Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Scottish university’s new principal promises to widen access

Scotland is heavily socialist so they take this tilting at windmills seriously.  Most of the capitalistic Scots emigrated long ago.  It's mainly the dependent ones that are left

Peter Mathieson, who is expected to take over in Edinburgh early next year, admitted that existing efforts to improve diversity had not delivered acceptable results

The incoming head of one of Scotland’s leading universities has promised to take radical action to drive up the number of students it attracts from deprived communities.

Peter Mathieson, who is resigning as president of Hong Kong University and is expected to take over in Edinburgh early next year, admitted that existing efforts to improve diversity had not delivered acceptable results.

Figures for 2015-16 revealed that just 5.2 per cent of new undergraduates at the University of Edinburgh came from the poorest fifth of Scotland, a three-year low for the institution. Only 16.5 per cent of the university’s Scottish students come from the poorest 40 per cent of the country.

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Stalin Wasn’t All Bad (Explain British Schoolteachers)

Stalin wasn’t all bad, you know.

Sure he was a murderous thug responsible for around 50 million deaths, while reducing the rest of the population to a state of misery, poverty, and near-permanent terror. Sure his collective farming policy turned breadbaskets into famine-starved hellholes where cannibalism was rife and his Five Year Plans destroyed what was left of the Russian economy after Lenin.

But let’s not forget the upsides: he “ended the exploitation of peasants by greedy landlords and to rid of the greedy and troublesome kulaks”‘ and he “helped peasants work together”.

This, amazingly, is what children are being taught in British schools. The quotations come from the GCP GCSE Modern World History revision guide and indicate the kind of answers kids are expected to give in their history exams when talking about Stalin’s collectivisation of farms.

Apparently, this is part of a method where they are expected to discuss the Pros and Cons of each issue.

I learned this from an article in The Daily Telegraph by James Bartholomew, the financial journalist and author, who happens to be the guest on my Delingpole podcast this week.

Like me, Bartholomew is an ardent believer in a minimal state. That is, he thinks that whenever government tries to make things better it almost invariably makes things worse – and that the state is, therefore, best cut out of the equation as often as humanly possible.

That history is teaching lunacy is a fairly typical consequence of excess government. In a free education market, where anyone could set up a school, it’s somewhat unlikely that the history curriculum would allow the promulgation of such outrageous left wing propaganda.

Stalin was loathsome – directly responsible for more deaths even than Hitler. Yet schools that – as Bartholomew notes – would never dream of asking kids to talk about the Pros of the Holocaust somehow feel it’s OK to look for some of the positives in this sadistic Communist tyrant. Why?

Partly because in Britain – as in the U.S., where Betsy DeVos has arrived as Education Secretary not a moment too soon – schools have been skewed by the values of the public sector which, like those of public sectors everywhere, are unerringly left wing.

Very few parents would wish their child to be taught that Stalin had his upsides. But few get much choice in the matter because there is no competitive market in schools: bad teachers are rarely sacked (as they would be in private sector industries, but not in the heavily unionised state sector) and if the school in your area is failing and teaching your children badly there’s probably nowhere else nearby you can move them.

Also, the fact that you don’t pay your kids’ state school fees – the “government” does – means you probably have lower expectations (accompanied perhaps by a false sense of gratitude for a service provided “free”) than you would if the fees came more obviously out of your pocket.

For these and many other reasons, our state schools will go on failing to improve and teachers will go on indoctrinating our children with left wing propaganda. (Though there are exceptions: one of the things I’m very much looking forward to, sometime this year, is paying a visit to one of the state school sector’s shining successes – Katharine Birbalsingh’s Michaela Community School. I’ll be recording a podcast there.)

But it’s not just bad schooling which is an inevitable product of the welfare state. Let’s not forget the welfare state also creates bad healthcare, bad housing, unemployment, poor care for the elderly and economic stagnation.

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School choice keeps the peace

by Jeff Jacoby

PUBLIC SCHOOLS are commonly described as engines of democracy and citizenship, and a bulwark against social strife. Which makes the Democrats' bitter and unremitting campaign against Betsy DeVos all the more ironic.

DeVos, the next secretary of education, is a billionaire who has for years channeled her money and energy into the cause of education reform, especially for the underprivileged. Yet her nomination drove the left to a frenzy of opposition evoked by no other Cabinet nominee.

The confirmation of the new secretary was a blow to the powerful teachers unions that exercise so much clout in Democratic Party circles. The unions depend for their wealth and influence on the public education monopoly that keeps millions of students trapped in chronically failing schools, and like all monopolists they have a visceral antipathy to competition. They despise DeVos because of her passion for dramatically expanding school choice — through charter schools, online "virtual" teaching, homeschooling, or vouchers to pay for private or parochial school tuition.

The benefits of school choice, especially for kids in the poorest districts, have been confirmed and reconfirmed. Polls routinely find that substantial majorities of Americans favor more school choice. And as the stunning number of student names on charter school waiting lists demonstrates, the hunger for a better option than the local public school is anything but theoretical.

Yet the reasons to liberate Americans from the monopoly of government-run schooling go beyond educational outcomes and academic success. School choice also promotes peace.

Public schools, it is said, bring together children from differing backgrounds and imbue them with the shared values that unite our pluralist society and prevent balkanization. It's a pretty theory, but it has never been true.

"Throughout American history," observes Neal McCluskey of the Cato Institute, "public schooling has produced political disputes, animosity, and sometimes even bloodshed between diverse people. Such clashes are inevitable in government-run schooling because all Americans are required to support the public schools, but only those with the most political power control them."

Far from being the glue that holds our communities together, public schooling is too often the wedge that drives them apart. Americans differ profoundly on countless fundamental matters — abortion and guns, gay marriage and Darwinism, immigration and policing, Islam and foreign trade. By definition, a one-size-fits-all public school model — in which school committees decide which messages schools promote, which textbooks are used, and which programs get funded — cannot reflect the views of all parents.

For those who find themselves in the minority, there is no equitable resolution. Either they resign themselves to the indoctrination of their children in ways they don't approve, or they do battle with other parents or elected officials to change the way their kids are taught, or they pull out of the government-education system altogether, opening their own schools at their own expense while still having to pay for the public schools where their priorities are rejected.

When public schools have a monopoly on education, coercion is inescapable. And where there is coercion, there will be conflict.

At the Cato website, McCluskey maintains a "Public School Battle Map" that catalogs the clashes and angry controversies into which neighbors are constantly driven by the public school status quo. These battles erupt in state after state, year after year. They are fought over differences about curriculum, moral and religious values, reading assignments, race and ethnicity, sexuality and gender. For 2016 alone, scores of conflicts are recorded: in a Louisiana school district, for example, where students were banned from bringing American flags to football games; in Mississippi, where legislation was introduced to protect the right of teachers to discuss "controversial subjects," such as creationism; in Maine, where a high school senior's gay pride quote for his yearbook was censored; in Colorado, where atheists demanded the right to distribute antireligious literature to students.

McCluskey's map, which goes back only to 2001, records more than 1,500 instances of such political fighting. When schools are controlled by the government, and the government is controlled by the winners of elections, parents, teachers, and administrators will inevitably end up doing battle.

More school choice means less educational conflict. Let families choose from a wide array of educational options, and you diminish their impulse to fight over what gets taught and by whom. Winner-take-all is a terrible model for civil society. By contrast, a model built on freedom, pluralism, and equality — a model in which parents have as much leeway to provide for their children's schooling as they do for their meals, clothing, or religious training — would be immeasurably fairer, and a far better bet for keeping the peace. (Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe).

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