Thursday, May 25, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Education should reward outcomes, not inputs.

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


The True Purpose of the University

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Diversity gap at Boston Latin School proving stubborn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sheer Lunacy on Campus

Walter E. Williams

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

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

Sen. Mike Lee   

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

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

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

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

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

This changed with the 1952 GI Bill.

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

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

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

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

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

This needs to change.

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

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

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

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

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


SJW Indoctrination via Middle School Math

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

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

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

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

Ah, the dastardly deeds of algebra-wielding villains!

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



Mixed response to Pence at Notre Dame

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, May 22, 2017

Mizzou Feeling the Effects of Appeasement  

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

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

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

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


Dismantling the Marxist Madrassas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Will School Choice Be Mired in the Swamp?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, May 21, 2017

The secret weapon to eliminating poverty — talking to your kids?

It's amazing how hard it is to extinguish popular BS.  Joe Hildebrand's article below is an example of that.  The research he relies on has long ago been debunked (e.g. here and here) but he shows no awareness of that. Just the small sample size (an average of only 14 for each social class level) and the ignoring of IQ differences vitiate the research

WHY are some people rich and others poor? Why do some people thrive and others barely survive? It’s the question that has sparked both revolutions and wars. That has occupied Wall Street and wise minds alike.

We’re often told that there is no easy solution. But the far more scandalous truth is that there is — it’s just that you’ve probably never heard of it.

Well now that’s about to change. Our story goes back to the 1960s, those heady days of high hopes, high ideals and even higher hippies.

Two education researchers called Dr Betty Hart and Dr Todd Risley were involved in the campaign launched by US President Lyndon B. Johnson known as the War on Poverty.

They designed a special program for a preschool in an impoverished part of Kansas City to build children’s language skills and vocabulary. At the same time they tried the same program on a group of university professors’ children.

All the kids embraced the new activities and would learn the new words being directly taught to them, but when they weren’t being actively given new words to learn the poorer kids’ vocabularies didn’t grow. The language of the professors’ kids, on the other hand, continued to expand faster and faster. The gap got wider and wider.

Why was this so? The researchers refused to believe that intelligence was hereditary and so they worked on the only other possibility — even when they got to the kids at preschool they were too late. They had to go right back to the beginning. They had to go into the home.

Three decades later Hart and Risley managed to assemble an incredibly in-depth study in which they tracked children in the homes of 42 families from three different socio-economic groups: professional, working-class and welfare.

The plan was both simple and staggering: They would tape record everything that happened in the home from before the babies even spoke until they were between three and four years old. For an hour a month every month for two and a half years everything each child heard was recorded.

As they painstakingly transcribed and tallied every word they came to an astonishing realisation. At the age of three the children of the professional families had heard 45 million words, those in working-class families just 26 million and those in the welfare families only 13 million.

In other words, there was a gap of more than 30 million words between the richest and poorest children and it was this gap that was key to how they were able to learn, increase language skills on their own and even build neural pathways. The more words they heard, the more their brains literally grew.

The children in professional families also heard vastly more positive words compared to negative words than those in the working-class group, who in turn heard many times more than in the welfare group. For negative words the results were the reverse.

The child of a professional family would hear six positive “affirmations” in an hour for every one negative “prohibition”. For working class families the ratio was two to one. Yet the children in welfare families heard two negative comments for every one positive one.

And most telling of all, the kids’ language and behaviour mimicked that of their parents and was so well entrenched by the time they started school that the cycle of poverty would go unbroken, just as the affluent kids would learn all the language skills and traits that made their parents affluent.

Hart and Risley called this “The Early Catastrophe” yet 20 years later the catastrophe remains.

And this is despite the fact it is not necessarily about being rich or poor at all. The reason the rich kids do so well is not because they’re rich, but because they hear many more words and that is overwhelmingly more likely to happen in affluent households. The research shows that if kids from poor households that are “language rich” the results are the same.

In other words, it effectively costs nothing to give your kids the same advantage that rich kids have. You just have to talk to them early, and a lot.



Four current reports below

Why should everyone else pay for your expensive university degree?

Australian students have the immense privilege of being able to attend a world-class university regardless of their bank balance, or family background.

And that will continue under the government’s recently announced plans to make students foot more of the bill for their degree, and to start paying it back sooner.

The beauty of Australia’s higher education contribution scheme, or ‘HECS’ as it’s widely known, is that students are only expected to repay less than half the full cost of their studies after they land a job that earns them a comfortable living. By the time former students are earning the government’s newly revised threshold of $42,000 a year for compulsory HECS repayments, they will be taking home a healthy $700 a week after tax and super contributions.

That is a far cry from packaged noodles, tinned spaghetti and instant coffee.

And once students do start work, the dividends are enormous. University graduates can expect to earn well over $1 million more throughout their working life than those without a degree. They also enjoy around half the average unemployment rate, as well as having the opportunity to spend valuable years plying their trade in their chosen field.

That kind of pay-off makes the government’s proposed fee increase of no more than $3600 a year look like chump change. Anyone who claims an increase of this order will stop school leavers from pursuing their dream career can join me for a bicycle ride to the moon. Indeed, whatever way you slice it, taking out a HECS loan to attend university stands to be the best investment you’re ever likely to make.

It’s fashionable to romanticise the Whitlam government’s introduction of free tertiary education as a shining example of the truly egalitarian society Australia ought to be.
A student in the quadrangle of the University of Sydney. Holders of degrees will significantly out-earn other workers, so asking them to pay more is fair and reasonable. (Pic: AAP/Paul Miller)

But where is the fairness in asking the majority of Australians — three quarters of whom don’t have a university qualification — to subsidise the debt of tomorrow’s professional class who are likely to earn more over their lives than they will?

With an eye-watering national debt of $550 billion and an annual deficit of $37 billion, there is no painless or politically simple way of bringing our country’s finances back to a sustainable footing. Faced with the challenges of an ageing population, chronic infrastructure backlog and inexorably rising health costs to name a bare few, hard-headed choices in our national interest are sorely needed.

If we want to take care of those who are sick, without work or who can’t otherwise go it alone, it makes sense to share the burden with those who can. By that standard, paring back the funds used to pave the way for doctors, lawyers, scientists and engineers without raising the entry barriers for future students is a perfectly equitable place to start.

None of this is to say there aren’t scores of students buckling under the cost of living independently while studying 40 hours a week. But if we actually want to help students doing it tough, there are far better things we could do than paying off a debt they will only encounter once they’re taking home an easily liveable wage.

But as famously said by Paul Keating, the Treasurer who abolished free university and introduced the HECS system, "a free higher education system is one paid for by the taxes of all, the majority of whom haven’t had the privilege of a university education. Ask yourself if you think that is a fair thing."

On that score, Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s announced shake up of university funding is exactly the kind of fair and forward-thinking policy the Coalition government should be championing.


Enrolments at Sydney Catholic high schools drop for the first time in 20 years

Mainly due to the high costs of living in Sydney, particularly for accommodation

Enrolments in NSW Catholic high schools have dropped for the first time in almost 20 years and are down overall in Catholic schools for the first time since 2008 as struggling families are forced into overcrowded public schools.

The latest enrolment figures show there are 219,862 students in the state's systemic Catholic schools, down 179 from last year, according to the minutes of the NSW Catholic Education Commission's March meeting.

Schools in the Maitland diocese had the largest enrolment increase, with 392 extra students this year, while the largest decline was in the Parramatta diocese, with saw a drop of 353 students.

At the same, the latest enrolment figures from the NSW Department of Education show that some public schools within the area covered by the Parramatta diocese have ballooned by about 20 per cent in just four years.

"This is the first year since 2008 in which total enrolments have declined from the previous year [and] this is the first year since 1999 in which secondary enrolments have declined," the minutes say.

Maitland-Newcastle and Wollongong dioceses had enrolment growth in both their primary and high schools, the minutes say.

"Sydney and Lismore also grew overall but declined in the secondary and primary sectors respectively."

The executive director of Catholic education in Parramatta, Greg Whitby, said there were substantial financial pressure on families in western Sydney.

"House prices and rental costs, as well as general cost of living increases, are putting many families in a situation where they don't feel that they can afford even the modest cost of systemic Catholic schools fees," Mr Whitby said.

But Mr Whitby said some parents were also "hesitant" about the "strong school transformation agenda" in Parramatta.

"For some communities, this student-centred, inquiry-based learning model is very different from what they know or are used to. For the schools that have embraced this contemporary approach to learning and schools, they are doing outstandingly well," Mr Whitby said.

"Others are more hesitant or are still in the early stages of change. We believe this is reflected in enrolment numbers."

In the Sydney diocese, primary school enrolments increased by more than 100 students but there was a "slight decline" of less than 50 students from their secondary schools, according to a spokeswoman.

"Preliminary research shows that some families, particularly in the southwest regions of Sydney, are already struggling to make ends meet especially due to the mortgage stress of the Sydney housing market," the spokeswoman said.

"Only 35 per cent of families in our south-west Sydney schools can comfortably afford a Catholic education, while 15 per cent find it a real struggle."

The spokeswoman said the Catholic systemic schools had always maintained to keep school fees "affordable to the bare minimum required to deliver a quality education".

The fees for years 7 to 8 are about $1600 per year, increasing to about $1700 per year for years 9 and 10 and $2200 per year for years 11 to 12, according the the Sydney Catholic Schools website.

"The reality however, with the current uncertainty in Commonwealth's announced 10-year funding school model means, Sydney Catholic Schools could face fee increase potentially forcing some families to seek enrolments in the already overcrowded state education sector," the spokeswoman said.


Proposed changes to Australia Education Act do not go far enough

The majority of Australian school students are considered ‘disadvantaged'

The government’s proposed amendments to the Australia Education Act introduced to the Parliament today include welcome changes to school funding but do not go far enough, Centre for Independent Studies education policy analyst Blaise Joseph said.

“The proposed changes — important updates of school funding data, a better way of allocating funding for students with disabilities, sensible transition arrangements for schools with funding changes over the next 10 years, and indexation based on actual costs – ignore the crucial issues,” Mr Joseph said.

“The changes do not address the fundamental underlying problems with the school funding model: that the benchmark is set unreasonably high and is not based on any evidence.”

“The SRS base amount is to be calculated using the latest data, which is welcome as it is currently based on data from as far back as 2008. However, the legislation does not include any provision for further updates any time the next 10 years, so in 2027 schools will be funded based on data which is over 10 years old. This is a significant oversight which should be rectified,” he said.

“The government’s proposal to have three different levels of support for students with disabilities depending on need — instead of just one level for all students with disabilities — is a sensible move, as not all student with disabilities have the same needs.

“However the proposed changes to loadings do not address the fundamental problems with the SRS.

“It is inexcusable that the other loadings haven’t been substantially altered, as they represent a significant proportion of the cost of the SRS, are not based on any evidence whatsoever, and do not represent genuine needs-based funding.

“In particular, the loading for low SES still applies to the lowest 50% of all students.”

“This means the criteria for ‘disadvantage’ remains unreasonably broad such that the majority of Australian school students are considered ‘disadvantaged’ and receive extra funding. As a result, the cost of the SRS is unjustifiably high,” Mr Joseph said.


Jobs without degrees: Is university becoming outdated?

THE Government’s decision to increase university fees is not the only reason Australians should reconsider enrolling.

Many experts and employers believe degrees are outdated, with the world of work is changing faster than universities can keep up.

Degree costs are set to grow 7.5 per cent by 2021 and students will have to start paying back loans as soon as they earn $42,000 a year, meanwhile shorter, less expensive study options – such as free online courses and vocational qualifications – are increasingly considered on par or even preferable, depending on the field of work.

Dr Amantha Imber, founder of training and consulting firm Inventium, says she does not look for university degrees when hiring for operational, administrative or support roles.

“In this day and age there is a wealth of learning experiences online and many of those are free or cost effective, like under $1000, and what you can learn is often actually a lot better than what you learn in a university degree,” she says.

“What is important to us in any job applicant is a thirst for learning.

“(Universities) generally are big conservative organisations and they are not moving fast enough to keep up with how the world is changing around them.”

GradStats data finds 68.8 per cent of 2015 bachelor degree graduates available for full-time work found it within four months of completing their studies.

This is up from 68.1 per cent for 2014 graduates but down from 71.3 per cent for 2013 graduates.

Although some occupations still require university for licensing purposes – such as lawyers, teachers, doctors and engineers – Imber says there is a trend of employers thinking outside the box when it comes to education.

“There are definitely larger organisations no longer treating (degrees) as a mandatory requirement,” she says.

“They are probably still in the minority but there is definitely a change happening.”

In July, PwC will welcome its first cohort of school leavers under the Government’s Higher Apprenticeships pilot program.

The Year 12 graduates will join PwC’s consulting and assurance teams in Sydney and Melbourne and be trained on the job, earning a Diploma of Business along the way.

Latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show more than a quarter of school leavers choose the workforce over post-school studies straight after graduation.

Of the 237,400 Australians who finished Year 12 in 2015, 69,200 were working and not studying in May, 2016.

Michelle Moloney, director of nanny matching service Mini Majer, did not go to university and has zero regrets.

She started her career path with a Diploma of Hospitality Operations and Event Management, and a three-month stint in catering but soon decided to move into the corporate world.

She became a receptionist at a recruitment firm before working her way up to a consultant position then eventually managing and purchasing Mini Majer.

“I didn’t need any degrees or anything like that,” she says.

“(Recruitment) is one of those things you can only learn on the job.

“In high school I was very competitive and always wanted to get ahead but I never thought a degree would get me ahead.

“My mum grew up in a village in a convent and didn’t have the luxury of finishing high school so I get that drive from my mum.”

Lisa Solomons, director of 360 PR, also took an alternative path to success. She went straight into full-time work with Telstra then, after a year, enrolled in a Diploma of Marketing, specialising in Sports Marketing.

“At the time I was cheerleading for the Roosters and decided I would prefer to be in the office rather than on the field,” she says.

“I ended up working in the marketing department for a Sydney nightclub (then) a 12-month reception role came up at a public relations company and I quickly realised that this was where I was meant to be.”

Solomons studied part time at night to complete a Diploma of Public Relations and now runs her own company.

“(If you don’t got to university), you need to be proactive and say ‘yes’ to create the path you want. Have a bank of mentors and look beyond people within your chosen industry,” she says.

“I didn’t want to go to university just because that was the thing you do.”


A majority of Australian school students are considered ‘disadvantaged’!

The government’s proposed amendments to the Australia Education Act introduced to the Parliament today include welcome changes to school funding but do not go far enough, Centre for Independent Studies education policy analyst Blaise Joseph said.

“The proposed changes — important updates of school funding data, a better way of allocating funding for students with disabilities, sensible transition arrangements for schools with funding changes over the next 10 years, and indexation based on actual costs – ignore the crucial issues,” Mr Joseph said.

“The changes do not address the fundamental underlying problems with the school funding model: that the benchmark is set unreasonably high and is not based on any evidence.”

“The SRS base amount is to be calculated using the latest data, which is welcome as it is currently based on data from as far back as 2008. However, the legislation does not include any provision for further updates any time the next 10 years, so in 2027 schools will be funded based on data which is over 10 years old. This is a significant oversight which should be rectified,” he said.

“The government’s proposal to have three different levels of support for students with disabilities depending on need — instead of just one level for all students with disabilities — is a sensible move, as not all student with disabilities have the same needs.

“However the proposed changes to loadings do not address the fundamental problems with the SRS.

“It is inexcusable that the other loadings haven’t been substantially altered, as they represent a significant proportion of the cost of the SRS, are not based on any evidence whatsoever, and do not represent genuine needs-based funding.

“In particular, the loading for low SES still applies to the lowest 50% of all students.”

“This means the criteria for ‘disadvantage’ remains unreasonably broad such that the majority of Australian school students are considered ‘disadvantaged’ and receive extra funding. As a result, the cost of the SRS is unjustifiably high,” Mr Joseph said.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Leave the Kids Alone, Progressives

Should elementary school kids be performing plays about "gender identity"? The question should answer itself.

An outburst of sanity occurred Ontario, Canada: The Niagara Catholic District School Board (NCDSB) canceled performances of a play about gender identity booked in five elementary schools — withstanding the inevitable accusations of “transphobia” that followed.

The play, “Boys, Girls and Other Mythological Creatures,” was produced by the St. Catharines-based Carousel Playhouse, an organization that touts its commitment to “inclusive and diverse stories that contribute to a dialogue about how youth interact with their peers, their friends, their families, teachers, education system and society at large.” One of their listed “community partners” is Pride Niagara, which identifies itself as a “celebration of Niagara’s sexual and gender diverse community and its supporters.”

Thus it should surprise no one that the play features an eight-year-old boy who dresses as a girl and questions his gender. And given the progressive appetite for indoctrinating children, it should be even less surprising is that it was scheduled to be shown to students in the first though fourth grades.

In fact, it was shown in one Catholic grade school, and officials there came to the conclusion that the material was not age appropriate. A statement released by the district also explained the play “was not originally presented as a play about gender identity.”

NCDSB education director John Crocco echoed that sentiment, insisting the play was “not age-appropriate for a predominantly primary audience.” But he apparently felt compelled to defend the cancellations with the usual boilerplate bromides. Thus, while he explained the board’s decision to defer showing the play “was to afford time for further discussion and preparation with age-appropriate students and how the message links to curriculum expectations,” he insisted the board was “fully inclusive, accepting and supportive,” and in alignment with recent changes to the Ontario Ministry of Education’s health and physical education curriculum.

It’s a curriculum “based on the principles of inclusive education” in which “all students, parents, caregivers, and other members of the school community — regardless of ancestry, culture, ethnicity, sex, physical or intellectual ability, race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, or other factors — are welcomed, included, treated fairly, and respected. Diversity is valued, and all members of the school community feel safe, comfortable, and accepted” [emphasis added].

Including gender identity means the school district — taking its directives from openly-gay Premier Kathleen Wynn and her Liberal Party — has completely capitulated to the LGBT community’s transgender agenda. The one where chromosomal reality is irrelevant and self-identification is the only factor determining whether one is male or female.

Furthermore, impatience is part of that agenda. As Crocco reveals, the curriculum that speaks to “cultural values, beliefs, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc,” isn’t supposed to be imposed on students until Grade 3. Nonetheless “students in Grade 1 and 2” attended the play’s performance at Mary Ward Catholic Elementary School.

The subsequent cancellations have drawn the predictable fire from those who believe one either kowtows to the LGBT agenda or one is a bigot for refusing to do so. Carousel Playhouse artistic director Jessica Carmichael and playwright Mark Crawford posted open letters at the theater’s website, replete with the requisite board-bashing epithets. Carmichael was concerned the cancellations “may be based on misinformation, grown out of fear, intolerance, transphobia, homophobia and misogyny,” while Crawford insisted he was apprehensive “when the motivating factor for canceling performances of this play is a few adults' own fear, prejudice, and hatred.”

Campaign Life Coalition member Clinton Somerton, a staunch opponent of the government-imposed curriculum, defended the NCDSB’s decision. “Pope Francis condemned attempts to indoctrinate children into gender ideology, expressing outrage over such sexual propaganda by saying ‘Today children — children! — are taught in school that everyone can choose his or her sex. … And this is terrible!’” Somerton explained, adding that the board “was wisely following the Holy Father’s guidance by protecting its students from the psycho-sexual molestation of this theatre group’s propaganda-in-a-play.”

He also had some sage advice for faint-hearted people like Crocco and others, insisting they “should not to be afraid of the bludgeon-words ‘homophobe,’ ‘transphobe’ and the like, that are too often used to intimidate decent people into silence and acquiescence to the mental and spiritual molestation of their children. On the contrary, he wrote, "NCDSB needs to be bold and outspoken in its commitment to protecting children, and in calling out these pan-sexual ideologues as child abusers.”

By contrast Carmichael, who insists the board knew what the play is about, also insisted the Liberal Party’s curriculum begins in Grade 1, and that “gender nonconformity” and “gender fluidity” are parts of it.

She further asserts Catholic schools cannot resist it. “They are publicly funded, they can’t just make their own decisions, otherwise they shouldn’t be taking public funding, because this is mandated across the board,” she declared. “It’s something they have to uphold in their schools; they can’t pick and choose how they are going to do that.”

Tanya Granic Allen, executive director of the Ontario-based parents' rights group Parents As First Educator, wasn’t buying it. “It’s appalling for any school board, let alone a Catholic one, to use a cutesy play to force gender ideology, and whatever the latest social fad is, on kids who are nowhere near equipped to process this information,” she stated.

Unfortunately, indoctrinating children too young to think for themselves is the agenda. One that begs an essential question: How can the LGBT agenda simply be imposed on entire school systems, turning them into what Fox News columnist Todd Starnes refers to as “playgrounds for the gender and sex revolutionaries?”

“Playgrounds” is a very apropos description of an agenda where puberty blockers for boys as young as 12 and girls as young as 10 are recommended by Boston Children’s Hospital endocrinologist Norman Spack — despite extensive data collated by Dr. James Cantor revealing 60-90% of trans-kids change their minds upon entering adulthood. Administering life-altering hormones to children, knowing a substantial to vast majority will no longer need them, reeks of medical malpractice. And the reality that 41% of transgender individuals attempt suicide at some point in their lives, compared to only 4.6% of the general public, suggests a large degree of mental instability among transgender individuals.

Yet schools should be normalizing transgenderism in the minds of children?

Abiding the LGBT agenda and the authoritarian way it is imposed can only happen when parents would rather surrender their own children to a politically correct worldview than defend traditional family values.

Values for which no apology whatsoever is necessary.

“It is our collective failure to resist the sexual militants that has allowed the situation to deteriorate to the point where such groups can virtually demand access to little children while fearful adults stand gaping and blinking helplessly,” Carmichael warns.

Schools should not be repositories for un-rebuttable progressive ideology, which is every bit as faith-based and proselytizing as any religion. Should it thus require the same court-mandated religious restrictions with regard to schools? When a school nurse can’t give an aspirin to a minor without parental permission — but can direct that same child to an abortion clinic without parental knowledge — perhaps it’s an idea that needs exploring.


Special dress code for blacks?  No equality?

Black students at a Malden charter school who wear their hair in braids are facing detention and suspension by administrators who say the hairstyles violate the school’s dress code. Parents describe the crackdown as racist.

Colleen Cook, whose twin 15-year-old daughters, Deanna and Mya, attend the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, said Thursday evening that her children have served multiple detentions since last week and could be suspended.

“They teach them at a very high academic level and I appreciate that, and that’s why they go to the school,” Cook said. “But, unfortunately, they don’t have any sensitivity to diversity at all.”

Two other mothers said their black or biracial children had been subjected to discipline or questioning over their hairstyles — braids with extensions — which the parents describe as important expressions of culture.

The school issued a statement defending its actions, saying that Mystic Valley Charter serves a diverse population and that many students go on to attend top colleges and universities.

“One important reason for our students’ success is that we purposefully promote equity by focusing on what unites our students and reducing visible gaps between those of different means,” the statement said.

“Our policies, including those governing student appearance and attire, foster a culture that emphasizes education rather than style, fashion, or materialism,” the statement said. “Our policy on hair extensions, which tend to be very expensive, is consistent with, and a part of, the educational environment that we believe is so important to our students’ success.”

School officials were not available for interviews Thursday evening, a spokesman said.

Cook said the school’s policy against braids that include hair extensions — additional hair that is woven in — disproportionately affects black children. Cook and her husband adopted five black children — all siblings — and four have attended Mystic Valley since kindergarten, she said.

Cook said her two daughters who are facing discipline for their hairstyles are good students: Mya is in the National Honor Society, with a 3.79 grade point average, while Deanna has a 3.3 grade point average.

More than 40 percent of students in the school are people of color, including 17 percent who are black, according to the latest annual ranking from U.S. News & World Report.

The school’s student handbook states that hair extensions are prohibited, as are hair coloring, makeup, nail polish, and tattoos.

Cook said she understands a policy that bans nail polish and hair color, rules that would affect children equally. But she said the policy against hair extensions seems aimed at black children.

Braided hair, Cook said, “gives them pride. They want to partake in their culture.”

Cook said her daughters had worn braids before and never encountered objections from the school. Administrators suddenly cracked down in late April, after students returned from spring break, she said.

“They marched black and biracial children down the hall” to inspect their hair, she said.

Cook said her daughters, who declined to remove their braids, have been forced to serve detention an hour before school starts each day, and nearly an hour afterward. They also have been kicked out of after-school sports and banned from the prom, she said. The actions have been particularly hard on Deanna, a runner on the school’s track team.

Cook said she has called two civil rights groups — the NAACP and the state’s Anti-Defamation League — seeking help. The Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit organization that fights anti-Semitism and other expressions of hate, has set up a meeting with school administrators on Friday, Cook said. Officials with the Anti-Defamation League could not be reached Thursday evening.

The punishment for some other girls of color at the school has been even more severe.

Annette Namuddu said she received a call from school administrators last week saying her 15-year-old daughter, Lauren Kayondo, initially would have to serve detention. When her daughter refused to remove the braids this week, the detention became a suspension, the mother said.

“It’s discrimination,” Namuddu said. “I see white kids with colored hair and you are not supposed to color your hair, and they walk around like it’s nothing.”

“I don’t get it,” Namuddu said.

Namuddu said her daughter has been coming home from school and crying, saying she feels the school is picking on black children.

“My daughter is a good student. Never gets in trouble,” Namuddu said. “Lauren was having difficulty in mathematics, but they should be helping her out instead of putting her in detention.”

Kathy Granderson said her 14-year-old daughter, Jaden, a freshman at the school, was one of about 20 girls taken down to administrators’ offices last week and asked whether their braids contained any “fake” hair. Granderson said about half of the girls ended up getting detentions, but her daughter, who is biracial, did not.

“This is not right, and you have to take a stand for your children,” she said. “I don’t want my daughter and son [to] think they aren’t good enough.”


Scotland: Students fill teacher gaps as class behaviour worsens

A poor public image, high workloads and low wages are said to be putting people off teaching.  Student indiscipline more likely

A shortage of teachers in Scottish schools is damaging pupils’ behaviour and ability to learn while unqualified trainees are being relied upon to lead classes, MSPs have been warned.

The Scottish parliament’s education committee, which is investigating a staffing shortfall in schools, was told by one local council that children had been sent home because of a lack of staff and that “something has clearly gone drastically wrong”.

It was also warned that parents were increasingly unhappy about the situation, giving rise to complaints about the lack of continuity in their children’s school experience.

Moray council said that six years ago, its schools received up to 200 applications for a teaching post teaching posts and there “seemed to be a limitless availability of supply cover”.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Washington Post urges colleges to censor speech if someone thinks it’s racist

Does The Washington Post editorial board have the slightest familiarity with First Amendment precedents?

In response to the racist-banana incident at the private American University – now under investigation by the U.S. attorney in D.C. as well as the FBI – the editorial board has declared that all colleges should censor students if someone thinks their speech or behavior is racist:

Two-bit provocations such as hanging nooses on campuses play on emotions made raw in the wake of a presidential campaign that featured the vilification of minorities and barely veiled race-baiting. For university administrators, the challenge is to address that legitimate pain with sensitivity and make crystal clear that racist signs, symbols and speech are off-limits.

UCLA Law Prof. Eugene Volokh, a First Amendment scholar, doesn’t try to explain away what appears to be a clear and chilling call for censorship from a legendary newspaper. He writes in his own Post column today:

This is an editorial, the product of carefully considered labor on the part of a group of people, not an extemporaneous remark …

And the editorial’s proposal is an awful idea. At public universities, it would violate the First Amendment; at private universities, it would violate many of the universities’ stated commitments to open debate, as well as basic principles of academic freedom.

The editorial board has no clue how wide a swath of speech it would be implicating, according to Volokh: Claims of “whites being an oppressor race” could just as easily be punished as bananas found hanging from makeshift nooses.

The same goes for criticizing Islam as illiberal, calling for stricter immigration limits or condemning Israeli policies:

All such advocacy that runs against university administrators’ political views would be deterred when “university administrators” “make crystal clear” that “racist … speech” — racist in the views of whatever disciplinary committee is making decisions — is “off-limits.”

Hans Bader, former lawyer in the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, said in an email today the Post has reached the “opposite extreme” from its past position:

Once upon a time it called for Congress to pass Congressman Henry Hyde’s bill to ban campus speech codes even at private campuses. Of course, that was years ago, when moderate Democrats still existed. …

I guess free speech no longer matters in an “era defined by trigger warnings and safe spaces.”  Forget that pesky First Amendment thing.

Brookings Institution scholar Stuart Taylor, co-author of The Campus Rape Frenzy, responded to Volokh’s post:

This is huge, and horrible. The Washington Post has — for the first time, as best I can tell — attacked the core of free speech and the First Amendment. Perhaps when Trump attacks the First Amendment by filing a billion-dollar libel suit against the Post, it will come to regret its role in tearing down our constitutional protections.

Another commenter noted the Post could be hoist with its own petard because of a “hate-filled rant” it published in 2013:

[The op-ed was] accusing whites of committing virtually all mass murders, when in fact, whites, who are three-quarters of the U.S. population, actually commit slightly less than their share of mass murders (moreover, about half of all murders in the U.S. are committed by blacks, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports and Justice Department data). …

The Washington Post has also published other racist op-eds, such as one arguing that blacks should be given 5/3 of the votes give to whites, to make up for the racist 3/5 compromise in the original constitution.


War on Campus

Don't look to college "leaders" to defend free speech and shut down the rioters. It doesn't work that way. Universities almost always collapse in the face of student protest, even though the numbers are overwhelmingly in favor of the institutions. So it was in the sixties, and so it is again today.

Half a century ago, in the sixties, major universities retreated in the face of anti-Vietnam War, anti-ROTC, and anti-"racist" demonstrations on "top" campuses from Yale and Columbia to Wisconsin and Stanford. New politically inspired departments (Black Studies for example) were created, and professors, including some of the country's most distinguished, were prevented from teaching. At Cornell, the brilliant Walter Berns, quit in disgust

    after the faculty, "having jettisoned every vestige of academic freedom," Professor Berns said, reversed itself and granted amnesty to black students who had seized the student union building. Some denounced dissenting professors as racists and threatened them with violence.

And so it goes. A decade later, students had conquered positions on committees hiring tenured professors. Stephan Thernstrom at Harvard, for example, was blocked from teaching his famous course on the antebellum South on the outrageous grounds that no white man could deal fairly and completely with black history.

It was already obvious in the sixties that the protesters intended to undo the civil rights revolution, well demonstrated by the call for separate dormitories for black students. This was nothing less than the reimposition of segregation within the university. The demand that students choose their own professors was cut from the same detestable ideological cloth. Back then, such demands came from a minority of students, faculty, and administrators. Today, that minority is larger, and their world view far more commonplace. That is why there are so few conservative profs around, and why those that do have jobs pretend to be leftists until they get tenure, when, they tell themselves, they can start teaching and writing what they really believe.

Easier said than done. Survival on campus isn't just a matter of job security. It's rather reminiscent, as William Jacobson observes in a thoughtful essay, of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, when professors were publicly humiliated for violations of Mao's political correctness.

    The early phases of the Cultural Revolution were centered on China's schools. In the summer of 1966, the Communist Party leadership proclaimed that some of China's educators were members of the exploiting classes, who were poisoning students with their capitalist ideology. Indeed, the educated classes in general were marked as targets of the revolution.

    The leadership gave Communist youth known as Red Guards the green light to remove educators from their jobs and punish them...

There are several similarities between student demonstrators here, and the Chinese Red Guards, of which I think the most important is that neither is/was spontaneous. Both mobs were following orders from their political masters, and many of the Americans appear to have been paid and trained.

The spread of censorship in the United States, along with the imposition of political correctness, is not limited to the universities. It is well-established in high schools as well.  Barely more than half of our high-school teachers favor free speech, when it is likely to offend others, or violate the official dogmas.

Nor is censorship just a feature of the educational system, as is easy to see from the monochromatic hues of most all social media sites and "news" publications, whether the dead-tree versions or the digital pages. In this environment, it's going to be very difficult for scholars, pundits, and teachers to tear off their liberal masks and declare themselves free thinkers. They can be purged, tenure or not. Let's see what happens to Bret Stephens, now at the New York Times. It's a significant test case.

So the clashes on campus are just part of a much bigger fight. A very important part, to be sure, and we are already seeing its consequences: with each graduating class, our college grads are more politically homogeneous and less informed. It's easy to see this in the many uninformed statements from our political class. Obama made some totally uninformed statements in his Cairo speech early in his first term, and many of Trump's gaffes are equally ignorant. If our leaders do not know the history of allies and enemies, it will be hard for them to design and conduct strategy to prevail in the current global war.

This will last long after the rioters calm down, even if the First Amendment survives.


Scotland's First Minister admits failures in her education policies

Nicola Sturgeon has admitted that teaching in schools does not focus enough on the basic skills of reading or writing.

The first minister, who has faced pressure over her stewardship of education since a survey last week found that fewer than half of 13 and 14-year-old children could write to the required standard, said that reforms would be introduced because results in some areas were “not good enough”.

She said that the Curriculum for Excellence introduced in 2010 had been designed to help young people become “good citizens” and “make sense of the world”, rather than simply to absorb facts and figures. However, she said she had received advice that there should be more time spent on maths and writing