Friday, February 19, 2016

Free-range education: Why the unschooling movement is growing

This seems rather extreme

A once-utopian idea – allowing kids to ‘discover’ their own education path while learning at home – goes mainstream.   

On a late Monday morning in this rural New Hampshire town, Dayna and Joe Martin’s four children are all home. Devin, age 16, is hammering a piece of steel in the blacksmith forge he and his parents built out of a storage shed in the backyard. Tiffany, 14, is twirling on a hoverboard, deftly avoiding the kaleidoscope-painted cabinets in the old farmhouse’s living room. Ivy, 10, and Orion, 7, are sitting next to each other using the family’s two computers, clicking through an intense session of Minecraft. 

It looks a lot like school vacation, or a weekend. But it’s not. This, for the Martin kids, is school. Or, to put it more accurately, it’s their version of “unschooling,” an educational theory that suggests children should follow their own interests, without the imposition of school or even any alternative educational curriculum, because this is the best way for them to learn and grow.

“I don’t even know what grades are,” says Orion, who has never spent a day in school, has never followed a lesson plan, and has never taken a test. (Tests, his mother says, can be degrading to children – an invasion of their freedom of thought.)

“We live as if school doesn’t exist,” Ms. Martin explains. “People are really brainwashed into seeing things in school form, with life breaking down into subjects. This life is about freedom and not having limits. It’s about really trusting your kids. And it’s amazing what they do.”

Martin says that, left alone to follow their own interests, her children have learned everything from history and ethics to trade skills and math. But what they learn isn’t her concern, she says. She doesn’t much care if her son knows how to read by age 8. She trusts he will read when he is ready to read. Her role, she says, is not to be her children’s teacher or judge, but a facilitator and perhaps partner in helping them follow their own passions. 

Martin is the first to admit that her family’s approach to child rearing might seem, at first glance, “out there.” She is also upfront that it has been lonely at times, disconnected from families whose lives revolve around school, as well as from traditional home-schoolers. But in recent years she has noticed something: She and her family are a lot closer to the mainstream than they used to be.

Over the past decade, the number of children home-schooling has skyrocketed, along with the number of families practicing some form of unschooling. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of children learning at home jumped from just over a million in 2003 to 1.7 million in 2012. But since there is no federal registry of home-schoolers, and many home-schooled children are counted as being in the public school system, many researchers believe the true number is somewhere between 2 million and 3 million, if not higher. To put that in context, the US Department of Education estimates that 2.3 million children were enrolled in charter schools in 2012-13. 

Meanwhile, although data are sketchy, some surveys have found that as many as 50 percent of home-schoolers embrace some variety of unschooling – a category that might range from the Martins’ extreme hands-off approach to that of other parents who incorporate many ideas of self-directed learning but still set some limits and goals for their children’s education.

The rise of unschooling parallels a growing dissatisfaction among American parents about the country’s public education system and its focus on standardized testing. It also tracks an increase in alternative educational philosophies, such as the Montessori method or the popular Reggio Emilia theory, both of which are based on the idea of children as “whole,” curious beings whose education should be guided by their own natural interests and inclinations.

But the blossoming of unschooling also reflects something more. While it once was considered a hippie, countercultural practice, experts say that unschooling now taps into changing mainstream values surrounding children and parenting, institutions and individuality, and the best way to seize the American dream.

It also, says Michael Apple, an education professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, taps into a growing national sentiment that “safe” and “responsible” private institutions of all kinds are better than public ones that can sometimes be “messy and violent.” Although unschooling has many critics – those who worry about the educational philosophy behind it, those who worry that it reflects a narcissistic culture obsessed with self-fulfillment, those who see it as adding to a disturbing segmentation of American society – it is increasingly accepted as a viable educational option by everyone from soccer moms and urban hipsters to rural Evangelicals and suburbanites. 

“I see a shift in the types of people who contact me,” says Martin. “I get calls from doctors, lawyers. I have talked to [professional] rugby players, and low-income people living in trailers. This is not a small subculture anymore. This is a movement.”


UK: Thousands of pupils at unregistered schools 'are at risk of radicalisation because of misogynistic, homophobic and Islamic-focused curriculums,' experts fear

At least 21 schools that haven't been officially registered in Britain are being investigated over fears some of them are radicalising pupils with 'narrow Islamic-focused curriculums', it has been claimed.

Education chiefs are said to be probing a host of 'illegal' schools across the country, a number of which are allegedly teaching hate-filled, misogynistic, homophobic and anti-Semitic material to children.

Shadow education secretary Lucy Powell said ministers needed to take immediate action to deal with the issue, claiming children at unregistered schools 'could be in harm's way'.

The Labour MP told The Sun: 'Despite warning after warning, they [ministers] have dragged their feet, leaving children in unregistered schools where they could be in harm's way.

'It is extremely worrying that Ofsted remains concerned that the number of children being educated in unregistered provision far exceeds the number currently known by the Government.'

The newspaper reported that at least 21 schools are currently under investigation with inspectors apparently finding a number of cases of children being taught 'narrow Islamic-focused curriculums'.

It is unclear exactly how many pupils are being taught at the 'illegal' schools, but experts say each unregistered institution tends to have fewer than 100 - particularly because some schools are based out of small religious centres or even people's homes.

The Department for Education said there would be 'no single knockout blow against those who seek to corrupt young people' but confirmed it was taking action to protect children from 'illegal' schools.

A spokesman added: 'We are taking unprecedented and direct action across the board to protect children, inform parents and support teachers, putting us firmly on the front foot.'

It comes after Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to 'shut down' schools which were 'filling children's heads with poison and hearts with hate' in his Tory conference speech last October.

Vowing to stand up to 'passive tolerance' which leaves children vulnerable to extremists, Mr Cameron announced inspectors would shut down Islamic religious schools promoting hate.

He also said some mosques in Britain were promoting hate and vowed to shut them down. In his Conservative conference speech, he said: 'Let me be clear: there is nothing wrong with children learning about their faith, whether it's at Madrassas, Sunday Schools or Jewish Yeshivas.

'But in some Madrassas we've got children being taught that they shouldn't mix with people of other religions; being beaten; swallowing conspiracy theories about Jewish people.

'These children should be having their minds opened, their horizons broadened - not having their heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate.

'So I can announce this: If an institution is teaching children intensively, then whatever its religion, we will, like any other school, make it register so it can be inspected.

'And be in no doubt: if you are teaching intolerance, we will shut you down.'

Two months after his warning, Ofsted set up a special task force to uncover unregistered schools operation outside of English laws.

The schools regulator said it had already uncovered unregistered Muslim faith schools which keep pupils in squalid conditions and teach a 'narrow' Islamic curriculum and said they pose 'a serious and growing threat' to the safety of hundreds of children, who may be vulnerable to extremism.

In December, inspectors shut down three unregistered schools in Birmingham, with one using 'anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic material'.

Conditions in one were described as 'unhygienic and filthy'. A total of 94 pupils were being taught by adults who had not been suitably checked for work with children.

Ofsted has already found 15 such 'hidden' schools in the past year, running full timetables and involving about 800 pupils. It is understood a large number of them catered for Muslim communities, but there were also schools of other faiths.

There are fears the true scale of Britain's secret schools could surpass that of the Trojan Horse scandal – in which state schools were infiltrated by hardline Islamists – as inspectors may have uncovered only the 'tip of the iceberg'.


Oxbridge fails to halt decline in disadvantaged student numbers

Rising standards?

Russell Group universities have seen the number of students from poor backgrounds go backwards despite pledges, a new analysis of figures from admissions survey has revealed.

"Too little is spent on finding the kids with the greatest potential who are currently under the radar. To do that, we need smarter use of data and interventions aimed specifically at raising the sights of boys and other under-represented groups."
Nick Hillman, director of HEPI

It comes amid accusations that elite universities are wasting time and money on bursaries, leaving bright children 'under the radar'.

The findings come weeks after Prime Minister David Cameron warned educational institutions they need to do more to tackle social inequality.

Official data showed the overall proportion of more disadvantaged students starting at a Russell Group university - considered the best in the country - has stalled in the past 10 years.

Oxford and Cambridge admitted a smaller proportion of disadvantaged students last year than every other university in the country, the analysis by the Press Association revealed.

Around one in six (17.2 per cent) students from lower social groups started a course at a Russell Group institution last year, compared with nearly one in three (32.1 per cent) of their wealthier peers.

One charity leader said it was "worrying" that the gap has widened at some universities.

The Russell Group said progress is being made to ensure able students from all backgrounds have access to its universities, but it cannot solve the problem alone.

Out of the 24 Russell Group universities, Oxford had the lowest proportion of entrants from lower social backgrounds at one in 10, the analysis shows, followed by Cambridge with 10.2 per cent.

Ten years ago, poorer students made up around one in eight Oxbridge entrants.

Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, says they are falling because universities aren't investing enough time and money in finding the brightest students among more disadvantage pupils.

He said: While the most traditional universities have made massive strides to address the issue in recent years, they is always more to do. In particular, we need to think about which policy interventions bring most bang for buck. Too much time and money is still spent on bursaries, which are not cost effective.

"Too little is spent on finding the kids with the greatest potential who are currently under the radar. To do that, we need smarter use of data and interventions aimed specifically at raising the sights of boys and other under-represented groups.

"More thought also needs to be applied to helping young people bridge the gap between schooling and the self-directed learning that characterises higher education."

Wendy Piatt, director-general of the Russell Group, said: "Ensuring our doors are wide open to talented and able students from all backgrounds really matters to us and real progress is being made. Last year 1,760 more students from low socio-economic backgrounds went to a Russell Group university than in 2009.

"The number of students eligible for free school meals going to our universities has doubled in the last four years, and the number of black and minority ethnic students has increased by more than a third since 2012."


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Oxford University's Labour club embroiled in anti-Semitism row

Oxford University's student Labour club, that was previously a platform for Ed Miliband and Michael Foot, has become embroiled in an anti-Semitism row.

The club's chairman Alex Chalmers has resigned in protest after claiming that its members have "some kind of problem with Jews" and sympathise with terrorist groups like Hamas.

Oxford University Labour Club (OULC), where dozens of former Labour leaders, Cabinet Members and MPs have cut their political teeth, is one of the largest student Labour clubs in the UK.

Mr Chalmers, an undergraduate at Oriel College, said on Monday night that despite the Labour club's "commitment to liberation", it had a "poisonous" attitude toward certain groups.

In a resignation statement publicly posted on Facebook, Mr Chalmers explained that members of the OULC Executive had been "throwing around the term 'Zio' (a term for Jews usually confined to websites run by the Ku Klux Klan) with casual abandon".

Senior members of the club had been "expressing their 'solidarity' with Hamas and explicitly defending their tactics of indiscriminately murdering civilians", he added.

Chalmers said that ever since Labour's defeat at the general election, he had become "increasingly worried about the state of OULC".

He concluded that "a large proportion of both OULC and the student Left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews".

Chalmers cited OULC’s decision on Monday to endorse Israel Apartheid Week as a reason for his resignation, a movement which he said had "a history of targetting and harassing Jewish students and inviting antisemitic speakers to campuses".

Labour Students, a national student organisation which is affiliated to the Labour Party, said they were "deeply troubled" to hear reports of anti-semitism at "one of our most prominent Labour Clubs".

The organisation said in a statement: "We unequivocally condemn any form of anti-Semitism" adding that it takes the allegations "very seriously."

"We will do whatever is necessary o ensure every Labour Club is a safe space for Jewish Students," a spokesman said.

"We are proud of the long history we have of working with the Union of Jewish Students and the National Union of Students to protect Jewish students on campus and this will always be a top priority for Labour Students."

It comes as the Government revealed proposals to ban local government, public bodies and student unions from boycotting Israel.

Last month, police were called after King's College London's student Israel society was attacked by demonstrators.

Witnesses described a mob throwing chairs and smashing windows, while pictures show officers standing guard outside the building.

Oxford University said that it "does not tolerate any form of harassment or victimisation – including on the grounds of religion and belief."

The University "expects all members of the University community, its visitors and contractors to treat each other with respect, courtesy and consideration," the statement went on.

The University encouraged students who have experienced "harassment on the grounds of religion" to report incidents to university authorities.

Baroness Deech, a cross bench peer and former principal at St Anne's College, was among dozens of Oxford friends and alumni who on Tuesday night signed an open letter saying they "observe with horror" Chalmer's observations about the Labour Club's anti-Semitism.

Signatories to the letter urged OULC to reverse its "distressing decision" to enforce Israeli Apartheid week.


Australia: Computer lab for black use only

University boss Peter Coaldrake tries to square the circle of discriminating racially while not being racially discriminatory.  He probably wants to say that some racial discrimination is good but fears the can of worms that would open up.  He would never live it down if he said that.  People might ask him:  "Why not drinking fountains for blacks only?"  Note that discriminating in favour of blacks in American universities has been outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court

A top university agrees with a claim by a former employee in a racial vilification case that the Oodgeroo Unit and computer lab on its main Brisbane campus "is provided for use by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ­students only".

But Queensland Univer­sity of Technology, which released its legal responses yesterday to the Federal Circuit Court in the racial vilification row, denies it is ­endorsing or facilitating racial segregation at Oodgeroo.

The legal responses disclose that Cindy Prior, a Brisbane woman running a $247,470 damages claim against students, QUT and academics, wanted a "duress alarm, fast dial access to security, 24-hour swipe card ­access to a computer lab and a ­security guard patrol" because she feared for her safety if non-indigenous students entered her work area, a "culturally safe space".

Ms Prior was an administrative officer in the Oodgeroo Unit when she turned away three students in 2013 because they were not indigenous. Her decision to refuse the students access to the computers that were not being used led to Facebook posts which described racial segregation.

Ms Prior alleges in her case that the Facebook posts and the related actions of QUT and its staff have caused her hurt and psychiatric injury and stopped her from working for two years. She has accused the students of racial vilification under Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

The university and two of its staff, professor Anita Lee Hong and director of equity Mary Kelly, want the court to dismiss Ms Prior’s application, which began with a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2014.

A key question arising from the case is whether the operation of the Oodgeroo Unit breached anti-discrimination laws if it was set up, as stated by Ms Prior and agreed yesterday by QUT, for use "only" by indigenous students.

QUT said in its court reply that "many public Australian universities have established and are maintaining similar programs with similar objectives for similar reasons" as the Oodgeroo Unit.

It said the unit had operated successfully for 25 years "in a way which has furthered the purposes for which it was established and has provided meaningful and ­effective support for indigenous students to assist them to enjoy equally with non-indigenous students the experience of and benefits of tertiary education".

It added that the unit’s facilities "are generally reserved for use by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students".

The university alleges in meetings with staff to try to ­resolve Ms Prior’s complaints, she wanted a "duress alarm, fast dial access to security, 24-hour swipe card ­access to a computer lab and a ­security guard patrol".

Ms Kelly, who is being sued in the case, said she told Ms Prior that in her opinion, ‘"there was no evidence that a ‘white supremacy group’ existed at QUT".

She did not believe the students who went to the unit were "part of an organised group". She indicated to Ms Prior that "there was no evidence that any student posed a physical threat to individual staff". She advised Ms Prior at an early stage the legal threshold for proving racial vilification was high and she should get legal ­advice before proceeding.

In an attempted return to work meeting with Ms Prior, however, "the feasibility of implementing a variety of security solutions for the Oodgeroo Unit was discussed". Professor Lee Hong ­expressed concern a "security guard patrol at the Oodgeroo Unit might make the students uncomfortable", but she denied a claim that she had refused to consider the option.

She said swipe card access was implemented along with fast-dial access to security, and she understood "security passes would be possible" and were pending ­approval.

Weeks later, medical reports by two doctors confirmed that Ms Prior, who said she has suffered a psychiatric injury and severe stress, hurt and humiliation, "was able to return to work but not at the Gardens Point Campus".

QUT said it made multiple responses to alleviate Ms Prior’s concerns and her stress.

Vice-chancellor Peter Coaldrake had put a statement on the university’s web page stating "all staff and students had the right to go about their business without being offended by ill-informed ­remarks in the public arena". "The vice-chancellor also addressed the issue of the posts in similar terms at his campus briefings with staff, which occurred in the days following the incident," QUT’s response says. "Senior staff members of the university met with indigenous student representatives to discuss the support that could be offered by the university to its indigenous students in response to the incident."

The students who made the posts and are now being accused of racial hatred have strenuously denied the claims. They are being defended by Tony Morris QC, who intends to mount a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 18C.


Students fear effect of ‘outrageous law’ on QUT campus culture

The students were rightly angered by being discriminated against on the basis of their race.  Now they are being sued for saying they were victims of racial discrimination

Jack McGuire, a law student at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, has a message for Malcolm Turnbull and George Brandis.

Mr McGuire wants the Prime Minister and Attorney-General to urgently amend section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which is embroiling QUT students in claims of racial hatred that threaten their reputations, careers and health.

"It is absolutely ridiculous that it has got to the stage where the courts are involved," Mr McGuire, 23, the immediate past president of the Students Guild at QUT, told The Australian.

"Universities are supposed to be a place of ideas and learning and debating. The Prime Minister and the Attorney-General should be looking at this and stepping in to help not just those students who are being effectively prosecuted in the Federal Circuit Court in this case brought by Cindy Prior but others who will be caught in future cases."

Guild president Phil Johnson said: "At most, this is an issue for QUT’s disciplinary procedures, certainly not a federal court."

Mr Johnson said his main concerns revolved around the impact on freedom of speech.  "This case sets a dangerous precedent and it’s concerning that students might now have reservations about discussing topical issues in fear of ending up in court," he said.

Mr McGuire said that if 18C was not repealed, it should be amended to increase the threshold "so that people can’t use it to claim they are hurt and humiliated" in legal actions.

"Having been around some of the students (involved), it is quite clear that they have suffered enormously from being brought before court and labelled racist.

"For the sake of these students and all students, the government needs to revisit this outrageous law and at least take a middle of the road approach in amending 18C, if not striking it out altogether."

Mr McGuire said the law was sufficiently broad and open to subjective interpretation that his comments in this article could potentially be construed as hurtful to an indigenous person, resulting in an 18C case.



Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Why We Shouldn’t Outlaw ‘Unpaid’ Internships

For a new college graduate, finding a job is stressful. That first job is more than a paycheck. The job represents the accumulation of hours of hard work and a start on a stable future. In a job market dominated by resumes, connections and previous work experience, college students will often turn to internships, paid and unpaid, to gain a competitive edge.

While paid internships are usually seen as similar to other jobs, unpaid internships have come under increased scrutiny. Critics contend that since employers know students are desperate for experience, employers can abuse their interns with long hours and poor work conditions, all without compensation.

Two interns who worked on the film “Black Swan” recently sued their former employer, with one claiming that unpaid internships “rob ... people of the value of their labor.”

In light of such concerns, some perhaps well-intentioned critics want unpaid internships outlawed. But there is nothing exploitative about unpaid internships.

The charge that companies exploit unpaid interns is false and misleading. They do receive benefits. Economics teaches us that people engage in exchanges only when each party expects to come out ahead. Unpaid internships are no different. No one forces anyone to take an internship, so students must expect to gain even if unpaid. How so? They expect to learn on the job.

Prohibiting unpaid internships is a bad idea for many reasons. It would make the competition for paid internships skyrocket. An estimated 500,000 to 1 million unpaid interns are employed annually, and there wouldn’t be enough paid internships to go around if unpaid internships were abolished. Many companies may not be able to afford the added expense and wouldn’t hire interns at all. This means many students would miss out on the opportunity to gain work experience.

Moreover, banning unpaid internships may generate or exacerbate racial and other discrimination. With so many people competing for a few paid positions, companies could afford to be extremely particular when choosing whom to hire. While most companies would still want the best person for the job, banning unpaid internships would make it much easier for companies to indulge their prejudices.

Other factors would become more important in hiring as well. As opposed to hiring the candidates most likely to succeed, companies might favor interns with good connections, most likely with parents who have such connections.

A ban would also lower the wages of paid interns. A simple example illustrates why. If a company had one unpaid intern and one paid intern, and unpaid internships became illegal, the company would face two options. It could dismiss the unpaid intern and keep the paid intern at the current rate, or split the wage between the two. Most likely a company would split the wage, since it would still need the services of both. The paid intern, anxious for work experience, would gladly take the pay cut if it meant gaining one of the few internships available.

Another problem with outlawing unpaid internships is that such a mandate would not stop people from pursuing such arrangements under the table, just as prohibiting drugs produces black markets. Parents have reportedly paid for their children’s “unpaid” internships. Banning unpaid internships outright would likely increase these transactions.

Just because a law is put in place does not mean people will comply, especially since the arrangement would benefit both parties. It is, however, likely to make conditions for truly unpaid interns worse. An illegal unpaid intern would likely not report mistreatment by an employer because the accuser might face repercussions. Outlawing unpaid internships would actually make it easier for companies to exploit young people!

While those who deem unpaid internships immoral and exploitative may be well-intentioned, they fail to understand basic economics. Interns expect to benefit significantly from their experiences even if unpaid — or they wouldn’t take the positions. And if unpaid internships were eliminated, paid internships would be more difficult to find, would pay less than at present, and would have worse working conditions.

We should think carefully before taking such a valuable learning tool away from students.


Federal lawmakers query colleges on endowments

Federal lawmakers are asking the nation’s richest colleges and universities for details about their multibillion-dollar endowments, which have continued to grow even as tuitions increase, and the schools’ benefit from tax breaks because of their “charitable and educational” missions.

Harvard University, which has the world’s largest endowment at $36 billion, and 13 other schools in New England were among those on the list of 56 private institutions with endowments of $1 billion or more that received requests for information last week from the chairmen of two congressional committees.
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“Despite these large and growing endowments, many colleges and universities have raised tuition far in excess of inflation,” said the letter, which was signed by the chairmen of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees.

“As Congress moves forward with efforts to reform the tax code, it is prudent we gather as much information as possible about how preferences in the tax code are applied,” Senator Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican who chairs the Senate committee, added in a statement.

Lawmakers have raised such concerns before as ballooning endowments have coincided with rising tuitions and student debt.
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US colleges raise record amounts

Harvard University’s money-raising prowess was exceeded only by Stanford University, which raised $1.63 billion, the most ever reported.

College officials defended their massive savings, saying that endowments are designed not only to help pay for current operations — including student financial aid, faculty salaries, and research — but are also meant to generate income that helps to fund their operations.

“The way colleges manage endowments and make financial decisions over time has proven to be very responsible,” said Richard Doherty, president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts.

He said it would be dangerous if lawmakers were to try to force colleges to spend more of their savings.

“There’s not a need for a legislative fix,” he said. “We’ve got a pretty good formula working, a lot of it driven by private dollars, and I think it would be unwise to tinker with that.”

Harvard president Drew Faust recently wrote in a column in Harvard Magazine that endowments are intended to have “vigorous immortality.”

College administrators also say that large chunks of college endowments can be spent only on certain programs because of restrictions set by donors.

The lawmakers’ letter asked 13 endowment-related questions, and requested answers by April 1.

Separately, US Representative Tom Reed, a New York Republican, last month proposed requiring that colleges with endowments of $1 billion or more either spend about 25 percent of their annual endowment income on financial aid or forfeit their tax-exempt status.

The richest colleges have faced criticism for having an inordinate share of the wealth in higher education.

The combined value of the top 1 percent of college and university endowments represents about 72 percent of all higher education endowment dollars nationwide, according to an analysis of fiscal 2014 data from 7,687 schools nationwide collected by the US Department of Education.

“Many universities are overly focused on endowment at the expense of other worthwhile investments,” said Brian Galle, a Georgetown University law professor who has studied college endowments.

Congress should be asking questions “to gently pressure universities to consider their policies with more of an eye to the general social good,” Galle said in an e-mail

New England institutions are some of the wealthiest in the country.

Second to Harvard on the list of colleges targeted by legislators is Yale, which has a $25.6 billion endowment. MIT ranked fifth with an endowment of about $13.5 billion.

Harvard spokesman Jeff Neal said in a statement that the university’s response to legislators will provide “clarity on the strong financial management practices governing the endowment and the positive impact it has for students, faculty, researchers and society.”

Harvard’s Faust said in her column that people who donate want their money to “have an effect on both the present and the future, supporting activities and driving progress forever.”

Officials at Yale and MIT declined to comment.

The legislators identified the colleges targeted in their inquiry by reviewing data published annually by the National Association of College and University Business Officers. Colleges must disclose certain financial details because of their non-profit status and requirements set by the US Department of Education.

The association’s research “showed endowments had an average return on investment of 15.5 percent and an average payout rate of 4.4 percent during the 2014 fiscal year,” the letter from legislators said.

The lawmakers’ list was based on data for fiscal 2014, which ended in June 2014. However, two weeks ago, the college organization released data about endowment figures as of the close of fiscal 2015, which ended June 30.

The new data showed that all college endowments had an average return on investment of 2.4 percent and an average spending rate of 4.2 percent during fiscal 2015.

John Walda, president and chief executive of the group, said in a statement last week that he believes the colleges’ responses to the lawmakers’ letter “will demonstrate the prudent practices through which higher-education institutions manage their endowments.”

“The fact that schools have been able to raise their endowment dollars as state support has diminished and financial markets have turned turbulent is a testament to the endowment managers and others on campus who are doing all they can to meet the needs of students and faculty,” Walda said.


UK: End limits on faith free schools, says charity

Faith groups should have no barriers to open more free schools, an influential charity has said.

The New Schools Network (NSN), a charity which helps establish new free schools, says the rules for free schools limiting the number of places allocated on grounds of religion should be scrapped. Catholic free schools have not been able to open based on this rule.

Nick Timothy, NSN director, argued the limits are preventing "high-calibre school providers" from opening up.

According to current rules, if a faith group wanted to set up a free school it could only give priority to applicants on the grounds of religion for 50 per cent of its places.

The NSN argues this has been a barrier to faith groups who might want to open free schools, with fewer than a fifth of free schools currently having a link to a religious group, lower than the state sector average.

The charity, which is partly funded by the Department for Education, says that these limited number of faith free schools are the most oversubscribed in the primary school sector.

But the New Schools Network, a key supporter of the government's free school expansion programme, says there is "significant untapped potential" among current school providers.

The charity singled out Catholic schools. It argued that more than 85 per cent of children in those schools in the state sector "are in good or outstanding schools, compared to 80 per cent in all schools".

Catholic schools also have a higher proportion of ethnic minority pupils than average, according to the charity.

Paul Barber, director of the Catholic Education Service said: “We remain open to the idea of Free Schools, but are currently unable to engage with this flagship programme due to the cap on faith-based admissions.

"The cap prevents the Church meeting demands from Catholic parents for Catholic places and could cause schools to turn Catholic families away on the grounds that they are Catholics. To do so contravenes not only Canon Law but also common sense.”

A DfE spokesman said: "The requirement for all oversubscribed faith free schools to make at least 50 per cent of their places available to those of another or no faith helps to tackle segregation and ensures young people will experience the diversity of religious beliefs that make up modern Britain."


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

UK: Study looked into earnings of people getting different classes of degrees

Graduates who get a good degree will earn more money than their peers for more than a decade, a new study has found.

It looked at a cohort born in 1970 and graduating in 1991, and found those with first of 2:1 degrees earned 7-9 per cent more five years after graduation.

The study, published by the London School of Economics, also found that the gap between earnings according to university performance is also widening as more people opt for a university education.

The academics wrote: 'As more young people obtain degrees, the premium for graduating with a good class of degree increases.'

Previous studies have shows the wage disparity between people who go to university and those without a degree, but not a link between earnings and the class of degree.

The authors - Robin Naylor and Jeremy Smith of the University of Warwick and Shqiponja Telhaj of the University of Sussex - claim this is surprising as previous studies have shown that employers filter out applications from people with lower class degrees.

Mr Telhaj said: 'We obtain an estimate of a wage premium of 7%-8% for a good degree (a first or upper second) relative to a lower degree (a lower second or third) at the ages of 30 and 38.

'We view the estimated premium to be large when we consider that our estimate of the premium for a lower degree relative to A-levels is 11% at age 30.'

However, it does also note that those who get a third-class degree could end up closing the gap because of grade inflation leading to universities issuing more higher class degrees. 


My family is proof that you don't need a degree to succeed

By Candida Crewe

A month ago I sat next to a vituperative snob at a dinner in London who was shocked when I said that some or all of my sons might not go to university.

Her horror was almost comical. Lots of spluttering and dark mutterings implying she was glad her children were in no danger of hanging out with mine. The best bit came when I went on to tell her that I myself had not gone to university: she nearly fell off her chair. The sport of it made my evening.

This Neanderthal woman probably had another seizure over her chia porridge last week when she read that Penguin no longer require job applicants to have degrees. All that tireless tiger mothering of her children has turned out to be for nothing, now the uneducated mass of humanity are on a level playing field.

There are many like myself, on the other hand, who feel that the enlightened publishing house is responding imaginatively and innovatively to modern thinking; that the sooner other employers follow suit the better and, in fact, those that don’t are living in the dark ages.

Ernst & Young, one of the UK’s biggest graduate recruiters, led the way last year, when it announced it was removing the degree classification from its entry criteria, saying there is "no evidence" success at university correlates with achievement in later life.

Little wonder Clarissa Farr, high mistress of St. Paul’s Girls’ School - considered to be one of the most successful in the country - declared it is becoming increasingly common for even the brightest of her pupils to choose not to enter higher education; a move that could prove "a more exciting and faster route to the top".

Certainly, there is a feeling in the water that degrees, by their very debt-generating ubiquity, have been devalued, and the smartest kids may, in fact, be those stealing a march on their peers and entering the job market straight out of school.

My oldest son, Erskine, 17, may be one of them. He is about to do his A-levels and though his father and I feel strongly he doesn’t have to go on to higher education, at a cost of £23 to keep his options open, it made sense to apply.

When he filled in his UCAS form, he was able to answer ‘No’ to the question as to whether or not his parents had degrees. I felt rather pleased he might gain a couple of brownie points for that, even if in the end he decides not to go, or doesn’t get the requisite three As to read his chosen subject - English - at Manchester, Leeds or Exeter.

If he doesn’t, he will be following in firm family tradition - though we highly value university education, most of us have trodden our own paths, unburdened by academic expectation.

My mother, a successful novelist, was desperate to go to university but her mother refused to allow her to try, insisting instead that she became a debutante, which she hated. My late father, a restaurant critic and travel writer, was chucked out of Cambridge for being both mischievous and preposterously lazy. Their careers, love and social lives did not suffer (though my mother never quite forgave my grandmother).

Similarly, my three sons’ father left school at 15 with nine Us at O-level but educated himself, made a career out of his passion and became a leading light in his field.

I didn’t go to university myself because I suffered depression in the sixth form, did pathetically badly in my A-levels and failed to get into Oxford - or anywhere else. My step-father, a don for 40 years, encouraged me to try again and my arrogant, cowardly, short-sighted response was, "Fail once and that could be an anomaly; fail a second time and I am stupid. I am not prepared to risk it."

But failure, often a great inspiration, prompted me to think, "Right, I’ll show ‘em". I scored a job in a bookshop and began writing a novel in the early mornings, the evenings and at weekends.

I secured a book contract with Collins and, with the chutzpah of ignorance, rang the editor of the Evening Standard, asked for a meeting and landed a weekly column.

The novelty of my youth rather than any talent (the book, in particular, was rubbish) had much to do with my good fortune. I am not sure I would have been so lucky three years later - so while I recognise I lost a lot by not going to university, I can see I also gained a great deal. Horses for courses, as the cliché goes.

Now degrees cost even more, handicapping graduates with debt to the tune of tens of thousands, yet (with the exception of medicine and the like, though junior doctors may dispute me, even here) are increasingly worth less. A couple of clever friends of mine who met at Bristol both said that if they had had to pay £30,000 for their English and History degrees, they would not have gone; they had not been worth it.

I have plenty of friends who were at Oxbridge and other universities, and many who never went at all - there is no pattern of success or failure according to whichever qualifications, but a beauty in the randomness of how life turns out for everyone.

Most parents, understandably, err on the side of caution. The son of a friend with a passion for jewellery-making caused widespread disapproval and consternation when he left school just one term short of his A-levels. Most thought his parents had lost the plot, allowing him to do something so rash, but they butched out the naysayers and their faith in him paid off.

He landed a place on a prestigious gemmology course at Hatton Garden and, now 22, recently won the junior goldsmiths’ equivalent of an Oscar. He has been in work ever since.

Erskine, himself, remains undecided. He is one of the youngest in his year so even if he chooses to go to university, his father and I will probably advise him a year off to work (and travel, if he saves enough), and to mature, otherwise he may not get out of it everything that he could. Wall to wall parties, and a poor degree to show for it, would be an expensive way to spend three years.

Meanwhile, my middle son, 16 next month, has been computer-programming since the age of six. Nothing whatsoever to do with his parents: entirely self-taught, he is incredibly lucky to have discovered a passion so young and as such has put in Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours or more.

He is already applying for and being offered highly paid jobs ('til he points out the DOB on his CV), working with a team of senior research fellows at Oxford and frustrated that school is preventing him from his "real" work. For all its advantages, might university not further delay him on his chosen path?

No one, these days, will think the less of either of them for not going. Folk like Neanderthal Woman are thankfully rare and becoming rarer. In my 33 years as a non-graduate (and the 18 before that), I have almost never been made to feel inferior or stupid. Far from it.

And now I am enjoying a certain irony in my paid position as a Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund, working at Oxford University supporting extremely able and hard-working graduate students with their writing skills.

During my initial interview, when I told the my head of department, a professor and Fellow of All Soul’s, that I was completely uneducated and knew precisely nothing about his subject, he fell about laughing and said, "All the better!"

The world order is changing by the minute and our old-fashioned views about education have to evolve to keep up. More so than ever before, fulfilled and successful people appear from every possible direction and a degree, whilst still a jolly good show, seems an expensive way of marking time - a guarantee of nothing.


Australia: Activists push taxpayer-funded homosexual manual in schools

Eleven-year-old children are being taught about sexual orientation and transgender issues at school in a taxpayer-funded program written by gay activists.

The Safe Schools Coalition teaching manual says that asking parents if their baby is a boy or a girl reinforces a "heteronormative world view".

Religious groups yesterday criticised the "age-inappropriate" manual, which suggests that sexuality be raised in every subject area. "Whatever the subject, try to work out ways to integrate gender diversity and sexual diversity across your curriculum," the manual says.

The All of Us teaching manual, designed for Years 7 and 8, says that children often realise they are lesbian, gay or bisexual between the ages of 11 and 14, while the -average age for "coming out" is 16.

A lesson plan on "bisexual -experiences" requires students to imagine they live in a world "where having teeth is considered really unpleasant". Students take turns telling a classmate about their weekend, without showing their teeth.

"How did it feel to have to hide part of yourself?" the students are asked. "Do you think that some lesbian, gay or bisexual young people feel that they need to hide part of themselves? How might this make them feel?"

Children are shown short films about the personal stories of young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

In a lesson on same-sex attraction, students as young as 11 are told to imagine they are 16-year-olds who are "going out with someone they are really into". The class is divided into students pretending to be going out with someone of the same sex, and classmates pretending to like someone of the opposite sex.

The children have to answer 10 questions, including whether they could "easily talk to your parents about your sexuality", and to name four famous Australians of the same sexuality.

The teacher then instructs the children to stand, and slowly counts backwards from 10. Each child can sit down when the number called out by the teacher corresponds with the number of times they answered "yes" in the quiz - meaning that a student who answers "no" could be left standing in front of the class.

The Safe Schools manual -appears to reach beyond promoting tolerance, to advocating activism by students. It tells students to defy teachers who refuse to let them put up LGBTI posters.

"If you can, it's a good idea to get permission to put your posters up, so you avoid getting in -trouble," the manual says. "If your school or teachers say no, ask for reasons and see if they make sense. If they don't seem reasonable, you may have to be creative about where you place them."

Safe Schools also advises -students to "use your assignments to start conversations".

"For example, some students have chosen to do their English oral presentations on equal marriage rights or their music or art assignments on how artists express their sexuality, gender or intersex status through their work," it says.

The Safe Schools Coalition suggests that schools paint a rainbow crossing, provide unisex toilets and hand out stickers to supportive teachers.

The federal government has provided $8 million in funding for the program, which has won support from the Australian Secondary Principals Association, beyondblue, headspace and the Australian Education Union. The Victorian government will require all state schools to join the Safe Schools network by 2018, but the program is voluntary in other states and territories.

So far 490 primary and high schools nationally have signed up, although the list of 24 schools in Queensland is secret.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the Safe Schools program was an "opt-in" for schools and run at arm's length from government.

"Homophobia should be no more tolerated than racism, especially in the school environment," Senator Birmingham said. "The resource is intended to support the right of all students, staff and families to feel safe at school."

A La Trobe University study of more than 3000 same-sex-attracted young people in 2010 found that 75 per cent had experienced some form of homophobic bullying or abuse - with 80 per cent of those occurring at school.

Australian Christian Lobby spokeswoman Wendy Francis said the Safe Schools material pressured kids into accepting LGBTI concepts and "confuses them about their own identity".

She said forcing students to imagine themselves in a same-sex relationship was a "form of cultural bullying".

Ms Francis said the material was not age-appropriate, as 11-year-old children were too young to be taught about sexual orientation and transgender issues. "A lot of children are still pretty innocent about this stuff - these are adult concepts," she said.

Ms Francis agreed that bullying against LGBTI students "absolutely has to be stopped".

"Every child should be safe at school," she said.

Safe Schools Coalition national director Sally Richardson said students at safe and supportive schools did better academically and were less likely to suffer poor mental health. "Our resources are designed to provide teachers with tools to help them have conversations with students around inclusion and diversity in the community," Ms Richardson said. "We provide schools with practical ways to foster a positive school culture where students, staff and families of all sexualities and gender identities feel safe, included and valued."

Ms Richardson said all the Safe Schools materials - including the All of Us teaching guide - were used at the discretion of individual schools.

The principal of Scotch College in Adelaide, John Newton, said his students had "embraced" the Safe Schools message of support and tolerance. But he did not approve of the lesson plan that required children to imagine themselves in a same-sex relationship.  "That wouldn't be a method we'd use," Dr Newton said.

"It feels like a ham-fisted attempt to change a culture.

"Our children are well ahead of the issue and happy to talk about it - they seem to have a very mature approach."

Safe Schools is also used in Shenton College, an independent public school in Perth. "We strive to be a welcoming, progressive and inclusive public school," said principal Christopher Hill.

"We can't turn away from the fact that schools need to deal with these sorts of issues."

The Safe Schools guide cites statistics that 10 per cent of people are same-sex attracted, 1.7 per cent are intersex - born with both male and female features - and 4 per cent are transgender.


NOTE:  The statistics above are, as usual, greatly exaggerated. Research conducted by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) at La Trobe University in 2003, has shown that of the 20,000 people surveyed, about 1.2% of adults identify as homosexual (gay or lesbian).  Among men, 1.6% identify as homosexual, and among women, 0.8% identify as lesbian, while 1.4% of women and 0.9% of men identify as bisexual

Monday, February 15, 2016

These Academics Are Pissed There’s Too Much Global Warming ‘Denial’ In Science Classes

Some academics are mad there are too many middle school and high school science teachers questioning the science behind global warming.

As it turns out, there are too many “politically conservative” teachers presenting skeptical arguments about global warming to kids — something that’s really angering researchers because they say there’s no real debate about warming.

“At least one in three teachers bring climate change denial into the classroom, claiming that many scientists believe climate change is not caused by humans,” Josh Rosenau, program and policy director at the National Center for Science Education, said in a statement on a new study he co-authored.

Rosenau and his colleagues surveyed 1,500 public school science teachers from 1,500 across the country and found 30 percent of teachers taught students modern global warming “is likely due to natural causes,” and another 12 percent didn’t emphasize the alleged human causes of recent warming.

Thirty-one percent of teachers who taught their students about global warming reported “sending explicitly contradictory messages, emphasizing both the scientific consensus that recent global warming is due to human activity and that many scientists believe recent increases in temperature are due to natural causes,” according to the study.

Apparently, it was largely conservatives driving lessons that question global warming science, according to researchers. The study noted “a question measuring political ideology was a more powerful predictor of teachers’ classroom approach than any measure of education or content knowledge.”

“Indeed, teachers’ assessment of the scientific consensus is intertwined with their personal conclusions about global warming and its causes,” the study noted, later adding that for “political or cultural conservatives, simply offering teachers more traditional science education may not lead to better classroom practice.”

This seems like a balanced approach to such a controversial topic — fairly present both sides of the debate and let kids weigh both arguments. But that’s not how climate science should be taught, according to Rosenau and his colleagues.

Obviously, some these teachers are being pressured to present skeptical arguments by conservative teachers and parents of their students, according to researchers. Bertha Vazquez, a Miami teacher who talks about global warming in all her classes, told The New York Times she gets pressured all the time to tone it down.

“Every year, I get the email from a father who says, ‘This is garbage,’ and why am I teaching this?” Vazquez said. “If you’re not as confident in the subject area, you’re going to avoid it. It’s no fun to field those phone calls.”

Of the teachers who responded Rosenau’s survey, however, only a small fraction reported being pressured to teach about climate. According to the study, only “4.4% of teachers reported such pressure (6.1% reported pressure to teach it, mostly from fellow teachers).”


Oxford college won't rename Rhodes computer room

University College didn't want to be seen to be supporting the Rhodes Must Fall campaign           

An Oxford college has rejected calls to rename its Rhodes computer room amid concerns from donors refusing to hand over their cash because students were “trying to erase history”.

It is understood Sir Ivor Crewe, provost at University College, privately told the president of the Junior Common Room (JCR), which represents undergraduate students, that it was keeping the name because it didn’t want to be seen to be supporting the Rhodes Must Fall (RMF) movement.

This followed a motion by the JCR to rename the computer room as “Rhodes Scholars Computing room” in light of a petition to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College which later failed to achieve its goal.

The news follows a defiant statement by Sir Ivor earlier this week telling students he was “confident” the college would not change the name because it was in honour of the Rhodes scholars and not of Rhodes himself.

Separately, minutes from a JCR meeting earlier this month showed donors had threatened to withdraw funds from University College over the Cecil Rhodes furore, after it voted to have his name removed from their computer room.

Alumni from University College refused to donate during the annual fundraising telethon because they “were concerned that the JCR [Junior Common Room] was trying to erase history”, minutes from a JCR meeting show.

On the donors concerns, a student at the meeting was quoted as saying “lots of old members during the Telethon expressed the sentiment that they did not want the generosity of the people who donated the money to be dishonoured”.

According to the student “clarification is important and it’s a good discussion to them but lots of them were concerned that the JCR was trying to erase history. Many of them didn’t donate as a result, so [it is] important to honour the wishes of the people who donated”.

A JCR source stressed “the question of donors [being] concerned [was] raised by a single student at the meeting based on the conversations she’d had”.

It is understood that out of 900 calls made during the Telethon only 10 donors said they would delay their decision to give to the college until they saw an outcome on the computer room issue. This information, however, was not brought to the Governing Body and therefore was not part of the decision in keeping the name.

News of the computer room’s name remaining the same follows a campaign at Oxford University to topple the statue of the colonialist politician because of his views on other races. The Daily Telegraph revealed last week the statue was staying following concerns donors might withdraw multi-million pound contributions.

Campaigners also argue this is part of wider push to broaden the curriculum at Oxford to include more minority views and increase the recruiting of black and other races both at staff and student level.

Recently UK student unions have sought to ban anything on campus that might cause offence to anyone as students seek “safe places”. Last year, a group of leading academics wrote in the Daily Telegraph calling for students to embrace opposing views at universities.

A University College spokesman said: "The Rhodes Computer Room was funded by a group of former Rhodes Scholars on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the Rhodes Trust and is not named after Cecil Rhodes. The College’s Governing Body decided to keep the name of the Rhodes Computer Room unchanged. At no point during its comprehensive discussion was the issue of donations raised."


Australia: Thousands of students caught up in major college collapse

If government money is given out to every Tom Dick and Harry without checks that it is being used wisely, the temptation to take the money and deliver little in return will always be too strong for some.  But it will always end badly

Thousands of students of at least four colleges have been left in limbo with huge debts following the collapse of one of the country's largest vocational education companies.

At least 500 administration and teaching staff have also been affected by the collapse.

Aspire College of Education, The Design Works College of Design, RTO Services Group and the Australian Indigenous College were placed in voluntary administration on Tuesday. Aspire alone has about 20 campuses around Australia.

All of the colleges are owned by Global Intellectual Holdings, which is also in administration with debt owing to ANZ Bank.

The fallout follows a federal government crackdown on the scandal-plagued vocational education sector, which included bans on inducements like free laptops and freezing funds to private colleges accessing VET FEE-HELP to 2015 levels.

There has been widespread rorting of VET FEE-HELP, a HECS-style loans system for vocational training students.

"There's thousands of students that have been left high and dry," a source said.

One employee said that the administrators took all the employees' keys and credit cards and padlocked the gates at The Designworks College of Design campus in West Burleigh in Gold Coast.

The colleges have campuses across Australia, including several in Melbourne and Sydney, and receives tens of millions of dollars in government funded student loans.  The Australian Indigenous College only enrols indigenous students.

The source said the colleges had exploited the VET FEE-HELP scheme by enrolling as many students at possible, with little regard to their ability to complete the course.

"They would recruit as many students as possible. They weren't interested in the students or their ability to complete the course. They were interested in anyone that came out of the dole office, single mums, and they targeted poor areas."

A letter from the administrator to employees said that major federal government changes to the VET FEE-HELP sector had "resulted in very significant pressure on the college's ability to operate."

"The owners of the colleges have exhausted all available means to continue operating and, with great reluctance, have been forced to place the colleges into voluntary administration."

ASIC documents show the colleges appointed administrators from Hall and Chadwick on Tuesday.

According to Global Intellectual Holdings' most recent accounts, the head company employs 501 people. It is unclear how much is owed to current employees of the colleges and to other creditors to the business.

Global Intellectual Holdings made $83 million in revenue in the year to June 2015, making it one of the largest vocational education companies in Australia.

The group's collapse comes despite Global Intellectual Holdings making a profit of $17.95 million in 2015. During the year it paid $14 million in dividends to its directors Roger Williams and Aloi Burgess. The accounts show the company held $19 million in debt.

Commonwealth Bank is listed as a creditor to Aspire College.

The colleges offer business, management, community services, graphic design, beauty, interactive digital media and teaching English as a second language courses.

The first meeting of creditors will be held at the Hilton Hotel in Brisbane on February 18.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Searching for an Explanation for Bernie's Rising? Look No further than Classrooms

During a recent family gathering, I casually inquired of my 14-year-old niece, a freshman who attends a public high school in California, about her grades from last semester.  I was shocked to learn that she got a "B" in math.  Since our family normally considers an "A-" to be an equivalent of an "F," and she is usually pretty good in math, I had to probe her for an explanation.

She told me that before every math test began, her math teacher would divide the class into groups. All students would still take the same test. But within the group, they had to "communicate" with one another on their individual approach to solve each problem without actually showing their test paper to one another. At the end of the test, the teacher would "randomly" pick one student's test paper from each group and grade it. The score of one student from each group would become the score for everyone within the group.  The math teacher claimed that this approach would encourage students to be better communicators and facilitate a team spirit.  For some unknown reason, my niece's test paper wasn't selected once in the entire semester. So her grade, a "B", was not representative of how well she grasped the math knowledge she should have learned in ninth grade. Rather it was a representation of her "weak" communication skill, aka failure to convince her fellow students to adopt her answers.

Needless to say that I found the math teacher's objective and approach very troubling. First, the objective of math teaching is not to help kids improve communication skills. No doubt that communication skills are important. That's why schools have already provided children with many other ways to improve their communication skills: through subject learning such as English literature and activities such as debates. But we teach children math so they can develop other important skills, such as problem solving skills and analytical skills by using logic and reasoning. How well they can master these skills, not necessarily the number crunching itself, will not only impact whether they will lead a successful life in the future, but also shapes what kind of citizen they will be: are they going to think and analyze politicians' ideas and proposals before casting a vote, or be easily wooed by a smooth talking politician whose ideas lack substance and would vanish in the presence of logic and thought? 

Second, assigning one student's score to everyone in the same group, by forcing everyone within the group to have the same outcome, diminishes personal responsibility, dis-incentivizes learning and encourages group thinking. What the math teacher was doing is a classic redistribution scheme long advocated by the founder of Communism, "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" (Karl Marx). Children who grew up with this kind of education, or really, political indoctrination, learned that there's no need to be better than the rest of the group. They learned to reject the American tradition of rugged individualism and self-reliance. They learned to say these magic words from a young age, "it's not my fault."  They learned not to be responsible for their behavior and outcomes. They learned to blame anyone else except themselves for their own misfortune in lives. To them, equality can only mean everyone having the same result, even if it means everyone is equally miserable. So it's acceptable to hold back whoever is better and redistribute their talent or wealth.

This kind of so called progressive education has long existed on US college campuses and churned out voters who voted for Obama twice, and today enthusiastically embrace a self-proclaimed socialist like Bernie Sanders, who promises free college, free healthcare and a political revolution to finally make the rich pay. Unfortunately, this kind of education is no longer limited within the boundaries of college campuses. It has trickled down to K-12 education. Americans are getting politically indoctrinated younger and younger. Is it any wonder that Democrats are advocating for universal pre-K education?

While it is rightly so that most Americans are focused on the presidential election at this moment, the real battle ground to fight for America's future is in the classrooms. If we want to make America great again, we need to pay attention to what's being taught to our youth, how they are being taught and push back against the progressive indoctrination.


UC Berkeley running $150 million deficit

Leftists don't make good businessmen

The University of California, Berkeley, is running a $150 million deficit this year and must undertake a top-to-bottom review of expenses if it hopes to sustain its national standing as a premier public institution, the school’s chancellor warned Wednesday.

The university faces difficult decisions as it works to preserve its long-term financial footing, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said. Consolidating academic departments, evaluating spending on athletics, shedding staff and admitting fewer doctoral students are some of the changes that will be considered, he said.

"We are fighting to maintain our excellence against those who might equate ‘public’ with mediocrity," Dirks wrote in a letter to the campus. "What we are engaged in here is a fundamental defense of the concept of the public university, a concept that we must reinvent in order to preserve."

Inadequate state funding and other factors have created "a substantial and growing structural deficit" at UC Berkeley, Dirks said. To address it, the chancellor said he was initiating a restructuring process aimed at cutting costs, increasing revenue and preserving the strongest programs.

A budget review prepared by Berkeley administrators blames the deficit, which represents 6 percent of the campus’ $2.7 billion operating budget, on reduced state funding for instruction and construction, increased pension costs and five years without in-state tuition increases.

After a series of increases during the recession, tuition and fees for undergraduate students from California has remained $12,291 since the 2011-12 academic year. It is not expected to rise until 2017-18 under a deal UC President Janet Napolitano struck with Gov. Jerry Brown.

In response to a public outcry, Napolitano, who is a former U.S. secretary of Homeland Security and Arizona governor, also capped the percentage of higher-paying students from outside the state that Berkeley and UCLA could enroll.

Dirks’ letter did not include many details on how the scope of Berkeley’s academic and extracurricular offerings might change. On the academic side, the chancellor said some programs would be beefed up, while others would be given a narrower focus or rearranged to "ensure sufficient scale."

"We are committed to maintaining affordable access to an excellent education. But in order to do these things we recognize we must become not only more financial sustainable but self-reliant," he told reporters during a conference call Wednesday.

The campus will get input on the planning from faculty, staff, students and alumni, with some changes coming as soon as the summer and others requiring several years to implement, the chancellor said.

Along with looking at how the university spends money, the review Dirks has ordered also will appraise opportunities for the campus to bring in more revenue through licensing, donor-supported athletic scholarships and online courses, he said.

Even though revenues from Cal’s athletic program are not keeping pace with its costs, cutting sports teams is not among the options under review. "It turns out that wouldn’t be very helpful," Dirks said.

The administration expects to take five years to eliminate the deficit, Vice Provost Andrew Szeri said. Sixty percent would come from cost-savings and 40 percent from additional income, he said.


The campus court of Versailles

Fashionable ideas are killing UK university life

Universities were once places where ideas were put forward and tested in an intelligent environment that nursed independent thinking. More recently, rather than being citadels of free thought, campuses have come to resemble the decadent court of Versailles.

Debates on abortion are cancelled because having two people without uteruses discuss the issue is apparently harmful to students’ ‘mental safety’. Trashy pop songs like ‘Blurred Lines’ have been banned for similar reasons. And, more recently, there was an attempt to bar Germaine Greer from speaking at Cardiff University. Groupthink and censorship are the order of the day.

Like spineless Bourbon courtiers, student bureaucrats are enveloped in their own bubble. They’re deeply disconnected from the realities of the world as they all vie for popularity and moral superiority through an almost mindless conformity to fashionable ideas.

When students do dissent, the response is positively medieval. Like the four horsemen of the censorious apocalypse, ‘democratic’ students’ unions, vacuous campus rags, self-righteous activists and the student lynch mob rain hellfire on those with the audacity to speak their minds.

I know all this not only from weekly headlines on the madness of campus censorship, but because I have recently been on the receiving end of it. I wrote an article last year for the Warwick Tab criticising compulsory consent classes. And it didn’t go down well. That’s fine – disagreement and debate drive progress. However, I was also shouted down, threatened and driven away by my peers.

It was like being tarred and feathered – the aim was not only to punish me for airing a dissenting opinion but also to set an example to others, deterring anyone who might want to speak their mind from doing so. As the opinion editor for the Warwick Tab, I had to drop a follow-up piece about students’ opinions on consent workshops because students feared the repercussions of speaking against campus orthodoxy. It’s almost like a new totalitarian religion – those of us who are open heretics are burnt at the stake, while everybody else is forced to conform in quiet submission.

Like the courtiers at Versailles, campus politicos think the world beyond their own demense is uniquely backward and ugly. You’ll never hear them say it, but there is a condescending disdain among campus censors for the opinions of the great unwashed – a la ‘let them eat cake’. Despite being completely cut off from the world, they take the ignorance of the masses as gospel, while peddling their own arcane and bizarre theories in the campus echo chamber. It’s a kind of self-assured, ‘enlightened’ bigotry.

This censorious attitude highlights the divide between universities and the outside world. Those demanding my silence were disproportionately students, whereas the people I gratefully received messages of support from, and who defended my right to say what I did, were good, ordinary people from every walk of life.

These are the sort of people these students would never come into contact with in the real world. These people are sick of their money being spent on coddling students and hiding them from ‘harmful ideas’. These people don’t deserve to be looked down on by arrogant students whose only experience of the real world comes from accidentally venturing into the indigenous supermarket.

We owe it to our children to pass on a thoughtful and tolerant world. This task used to fall to students – the future architects of society. But it’s now up to those not corrupted by the decadence of modern university life to pass on the torch.

The university was once a place where young people grew up and found their voices. Now it has become a place where young people go to hide from the real world. Students are no longer exposed to the magnificent range of ideas the human race has produced. Instead of producing free-thinking and open-minded individuals, universities are churning out graduates starved of the intelligence and understanding our world so desperately needs.