Friday, November 20, 2020

Megyn Kelly says she's leaving New York City and taking her kids out of their 'woke' $56k-a-year school after letter circulated saying 'white kids are being indoctrinated in black death' and will grow up to be 'killer cops'

Journalist Megyn Kelly has made the decision to quit New York City and take her children out of their 'far-left' schools as they 'gave gone off the deep end' following the death of George Floyd.

Kelly revealed she snapped after a letter was sent around to faculty in her sons' school that claimed 'white school districts across the country [are] full of future killer cops'.

It added that 'white kids are being indoctrinated in black death' and are 'left unchecked and unbothered in their schools'.

Her sons Edward, 11, and Thatcher Bray, 7, attended the Collegiate School on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

The piece, written by Orleans Public Education Network Executive Director Nahliah Webber, was circulated among a parents' 'diversity group' at her son's school, which included Kelly, following the police-involved shooting of Floyd.

On Monday, Kelly told her podcast 'The Megyn Kelly Show' that she had already pulled her two sons from the $55,900-a-year private school as she accused the city of allowing 'woke' leftism to take over.

The former Fox and NBC host, who turned 50 this week, claimed she also planned to move her nine-year-old daughter, Yardley Evans, from her city school as the family looks to relocate away from the hyper-liberal Big Apple.

'After years of resisting it, we're going to leave the city. We pulled our boys from their school, and our daughter is going to be leaving hers soon, too,' Kelly said of her and her husband Doug Brunt's decision.

It is unclear where Kelly and her family plans to move to once they leave New York City.

Collegiate School is ranked as one of the best private schools in the country and also claims to be the oldest.

It counts JFK Jr., his nephew Jack Schlossberg, and Game of Thrones co-creator David Benioff among its alumni.

Roman Abramovich and CNBC broadcaster Andrew Ross Sorkin are among those who sent their children there.

'The schools have always been far-left, which doesn't align with my own ideology, but I didn't really care, most of my friends are liberals, it's fine. I come from a Democrat family, I'm not offended at all by the ideology, and I lean center-left on some things, Kelly admitted.

'But they've gone around the bend,' she continued. 'I mean, they have gone off the deep end.'

Schumer Calls on Biden to Forgive Tens of Billions in Student Loans -- Which Is a Payoff to Wealthy Democrats

Being president is pretty much the same as being a magician. You’ve seen magicians who wave a magic wand and can make an elephant disappear? Well, presidents can wave a magic pen and make tens of billions of dollars in cash disappear.

The only difference is presidents don’t usually wear a pointy hat.

In the last decade or so, presidents have become experts at the disappearing money trick. They’ve also gotten very good at making money magically appear. Maybe instead of an election, we should hold auditions for the best magician in the country.

As most of us were taught when we were young, to err is human, to forgive is divine. Millions of Americans erred in taking on hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans. If they were planning to be tech entrepreneurs or Wall Street lawyers, it was reasonable to assume they could eventually pay those loans back.

But many ended up with jobs where it would take them decades to repay. Student loan debt has now reached $1.7 trillion, so Joe Biden wants to take the divine way out of this mess and forgive tens of billions of dollars in student loans.

Fox Business:

Schumer, D-N.Y., said Biden should enact a plan that he laid out earlier this year alongside Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., under which the president could use executive authority to immediately cancel up to $50,000 of student debt per borrower. Biden has called for forgiving $10,000 in student loan debt as part of a broader coronavirus relief package.

“Getting rid of student debt,” Schumer said during an interview with The Ink. “I have a proposal with Elizabeth Warren that the first $50,000 of debt be vanquished, and we believe that Joe Biden can do that with the pen as opposed to legislation.”

What you are not going to hear much about over the next few months that this proposal is examined is how we got into this mess. The image we have of the hard-working middle or lower-class kid, striving for a better life by taking out loans to go to college is not exactly true. In fact, many borrowers are upper-middle-class students and parents taking out loans for graduate school. Fully one-quarter of loans fall into this category, according to the CBO.

Student loan debt increased from $187 billion in 1995 to $1.4 trillion in 2017. It obviously got easier and easier to get money for college — not a bad thing — but harder and harder to pay it back — a very bad thing. All sorts of gimmicks have been tried to get young adults out from under their student debt load to no avail.

So is simply waving the magic pen the answer? Consider that the American taxpayer is going to be asked to pay back these loans. Just because they’re “forgiven” doesn’t mean the debt itself disappears. Someone, somewhere, somehow has to pay that money back. And taxpayers are going to be stuck with the bill.

Is that fair?


Student loan forgiveness is a quintessential example of regressive policy. As Cooper points out, “the top fifth of households holds $3 in student loans for every $1 held by the bottom fifth.” At the same time, those with the higher levels of debt (exceeding $50,000) “almost exclusively have bachelor’s degrees.”

Moreover, as Cooper explains, 210 million adult Americans do not have federal student loan debt, compared to the 45 million who do. Student loan forgiveness demands that those 210 million Americans take on the debt of those 45 million borrowers.

What makes it doubly unfair is that millions of American kids chose a different path — one without taking on unpayable debt.

For those individuals who avoided debt—either by working their way through college, going to community college for two years before attending a four-year college to reduce costs, living at home, serving in the armed forces to later benefit from the GI Bill, working hard in high school to receive merit-based aid, or by eschewing college altogether—blanket student loan forgiveness is simply unfair.

It’s particularly unfair to demand of the nearly three-quarters of Americans who do not hold bachelor’s degrees to pay off someone else’s debt. Such proposals mean those Americans without bachelor’s degrees are being forced to foot the bill for individuals who, statistically, are likely to out-earn them in the future.

Student loan forgiveness is all about rewarding important political constituencies — and not about “fairness.”

For Teacher Training, Drop Critical Theory and Add Character

With the pandemic, more parents are discovering what their children are being taught in public schools—from explicit how-tos in sex-ed class to narratives of power that divide everyone into oppressors and oppressed.

Yearning for a richer emphasis on cultural literacy, character, and civil discourse, parents are turning to alternative curricula, such as Core Knowledge and classical education, as well as learning environments such as homeschooling, pods, micro-schools, and public charters.

The opportunity for reform is there, but we must first understand how much needs to change. The content in many schools is a problem, but a deeper one remains: Too few teachers and leaders focus on the importance of character formation.

Jay Schalin has reported extensively on the prevalence of a specific form of critical theory in schools of education across the country. This theory rejects both tradition and universal truth in favor of subjective narratives, undercutting the value of cultural literacy and character. Cultural literacy becomes a “dead” tradition. Questions of character, such as what it means to treat another person justly, lose meaning when there is only “your” justice and “my” justice, but no universal principles of justice that we can discuss to frame and negotiate conflicts.

For example, Gary Houchens, a former member of the Kentucky Board of Education, has revealed how state-sponsored teacher resources in what should be inquiry-based learning not only insist upon a critical theory foundation but also offer loaded questions whose answers are telegraphed by the lessons and the questions themselves. Max Eden has recently highlighted how Buffalo Public Schools’ Black Lives Matter curriculum asks students to question the nuclear family with the explicit purpose of “disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure.”

The attack on the family is not a core feature of the Civil Rights Movement, but of Karl Marx’s program for social transformation. No doubt, for some, Marx’s influence is laudable, but, if this is so, let it be considered and debated honestly and transparently.

As it stands, these approaches do not offer inquiry, but indoctrination.

This follows from critical theory’s denial of universal truth. Without universal truth, all we can discover by inquiry is your belief or my belief. If our beliefs disagree, there are no impartial standards of excellence in evidence, analysis, and inquiry by which to judge whose argument is better or worse. The only question is who succeeds in pressuring whom to submit. Reason becomes nothing but belief and liberty nothing but a forum for conflicting wills.

Similar problems emerge with the Common Core, making its teaching approach also incompatible with character education.

Justin P. McBrayer notes that the Common Core relegates moral analyses to the realm of mere opinions as opposed to facts. He argues that, on this foundation, we cannot tell children that cheating is wrong—only that it is so in the opinion of some and not others (his article inspired a rebuttal and a robust defense).

Character education cannot begin, much less advance, in an environment in which a principle so basic as “cheating is wrong” is without authority. Indeed, how can any robust notion of justice, such as human beings are endowed with equal rights, survive in this environment?

As the shortcomings of public approaches to alleged inquiry suggest, genuine inquiry, especially when it comes to social and moral questions, is difficult to cultivate and requires proper teacher formation.

But the problematic ideology underpinning the training, resources, and standards guiding public education is only one concern. The other is that current training programs do not promote quality teaching. For example, there is no evidence that certified teachers outperform non-certified teachers.

Lindsey Burke and Mike Gonzalez call for the repeal of state regulations requiring teacher certification, proposing instead that teachers pursue advanced learning in the subjects that they teach. This too has pitfalls. Citing studies from leading institutions in educational research, Grace Gedye explains that master’s degrees do not prepare teachers to be effective in the classroom. She calls for the wholesale repeal of regulations and incentives that waste hardworking teachers’ precious dollars and time.

But complete deregulation may not prove feasible and we need to reform teacher training now. Gedye points to another possibility: Rather than doing away with regulations and incentives, we could reframe them to promote better teacher training. But what does “better” look like in an increasingly polarized America? Even if we had broad consensus that cultural literacy, character, and civil discourse were desiderata, we would still confront the problem of critical theory: Whose culture? Whose character? Whose discourse?

These are debates. As such, let them be debated freely and openly. As a matter of policy, that requires school choice and transparency about what schools and other educational environments are teaching children.

This debate will be unbalanced and uninformed, however, so long as teacher training is overwhelmingly conducted according to one model, leaving the alternatives with little—albeit often passionate—support.

What we need are new teacher formation programs.

Independent homeschooling co-ops, schools, publishers, and other continuing education services have a role to play. But so, too, does any university with the vision and will to offer more robust teacher formation, tailored to those dedicated to classical liberal education in the true sense: Education that begins with human beings as rational and free, is committed to individual and communal flourishing, and pursues excellence in scientific discovery, artistic work, shared inquiry, and civic responsibility.

Some would argue that public education already does this. In criticizing that education, we should be careful not to over-generalize. I do not doubt that there are many excellent and dedicated public school teachers who contribute to excellent schools.

But public education can be made better by turning away from critical theory and the Common Core. We already have examples of how well the alternatives can work.

One can turn to the extensive research of E. D. Hirsch and others on the importance of cultural literacy and content-rich curricula. And as for character, one can turn to the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, the recognized international leader in K–12 character education research. The Jubilee Centre is non-partisan and enjoys bi-partisan support in the U.K. It is not involved in American ideological debates. It is concerned with cultivating a robust commitment to virtues such as curiosity, teamwork, honesty, and justice, virtues that not only benefit oneself, but that also serve the common good.

Again, we may confront the question, “Whose ‘common good’—that of the oppressors or the oppressed?” The commitment to excellence in all its forms is not elitist. As Robert Maynard Hutchins famously said, “The best education for the best is the best education for all.” Classical schools perform highly in general (see Great Hearts America) and in diverse communities (see Hope Academy). But those outcomes only take into account conventional measurements like subject test scores and college admittance. Anecdotally, parents, teachers, and school leaders see more important outcomes in the psychosocial well-being, character, community service, and general flourishing of students.

Those outcomes need to be studied and assessed objectively. But doesn’t this beg the question? Critical theory denies there is any universal truth. My proposal assumes that there is such truth. Yet even critical theory presupposes that it holds for all people at all times. Therefore, it too admits universal truth. Given this, why don’t we go one step further and take seriously standards of excellence in cultural literacy, character, and civil discourse that transcend individual and group identities? Doing so is the decisive move if we truly care about others and about our civil society.

It is with a view to these goals that we at the University of Dallas offer graduate programs in K–12 teacher and school leader formation focused on character and civics, including alternative teacher certification. We offer edTPA certification and Texas has reciprocity agreements with 45 states, meaning that this certification can be recognized anywhere in the Union except Nevada. Appreciating that sustainable reform must draw from multiple sources, we also have pilot projects in K–12 curriculum and research.

We seek to serve parents, their children, and communities—online and face-to-face—with a firm commitment to liberty, virtue, and truth. We desire to work with others who share our commitment and are open to dialogue with those who do not.

As our shared tradition teaches us, character is the fruit of genuine inquiry and dialogue. It’s time that education schools recognize its importance and dwell on character formation.




Thursday, November 19, 2020

Racial-Justice War on Merit-Based Schools: It’s an Injustice Against Excellence, Critics Say

At a virtual town hall in Brooklyn about how the COVID-19 pandemic will change admissions to high-performing selective schools, New York City officials got a lecture – on systemic racism.

“Racism is foundational in all of our institutions, in our government, our economy, our health-care system, our legal system and our education system,” Ayanna Behin, president of a school district council, said at the June meeting. “It’s our recommendation that we prioritize the end of racial segregation in our schools.”

Behin’s comments reflect a racially charged debate in New York and across the country, invoking Jim Crow-era language to describe an education flashpoint more recent than old-fashioned enforced segregation. The conflict – influenced by critical race theory, the idea that racism is embedded in the structures of society – is over disparate racial and ethnic admissions, which critics deem so pernicious that even seemingly neutral yardsticks like grades and test scores reinforce them. These critics aim to integrate elite schools by removing the performance barriers that many white and Asian parents defend as objective measures of achievement.

In one recent conflict, the school superintendent in Fairfax County, Va., is pushing through changes to the competitive admissions process at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, the nation’s top-ranked high school, over protests from Asian parents who say their kids are being penalized for working hard. At Lowell High School in San Francisco, a plan to drop merit-based admissions for next year created an uproar among parents who want to protect the school’s reputation for rigor.

In New York City, advocates are demanding more sweeping changes in the nation’s largest school district. They are calling for the end to admissions screening for almost 200 selective middle schools, or more than a third of the total. And a mayoral advisory panel has also urged the city to rid elementary schools of gifted and talented programs and erase the “gifted and talented” wording from the system.

In this polarizing battle, parents who support screening for accelerated education are tarred as racists on social media. Even moderate proposals to expand gifted and talented programs and make them more diverse face strong opposition.

“Our culture and economy thrive on excellence. When I think of New York, I think of artistic and intellectual excellence,” says Jonathan Plucker, a professor at Johns Hopkins University who focuses on making accelerated education more accessible to disadvantaged students. “And now, particularly in urban districts we are seeing a backlash, where the ideology is turning against excellence. We are institutionalizing anti-intellectualism, and that has long-term implications for us.”

With 1.1 million students, New York City has one of the nation’s most segregated school systems, a result of entrenched housing patterns and the proliferation of selective schools. Today Blacks and Latinos make up about two-thirds of public school students. But in more than half of city schools, they comprise over 80% of the students and sometimes beyond 90%.

In this system, achievement gaps have remained remarkably wide. In 2019, only about a third of Black and Latino students reached proficiency on math and English state tests for grades 3 through 8. That compares with roughly two-thirds for white and Asian kids. But the question of how to improve academic achievement for Blacks and Latinos defies easy answers.

Advocates say greater diversity is the remedy. They are pushing the city to replace test, grade and attendance-based admissions with a system designed to mix students of all backgrounds and academic abilities together. In such integrated schools, low achievers rise partly because of the influence of high achievers, who don’t regress academically, says Halley Potter, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation who researches education policy. What’s more, students from different racial and ethnic groups build bonds at a time when America’s social fabric is fraying.

Parents fighting to keep selective schools in New York City reject the everybody-wins narrative as naive. Yiatin Chu, co-founder of Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education (PLACE), says students have a wide range of abilities and lumping them together in classrooms makes it impossible for teachers to challenge all of them at once. A 2013 study, published in Gifted Child Quarterly, of five diverse elementary schools in several states found reading levels in classrooms ranging from about two years below grade level to about six years above it.

“I see a huge disparity in terms of abilities, and is it reasonable to expect our teachers in big classrooms to differentiate the teaching to really meet the needs of all students in that class?” says Chu, who has a child in public school. “The truth is no, they cannot.”

While advocates say academic research overwhelmingly shows the benefits of integrated schools, significant disagreement exists among scholars. Their findings vary widely because of the difficulty of isolating the effects of peers and schools on performance from other powerful influences like family and its socioeconomic status, says Eric Hanushek of Stanford’s Hoover Institution.

David Armor of George Mason University carefully controlled for students’ backgrounds in a robust 2018 study. He found that the socioeconomic composition of schools had a negligible impact on results in math and reading tests in grades 3 through 8 across three states and over multiple years.

“New York City would be making a very big mistake by getting rid of its selective schools,” Armor says. “It will probably lose another chunk of its middle-class population. If they would just look at the data.”

The great schools betrayal

The Welsh government's cancellation of exams is another blow against education.

The decision by the Welsh Assembly to cancel GCSE and A-level exams next summer puts the future of the entire examination system in jeopardy. This is why the assembly’s decision must be strongly resisted by the other educational establishments across the UK.

As a result of the Covid lockdown, Scotland had already cancelled next year’s National 5 exams (equivalent to GCSEs) before the Welsh announcement. Scotland is currently still intending to run its Higher exams. GCSEs and A levels are also scheduled to run in England and Northern Ireland, though with a delayed start.

Boris Johnson’s official spokesman responded to the Welsh decision by stating Downing Street’s intention to press ahead with exams. In the new normal of lockdown Britain, however, the government has found it difficult to keep promises, and has been prone to embarrassing reversals.

At the start of the first lockdown in March, it was Scotland’s cancelling of this summer’s exams that pushed the English education secretary Gavin Williamson to follow suit, leading to the results debacle over what Johnson called a ‘mutant algorithm’.

Announcing the 2021 cancellations, Welsh education minister Kirsty Williams said it was impossible to guarantee a level playing field for exams due to the impact of Covid. She forgot to mention that it was not the virus that had caused the problem, but her own government’s decision to shut down national life in response to it.

Full details of the alternative to exams are yet to emerge, but Williams said some assessments will be externally set and marked, but not carried out under exam conditions. Instead they would be completed in the classroom under the supervision of the teacher, at a time of the school’s choosing.

In other words, they will be like old-style coursework, which was discredited in most subjects because it became a byword for wide-scale interference and manipulation of the system by teachers and schools.

These kinds of measures do nothing to alleviate the inequalities between individual students or between one school and another. Those disparities are caused by insufficient face-to-face contact with subject-specialist teachers, and a lack of educational expertise and IT resources in the home. The problem lies in the conditions in which pupils are educated during lockdowns, not the manner in which they are assessed.

Reducing the equality of assessment, by permitting an ill-defined level of unofficial assistance for pupils, won’t make the playing field more level. It will only make it even more unbalanced, patchy and chaotic than if exams were in place. Indeed, the new measures could well be interpreted by some teachers as a green light to intervene in certain pupils’ assessments on the grounds that this would be helping to redress inequity.

Certainly, the Welsh education minister seems to think so, given she dressed her exam-cancellation announcement in the language of student wellbeing. But does Williams really think that robbing students of exam certificates and a sense of achievement is going to improve their wellbeing? What will student morale and self-confidence be like at college or university, or in the job market and later in life, after continually having to compete against people who are judged differently because they have been through the refining fire of examinations?

Moreover, universities, such as Swansea, have issued statements indicating that prospective students should not feel disadvantaged by the Covid crisis. This raises the question as to why exams needed to be scrapped in the first place, if a general dip in results can be accounted for in flexible admissions procedures.

Meanwhile, there is now plenty of evidence indicating the disastrous effect of lockdown on education. As researcher Pedro de Bruyckere reports here and here, across the Western world, children lose around six months of education during a lockdown – longer than the length of a lockdown itself.

Separately, Ofsted has issued a report showing that children’s basic learning and development has regressed across a range of measures, as a result of lockdown. Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman has expressed fears that pupils will not return to school if they lose the structure of exams.

Yet despite the deleterious effect lockdowns have already had on children’s lives, and despite the Department for Education reporting a boost in pupil attendance after the half-term break, the teaching unions are stepping up their calls for the closure of schools. So the National Education Union (NEU) executive is considering a motion put forward by the union’s Greenwich branch for a national ballot on strike action if schools continue to remain open. And a petition on the parliament website calling for schools to be closed is heading for 500,000 signatories.

This is all taking place as evidence continues to mount that there is little to no transmission between children and their teachers, while the risk to ordinarily reasonably healthy working teachers is negligible anyway.

This calamitous state of affairs for education is why the Welsh government’s decision to cancel next year’s exams is so important. It goes beyond the technical issue of how pupil achievement and learning is to be measured. It is now about the very importance and meaning we as a society assign to education itself.

If the rest of the UK decides to follow Wales, there is a serious risk that exams may never return. This is already the desire of a host of educational bigwigs, including university vice-chancellors. The campaign group Rethinking Assessment has been lobbying for months to abolish exams and has received a sympathetic reception from the Chartered College of Teaching.

The closing of schools and the scrapping of exams, in the face of evidence both of the relative safety of schools and the devastating effect on young people’s education, sends a powerful signal that the very institutions and people supposed to lead education are not doing so. Instead of defending it, they are giving up on it.

Berkeley Professor Urges Followers To Steal, Burn Book On Trans ‘Craze Seducing Our Daughters’

A transgender professor at the University of California, Berkeley, urged followers Saturday to steal and burn a book detailing an investigation into transgenderism trends.

Abigail Shrier’s “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters” has sparked controversy and gained the attention of media pundits such as Joe Rogan since it was published in June.

As recently as Friday, Target apologized for removing the book from its shelves after a Twitter user complained that the book was “transphobic.”

A transgender professor at the University of California at Berkeley urged followers Saturday to steal and burn a book detailing an investigation into transgenderism trends.

“Since some ppl have misunderstood my tone, and censorship is an important matter and as a public educator I have a duty to be precise, let me clarify,” Berkeley associate professor Grace Lavery tweeted Saturday. “I do NOT advocate defacing library books. I DO encourage followers to steal Abigail Shrier’s book and burn it on a pyre.”

“Plz make sure you use a safe pyre, and that you have an extinguisher to hand,” Lavery continued. “Be safe, when you are burning books. Remember: all you’re doing is removing a commodity from circulation—much as one might destroy a contaminated crop, or take action if a distributor failed to do so.”

Lavery said in a later tweet that the tweets were jokes but added that “the sort of moral panic that book burning elicits, despite never happening, is weird.”

“I don’t think books are a special type of commodity,” Lavery added. “For example: the idea of burning a laptop doesn’t seem to elicit the same moral horror. but it’s the same principle—disposing of a copy, not the original. The horror seems to derive from the idea that a book represents unalienated labor—but of course, it doesn’t.”

In response to a request for comment, the associate professor referred the Daily Caller News Foundation to a tweet thread explaining the book burning comments.

“If you think I was sincerely encouraging people to burn books, I suggest you look around and see how many books were actually burned,” one of Lavery’s tweets said. “Either my words weren’t taken seriously bc I was misunderstood, or they were meant not to be taken seriously. You can figure this out yourselves.”

The associate professor also called the title of Shrier’s book “fascist,” and said that “the burning of the official texts of the ruling class might well be considered an act of popular liberation.”




Wednesday, November 18, 2020

What Joe Biden Has Said about Canceling Student Loan Debt

There has recently been more and more discussions about President-elect Joe Biden's plans to cancel student loan debt when he enters the White House in January next year.

While Biden has not committed to canceling all student debt, his administration will be able to introduce changes that could affect millions of borrowers—although this will also likely depend on who controls the Senate.

In March, Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer called for $10,000 relief for all student borrowers in light of the financial chaos sparked by the coronavirus pandemic—a proposal that Biden later endorsed in a tweet.

By September, they later called for the next president to cancel up to $50,000 in debt and while Biden has not officially committed to this, he has instead proposed a program that offers public service workers $10,000 a year in student loan relief.

He also pledged to make public colleges tuition-free for all families with incomes below $125,000.

It comes after the Trump administration introduced a student loans holiday in March and waived interest until December 31. The incumbent president has still not conceded defeat to his Democratic rival and is still fighting several lawsuits with claims of voter fraud in battleground states.

It is unclear whether Donald Trump will extend the loan relief before Biden likely takes office on January 20 and borrowers are currently anxious to know if it will continue beyond the end of the year.

Newsweek has contacted Biden's transition team, the Trump administration and the department of education over the matter.

What Joe Biden has said on student debt:

During the campaign, Biden released 'The Biden Plan for Education Beyond High School' on his website, laying out a series of proposals which included plans for student debt relief.

The President-elect said he would create a public service forgiveness plan, where $10,000 in student debt will be erased from workers in schools, government and other nonprofit organizations, every year for up to five years to a total of $50,000.

Under the Biden plan, workers earning $25,000 or less will also be exempt from federal student loan payments and will not accrue any interest. Everyone making more than $25,000 will only have to pay five percent of their discretionary income—minus taxes and essential spending like housing and food.

Biden also said he would fix problems plaguing the federal Public Loan Forgiveness program. The initiative was created in 2007 to give debt forgiveness for workers entering low-paying public service jobs. But various conditions, like having the right kind of federal loan, means that only 2.2 percent of applicants have been deemed eligible since 2007, according to The New York Times.

His campaign statement said:

What Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer have said:
In March, Warren and Schumer were among the lawmakers who called for the next president to cancel $10,000 in federal student loan debt per person during the pandemic. Biden endorsed this proposal in a tweet but Congress is yet to authorize it.

By September, the group of lawmakers called on the next president to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt but Biden has not publicly endorsed this proposal.

Schumer said in the statement published on Warren's website: "Education is supposed to be a ladder up, but for too many the burden of student debt has become an anchor holding them down.

"Massive student loan debt is exacerbating the historic and overlapping crises our country is facing, especially for communities of color, which have been hit hardest by the health and economic consequences of COVID-19. Our resolution lays out a way for the president to change that. Canceling student loan debt would help boost our struggling economy and close the racial wealth gap that has persisted for far too long."

Last week, Warren also wrote a Twitter thread to put more pressure on the President-elect by explaining some of the "big changes that a Biden-Harris administration can achieve on day one."

She wrote: "1. Biden-Harris can cancel billions of dollars in student loan debt, giving tens of millions of Americans an immediate financial boost and helping to close the racial wealth gap. This is the single most effective executive action available for a massive economic stimulus."

"Biden-Harris ran on the most progressive economic and racial justice platform of any general election nominee ever. Now isn't the time to hand over the keys to corporate lobbyists," the senator added.

Will Biden be able to implement his plans?

Any of Biden's plans to cancel student debt may be scuppered if the Republicans retain control of the U.S. Senate and this all comes down to the runoff elections in Georgia on January 5.

Not everyone agrees with policies of cancelling student debt, especially not Republicans, as it will ultimately be the federal government—so taxpayers—who foot the bill.

If the Democrats win the Senate, Schumer will be able to push through legislation on canceling student loans but it is unclear exactly what policy he would push, according to Forbes.

But if the Republicans win, student loan forgiveness will, in all probability, not become law since GOP senators have generally not supported debt cancellation plans, the publication reported.

The Democrats' next question would be whether student loan debt could be canceled through congressional legislation since the U.S. Constitution grants Congress power to to make laws.

Lawmakers, including Warren, have also argued that the president himself will be able to use an executive order to cancel student loans but this is still unclear from a legal perspective.

Students accused of non-Title IX misconduct should get fair hearings, too

Students sometimes ask why FIRE spends so much time making sure students accused of sexual misconduct receive fair hearings. They’ve noticed that over the past decade, a lot of our work has focused on the interplay between Title IX and due process.

But things weren’t always this way. While FIRE has always been on the front lines of the battle to ensure students accused of misconduct are given a meaningful opportunity to defend themselves before they are punished, our biggest early due process case centered around a Facebook post about a parking garage — it had nothing to do with sexual misconduct at all. FIRE started focusing more on fundamental fairness in sexual misconduct disciplinary procedures about a decade ago, when colleges and universities, under the direction of the federal government, started throwing away procedural safeguards specifically in sexual misconduct cases and not in other cases.

Our goal is to ensure that all students facing serious punishment like long-term suspension or expulsion receive a meaningful opportunity to defend themselves.

This year, the Department of Education finally mandated that schools bound by Title IX (almost all colleges and universities nationwide) guarantee students accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX many critically important procedural safeguards to ensure they are not punished without due process. So what now?

FIRE’s goal was and is not that students accused of sexual misconduct be treated more fairly than students accused of other misconduct. Our goal is to ensure that all students facing serious punishment like long-term suspension or expulsion receive a meaningful opportunity to defend themselves, including the right to a presumption of innocence, information about the charges and the evidence against them with time to prepare before the hearing, and a live hearing with an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses. Federal regulations now require that students facing discipline under Title IX are afforded these protections. This is a solid advance for campus justice, but schools owe students an explanation if they’re not going to treat non-Title IX cases with the same care with which Title IX cases will be handled going forward.

To help ensure all students facing serious punishments are guaranteed fundamentally fair hearings, FIRE has written a template letter students can send to their college or university.

As suggested by the Supreme Court of the United States in Goss v. Lopez, the formality of school disciplinary procedures required to achieve due process depends on what’s at stake. This factor — not whether alleged misconduct is sex-based — should be key in determining what kind of safeguards against unjust punishment a student is afforded. Case law in recent years has affirmed that where students’ educational careers may be derailed, robust safeguards like those now required by Title IX regulations are integral to a fundamentally fair process. And, of course, it would be just as reasonable to suspend or expel a student for creating a hostile environment based on race or for assaulting another student in a non-sexual context as it would be to suspend or expel them for sexual misconduct.

To help ensure all students facing serious punishments are guaranteed fundamentally fair hearings, FIRE has written a template letter students can send to their college or university asking it to provide students accused of non-Title IX misconduct the same safeguards students are entitled to receive under Title IX regulations. Whether schools choose to adopt FIRE’s Model Code of Student Conduct or simply make their new, regulations-compliant sexual misconduct procedures applicable in all cases where students face long-term suspension or expulsion, improving the process is an essential step towards protecting student rights.

‘Woke’ consensus ruining Australia's universities

Universities are our primary institutions for knowledge creation. And we assume the search for truth guides academics in their research and teaching, irrespective of their political views. However, while academics, particularly in the social sciences, have long leaned left, that bias is increasingly lopsided.

Academics who do not buy into certain left orthodoxies, particularly on issues of social justice, increasingly find themselves self-censoring their views to avoid damaging their career prospects.

Since I became a member of Heterodox Academy, an organisation founded to promote viewpoint diversity and respectful disagreement in academe, I’ve become increasingly aware of the ways the academic system selects against viewpoint diversity.

One junior academic, who we will call Sarah, has a promising scientific career ahead. She has an excellent publication record, international collaborations, strong teaching reviews, and has already been awarded significant grant funding. However, she has grown critical of the “diversity, ­equity and inclusion” sector that is such a dominant force in our universities. Sarah would like to be more publicly critical of this “woke” consensus that focuses on gender and racial identity, but doesn’t feel she can speak out for fear of offending academic colleagues, many her senior. Only when she has climbed the ladder and been promoted to professor would she feel secure to do so.

In a new book, Unassailable Ideas: How Unwritten Rules and Social Media Shape Discourse in American Higher Education, academics Illana Redstone and John Villasenor explain how academe encourages conformity and the risks you face criticising diversity initiatives: “Well-intentioned cri­ticism of any proposal involving diversity is perilous … (and) might well be detrimental to his or her reputation and career growth.”

Academic progress relies in large part on the approval of other academics, who review publication drafts and grant funding proposals and promotion applications. As such, academics with heterodox views reasonably prefer not to get offside with their ­colleagues and administration.

Sarah isn’t the only one to realise junior academics are constrained when speaking about controversial issues. Katy Barnett, a law professor, describes how her senior position allows her a freedom to express unorthodox ideas that other academics cannot: “I am much more comfortable with speaking out now I am a full professor. We can’t have a situation where the only people who can speak out are powerful. It’s a recipe for disaster.”

Recently, researchers found more than half of left-leaning academic philosophers said they would be willing to discriminate against hiring someone applying for an academic position if the candidate held right-of-centre views. Many added they would discriminate when reviewing publications and research grant proposals that expressed right-leaning views. Social psychology academics feel much the same about scuttling the careers of their ideological opponents.

This culture is acute in the ­social sciences, where the political views of academics often encroach upon their research and teaching activities.

At a recent academic conference in Australia, a high-profile professor and keynote speaker said: “Sociology demands you have a social justice lens. Any right-wing sociologists should be booted out of the club.” She received enthusiastic app­lause from most of her audience.

At what point did academic disciplines become “clubs” where one could be excommunicated for views deviating from orthodoxy? Social scientists are often concerned with power relations between oppressors and the oppressed. How might junior academics with heterodox political views see their career prospects when left-wing thought is all but mandated by those in power?

Last year, the University of California announced it was requiring all applications to new academic faculty positions to submit a “diversity statement”, declaring a candidate’s commitment to the cause. Applicants deemed insufficiently committed to a specific component of diversity — namely, racial and gender diversity — would be removed from the pool of viable candidates irrespective of the quality of their work.

It hasn’t taken long for Australian universities to demand the same as part of the agenda for diversity, equity and inclusion. It is nothing short of political screening of academics in a sector already ideologically homogenous.

While Australian universities face unprecedented challenges wrought by COVID-19, let’s not neglect the problems they faced before the pandemic, which will persist well into the future.

Federal government legislation may have strengthened the legal basis for academic freedom to a level recommended by the French review. But there are deeper cultural issues within academe demanding our attention.

Universities should be environments that can handle a diverse range of views and in which academics can have successful ­careers regardless of where they sit on the political spectrum.




Tuesday, November 17, 2020

London university that boasts of being one of the most diverse in the UK failed one year to admit a single white working class student, shows document

A university that boasts of being one of the most diverse in the UK failed one year to admit a single white working class student. The startling fact appears in a document detailing plans to improve access to SOAS University of London.

The document says the number of white undergraduates living in poor neighbourhoods that were recruited through the main UCAS admission round in 2017 was zero.

The disclosure will fuel growing concerns that white working class children, particularly boys, have become the education system’s forgotten dispossessed.

White pupils eligible for free school meals are half as likely as their peers from poor ethnic minority families to achieve strong passes at GCSE. They are also more likely to attend a failing school.

All ethnic minority groups in England are now, on average, more likely to go to university than their white British peers.

SOAS, where more than half of the intake is from ethnic minority backgrounds, describes itself as having ‘an exceptionally diverse student body’ and says its mission is to ‘recruit and teach diverse students’.

Yet its Access and Participation Plan for 2020-2025, which all universities must submit to the regulator to demonstrate how they will recruit and support under-represented groups, shows a worrying absence of white working class youngsters.

The recently-published document admits: ‘SOAS had zero acceptances (rounded to the nearest five) from white students from low participation neighbourhoods via the UCAS main scheme in 2017. (This excluded clearing and direct applications).’

Coming from a ‘low participation neighbourhood’ – one in which few youngsters go to university – is one of the main measures of disadvantage used by higher education.

Other universities in London have admitted very low proportions under the measure. Imperial College recruited 30 white applicants from poor neighbourhoods in 2017 – just one per cent of its intake.

Conservative MP Ben Bradley said the figures showed a drive for ‘diversity’ was leaving white working class communities behind.

‘Our institutions value diversity of skin colour more than background or experience,’ he said. ‘That’s a huge shame, but more importantly, it disadvantages the poorest. It’s simply wrong. On the plus side, I’m pleased that this is now being recognised, that these figures are gathered and looked at and that some institutions are trying to rectify things.’

A report by the National Education Opportunities Network (NEON) last year found that at more than half of institutions, less than five per cent of students were white and from areas where very few young people go to university.

Graeme Atherton, director of NEON, said its analysis of universities’ 2020-2021 access plans showed only four had specific targets relating to white working class students compared with 27 in 2019-20.

He said: ‘If they don’t feature, they are not a strategic priority and if they are not a priority, universities are less likely to do work with them.’

Founded in 1916, SOAS describes itself as the world’s leading institution for the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Alumni include Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the socialite Jemima Khan and former Conservative Minister Enoch Powell.

A SOAS spokesman acknowledged the challenges of attracting white, working class students but said the university had improved since 2017 and it was now working with schools in London, Sheffield and Northampton. The spokesman said a different measure of poverty, the index of multiple deprivations, showed SOAS’s intake of white disadvantaged teenagers rose from nine per cent in 2017-18 to 14 per cent the following year.

The Trouble with Aiding Students with Learning Disabilities

As college classes go online, one group of students is ignored: those with learning disabilities.

The Atlantic calls learning disabilities an “invisible disability” because they aren’t physically obvious. These disabilities can be detrimental to a student’s success if they don’t get help.

Students with disabilities aren’t rare; almost 20 percent of undergrads reported having one, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. The increase is connected to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which mandated equal access to colleges for students with disabilities.

The passage of the ADA led to more programs and greater student access while raising awareness of students with learning disabilities. Disabilities that are protected now include emotional disabilities, cognitive disabilities, physical disabilities, and neurodevelopmental disabilities. Colleges have disability resource offices as well to help students.

Emma Albin, a senior at North Carolina State University, described her ADHD to the Martin Center as “out of sight, out of mind.” Focusing is difficult for her unless she’s stimulated or under pressure. That affects her self-motivation, which is made worse with online classes.

When she registered with the Disabilities Resource Office at NC State, they told her about the accommodations available for ADHD. She could get more time on tests and access to early registration, which helps her get smaller classes with more teacher interaction. It also helps students get a schedule that works best for them, time-wise. Emma cared most about avoiding online classes, which are now unavoidable as NC State has gone remote.

In summer 2020, the Association on Higher Education and Disability conducted a survey to understand student experiences and the barriers they face from COVID-19. The study concluded that “students with disabilities were more likely to experience difficulty with accessing the internet, technology training and support, course materials and assessments, as well as learning management systems and communicating with instructors,” US News reported.

When students with learning disabilities take online classes, being timed and recorded during tests stresses them out more. Emma stated that the testing center on campus can be used if students need accommodations, but rooms must be reserved in advance and it can be hard to schedule one ahead of time. Limited spots are available in the testing center, especially since COVID-19.

Not everyone is happy about the current rules for accommodating students, however.

In a prior Martin Center article, Garland Tucker, quoting professor Ari Trachtenberg, noted that: “Students without disabilities are potentially disadvantaged by these accommodations. It is inappropriate to give an objective test with a clearly delineated grading policy if some students get uncalibrated bonuses.” In addition, he argues that the intended beneficiaries of this legislation are actually being hurt. Disabled students are now receiving special accommodations in college that they will presumably not receive in the workplace.

An NC State junior who chose to remain anonymous told the Martin Center that they chose not to register with the Disability Resource Office for that reason. The stigma of receiving “special” treatment turns away many students from getting proper help. Students also may doubt the college’s ability to actually help them.

The concern over lackluster disability assistance isn’t an isolated one. According to the Hechinger Report, “special education students across the country reported low expectations in school, regardless of their actual ability level or future plans. The majority of those interviewed said that the problem often isn’t the fault of individual teachers, but a failure of the system.”

Those internal failures hold students back. While inconsistencies in higher education have always existed, the pandemic’s effect on higher education will make it harder for students to find the support that could help them graduate.

Nebraska Goes Beyond Bias Incidents and Embraces Thought Crimes

A reader who attends the University of Nebraska-Lincoln remarks on a new statement rfeceived from UNL:

I’m a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), and I would guess this type of thing is par for the course for many universities in the United States now, so it probably shouldn’t surprise me, but the language of UNL’s statement troubles me. The short of it is this: UNL has a system they call “TIPS” for reporting “bias incidents.” Today, they announced that they have updated the system to take reports about the “culture” or “climate” of the campus including things that make people feel “unsafe,” even if those things do not violate University policy in any way.

It says, “Most recently, the university has added a campus climate/culture option within its TIPS incident reporting system to capture broader issues. The new climate/culture option is intended for incidents that may not violate the university’s Student Code of Conduct or Title IX compliance regulations, but run counter to the university’s core values and beliefs. Incidents that discriminate, stereotype, exclude or harass an individual based on identity may be grouped within the climate/culture incident reporting option.” Later it says, “Kelli King, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and leader of the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards [said] ‘We want everyone to know that the university takes these matters seriously and that it is extremely important to address incidents that do not align with the values of the institution’” (Source: ).

That seems like a very slippery slope. Students can now report other students for “incidents that discriminate, stereotype, exclude or harass an individual” or make someone “feel unsafe/uncomfortable due to an incident,” even if those incidents do not violate UNL’s own student code of conduct or federal law. But what does that mean? It is really unclear how UNL plans to address these incidents and what type of incidents require addressing. And, how does anyone know what does or does not “align with the values of the institution” if those values cannot be ascertained from what is stated in the UNL student code of conduct or other policy documents (since you can report actions that are not covered by UNL policy)? Additionally, these “bias incident” behaviors can even be unintentional according to the TIPS website itself: “A climate-based concern can include actions that discriminate, stereotype, exclude, or harasses anyone in our community based on their identity (such as race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, age, or religion). Concerns may stem from fear, misunderstanding, hatred, or stereotypes. Behaviors may be intentional or unintentional. Climate concerns may not classify as a compliance violation but do counter our core values and beliefs” (Source: ).

Once again in that definition, UNL mentions its “core values and beliefs”, which I think can be found here: . There is some hope here, as in these core beliefs UNL states that it wants to “protect free speech and inspire academic freedom.” It also says that UNL “believe[s] in the freedom of speech, and encourage[s] the civil and respectful expression of ideas and opinions.” That sounds good to me, but I hope those are not just empty words on paper because it makes me wonder how their very broad “bias incident” reporting policy can be consistent with such a free-speech statement when it encourages reporting even unintentional “incidents” that do not run afoul of any UNL policy and does not say what incidents UNL deems worthy to address or how. I don’t know how anyone can read that type of broad and unclear language and just expect the university administrators tasked with responding to these “incidents” to act with deference to the ideals of free speech. That leaves way too many doors open for abuse of such a policy by those who react to expressed disagreement similarly to the people your reader wrote about in “The ‘Live Not By Lies’ Quickening” article.

Anyway, just passing along more of this troubling trend which I know is unfortunately not unique to the University of Nebraska, but as you know is popping up everywhere, even at land-grant institutions in very red states like Nebraska.

This is one of those “shocking, but not surprising” things. It gives tremendous power to students who wish to use it to punish anyone they don’t like. Students who have faithfully followed the university’s own written policies could still get into trouble if someone believes that the words or actions of another on campus make them feel bad.

How can a university allow itself to decline into something like this? There is no way a university can be what a university is supposed to be if people within that community can silence others with a simple accusation based not on any contestable evidence, but only on the basis of subjective feeling.

Earlier today, in Nashville, I was talking with a US-based Christian who spends a lot of time in Europe working on a particular human rights issue. She listened to my Q&A with Gabe Lyons today, in which I talked about Live Not By Lies, and what the experiences of Christians under Soviet domination has to tell us about our own time and challenges to basic liberties. She said that she wanted to cheer as I made my points. Americans, she said, simply don’t understand how fragile our liberties are, and how ideology is destroying them. If you have any experience with the former Soviet world, as she does, it makes all the sense in the world.

So, ask yourself: would you want to attend, or have your children attend, a university like Nebraska, where you (or your children) could find yourself in a world of trouble when someone of an approved Victim Class accused you of making them feel unsafe — not because of anything particular you said, but just because? What kind of crackpot ideology turns a university in a free country into a woke madrassa?




Monday, November 16, 2020

Should Blacks Support Destruction of Charter Schools?

Walter E. Williams

The academic achievement gap between black and white students has proven resistant to most educational policy changes. Some say that educational expenditures explain the gap, but is that true? Look at educational per pupil expenditures: Baltimore city ranks fifth in the U.S. for per pupil spending at $15,793. The Detroit Public Schools Community District spends more per student than all but eight of the nation's 100 largest school districts, or $14,259. New York City spends $26,588 per pupil, and Washington, D.C., spends $21,974. There appears to be little relationship between educational expenditures and academic achievement.

The Nation's Report Card for 2017 showed the following reading scores for fourth-graders in New York state's public schools: Thirty-two percent scored below basic, with 32% scoring basic, 27% scoring proficient and 9% scoring advanced. When it came to black fourth-graders in the state, 19% scored proficient, and 3% scored advanced.

But what about the performance of students in charter schools? In his recent book, "Charter Schools and Their Enemies," Dr. Thomas Sowell compared 2016-17 scores on the New York state ELA test. Thirty percent of Brooklyn's William Floyd public elementary school third-graders scored well below proficient in English and language arts, but at a Success Academy charter school in the same building, only one did. At William Floyd, 36% of students were below proficient, with 24% being proficient and none being above proficient. By contrast, at Success Academy, only 17% of third-graders were below proficient, with 70% being proficient and 11% being above proficient. Among Success Academy's fourth-graders, 51% and 43%, respectively, scored proficient and above proficient, while their William Floyd counterparts scored 23% and 6%, respectively. It's worthwhile stressing that William Floyd and this Success Academy location have the same address.

Similar high performance can be found in the Manhattan charter school KIPP Infinity Middle School among its sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders when compared with that of students at New Design Middle School, a public school at the same location. Liberals believe integration is a necessary condition for black academic excellence. Public charter schools such as those mentioned above belie that vision. Sowell points out that only 39% of students in all New York state schools who were recently tested scored at the "proficient" level in math, but 100% of the students at the Crown Heights Success Academy tested proficient. Blacks and Hispanics constitute 90% of the students in that Success Academy.

In April 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported that 57% of black and 54% of Hispanic charter school students passed the statewide ELA compared to 52% of white students statewide. On the state math test, 59% of black students and 57% of Hispanics at city charter schools passed as opposed to 54% of white students statewide.

There's little question that many charter schools provide superior educational opportunities for black youngsters. Here is my question: Why do black people, as a group, accept the attack on charter schools?

John Liu, a Democratic state senator from Queens, said New York City should "get rid of" large charter school networks. State Sen. Julia Salazar, D-Brooklyn, said, "I'm not interested in privatizing our public schools." New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio explicitly campaigned against charter schools saying: "I am angry about the privatizers. I am sick and tired of these efforts to privatize a precious thing we need -- public education. The New York Times article went on to say, "Over 100,000 students in hundreds of the city's charter schools are doing well on state tests, and tens of thousands of children are on waiting lists for spots."

One would think that black politicians and civil rights organizations would support charter schools. The success of many charter schools is unwelcome news to traditional public school officials and teachers' unions. To the contrary, they want to saddle charter schools with the same procedures that make so many public schools a failure. For example, the NAACP demands that charter schools "cease expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate." It wants charter schools to "cease to perpetuate de facto segregation of the highest performing children from those whose aspirations may be high but whose talents are not yet as obvious." Most importantly, it wants charter schools to come under the control of teachers' unions.

College Prez Bails out Student Rioters Amid Nationwide Election Protests, Riots, and Vandalism

Macala College president Suzanne Rivera offered bail money to students arrested while protesting the presidential election.

The college president said she wanted to be sure the students knew they had the support of the school. “I would defend free speech for our conservative students as vigorously as for our liberal students,” Rivera said, Fox News reports.

Macala is located near Minneapolis, where mobs engaged in rioting, looting, and arson for months after the death of George Floyd in May. Violence subsided only after the state government called in more than 4,100 National Guard troops, FOX 9 reports.

A post-election, anti-Trump riot in Minneapolis resulted in the arrest of more than 600 people after the mob marched, shouted, and blocked cars while shutting down a major interstate highway. On election night, before results were reported, protesters were setting off fireworks, throwing street signs and garbage into the streets, and spray-painting businesses, Newsmax reports.

In addition to Minneapolis, several other cities have experienced post-election riots. In New York city, 25 people were arrested. Police, in riot gear, stood guard while protestors screamed at them and spat in their faces, FOX News reports. Rioters damaged commercial buildings and set fires. Items confiscated included a stun gun, fireworks, a hammer, knives, and flammable liquid.

“Who brings a knife and a hammer and a flammable liquid to in fact start fires to a peaceful protest?” New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a news conference on Thursday.

The governor of Oregon called in the National Guard after police reported “widespread violence and riots” in Portland, Forbes reports. Portland has had continuous violence, vandalism, and unrest since the initial Floyd protests. Rioters and vandals once again targeted local businesses, smashing storefront windows. Independent reporter Andy Ngo shared a photo of a sign carried by the Portland rioters that said, “We Don’t Want Biden—We Want Revenge” and bore a picture of a semiautomatic rifle.

In Seattle, rioters lit a Trump flag on fire while shouting, “F— Donald Trump,” the New York Post reports. Protesters told ABC News they were trying to make sure Black Lives Matter and other racial-justice issues stay in the spotlight. Protesters carried signs expressing support for Black Lives Matters, and some had signs reading, “Stop Trump’s Racist Voter Suppression.”

One of the protesters was arrested after driving a truck through a line of police officers on bikes. In total, about a dozen people were arrested in Seattle.

In Washington, D.C., a mob dressed in black and carrying black umbrellas marched with a sign that said, “Burn Down the American Plantation,” the Washington Examiner reports. Marchers shouted, “If we don’t get it, burn it down,” while burning the American flag and setting off fireworks.

In Philadelphia, two men from Virginia were arrested with shotguns near the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where votes were being counted. Police discovered an AK-47 in their vehicle, FOX News reports.

The violence and mob activity in American cities is about far more than just political protesting and expression of free speech; it is about destroying everything and “starting at zero,” columnist Victor Davis Hanson writes for Townhall.

“The point of the mob is to wipe out what it cannot create,” Hanson writes. “It topples what it can neither match nor even comprehend. It would erode the very system that ensures it singular freedom, leisure and historic affluence.

“The brand of the anarchist is not logic but envy-driven power: to take it, to keep it, and to use it against purported enemies—which would otherwise be impossible in times of calm or through the ballot box,” Hanson writes.

NY Gov. Cuomo Explains Why Schools Are Closing Even Though They Don't Spread COVID

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Friday acknowledged that school districts in New York City will close on Monday because of high community spread even though they aren't the driving force behind the Big Apple's Wuhan coronavirus infection rate.

"Are schools going to close Monday if we top three percent?" MSNBC host Katy Tur asked. "Yup," he replied flatly.

According to Cuomo, his office set parameters for schools being open or closed and then local governments set their own guidelines with individual school districts.

"New York City set three percent as the agreement. If the number goes over three percent – and, by the way, [three percent] is very low, almost 80 percent of the states are above three percent, three percent is a low number – but, if it goes over three percent, schools will close," he explained. "The question then will be how quickly can we reopen them?

"We've learned a lot over the past few months. We do a tremendous amount of testing in the schools and what we've learned, Katy, is we're not seeing spread in the schools. You see a very low percentage of positivity in the schools so even though you have a jurisdiction that may be at three percent that doesn't mean the schools are what's spreading it," the governor explained. "We have to take that into consideration and that will facilitate a reopening.

The puzzled MSNBC host asked what we're all wondering: if schools aren't the force behind community spread, why close them? Cuomo said it's because the three percent community spread is the threshold school districts, local governments, teachers' unions and parents came to when the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic first hit earlier this year.




Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Problem of Higher Ed and Economic Mobility

Virginia’s top public universities are largely stratified by socioeconomic status. Consider the following statistics that appear in the new book by James V. Koch and Richard J. Cebula, Runaway College Costs: How College Governing Boards Fail to Protect their Students.

At the College of William & Mary only 13.6 percent of the student body comes from families in the bottom 60 percent of the income distribution. (Only 1.5 percent comes from the lowest income quintile.)

At the University of Mary Washington only 15 percent comes from the bottom 60 percent.

At the University of Virginia only 15 percent comes from the bottom 60 percent.

At James Madison University, only 16 percent comes from the bottom 60 percent.

Those numbers compare to an average of 47 percent from the bottom three quintiles for all public four-year institutions nationally.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? It depends upon your perspective. It is widely acknowledged that academic achievement is highly correlated with socioeconomic and educational status. Parents in higher socio-economic brackets expose their children to more spoken vocabulary, emphasize reading at an earlier age, send their children to better schools, and set higher expectations for academic achievement. From one perspective it is understandable that these children would be more likely to be admitted to elite academic institutions.

But there is a growing body of thought that colleges and universities should aim to foster upward economic mobility. In this regard, individual Virginia institutions fall far short. This perspective appears to be that of Koch and Cebula.

Koch is one of the most astute critics of higher education today. In his previous book (which I highlighted in Bacon’s Rebellion), “The Impoverishment of the American College Student,” he detailed how institutions of higher education have let tuition, fees, and other costs of attendance race far ahead of the inflation rate over the past 20 years and how the usual excuse—cutbacks in state aid to public education—accounted for only a fraction of the increase.

With this new book, Koch and his co-author are delving into the question of how universities’ governance structures have allowed this to happen. Year after year, boards of trustees in universities across the country have rubber-stamped cost increases submitted by school administrators—usually unanimously, and very rarely with any debate or pushback.

But I do take issue with a perspective adopted early in the book, that there is something about elite academic institutions prioritizing enrollment of elite students. As Koch writes: “The salient public policy question is whether it is wise for states to encourage the evolution of institutions…into campuses that are effectively closed to wide swaths of these states’ citizenry.”

Drawing upon a Harvard University Opportunity Insights database, Koch publishes the “Income Mobility Rates” for public universities across the country. This index incorporates two variables: (1) the percentage of bottom income-quintile students admitted to the institution, and (2) the percentage of those students who wind up moving to the top income quintile. By this measure, certain Virginia institutions rank among the lowest in the country.

William & Mary has the lowest ranking among all institutions examined, with a Mobility Rate Index of 0.52. James Madison is 0.75, Mary Washington 0.77, and the University of Virginia 1.46. The average for all U.S. institutions is 2.28—with Old Dominion University (where Koch was formerly president) scoring 2.37. At the high end of the scale are several New York universities with Baruch College leading the nation with a 12.94 score.

Based on Koch’s data, it appears that Virginia institutions do well, if not better, than most in the second measure—helping low-income students rise into the ranks of higher income-earners. But they admit so few poor students to begin with that they still score among the lowest overall in Harvard’s mobility rankings.

Koch argues that this mobility data should be made available to members of governing boards. “These data help paint a picture that describes the extent to which their campuses are vehicles for economic mobility.”

I concur that the data is useful. The more data, the better. The better-informed board members, the better. But Koch and his colleague are making a huge unstated assumption, which they do not acknowledge in their book. That is:

It is the responsibility of individual institutions to become vehicles for economic mobility rather than of state higher-education systems.

It is a preoccupation of modern-day university administrators, steeped in egalitarian ideologies, that their individual institutions must serve all segments of the population.
Virginia has a higher education system that is geared to broad swaths of the population. It includes elite or near-elite institutions such as W&M, UVa, and Virginia Tech; large metropolitan universities such as George Mason University in Northern Virginia, ODU in Hampton Roads, and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond; regional rural universities such as Longwood University in Southside, Radford University in Radford, and UVa-Wise in Wise County; historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) such as Norfolk State University and Virginia State University; and a statewide system of community colleges.

The system serves every Virginian who wants to enter college. It is a preoccupation of modern-day university administrators, steeped in egalitarian ideologies, that their individual institutions must serve all segments of the population.

To be sure, an institution like W&M or UVa should be welcoming to all races, ethnicities, and socio-economic classes—and, arguably, should aggressively recruit academically qualified members of under-represented groups. But, I would argue, it is not their job to create avenues of economic mobility for academically under-qualified individuals who would displace students—as it happens in Virginia, mostly students of Asian origin—who would benefit more from the challenging academic experience.

Where I would agree with Koch and Cebula, however, is that elite institutions (on average) have increased their tuition, fees, and other costs more aggressively than other institutions simply because they can. Their brand names give them the market power to do so. As a consequence, even adjusting for financial aid, the higher costs create an obstacle for lower-income students who otherwise might qualify to attend. For that, governing boards should be called to account.

Koch and Cebula have a lot more to say in their book. University governance is a huge issue. Indeed, with the controversies roiling UVa, W&M, the Virginia Military Institute, and Washington & Lee (a private university) here in the Old Dominion, one might suggest that governance issues have never been more important.

Freeloader U

Yale University has fancy dining halls. They pay no property tax. Local restaurants struggle to compete, but their tax burden makes that hard.

"We basically pay one-third of our rent in taxes!" complains Matt West, manager of Koon Thai Restaurant. "Yale is a money-making machine."

It is. Many colleges are. Yale has a $31 billion endowment. Harvard's is $40 billion. My alma mater, Princeton, has $26 billion.

Yet, these schools also get government handouts and tax breaks. How government rips-off taxpayers and students by subsidizing colleges is the subject of my video this week.

Yale owns about a quarter of the town of New Haven, Connecticut, but the school pays little property tax. It even has a golf course that's half tax-exempt.

Politicians tried to tax the school, but they cannot.

"It's written into the Constitution," complains New Haven Board of Alders President Tyisha Walker-Myers. "They just don't have to pay."

Now the city is ticketing more cars to try to cover its budget shortfall.

Everyone else pays more because colleges get tax breaks, government grants, and government loans.

"De-fund universities!" says Inez Stepman, senior policy analyst at the Independent Women's Forum. "Their entire business model is dependent on the taxpayer."

I push back: "You make it sound like it's all government money. But people pay their own way."

She corrects me: "Without that lifeblood of those federal student loans, very few universities would be able to operate. They are dependent on that federal interference."

They're dependent because they've raised their prices so much. When I went to college, my tuition was $1,950. Now, Princeton charges $53,890.

After government increased subsidies, colleges raised tuition prices at four times the rate of inflation.

They spend the money not just on golf courses and fancy foods. They build new stadiums, first-class swimming pools, media rooms and some even offer students housekeeping.

Why not spend? Colleges know they will get more money from taxpayers. The federal government is now America's biggest largest provider of student aid.

"There is no check on the cost of a college degree," says Stepman. "If students had to walk into Wells Fargo for those loans, Wells Fargo would look at whether or not those loans would be paid back. The federal government doesn't ask any of those questions."

So, money is thrown at students who don't benefit. Today, almost half the students given loans don't graduate in six years.

Instead, says Stepman, they have "$50 or $60 or $80,000 in debt, without the degree to show for it."

Taxpayers lose. Students lose. The winners are bloated colleges.

Colleges say they deserve every loan and tax break because they make "wiser citizens."

"They're not," says Stepman. "They're making citizens who hate their country."

I push back again. "Most colleges educate rather than indoctrinate."

"I wish that were true," replies Stepman. "I was part of the College Republicans... registering voters. I actually had a professor walk up and spit on me. Another called us the 'Nazi Youth.' These are professors!"

"It's offensive," she adds, "that we take dollars out of mechanics' pockets and put them into the pockets of, largely, middle-class and upper-middle-class students."

It is offensive.

But that's what America does.

Unfortunately, Biden wants to do even more of it.

Austraia: Queensland Teachers’ Union member quits over ‘progressive’ agenda

A longtime member and delegate has quit the Queensland Teachers’ Union, saying it has become a puppet of the Labor Party and more interested in progressive agendas.

Brisbane manual arts teacher David Frarricciardi, 42, said he was offended at some of the behaviour he witnessed as delegate on the QTU state council for six years, and a school union rep for 12 years.

Frarricciardi said QTU claims of political impartiality were laughable.

“During my six years at the centre of the union I saw war-room-style call centres established in the lead-up to state and federal elections, where volunteers would sit and cold-call QTU members in marginal electorates and pressure them to vote for the Labor candidates,” he said.

Frarricciardi said the union-funded demographic studies to support the election “war rooms”.

“A straw that broke the camel’s back for me came when I was when as a rep I rang my organiser for assistance and was told that she was too busy with the election campaign to call me back,” he said. “True story.”

The QTU is one of the state’s most powerful unions with 46,724 members. It is influential in shaping government policy, and in recent years has supported progressive social agendas in schools. This had upset many members, Frarricciardi said.

QTU president Kevin Bates would not comment on Frarricciardi’s specific claims, but rejected suggestions the union was in bed with the ALP. “We are not affiliated with any political party and never have been,” he said.

Bates said the QTU did an impartial assessment of education policies before the election. It did not recommend a Labor vote.

“We then left it to our members to decide,” he said.

However Frarricciardi said he had seen pro-Labor bias first hand.

He said he became especially concerned at a state council meeting when he learned the QTU executive was ready to support candidates who “share our views”. “In other words, they wanted to support Labor candidates,” Frarricciardi said.

At one meeting while debating possible funding options Frarricciardi said he openly advocated supporting candidates who were pro-education and not necessarily pro-Labor, and tried to amend a motion accordingly.

“However I was shouted down by a prominent member of the executive (also a Labor Party figure), who said, ‘You will never find a Queensland teacher who would be stupid enough to vote Tory.’ ”

Frarricciardi was disturbed by another “unpleasant episode” showing the QTU in a bad light. It happened when then education minister John-Paul Langbroek addressed an annual conference.

Unionists were determined not to let Langbroek’s voice be heard. “All the lights in the room at the convention centre were ordered to be changed to green, and delegates were told to hold up signs saying, ‘We want Gonski,’ while hissing at each of the minister’s statements.”

Frarricciardi said he was not aligned to any political party. He simply wanted the union to focus on teachers, without championing political and social causes.

“I joined (the QTU) entirely out of fear, yes fear,” he said. “We were told that we needed the might and strength of the QTU to protect us. “There were bad people out to get us and without the QTU in our corner we would not stand a chance.”

“But what else has crept in? “If you want your boy to wear a skirt to school, or your daughter to use the boys’ toilet, then the QTU is the organisation to call.

“I asked a number of times what some of these progressive agendas had to do with my rights at work. “I also asked why my union dues paid to send two of the QTU executive members to Paris to speak on how Queensland schools are embracing LGBTQ.’’

Frarricciardi said the QTU was happiest when pushing “rather odd” left-wing agendas. He said many QTU members agreed with him.

Frarricciardi had intended to start his own union, but when he saw the breakaway Teachers’ Professional Association of Queensland was recently set up, he joined that instead.

Here I declare that the TPAQ is a sister union to the Nurses’ Professional Association of Queensland, to which I sometimes give advice as a media consultant.

Frarricciardi said he would urge the TPAQ to concentrate only on industrial matters such as workloads, class sizes, reporting requirements, playground duties and after-school meetings.