Friday, November 11, 2016
The anti-democratic Left on campus
The election of Donald Trump to the presidency sparked protests early Wednesday across California, drawing crowds to city streets and college campuses.
The demonstrations occasioned sadness, anger and bursts of rage. Crowds openly disavowed the president-elect and a few resorted to vandalism.
Shortly after Trump delivered a victory speech in New York City, up to 1,500 people gathered at UCLA. The demonstration peaked about 1 a.m., when a Trump piñata was set on fire in a trash can outside a Westwood Boulevard store.
The small blaze aside, no major incidents were reported and police said the crowd was peaceful.
N.J. Omorogieva, 19, said she was "heartbroken" by the election's result when she spotted the crowd in Westwood while walking home.
"Of course I joined in," she said. "To give hugs to people who were overcome by devastation."
In Oakland, demonstrators smashed a window at the Oakland Tribune newsroom and ignited dumpsters and tires, the East Bay Times reported. Protesters also burned Trump in effigy, KNTV reported.
At the University of California Santa Barbara, hundreds marched near the campus, with some chanting, "Not my president. Not my president."
One person carried a Mexican flag, according to video posted by the student newspaper, The Daily Nexus.
About 500 students marched through the La Jolla campus of UC San Diego, protesting Trump's win and chanting an expletive followed by Trump's full name.
At UCLA, some students lifted their arms up while demonstrating in Westwood Village. Others chanted, "Not my president," according to social media users who documented the scene on the ground.
UC Police Sgt. Miguel Bañuelos said at UCLA, the crowd mostly cleared after 1 a.m. and no injuries were reported.
Demonstrations were also reported in downtown Los Angeles, at UC Santa Cruz and UC Irvine.
A throng of people marching in Oakland chanted, "Who's got the power? We got the power."
Protests in the Bay Area city centered in downtown and also saw a march along Highway 24, where a woman was struck by an SUV. She was rushed to the hospital with "major injuries," California Highway Patrol Sgt. Matt Langford told the San Franciso Chronicle.
Small fires in Oakland also prompted the closure of a Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART, station.
In downtown L.A., anger simmered as a crowd gathered near City Hall. Some property was defaced, like graffiti scrawled on a fence insulting Trump.
At USC, students rallied around the statue of Tommy Trojan, located in the center of the private university's campus in South Los Angeles.
One Twitter user described it as an "open forum," with members of the USC community sharing reactions on Trump's election.
Mass. voters reject ballot question on charter schools
Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly rejected a major expansion of charter schools Tuesday, brushing aside calls for greater choice amid concerns about the overall health of public education.
The vote is a major victory for teachers unions and civil rights organizations, which argued that charters are diverting too much money and attention from traditional public schools that serve the overwhelming majority of students.
“It’s really clear from the results of this election that people are interested in public education and value that,” said Barbara Madeloni, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association and a leading opponent of Question 2, at an election night party at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston. “There should be no conversation about expanding charters,” she added, until the Legislature moves to “fully fund our public schools.”
With 87 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday, the “no” side was leading 62 percent to 38 percent.
The lopsided result is a significant setback for Governor Charlie Baker, who aggressively campaigned for the referendum, saying it would provide a vital alternative for families trapped in failing urban schools.
“I am proud to have joined with thousands of parents, teachers and education reformers in a worthwhile campaign to provide more education choices for students stuck in struggling districts, and while Question 2 was not successful, the importance of that goal is unchanged,’’ the governor said in a statement late Tuesday night.
Charter schools are controversial, in part, because they have a freer hand with budgets, curriculum, and hiring than traditional public schools and are typically not unionized.
The ballot measure would have allowed for 12 new or expanded charters per year, adding significantly to the existing stock of 78 charters statewide.
But voter rejection has stalled the charter movement, which is bumping up against state-imposed caps in Boston, Springfield, and other major urban centers.
The campaign smashed records for spending on a Massachusetts ballot measure, with the two sides pouring about $40 million into television advertisements, phone banks, and canvassing neighborhoods.
Donors to the “Yes on 2” campaign, which had spent $24.2 million by the end of October, included former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and a string of Massachusetts investors. But much of the money came from groups with such names as Strong Economy for Growth and Education Reform Now Advocacy that do not have to disclose donors, leading opponents to decry the “dark money” flowing into the race.
The “no” side, which had spent about $14.5 million at last count, was mostly funded by unions, including the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the national wing of the American Federation of Teachers.
The opposition could not match the “Yes on 2” campaign on television advertisement spending. But the “no” camp had the support of prominent Democrats, including Senator Elizabeth Warren and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. And it mobilized a sprawling field operation, with hundreds of teachers and liberal activists reaching an estimated 1.5 million voters statewide over the course of the campaign.
“We have done an amazing job of building a coalition, building a true grass-roots movement,” said Madeloni, of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, campaigning outside a polling station at the main branch of the Boston Public Library in Copley Square Tuesday morning.
When students leave traditional public schools for charters, they take thousands of dollars in state aid with them. And opponents focused heavily on this financial strain, raising the specter of cuts to arts education, transportation, and other services at the schools that serve the vast majority of students.
But the shift in aid — an estimated $451 million statewide this year — does not necessarily mean that school districts end up with less money. A report by the Boston Municipal Research Bureau showed that the city has diverted money from other departments to the Boston Public Schools to make up for the loss in education funding.
The “yes” side aired a series of television ads designed to blunt the financial argument. And a Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll from late October suggested the effort had some success. Just 37 percent of voters said they believe “charter schools drain money from traditional public schools,” while 41 percent said they have “no significant impact on the budgets of traditional public schools” and 20 percent were undecided.
But the survey, like other polls this fall, showed that the “no” side had made substantial gains nonetheless — winning over more Democrats, independents, and women than they had in the spring.
'Zionism is a racist fascist cult': Israeli Embassy's fury after anti-Semitic hate speaker gives talk at a top London university
The Israeli Embassy has reacted with fury after a 'hate speaker' delivered an hour-long rant on Jews and Zionism to students at a top London university.
Thomas Suarez described the creation of Israel as a 'racist', 'fascist' endeavour, and linked the 'cult' of Zionism to the Nazis.
Yiftah Curiel, spokesman for Israel's diplomatic mission, accused SOAS of letting 'racist conspiracy theories' go unchallenged during the talk at the Palestine Society.
He told MailOnline: 'We are surprised and disappointed that SOAS would give a platform to a hate speaker.
'He equates Zionism - the Jewish people's right to national self determination - with Nazism and Fascism.
'It is regrettable that instead of promoting coexistence and dialogue, SOAS would hold an event at which outlandish, racist conspiracy theories regarding Zionism and the Jewish people, were presented as fact.'
The university responded by saying the event was organised independently by the Students' Union and it wanted to maintain a 'neutral platform' for different opinions.
Mr Curiel tweeted a section of footage, filmed by blogger David Collier, in which Mr Suarez discussed the Balfour Declaration, which created the modern state of Israel.
He told the students: 'Only when Zionism's exposed as the racial fascist movement that it is will Britain be forced to distance itself from the Balfour Declaration.'
Mr Suarez - a professional violinist who has written a book on Israel - also described Zionism as 'parallel to Nazism' and accused Jews of exploiting the Holocaust.
Mr Collier described the speech, which took place on the SOAS campus, as 'sickening' to watch.
'He was there in front of students, just feeding them these conspiracy theories,' he told MailOnline.
'I expected there to be dodgy stuff, because I knew what his credentials are. The guy is a violinist, not a historian.'
Mr Curiel's comments have led to the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism filing a formal complaint with the university.
A section of the letter read: 'SOAS is sometimes referred to in the Jewish community as the 'School of Anti-Semitism.
'We hope that by your actions you will demonstrate that this reputation is no longer deserved.'
'Almost to the day of the 99th anniversary of the infamous Balfour Declaration of 1917, the SOAS Palestine Society, in collaboration with Olive, invites everybody to a talk by Tom Suarez on British colonialism and Zionist settler-colonialism in Palestine... British officials and Zionist leaders colluded to lie about the scheme of expropriation and ethnic cleansing in Palestine from the very beginning.'
A SOAS spokeswoman told MailOnline: 'SOAS is committed to maintaining a neutral platform and ensuring that all members of our diverse community are free to express their opinions in a mutually respectful and collegial environment.
'The event referred to was not a SOAS organised or run event. The talk was not part of any SOAS teaching programme, nor of any lecture or seminar series run by the School.
'It was an an event organised by a student society, which operate under auspices of the Students' Union - which is a separately constituted body from the School itself.
'A wide range of opinions and views are expressed at events held at SOAS and it does not mean that the school endorses or supports the views.'
Posted by jonjayray at 1:38 AM
Thursday, November 10, 2016
Hindus lead in college education in USA
Hindus have the largest share of those with a college degree in USA as compared to any other major religious group, per an analysis by Pew Research Center (PRC), a nonpartisan fact tank headquartered in Washington DC.
According to a chart posted in this analysis; 77 per cent of Hindus have college degrees, thus topping this chart which lists 30 US religious groups. Among the religious groups given; Jews are at number 3, Buddhists at 7, Atheists at 9, Muslims at 12, United Methodist Church at 13, Mormons at 16, Catholics at 19, Southern Baptist Convention at 24, Jehovah's Witness at 28, etc.
Substitute teacher lost his temper and picked up a disruptive student to kick him out of class - causing the boy to bang his head against a wall
What was the teacher supposed to do?
A teacher who caused a disruptive primary school student to bang his head against a wall during an outburst has been reprimanded.
Juris George Karklins, a teacher for 28-years at Whangarei Primary School in New Zealand’s North Island, was found guilty of serious misconduct while disciplining a student in November 2015, Stuff reported.
Karklins was working as a relief teacher for the class when he punished a disruptive student after a three strike warning by requesting he sit on the staffroom steps during recess.
After discovering the boy had disobeyed his order Karklins sought advice from the principal who told him to find the boy.
Karklins was unable to find the student during the break and the boy’s disruptive behaviour continued when class resumed.
Karklins attempted to ignore the student and continue teaching the class.
'When this did not work [Karklins] lost his temper and forcibly removed the student from the classroom,' the New Zealand Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal Council said. ‘He did so by walking up to the student, picking him up, and taking him to the cloak room, where he deposited him on the floor.
‘At this time the student was thrashing around. In the process of being set down on the cloakroom floor, the student banged his head against the wall.’
Karklins acknowledged his actions were inappropriate.
He accepted a censure which will be visible on the teacher’s register until his practicing certificate expires in April next year.
He must also complete a professional development course within six months and must pay 50 per cent of the tribunals costs and 50 per cent of the Complaints Assessment Committee’s costs.
Australia: QUT students to pursue defamation suit against Gillian Triggs
About time for someone to call the old bag to account. She's just a Leftist bigot who doesn't care what damage she does
Gillian Triggs is under renewed fire and facing a defamation action from Queensland University of Technology students who accused her yesterday of making false and damaging statements implying they and their Facebook posts were racist.
The Human Rights Commission president was asked by the students’ barrister Tony Morris QC yesterday to publish a retraction and apology, make no further “defamatory” comments about the students, and pay damages and costs. The warning to Professor Triggs that she faces being sued comes after she told Fairfax Media and the ABC’s 7.30 that the human rights body had acted in “good faith” and in consultation with the students during a 14-month investigation into Facebook posts from May 2013.
QUT staffer Cindy Prior had named seven students in May 2014 in her complaint to the commission of racial hatred under section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act over posts they wrote after being told they could not use an indigenous-only computer lab at QUT. In one post, Alex Wood said: “QUT stopping segregation with segregation?”
The claims by Professor Triggs are contradicted by the commission’s internal documents and its acknowledgment in legal letters that it did not tell the students at any stage that they were the subject of a complaint for the 14 months from its lodgement by Ms Prior to soon before it was finalised by the rights body.
Internal documents obtained under Freedom of Information show the commission never advised the students or engaged them in any way, despite official guidelines requiring such disclosures to people accused of racial vilification. That was left to QUT and meant the students were not made aware until late July last year, three business day before the commission ran a conciliation conference with Ms Prior.
The students accuse the commission of breaching their human rights by not telling them of the complaint until it was too late to prepare, obtain legal advice and potentially prevent it being escalated to the Federal Circuit Court as a $250,000 damages claim. The claim was thrown out last week, 3½ years after the Facebook posts.
“Much of what you said was knowingly and demonstrably false,” Mr Morris wrote yesterday in a defamation “concerns notice” to Professor Triggs about her interview on the ABC’s 7.30 with Leigh Sales.
“You said ‘what we did was do what we normally do which is investigate the facts, get a sense of what each of the parties is saying, and then attempt to conciliate the matter’. There was no investigation. There was no attempt to ‘get a sense of what each of the parties is saying’. The truth is that the (commission) sat on the complaint for 14 months, without contacting any of the students or even telling them that a complaint had been made against them.
Only two of the seven students were present at the purported ‘conciliation conference’, and those two students had no more than three business days’ notice to attend.
“You said ‘for 14 months or at least for 12 of those months we believed that in good faith we were going to get a conciliation’. It is impossible that the (AHRC) held any such belief — let alone that it held such a belief in ‘good faith’ — when it had not even made contact with (the students).”
Mr Morris said Professor Triggs defamed the students when she said on 7.30 that while some cases were vexatious or frivolous, “this was one that had a level of substance”. “The complaints were ones that attracted a certain measure of concern about the nature of the comments that were made,” she said. “I won’t repeat the language but it was worrying and troubling.”
He said her statement meant the students wrote Facebook posts that were “so abhorrently racist that it could not with propriety or dignity be repeated on a mid-evening television program run by the national broadcaster”. Mr Morris said the claim was “palpably false” and that there was no basis for the accusation his clients used language of such a racist character that she felt it unseemly to repeat on air.
The letter asks Professor Triggs to pay compensation and costs “given that you explicitly claimed on two occasions to be speaking ‘in good faith’, even though you either knew that what you were saying was untrue, or spoke with reckless indifference to the truth or falsity of your remarks”.
One of the students, Calum Thwaites, told The Australian: “I never received one piece of correspondence from the commission. There is absolutely no truth in what she said about that (on Monday night) on 7.30 and to Fairfax Media. She was claiming the students were being consulted from the start by the commission and that there was this ‘good faith’ dialogue but that is completely false.”
The documents include a contemporaneous diary note by a commission officer managing the complaint, showing that less than a week before the conciliation conference she told QUT’s solicitor “it would not be possible to postpone” it; that QUT should have contacted the students; and that “if a student is notified and wants to attend next week, they will have to make time”.
Professor Triggs did not respond to a request for comment.
Wednesday, November 09, 2016
Penn State fined $2.4 million for its response to Jerry Sandusky case
Penn State University was notified Thursday it will be fined $2,397,500 by the U.S. Department of Education for failure to comply with the requirements of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.
The sanctions come in connection to former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's conviction for the sexual abuse of 10 minors.
According to documents, Penn State failed to issue an emergency notification after senior university officials learned of the forthcoming charges against Sandusky.
A former senior Penn State official told the Department's review teams there was an attempt to obtain keys to several school facilities from Sandusky in 2010, but he refused to relinquish his access. The university didn't try to retrieve the keys again until they changed the locks.
The review team determined that prior to Sandusky's indictment (Nov. 4, 2011), Penn State had ample evidence Sandusky posed a serious threat to the campus community.
The fine is the result of a five-year federal investigation into how Penn State handled complaints about Sandusky prior to his indictment.
Penn State has doled out more than $93 million in settlements connected to Sandusky's 32 accusers. The former assistant coach is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence for the sexual abuse of 10 minors.
The agency says Penn State largely ignored many of its duties under the Clery Act. It’s the largest fine issued under the law.
It says the school violated regulations when it didn’t warn students and employees of the forthcoming charges against Sandusky, who was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse.
Rolling Stone Defamation Conviction Reveals Danger of Dogma When Addressing Campus Sexual Assault
Unsafe On Any Campus? Former University of Virginia associate dean Nicole P. Eramo won her defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone magazine, and the implications are significant. Successful defamation suits are rare in the U.S., in large part to protect the freedom of speech and press. I think, however, the jury verdict was correct in this case. Indeed, the verdict highlights the problem of what happens when an enormously complicated problem is shoeboxed into a simple storyline informed more by dogma than evidence.
In short, Rolling Stone published a story using the point of view of a woman who claimed she was gang raped at a UVA fraternity. The story began to fall apart rather rapidly as other journalists began investigating the victim’s claims, many of which appeared extreme on their face. The staff journalist failed to conduct her due diligence in verifying their truth, and criticized UVA administrators for failing to respond. (See a useful summary of how the story began to unravel by Robby Soave at Reason magazine here.)
Eramo was featured prominently in the article and, in the narrative, became the face of university intransigence, denial, and insensitivity. Eramo sued, and the jury found that the journalist and magazine, in the words of the New York Times (Nov 4, 2016), “acted with actual malice, a legal standard that means that the publication either knew the information published was false, or acted with reckless disregard for whether it was true or not.” I believe in this case the magazine acted in reckless disregard for the truth in order to fit an internal narrative supported by the magazine’s organizational culture.
Rolling Stone eventually retracted the article, but only after other journalists made it almost impossible for the editors to support the story (and its narrative) based on the facts. The idea that a gang rape could occur in a fraternity without consequence had become so embedded in the journalistic world view of the magazine that researching the veracity of the claims by the victim was given low priority, even to the point where inconsistencies and holes in the story didn’t have to be investigated.
The case is a welcome step toward accountability for some in the media who have accepted a narrative on campus rape that over simplifies a very complex problem and where solutions require layered and nuanced responses. For example, research suggests that most reported rapes are not false, with false reporting ranging from 2% to 10%. An uncritical journalist (or other advocate) could easily jump to the conclusion that the details of the claims made by victims are true, including the identity of the perpetrators and circumstances surrounding the event. But the nature of human trauma complicates this conclusion.
The trauma of rape and sexual assault is most often psychological. The offenses are often perpetrated in isolated places such as bedrooms, apartments, or dimly lit areas. Once the complications of alcohol and drug use are added to the psychological trauma, victims’ stories often have holes or inconsistencies that make successful prosecution or ironclad verification of specifics difficult. But, as I discuss extensively in Unsafe On Any Campus? College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About It?, the lack of evidence necessary to secure conviction in a criminal trial does not mean the rape or assault didn’t happen, or that someone didn’t perpetrate severe harm, or that someone wasn’t traumatized by the experience. Rather, conventional institutions, including the criminal justice system, are inherently incapable of achieving justice and addressing the harm created in many campus rape situations. A more holistic approach that is trauma centered and recognizes the complicated nature of the problem (and solutions) is necessary (see here and here).
The Rolling Stone defamation case is likely to become a signature event in the campus rape policy discussion. Some may worry that the suit may stall their efforts. However, if the public discussion now shifts from simplistic solutions to more nuanced and comprehensive approaches, including those that focus on rebuilding civil society on campus, real progress might be made on containing and even eradicating this serious problem at many of our colleges and universities.
More than 1,000 British schools spy on pupils' web browsing: Campaigners say families are not told about software being used to monitor activity
More than 1,000 schools are now using snooping software that can spy on pupils as they work on their computers, privacy campaigners have warned.
The technology aims to protect children from grooming by extremists or accessing adult websites, but it is sometimes installed without the knowledge of families.
And concerns have been raised that there is a risk that monitoring and filtering of online content may go too far.
Figures obtained under Freedom of Information requests by civil liberties group Big Brother Watch show that of 1,420 secondary schools in England and Wales which provided data, 1,000 use the technology.
The classroom management software packages can be used by schools in a number of ways, such as to monitor pupils’ internet activity, access their web history, block websites and check what is being typed into a computer.
Around £2.5 million has been spent by these schools on this software, which was installed on a total of 821,386 computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones.
Out of these 1,000 schools, 149 - around one in six - provided acceptable use policies, and of these, 26 gave information about the type of software and how it was used.
A total of 123 did not give any further details beyond stating that students may be monitored when using computers.
In its report, Big Brother Watch said that schools often consider buying the software to keep pupils safe online, or as part of their duty to help protect children from radicalisation.
But it added: ‘We are concerned that the use of technology which allows real time monitoring is placing teachers unwittingly in the position of being Big Brother.
‘Forcing staff to oversee their pupils’ every digital move represents a fundamental shift from the traditional method of overseeing pupils by engaging with them from the front of the class.’
‘Schools currently offer little explanation about the use of the software in their acceptable use policies.
‘Pupils and parents, who have to sign such policies to say they agree to the use of the software, are therefore left completely in the dark.’
Renate Samson, chief executive of Big Brother Watch said: ‘Finding the balance between keeping pupils safe online without impinging on their right to privacy is a challenge for every school.
‘But encouraging schools to track and monitor pupils creates a worrying precedent, particularly if pupils and parents are being left in the dark.’
Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: ‘Computer monitoring software is used in schools to safeguard the welfare of children and young people by ensuring that they are not exposed to damaging online material.
‘There is no secrecy about the use of this sort of software in schools. Pupils are very much aware of rules about computer use and most schools have policies which are available to parents.’
Posted by jonjayray at 1:45 AM
Tuesday, November 08, 2016
College Subsidies for Illegal Immigrants Get Their Day in Court
A few weeks ago, we reported on a lawsuit in California brought by a resident and taxpayer against the Board of Regents of the University of California. Earl De Vries claimed that by giving in-state tuition benefits to illegal immigrants at all University of California schools, the regents were in violation of federal law.
A state appeals court heard the case yesterday, and based on reports from those who attended the oral argument, De Vries (and the taxpayers of California) had a good day in court.
By way of a quick background, the lawsuit involves Section 1621 of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. That federal immigration law makes illegal immigrants eligible for state or local public benefits but “only through the enactment of a state law … which affirmatively provides for such eligibility.” (8 U.S.C. § 1621(d)).
The California Legislature passed three laws extending college-related public benefits to unlawfully present immigrants: AB 540 (in-state tuition benefits), AB 131 (state-administered financial aid benefits), and SB 1210 (student loan benefits).
The three state statutes apply only to unlawfully present immigrants attending California State Universities and California Community Colleges, not University of California students. Why?
Because under the California Constitution (Article IX, Section 9(a)), the regents of the University of California are “subject only to such legislative control as may be necessary to insure the security of its funds and compliance with the terms of the endowments of the university … ”
De Vries argued that the decision of the regents to provide subsidies to illegal immigrants was not the act of the state Legislature, and therefore does not meet the requirement of the federal statute.
The 10th Amendment
It is never prudent to predict how an appeals court will rule based on the questions and answers at oral argument. That said, it did appear that the justices were skeptical of the arguments advanced by the attorney representing the regents.
Presiding Justice Dennis M. Perluss and Associate Justice John L. Segal asked all the questions. De Vries was represented by Chris Fedeli of Judicial Watch. As Fedeli began, Perluss asked why Section 1621(d)’s requirement for state legislative action wasn’t an unlawful intrusion into the organization of state government in violation of the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The regents had made a 10th Amendment argument in their brief, but not a very robust one. Fedeli answered that the 10th Amendment doesn’t apply because the U.S. Constitution explicitly reserves all powers over immigration to the federal government, so there is nothing left for the 10th Amendment to reserve to the states.
Fedeli went on to explain that Congress enacted Section 1621(a), which is a blanket prohibition on any state award of benefits to “unlawfully present aliens” (the actual wording of the statute), and no one doubts Congress had the power to entirely prohibit states from giving these benefits.
All §1621(d) does is give limited powers back to the states in an area completely controlled by the federal government, and it lays out a pretty explicit condition that only a state legislative enactment will suffice if a state wants to provide benefits to illegal immigrants.
The California Constitution and Granting In-State Benefits
Later in the argument, Perluss asked Fedeli if it was impossible for University of California students who are unlawfully present to get benefits in light of the California Constitution that limits the Legislature’s authority over the university. Fedeli told the justice that University of California students could only get such benefits if California amended the state constitution.
Fedeli explained that the lower court decision in favor of the regents puts California law into conflict with federal law.
The regents’ interpretation of §1621(d) impermissively either reads the words “only the enactment” out of the statute, or adds the words “law, policy, or regulation” into the statute, and that the California Supreme Court decision in Martinez v. Regents of University of California—which the regents relied on in their brief–in no way decided the question before the court.
The Board of Regents were ably represented by Ben Horwich. He began his argument, predictably, by stating that the decision in Martinez controlled and had decided this question.
He was immediately interrupted by a very suspicious Segal who reiterated the arguments made by Fedeli—namely, that Martinez only found that the state law lawfully gave benefits to California State University and California Community Colleges, and explicitly did not address the University of California students at issue in the current case.
Debate Over Proper Authority
Sensing he was losing on the Martinez argument, Horwich pivoted and argued that §1621(d) could be read to permit the regents to grant in-state benefits to unlawful immigrants. Segal and Perluss hammered him over the word “enactment,” pointing out that in the legislative context, it always means a statute, not a board policy or regulation.
Horwich tried to argue that the only reason §1621(d) was worded that way was to distinguish between state laws “enacted after” the passage of the 1996 welfare reform law, but the justices again seemed unpersuaded.
He then argued that the California state Legislature had publicly announced via statute that it was “inviting” the regents to extend the benefits, so this should satisfy Congress’ intent for political accountability at the state level.
Finding himself almost out of time, Horwich concluded by arguing that the regents are appointed by the governor, plus a few are elected, so they have accountability that way.
In rebuttal, Fedeli argued that Congress could have written “state law or regulation adopted after” the 1996 act, but it deliberately did not do so, and that even if the word “enactment” was as fuzzy as the regents think, they still have to explain the word “only,” which signals Congress’ intent to exclude certain kinds of state laws.
Fedeli explained that Congress uses the phrases “state law” and “state law and regulation” next to each other so often (47 times just counting the appearance of both phrases within this statute) to differentiate and limit particular state actions in federally preempted areas that the word choice in §1621(d) has to be read as intentional. It can only be read to mean state legislative action.
Finally, Fedeli argued that the political accountability requirement of §1621(d) was not satisfied by the California Legislature “inviting” the regents to extend benefits. Rather, this is exactly the kind of buck-passing tactic that Congress intended to prohibit.
No one knows how California voters would react to the Legislature extending benefits to University of California students because the Legislature has not taken that action and the people have not had a chance to vote them out of office for it.
Fedeli concluded by arguing that we don’t know whether the voters feel the same about benefits to California State University students and University of California students because the overwhelming majority of the regents are appointed and can’t be voted out of office.
Now we have to wait for the justices to issue their written ruling. Even if De Vries wins at the Second Appellate District Division 7, the regents would still have the option to appeal to the California Supreme Court. And depending on how that court rules, it could end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.
The PC Mafia's Hit On Science Education
Unbeknownst to David Seidemann, a geology professor at Brooklyn College and scientific advisor to ACSH, he was placed on a hit list by the academic PC mafia. In an article for Minding the Campus, Prof. Seidemann recalls a chilling tale in which he was investigated by the administration for alleged misconduct. And as if taken directly from the pages of a dystopian screenplay, the nature of his misconduct and the identity of his accusers -- even the existence of the investigation itself -- were withheld from him.
The drama took yet another Kafkaesque turn. When Prof Seidemann was finally notified that he had been the subject of an inquiry, he demanded to see records. His chief inquisitor said there were no written records and denied that an investigation ever took place.
So, what was the geology professor's crime? Was he teaching that the Earth is 6,000 years old? The sun goes around the Earth? The moon is made of cheese? None of these things.
In Prof Seidemann's estimation, he ran afoul of the PC mafia because his syllabus was marked with warning triangles, adjacent to which was the text: "This classroom is an 'unsafe space' for those uncomfortable with viewpoints with which they may disagree: all constitutionally protected speech is welcome." This apparently grievous offense, combined with another section of his syllabus that rewarded some students for effort, was interpreted by the administration as possible sexual harassment.
Alas, Prof Seidemann's experience is not unique. Extrajudicial interrogations on college campuses, particularly involving cases of sexual violence in which the accused is simply presumed guilty, are becoming more common. What explains this bizarre turn toward authoritarianism in places once thought of as being open-minded? A toxic combination of political correctness and relativism. And there is an army of snowflake students and spineless bureaucrats willing and eager to destroy the careers of heretical nonconformists. Welcome to higher education in 21st Century America.
Academic scientists, given their propensity for blunt truth-telling and general dismissiveness of the liberal arts, are especially a target. Prof Seidemann is but one example. An entire subdiscipline of geology is under assault by feminists who believe that glaciology (i.e., the study of glaciers) must be reanalyzed within a "feminist glaciology framework" in hopes that it will lead to "more just and equitable science and human-ice interactions." Feminists are also attacking neuroscientists, some of whom are afraid to discuss their research on the biological differences between men and women.
Perhaps the most egregious assault is against biotech researchers, who are being cyberbullied by other academics. Biomedical scientists who perform animal research are also frequent targets of abuse.
Physicists aren't off the hook, either. Feminist philosopher Sandra Harding referred to the laws of motion as "Newton's rape manual." Postmodernists are busy undermining the scientific method as a whole. Without a doubt, such relativism and political correctness are holding back science.
The most perverse thing about all of this is that the burden is now upon scientists to prove that they aren't patriarchal, sexist, racist, chemical-pushing, Monsanto-pleasing, animal killers. It is simply assumed that they are unless they can provide evidence that they are not.
Greek playwright Aeschylus is credited with saying, "In war, truth is the first casualty." So too, it appears, in the war against scientists being waged by the PC mafia within academia. One wonders how long American universities can remain the best in the world when the dissemination of knowledge itself has become a capital crime.
Direct instruction works
Jennifer Buckingham, writing from Australia
Education is high stakes. It's not good enough to throw ideas about teaching methods at a wall and see which one sticks. Classroom practice has to be guided by the best research, to give children the best chance of strong learning gains.
One teaching method in particular has been consistently shown to be effective on a variety of measures -- direct and explicit instruction. These terms are generally used interchangeably to refer to a set of instructional practices characterised by highly structured and carefully sequenced lessons in which it is made clear to students what they need to learn and how to go about it. Student progress is checked frequently and they are expected to master each step before moving to the next.
This teaching method has been shown to be effective not just for fundamental skills like literacy and numeracy, but also higher level conceptual understanding and creativity.
A specific form of this method is Direct Instruction -- a comprehensive teaching program that includes both direct instruction pedagogy and curriculum content. DI programs have been the subject of dozens of studies, which have been overwhelmingly positive
At a forum co-hosted by CIS and Good to Great Schools Australia this week, several outstanding school leaders explained how DI and direct instruction led to success in their schools.
The Cape York Academies use DI -- adapted to align with the Australian Curriculum -- achieving substantial gains for students in remote communities where such outcomes had previously been thought impossible. Good to Great Schools co-founder and chair Noel Pearson and community leaders Dion Creek and Phyllis Yunkaporta explained the careful process by which DI had been chosen, and spoke passionately about the changes they had seen in the children attending Cape York Academies.
Despite the fact that policies and programs put in place by schools systems still fail to embrace evidence, increasing number of schools are adopting these methods and Direct Instruction programs. Hopefully this small groundswell will turn into a tidal wave.
Posted by jonjayray at 2:15 AM
Monday, November 07, 2016
Don’t raise the charter-school cap. Eliminate it
WHEN MASSACHUSETTS charter schools were still in their beta phase, it made sense to limit their number. As with other promising innovations — in technology, in medicine, in business — a gradual rollout of charter schools ensured that there would be ample time to monitor progress, adjust standards, fix bugs, and learn from experience.
Massachusetts learned well. Its experiment with state-chartered public schools has proved a phenomenal success. More than two decades after the original charter law was passed, the state’s 69 charter schools (25 in Boston) are among the most effective urban public schools in America. As study after study has confirmed, the benefits of a Massachusetts charter school education are profound. They lead to improved math and language mastery, lower dropout rates, higher SAT scores, and greater college attendance.
“The test-score gains produced by Boston’s charters,” remarks the Brookings Institution, “are some of the largest that have ever been documented .”
So effective are public charter schools in Massachusetts that nearly 33,000 students, predominantly black and Latino, are on waiting lists to get into one. Question 2 on the statewide ballot would allow the state to approve 12 new charter schools per year. For anyone who believes in good education, for anyone who wants disadvantaged children to have a better shot at learning than they can get from chronically underperforming city schools, voting “yes” should be a no-brainer.
But why, after all these years, should the number of charter schools still be capped at all? Why shouldn’t every public school in Massachusetts be a charter school?
The most zealous opponents of charter schools are teachers unions, which resent them for the same reason that old-style taxi companies resent Lyft and Uber . Competition stings, especially when the competitors turn out to be nimble, flexible, efficient, creative — and wildly popular.
Teachers unions have a vested financial interest in fighting off charter schools, which are not controlled by local school committees, and therefore not bound by local collective-bargaining agreements. Charter school teachers (and other employees) are free to join a union, but almost never choose to do so. No wonder the unions are bitter.
But the goal of public education isn’t to keep unions rolling in membership dues. Nor is it to preserve the arrangement that public-sector unions insist on: rigid seniority rules, ironclad job security, drawn-out bureaucratic disciplinary procedures, and hyperdetailed contractual provisions. The goal of public education is to teach children and prepare them for adulthood. If urban charter schools have come up with a superior means of achieving that goal, why shouldn’t there be as many of them as possible?
Set aside the arguments about funding and local control. Consider results. For decades, traditional urban public schools have failed countless children, sending them into the world with a substandard education that will cripple them for life. Today there’s a better option. Students in urban Massachusetts charter schools — especially students who are not white and well-to-do — achieve significantly more than their peers in traditional public schools.
The beta phase is over. The charter innovation has been a triumph. Instead of tinkering with a charter school quota, we should be debating how to extend the charter model to every school that might gain from it.
Steven Wilson, an architect of the landmark 1993 education-reform law that created charter schools in Massachusetts, always imagined that urban school superintendents would eventually want to get on the bandwagon. “Once they saw the striking results of charters,” says Wilson, now the CEO of Ascend, a nonprofit charter school network in Brooklyn, “I hoped they would march into the State House and demand the same deal for their schools. But they didn’t.”
That deal, in a nutshell is: far more autonomy in exchange for far more accountability. Pass Question 2, and that deal will be available to a few more schools. That’s great as far as it goes, but Massachusetts can go a lot further.
The Great Student Loan Heist
Another week, another instance of the Obama administration — more specifically the Department of Education — circumventing Congress to enact an agenda. The latest example pertains to higher education and the rules surrounding the repaying of student loans. National Review’s Preston Cooper summarizes the problem:
This week, the Obama administration issued a finalized regulation that will allow the Department of Education (DOE) to cancel the debt of students who claim that their colleges have made a “substantial misrepresentation,” such as false or misleading statistics on promotional materials. The DOE can then recover any forgiven balance from the colleges themselves — a major, possibly fatal, financial burden for institutions.
Cooper calls this “another installment in a long saga of government officials using student-aid programs to wield influence over American higher education. Whoever writes the checks makes the rule, and the DOE uses its power to advance an agenda far beyond merely ensuring that taxpayers' money is put to good use.” An example of how things could go haywire:
For instance, Arizona Law School advertises that its graduates' unemployment rate is 2.8 percent. As my Manhattan Institute colleague Max Eden pointed out in US News & World Report in August, the share of Arizona Law graduates without jobs — when you include those not looking for work — is actually 9.7 percent. Reasonable people would conclude that Arizona Law is nonetheless well within its rights to advertise the 2.8 percent figure, since by definition unemployed people must be looking for work. But the Department of Education could easily cite this “misrepresentation” as an excuse to punish Arizona Law and cancel the debt of students. Further, in deciding which “misrepresentation” claims pass muster, the DOE opens the door to selective enforcement and raises the specter of witch hunts against colleges that fall out of political favor.
As we’ve previously written, the larger problem is guaranteed access to federal money for education, which puts taxpayers on the hook. Guaranteed access means every education entity public or private is going to do whatever’s necessary to get a slice of the pie. Nowhere does the Constitution enumerate such a federal power or individual right to the fruits of someone else’s labor. Americans now owe $1.3 trillion in student debt, of which $1 trillion is held by the federal government. The DOE’s latest power play will inevitably lead to even broader centralization.
School Choice Is Better For Students
As the recent hearing in the Texas legislature shows, the school choice debate is far from over. The Texas House of Representatives faces pressure from public school administrators and teachers unions on one end and school choice proponents on the other.
Those who argue against school choice options claim that programs like vouchers and tax credit scholarships take money away from public schools. Public school advocates have even gone as far as to sue successful tax credit scholarship programs. One instance is the lawsuit brought by the Florida Education Association (FEA) against Step Up For Students (which covers tuition, books, and other expenses for more than 90,000 low-income students). What advocates do not understand is that it is not about public versus private schools, but rather about what is best for students.
Public school classrooms tend to have a higher student–to-teacher ratio. While that is an advantage in terms of teaching a uniform curriculum, it can hurt students who do not understand the material at the same pace or level as the rest of the class. Not all students have the same learning style, which means that one method may be suitable for one group of students but not for another. Private schools and charter schools are better able to address students with different learning styles by providing them with a lower student-to-teacher ratio.
In fact, allowing alternatives to public schools would only improve them. Faced with competition, public schools would have to raise their standards of instructional methodology, teacher retention, and standardized testing performance. Otherwise, they will cease to be relevant. The only way to find out what public schools have to offer is to allow the forces of competition to enter the education market. Free markets and unbridled competition have allowed different sectors of our society to thrive; it is time to let them work in the education sector.
Furthermore, school choice programs need not be funded from property taxes as programs like the Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA) has shown. This program is similar to a retirement investment account, allowing parents to set money aside for their child’s K-12 education with the same tax advantages. Florida’s Gardiner Scholarship Program is a great example of ESAs at work. Launched in 2014, it provides funds for students with special needs. Parents can apply these funds toward private school tuition, tutoring, physical therapy and other programs. From 2015 to 2016, student participation in this program grew from 1,575 to 4,946 students. Whether, it is vouchers, tax credit scholarships, or the ESA, the point is to give parents the opportunity to choose the best option for his or her child’s learning needs.
Ultimately, academic performance is how success is measured. It is the only reason parents and states are looking for alternative options to public education. Currently, more than half of the states in the United States have some form of a school choice program. Twenty-two states have considered or are considering implementing an ESA program.
Texas faces a tough battle in January of 2017 when its legislators reconsider the issue of school choice. However, when they do, they must consider what is best for students, not the public or private schools.
Sunday, November 06, 2016
Jury finds Rolling Stone's debunked campus rape story defamed University of Virginia administrator
A US federal jury has found Rolling Stone magazine, its publisher and a reporter defamed a University of Virginia administrator who sued them for $US7.5 million ($9.77 million) over a discredited story about gang rape at a fraternity house.
The 10-member jury in Charlottesville sided with administrator Nicole Eramo, who claimed the article portrayed her as a villain.
Jurors found that journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely was responsible for libel, with actual malice, and that Rolling Stone and its publisher were also responsible for defaming Ms Eramo.
Ms Eramo claimed the November 2014 article falsely said she discouraged the woman identified only as Jackie from reporting the incident to police. A police investigation found no evidence to back up Jackie's claims.
Rolling Stone's attorneys said there was no evidence that the reporter knew what she was writing about Ms Eramo was false or had serious doubts about whether it was true.
In a statement released on Friday (local time), the magazine apologized to Ms Eramo and anyone else impacted by the story.
"It is our deep hope that our failings do not deflect from the pervasive issues discussed in the piece, and that reporting on sexual assault cases ultimately results in campus policies that better protect our students," the statement read.
"We will continue to publish stories that shine a light on the defining social, political and cultural issues of our times, and we will continue to seek the truth in every story we publish."
The jury found that Erdely acted with actual malice on six claims — two statements in the article and four statements to media outlets after the story was published.
Among them was one in which Erdely wrote in the story that Ms Eramo had a "non-reaction" when she heard from Jackie that two other women were also gang raped at the same fraternity at the university.
Jurors also found that the decision by Rolling Stone and Wenner Media, the magazine's publisher, to repost the story on December 5, 2014 with an editor's note acknowledging that there were discrepancies in Jackie's account counted as "republishing" the debunked story.
The magazine did not officially retract the story and remove it from its website until the following April.
The controversy: a recap
Rolling Stone magazine published an article by reporter Sabrina Erdely that claimed to describe a group sexual assault at a university campus.
The subject of the article was identified only as "Jackie" by the magazine.
The story set off a firestorm at the university and in schools nationwide.
Ms Eramo received hundreds of angry letters and emails calling her the "dean of rape", among other things, and faced protesters outside her office.
The story crumbled after other news outlets began asking questions and police found no evidence to back it up.
The article was officially retracted in April 2015.
Jurors heard closing arguments on Tuesday after listening to more than two weeks' worth of evidence.
Over the course of the more than two-week trial, the jury of eight women and two men watched 11 hours of video testimony, heard from a dozen live witnesses and examined nearly 300 exhibits.
The judge earlier this week dismissed Ms Eramo's claim that the story, when taken as a whole, implied that she was a "false friend" to Jackie. Rolling Stone had called that a "critical element" of her case.
Because the judge determined that Ms Eramo was a public figure, she had to prove that Rolling Stone made statements with "actual malice", meaning the publication knew that what it was writing about her was false or entertained serious doubts as to whether it might be true.
Ms Eramo's attorneys argued that Erdely came into the story with a preconceived storyline about institutional indifference to sexual assault and intentionally disregarded statements and facts about Ms Eramo that did not fit that narrative.
They claimed Erdely also ignored red flags about Jackie's credibility, including the changing account of Jackie's rape and her refusal to let Erdely talk to people who could corroborate her story.
Attorneys for Rolling Stone acknowledged that Erdely and her editors made serious reporting mistakes, but argued that there was no evidence they acted with actual malice.
The magazine's attorneys said that Erdely and her editors had full faith in Jackie until they realized she was no longer credible in early December after the story was published.
Bias at George Mason University
Being a conservative on campus is hard enough, at George Mason University (GMU) they have just made it even more difficult. On Saturday Oct. 22, 2016 Mason hosted celebrity Miley Cyrus on campus to promote Hillary Clinton and knock on student’s dorm doors to ensure they were voting.
While this fun, press event might have seemed harmless to some, for anyone outside of the Clinton fan base this partisan charade on campus was both distracting and disrespectful.
With suspicion regarding how this event handled university policies and campaign laws, Americans for Limited Government filed a Freedom of Information Act to obtain more knowledge. The information revealed that despite the media driven perception, Cyrus did not go door to door. Instead she knocked on the doors of pre-approved students led by a security team and had a photo opp with university President Angel Cabrera.
Mason administrators assisted in gathering the security team, selecting students to meet Cyrus, and coordinating the visit with the Clinton campaign. A clearly partisan event seemed more like a Mason sponsored event.
Upon discussion about the event with students on campus prior to Cyrus’s visit, students with the universities College Republicans chapter noted that this was even permissible since Ivanka Trump was expected to have a similar visit the following week. However, Trump’s visit never happened.
Cyrus gathered a crowd outside the Piedmont dorm hall to chant her songs at her as she spoke with students inside, as a Mason student myself, the charade seemed to cause a publicity nightmare certainly not exemplary of the Mason environment.
Aside from being distracting and blocking nearly all access to the Piedmont dorm, the event isolated Republican students on campus.
Harvard University’s own Crimson newspaper embarrassingly had to explain in an Oct. 2015 report, “The Elephant in the Room: Conservatives at Harvard,” that conservative students on campus often feel overwhelmed by the liberal presence of students and faculty. This isolation prevents students from working on political campaigns and silences students in classrooms.
When GMU courted Cyrus onto campus to promote the Clinton campaign, they sent a clear message about who they supported in the 2016 election. Despite student hopes of a balanced campus environment, our own President was pictured with Cyrus during her pro-Clinton campaign.
One Mason student writing for The Odyssey noted that while speaking to a police officer in the crowd watching Cyrus he told her that “they chose Piedmont 4th because many of the students who live there are affiliated with the GMU Democrats or were actively involved the Hillary campaign.”
It is not like Cyrus spoke on campus about political issues and ideas, she went into dorms and pretended to visit random students while instead speaking with known Democrats about why Clinton was the best option.
Students refusing to support Clinton in the 2016 election did not have their voices heard on campus this October, they were subjected to a fabricated press show to boost Clinton, Cyrus, and the University in a partisan manner. Instead of pursuing an open and inclusive political environment, GMU did little besides isolate political opinion on campus.
A charter school success story
Last of four stories on how families could be affected by charter school expansion. For other entries in the series, click here.
Janeé Jones gave birth to her first child nearly 12 years ago, a son named Angelo, at 7 p.m. He weighed 7 pounds and 7 ounces, and on the week of his birth, family and friends played “0777” in the Massachusetts State Lottery and won more than $500.
Last year, as Angelo “Seven” Jones entered the sixth grade, he and his family won a different lottery, which allowed him to transfer this fall from a traditional public school to Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy charter school in Dorchester.
With that stroke of luck, Angelo was plucked from a waiting list of more than 100 children and he, according to his mother and other relatives, drastically improved his educational experience. They praise the Davis Leadership Academy’s no-tolerance approach to discipline and its particular attention to African-American history and culture.
“My son is definitely progressing,” Jones said. “He’s more attentive to his homework, to his appearance because of the dress code, and he has a different sense of responsibility.”
The family said Angelo needed a change. He had attended fourth and fifth grades at McKinley South End Academy, a district school that focuses on therapeutic and supportive education for students with unique social and emotional needs.
Altercations among the students there were commonplace, Angelo said, and he admitted to being involved in his share. He said he was reprimanded for throwing chairs, verbally berating other students and teachers, fighting, and even sprinting out of school.
Davis Academy, Angelo’s new school, which serves 6th through 8th grades, boasts a strict disciplinary structure where obedience is required, not rewarded. On a recent afternoon, neatly dressed, uniform-clad students walked silently from class to class, in tight single-file lines uncommon for preteens.
At his old school, “I was behind. I felt that I was not doing as much as I should be,” the 11-year-old said recently at the family’s home in The Charlesview Residences in Brighton. “Davis taught me about how to be respectful in class. How to sit down and do my work.”
The organizational structures of public education are lost on Angelo, a gregarious, playful, and sometimes rebellious child who knows more of scratch tickets than of enrollment lotteries — or of the fiercely contested state ballot question on charter schools, for that matter.
But the change in school environments is not lost on Jones — a 32-year-old single mother of two — who says without hyperbole that moving her son to another school was a matter of life and death.
If Angelo did not change schools, “he would’ve been gun-toting in two years,” Jones said. “We already grew up in Boston, in the hood, and he’s seen enough. ... I needed to keep him focused on his life and his choices.”
In Davis Academy, Jones selected an educational environment that drastically differs from nearly all schools in the state — whether charter, parochial, or traditional. It offers a curriculum that stresses self-confidence of students, a vast majority of whom are black.
Davis also boasts a nonwhite principal, a diverse staff of teachers and administrators, and an executive board composed of members of the Dorchester community.
Ghanaian artwork graces the walls of the administration’s office, and the faces of black heroes from past and present line the hallways. Educational cohorts are named after historically black colleges and universities. Every year, students take a trip to a foreign country, often in Africa.
This year, on the first day of school, Angelo and his classmates were greeted with dancers demonstrating Capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines acrobatics and music.
“It’s been two months of school, and it’s been a drastic difference,” Jones said.
Of course, other factors could have contributed to Angelo’s change in behavior. During his time at McKinley, the Jones family was going through a traumatic and transient period, according to his mother, which included Angelo staying with family members while Janeé and Angelo’s father were breaking up.
There is also Angelo’s ADHD diagnosis, which occurred when he was attending the William Monroe Trotter elementary school in Dorchester and led to his placement at McKinley, his mother said.
Students are referred to McKinley if they have not made progress using school-based interventions, said Dan O’Brien, spokesman for Boston Public Schools.
“The McKinley School is highly regarded for effectively educating students with a primary diagnosis of emotional impairment but who often have other disability diagnoses,’’ O’Brien said in a statement. “The McKinley’s successes are credited to its use of positive behavior intervention and supports; a strong staff with clinical backgrounds and therapeutic supports for students and families; and the only K-12 empowerment program for boys of color in BPS.”
Jones did not provide data to quantify her child’s improvement at Davis Academy, since the first marking period has not been completed. Neither BPS nor Davis could provide specific educational information about Angelo’s academic achievement, due to privacy restrictions.
However, after her first parent-teacher conference at the Davis in late October, Jones said, she felt confident her son was improving at the Fields Corner school.
“He used to wild out so badly. Things that I’ve never seen him do. I wondered where that was coming from?” Jones said. “I don’t think that all kids should go to charter schools, but I do think charter schools are onto something.’’
Proponents of increasing the state’s cap on charter schools say voting yes on Question 2 on Nov. 8 will make Angelo Jones’s story a common one, where more children come off charter school waiting lists and into their desired classrooms. Opponents focus on a broader picture, including the financial impact more charter schools could have on Boston’s school district, which educates the majority of city children.
For Jones, who is between jobs but previously worked as a cook, the matter is concrete, not abstract. Before enrolling her son, Jones said, she “didn’t have an opinion” about charter schools, since she had attended traditional Boston public schools throughout her life. Now, the mother is transforming into a Davis Academy evangelist.
“It works,” Jones said of the charter school system.
She found Davis Academy through members of the Collaborative Parent Leadership Action Network, a statewide group of charter and district parents who provide advice and support for underserved families. Jones said she was immediately drawn by Davis’s holistic model of education.
“It’s important for every child here to leave with a strong sense of self,” said Karmala Sherwood, executive director of the Davis. “Students need to have an understanding of who they are and where they come from, so they can know where they are going.”
O’Brien said Boston Public Schools also has a bevy of programs for students of color, including 43 schools with extracurricular options designed to empower nonwhite students. Angelo did not take part in these programs when he attended BPS schools, his mother said.
However, at Davis Academy, Angelo has no choice. The school says everything it does is informed by its model of Afro-centrism, reminiscent of the Freedom Schools from the Jim Crow American South or the Oakland Community School founded by the Black Panther Party.
During a recent tour of the school, Sherwood equated the school’s philosophy with an age-old saying in black communities: “be twice as good.”
“The work is a little harder than the other school,” Angelo said of Davis Academy. “But I like that. It’ll make you smarter.”
When asked what he enjoys most about the new school, Angelo chose the artwork of black history makers, such as Jamaican American chessmaster Maurice Ashley and civil rights stalwart Fannie Lou Hamer. The 11-year-old also says he prefers the structured atmosphere, because it will help him get a job.
Jones said she enjoys that Angelo takes pride in his daily appearance and disposition.
As if to prove his devotion, Angelo then recited Davis’s student mission, which students must repeat every morning.
I pledge “to inspire others and to catalyze educational, economic, and political advancement within their communities and the broader nation,” Angelo said as he sat at the family’s kitchen table.
As he spoke, his mother wiped away prideful tears, hopeful for the man her son could become.
“How’d I get so lucky?” she wondered aloud to her sister.
Posted by jonjayray at 1:43 AM