Monday, May 29, 2017

Teacher under fire for awarding seventh-graders 'Most Likely To Blend In With White People'

This may have been intended as a jocular comment on the pupils' achievements in schoolwork

A second middle school student has spoken out about a crass school award she received, as it emerges that the teacher said to be responsible for the ceremony is a former cheerleader for the Houston Texas.

Sydney Caesar, 13, has revealed the cringe-worthy 'Most Likely To Blend In With White People' she said she received in a mock awards ceremony at Anthony Aguirre Junior High School in Houston, Texas, on Tuesday.

Her seventh-grade classmate Lizeth Villanueva, also 13, had previously spoken out about her own award, 'Most Likely To Become A Terrorist', bestowed the day after the horror bombing in Manchester Arena.

Meanwhile, the teacher responsible for the awards has been named as Stacy Lockett, who on social media and in prior news reports professes to be a former cheerleader for the Houston Texans.

She teachers in the middle school's AVID program, which is a college prep course. A page with her contact information on the school's website had been deactivated on Saturday.

Lockett has not spoken publicly about her reasoning for the awards and could not be reached for comment by

Channelview Independent School District official Mark Kramer told KPRC the award ceremony was a 'poor attempt to poke fun' and that the activity 'wasn't well thought out'.

The principal personally apologized to the family and the school announced on Thursday that the teachers involved had been disciplined.

The school district has also issued an apology, but Lizeth's mother says it doesn't excuse the action. 'We're really upset about it coming from a teacher,' Ena Hernandez said.

'That program is supposed to be for advanced kids. It is kind of hard to believe that she's doing that. Being a teacher, giving this to a 13-year-old. How is she going to feel when she grows up later on?'

'For that child to either be called a terrorist or she's not black enough, basically now the students are taking that and that's her label for the rest of the school year,' her mother Latonya Robinson told the local Fox affiliate.

In a statement, the school district said: 'The district does not condone the incident that occurred and we are taking this matter very seriously.'


Students and Faculty Protesters Demand Punishment of College Republicans Chapter

Student and faculty protesters rushed a college administration building Monday calling for the school to punish its College Republicans chapter.

Orange Coast College faculty and students protested the College Republicans chapter after the group published emails from OCC professor Jessica Alabi to Orange Coast College President Dennis Harkins. The emails revealed the professor said she would “stand up” to the group, if the president did not, according to Campus Reform.

The materials also showed that Alabi stopped members of the group from attending a campus event because, she said, they were perceived as a threat to the “safe space.”

The College Repuplicans want OCC to investigate the professor.

The protesters shouted, “No hate, no KKK, no fascist USA” and “Get that club out of our face.” Students held socialist flags and symbols or signs mocking the College Republicans.

“It makes no sense to me why the union and a vocal minority of students would protest against the OCC Republicans for simply asking for an investigation into the matter and protections for students from being discriminated against on the basis of their political affiliation,” said Joshua Recalde-Martinez, the OCC College Republicans’ former president.

OCC’s College Republicans chapter has come under increasing faculty scrutiny since December, when the group released a video depicting an OCC professor calling President Donald Trump’s election an “act of terrorism.” The student who recorded that incident was temporarily suspended, while the professor received a “Faculty Member of the Year” award.

“The OCC administration has done everything in its power to silence the College Republicans for standing up for what they believe in,” said Peter Van Voorhis, who has worked with the group and reported extensively on controversies surrounding it for Campus Reform. “It’s incredible that in 2017, colleges across America continue to marginalize conservative students to promote their own leftist agenda.”

“Intellectual diversity is a hallmark of higher education, and there is certainly none left at OCC after today’s incident.”

The Daily Caller News Foundation sought comment from the university, but received none by press time.


Trump to grant student loan servicing work to just one company

The Department of Education said it will hand over the work of servicing federal student loans to one company — from the current roster of nine — in what it says is a money-saving move, triggering concern and criticism from student loan advocates who fear customer service would get worse.

The department estimates the move will save about $130 million in the next five years. "Savings are expected to increase significantly over the life of the contract,” Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in a statement. “Borrowers can expect to see a more user-friendly loan servicing interface, shorter email and call response times and an improved payment application method.”

Of about $1.4 trillion of student debt now owed by 44 million Americans, a vast majority of the total -- more than $1 trillion -- is issued by the Education Department. The government currently outsources the work of handling payment, collection, payment deferment and general customer service to nine private companies.

The average student loan debt in every state
By granting the business to one company, the government will create "a trillion dollar bank," said Natalia Abrams, executive director of Student Debt Crisis, an advocacy group. "The too-big-to-fail is what we saw with the banks in 2008," she said. "I see this already as an industry out of control, with high profit. And in creating one company...there would be no competition."

The nine loan service providers are: Navient, CornerStone, Granite State, Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, HESC/Edfinancial, MOHELA, Nelnet, OSLA Servicing and FedLoan Servicing (also known as Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, or PHEAA).

Navient, which was spun off from Sallie Mae in 2014, is the largest U.S. federal student loan servicer. Shares of Navient rose nearly 2% on Friday. They were up 0.4% in Monday morning trading. The company declined to comment.

The process to streamline the federal student loan servicing contracts began under the Obama administration, which sought to narrow the list of qualifying vendors to four companies — Navient, Great Lakes, Nelnet and FedLoan Servicing. The companies from that narrowed list will submit their proposals to the Education Department to compete for the exclusive government contract. In anticipation of the change, Great Lakes and Nelnet have formed a joint venture, called GreatNet Solutions, to bid for the contract.

It remains unclear when the change will take place. The Education Department will seek the vendors' detailed plans and answer their questions until July 10. Once the contract is awarded, the winning company has 18 months to implement its service. The winner and its subcontractors will be required to sign "level-of-service" agreements, promising to comply with federal standards.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Another Democrat obsessed with deviants

When educational standards generally are so low you would think that that would be the debate.  Instead it is the liberty of Christians to run Christian schools that was at issue.  Deviants were perfectly at liberty to go to the government schools so favored by the Left so what does it matter what Christian schools do?  Isn't it "diversity"?

US Representative Katherine Clark, a Melrose Democrat who has emerged as a leading critic of the Trump administration, wanted a simple answer Wednesday from US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

The secretary was testifying before a House appropriations subcommittee to sell the president’s education funding proposals, including a plan to sink $1.4 billion into a school choice initiative.

Clark waited patiently for her turn to question DeVos in the packed hearing room, and when the opportunity came, she asked about the private Lighthouse Christian Academy in Bloomington, Ind.

The school, Clark said, receives more than $665,000 in state vouchers, while noting in its handbook that it may deny admission to students from families where homosexual or “alternate gender identity” is practiced.

Leaning into her microphone and shaking her fist, Clark asked: If Indiana seeks federal funding as part of the president’s proposed voucher program, “will you stand up that this school be open to all students?”

All eyes turned to DeVos.

She thanked Clark for the inquiry and grinned as she tried to pivot to “broadly” discussing school choice.

Clark pounced, again shaking her fist and asking “is there a line for you on state flexibility?” Her eyes narrowing, Clark described DeVos as “the backstop for students and their right to access a quality education.”

“Would you in this case say ‘we are going to overrule and you cannot discriminate, whether it be on sexual orientation, race, special needs in our voucher programs.’ Will that be a guarantee from you for our students?” Clark asked.

DeVos demurred, extending a rocky back-and-forth between the officials, as a crowd of lawmakers and their aides, as well as reporters, watched the clash play out in the ornate chambers.

“For states who have programs that allow for parents to make choices, they set up the rules around that . . . ” DeVos said, as the glare of CSPAN cameras again captured her strained grin.

“So that’s a no,” Clark interjected, according to a video excerpt of the testimony posted to the congresswoman’s Twitter feed.

“Do you see any circumstance where the federal Department of Education under your leadership would say that a school was not qualified? What if they said ‘we are not accepting African-American students,’ but that was OK with the state? Does the state trump, do you see any situation where you would step in?” DeVos replied that federal Title IX protections are “broadly applicable across the board,” but she did not answer Clark directly.

“When it comes to parents making choices on behalf of their students . . . ” DeVos said. An incredulous Clark again interrupted, telling DeVos, “This isn’t about parents making choices. This is about use of federal dollars. . . . Would you say to Indiana: ‘That school cannot discriminate against LGBT students if you want to receive federal dollars, or would you say the state has the flexibility in this situation?”

“I want to make sure I get this right,” Clark said. “There is no situation of discrimination or exclusion, that if a state approved it for its voucher program, that you would step in and say ‘that’s not how we’re going to use our federal dollars.’ . . . Is that your testimony?”

DeVos reverted to talking points about school choice.

“The bottom line is, we believe that parents are the best equipped to make choices for their children’s schooling and education decisions,” she said. “Too many children today are trapped in schools that don’t work for them. We have do to do something different. . . . That is the focus, and states and local communities are best equipped to make these decisions.”

Clark was indignant. “I am shocked that you cannot come up with one example of discrimination that you would stand up for students,” she said, as the chairman banged his gavel to end the questioning.

Liz Hill, a spokeswoman for the US Department of Education, defended DeVos on Wednesday evening in statement.

“As Secretary DeVos has made clear time and time again, protecting students’ civil rights under federal law is one of the department’s core missions,” Hill said. “The line of questioning during today’s hearing was about a theoretical voucher program the department has not proposed and included topics that aren’t covered under current federal law.”

Hill added that there is “a fundamental misunderstanding about the federal and state roles in education. When states design programs, and when schools implement them, it is incumbent on them to adhere to federal law. The Department of Education can and will intervene when federal law is broken.”

Hill said the federal grant program under consideration “would support states who apply for funding to develop school choice programs, and those states’ plans must adhere to federal law.”

But Clark doubled down on her criticism in a phone interview Wednesday night.

“[DeVos’s] testimony today showed that she has all the wrong instincts for this position,” Clark said. “The fact that she couldn’t find a way to stand up [against] something as fundamental as discrimination is, in my opinion, appalling and dangerous.”


Trump Budget Reduces Government's Role in Higher Ed, Will Curtail Runaway Tuition Prices

President Donald Trump released his budget proposal on Tuesday, which includes some dramatic changes to higher education funding.

While there is still room for improvement, the president's proposals would be a significant first step in reducing the federal government's role in higher education and giving much-needed relief to the U.S. taxpayer.

Elimination of Public Service Loan Forgiveness

The president's budget proposal eliminates the costly Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which offers special student loan forgiveness to graduates for performing certain public service jobs.

This will be welcome news to taxpayers, who have been picking up the tab for federal employees who, under this policy, have their loans forgiven after just 10 years of payments.

Loan forgiveness in general is bad policy-it encourages students to take on large amounts of debt, often without a plan to pay it back. In particular, loan forgiveness for public service elevates public sector work over the private sector.

The administration is correct to move away from this misguided policy.

Unfortunately, though, the president's budget would allow all students to take advantage of loan forgiveness after 15 years, only reducing it from 20.

Loan repayment policies that are based on income already protect students from burdensome loan payments. These generous loan forgiveness policies leave taxpayers on the hook for much of the cost of a college student's education.

Year-Round Pell Grants

The president's budget also allows students to use their Pell Grant dollars year-round, which may offer needed flexibility to students who want to finish their degree faster.

However, any changes to the Pell Grant system should focus those funds on truly low-income students, and should not increase overall Pell spending.

Consolidation of Federal Loans

This budget consolidates the current five loan programs into a single loan option. This will streamline federal lending, and has the potential to infuse fiscal responsibility to the system if terms are aligned with the current terms of the Graduate Stafford Loan Program.

Additionally, all loans should be issued with both an annual and lifetime borrowing cap. These reforms could both help put downward pressure on college tuition prices and insulate taxpayers from high rates of default.

As my colleague Jamie Hall and I recently outlined:

    "Issuing all future direct loans under a single set of terms would simplify the program and eliminate some perverse incentives in current law ... Issuing all new loans under the current terms of Graduate Stafford Loans would generate savings relative to the [Congressional Budget Office] baseline of $9.4 billion under [Federal Credit Reform Act accounting], or a cost of $2.5 billion under [Fair Value] accounting, closer to revenue neutrality than any other loan type."

Additionally, this budget proposes the elimination of loan interest subsidies.

Many economists have pointed to the heavy subsidization of federal student loans as one of the primary drivers of rising tuition. The elimination of subsidized loans will be a smart first step in deflating the student loan bubble and making college more affordable based on market principles.

Consolidating federal student loans into a single option and eliminating loan interest subsidies may help achieve the added benefit of revitalizing the private lending market.

The president's proposal overall reduces the federal government's role in higher education and will encourage more students to turn to the private market to finance their loans. That will protect U.S. taxpayers while curtailing runaway tuition prices.


Nazism has returned to America

Students at Evergreen State College - a school notable for its far-left politics and its preference for measuring students' performance with "narrative evaluations" instead of grades - have seized control of their campus and are reportedly seeking hostages following a confrontation with a biology professor who objected to a planned demonstration that asked white students and faculty to voluntarily leave campus for a day, the Washington Times reports.

The protest began Tuesday morning when an angry mob of SJW's confronted Professor Bret Weinstein after he had sent an email to faculty and staff explaining his reasoning for opposing the demonstration.

Now, Weinstein's reportedly been told to avoid campus because his safety is at risk.

“Police told me protesters stopped cars yesterday, demanding information about occupants,” Mr. Weinstein told The Washington Times. “They believe I was being sought. It appears that the campus has been under the effective control of protesters since 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Police are on lockdown, hamstrung by the college administration. Students, staff and faculty are not safe.

A spokesman for the Evergreen Department of Police Services confirmed the agency had been in contact with Mr. Weinstein. He said officers would be in touch with The Times, but three subsequent phone calls were not returned.”

Following the modus operandi of protests at colleges like U.C. Berkeley, the angry mob of SJWs who confronted Weinstein refused to listen as he attempted to calmly explain his reasoning, prefering instead to hurl obscenities at him while demanding his resignation.

“Fuck you, you piece of shit,” once of them screamed.

When police arrived, presumably drawn by the uproar, the students fled to the library, where they barricaded themselves inside the Trans & Queer Unity Lounge and asked white students to patrol the halls for any police "intruders."

At a meeting between the administration and students later that day, University President George S. Bridges quickly assured the crowd that no students would be punished for their involvement in the demonstrations and promised a "major reiew" of what happened and why.

“First and foremost, I want to state that there will be, as far as I know, no charges filed against any students involved in actions that occurred this morning,” Mr. Bridges said. “We will be conducting a major review, an investigation of all that occurred and will be reporting back to you, the campus community, about exactly what happened, why it happened and what we intend to do about the incident — not the incident, excuse me, the actions that were taken, both students, staff and faculty involved.”

Weinstein explained his predicament to a local reporter on Thursday who met him at Sylvester Park in downtown Olympia, Wash., where he is temporarily holding classes until it's deemed safe for him to return to campus.

“We are unable to talk because there’s too much of a gap in the narrative between what they believe is taking place and what’s actually taking place."

“The narrative suggests that I’m a person whose benefiting from privilege and that I’m trying to preserve that privilege.”

Weinstein's brother, Eric Weinstein, told the Washington Times that the persecution of his brother is "ironic" given his center-left politics and staunch opposition to racism.

“If you had asked me who is one of racism’s most powerful foes, I would have said Bret Weinstein,” Eric Weinstein told The Times.

“There’s something sort of ‘Twilight Zone’ about one of the most thoughtful commentators on race, at one of the most progressive schools in the country, getting called a racist.”

Weinstein’s email objecting to the “Day of Absence Day of Presence” protest was circulated on Twitter. In it, he characterizes organizers’ demand that white students vacate campus for a day as “an act of repression.”

"There is a huge difference between a group or coalition deciding to voluntarily absent themselves from a shared space in order to highlight their vital and under-appreciated roles (the theme of the Douglas Turner Ward play Day of Absence, as well as the recent Women's Day walkout), and a group or coalition encouraging another group to go away. The first is a forceful call to consciousness....the second is a show of force and an act of oppression in and of itself.


Friday, May 26, 2017

Diversity of thought continues to be decidedly unpopular at America’s top institutions of higher education

According to a new survey from Young America’s Foundation, top colleges invited 45 liberal commencement speakers this year … and a measly four conservatives. (Not all of the universities, which were drawn from U.S. News and World Report’s list, had announced a commencement speaker. Others had multiple speakers or speakers without clear ideological viewpoints.)

The four conservatives are Vice President Mike Pence, who spoke Sunday at the University of Notre Dame; Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer; sports commentator Ernie Johnson; and Mayor G. T. Bynum of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The liberals include former Vice President Joe Biden; Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg (who recently donated $1 million to Planned Parenthood); New York Times columnist Frank Bruni; and comedian Will Ferrell.

Of course, these numbers aren’t surprising. But they’re still concerning.

And while the media is fixated on the hundred or so students who walked out of Pence’s speech at Notre Dame (never mind the vast majority who stayed seated), the bigger story is the lack of ideological diversity at America’s colleges. Consider these facts:

— “By 2014, liberal identifiers [among college faculty members] jumped to 60 percent, with moderates declining to 30 percent and conservatives to just 10 percent,” wrote Samuel J. Abrams, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, in The New York Times. In other words, for every one conservative professor, there’s about six liberal ones.

— A 2007 survey found that “Faculty members were more likely to categorize themselves as moderate (46.1 percent) than liberal (44.1 percent). Conservatives trailed at 9.2 percent,” reports Inside Higher Ed.

I have no doubt many liberal professors believe themselves to be open-minded and perhaps even cultivate classrooms where conservative students feel free to speak and make their case. But for nonpolitical students, having almost entirely liberal or moderate professors may further solidify their liberal or moderate mindset—and they’ll never have to encounter a solid argument from the other side.

And that’s a shame.

After all, too many millennials these days may be rejecting conservative principles not because they have found those principles unpersuasive, but because they’ve never been exposed to a serious argument advancing them.

Universities once prided themselves on freedom of thought. It’s too bad they’ve become such safe spaces for conventional liberal thinking.

In his speech at Notre Dame, Pence decried just that, saying, “Far too many campuses across America have become characterized by speech codes, safe zones, tone policing, administration-sanctioned political correctness—all of which amounts to nothing less than suppression of the freedom of speech.”

“As you, our youth, are the future, and universities, the bellwether of thought and culture,” he added. “I would submit that the increasing intolerance and suppression of the time-honored tradition of free expression on our campuses jeopardizes the liberties of every American.”

Pence is right that the lack of diversity of thought in colleges could have long-term effects. Culture matters—and if colleges were more interested in spurring intellectual debate and discussion, commencement speakers would be a lot more ideologically diverse.


Turning British education into welfare

Both Labour and the Conservatives want to turn schools into wellness retreats.

‘Strong and stable leadership.’ ‘For the many, not the few.’ These slogans, repeated ad nauseam by Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn and reproduced on posters and leaflets, have come to dominate the pre-election debate. Their incantation acts as a shield, protecting the speaker from further questioning and closing down discussion. Politics becomes reduced to seven syllables.

Recourse to soundbites in this election campaign is disappointing. Last summer’s referendum ignited an interest in political debate that had long lain fallow. As a result, 72.2 per cent of those registered voted in the referendum – up from 66.1 per cent in the previous General Election and a pitiful 59.4 per cent in 2001. On buses, in pubs and cafes there was an appetite for discussing Brexit and the implications of triggering Article 50. Now politics is in danger of being drowned out by sloganeering once more.

Some blame Tony Blair (always a convenient scapegoat), others the Tory election strategist Sir Lynton Crosby, for the dominance of the slogan. Crosby, a fan of neuroscience, argues ‘message matters most’ and that the art of persuasion ‘is creating, solidifying and activating networks that create primarily positive feelings toward your candidate or party’. But the real issue is why politicians are so readily convinced by the likes of Crosby and the American linguist George Lakoff, who similarly argues that winning political arguments is all down to how debates are framed.

Politicians are all too ready to accept advice about endlessly repeating the same slogan because they don’t think voters are capable of understanding complex arguments. This view of people as generally a bit stupid is there in arguments that the media, an image on the side of a bus, and Russian attempts to influence social media, all helped sway the Brexit decision. It’s also evident in both Labour and Conservative proposals for education that seem premised on the belief that children are not actually able to learn.

When children are considered to be incapable of learning, the goal of education becomes welfare. Teaching becomes less concerned with the transmission of subject knowledge and instead shifts focus to children’s wellbeing. The project of schooling switches from intellectual to emotional concerns. This confusion of education with social work, the blurring of the role of the teacher and the role of the parent, this replacement of learning with formal care policies (which are, in practice, often anything but caring), underpins all parties’ education proposals.

Labour’s lengthy manifesto devotes 10 whole pages to education under the heading ‘Towards a National Education Service’. The National Education Service (NES) is a deliberate rhetorical echo of the NHS. But the parallels are not just linguistic. Labour intends the NES to provide ‘cradle-to-grave learning that is free at the point of use’. We’re told: ‘The NES will be built on the principle that “Every Child – and Adult – Matters” and will incorporate all forms of education, from early years through to adult education.’

Lifelong learning sounds a noble enough idea – but there’s little sense here of what people will learn, and when, if ever, they will move from being learners to knowers. We’re told the NES would be about providing skills and ‘giving people confidence and hope’. The idea of being given ‘cradle-to-grave’ confidence and hope sounds less like education and more like coerced participation in a wellness retreat. Education – through teaching knowledge – should lead to people being critical, intellectually independent and morally autonomous. The NES proposes to be the very opposite of this – creating lifelong dependents who never get to grow up and leave the classroom, always kowtowing to the teacher who knows best.

The paternalistic thinking behind Labour’s NES confuses education with care, to the detriment of both. The ‘cradle’ part of the NES would mean more free childcare places with better qualified staff – a great idea. But it’s justified on the basis that time in a formal educational setting in the early years can boost a child’s later GCSE results. Rather than giving young children the attention they desire, and the freedom they need to grow up at their own pace, the NES would always have one eye on their future exam success. Likewise, giving all primary school children a free school meal makes for a sociable shared lunchtime experience for teachers and pupils. But when it’s done to aid attainment (despite the fact there is no evidence to suggest free meals do lead to exam success) it can appear to be more about schools stepping in to take over the role of the parent.

By contrast, smaller class sizes and free university places are presented by Labour as less about academic attainment and more a matter of social justice. Scrapping tuition fees will no doubt win the backing of Labour’s core demographic – students. But when university becomes separated from intellectual challenge and the pursuit of knowledge, free education takes on a different meaning. Students would be getting a very different education to that of previous generations.

The Conservatives’ headline education policies have been widely publicised. The expansion of the duties of the teacher to encompass the role of the parent – and the transformation of education into welfare – is again all too apparent. Theresa May has proposed every school should have staff trained in ‘mental health first aid’, and that children should receive lessons in mental health, keeping safe online and cyber-bullying. As children are taught to see the routine experiences and emotional ups and downs of growing up as diagnosable conditions, the number of children reported to be suffering from mental health problems is likely to increase further.

The Conservatives talk of using school time for mental-health workshops, while at the same time wanting to reintroduce grammar schools and high-stakes selection tests to separate off the most academically able from the majority of children. May’s grammar schools would not mark a return to a classical liberal curriculum – they’re designed for one purpose only: to promote social mobility. Proposed new grammar schools would be less about academic rigour and more about getting working-class kids into good jobs.

It seems that neither of the main political parties can see a role for education that goes beyond social welfare. Schools are presented as being about looking after children’s mental health or getting people into work, and little else. What most parents want, it seems to me, is quite straightforward – a good local school where children come home each day knowing more than they did when they left that morning. Yet neither Labour nor the Conservatives are offering this.


Students at Boston-area school hold sit-in over bias concerns

There is very little specificity below.  I suspect that mountains are being made out of molehills

Hundreds of Milton Academy students staged a sit-in Tuesday at administrators’ offices, the latest in a series of actions protesting what students describe as racism at the prestigious school and a failure by school leaders to act decisively.

High school students at Milton Academy say that in recent years racial slurs have been hurled at black students, hate-laced letters appeared in the mailboxes of at least two teachers of color, and pictures mocking black and Asian students were widely circulated on social media.

More than 100 alumni wrote a scathing letter addressed to Milton Academy this week, decrying what the authors condemn as “the complacency of Milton Academy’s administration in dealing with these racially abhorrent events.”

A statement issued by a Milton Academy spokeswoman Tuesday evening acknowledged the challenges faced by the school, which was founded in 1798 and includes kindergarten through 12th grade. The statement noted that the protests took place at the high school.

“Milton Academy’s administration is engaging with students and faculty in productive discourse and action, addressing the critical and challenging topics of identity, inclusivity, privilege, and race,” spokeswoman Erin Berg said in a statement.

“This work is all aimed at ensuring a school culture true to Milton’s mission, in which all individuals feel safe, heard, valued, and supported,” the statement said.

This week’s protests at Milton Academy, which included a walkout by students Monday during a school assembly and a sit-in by hundreds more that day, are the most recent instances of racial concerns at schools in Greater Boston.

At Milton Academy, anger and frustration over racial issues extend far beyond the students, as the letter dispatched by alumni expressed outrage at what they say are “blatant acts of racism” repeatedly dismissed to “maintain the facade of the Milton Academy brand at our expense.”

“No justice has been served and no changes have been made,” the letter said. “You use us, students of color, for your posed catalogue pictures, but fail to recognize us as more than just as a representation of your diversity. This action not only saddens us and our allies, but also breaks our spirit.”

The letter, circulating among graduates and others in the school community, was signed by more than 100 alumni who graduated from 2008 to 2016.

The pictures ridiculing black and Asian students surfaced a year ago but began recirculating on social media in recent weeks, according to a student.

“This institution is supposed to stand unwavering behind students that are hurt, angered, and broken when the very values Milton Academy attempts to instill in them are disregarded,” the letter from alumni said.

Parents of children of color at Milton say the school has failed to keep them informed about actions it is taking, or plans to take, to address longstanding racial tensions.

According to the school’s website, 41 percent of students are people of color. Deval Patrick, the former governor of Massachusetts, is among the school’s famous alumni.

“We will have meetings and we discuss things, but once you leave the meeting nothing is done,” said one parent who asked that her name not be used because she fears her child, who is in high school, will face retaliation.

The parent said racial discord has worsened noticeably in the past year, and she traces the spike to last year’s divisive presidential campaign pitting Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton.

“There has been a lot of chatter among the kids about who has voted for Trump and who voted for Hillary, and it’s given the kids a voice to speak out on both sides of this,” she said.

Another parent who also asked that her name not be used said her child, who is in eighth grade at Milton Academy, is worried about racial conflict roiling the high school. “My child is afraid, saying, ‘I am going there next year, and is this what I am in for?’ ” the parent said.

One student, a junior who asked that his name not be used because he fears retaliation, said administrators have failed to explain why they have not taken action against students who use racial slurs or mock black and Asian students on social media.

“Myself and a group of kids have asked questions of administrators about why perpetrators of racism, why they are not given a [punishment] because we need to fight racism, and they were not able to give us a concrete answer,” he said.

The problems, he said, have been going on for at least two years, “day, after day, after day.”


Thursday, May 25, 2017

British Primary school headmistress puts her job on the line and boycotts SATs exams for 11-year-olds because they are 'too stressful for pupils'

A headteacher has put her job on the line after boycotting annual SATs tests for 11-year-olds because they will be 'too stressful for pupils'.

Jill Wood said she was willing to breach her contract to fight the controversial national curriculum tests for the sake of the children's emotional well-being.

The head of Little London Primary School in Leeds, West Yorkshire, decided to take the 10 and 11-year-old pupils on educational visits instead of sending them into the exam hall and called the tests a 'ridiculous and unnecessary strain'.

Mrs Wood said: 'The country is spending billions on children's mental health, so why are we putting them under pressure?

'We just felt last year we had children sobbing in exams and it upset me so much, I just said 'I can't do this again'. They are a ridiculous, unnecessary strain.

'I'm in breach of my contract of employment - but I feel very passionately about it.'

After she consulted with parents and governors, the decision was taken not to participate in this month's exams.

The school instead opted to measure progress using alternative methods, including learning checks throughout the year and assessments at the beginning of July.

While Mrs Wood stressed she was not against assessments, she argued that SATS made no sense when schools had free reign over how they measured performance during the rest of the year.

The governors could take action against Mrs Wood, including removing her from her job.

But the head said she consulted with the board before taking this decision and so appears to have their full support.

She also said they held no weight at secondary schools, which did their own assessments in Year 7.

Mrs Wood said: 'If one school is measuring in bananas and the other is measuring in pineapples, how can we all sit standardised assessments?

'Why do we test our children in May anyway? There is another two-and-a-half months of learning time.'

Mrs Wood added: 'Schools should be accountable, but there is a better way.'

Education Secretary Justine Greening announced plans last week to scrap the national curriculum tests taken by six and seven-year-olds from the next school year. 

The Department of Education said it would not sanction Little London Primary School or Mrs Wood for banning SATS tests but warned their OFSTED result could be affected.

A spokesperson for the department said it would be down to the local authority Leeds City Council to sanction Mrs Wood.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said: 'There is nothing we would essentially do otherwise than writing to the STA [Standards Test Authority] and governing body and say she has not complied with the statutory duties.

'Formal disciplinary action would be in the hands of the governing body and the local authority.

'The issue for the school is that having no data would affect their rankings in the school tables and in terms of an OFSTED rating - that would be an issue for the school.

'The school could still provide assessment data, but OFSTED might see this as insufficient evidence - and this would affect the school's performance in its OFSTED report.'

The school received a 'Good' rating following an inspection in October 2014.

It has around 340 pupils and the latest OFSTED report stated 54 of its pupils speak in a different language and over 70 per cent of pupils don't have English as their first language.

Steve Walker, Director for Children's Services at Leeds City Council, said the authority had reminded the school it had a legal duty to stage the exams.

He said: 'We have worked with the Standards Testing Agency to ensure the school are aware of their legal duty with regards to SATs.

'The Standards Testing Agency regard this as a maladministration and will have contacted the governing body of the school who should investigate and respond accordingly.'


DeVos Calls for ‘Transformation’ of America’s ‘Closed and Antiquated Education System’

After 30 years of federal education "reform," too many students are still “falling through the cracks,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told a policy summit in Indiana on Monday.

“The time has expired for ‘reform,’” DeVos said. “We need a transformation – a transformation that will open up America's closed and antiquated education system.”

DeVos advocates school choice: “We must offer the widest number of quality options to every family and every child,” she said.

“Even the most expensive, state-of-the-art, high-performing school will not be the perfect fit for every single child. Parents know – or can figure out – what learning environment is best for their child, and we must give them the right to choose where that may be.”

DeVos noted that the effort to transform education will not be easy, and she called opponents “flat-earthers.”

“Defenders of our current system have regularly been resistant to any meaningful change. In resisting, these ‘flat-earthers’ have chilled creativity and stopped American kids from competing at the highest levels. Our current framework is a closed system that relies on one-size-fits-all solutions. We need an open system that envelopes choices and embraces the future.”

DeVos rejected federal control of education, and she said every state must provide choices that work for their students: “No two states are the same and no two states' approaches will be the same – and that's a good thing.”

She said it would be a “terrible mistake” for states to block education choice: It would mean that politicians in those states do not support equal opportunity for children: “They’ll be the ones who will have to explain to their constituent parents why they are denying their fundamental right to choose what type of education is best for their child.”

DeVos said tax dollars should follow students, not the other way around:

If we really want to help students, then we need to focus everything about education on individual students – funding, supporting and investing in them. Not in buildings; not in systems.

It shouldn't matter where a student learns so long as they are actually learning.

It shouldn't matter if learning takes place in a traditional public school, a Catholic school, a charter school, a non-sectarian private school, a Jewish school, a home school, a magnet school, an online school, any customized combination of those schools – or in an educational setting yet to be developed.

Education should measure actual mastery of subject matter, not how much time you sit in a seat or where that seat is.

Education should elevate the role of technology to fully enter the 21st century.

Education should reward outcomes, not inputs.

“We stand on the verge of the most significant opportunity we have ever had to drag American education out of the Stone Age and into the future,” she concluded.


The True Purpose of the University

Students would scorn free speech less if colleges honored their mission to transmit knowledge.

Yale University’s president recently provided a window into the modern university’s self-conception—an understanding embraced by both liberals and conservatives but flawed in essential ways. A primary purpose of a Yale education, President Peter Salovey told Yale’s freshman class last year, is to teach students to recognize “false narratives.” Such narratives, Salovey claimed, are ubiquitous in American culture: “My sense is that we are bombarded daily by false narratives of various kinds, and that they are doing a great deal of damage.” Advocates may “exaggerate or distort or neglect crucial facts,” Salovey said, “in ways that serve primarily to fuel your anger, fear, or disgust.” (Salovey repeated this trilogy of “anger, fear, and disgust” several times; it was impossible not to hear a reference to Donald Trump, though Salovey tried to stay nonpartisan.)

According to Salovey, the Yale faculty is a model for how to respond to false narratives: they are united by a “stubborn skepticism about narratives that oversimplify issues, inflame the emotions, or misdirect the mind,” he said.

Two things can be said about Salovey’s theme: first, it is hilariously wrong about the actual state of “stubborn skepticism” at Yale. Second, and more important, Salovey mistakes the true mission of a college education.

To assess whether Yale is, in fact, a bastion of myth-busting, it is necessary to return to one of the darkest moments in Yale’s history: the university’s response to a shocking mass outbreak of student narcissism in October 2015. The wife of a college master had sent an e-mail to students, suggesting that they were capable of deciding for themselves which Halloween costume to wear and didn’t need oversight from Yale’s diversity commissars. (Halloween costumes have been the target of the PC police nationally for allegedly “appropriating” minority cultures.)

The e-mail sparked a furor among minority students across Yale and beyond, who claimed that it threatened their very being. In one of many charged gatherings that followed, students surrounded the college master, berating him for the pain that his wife had caused them. One female student was captured on video violently gesturing at the master and shrieking, “Be quiet!” as he gently tries to answer her tirade. She then screams: “Why the fuck did you accept this position [of college master]? Who the fuck hired you?”

Of all the Black Lives Matter–inspired protests that were sweeping campuses at that moment, Yale’s shrieking-girl episode was the most grotesque. In reaction, Yale groveled. President Salovey sent around a campus-wide letter declaring that he had never been as “simultaneously moved, challenged, and encouraged by our community—and all the promise it embodies—as in the past two weeks.” He proclaimed the need to work “toward a better, more diverse, and more inclusive Yale”—implying that Yale was not “inclusive” —and thanked students for offering him “the opportunity to listen to and learn from you.” That the shrieking girl had refused to listen to her college master—or to give him an opportunity to speak—was never mentioned; she suffered no known repercussions for her outrageous incivility. Salovey went on to pledge a reinforced “commitment to a campus where hatred and discrimination have no place,” implying that hatred and discrimination currently did have a place at Yale. Salovey announced that the entire administration, including faculty chairs and deans, would receive training on how to combat racism at Yale and reiterated a promise to dump another $50 million into Yale’s already all-consuming diversity efforts.

If ever there were a narrative worthy of being subjected to “stubborn skepticism,” in Salovey’s words, the claim that Yale was the home of “hatred and discrimination” is it. There is not a single faculty member or administrator at Yale (or any other American college) who does not want minority students to succeed. Yale has been obsessed with what the academy calls “diversity,” trying to admit and hire as many “underrepresented minorities” as it possibly can without totally eviscerating academic standards. There has never been a more tolerant social environment in human history than Yale (and every other American college)—at least if you don’t challenge the reigning political orthodoxies. Any Yale student who thinks himself victimized by the institution is in the throes of a terrible delusion, unable to understand his supreme good fortune in ending up at one of the most august and richly endowed universities in the world.

But the ubiquitous claim that American campuses are riven with racism is not, apparently, one of the “false narratives” that Salovey had in mind. Not only did the president endorse that claim, but the husband-and-wife team who had triggered the Halloween costume furor penned a sycophantic apology to minority students in their residential college: “We understand that [the original e-mail] was hurtful to you, and we are truly sorry,” wrote Professors Nicholas and Erika Christakis. “We understand that many students feel voiceless in diverse ways and we want you to know that we hear you and we will support you.” Yale’s minority students may “feel” voiceless, but that feeling is just as delusional as the feeling that Yale is not “inclusive.”

So Salovey’s claim that Yale resolutely seeks out and unmasks “false narratives” is itself a false narrative. But is the routing of “false narratives” even an apt description of what a college education should ideally be? It is not, even though that goal, in different iterations, is widely embraced across the political spectrum. The most urgent task of any college is the transmission of knowledge, pure and simple. American students arrive at college knowing almost nothing about history, literature, art, or philosophy. If they aspire to a career in STEM fields, they may have already picked up some basic math and physics, and possibly some programming skills. But their orientation in the vast expanse of Western civilization is shallow; they have likely been traveling on a surface of selfies and pop culture with, at best, only fleeting plunges into the past.

A postmodern theorist, the prime product of today’s university culture, would immediately object that there is no such thing as neutral knowledge. But this hyper-sophisticated critique is irrelevant to the problem of widespread student ignorance. There exists a bedrock of core facts and ideas that precede any later revisionist interpretation. They would include, at a bare minimum: the events that led to the creation of the nation-state in Europe; the achievements of Greco-Roman civilization; familiarity with key works of Shakespeare, the Greek tragedians, Twain, Dickens, Wordsworth, and Swift, among others; an understanding of genetics and the functioning of neurons; and the philosophical basis for constitutional democracy, among hundreds of other essential strata of the human geology.

The concept of “false narratives” is simply irrelevant to the vast bulk of what students do not know. Before you can challenge a received narrative about the past, you should be expert in its established contours. President Salovey gives examples of the Yale faculty’s overturning of “distorted narratives.” One example was undoubtedly selected to resonate with more conservatively inclined listeners and readers: a professor of medieval history who allegedly demonstrated the religious roots of the secular legal tradition. Such scholarship is an essential part of any university; but when it comes to undergraduates, it would be triumph enough if Yale gave them even a foggy notion of the difference between medieval canon law and British common law.

Moreover, it is inaccurate to define a received understanding of the common-law tradition as a “false narrative,” a term that connotes an ideological agenda and that is itself highly ideological. That Salovey would insert the work of a medievalist into the “false narratives” conceit reflects several streams in contemporary academic thought. In the 1970s, a fantastical idea took hold throughout the humanities—that the goal of criticism was to unmask the alleged deceptions afflicting, and perpetrated by, “texts.” The assumption was that all language carried hidden meanings that either subverted alleged power structures or reinforced them. The French philosopher Paul Ricoeur labeled this outlook the “hermeneutics of suspicion.” Ricoeur traced its roots to Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche, who advanced the view that humans live in a tissue of lies and illusions about the world, whether with regard to economic relations, the rational self, or philosophical truth.

A less precious antecedent to Salovey’s “false narratives” paradigm is the progressive-education mantra from the late 1990s that “critical thinking” should be the goal of education. The Internet has made the allegedly mindless transmission of facts obsolete, the educrats proclaimed, since students can always look up such boring things as facts on the Web. Instead, schools should cultivate in their students the capacity to “think critically.” A typical exercise was to have students “deconstruct” an advertisement to expose all the ways that big bad corporations were trying to dupe consumers. The “critical thinking” idea conveniently let teachers off the hook for failing to teach their students anything, by declaring that there was nothing substantive that needed teaching anyway.

But the “false narratives” idea really came into its own with the rise of academic identity politics. To the modern academic, the quintessential “false narrative” facilitates the oppression of victim groups by white heterosexual males. Salovey hits all the requisite notes in his final example of a Yale professor debunking a “false narrative.” “Professor Hazel Carby [a black feminist theorist] wrote a telling remark in her foreword to a book called Silencing the Past,” Salovey says, “highlighting the power of challenging false or incomplete narratives about the marginalized: ‘We learn how scanty evidence can be repositioned to generate new narratives, how silences can be made to speak for themselves,’ ” Carby wrote. Predictably, the book that Carby was introducing blames the West for distortions regarding a Caribbean slave revolt, the Holocaust, the Alamo, and Christopher Columbus.

In the realm of daily politics, it may be fair to say that we are awash in false narratives. But the past is filled with accomplishments that are not “narratives” or not “false” in the sense intended by the phrase “false narratives.” These accomplishments should be approached with humility and reverence. The task of both scholar and student should be to understand them on their own terms.

Conservatives have, of late, stressed a process-oriented notion of education that shares certain similarities with the “false narratives” approach. This emphasis reflects their understandable revulsion at the silencing on campus of politically incorrect views. Education should be about reasoned debate and the airing of all opinions in the pursuit of the truth, critics of campus political correctness say. Students should take courses from professors who challenge their views and should attend lectures by visiting scholars whose ideas they find uncongenial, Princeton professor Robert George recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal. Students should not be so “deeply in love with [their] opinions” as to not listen to “others who see things differently,” George asserted.

This ideal of the Socratic academy is so reasonable that it may seem foolish to quibble with it. Of course, students should engage with ideas that they disagree with rather than silencing anything that challenges their worldview. But there is a universe of knowledge that does not belong in the realm of “opinion.” It would be as absurd for an ignorant 18-year-old to say: I have an opinion about early Mediterranean civilizations, but I am willing to “listen to others who see things differently,” as it would be to say: I have an opinion about the laws of thermodynamics, but I am willing to listen to the other side.

The free-speech model of education tends toward a focus on the present. The issues about which students are going to have the strongest opinions concern current political and policy matters: Is Donald Trump a fascist? Is immigration enforcement racist? Does the criminal-justice system discriminate against blacks? Which bathrooms should “trans” individuals use? The fact that only one answer to these questions is acceptable on college campuses is indisputably a problem. But they are not the questions that undergraduate education should focus on; there will be time enough after students graduate to debate current affairs. While defenders of the open university rightly fight for free speech, they should not lose sight of the knowledge that is the university’s core mission to transmit. If students had been more deeply immersed in acquiring that knowledge and less taken with challenging “false narratives about the marginalized,” we might not have seen the narcissistic campus meltdowns after the last presidential election.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Diversity gap at Boston Latin School proving stubborn

Of course it is stubborn. It always will be.  They are trying to square the circle.  Getting dummies into a selective school is a contradiction in terms.  No matter how often and how clearly it has been shown, nobody in Boston is prepared to face the fact that blacks on average have markedly lower IQs.  So they pretend that blacks are just as smart but "disadvantaged" in some way.  But that pretense just leads to futile behavior.  Any attempts to remove that disadvantage will have only the most marginal effect  -- because "disadvantage" is not the problem.  IQ is.  Accepting reality would save a lot of running around in circles

Inside Boston Latin School on a recent Saturday, educators presented a diverse crowd of fifth-graders a golden opportunity: admission to a free, two-week summer test-preparation program that could help them get into one of the city’s prestigious exam schools.

For the second year in a row, in the hopes of boosting diversity, school officials nearly doubled the number of seats in the program, inviting not just those with the top standardized test scores but also promising students from forgotten corners of the city.

“We’re here because the district and three exam schools have recognized that we need to do a better job increasing the number of . . . underrepresented students that attend the exam schools,” interim headmaster Michael Contompasis told the crowd.

But the effort has yet to bear fruit at Boston Latin. The graduating class of 2023 is expected to look very much like the student body does now.

Of the 495 students invited to enter Boston Latin’s seventh grade next fall, 39 — just 8 percent — are black, the same percentage as this year’s student body. Fourteen percent are Hispanic, up slightly from this year’s 12 percent in the school’s population overall.

School officials said it will take time to build momentum and they have taken steps this year to build awareness among disadvantaged communities about the opportunity that the exam schools present their children.

“You can’t do this in one year,” said Contompasis. “It’s not going to happen this year and it’s not going to happen next year. But I think that it’s doable.”

The disparity in diversity became a concern last year after black students exposed racial tensions and harassment through a social media campaign called “#BlackatBLS.” The latest admissions numbers continue to disappoint advocates who say that school officials, who have spent years strategizing on how to close the achievement gap districtwide, are still not acting with urgency.

“It hasn’t gone far enough. The district seems to be hesitant to really target underrepresented groups,” said longtime educator Barbara Fields. She and about 30 other educators, parents, and activists have launched Boston Network for Black Student Achievement, a group that plans to pressure the schools to more aggressively focus on disparities in the system.

“What we feel is needed is for the district to really take that seriously and put some real will behind it,” Fields said.

The school district focused on expanding the Exam School Initiative, the academic boot camp held at Boston Latin every summer. That program was created in 2000 after court rulings forced the schools to stop using race as a criterion for admissions. Volunteers, concerned about the sudden drop in diversity that followed, began reaching out to black and Latino families to boost awareness and find recruits, then groom students to take the entrance exams.

The program was free and never racially exclusive. But over time, recruitment of minority students ended. By 2014, the program aimed at diversifying had itself become racially skewed: 72 percent of participants were white and Asian, while only 10 percent were black, and 14 percent, Latino.

“That program itself was broken,” said Colin Rose, Boston Public Schools assistant superintendent for opportunity and achievement gaps. “It was opening up the achievement gap.”

Last year, officials expanded the program beyond its maximum 450 students, chosen for their top standardized test scores. An additional 300 seats were created for students who didn’t make the cut on tests but demonstrated promise or grit.

Though the outreach didn’t directly target black and Latino students, it went after the schools they were attending that weren’t sending many candidates to the initiative.

No one had expected an immediate fix to a stubborn societal problem. Still, some observers were disappointed that the district didn’t aim higher or propose more sweeping changes.


California professor bans college Republicans from Women's History Month events

The Orange Coast Republicans Club have filed a formal complaint against Orange Coast College professor Jessica Ayo Alabi for preventing Republican students from attending public events on campus. According to the club, three of its members were shut out of the African-American/Women's round table discussion in the Multicultural Center hosted for Women's History Month in March of 2017.

On May 16, the OCC Republicans Club was made aware of an email written by Alabi to various campus officials, in it stating that she prevented the students from attending the event because they belonged to the club. In the email she also stated, "If the college will not stand up to the Republicans club, I have decided to stand up for myself and other students."

According to OCC Republicans, college president Dennis Harkins spoke with Alabi, notifying her that she did not have the right to block conservative students from attending college events open to the public. However, the club says this doesn't go far enough, since she's done this in the past for other events.

The OCC Republicans sent a letter to Harkin with the following demands to prevent conservatives from being discriminated against in the future:

1. That an investigation be opened, or reopened, into Jessica Alibi discriminating against Republican club members, and conservative students as self-reported by her via public email to you.

2. That upon the completion of the investigation if it's proven that Professor Alabi discriminated against students on the basis of their ideological viewpoint and party affiliation that, at the least, she be suspended from teaching for two non-intersession semesters at Orange Coast College, and if possible as well as the Coast Community College District, and be permitted to return after that suspension once she's attended an in-depth training on student's rights and preventing viewpoint discrimination, as well as be required to write a one page long apology letter to the OCC Republicans and the members effected by her actions.

3. That President Harkins write a letter to the Board of Trustees supporting the revision and ratification of board policy changes proposed by our club in early April to the Board of Trustees that would amend current district policies to protect students from discrimination on the basis of political affiliations and ideological beliefs .

4. That Orange Coast College will take measures to start, or improve, training for faculty and staff on how to respect students' rights, viewpoints, and be trained on what viewpoint discrimination is to prevent future instances.

This isn't the first time the college has been hit with this type of complaint. In December, a professor's anti-Trump rant went viral after a student posted it to the Web.

Alabi is an instructor of sociology and gender studies at the college. She did not respond to requests for comment.


Sheer Lunacy on Campus

Walter E. Williams

Parents, taxpayers and donors have little idea of the levels of lunacy, evil and lawlessness that have become features of many of today's institutions of higher learning. Parents, taxpayers and donors who ignore or are too lazy to find out what goes on in the name of higher education are nearly as complicit as the professors and administrators who promote or sanction the lunacy, evil and lawlessness. As for the term "institutions of higher learning," we might start asking: Higher than what? Let's look at a tiny sample of academic lunacy.

During a campus debate, Purdue University professor David Sanders argued that a logical extension of pro-lifers' belief that fetuses are human beings is that pictures of "a butt-naked body of a child" are child pornography. Clemson University's chief diversity officer, Lee Gill, who's paid $185,000 a year to promote inclusion, provided a lesson claiming that to expect certain people to be on time is racist.

To reduce angst among snowflakes in its student body, the University of California, Hastings College of the Law has added a "Chill Zone." The Chill Zone, located in its library, has, just as most nursery schools have, mats for naps and beanbag chairs. Before or after a snooze, students can also use the space to do a bit of yoga or meditate. The University of Michigan Law School helped its students weather their Trump derangement syndrome — a condition resulting from Donald Trump's election — by enlisting the services of an "embedded psychologist" in a room full of bubbles and play dough. To reduce pressure on law students, Joshua M. Silverstein, a law professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, thinks that "every American law school ought to substantially eliminate C grades and set its good academic standing grade point average at the B- level."

Today's academic climate might be described as a mixture of infantilism, kindergarten and totalitarianism. The radicals, draft dodgers and hippies of the 1960s who are now college administrators and professors are responsible for today's academic climate. The infantilism should not be tolerated, but more important for the future of our nation are the totalitarianism and the hate-America lessons being taught at many of the nation's colleges. For example, led by its student government leader, the University of California, Irvine's student body voted for a motion, which the faculty approved, directing that the American flag not be on display because it makes some students uncomfortable and creates an unsafe, hostile environment. The flag is a symbol of hate speech, according to the student government leader. He said that the U.S. flag is just as offensive as Nazi and Islamic State flags and that the U.S. is the world's most evil nation.

In a recent New York Times op-ed, New York University provost Ulrich Baer argued: "The idea of freedom of speech does not mean a blanket permission to say anything anybody thinks. It means balancing the inherent value of a given view with the obligation to ensure that other members of a given community can participate in discourse as fully recognized members of that community." That's a vision that is increasingly being adopted on college campuses, and it's leaking down to our primary and secondary levels of education. Baer apparently believes that the test for one's commitment to free speech comes when he balances his views with those of others. His vision justifies the violent disruptions of speeches by Heather Mac Donald at Claremont McKenna College, Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley and Charles Murray at Middlebury College. Baer's vision is totalitarian nonsense. The true test of one's commitment to free speech comes when he permits people to be free to say and write those things he finds deeply offensive.

Americans who see themselves as either liberal or conservative should rise up against this totalitarian trend on America's college campuses. I believe the most effective way to do so is to hit these campus tyrants where it hurts the most — in the pocketbook. Lawmakers should slash budgets, and donors should keep their money in their pockets.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The 1 Change the Government Could Make to Drive Down College Prices

Sen. Mike Lee   

Over the past 20 years, the price of wireless service has fallen 46 percent, the price of software has fallen 68 percent, the price of televisions has fallen 96 percent, and the quality of these services and technologies has improved markedly.

But over that same time, the price of college tuition has risen 199 percent, and most parents would agree that the quality has not greatly improved.

But if prices typically fall as competition spurs quality advancement, as seen by the technological achievement of the last two decades, how has that not happened in education?

There is no one simple answer to this question, but the different regulatory environment facing higher education is a significant factor.

One hundred years ago, there were six regional, voluntary, nongovernmental institutions that helped universities and secondary schools coordinate curricula, degrees, and transfer credits. These institutions had no power to prevent the creation of higher education institutions.

This changed with the 1952 GI Bill.

After congressional investigators found thousands of sham colleges were created overnight to take advantage of the benefits provided in the first 1944 GI Bill, the federal government turned these voluntary institutions into accreditors.

As the federal government steadily ramped up its financial support for higher education benefits, it continued outsourcing the vetting of higher education institutions to these regional accreditors.

This makeshift system worked well for decades, but in recent years these regional accreditors have come under heavy criticism for both lax oversight over some online institutions and a heavy hand in killing some promising innovations.

No regulator is ever going to be perfect, but if they are going to be gatekeepers for a sector of the economy as important as higher education, they must be transparent and accountable to the American people.

Unfortunately, our nation’s regional accreditors are neither. They do not share how they make their accrediting decisions with anyone and their board members do not face accountability at the ballot box.

This needs to change.

That is why I have introduced the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act. This bill would allow states to create their own accreditation system for institutions that want to be eligible for federal financial aid dollars.

Each state could then be as open or closed to higher education innovation as they saw fit. They could even stick with their current regional accreditors if they chose to do so.

But they could also enable innovators like Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, who recently signed a deal with the online provider Kaplan University, to go even further in their mission to expand higher education access to those who had limited access before.

Our higher education system should not be held captive to 100-year-old institutions that were never intended to be regulatory gatekeepers in the first place.

Instead, we should allow those communities that want to experiment with higher education policy the freedom and accountability to do so.


SJW Indoctrination via Middle School Math

When it comes to the crusade to create and raise up another generation of social justice warriors chomping at the bit to change the world … or something … then it’s imperative to use all available avenues to further the indoctrination agenda. In this case, teaching middle school math.

Teach for America has partnered with the free online course company EdX to offer a six-week course designed to help teachers develop middle school math lessons that incorporate “social justice” issues. The website describes the course as designed to “help you blend secondary math instruction with topics such as inequity, poverty and privilege to transform students into global thinkers and mathematicians.” And to think kids used to ask of math, “When am I ever going to use this?”

Examples for lessons include “Unpaid Work Hours in the Home by Gender,” and “Race and Imprisonment Rates in the United States.” It only gets worse. The course describes “Mathematical Ethics” as follows:

Mathematical ethics recognizes that, for centuries, mathematics has been used as a dehumanizing tool. Does one’s IQ fall on the lower half of the bell curve? Mathematics tells us that individual is intellectually lacking. Mathematics formulae also differentiate between the classifications of a war or a genocide and have even been used to trick indigenous peoples out of land and property.

Ah, the dastardly deeds of algebra-wielding villains!

One of the most ironic and patently absurd claims made by the creators of the course is that it’s neither agenda-driven nor does it “impose” beliefs upon students. No, they argue, “We share the understanding that social justice is recognizing and acting upon our individual and collective ability to create positive change.” Was a more politically loaded statement ever uttered?



Mixed response to Pence at Notre Dame

A group of students at the University of Notre Dame chose to walk out of Vice President Mike Pence’s speech during their commencement ceremony.

According to footage captured by WNDU, a large group of students chose to stand up and leave the stadium where their commencement was being held when Pence was introduced.

Students expressed plans to stage the walkout with the hashtag, “#WalkoutND.”

Notre Dame broke with their longstanding tradition of inviting the president to deliver the commencement address during his first year in office, seemingly trying to avoid potential controversy surrounding Trump, and invited Pence instead.

While some students clearly weren’t happy with the replacement either, one attendee reported that members of the crowd boo’ed the students who walked out.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Mizzou Feeling the Effects of Appeasement  

The University of Missouri is feeling the impact of its capitulation to the demands of the leftist social justice warriors. In the fall of 2015, Mizzou students started a protest spurred by Black Lives Matter thugs that disrupted the university and led to the eventual resignation of both the president and chancellor over rumors of racism. It proved to be just the beginning of many “social justice warrior” (SJW) wins on the campuses of America’s colleges and universities over the ensuing years.

Fast forward to the end of this school year to see the dramatic effect the Mizzou administration’s appeasement has had. Since the fall of 2015, student enrollment has plummeted by 35% and cost the university millions. The large enrollment decrease has negatively affected the local economy of Columbia, too, with the city council reporting that the off-campus housing vacancy rate has risen nearly 10%. The university itself has had to shutter seven residence halls.

The numbers of students graduating is down and the freshman class is the smallest in nearly 20 years. These lower numbers have impacted the school’s sporting events, with slumping game-day revenue. The Devils Lake Journal reported, “Attendance for football in 2016 was down almost 13,000 people per game from 2015, and the men’s basketball team filled, on average, only 9,930 of Mizzou Arena’s 15,000 seats.” You know things are bad when people don’t even show up to watch sports.

The lesson here is, don’t give in to the ridiculous demands of generation snowflake. Because doing so is a no-win proposition.


Dismantling the Marxist Madrassas

Changing academia has been much more difficult than changing the media. However, there is hope: President Donald Trump has asked Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. to head a White House task force on reforming the U.S. higher education system.

While the appointment has been known about since January, the selection took on more significance in view of Falwell's remarks when presenting Trump with an honorary Doctorate of Laws at the school's commencement ceremony on Saturday. Falwell said, "He deserves our respect and admiration for enduring relentless and often dishonest attacks from the media, the establishment on the left and the right, and from academia."

Academia is not only a bastion of anti-Trump sentiment, but it has become the most important base of operations, next to the media, for attacks on conservative Americans devoted to saving their country and its traditional religious values.

It is anticipated that Falwell's task force will recommend the increasing use of online courses in order to drive down the costs of higher education for students nationwide. This is a proven method to accomplish what we call "Defunding the Marxist Madrassas." In this way, the academic bastions of Marxist thought that inhibit real diversity in thinking, and even prevent conservatives from coming on campus, can be reduced in their influence and even dismantled.

Dr. Tina Trent, who writes about problems in academia, says that non-ideological and technologically-oriented students are increasingly being drawn to online learning opportunities that prepare them for the real world.

Most students would rather not end up like Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia economics major, who was so uneducated and misguided that he went on a "Young Pioneers" tour of North Korea and is now a captive of the regime. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for stealing a communist banner to bring home.

As the largest Christian university in the world, Liberty has been offering "distance" or online education since 1985. Online education is a proven way to avoid the effects (and costs) of brick and mortar universities which operate as Marxist Madrassas for America's young people and brainwash them in totalitarian and bizarre sexual ideologies. So-called distance learning promises marketable skills and jobs in the real economy without supervision from expensive "diversity" officers and exposure to the latest fad in sexual politics.

According to its website, Liberty offers more than 250 programs of study and the lowest tuition rates among top online universities.

The university has a "Helms School of Government," named after the former conservative Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), which offers a conservative Christian approach to world problems and international affairs. One course examines communist disinformation operations.

With a residential campus in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University also has 65,000 students online. That gives it the second largest enrollment in online education courses of any non-profit university in the world.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, a leading source of news for academia, was forced to admit in a story that Liberty could be the model for the future of higher education.

Trump's commencement address at Liberty was greeted with strong applause, as some students wore "Make America Great Again" caps. "Demand the best from yourself and be totally unafraid to challenge entrenched interests and failed power structures," Trump told the graduates. He then asked, "Does that sound familiar by the way?"

Liberty has successfully challenged the "failed power structures" known as politically correct colleges and universities.

Since Jerry Falwell, Jr. became president of the university, "enrollment has increased from 9,600 to more than 15,000 residential students, and from 27,000 to over 94,000 online students," his bio notes. It adds that Liberty's net assets have "increased from approximately $100 million in 2007 to over $1.8 billion in 2016 as a result of increasing support from donors, responsible fiscal management, and unprecedented enrollment growth."

By contrast, Burlington College, once headed by the wife of Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), has gone bankrupt. And the national news media are finally covering the role played by Jane Sanders in the college's demise.

Accuracy in Media covered the financial questions about her involvement in the college in several stories last year, during the presidential campaign, when Senator Sanders was posturing as a friend of college students with big debts, no jobs and useless degrees. Eventually, Burlington College went out of business, thanks to debt incurred under Jane Sanders' leadership.

Nevertheless, Senator Sanders and his wife recently received the "Rage for Justice" awards at a special ceremony. He and his wife Jane were honored as "Public Servants of the Year."

You may recall that after putting the college in a precarious financial situation, Jane Sanders was given a "golden parachute" worth $200,000. The college eventually went bankrupt and she is reportedly being investigated for possible bank fraud in connection with falsified loan documents that outlined a college expansion plan that was never fulfilled.

One of the useless degrees offered by Burlington College was a degree in "media activism," symbolized by a clenched fist. The college said, "The degree is conceived explicitly for those who want to become media activists. Through technical training rooted in history and theory, students are encouraged to apply media making technique, craft, and art to issues of advocacy, activism and social change."

It would appear the country has an overabundance of such media activists.

Now, it seems, the "social change" may involve Sanders' wife, depending on whether federal charges are lodged against her.

Yet, Senator Sanders continues as if nothing is happening. Calling the controversy a Republican plot, he was the honored keynote speaker at the recent David W. Curtis Leadership Awards ceremony sponsored by the Vermont Democratic Party. The "Special Guest" was New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, known as "Red Bill" for his pro-communist views.

De Blasio and his wife, a former lesbian, went to Cuba on their honeymoon; Sanders and his wife went to the old Soviet Union.

"Sen. Sanders and Jane Sanders ignored a reporter's questions about Burlington College at last week's Curtis Leadership Awards ceremony hosted by the Vermont Democratic Party," reported the Vermont-based VTDigger publication. It added, "Repeated requests to Jane Sanders for an interview regarding Burlington College have been ignored for more than a year and a half..."


Will School Choice Be Mired in the Swamp?

An early report on Trump's education budget has the leftist education-media complex in a tizzy about "disastrous cuts."

It’s not official until next week, but The Washington Post revealed that Donald Trump’s first education budget contains, as they put it, “Deep cuts to public school programs in pursuit of school choice.” As if colluding with Russia weren’t bad enough, Trump wants your kids' education to suffer, and the intrepid reporters at the tabloid Post are on the case.

Considering the Post’s new transparently anti-Trump slogan is “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” it’s amazing how little light they shed on the issue between this story and a companion piece on higher education finance.

One obvious point the Post glosses over is the target audience they’re seeking to reach — not the reader, but the members of Congress and their staffers who put together the federal budget. For one thing, this budgetary trick is not a zero-sum game of strictly cutting dollars from other areas and giving them to school choice programs. In fact, the increased spending on the pale pastel version of school choice predominantly featured in the Trump education budget, where students are allowed to choose only from public schools, is just $1 billion, less than 10% of the overall $10.6 billion group of cuts. A remaining $418 million is split between a $168 million increase for charter schools and $250 million for “a new private school choice program,” according to the Trump education budget blueprint. Certainly this is a start, but in the terms of a projected Department of Education budget of $59 billion, the amount of money spent on non-public schools is a drop in the bucket.

As was predicted to be the case when Betsy DeVos was tapped for the job of secretary of education, the perspective of an outsider would mean that a number of formerly sacred cows would become eligible for the chopping block. Dismantling what we’ve variously described as an “utterly corrupt educational status quo” or a “government behemoth” wasn’t going to be done with the seal of approval of the teachers unions (National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers) or Department of Education bureaucracy, but President Trump and Secretary DeVos were dead set on making it happen anyway. And to the Left, even with a reformer running the show, just having a federal Department of Education is better than the long-cherished cherished conservative dream of eliminating it entirely, as Rep. Thomas Massie has proposed.

Yet the Swamp has a last line of defense, as pointed out earlier. It’s a sure bet that those teachers will be spending a little bit of their summer vacation burning up the phone lines and filling up the email boxes of their congressional representatives with demands to negate these “draconian” cuts — which overall amount to about 13.6% of the department’s budget. Thus it’s probable that most of the money will be restored as Congress negotiates over the summer. Most likely, the budget will end up in the range of about $55-57 billion, which is a slight reduction in spending. Those cuts will likely come from eliminating the school choice money and a few other items, in order to allow Congress to claim victory over deficit spending without having to make the toughest choices.

At an education technology conference in Salt Lake City earlier this month, DeVos remarked, “Washington has been in the driver’s seat [of American education] for over 50 years with very little to show for its efforts.” Naturally, that comes from the perspective of an outsider. However, if you’ve managed to carve out a nice little living for yourself based on the largesse of a cushy government job, from union dues coerced from the rank-and-file, or as a lobbyist who pines for even more educational decision-making inside the Beltway, you probably have no desire to see a sweet gig go by the wayside. When it comes to education, those are the swamp critters to watch out for, and budget time is when they’re most dangerous.