Friday, January 17, 2020

Schools Shouldn’t Need School-Supply Santas

Shoppers are expected to spend an average of about $500 on gifts this holiday season. Public-school teachers will likely spend as much, or more, on classroom supplies this school year.

Yet school districts already have budgeted more than $8,000 per classroom for supplies, data from to the National Center for Education Statistics indicate. So why are teachers also serving as school-supply Santas? Parents, teachers, and taxpayers deserve answers.

First, some background., a nonprofit organization that provides funding for school supplies, found that teachers spent an average of $740 each on classroom supplies in 2018, which works out to a staggering $2.3 billion in total teacher spending.

This was up significantly from just a couple of years earlier. During the 2015-16 school year, for example, teachers spent an average of $460 each on classroom supplies, according to an Economic Policy Institute analysis. Teachers in several states, including Arizona, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, and Rhode Island, as well as Washington, D.C., spent more than $500 each that year.

And teachers aren’t the only ones spending hefty sums on school supplies.

Principals spend an average of $683 each annually on supplies for their schools, which amounts to approximately $46.3 million. Parents spend additional billions. Indeed, the National Retail Federation and Deloitte, the giant accounting and consulting firm, report that the average family spent $117 on school supplies this year, more than $6.1 billion altogether. Other estimates place family school-supply spending even higher.

But the spending doesn’t stop there. Deloitte also reported that close to one-third of consumers (31%) plan to donate an average of $50 worth of supplies this school year, roughly $460 million total. And a variety of charitable organizations also are raising money for public-school classrooms., for instance, raised a reported $2.6 million during the 2017-18 school year. DonorsChoose, founded by Bronx High School history teacher Charles Best nearly 20 years ago, also helps fund classroom projects and needs, as requested by teachers, most of which are for basic materials. Teachers at 83% of public schools nationwide now post their requests on the site, and since 2000, contributions have exceeded $912 million, including more than $130 million so far this year.

This means, when you add it all up that teachers, principals, parents, and donors are spending at least $9.1 billion out-of-pocket annually for school supplies.

What most people probably don’t realize, however, is that their federal, state, and local taxes already are providing about $47 billion annually for school supplies.

Although about 60% of that amount is for school and general administrative needs, overhead, maintenance, transportation, food service, and “other” support services, more than $18.3 billion is for supplies associated exclusively with instruction and student support. That works out to more than $350 per student, or roughly $8,300 to $9,300, per classroom.

That’s enough money to purchase double the number of items on a typical elementary school student’s supplies list and still have more than $500 leftover for general classroom needs. It’s also enough to cover every item on a typical middle- or high-school student’s supplies list, including pricey graphing calculators, and have at least $1,100 extra for the classroom.

With all of this money supposedly available, there is no reason teachers should need to pay for necessary classroom supplies out of their own pockets. The same can be said for taxpayers, many of whom, including parents and donors, are paying twice for school supplies.

Rather than take school wish-lists at face value, parents, teachers, principals, and private donors should insist that officials open their districts’ books before opening up their own wallets. When it comes to providing school supplies, Santa Claus shouldn’t be necessary.


The New College Scorecard Gets a C- on Its Report Card

Amidst much fanfare, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has released an upgraded version of its College Scorecard, providing, among other things, earnings and student debt data for nearly every college in the United States by major field of study. The effort to construct this began years ago in the Obama Administration, so its long-awaited release is welcome—sort of. I am severely disappointed with the new Scorecard on four grounds.

First, as Max Strohm, an Ohio University student reviewing the new Scorecard said, “I found it to not be very user friendly at all.” I asked Max and two other students to look up some earnings and student debt information on economics and English graduates at Harvard University and Ohio University, and tell me how long it took them to find the results. The average time it took to find this modest amount of information was ten minutes and 25 seconds, and no one could figure out how to get it in less than seven and one-half minutes. I, being more than thrice the age of the students, stumbled on the information after a seeming eternity.

Second, one crucial piece of information is disguised: the average earnings of all students attending each college. For example, the “salary after completing” the University of Nebraska at Lincoln is $23k-71K. That range is so wide that it gives no real indication of what a typical median or average student earns. The old Scorecard at least provided this information. Ideally, what the DOE should have reported is BOTH average earnings for all students and the range for different majors.

Third, the data include only students receiving federal financial aid. At some schools, that includes most students, but there are some elite colleges where many students from wealthy families do not even apply for aid. Almost certainly this works to understate earnings at those colleges relative to those where students come from more modest family circumstances. I think the reported average economics earnings at Ohio University are at least 20% too low. To be fair to the DOE, they do not have information on the earnings of those not applying for financial aid (on privacy grounds.) I have long argued that colleges should be required to send the social security numbers of ALL students to the IRS, who should be required to provide average earnings and some other data (earnings for the top and bottom quartile of students, for example) to the DOE for public access.

Fourth, there is a lot of incomplete information. The DOE will not publish average earnings where there are a small number of students majoring in a subject, encompassing many students, particularly at schools with relatively small enrollments. And there are other issues—many students have two majors, for example. At my university, there is both a standard liberal arts-oriented economics major as well as a second business economics major. The data reported earnings for the first group of students but not the second.

With all these caveats, there are still some useful insights. Let’s return to my quest for information on economics and English majors at Harvard and Ohio University. Economics majors at Harvard earn on average more than double their English major counterparts—$78,800 vs. $37,300. Indeed, the Harvard English majors make little more than those specializing in economics at Ohio University. At Ohio University, the English majors allegedly average less than $20,000 a year, less than their student loan debt—and less than what a full-time new high school graduate would make annually at, say, Walmart. The earnings data do explain in large part why enrollment in the humanities is plummeting. The modern economy, rightly or wrongly, does not evaluate the skills and learning associated with degrees in foreign languages, English, history, art, etc. as much as they do students with, say, engineering, math, or accounting degrees. I suspect employers looking for skilled workers would benefit by hiring low-cost humanities graduates and giving them some on-the-job training, since they on average have good critical thinking skills and writing abilities.

I give the DOE a C- on its College Scorecard. Let’s try to make it easier and more valuable to use.


Civil rights education

Public schools will never give our kids the full story of American history, but we can.

I recently picked my son up after school and asked him as I was driving, "So what happened at school today?" I stopped asking, "How was your day?" because we all know what he is going to say: "Good." I digress. He said, "We talked about Civil Rights and Dr. King." As Dr. Martin Luther King's holiday approaches, public schools are "having the talk" in Related Arts. My son is in the second grade at a thriving public school, but I know the context of "public education" will never tell the whole story of American history. He went on to say from the backseat, "Daddy, my teacher said it was about white people not treating black people fairly." I asked him, "Did they tell you what [white people] specifically or just white people?" He said, "White people."

I have taught my seven-year-old to think critically so even when he replied he had a look on his face as to say, "But wait a minute." I said, "Son, does it make sense to believe that all white people were against all black people?" He said, "No, daddy it doesn't." I explained to him that his teacher failed to mention the "white people" were all Democrats. I explained to him the context of politics and how Democrats blocked Civil Rights legislation in the 1950s. I asked my son, "Do you know what Civil Rights are?" He looked confused and said, "No, not really." I explained to him that Civil Rights have nothing to do with skin color, but everything to do with being human. I said, "Civil Rights are being able to use the bathroom without one being labeled 'Whites only.' It is the right to vote or the right to go to the school you attend. It is basic American rights for all people." I tried to keep the conversation on his level, but he wanted to hear more.

As we arrived home preparing for homework, dinner, and basketball practice, I told him that I would tell him more. He smiled big and said, "Good, because I want to hear more about Civil Rights! Daddy, you make it fun!"

The next conversation we talk about Dr. King and Civil Rights I will tell him about the time I sat next to a local Civil Rights Leader who was good friends with Rosa Parks. When I asked him, "Sir, what was Civil Rights really about?" He said, "It was about human inalienable rights; it had nothing to do with [color]." My son will be enthusiastic to know his dad spoke with a Civil Rights activist on the front lines during the 1960s.

I will also tell him that I spoke with a well-known and respected 60-something-year-old African-American man in Chattanooga. When we had a conversation about the generation of today's menace to society of black youth. I told him, "[They say] it's due to the ongoing legacy of white supremacy and slavery." However, before I could say anything else he stopped me in my tracks and said, "Hold up! Slavery isn't the reason for all this. Now that's just a lie! If it were slavery then why didn't it affect [us] like this then? We didn't run around shooting each other!" He went on to say, "Man we were trying to compete with white folks. We were told the next man put his pants on just like you and we competed with each other and them to achieve. We were striving to be better and if slavery did all this then we should have been doing the same thing your generation is doing. I don't know what happened!"

I will tell my son how shocked I was to hear him say these things and teach him that excuses are "tools of incompetence used to build monuments of nothing."

As a father, it is my duty to take advantage of teachable moments by connecting the dots so my children will grow up understanding the context of life, liberty, love, freedom, and the pursuit of education. Moral to the story; ask your child "So, what happened at school today?"


Thursday, January 16, 2020

How confusion over federal rules can get in the way of smart school spending

Of the many factors that affect what school districts buy and do for their students, an often-overlooked issue is the influence of federal education grant programs.

Nearly every school district in the country receives funding from the US Department of Education (ED) through grant programs that support elementary and secondary education.1 While this funding represents a relatively small share of education spending overall,2 the rules governing how it can be spent strongly influence local decisions about student services. This influence is hard to see, but it works as follows.

ED programs are governed by complex rules. In this report, we are not referring to accountability rules, such as how to identify and intervene in low-performing schools. Instead, we are discussing program implementation and spending rules such as who is eligible for services, what activities ED funds can support, the time frame in which districts can spend ED funds, paperwork requirements, and other technical issues that receive little attention.

The complexity of the rules governing ED programs, and the way they are enforced, can unintentionally incentivize spending on the same activities from year to year, which limits opportunities for improvement. It can also incentivize a fragmented approach to education that favors unaligned interventions over systemic activities. These incentives affect more than just what districts do with their federal funds but also how they spend state and local funds.

As lawyers who help states, school districts, and other educational organizations navigate the federal rules governing ED programs, we see directly how important federal funds are for schools and students. We have helped districts use federal funds to improve the reading curriculum in struggling elementary schools, establish counseling and mentoring programs in low-income high schools, help students arrive to school safely, and engage parents in their children’s school through community school approaches. Yet, spending federal funds on these kinds of systemic activities is uncommon for reasons we will discuss throughout this report.

To mitigate some of the complexities that limit ED grant spending, this report suggests ways stakeholders across the education sector could make it easier for schools and districts to understand their spending options. Specifically:

Congress could revise program implementation rules to reduce confusion and make them easier to implement.

ED and other federal agencies could use flexibilities that are already on the books to ease spending barriers.

ED, state educational agencies, and entities that support states and school districts could provide state and district leaders with tools, such as simple clear explanations of the rules and implementation-oriented guidance with concrete examples of effective practices.

State and local education leaders can engage with the rules directly so they better understand their options and obligations.

Education advocates, policymakers, and others who care about education can study how federal rules work in practice to understand their effect on students and schools.

Helping local leaders recognize that federal requirements have a wide-ranging influence on all student services, not just those that are federally funded, and helping them better understand and more easily navigate federal compliance requirements could result in more effective spending and improved outcomes for students.


How early childhood education uses social and emotional learning

One of my wife’s favorite Saturday Night Live skits is titled “Baby Names,” in which an eight-months-pregnant wife suggests to her husband a series of names for their son.1 Her proposals are relatively common and banal—Joseph, John, Peter, William, Fred, Sam, Paul, Jack, Ben, Todd, Harry, and Nate—but the husband rejects all of them, offering absurd potential insults that might be used against the boy if he had any of those names. The father-to-be’s sensitivity is explained at the end of the skit, when it turns out that his own name is actually a naughty and embarrassing word.

The husband in that skit might have benefited from schoolmates whose social and emotional learning (SEL) skills were more developed, which raises a question many in the education reform world have been asking: What can schools do to help support social and emotional development? This question has generated a swath of research and suggestions, from the Aspen Institute’s SEL report and subsequent action guide to RAND Corporation’s national surveys on SEL for teachers and principals.2

But one rarely discussed idea is to learn from the world of early childhood education, which has spent decades wrestling with how it measures and implements SEL. At the moment, SEL seems to be valued more with younger children. For example, every state has social-emotional standards for early childhood, while as of 2018 only 14 had them for K–12.3 In the best early childhood programs, SEL isn’t an ephemeral concept used to avoid scrutiny of academic outcomes; it’s an integral part of the teaching strategy and an area in which performance is carefully measured. That level of integration and attention is something SEL advocates and K–12 schools should pay attention to.


Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue

In 2015, the Montana Legislature created a tax credit scholarship program that would provide scholarships for income-eligible students to use at qualified private schools.

Initially, recipients could use scholarship funds at qualified religiously affiliated schools. However, the Montana Department of Revenue implemented an administrative rule excluding religious schools, citing a provision in the state constitution that bars state funds from aiding religious organizations.

Parents who relied on the scholarship funds to send their kids to religious schools filed a lawsuit in state court challenging the administrative rule. They argued that the rule violates the Religion Clauses of the U.S. Constitution as well as the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

The parents maintain that the tax credit program did not violate the state constitution’s “no aid” provision since the tax credit merely incentivized private donations. The district court ruled in favor of the parents, but the Montana Supreme Court reversed and invalidated the scholarship program in its entirety.

Now the parents have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to extend the logic of Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, a 2017 ruling, to the school choice area.

In Trinity Lutheran, the Supreme Court ruled that Missouri violated the Free Exercise Clause when it barred a church-run day care center from receiving a public grant to resurface its playground. The justices reasoned that Missouri had improperly singled out the day care center for unfavorable treatment and denied it a public benefit solely because of its religious affiliation.

The parents also point out that the Supreme Court has drawn a distinction between government directly providing aid to religious schools and providing aid to individuals who then have the choice to use those funds at religious schools.

Montana, on the other hand, points to Locke v. Davey (2004), in which the Supreme Court held that, consistent with the Establishment Clause, states could prohibit the use of public scholarship funds for college students studying to become ministers.

The Montana case offers the Supreme Court the chance to harmonize these two prior rulings and provide guidance to the many states that have tax credit scholarships.

The court will hear oral argument Jan. 22.

Expect the high court’s decisions in these two important cases, and many others, by the end of June.


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

“The key is relationships”: Personalized learning at Learn4Life charter schools

It is a Wednesday afternoon in May, and for most students at Desert Sands Charter School, it is a pretty normal day—though it might not look normal compared to many other schools. A large, warehouse-like room that was originally designed to be an Office Depot makes up almost the entire schoolhouse, and several activities are happening at once. Some students work quietly on packet assignments at the rows of desks in the center of the space. Others meet individually with teachers at one of the many faculty desks that circle the room. Still others work in groups with a teacher in one of the small classrooms along the walls.

The activity suddenly pauses when one teacher stands and calls for everyone’s attention. Everyone looks toward the teacher and female student standing in front of him. Holding out a certificate, the teacher announces that Desert Sands has just produced its newest high school graduate. A chorus of cheers fills the air, and each teacher rings a bell to congratulate the girl as she receives her diploma.

Desert Sands is part of Learn4Life, a network of charter schools that uses a personalized learning model—driven by teachers who provide one-on-one instruction and build individualized learning plans—to help high school students who have dropped out, are at risk of dropping out, or are struggling in other ways with the public school system to reach graduation and postsecondary achievement.1

During a May visit to Learn4Life’s headquarters and two of its schools in Lancaster, California, the wide-open instruction spaces and small-group classrooms were a marked contrast to typically structured schools. The enthusiasm in the graduation celebration at Desert Sands was also reflected in interviews with administrators, faculty, staff, and students. Amid all the enthusiasm, the question remains: Is this enthusiastic environment and focused personalized learning model delivering the supports these mostly struggling students need for success?

While Learn4Life’s mission to lift students on the brink of failure to success through individualized instruction is exciting, it also involves some serious challenges. Those involved in this promising yet difficult approach deserve praise for their work, even if there is no guarantee that it works across the board. In the end, Learn4Life’s programs offer compelling insights about the potential for, benefits of, and hazards around this application of personalized learning.

Learn4Life also has a K–8 program, which it describes as its “home study program” that provides learning resources and lesson planning to parents who decide to homeschool their children. This program makes up a tiny portion of the Learn4Life organization, serving roughly 500 of its 47,000 students each year.

Learn4Life’s administrators said that while their schools offer the program on an “as-needed basis,” it is not their “core mission” of reengaging students who have or are at risk of dropping out of high school


What consumer choice in higher education can teach about better serving K–12 students

If parts of the educational experience can be delivered more efficiently, then unused resources can be spent elsewhere. In high schools, newly available resources could be spent on needed student services. In colleges, prices could be lowered. Online learning and enterprise software enable more efficient service delivery. However, these efficiencies are usually captured by schools and colleges rather than enjoyed by students in the form of more services or lower prices.

In postsecondary education, the existence of a viable—even if often dysfunctional—consumer market is driving change. However, for high schools, driving efficiencies to students requires a new approach to internal resource allocation that integrates the price of services into school choice. If successful, high school students on the margins—dropouts, chronic absentees, working students, adults, and homeschoolers—will benefit from a market with more, and better, targeted services.

From a little over $7,000 in Utah to over $20,000 in Vermont, the per-student cost of K–12 education is well-known and varies widely across states and districts. However, ask what the price of a K–12 education should be, and the result is, rightly, a blank stare. When a public service is fully subsidized, the cost and price are both however much taxpayers are willing to provide.

Colleges are also subsidized, yet students pay to attend. Although the price varies depending on the student and college and is often opaque to the student, this crucial distinction ensures that a distorted, yet functional, consumer market exists in postsecondary education. Accordingly, over the past decade or so new models of internet-driven postsecondary education—both in and outside colleges—that lower price, lower student financial risk, increase speed to completion, and increase the likelihood of employment have started and are accelerating. Although sometimes threatening to accredited colleges, these models—often in partnership with unaccredited providers—are being adopted more broadly. Such innovation has not occurred in K–12.

Whether a wheel, pencil, car, computer, smartphone, administrative system, or online course, a new technology must create value for its users to become pervasive. Value can be defined as doing the same thing better, doing the same thing for less, or both. Often, a new technology will start by doing the same thing better for a small group of users or enabling new users to do something they could never do previously. Then, as the technology becomes more mature and widespread, it becomes cheaper, thereby accelerating its adoption, driving even greater value to consumers, and changing the market. The crucial element to widespread adoption is the customer’s ability to choose based on price and the associated ability to spend saved resources on something else of value. This drives the flywheel of competition, innovation, and market evolution.

Over the past 20 years, the internet has enabled students to access, and accredited schools and colleges to provide, a breadth of coursework in locations and on a schedule that would have otherwise been impossible. Over six million college students—roughly one-third of all students—took at least one class online in fall 2016.1 In K–12, about 2.7 million students took 4.5 million supplemental online courses in 2014–15.2 In other words, students are enrolling in online coursework from accredited schools and colleges to do the same thing “better.”

Online course delivery is also much cheaper than face-to-face delivery is. By relying on servers instead of buildings, digital content instead of print, courseware instead of lectures, and remote instructors instead of in-person instructors, distance education can reduce the fixed and marginal cost of delivery. By separating coursework from nonacademic functions, it can also unbundle the price-raising subsidies that support athletic teams, school security, student centers, dormitories, cafeterias, parking lots, some student support services, and the overhead to support it. Lastly, by amortizing what infrastructure costs do exist across a much-larger customer base, distance education further reduces the cost per course delivered. Despite this, over 90 percent of colleges charge the same or more for online courses as for face-to-face courses.3

When there are significant changes to any service’s delivery model, providers have a strong incentive to offer the new capabilities to their users but a strong disincentive to lower the price. In unsubsidized markets, new providers emerge that force price reductions across the market, thereby driving benefits to consumers. In heavily subsidized markets such as public K–12 and accredited colleges, new providers are at a competitive disadvantage, thereby slowing or prohibiting their emergence.

Without new providers, savings derived from the new, lower cost of delivery accrue to the school or college rather than the student. However, so long as consumers pay some portion of the cost, then eventually the market will adapt such that the “profit” flows to the student in the form of lower prices and new features. The postsecondary education market, of which accredited colleges are a subset, is undergoing such a change. The K–12 market is not, but it could.


The surprising role of high-income families in student debt trends: Examining undergraduate borrowing by income, 1995–96 to 2015–16

Observers from across the ideological spectrum argue that the US is in the midst of a student debt crisis. This view is largely motivated by the fact that student debt now totals $1.5 trillion after rising rapidly in the past decade, particularly during the last economic recession.1 In 2003, outstanding debt was just $311 billion after adjusting for inflation.2

These trends have prompted several Democratic presidential candidates to propose that the federal government forgive most or all outstanding student debt (the vast majority of which was issued through federal programs).3 They argue that the debt is unaffordable for many and is the result of severe inequities in our higher education system. Concern about inequitable student debt extends beyond public policy. A growing number of private employers now repay a share of their employees’ student loans in part out of concern that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are the ones most likely burdened by debt.4

In light of these loan forgiveness proposals, employer-sponsored benefits, and the broader concerns about rising student debt, understanding who takes on student loans is important. A clearer picture of who borrows will help identify the beneficiaries of broad loan forgiveness proposals and the more limited employer repayment benefits, or any other policy aimed at reducing student debt and repayment obligations. It can also help gauge the extent to which student debt burdens reflect inequities in the US higher education system.

Prior analyses on this topic focus on the demographics of borrowers who currently hold the $1.5 trillion in outstanding debt. For example, researchers at the Urban Institute show that higher-income households hold a disproportionately large share of all student debt.5 Using different data, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports similar findings but also concludes that relative to household earnings, debt is higher among lower-income households.6

This report takes a different approach to understanding who holds student debt. It examines borrowers’ characteristics when the loans were originated, whereas the studies mentioned above capture borrowers at any point during repayment. Both perspectives are useful, but the former is less common in policy discussions. Moreover, previous research on income characteristics at loan origination appears at odds with data on borrowers in repayment. Some analyses focused on demographics at loan origination conclude that low- and middle-income students are “more than twice as likely as other students to have student loans” or that “high student debt goes hand in hand with low income.”7

To help fill the void in the research, this analysis focuses on borrowing patterns among students who enrolled in an institution of higher education in the 1995–96 and 2015–16 academic years. (It includes data points for the intervening years in an appendix.) The analysis is limited to two main statistics for undergraduates by family income: the share of students who took on debt and the amount they borrowed. These statistics are reported for two distinct groups of students at different points in their enrollment: first-year undergraduates and students who earned a bachelor’s degree in the years covered in this analysis 8 Data for the analysis come from the US Department of Education’s National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), which provides a representative sample of the undergraduate population for the 1995–96, 1999–2000, 2003–04, 2007–08, 2011–12, and 2015–16 academic years.9

While debt from graduate and professional students makes up a large share of all outstanding student debt (approximately 40 percent), this analysis excludes these students.10 The income information included in the NPSAS is difficult to interpret for these students because it reflects the student’s own income (and income from a spouse) while enrolled as a graduate student. The undergraduate data include parental income for dependent students or the student’s own income if he or she is an independent. This analysis includes both dependent and independent undergraduate students despite this difference because the overall findings are similar when only dependent students are included in the analysis.

Note that independent students, who tend to have low incomes and make up about half of undergraduates, skews the income distribution of the undergraduate population in this analysis (shown in Appendix C). Debt figures for this analysis include the amount of principal borrowed for all types of student debt (federal student and parent loans, private, state, etc.). They do not show unpaid interest. The 1995–96 and 1999–2000 data sets include loans that a student received from a family member in aggregated borrowing figures, but later data sets exclude these loans. To be consistent, this analysis excludes family loans from earlier data sets.11 Borrowers are grouped into five income categories that approximate the US household income quintiles for the last year in the analysis, 2015–16.12

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 42 percent of annual loan disbursals measured in dollars are for students attending graduate and professional school. Federal budget tables do not include figures for the share of outstanding debt used to finance graduate and professional educations. An Urban Institute study finds that 48 percent of outstanding student debt is held by households that include someone with a master’s or professional degree. This debt, however, includes loans that financed an undergraduate education.

About 15 percent of undergraduates reported these family loans at an average of about $3,700 in 1995 dollars. See variables FAMLOAN and FAMOWE in the 1995–96 NPSAS at National Center for Education Statistics


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

U.S. chief justice warns of internet disinformation, urges civics education

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts expressed concern on Tuesday about disinformation amplified by the internet and social media as he focused his year-end report on the weakening state of civics education in the United States.

“In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public’s need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital,” Roberts said in his annual report on behalf of the federal judiciary.

The chief justice warned that Americans “have come to take democracy for granted, and civic education has fallen by the wayside.”

Roberts’ comments come as U.S. legislators and officials have raised concerns about the persistence of foreign propaganda and false news aimed at sowing discord in the U.S. political system in the lead-up to the 2020 election.

U.S. intelligence agencies and an inquiry by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller found that Russia engaged in a campaign of hacking and propaganda to sway the 2016 presidential race toward Republican President Donald Trump. Mueller did not establish that members of Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia during the 2016 election.

Roberts said in his report that an independent judiciary was a “key source of national unity and stability” and called on his judicial colleagues to promote public confidence and trust by reflecting on their duty to judge without fear or favor.

He has previously lamented the perception in an increasingly polarized society that lower courts and the Supreme Court are becoming politicized, and that judges are guided primarily by their partisan affiliations.

Roberts, 64, named to the court in 2005 by Republican President George W. Bush, is poised to preside over Trump’s looming U.S. Senate impeachment trial, a highly visible yet largely ceremonial role.

By the end of June, the Supreme Court is expected to decide several major cases involving a number of hot-button issues including abortion rights, Trump’s move to kill a program that protects young immigrants, dubbed “Dreamers,” who were brought to the United States illegally as children, and Trump’s bid to keep details of his finances secret.

Roberts listed in his report a number of ways his judicial colleagues had helped advance public understanding of the law and civics knowledge.

He cited the example of Merrick Garland, chief judge of the Washington-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, who volunteers as a tutor at a local elementary school. Garland’s 2016 nomination to the Supreme Court by Democratic President Barack Obama was not taken up by the Republican-controlled Senate.


Two Arizona School Districts Promoting Racial Divisions and Social Justice

Two school districts in the Phoenix, Arizona area have implemented educational programs promoting racial divisions and social justice. The two programs attack students on the basis of their skin color and other characteristics. Chandler Unified School District passed the equity and inclusion initiative in February 2018. Kyrene School District also implemented it. Word has gotten out on how awful these programs are. On November 8, Fox News host Tucker Carlson aired a piece on one of the two programs, called Deep Equity. Carlson described the teaching this way, “America is based on a hierarchy of various oppressions: men oppress women, Christianity oppresses Islam, English oppresses Spanish, white people oppress everyone.”

There is also the Youth Equity Stewardship, or YES! program. Topics include social justice, “lenses of diversity” and “equality to equity to borderless.” That last one references Nican Tlaca, a term used by proponents of a borderless society in which indigenous peoples rule. One of the lessons is on the “white man’s dollar.” There is a hip hop song entitled Music Voice Message Movement which slams capitalism, “ economic system that’s flawed from the start. It has no heart.”

Corwin, the vendor behind the programs, states on its website, “This series engages students in a process of understanding their personal journey and social accountability through a critical social justice lens and creating a living example of commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.” One parent in the Chandler school district observed, “Essentially, students and teachers are being taught anti-white, anti-Christian hate. Students are taught to lecture adults about their biases. They are being taught to be social justice activists.”

The programs also teach “intersectionality.” Michael Rectenwald, a former professor at New York University who now speaks out about the left’s agenda, says intersectionality is merely a replacement for Marxism, and is very similar to it. The Epoch Times explains, “Through the lens of intersectional theory, human history is largely reduced to white Christian men being the ‘oppressors,’ and everybody else being ‘intersected’ by one or more layers of this ‘oppression.’”

Many parents took notice and started urging the school boards to reconsider using Corwin due to its leftist activism. Before winter break, CUSD superintendent Dr. Camille Casteel sent out an email stating that the district was going to cease using Corwin by the end of the semester. However, the school district intends to continue promoting some of the agenda, such as “trans inclusion.”

In that school district, employees are going after parents who complain, and reporting their social media posts in order to get them removed. Purple for Parents is a group that formed in response to the Red for Ed movement. The latter seeks to increase public school funding but also involves students in the effort. Purple for Parents is concerned about fiscal costs and the indoctrination of students. Their members have been actively objecting to the Deep Equity and YES! programs.

One of the Chandler district’s governing board members, Lindsay Love, tweeted a couple of weeks ago, “@splcenter [The Southern Poverty Law Center] should be looking into Purple for Parents as a hate group.” Another post by activists called Purple for Parents a “white supremacist hate group.” Love also tweeted, “I’m glad it happened. Now people can see Purple for Parents real aim. Racism.” This was apparently in response to a parody Twitter account that was created mocking her radicalism.

But Purple for Parents is not a white supremacist group. One of its most active members, Michelle Dillard, is Asian. She has been quite vocal criticizing the programs.

Love tweeted out the name of the employer of critic Scott Weinberg, doxxing him. “This guy Scott is an AHCCCS investigator btws.” The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System is Arizona’s Medicaid agency. She went on, “There are anger management classes too. Maybe he should consult AHCCCS about that too.” She added, “Just figured I’d share that because he might be stalking and harassing my family and others on AHCCCS time and with AHCCCS resources.” She admitted that she provided people with an organizational chart so they could contact his management. Love continued slamming Weinberg in many more tweets, and tried to get him banned from Twitter.

These radical proponents are also harassing critics at the school board meetings. They want to shut down their opposition so they can ram the programs through. 

Chandler has 24 schools, and 17 have scored in the 70s or lower on the AzMerit test. In Kyrene, 22 of its 25 schools have scores that low. AzMerit tests math and English. The founder of the Arizona People’s Lobbyist, Jose Borrajero, asked why we spend so many dollars “implementing culturally responsive teaching practices? What ever happened to the concept that schools should teach material that will enable students to learn what they need to become productive members of society, instead of engaging in social engineering?”


Australia: Murdoch University cuts ties with Indian student agency

This is a pretty clear admission that the maligned professor was right.  If the leaders at Murdoch had any decency they would now apologize to him.  But they are probably too Leftist to admit any error

A university suing one of its own academics after he raised concerns about international students with poor English has parted ways with the agency supplying Indian students.

Murdoch University in Perth took court action against Gerd Schroder-Turk after he alleged irregularities in its Indian tertiary student intake.

Dr Schroder-Turk and two Murdoch colleagues publicly claimed Indian students with inadequate English were being “set up for failure” and were failing courses in higher than normal numbers.

Murdoch is suing the associate professor for potentially millions of dollars in lost international student income after he publicly criticised the university’s student recruitment, particularly from India, on ABC’s Four Corners program in May last year.

The university attempted to remove Dr Schroder-Turk as staff-elected member of the university senate, prompting him to launch action in the Federal Court. The university has filed a counterclaim for damages, saying his comments led to a decline in international student intake “likely to cause revenue impact in the order of millions of dollars”. The case is due to begin in April.

On Friday, Murdoch University confirmed it had terminated its contract with a major recruiter of Indian students, Overseas Education and Career Consultants. The Punjab-based company has offices in Australia.

The termination follows an Indian media report that OECC had been accused of fraud by Indian authorities and had its migration licence cancelled.

The Times of India reported in December that the deputy commissioner of Ludhiana in the north Indian state of Punjab had acted against OECC “after they were found to be committing fraud with people on the pretext of sending them abroad”.

The newspaper reported that the deputy commissioner warned people “to not fall prey” to OECC and to check the list of approved supply agencies on government websites.

In a written statement, Dr Schroder-Turk told The Australian the legal battle had taken a toll on him and his family.

“I’ve got three young kids who have noticed my worries and also the time the case has absorbed,” he said. “The counterclaim and the potential financial consequences it poses for me have created a lot of uncertainty for my family’s future.”

When The Australian raised the report of the fraud allegation against OECC with Murdoch University, a spokesman said the university “is no longer associated with Overseas Education & Career Consultants” and “has provided OECC with notification of the termination of its contract”.

The university later said it wrote to OECC on January 10 confirming that the contract had been terminated.

Dr Schroder-Turk said his concern for the wellbeing of foreign students was unchanged. “It is apparent that some of our international students — right across Australia — find themselves in distressing situations beyond their control,” he said.

“I, and others, are ultimately fighting to ensure that the Australian universities keep up the best standard, both for kids who grow up in Australia, and also for those who are attracted to Australia for their studies.”

After the university countersued Dr Schroder-Turk, Murdoch adjunct professor Robert Cribb resigned from his university post after saying that he considered the legal action to be a “dangerous and uncollegial persecution of a principled academic colleague”.

The case may come under scrutiny if proposed free speech amendments to the Higher Education Support Act come into effect. Parliament is considering amendments that include the freedom of academic staff “to express their opinions in relation to the higher education provider in which they work or are enrolled”.


Monday, January 13, 2020

The Job Skills Students Need That Colleges Don’t Teach

Every college student knows that, once they graduate, landing the job of their dreams isn’t going to just happen. Yet, students still downplay the difficulties they will face, either because they don’t understand the job market or because they put too much stock in their skills, thinking that the competition won’t stand a chance.

The reality is that in a world shaped by the internet, students must learn some basic self-marketing skills to stand out in their field. Ignoring the need to have a strong professional presence—on- and offline—won’t do you any favors.

So, the job for you, the enterprising student preparing for life after college, is to develop some job skills that colleges won’t give you.

Building a Personal Brand

Creating a lasting first impression is essential in any line of business. To do that online, you must develop and establish your personal brand. But first, you have to know what a personal brand is and what it isn’t.

Personal branding is the practice of marketing yourself and your career as a brand. It involves an ongoing process of developing and maintaining your image. Personal branding isn’t about creating a version of yourself, but about exploring your best qualities, passions, and work experience to develop your own unforgettable online image.

What are the skills you have acquired through life that make you stand out? Do you have any certifications or credentials that prepare you for your future? Have you explored anything outside the academic world that helped you uncover hidden talents? Is there something you know that would be a game-changer in your field? If so, does it provide a solution to potential employers or clients?

And ask yourself what you stand for. By knowing your values, you will be able to use those as career-guiding principles. You might even build a following by talking about how these principles help you be a better professional.

For example, artists should create portfolios to show off their work, writers should have an online blog or Medium account, and aspiring musicians should feature their best work on SoundCloud. No matter the field, there are creative ways to make it easy for potential employers to view your best work online.

Your Resume Matters More Than Your Grades

You did the hard work and got the praise you deserved, but are grades all that important once you’ve graduated?

Not really.

What you put on your resume will be more important for landing an internship or a job rather than being an A+ student. The best way to craft a resume that will catch a recruiter’s eye is to get work experience as early as possible. By the time you and your classmates are competing for internships, you need to be confident that you’ve worked and reworked your resume before submitting it. That means updating it with volunteer, part-time, seasonal, or temporary work.

While irrelevant details should be left out, employers want to know if you have experience as an employee—no matter the industry. Whatever you do, don’t draft one general resume for different positions. Tweak your resume by listing the experience that is relevant for a particular job first.

Base your resume content on what the employer wants. It might be hard to create a new resume every time a new opportunity arises, but the hard work will pay off. Although there are a ton of free templates online, no one likes reading a boring resume based on a bland template. Check out sites like Etsy for sleek, modern templates that can be customized. Resume templates are usually no more than $10, but they take the guesswork out of what information you should include.

You need two versions of your resume. The first, to share with recruiters and potential employers, should include your name, email address, phone number, work experience, and education. For privacy reasons, list your city and state but leave out your address. This resume should have the contact information for a handful of references. Be sure your references know that they may be contacted so they aren’t surprised.

The second version of your resume should be on your LinkedIn profile and online portfolio. include everything listed above except for your phone number and references; note that your references are available upon request. It’s important to keep your and your references’ personal information, personal.

Networking the Right Way on LinkedIn

Professionals know LinkedIn is an essential tool for networking. Unfortunately, many college students and graduates miss an opportunity to build their network by assuming that LinkedIn works like other social media platforms.

First, think of how your LinkedIn profile looks to a recruiter. Does your picture set the right tone? Does it build trust? Is it flattering without looking airbrushed?

Before getting a photo taken, keep in mind that you want to look like the dream candidate. Pick the appropriate attire and figure out how formal you should dress depending on the industry. If banking is your field, you might want to dress up, while if you’re in tech, a business-casual look may be best.

Once you have the killer image for your profile, take special care with your introduction. On LinkedIn, the intro is where someone gets a good idea of what you do without seeing all the specifics. Think of it as your full profile at a glance: Write it in the first person, keep it short, include keywords that are connected to your industry, and make sure it’s accurate. Adding any relevant accomplishments to this section is also important.

In the intro, focus on how you’ve made a difference at work and can bring value to your employer. For example, my LinkedIn introduction is:

I am the publications manager for the American Institute for Economic Research, a professional writer, digital marketer, and consultant. I’m also the founder of Argo Strategy, a marketing and public relations consultancy.

My research has been published by The Advocates for Self-Government, America’s Future Foundation, the American Institute for Economic Research, the Foundation for Economic Education and has also appeared in The Epoch Times, National Review, ZeroHedge, Evie Magazine, Entrepreneur, and more.

I’ve worked with teams to develop winning digital campaigns for clients ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies and presidential campaigns.

I’m available to speak to groups and organizations about my work and a variety of topics including free-market principles, the sharing economy, women in technology, women in business, and the liberty movement.

Then, it’s time to add your connections. Add as many people from your email and phone contacts as possible. On LinkedIn, you want to add people you know first so you can write a couple of lines about their skills if they ask you. This strategy also helps you in the long run because they can later return the favor for your profile.

With a solid network of former colleagues, classmates, teachers, and others who can vouch for you, growing your network with people who might be interested in your skills will be an easier task. If you’re reaching out to industry professionals for an internship or job, check the “How You’re Connected” tool to see if you are connected to members of the industry first. Getting an introduction from your network generally goes better than a note and connection request.

Another area you might want to explore is your alumni community. The “alumni” tool shows where fellow alums live and work. Or, join your university’s alumni group once you graduate. That is easy to do because colleges usually have active groups in many cities. If your school has multiple groups, join the ones relevant to your location. Be sure to introduce yourself to the group manager.

Most of the time, alumni group administrators are representatives of the Alumni Association and well-connected. When interacting online or at an in-person event, make sure you behave professionally: People are watching and your potential employer might not like what he or she sees.

Take It a Step Further

Remember: Alumni love meeting current students and recent graduates. Don’t be afraid to be proactive. It shows potential employers traits that are useful in the workplace.

As an undergrad, check with your alumni center to see if there are any networking events on campus that are open for students. Homecoming is the perfect opportunity to meet alumni from all over the country.

As you approach graduation, connect with the alumni chapters in the cities where you’re job hunting. Scouting out local networking events for young professionals on Eventbrite or in the “Events” section of Facebook—and attending them—show potential employers that you’re willing to put yourself out there.

Follow up with each person you meet within 24 hours with 1) a connection request on LinkedIn and 2) a short email thanking each new acquaintance for the conversation.

Taking your personal branding into the real world will show potential employers and colleagues that you have the skills outside of a four-year degree to be a stellar employee.


I Killed My Teenager’s Fancy College Dreams. You Should, Too

Forty-five million Americans owe a collective $1.6 trillion in student debt. Here’s why my daughter won’t be one of them.

A couple months ago, my 17-year-old daughter’s guidance counselor called her into his office to ask pretty much the only question that adults ask high school seniors: “What colleges are you applying to?” When Ella tossed off a handful of universities, he said, “Have you thought about going to art school?”

By that afternoon, Ella was having a full-blown crisis of faith, because yes, she had thought pretty hard about art school. When her oil paintings started winning awards freshman year, her AP art teacher more or less told her that art school was her destiny, the only way not to squander her prodigious talents. Ella didn’t need convincing. She was so ready to bolt out of our small southwest Virginia town into a big city where she could paint all day that she had basically become a Lifetime movie clich√©.

But for months she’d been shoving down all those painterly college fantasies of art school in New York. My husband and I had told her, point blank, we couldn’t afford it.

Let me clarify: By “couldn’t afford it,” I mean that we’re like pretty much all the other middle-class parents we know—not poor by a long shot, but not loaded either, and chronically underinvested in our kids’ college accounts. We had not squirreled away every spare penny in a 529 account since the moment of conception the way the Suze Ormans of the world want us to. We hadn’t even opened a 529 till Ella was in fifth grade, because we’d been trying to get through my husband’s Ph.D.

After that, we saved fairly aggressively, but you know how it goes. Two daughters. Clothes. Braces. Class trips. Like most parents, who save on average $18,000 for their kids’ education, we’d failed to sock away anything close to the $75,000 annual sticker price it would take for Ella to go to, say, Pratt in New York City. Our privilege was such that we slipped into a financial aid gap, where our daughter won’t qualify for grants, but we can’t pay cash up front.

That left two options: Let her join the 69 percent of U.S. college graduates who take out loans to finance their schooling. Or scare the hell out of her about taking on student debt.

According to our daughter, most of her friends are completely meh about student loans. They’re applying to places like NYU ($53,310 tuition) and Boston College ($56,780 tuition). Some of them have parents who can probably bankroll that. The others see it as inevitable that, in exchange for a nice bachelor’s degree, they’ll be working off grinding debt for the next 20 years.

Their parents don’t seem to mind either. According to a Sallie Mae survey, 70 percent of parents say that, even though they’re worried about paying for their kids’ college, they’re not limiting their children’s college choices based on price. One friend recently told me that her son has his heart set on a pricey out-of-state engineering program, despite the fact that a fantastic engineering program exists at the public university in our town. “It’s a reach school, but if he gets in he’ll probably go there—and I guess deal with a lot of student loan debt afterward,” she said with a laugh.

Why are we parents so loath to set financial limits on our kids’ college ambitions? Maybe because it seems crass to bring money into their reach-for-the-stars dreams. Maybe because we cling to the hope of generous scholarships and lavish financial aid packages that will make our money worries moot. Maybe because we deeply believe the destiny of smart teenagers is to attend their dream school, and ours is to finance it. To do otherwise is to fail at middle-class parenting.

So we finance it, or our kids do, 45 million of us owing a collective $1.6 trillion in student debt that not even Bernie Sanders could make disappear. You know what makes it disappear? Death. A friend whose husband died unexpectedly of a heart attack a few years ago told me that the major upside of being a widow in her 40s was that his death canceled out his more than $100,000 in student loans. “I thought we’d be paying that off forever, and then it was just gone,” she said with a breath of relief. When death is the bright spot in your financial life, things are bad.

So my husband and I decided to go ahead and become the villains in a John Hughes movie. One day when Ella was a sophomore, we laid out our financial situation. We told her we’d saved about $40,000 in a 529 to pay for her college. Between that, a part-time job, and some serious scrimping (“You like ramen, right?”), we could probably afford to send her to an in-state university, or maybe a really cut-rate private college with two years of community college first. Art school in New York? Not going to happen.

I’ve continued my scared-straight campaign ever since, periodically texting Ella links to articles about twentysomethings with $100,000 in debt, describing how massive student loans would hamstring her future. While there may be a few good reasons to opt for a fancy college and suck up the student loan debt (you need a really specific program, for instance, or statistics show you’ll earn far more money after you graduate), those didn’t apply to Ella’s situation. “If you want to be an artist and you graduate with a ton of student loan debt, you can’t afford to be an artist, anymore,” I told her, explaining that you become a creatively stymied wage slave instead.

To give my daughter a hard no on something she really, really wants—and that I in theory want for her!—makes me feel like a monster. While other parents cheerfully promise that “if you get in, we’ll figure out the money part,” I’m over here sounding a Greek chorus of caution and lament. Sometimes I long to just say yes. Saying yes feels good. Yes makes people happy.

On the other hand, saying no is part of my job as a parent. Hasn’t it been my role all along to steer my kid toward smarter but seemingly less desirable choices? Carrots instead of Kit Kats, an early bedtime instead of an all-night YouTube binge? Children naturally hate those kinds of limits. They may temporarily hate us. But they’re too young and myopic to see how this one decision could make their lives harder for a long, long time. We can.

Eventually, our prolonged brainwashing attempts seemed to succeed with Ella. She started talking about how reluctant she was to go into debt for college, like it had been her idea all along. She even thanked us for being upfront about the financial consequences of college. This fall she applied to exactly two universities, in the Venn diagram overlap between “schools we can pay for” and “schools where she actually wants to go.” They’re not art schools, but both have stellar art programs. Her guidance counselor, whose only focus is getting in and not paying up, thinks she’s crazy to limit her options like that, but we’re thrilled that the highest tuition at either is around $16,000. Not chump change, but probably doable.

Her applications are in, and she won’t know what happens for a while. Just one thing is certain: When Ella graduates, her future will be her own. For that, it’s worth keeping a short leash on her present.


Help me close down Australia's illegal kangaroo courts

An update from Bettina Arndt:

A very sad start to the New Year with so much of Australia being destroyed by bushfires. I’m very conscious my little causes are trivial compared to what so many people are facing.

But we need to press on. I’m hopeful this is the year when Quiet Australians will get very noisy, reclaiming the public agenda to ensure a fair deal for men and boys.

So now I am launching what I hope will be a real splash to start 2020.

It’s a very important cause. As most of you know, we had some big wins towards the end of last year. The evil system of campus kangaroo courts was dealt a mighty blow. For years now, many Australian universities have had secret committees investigating and adjudicating rape. In a landmark Brisbane Supreme Court decision last November these were declared illegal. And then Education Minister Dan Tehan instructed the university regulator, TEQSA, that universities should leave these crimes to the criminal courts.

This is a huge break-through, but I need every one of you now to step up and help me ensure that the universities take notice. I’m starting a big campaign enlisting graduates of Australian universities, students, academic staff, parents and grandparents of young people planning to attend university. I want everyone with a university connection to write to the relevant Vice Chancellors and Chancellors alerting them to what has happened and putting them on notice that we are expect them to comply with the law. If you have no tertiary association, you can just write to your local universities. 

It's easy – just use my draft letter.

Various lawyers have helped me put together a draft letter you can use – which is on my website. We need to seize the moment, enlist heaps of people to do this across the country to make sure universities have the courage to stand up to the feminist lobbying.

Feminist activists will be appalled if their carefully manufactured campaign is derailed and will put immense pressure on universities to ignore the legal judgement and continue with business as usual. They have put years of effort into promoting the fake rape crisis and bullying universities into establishing these illegal courts. They are not going to give up easily.

Sadly, they have most of the mainstream media right behind them. I find it absolutely shocking the ABC reported the lurid accusations that in the University of Queensland case which led to the Supreme Court decision but mentioned not one word about the judgement. Ditto, the SMH, The Age, The Guardian - all those journalists who have been actively promoting the rape crisis have becomes strangely silent now that the crowning achievement of this activism has been found to be illegal. How about some of you complain to the ABC and Media Watch about this turn of events?

We are watching them

A clever friend in advertising has helped me put together a short social media video, designed to tell universities we are watching them. Here it is:

Watch it now. It’s only just over a minute long. I hope you agree it really hits the mark.

We’re using this for what I hope will be a major social media campaign. Please help me circulate it in every way you can, retweeting, sending out to people in the media.

Contact me if you have ideas about how to get it to go viral – I need smart young social media experts to help with this one.

We are also going to spend some of the funds people contribute to me to promote it widely. You are very welcome to donate.

Closing down Australia’s illegal campus kangaroo courts.

I have put also together a proper video. It’s been a long time since I released something new and we realised that we hadn’t told my YouTube and thinkspot audiences about all these exciting developments.

Here it is:

Remember it really helps if you like the video, comment and subscribe.

When I was researching all the events I wanted to cover, I made an amazing discovery. We knew that the university regulator, TEQSA, had sent out advice to the universities telling them that they should “take disciplinary action against perpetrators of sexual assault” – advice which led to our kangaroo courts.

I stumbled across footage, now included in this video, of TEQSA CEO Anthony McClaran, proudly announcing he has told universities to “hold perpetrators to account.” Well, now it turns out he was advising them to do something quite illegal.

By email from Bettina --

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Male Teacher Assaults Female Student Over “Women for Trump” Pin

A female high school student in Michigan reports that that she was assaulted by a male teacher when she wore a metal pin to school voicing her support for President Donald Trump.

Sadie Earegood is a junior who attends Mason High in Mason, Michigan. But when the 16-year-old wore her “Women For Trump” pin to school, she was confronted by an angry male teacher who “aggressively” grabbed the pin and detached it from her jacket.

The teacher, who has been identified as media technology teacher Paul Kato, first confronted Sadie, saying he didn’t like her pin. “That’s fine, you don’t have to like it, we can have our opinions,” she responded. But the teacher was not willing to let the matter go.

"He grabbed it and I pulled, I tried to push his hand away and he grabbed my shoulder," she described in an interview with a local news channel "(He) just kind of put his hand there, and then he started pulling more and more and I just started backing up."

The teacher then "took both hands and unlatched the pin from my jacket and put it upside down on his shirt and said it belongs upside down," Sadie explained. The incident occurred during school hours on December 5.

“He had no right to put his hands on my child over a pin or anything else,” said Sadie’s mother, Capi Earegood, who was very upset about the incident. “The First Amendment gives everyone the right to express their freedom of speech. No one should get that upset about someone wearing a political pin.”

“I was really shocked that a teacher especially would do that,” Sadie added, noting that “I just want him to know that it’s not okay to do that. I want this to be learning experience for other teachers. And I’m not going to stop wearing my political stuff.”

Sadie’s family filed a police report charging the teacher with criminal assault and larceny, but the Ingham County Prosecutors Office declined to file assault charges against the teacher claiming there was no credible evidence of criminal conduct.

The school district conducted an investigation and released a statement which read in part, "Following an investigation by the Mason Police Department, the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office declined to press criminal charges in the matter. Mason Public Schools officials have completed their internal investigation and have disciplined the teacher appropriately."

“While not criminal, the teacher’s actions were inappropriate and misrepresented the mission of the district,” added Ronald Drzewicki, Mason Public Schools Superintendent. “MPS staff are role models. Our core values include respect, responsibility and compassion. We expect all MPS staff to model these values in interactions at school, especially with students.”


Connecticut school is denying students with racial quotas

When a school system draws racial boundary lines and denies entry to qualified students on the basis of race, it doesn’t matter if it’s done in the name of segregation or so-called diversity—it is still wrong, according to one prominent civil rights advocate.

Terrence Roberts, a member of the original “Little Rock Nine” who entered a segregated Arkansas high school under National Guard protection in 1957, appeared in front of a Connecticut parents union Dec. 5, criticizing the local Connecticut school board for instituting blatant racial quotas in its magnet school programs. 

Roberts, who has served as a professor of psychology at UCLA and a consultant, focused his ire on a Connecticut state law that mandates a minimum of 25% white and Asian students in the Hartford magnet schools. 

“Here in Connecticut, by lumping together whites and Asians, blacks and Hispanics, that’s playing a giant game of ‘Let’s you and him fight,’” he said in an interview with Gwen Samuel, the lead plaintiff in a court case challenging the racial quotas.

Because many Connecticut magnet schools draw primarily black and Hispanic applicants, if too few white and Asian kids enroll, the schools may deny spots in the school for the qualified black and Hispanic students who continue to apply. This creates absurd outcomes in these magnet schools such as empty seats in the school, while qualified black students get stuck on the wait list. 

The Connecticut school board justifies these quotas in the name of integrating the school systems. It points to a 1996 court case called Sheff vs. O’Neill that ordered the Connecticut education system to provide better opportunities for black students, thus sparking the construction of these magnet schools as integration devices. 

A state commission designed to enforce the Sheff decision established as a goal that 41% of Hartford students would be in “integrated” environments by 2013, which it defined as being at least 25% white and Asian. Without meeting that quota, a magnet school could be subjected to demagnetization and loss of funding.   

This has created a local controversy over which races “deserve” the limited spots in these magnet schools, which are widely viewed as gateways out of poverty. Roberts views this competition with distaste, having seen what this kind of identity politics has done in the past: strengthen constituents’ dependence on the people in charge.

“People don’t often realize this, but the powers that be pull the strings,” he said. “As long as they can have you battling it out, they have total satisfaction, because they don’t have to go in and beat you up.”

Members who attended Roberts’ lecture were inclined to agree. RJo Winch, a former Hartford city councilwoman, disputes the notion that the court order under Sheff vs. O’Neill expanded state authority to the point where they could arbitrarily deny entry to applicants to local magnet schools on the basis of race.

“Sheff. vs. O’Neill was about letting parents who wanted to send their kids to another school attend another [school],” Winch says, adding that the lead plaintiffs themselves simply wanted to have better options for their schooling—not necessarily a mandate for diversity quotas.

The Connecticut Supreme Court even admitted that lagging educational achievement was mostly a function of poverty, not race. This leaves the question: Why the zeal to integrate based on race specifically? Why the push for more suburban white people in these magnet schools, when it’s really the underserved black communities in Hartford that need the schools more? 

Indeed, there is something particularly uncomfortable with the board’s insistence that these gleaming magnet schools be built for the purpose of attracting white people, as if merely being around white people would improve the lives of these low-income black students, who are presumably suffering from much greater problems than the lack of white people in their classroom.

Roberts is certainly skeptical of this “white osmosis” theory, calling it demeaning to the ability of black students to form their own habits of excellence. He even pointed out imperfections in the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education civil rights case for focusing its reasoning too much on the need for black students to be around white students to succeed.

“I think what happened with the Brown decision was somewhat problematic, because there was a great deal of emphasis put on the need for black people to feel better about themselves by being put in classrooms with white kids,” he said. “The real issue has always been resources, material resources, opportunities.”

And in Connecticut, such resources are being denied to these black and Hispanic kids to satisfy an arbitrary diversity quota.

Roberts called for vigilance against those who claim they are on your side but engage little with the actual community that they purport to represent.

“There are people out there who are doing white ally training,” he said. “I can just sense people going for the ally training and feeling good … they go home to suburbia and they got a certificate on the wall: ‘I was trained, I’m an ally.’” 

But then he adds: “In my mind, it is not that we have a problem, and we need allies to help us. No, it’s that the country is sick, it is diseased, and we all need to come together and figure out how to find a remedy to make it work.”


Degrees to AVOID if you want to get a job straight out of university and it’s bad news for those studying communications, psychology and maths

Thousands of graduates are battling unemployment thanks to studying creative arts and maths at university.

While having a degree under your belt used to all-but guarantee landing a job, more employers are now happy to hire someone without a degree at all.

In its annual Graduate Outcomes Survey, Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching revealed the number of students securing a job straight after university has plummeted yet again to just 72 per cent.

Almost half of students who study creative degrees still aren't finding work four months after graduating, with 47 per cent languishing in unemployment.

Those who study maths and science are also struggling to find a job, as are those with a communications degree.

Meanwhile, to get the best value for money, students should instead opt for degrees in pharmacy, medicine, rehabilitation or dentistry.

Worst degrees for finding jobs

Percentage employed four months after graduating

Creative arts (52.9%)

Tourism and hospitality (56.4%)

Communications (60.1%)

Psychology (63.4%)

Science and maths (63.4%)

Source: Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching, 2019

Of those who study pharmacy, 95.7 per cent have secured jobs within four months of leaving university - but are given the lowest average salary.

Young workers face 'systematically disadvantaged outcomes in the labour market', according to the Australia Institute's Dr Jim Stanford.

He said today's graduates are suffering with lower wages, as well a being the last to be hired - and the first to be fired.

In 2008, 85 per cent of graduates secured a job after leaving university.

This figure has fallen to just 72 per cent, down another percentage point from 2018.

Best degrees for finding jobs:

Percentage employed four months after graduating

Pharmacy (95.7%)

Rehabilitation (92.4%)

Medicine (91.1%)

Dentistry (86.2%)

Engineering (84.8%)

Source: Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching, 2019

'You're better off with a degree than without one,' Dr Stanford told 7News at the time.

'But the outcomes have still deteriorated.'

As for salaries, undergraduate full-time salaries in 2019 ranged from highs of $88,200 to lows of $48,000, depending on the person's degree.

The best graduate salary awaits dentistry students, at $88,200.

For medical students it's $73,100 and for teach education it's $68,000.

The lowest salaries are reserved for those studying pharmacy, at $48,000.

Those with degrees in tourism and hospitality earned an average of $50,000, while creative arts graduates earned $52,000.  

'Higher level qualifications, on average, continue to confer additional benefits in the labour market, particularly for postgraduate coursework graduates,' the report explained.

'In addition, overall employment declined slightly to 92.7 per cent in 2019, a fall of 0.2 percentage points on the previous year.'