any public figure who claimed it took place 120,000 years ago would be asked to justify that estimate. Yet I know of at least three occasions this year when Pascoe has repeated that claim when interviewed by an ABC presenter, none of whom even so much as sought clarification.

The ABC’s political correspondent, Andrew Probyn wrote this month that Dark Emu “demolish(es) the myth that Australia at the time of white settlement was a wilderness occupied by merely hunter gatherers”. ABC presenter Wendy Harmer referred to Pascoe as an “oracle”, and chief political writer Annabel Crabb tweeted admiringly regarding Dark Emu: “I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much from one slim volume”. Another ABC presenter, Benjamin Law, said “reading it should be a prerequisite to non-Indigenous citizenship”. Just this month RN Drive host Patricia Karvelas concluded an interview with Pascoe with a fawning endorsement of the book, urging listeners to buy it. “Just do it now,” she stated.

If scholarly authenticity in the fields of history and anthropology were determined by the number of “oohs” and “aahs” uttered into an ABC microphone, Dark Emu would be nothing short of magisterial. In reality, such recognition is properly realised only through sources that are both primary and verifiable. Even then, the mere inclusion of this material is nothing more than window dressing if the analysis and conclusions are far removed from those sources. The “feel-good” factor should never be a criterion in such evaluations.

Those giving accolades to Pascoe seem oblivious to the many instances, particularly on the website Dark Emu Exposed, where readers have highlighted stark inconsistencies regarding what appears in his claims and what is outlined in the respective primary source. Peter O’Brien, a Quadrant magazine contributor and retired military officer, has written a book “Bitter Harvest: The Illusion of Aboriginal Agriculture in Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu” highlighting what he claims are Pascoe’s omissions, mischaracterisations, and distortions.

The stoush has been described as a resumption of the history wars, a term I think unhelpful, for it leads to much distraction in fruitlessly arguing solely about the motives of historians. If anything, and for once I am not being facetious, the modern historian’s role is in one way analogous to that of today’s comedian. Both professions now operate according to the woke expectation that practitioners must always “punch up”, never down. A historian can be sure of at least a favourable reception, as in Pascoe’s case, if he or she promotes and defends the wretched at the expense of a so-called privileged demographic.

To do the reverse, however, is taboo. Many of you will remember the furore that erupted in 2002 following the release of historian and now Quadrant editor-in-chief Keith Windschuttle’s book “The Fabrication of Aboriginal History: Van Diemen’s Land 1803-1847”. Taking issue with many historians, Windschuttle disputed the theory that indigenous Tasmanians were the subject of genocide, arguing they had succumbed largely through introduced diseases. He also dismissed the romantic theory that the original inhabitants had engaged in “guerrilla warfare” against Europeans, stating their attacks were motivated by a desire for tea, sugar and flour.

To question the narrative was unforgivable, but what made it worse in the eyes of leftist academics was that Windschuttle both exposed and embarrassed many a historian by forensically analysing their footnotes. What he demonstrated was both revelatory and disconcerting. Historians had inflated the figures of killings, misquoted colonial administrators to give the appearance of malevolent intent towards Aboriginals, and even listed as sources local newspapers that had not yet existed at the time of the historical incidents in question.

The response from the historical establishment was both defensive and risible. As reported by The Australian’s Ean Higgins in 2004, the Australian Historical Association even discussed enacting a code of ethics to prevent historians from criticising their peers’ integrity in public. One academic described his astonishment at the “pack mentality” of his fellow historians. “It was like ‘let’s get a group of people together to ambush Windschuttle’,” he stated.

The Australian’s Janet Albrechtsen wrote nearly 10 years ago to this day of visiting the National Gallery of Victoria and seeing an exhibition surrounded by a fence. In the confines pasted individually on the floor were the 472 pages of Windschuttle’s book. The work, by artist Julie Gough, was designed for visitors to walk over the exhibition and thus, in her words, “blacken and erase this text”. As Albrechtsen states, this was an example of “the Left’s addiction to emotion, feel-good symbolism and an infantile rejection of facts as heresy”.

Despite the many misgiving concerning Pascoe’s research and findings, Dark Emu shows every sign of being regarded as the most authoritative text in its field. Whether it be apathy or pusillanimity, our public institutions accept without question his conclusions, irrespective of the anomalies, or how ludicrous his premises. Only last year Pascoe wrote “Almost no Australians know anything about the Aboriginal civilisation because our educators, emboldened by historians, politicians and the clergy, have refused to mention it for 230 years” – a claim that can only be described as a conspiracy theory.

Indigenous and non-indigenous Australian students alike are entitled to a history curriculum based on fact, whether the subject matter is triumphs, tragedies or atrocities. To have it any other way is a politicisation of the discipline. It is time Pascoe responded to his critics. Only then can readers decide whether Dark Emu is historical fact or a flight of fancy.


Thursday, November 28, 2019

Public Schools Must Be De-unionized

It's time to sink the union monopolies in school districts across the nation.

As the saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. No one embraces that aphorism more wholeheartedly than the nation’s education unions and their Democrat Party enablers.

As the latest test results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reveal, the unionized school model is an ongoing failure. “The average performance of the nation’s fourth and eighth graders mostly declined in math and reading from 2017 to 2019, following a decade of stagnation in educational progress, according to the results of a test released on Oct. 30, 2019,” columnist Jill Barshay reveals. “The one exception was fourth-grade math, with the average score rising by one point between 2017 and 2019.”

These results are not anomalous. Scores also declined between 2013 and 2015. But this particular drop was described as “substantial,” because reading scores for fourth-graders and eighth-graders declined in 14 states and 31 states, respectively.

Peggy G. Carr, associate commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) sounded the alarm. “Over the past decade, there has been no progress in either mathematics or reading performance, and the lowest performing students are doing worse,” she said in a prepared statement. “In fact, over the long term in reading, the lowest performing students — those readers who struggle the most — have made no progress from the first NAEP administration almost 30 years ago.”

How is it that three decades of stagnation are even remotely acceptable?, a website that tracks political contributions, reveals half of the equation.

“Democrats haven’t received under 70 percent of education industry donations in a cycle since 2002,” the site explains. “In 2018, individuals from the education industry gave more than $64.5 million to Democrats and just $7.8 million to Republicans. The industry’s peak giving year thus far, 2016, saw more than $75 million go to Democrats and $12 million to Republicans.”

The two largest teachers unions, National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), lean even further left. “Even more than most labor unions, they have little use for Republicans, giving Democrats at least 94 percent of the funds they contributed to candidates and parties since as far back as 1990, where our data begins,” Open Secrets adds.

The other half of the equation? Quite simply, unionism itself. By definition, a union exists to promote and protect the interests of its members. Thus, under the best of circumstances, the concerns of students and parents are secondary.

This dynamic is nothing new. “Bosses, have I got an idea for you: Don’t pay your best employees more, don’t ease out your least productive workers, and for crying out loud, never fire anyone, not even for the most blatant misconduct on the job,” wrote columnist John Stossel — 13 years ago.

Stossel further explained that since unions are government monopolies, “they don’t care” and yet “never go out of business.” He asserts, “They just keep doing what they’re doing, year after year, churning out class after class of students handicapped by a poor education.”

Being monopolies, unions oppose school choice and charter schools, especially when those charter schools outperform union models — and even when the public favors them by a two-to-one margin — which becomes a three-to-one margin among black Americans.

It’s no secret why black Americans are far more supportive of charter schools than any other demographic. “The achievement gap between white students and black students has barely narrowed over the last 50 years, despite nearly a half century of supposed progress in race relations and an increased emphasis on closing such academic discrepancies between groups of students,” columnist Lauren Camera explained in 2016.

Isn’t 30 years of overall stagnation and 50 years of a black-white achievement gap enough evidence to suggest the status quo is broken beyond repair?

Unfortunately the unionized-schools monopoly is so powerful that unless one has the wherewithal to put one’s child in a private/parochial school (like school-choice opponent Elizabeth Warren did and then lied about), that child’s future — or complete lack thereof — can literally be determined by one’s zip code.

It’s truly remarkable how sanguine most Americans are regarding that kind of coercive power. If one were shopping for a car, and government confined that shopping to a particular neighborhood, most Americans would be appalled by such an assault on their Liberty. Yet every year, millions of children, mostly in cities controlled by Democrat Party machines, are forcibly assigned to transparently failing schools.

Even more abusive? The fraud of increasingly higher “graduation” rates. The national average public-school graduation rate for 2019-2020 is approximately 84%, yet 40 to 60% of first-year college students require remedial courses in math, English, or both according to a 2016 report by the left-leaning Center for American Progress.

Those two stats are irreconcilable. Yet they are never seriously challenged, any more than the contemptible cornucopia of bogus educational theories that engender the discrepancy. Such theories — from “whole reading” instruction, “reform” math and “cooperative” learning, to an obsession with self-esteem, forced-fed multiculturalism and hostility to testing — have produced legions of weak-thinking younger Americans.

Younger Americans nonetheless taught to view their own nation’s customs culture, traditions, and economic system with contempt. “Our children are being intentionally brainwashed,” asserts columnist Ziva Dahl. “Postmodern academics, disdainful of America and the West, know that the best way to bring down our political and economic system is to refashion our history for future generations.” What to do? First, Americans must recognize that the union monopoly and the demands it imposes on students, parents, and a lot of capable and well-meaning teachers is a complete bust — at best.

At worst? Given the animus toward America union-monopolized schools disseminate to children on a daily basis, they are arguably a threat to national security.

Second, nationally televised Senate hearings should be convened, aimed at exposing the damage these monopolies have done. While most Americans are somewhat aware of the problems, seeing those who represent the status quo of ongoing educational failure defending their agenda — one after another, after another — might precipitate the collective outrage necessary to engender the paradigm shift in public education this nation desperately needs.

One critical to our ability to survive as a constitutional republic.

Every serious problem afflicting this nation can directly or indirectly traced back to the corruption of our education system. Right now, a least two generations of Americans believe American exceptionalism should be supplanted by a nihilistic stew of identity politics, economic collectivism, and intellectual bankruptcy epitomized by the words “my truth.”

Genuine truth? It’s time to start all over from scratch. After half a century of consistent decline, buying into yet another round of union promises to “reform” the system must be seen as the Titanic deck-chair rearrangement it truly is. It’s time to sink the union monopolies in school districts across the nation.

We’ve countenanced their insanity long enough.


Abolish the Ivy League Already


I attended two Ivy League schools (Dartmouth and Yale) some time ago, roughly the Early Paleolithic Age, and, best as I can remember, sort of liked them. But lately I'm beginning to think the whole elite school thing has turned into one big shuck, maybe it even was then —and not just because of the revelations of all the cheating surrounding admissions or that the institutions apparently discriminate against Asians as they did against Jews back in the day.

No, it's more basic than that. These formerly august institutions have morphed into kindergartens for jejune, virtue-signaling wannabe Trotskys and Rosa Luxemburgs (a.k.a. social justice warriors) who can't even let us watch a farshtunkene [very smelly] football game in peace.

In the middle of this year's Harvard-Yale game, the great activistes spewed out onto the field to demand, what else, action on climate change—delaying the game for over an hour.

But all these Ivy League smarty-pants couldn't come up with a slogan more original than "Hey hey, ho ho, fossil fuels have got to go.”

Who'd they learn that from, their grandparents?  Decades ago, during Vietnam, it was "Hey hey, ho ho, LBJ has got to go."

And he did. Of course, if fossil fuels went, we'd all freeze to death, but never mind. It's the thought that counts—assuming there really is some thought involved in these climate protests, which I doubt, even and especially those held by Harvard and Yale students and alumni at sporting events.

It's all rote, a pseudo-religion—and maybe a good way to meet a partner of the opposite or same sex, depending on your preference. That's the way it was during Vietnam too. (Mea very culpa!)

(It would be interesting to know how much litter was left on the field by these environmentalists. The Women's March immediately after Trump's election was notorious for leaving a giant mess.)

Of course that this was Harvard versus Yale—THE game as it is referred to, along with Army-Navy—meant it got plenty of national attention, as was no doubt intended.

But the larger question is: why is there still an Ivy League? What's so special about these particular colleges? Texas A&M certainly has a better football team and you can learn how to farm.

We live in an era when many of us are getting fed up with elites (unless, of course, they are former ambassadors to Ukraine, in which case they are sacrosanct). Nevertheless, we still live in a country where people are supposed to be impressed if you went to Harvard or Yale, as did so many of our most distinguished leaders... like Hunter Biden. It should be remembered that Harvard's most famous and successful graduate of recent times—Bill Gates—quit. Possibly the greatest American writer of the Twentieth Century—F. Scott Fitzgerald—was thrown out of Princeton. (If you prefer Hemingway, he never went to college.)

Maybe the Ivy League isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Maybe it's an elitist habit we should all kick. Think of the benefits. You won't feel bad if you didn't get in and you won't have to abide self-important eco-blowhards interrupting a football game. You'd still have to deal with Colin Kaepernick, but at least it's an improvement.

But the man who really understood the Harvard-Yale game, when it was just a contest and not a lecture, was, needless to say, the great Harvard mathematician/songwriter Tom Lehrer. Take it away...


Australia fails on early childhood education

We read below: "The report shows children who attend early learning services are as much as 33 per cent less likely to be developmentally vulnerable when they start school "

But why?  Does it mean that mothers who do all the caring are harming their kids?  Is the contrast with care-by-mother?  Probably not.  The report below admits that Aborigines and the poor tend not to send their kids to kindergarten.  So the comparision is between the poor and the rest. 

The results below are NOT a comparison between mothers of equal status, some of whom use kindergartens and others who do not.  There is no evidence that going to kindergarten is of itself better for the child

The percentage of Australian families with two parents in the workforce is increasing, as new data shows the number of couples with both adults employed full time doubling.

Data from the latest snapshot of early learning in Australia shows in 2013 the number of couple families in which both parents worked full time was 16 per cent. By 2017, the number was 33 per cent.

The Early Childhood Australia report, to be released on Monday, shows women remain more likely to be the primary carer for children, and  the proportion of families with a single earning father, whose partner is not in the labour force, decreased from 36 per cent in 2013 to 31 per cent in 2017.

Australia's upward trajectory in rates of female workforce participation — up by 1.5 percentage points in the past decade — aligns with trends in OCED countries, and brings the economy closer to Sweden, often viewed as an international leader in gender equity in the workforce.

The report shows children who attend early learning services are as much as 33 per cent less likely to be developmentally vulnerable when they start school than those who do not attend early learning services.

Disparities in access to early learning persist, however.

While nearly 45 per cent of children used early learning services in 2018, those living in remote areas, children from Indigenous and non-English speaking backgrounds and those with a disability are under-represented in early learning services.

For preschool programs in the year before full time schooling, enrolment levels are over 90 per cent. But actual attendance at preschool varies widely across the states and territories and economically disadvantaged and Indigenous children are less likely to attend.

Indigenous children are more likely to be developmentally vulnerable when they start school than non-Indigenous children. States where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are provided free or near-free access to preschool from age three tend to achieve the national Closing the Gap target of 95 per cent enrolment in the year before school.

Low-income families  spend a higher proportion of their income on early learning services, despite subsidies from government.

The report shows those on the lowest incomes pay almost double the proportion of their income after subsidies, at 8 per cent, compared with those on high incomes, who spend 4.7 per cent.

Australia falls below average the average investment levels for OECD countries, 0.7 per cent of GDP, and ranks 11th among the 21 member countries.

"While the headline figures indicate strong national progress in early childhood education and care provision and quality, closer examination highlights significant pockets of unmet need, and problems of affordability and workforce planning," the report said.

"The picture also differs between states and territories, where differences in the early childhood education and care landscape combine with varying policy settings to produce inconsistent results for children and families.

"The goal of fully realising the benefits of early learning for all children in Australia has not yet been reached."

The report will be released at federal Parliament. It notes a decline in investment in early learning per child occurred under the Turnbull and Morrison governments.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Return on Students' Investments Varies Over Time

What kind of a return on investment can a student expect to get on his or her college education?

The answer depends on any number of factors. Cost of attendance, choice of college and type of degree attained are just a few of the major ones.

A new report released today by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce examines several of those factors and how they affect returns on students’ investment. The report uses data made available on the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard -- net price and median earnings -- in order to calculate the net present value of degrees and credentials from different colleges over short and long time frames. It ranks more than 4,500 public, private nonprofit and private for-profit colleges awarding bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and certificates. It ranks the institutions as a whole but not their individual programs, although its authors hope to be able to analyze program-level return on investment in the near future.

Generally, community colleges and a large number of certificate programs posted the highest return on investment in the short term, defined as a 10-year period. Colleges that award mostly bachelor’s degrees did much better over the long run, a 40-year time frame.

Public colleges tended to return more on investment over 10 years than private nonprofit colleges did, but private nonprofit institutions returned more over 40 years.

Those findings are driven to various degrees by the fact that community colleges and certificate programs take less time to complete and tend to cost less than a bachelor’s degree. Students can finish credentials quickly and start earning.

At the other end of the spectrum, four-year degrees from private nonprofit colleges cost much more and take longer to earn, keeping many students from participating fully in the labor force for longer periods of time. But they tend to pay off as the years add up, because median annual earnings 10 years after enrollment are almost $8,000 higher for private nonprofit college graduates than they are for those who graduated from public colleges.

An average private college graduate can expect to see an economic gain of $838,000 over 40 years, the report says. Public college graduates can expect less, $765,000. For-profit college graduates can expect $551,000.

For all colleges measured, the median gain 10 years after enrollment was $107,000. It was $723,000 for all colleges at the 40-year marker.

The findings reinforce the idea that college is worth the investment, according to the report’s authors and several experts who reviewed it. But they also leave room for a large amount of nuance and exceptions, and some experts raised methodological questions.

Exceptions to the top-level takeaways include that some public institutions rank among the many private nonprofit colleges with the best long-term return on investment. A couple of four-year private nonprofit colleges posted top rankings in both the 10- and 40-year time frames.

A key nuanced point is that the middle of the pack is more muddled than might be expected. Look at the 50th percentile, institutions not rated as having particularly low or high returns on investment after 40 years, and you’ll find four-year colleges. But you’ll also find community colleges and some for-profit colleges, said Anthony Carnevale, a research professor at Georgetown and director of the university's Center on Education and the Workforce, who is an author of the report.

“In the middle of the distribution of the American postsecondary institutions, it’s a fair fight between four-year schools, two-year schools, for-profit schools, not-for-profit schools,” Carnevale said.

That suggests students and the counselors who guide them through college choices should look at individual institutions over institution type, Carnevale said. While many students and families may assume that elite private colleges outperform other types of institutions, the results for most individual students are mixed.

Net Present Value and Other Assumptions

The report approaches return on investment by using net present value, describing the concept by using the idiom that “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

In other words, people generally value the things they currently possess more than the things they might gain in the future by taking a risk, the report says. To account for this fact, economists try to calculate the time value of money, increasingly discounting projected cash flows as they peer further into the future.

Authors applied that concept when examining data from the College Scorecard. They looked at institutions that reported net price and median earnings six, eight and 10 years after students’ initial college attendance. Earnings after 10 years were used as “a reasonable proxy for future earnings.” Some institutions were excluded for various reasons, including those that primarily awarded graduate degrees.

A total of 4,529 colleges ended up in the data set. Almost two-fifths, about 39 percent, were public institutions, 34 percent were private for-profit institutions, and 28 percent were private nonprofit institutions.

Median 10-year reported earnings among those working and not enrolled were $32,300. The report also looks at colleges’ median debt, excluding private loans and loans to parents, finding it to be $9,774 across the entire sample.

Experts who weren’t involved in the report questioned some of the assumptions baked into it. It does not take into account what a student could earn if he or she immediately entered the workforce straight out of high school, for example. Nor does it adjust for the fact that some institutions disproportionately enroll students with different characteristics that make them more or less likely to earn higher wages than their peers.

“The problem is that there is significant selection [bias] regarding who goes to each institution,” Phillip Levine, a professor of economics at Wellesley College, said in an email. “M.I.T. students are brilliant. If they didn't go to college at all, it is unlikely that they would make the minimum wage. What matters is how much is their wage relative to what it would have been had they not gone to college. If you ignore this point, you will get estimates suggesting the M.I.T. has a very high ROI. Maybe that's true, but it's hard to know.”

Think about it another way: if a college mostly trains preachers, it’s not likely to score highly in return on investment, because preachers don’t tend to make large amounts of money.

A college that only trains preachers raises another point: its graduates might not care as much about money as other college graduates. Measuring return on investment doesn’t recognize the possibility that colleges and students alike seek more than economic benefits from postsecondary education.

The report assumed a 2 percent interest rate when calculating net present value. That prompted some discussion among experts, because the lower the interest rate, the more money earned in the future would be worth today. A higher interest rate would be more in line with historical norms -- and would lower the expected return on investment for college.

Financial aid for low-income students could significantly change the return on investment they could expect to receive for earning a degree, Levine said. But the report’s net price data don’t capture the different prices students might pay.

“This report considerably understates the ROI for lower-income families,” Levine said. “A student whose parents make, say, $50,000 per year or less (with typical assets for that income level) may have an ROI of two or more times as great as the level stated because of the greater generosity of financial aid. Students from those families certainly need to understand the value of a college degree and, as a society, we need to find ways to enable them to receive one.”

Many other factors could be added into return-on-investment calculations.

“Given all the things that go into determining these numbers, and given the sort of lack of precision, publishing this list of individual institutions to me is questionable,” said Sandy Baum, a nonresident senior fellow at the Urban Institute. “There are so many factors that go into earnings, one being the characteristics of the incoming students.”

The report acknowledges many different caveats. They include not accounting for the way economic shocks can affect specific occupations, the way people living in different geographic regions have different earning potential and the way industry-specific shocks might affect certain groups. It also didn’t consider how earnings for the particular cohorts studied might differ from other groups of students -- an important point, considering that the students in the study entered college just before the Great Recession hit.

Also, different students at the very same institution have vastly different earning potentials based on what they study. Income differences by field are much more important to convey to students than which institution he or she attends, said Arthur M. Hauptman, a public policy consultant specializing in higher education finance.

“The best approach would be to use the overall data to see what fields are more remunerative, if that’s your primary goal,” Hauptman said. “Then look for schools that have good programs. If you know what field you want to go into, then choose the school based on the field. The Scorecard makes things worse to me, because it’s merging this issue of school and program.”

Carnevale has emphasized the need to look at program-level data many times in the past. He hopes to address return on investment at the program level in the future.

“There is a certain effect of going to a certain kind of school,” he said. “But there is a second effect, which in many cases is much more powerful: the program you’re in.”

The Georgetown CEW expects the federal government to soon release program-level data that would allow similar ROI calculations to be performed for different majors or programs.

“There’s a second tier of information that in many cases is more important,” Carnevale said. “That’s program. That is field of study, and so forth. There is a whole substructure underneath this data, which will change this number a lot.”


UK: Students complain they are being asked to 'snitch' after university asks for names of striking lecturers as eight day industrial action begins

Students have complained that they are being asked to "snitch" on teaching staff after their university asked for names of their striking lecturers at the beginning of an 8-day walkout.

Sheffield Hallam university has posted a form on its website on which students can enter details of the lectures missed due to strike action.

This has angered some students, who have implored their Twitter followers to spam the form with nonsense.

Twitter account Hallam Student Support The Strike posted:  FUN FACT - "The 'grass on striking lecturers form' is public - anyone can access it If you've got a spare minute, why not submit a report or ten telling Sheffield Hallam exactly what you think of this scheme?"

Pranksters tweeted evidence that they had done just this, with one pretending to have missed a lecture by "Dr Seuss" and another posting quotes from Animal Farm.

Other submissions include "you must really hate your staff" and "we are not your surveillance tools".

A Sheffield Hallam University spokesperson explained: “To help us ensure that students do not miss anything essential, we are monitoring what activities are impacted. Staff aren’t obliged to tell the University of their decision to take industrial action until after the end of the strike period. The form available helps us capture sessions that have not taken place as soon as possible so we can proactively plan alternative learning opportunities and minimise disruption for students.”

Up to 43,000 members of the University and College Union (UCU) at 60 UK institutions are taking part in walk-outs in an action the union has said will affect about a million students in the run-up to the Christmas break.

Those going on strike include lecturers, student support services staff, admissions tutors, librarians, technicians and administrators.

Prominent academics supporting the strike include Mary Beard, a leading Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge, who said she "works 100 hours a week" and would therefore "not be crossing a picket line".

UCU has said staff have reached "breaking point" over issues including workloads, real-terms cuts in pay, a 15% gender pay gap and changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), which the union says will leave members paying in more and receiving less in retirement.

Picket lines are being mounted at campuses across the country, protests held and other forms of industrial action launched, including not covering for absent colleagues and refusing to reschedule lectures lost to strike action.

Labour's shadow education secretary Angela Rayner is due to speak at a rally in Manchester in support of the strikes.

The strikes will take place on five days this week, and again for three days from December 2.

Ms Rayner said: "Fair pay, secure contracts, reasonable workloads and decent, affordable pensions should come as standard for all those working in education, including in our universities.

"Thousands are on strike today because that simply isn't the case in the increasingly marketised system that the Tories have created. Labour will end the failed free market experiment in education and instead put staff and students first."


Australian Christian schools join to train teachers

This is a very positive development, as secular teacher traiing has very low standards in every respect.

It is however regrettable that they have followed the secular example and mandated four years for teacher training.  That was always a highpoint of out-of-control credentialism.  Teachers in times past did perfectly well with a one-year diploma and "Teach for America" sends graduates into difficult schools with only months of preparation.

A saving grace may be that the new arrangement will see trainees spending much more time in the schools than they do in the secular system

The Pentecostals have provided the lead for the new setup but the participating schools are mostly Anglican, so the  new setup is non-denominational, in the best Protestant tradition.

Five Sydney schools have joined together to pilot a training program to ensure the future supply of high-quality teachers for their schools.

Trainee teachers will enter into a four-year undergraduate or two-year postgraduate degree program with a big difference: the trainee teachers will be working in the schools with students for their entire tertiary education.

The Teaching Schools Alliance Sydney has been established by Blue Mountains Grammar School, St Andrew’s Cathedral School, The Scots College, Inaburra School and William Clarke College. The Alliance will partner with Australia’s largest Protestant-affiliated tertiary provider, Alphacrucis College, to deliver the degree program.

The Alliance hopes to address wider social concerns about student teacher quality, high attrition rates in the profession and classroom readiness of graduates. The pilot program will lead the way in directly addressing these issues and becoming a model that can be replicated across Australia, particularly in regional areas.

The initiative reconnects schools with the training of the next generation of teachers and utilises the tertiary partnership to form a ‘Teaching School Hub’. The model is already operating successfully in the Hunter Valley NSW with a cluster of schools from St Philip’s Christian College group of schools.

Each Hub will assess applicants on the basis of proven volunteerism, ethos alignment, EQ, IQ and appropriate academic standards before commencing training.

Alphacrucis liaison for the Alliance, Dr David Hastie, said that the ‘Hub model’ of teacher training provides significant benefits to the schools as well as the trainee teachers. “The clinical training approach embedded in the model has proven to be effective across the globe, but this Hub model adapts it for our unique Australia education context. The model provides professional and contextual preparation with a wealth of experience in curriculum development, assessment, small group teaching, parent interaction, problem-solving and conflict resolution.”

“The trainees are also well supported, their tuition fees are subsidised, they are paid part-time as a teaching assistant and they graduate with significant work experience.”

A typical Alliance trainee will spend 1-2 days per week paid to work in the classroom with a Mentor Teacher, which means that by the completion of their degree the trainee will already have hundreds of days of school-based experience.

The academic program includes a mixture of local face-to-face intensives, mentor training, and online coursework. A significant point of difference from existing models is that the training follows the rhythms of the school calendar rather than the traditional university calendar. This means that trainee teachers are receiving 40 weeks of training each year rather than the common university calendar of two 13-week semesters.

The degrees awarded are the same degrees awarded at traditional universities with the same standards, rigour and accountability to the governing bodies that set and monitor academic standards in Australia. In addition, the pilot is to be evaluated by an independent research team.

Full and partial scholarships are available to prospective trainees.


Blue Mountains Grammar School is a co-educational Pre-Kindergarten to Year 12 Christian school in the Anglican tradition. The school has two campuses located at Wentworth Falls and Valley Heights.

St Andrew’s Cathedral School is a co-educational Kindergarten to Year 12 Anglican school located in Sydney’s CBD.

The Scots College is a Pre-Kindergarten to Year 12 non-selective Presbyterian boys' school for day and boarding students. The College has campuses in Bellevue Hill, Rose Bay, Dolls Point and Kangaroo Valley.

Inaburra School is a co-educational Kindergarten to Year 12 Baptist school located in Sydney’s South.

William Clarke College is a Pre-school to Year 12 co-educational Anglican College located in Kellyville in Sydney’s north west.

Alphacrucis College is Australia’s largest Protestant-affiliated tertiary provider, and is aligned to the Pentecostal denomination. Founded in 1948, the College’s main campus is located in Parramatta with additional campuses in Brisbane, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, Perth and Auckland.

Media release. Contact: Dr David Hastie – 0405 153 048. Alphacrucis College, Associate Dean, Education Development.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Public Schools & 'LGBTQ' Propaganda

Curriculum changes sweeping the country mean kids are being further indoctrinated.

Most parents send their kids to school each morning with the assumption that they’re learning the three R’s. Unfortunately, while a significant percentage of students graduate from high school with the inability to read, write, or perform basic math functions, they’re all increasingly proficient in the “LGBTQ” worldview due to curriculum changes sweeping across the country.

John Murawski writes at RealClearInvestigations, “Advocates say these reforms provide compelling benefits: They present a more truthful and realistic version of history while promoting an inclusive climate in which LGBTQ kids are less likely to be harassed or bullied. Medical experts say that social rejection, hostility and violence contribute to higher rates of substance abuse, depression, and suicide among LGBTQ youth.”

On the surface, it sounds so innocent. But some parents aren’t buying into the new groupthink.

Murawski adds, “As schools adopt the curriculum, some parents have protested to their districts or tried to get their kids excused from class. They say public schools are encroaching on the sanctity of the family when they inculcate specific beliefs about gender and sexuality. They predict the new mandates will prompt a wave of parents to pull their kids out of public schools.”

What’s at issue for many parents of traditional Christian values and beliefs is not that others are living alternative lifestyles or even celebrating an alternative way of life, but that the Rainbow Mafia is so militant in forcing its agenda upon the rest of us while labeling as bigoted and homophobic all who would oppose them.

The situation today seems the reverse of what it was just a decade or two ago: young, heterosexual students now feel immense pressure to openly endorse lifestyles they don’t personally believe in. For example, a student commenting in a class discussion that he believes in traditional marriage will likely be met with condemnation by his teacher. The student may then be referred to a school counselor or equity officer, or coerced into attending sensitivity workshops.

Another concern about the LGBTQ curriculum is the obsession with sexuality. School textbooks identify athletes, historical figures, musicians, writers, scientists, and artists by their sexual preference, or their suspected sexual preference in the case of those who pre-date the movement. The accomplishments of these individuals seem secondary to their sexuality — at least when they’re viewed through an LGBTQ lens.

This is of particular concern for parents of children attending elementary schools where students read books about characters who have same-sex parents, are questioning their sexuality, or who “identify” as transgender. Heather Has Two Mommies and Jacob’s New Dress are two examples of the books now being introduced to first graders.

Parents who oppose this indoctrination have few options, but some are trying to make a statement.

Just this week, a group of Virginia parents expressed concern over the addition of LGBTQ books placed on classroom and library shelves, some of which contain sexually suggestive or even explicit material. And earlier this year, parents pulled 650 children out of the Rocklin Unified School District in California to protest the implementation of an LGBTQ curriculum designed to bring the school into compliance with the state’s FAIR Education Act of 2011.

These protests and walk-outs are typically short-lived, however, and the momentum is clearly with those who want to force the rest of us to accept their ideology. Indeed, the supposedly oppressed have now become the oppressors. And they’ve come up with a lot of creative, subversive ways to make sure the rest of us are immersed in the religion of diversity, inclusion, and equity. These include creating and implementing programs without notifying parents, and intentionally removing LGBTQ studies from a school district’s sex-ed program, thereby preventing parents from being able to opt out.

As Joy Pullman writes at The Federalist, “It’s no matter to them that the only difference between a gay person and a straight person is the kind of sex each engages in, and thus any LGBT instruction obviously falls into sex ed. The defining element of being LGBT is one’s preferred sexual behavior, and absolutely nothing else. Thus any LGBT instruction is necessarily sex ed. This is just a patent attempt to bypass state laws that obviously apply. When Christians do this, with much more legitimacy, by things like trying to have the Bible taught in world religions or world history, the left loses its everloving mind.”

Clearly, the tide has turned against those who hold traditional beliefs. And it’s no wonder that so many parents are afraid to even question the LGBTQ agenda within their schools. The Rainbow Mafia is well-funded and well-organized even at the community level, and its goal is clear: to mock and demean the very principles and values that are the bedrock of Western civilization. And their demand is clear, too: Either accept and celebrate the LGBTQ agenda, or we’ll come after you.

So much for tolerance.


The UK universities that have produced the most millionaires

University is a great opportunity to learn from the best intellectual minds, but also to build networks that can set you up for life. It’s not just the most elite universities (Oxbridge, say, or America's Ivy League) that can open these doors, however, as millionaires have been made across a range of British universities.

Now, new data from the financial technology company Tide has revealed the universities in the UK that have produced the most millionaires. The numbers, which have been shared exclusively with The Telegraph, assesses the top 1,000 richest UK residents from the Times Rich List and looks at where they went to university.

While some of Britain's millionaires went abroad for their education, including five who studied at the University of Pennsylvania, three who attended Harvard University, and three who took their degrees at Moscow State University, the majority are alumni from British institutions. The following are the British universities  that have produced the most millionaires. The top of the list won't shock. But read on...

University of Oxford

It should come as no surprise that the University of Oxford takes the lead, having produced an incredible 50 millionaires and billionaires. One of the most notable is Michael Spencer, founder of NEX Group, who read physics and now has a net worth of £1.15 billion.

University of Cambridge

Swift on Oxford's heels is Cambridge. This university boasts 33 alumni on the Times’ Rich List, including Simon Arora, who studied law at Cambridge and is now worth £2.3 billion, as the CEO of retail chain B&M.

Imperial College London

 Imperial College London has similarly impressive alumni in its repertoire. Among the 13 millionaires and billionaires who have studied there is Alan Howard, a hedge fund manager who graduated from Imperial College London with a Master of Science and now has a net worth of £1.76 billion.

London School of Economics

With its focus on economics and political science, and its central location in the capital, the university has produced 12 millionaires and billionaires. One of the most prolific is Michael Platt, a hedge fund manager who graduated from his mathematics and economics course in 1991 and now has a net worth of £6.1 billion.

University of Nottingham

English billionaire David Ross, co-founder of Carphone Warehouse, is one of the six richest alumni from the University of Nottingham. Ross, who has a BA degree in law from the university, now has a net worth of £1 billion.

Strathclyde University

Don't underestimate Strathclyde. It may not feature prominently in the QS World University Rankings, but the university can still boast five millionaires amongst its alumni. One of the most prominent is James McColl, the Scottish businessman responsible for the development of Clyde Blowers. He gained a BSc degree in technology and business studies at the university, and now has a net worth of £1 billion. 

University College London

Located in the heart of the capital, University College London (UCL) gives students easy access to the network of businesses around them. So, it’s hardly surprising that the university has produced five millionaires (and billionaires) on the Times Rich List. Robert Rubin, co-owner of Pentland Group, is one such alumnus. He graduated from UCL with a degree in law and now has a net worth of £3 billion.

University of Manchester

Joining Stratchclyde and UCL, the University of Manchester has produced five millionaire graduates, including notable alumnus Tim Steiner - the co-founder and chief executive of Ocado. He has a bachelors degree in economics, finance and accountancy from the University of Manchester, and now has a net worth of £314 million.

University of Edinburgh

This scenic university, which is ranked the 20th best university in the world, according to the QS World University Rankings 2020, has created four of the millionaires on the Times Rich List. This is hardly surprising, as Edinburgh graduates are among the UK’s top earners, with an average salary of £49,500 within five years of leaving university.

Cardiff University

The Welsh university can boast four millionaires and billionaires among its alumni — including Dame Mary Perkins, DBE, who co-founded Specsavers. She went to Cardiff University to train as an optometrist in the Sixties and now has a net worth of £1.45 billion.


Parents give Australian school policies poor report card

Parents are generally satisfied with how much money their child’s school has, but they don’t agree with how it is spent. If that sounds familiar it’s because it echoes what the CIS has been arguing for years.

The results of a national survey of more than 1,000 parents (relating to 1,394 children) — revealed in the CIS policy paper released this week: What Do Parents Want from Schools? — show that 88% of parents believe their child’s school has enough or more than enough funding. This includes 86% of parents with a child in a government school.

This cuts against the dominant education policy discourse — driven by the union movement and progressive educationalists — which both major parties have swallowed hook, line and sinker.

It is already clear that huge increases in public funding aren’t delivering educational improvements. This new research also shows that it is also not what parents want either.

The unions have rallied — and largely won — for money to be spent on endlessly reducing classroom sizes (presumably unsatisfied until we are practically educating one-to-one), increasing teachers’ pay (presumably until it’s in line with doctors), and amassing an army of support staff in schools.

In contrast to these priorities, parents say that they want to see better facilities and more extra-curricular activities offered at their chosen schools. This could be because funding for capital works is around one-eleventh of that of the spending on staffing. And extra-curriculars are generally paid for out of parents’ own pockets and in their own time.

The research also found that a considerable proportion of parents regret their choice of a school for their children, with around 40% saying they either would not choose the same school again or were unsure if they would.

This means that around 1.6 million students are enrolled in a school that their parents aren’t happy with. However, some appear to be more happy than others.

Unsurprisingly, those that felt limited in their choice — around two-thirds of surveyed parents — are less satisfied with the school their child is in.

Those that chose a non-government school, for instance, appear to be happier with their choice. This appears to be linked with findings of higher levels of confidence in how funding is being used in non-government schools, compared to their government school peers.

And parents who sought independent sources of information to help with their choice of school — like meeting with school staff, visiting school websites, and checking the MySchool website — are more likely to be happier with their choice. As the old adage goes, more informed shoppers are happier shoppers.

When it comes to school funding and school choice, this research is a poor report card on policymakers in state and federal government. It’s past time for government to listen to the message that parents want to see a spending shakeup and that more choice is indispensable to educational improvements.


Monday, November 25, 2019

Teen Charged with Hate Crime after silly joke

A photo that appeared on Craigslist of a black teen that was captioned "Slave for Sale" has set off an hysterical frenzy in the town of Naperville, Ill., as the prosecutor has charged the young man who posted the photo with a hate crime.

White supremacists run amok in the suburbs of Chicago? A racist kid planning to shoot up a school? Not exactly. You see, the young man who posted the photo and the kid in the picture are friends. And what surely began as an insensitive joke has now morphed into a criminal investigation.

For racialists, there's no such thing as a sense of humor, even though the "joke" was in extremely poor taste. But if "poor taste" was a criminal offense, think of how many liberals would be in prison right now?

The school, for once, appeared to handle the situation properly.

CBS News:

Prosecutors allege the white Naperville Central High School freshman also included "an offensive racial slur" in the ad that they called "beyond disturbing." The teen's defense attorney counters the students were friends and school authorities are handling the matter with an apology and suspension.

In my day, the dean of students would have told the two kids to hug each other, apologize, and that would have been the end of it. But what chance would that have given the race warriors to over-emote and demonstrate outrage?

Assistant State's Attorney Lee Roupas said the teen took the photo last week while the two sat at the same lunch table. Prosecutors describe the allegations as "serious and aggravating," and said the actions risked the safety of the victim.

"Hate crimes have no place in our society and will not be tolerated," the county's State's Attorney Robert B. Berlin said in a statement. "Anyone, regardless of age, accused of such disgraceful actions will be charged accordingly."

"This was a despicable and extremely offensive post that is not at all reflective of the caring, welcoming community that our department serves and protects every day," Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall said in a statement quoted by CBS Chicago.

"Despicable"? Sure. "Extremely offensive"? Matter of opinion but, OK.

But is it criminal? When anything and everything having to do with race is morbidly exaggerated, it's worse than criminal; it's insensitive. Was the black kid's safety at risk? There are scenarios where a frothing-at-the-mouth white nationalist saw the picture and took it seriously, and now that the cops have made a huge deal out of this, someone looking to kill someone in the news might get the idea of becoming famous himself.

But in the realm of the hyper-sensitive race warriors, those far-fetched fantasies are possible.

I believe in being sensitive and empathetic to everyone. But being insensitive is not criminal behavior and acting in poor taste is not a crime. Trying to make it so only makes advocates look like idiots.


Why Students Should Still Pick a History Major

Since the 2008 financial crisis, the history field has seen a precipitous decline in the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in American colleges. As Benjamin Schmidt, a historian at Northeastern University, reported in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives, the number of history degrees awarded fell by 30 percent—from 34,642 to 24,266 in just nine years from 2008 to 2017.

History’s steep decline is not an anomaly, but part and parcel of a broader “crisis” in the humanities. STEM has steamrolled these disciplines on college campuses: Computer science has more than doubled its students between 2013 and 2017. Moreover, critics have made punching bags out of history, humanities, and social sciences writ large.

However, from the perspective of a freshly minted history graduate like myself, history departments are uniquely inspiring homes for an undergraduate education.

Indeed, history as a discipline is constantly engaging with the public, critiquing itself, and evolving through contemporary debate. Just as important, majoring in history prepares students for fulfilling and financially rewarding careers.

I studied history and political science at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and am continuing my studies in history at the University of Cambridge. Had you told me five years ago that today I would be preparing for a career as a professional historian, I would have burst into laughter. It was only after the first session of my first class at Miami—“The History of the Graphic Novel”—that I decided to lean into my interest in history as a major.

I then discovered a department full of passionate professors dedicated to teaching and presenting historical topics in innovative ways. During “Food in History,” a course co-taught by nearly a dozen Miami historians, Elena Albarrán explained the significance of tortillas in Latin American history and demonstrated how to make them from scratch. I can recall the exact number of hand “pats” it took to form the tortillas: 33.

Over a feast of falafel, hummus, kebabs, dates, and baklava, Matthew Gordon delivered a lecture on the history and political dimensions of Middle Eastern dining customs and etiquette. I later served as an undergraduate teaching assistant in Stephen Norris’s course on European films about World War II, which was full within minutes after opening for registration. The reason? Norris had reframed his course as “History at the Movies”—not, say, “WWII in 20th Century European Film”—and structured it around questions about whether or not films can be “histories.” At the end of the semester, several of the students in my discussion group added history as a second major.

Beyond any single course—no matter how many movies or free food is included—the history major prepares students to meet the demands of dynamic workplaces in turbulent economy.

Though seemingly frivolous, courses like “Food in History” actually train students to adjust to sudden changes and roadblocks in life. In a “job-hopping” economy like ours, there is no greater skill. Indeed, history not only teaches concrete skills (e.g., data interpretation and primary source research) but also develops in students a much broader ability to synthesize large quantities of information and reason through intricate puzzles and problems. It is for this reason that the humanities, in general, are among the Princeton Review’s “best pre-med majors.”

And history, of course, teaches students how to bring these skills to bear in substantive historical research. In Andrew Offenburger’s senior capstone course on the history of news, for example, students spent more than half of the semester conducting crowdsourced primary source research on Goodwin’s Weekly, a small, early 19th-century newspaper in Salt Lake City. SourceNotes, a digital humanities tool created by Offenburger and others to digitize primary source research, allowed each student to develop a research paper throughout the semester.

Through teaching students to answer complex historical research questions and deliver a refined research product, courses like Offenburger’s sharply contradict the quip that history is a “useless” major. Departments that offer courses like Offenburger’s and Albarrán’s are serious about teaching their students more than how to write well. Among many other skills, they develop in students an ability to tackle a wide range of problems.

The history major is a program of learning which prepares students for fulfilling careers and engaged lives.
In fact, LinkedIn’s research on the job skills employers desired found that the three most-wanted “soft skills” were creativity, persuasion, and collaboration—all skills developed in a class like Offenburger’s. But don’t just take my word for it. Microsoft’s president and another top executive recently wrote that “Languages, art, history, economics, ethics, philosophy, psychology and human development courses can teach critical, philosophical and ethics-based skills that will be instrumental in the development and management of AI solutions.”

To boot, history majors can expect good compensation in their careers. Among history majors between 25 and 64 years old, the median income for those in community and social services is $45,000, with $47,000 for education, $80,000 for managerial positions, and $100,000 for legal occupations. Overall, the median is $60,000 per year. And when history majors with graduate degrees are factored in, the median rises for all majors at 13 years into a career.

The argument that history majors are worthless simply does not hold up when we look at the data.

According to Georgetown’s Center for Education and the Workforce, for example, the median income for those with BAs in history is $54,000; for those with graduate degrees, the median is $80,000, with the 75th percentile rising to $128,000. These incomes aren’t that different from those of general business degree holders, whose medians are $65,000 and $89,000, respectively. Of course, when we compare history majors with specialized degrees in accounting, engineering, or finance, the gaps between median income rise.

However, by virtue of their broad liberal arts education and robust training in fundamental analytical skills, history majors are able to enter innumerable industries, whereas accounting, engineering, and finance majors are trained in specific skill sets that have fewer opportunities for application. Indeed, as the popular employment site Glassdoor reports, history majors end up as journalists, politicians, and lawyers, or as professionals in museums, non-profits, or universities, and others enter related fields like finance, international relations, and management. Others have gone on to become CEOs of companies like YouTube and HP.

This is neither a sleight-of-hand swipe at business and STEM majors nor an attempt to bring everything under history’s tent. Instead, it’s a presentation of facts usually ignored when the value of a history major is discussed. This article is an attempt to better-inform students when they compare majors.

Yet to focus on compensation alone in education, and the broader debate of which this article is a part, is to miss one of the deeper goals of education in the humanities. The history major, as I’ve argued elsewhere, is not simply a pathway to gainful employment, but a program of learning which prepares students for fulfilling careers and engaged lives.

Beyond securing a steady paycheck, studying history prepares people to shape their own lives and careers in an ever-changing economy. It trains students to tackle the kinds of complex ethical and historical questions that require attention in our own lives—not just the workplace. Studying history, English literature, sociology, or any of the humanities has the distinct double benefit of preparing students for dynamic careers and equipping them with a historical self-consciousness and ability to grapple with big questions that make for a fulfilling life.


Decline in Australian nurse education standards

Union claims graduates unable to perform basic tasks

Student nurses nearing the end of their training are unable to perform basic tasks such as calculate medication doses, set up IVs or take blood pressure, leaving them flailing in high-pressure hospital wards.

Explosive claims by the Nurses Professional Association of Queensland highlight the career is in crisis and some graduates are declaring their $20,000 nursing degrees are worthless.

The union says the "dumbing down" of bachelor of nursing degrees means necessary practical skills are missing, knowledge of anatomy is poor and patient interaction often appalling, posing serious risk not only to patients but to the students themselves who are filled with anxiety and fear.

Veteran nurses report that many registered nurse trainees lack the stamina for a busy shift in today's hospitals that have fast turnover of patients and some have no more knowledge of health conditions than the patients themselves.

The Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union says that the problem lies with the lack of time available for experienced clinicians to act as mentors and instructors to students on clinical placement and to nurses at other stages of practice development.

"That is the systemic fix we need far more than any tinkering with the educational preparation program," QNMU assistant secretary Sandra Eales told The Sunday Mail. The QNMU insists that nursing work is at the core of why hospitals exist and nurses are not "bottom rung".

The Nurses Professional Association of Queensland was set up five years ago as an alternative to the QNMU. It is not a registered industrial body but has close to 4000 members.

Phill Tsingos is 'a clinical nurse in the emergency department of a Queensland hospital. He has been nursing for 27 'years and is a supervisor to student nurses, and is very concerned about the level of nurse education. "I have worked with students who were doing a bachelor of nursing and gained access to the degree with an OP 20.[A very low high school mark]

I see some in their third year and am stunned at times over the lack of knowledge. "Don't get me wrong, we have some great young people but the general standard is not up to scratch," he said. "Many do not know how to spike an IV fluid bag or calculate medication doses when they are at the end of their degree. "Patients often know more about health conditions than the students. "I would struggle to trust some of the students."

Mr Tsingos says student nurses need more on-the-job experience rather than being stuck in a classroom learning the difference between private and public hospitals.

"The universities are turning out a glut of nurses, many of whom have little chance getting a job," he said. "One girl went for an interview for one of 30 jobs in Brisbane and there were 90 plus vying for the positions. "The whole sector needs an overhaul."

State Health Minister Steven Miles says he is disappointed to hear an association talk down the skill set studies of nurses. "We have highly trained and hardworking nurses and midwives employed in our public hospitals," he said. "There are many rutal areas in Queensland that are struggling to recruit nurses  and midwives.

"The National Graduate Outcomes Survey suggests that 90.4 per cent of graduate nurses were employed in 2019 and 91.5 per cent in 2018.” Tertiary education, including university places, are the responsibility of the Federal Government.

Flagging the need for change, an independent national review "Educating the Nurse of the Future" has just been completed and the final report, taking into consideration 83 submissions, has been presented to federal Health Minister Greg Hunt. The report will be considered by government and a plan for public release developed soon. The review was announced as part of the 2018-19 Federal Budget.

Ms Eales says there is no evidence of admissions to nursing with OP 20s. "Skills acquisition within the workplace, both practical and theoretic, is as important as classroom or simulated learning environments," she said. "Professional Practice Environment is key to ensure safe learning at all levels and stages of nursing practice development."

NPAQ founding director Graeme Haycroft says if there is a shortage of nurses their value goes up. "The first responsibility of any union is to ensure there is a 'small' shortage of your member base skills," he said. "If there is a shortage of nurses wages go up in response."

Mr Haycroft says there has been an ongoing campaign by the QNMU to constantly train and recruit more nurses to the point that there is a glut "There are thousands and thousands of three-year degree nurses who will never get a fourth and final grad year enabling them to become a trained nurse who can start on the bottom rung in a hospital" he said.

From the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" of 24 November, 2019

Sunday, November 24, 2019

South Carolina elementary school apologizes for a leadership event where boys wore ties at a 'summit' and heard from 'male role models from the community' and girls went to a 'retreat' and met with high school cheerleaders

A South Carolina school district is apologizing for the way boys and girls were treated differently at an event about leadership and character for elementary school students.

The Pickens Elementary School in Pickens, South Carolina, came under fire after it posted a series of photos on Facebook from a school event on November 19.

The images showed that the students - third through fifth graders - had been divided up by gender, with boys participating in one set of activities and girls doing another set.

The school gave the boys' event the business-like 'summit' title meant to 'ignite' them

The girls' event was given a softer 'retreat' name and was meant to teach them to 'shine'

At the 'IGNITE boys summit,' the boys, who were seen wearing ties and collared shirts, were largely pictured sitting at their desks while being addressed and interacting with men who were also wearing business-like attire.

The girls participating in the 'SHINE girls retreat,' meanwhile, were predominantly pictured wearing matching red t-shirts, sitting on the floor in the school gym, listening to local high school cheerleaders speak, and writing on signs. 

According to The State, the caption accompanying the Facebook post was: 'Male role models from the community spoke with the boys about leadership and the importance of character. The Pickens Varsity cheer team spoke with the girls about how to work together to help everyone shine.'

A backlash erupted on social media with critics complaining about the differing experiences for boys and girls, as some accused officials of sexism.

At some point, the photo caption was then revised to read: 'Role models from the community and student athletes from Pickens High spoke with students about leadership and character.'

Removing the fact that the middle schoolers had been segregated by gender and reframing the female cheerleaders as 'student athletes' failed to mollify the critics, however. 

'Replacing a sexist caption with a more gender-neutral one, unfortunately, will not magically erase the underlying conceptual fallacy and bias behind this event. You've got to do better by these kids next time,' one Facebook user wrote.

'You can edit the text as much as you want, but as long as you keep the photos, people are going to still know that you are operating in a sexist vacuum from yesteryear,' wrote another Facebook user, a father whose children were in the same school district.

The dad went on to point out the fact that the boys' event was called a leadership 'summit,' while the girls' event had been a 'retreat' about working together and shining.

'It is 2019, and as a public education system, you need to pay more attention to the public, and how the world has evolved,' he wrote. 'That includes enlightening yourselves on contemporary issues of gender, equity, diversity, and inclusion.'

The school district has now apologized for the 'format' of the gender-divided character development event.

A spokesperson for the Pickens County school district told The State that the events were meant to empower students.

'We will reflect on the concerns that members of our community have expressed about the format of this event to ensure that future events at all schools send a message of inclusion and equality,' the spokesperson said in a statement to the newspaper.

The spokesperson added that the school district takes 'these concerns seriously.'

'It was not the school or district’s intent to send a message that students must display different character traits or pursue different career goals based on their gender, but it is clear that this is the message that was sent as a result of some of the differences in the programs, and we apologize,' the statement concluded.

Regarding the sartorial difference between the boys and girls, the spokesperson said the Pickens Elementary School had picked what the boys would wear, while the girls were given a survey which showed that the majority wanted to dress casually.

Social media users who supported the school's decisions pointed out that in addition to the high school cheerleaders, the elementary school girls also hosted two female police officers and an English teacher with a PhD.


Law students at Washington & Lee University campaign to have portraits of George Washington and Robert E. Lee removed from diplomas because people may find the slaveholders 'controversial or offensive'
Students at a Virginia law school are asking the administration to remove portraits of 'controversial' figures George Washington and Robert E. Lee from their graduation diplomas.

Current students as well as some alumni and staff at the Washington & Lee University School of Law are circulating a petition to allow graduates the option of omitting pictures of the university's namesakes.

The men's legacies as slaveowners, and Lee's role as a general in the Confederacy during the Civil War, has made them increasingly controversial figures in recent years.

And the petition's statement reads: 'Given the aftermath of the 2017 Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville and the heightened awareness of making Washington & Lee an inclusive and compassionate environment to all students, we believe this request provides alumni the ability to honor their alma mater without the presence of the portraits that some may find controversial or offensive.'

The Washington & Lee campus is some 60 miles from Charlottesville, where white supremacists held a rally in 2017 opposing the removal of a statue of Lee from a city park.

Clashes between the far-right marchers and counter-protesters led to violence. One counter-protestor, Heather Heyer, was killed when a neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd.

The petition specifies that organizers are not pushing for a 'mandatory' change to all diplomas, but the option for students to do so.

Organizers note that Washington & Lee's diploma design has changed in the past to better represent student requests, like transitioning sheepskin diplomas to paper.  

'The goal of establishing this option is to create a diploma that alumni are proud to prominently display in their homes and places of work,' the statement continues.

Several hundred people have signed the petition thus far.

The controversy surrounding some of America's most well known and debated figures comes from their history as slaveholders.

The university was founded in 1749 as Augusta Academy.

In 1776, it was renamed Liberty Hall.

George Washington awarded the school a large endowment in 1796, one of the biggest ever given to an educational institution in the US, and saving it from insolvency. The university says the gift was so generous that it still pays for a portion of every student's education to this day.

In his honor, the school was renamed Washington College in 1813.

Robert E. Lee became the university's president in 1865 after the end of the Civil War.

The university says that under Lee's instruction, it became a national educational institution, adding journalism and engineering courses, and the law school.

After Lee's death in 1870, the institution was renamed to Washington & Lee University. Lee was buried under the university's Lee Chapel.

Confederate flags were removed from the chapel in 2014 after student protests.

Washington became a slaveowner at the age of 11 and would go on to keep more than a hundred slaves at his Mount Vernon estate.

Upon his death in 1799, Washington freed the 123 individuals he enslaved at his home.

Robert E. Lee's role as a leading commander in the American Civil War, a war that pins the country's racist legacy, has marked him as a controversial historical figure.

The move to remove pictures from school diplomas aren't the first step that students at the university have taken to reduce the prominence of Lee.

In response to the petition, a group called 'The Generals Redoubt' has spoken out against the organizers request.

'The General Redoubt (TGR) strongly disagrees with this petition which seeks to provide an option to remove the likeness of our namesakes George Washington and Robert E. Lee from the law school diploma,' they said in a statement.

'The Generals Redoubt is very concerned with this action which is seemingly supported by several employees of W&L and is concerned that the member of the careers services program does not see the harm in supporting such a petition and apparently failed to advise against such action.'

The General Redoubt says that the petition is  an attempt to upend the university's traditions. They said: 'The petition is a symptom of strong undercurrents within the University to dismantle the traditions, values and history of Washington and Lee.'

'The removal of the likeness of George Washington and Robert E. Lee, which adorns the offices and homes of many of our alumni is a severe affront to the generous and loyal alumni who respect the character and values of our namesakes.'

The General Redoubt says they are 'necessary to bring sanity' in response to the petition.

The debate at Washington & Lee is the latest in a string of American universities being forced to grapple with the historical figures who don their halls.

The University of California, Berkeley School of Law removed benefactor John Henry Boalt from four buildings and other references around campus.

Boalt was removed due to his fierce support of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act.

Florida State University in Tallahassee has received requests to remove Florida Supreme Court Justice B.K. Roberts from its law school. Roberts resisted integration policies and worked to deny admission of a black student into the once segregated law school.


Australia: Phonics a recipe for reading progress

Independent schools across NSW have bolstered thousands of students' early literacy skills through an evidence-based explicit phonics program. Data from the program has revealed a substantial lift in the number of first-year primary students mastering the key foundational skill of phonological awareness, which includes the blending of sounds to form words, from 13 per cent at the beginning of 2018 to 84 per cent by the end of the school year.

The word-reading ability of Years 1 and 2 students also improved, with at least three-quarters of them able to read fluently from a selected list of single-syllable words by the end of the year, up from 42 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.

The targeted initiative, rolled out to 38 previously underperforming schools across the sector, has so far trained 600 teachers to provide explicit and systematic literacy and numeracy instruction to students.

In the case of literacy, phonemic awareness and phonics, which is the ability to map speech sounds to letter patterns, are considered key components of effective early reading and writing instruction.

Despite research recommending the skills be taught explicitly, systematically and sequentially, many schools continue to preference a "whole language" or "balanced literacy" approach, which emphasises learning whole words and phrases in "meaningful contexts", such as reading a book or a poem, rather than through phonics exercises.

Association of Independent Schools NSW chief executive Geoff Newcombe said the pro-gram was a "resounding success", having benefited more than 6300 students. "The initiative has had an amazing impact on the students and teachers in the schools where it is being implemented," he said. "It ensures K-2 teachers are supported and equipped to teach foundational skills to students who would otherwise struggle."

Participating school St Philip's Christian College in Cessnock has recorded impressive results since introducing an explicit and systematic approach to teaching phonics two years ago. At the K-12 college, which operates in a low socio-economic area, it is not uncommon for students to start school lacking basic early literacy skills. Among the current Year 2 cohort, 80 per cent started kindergarten below the expected level for a five-year-old, with 40 per cent flagged for needing "significant support".

Two years into the new program, almost all of the 80-plus students are performing at expected levels. Its NAPLAN results have also shown sustained improvement, with Year 3 spelling and grammar average scores lifting from below state average in 2017 to at and above average in 2019. "We've seen a massive difference," said principal Darren Cox. "The pace of lessons is a lot quicker, students are focused and on task ... every teacher knows with certainty what they need to deliver and when."

Mr Cox said a similar explicit approach to teaching mathematics had also improved base numeracy skills.

From the "Weekend Australian" of 16/11/19