When Is Higher Education Against Diversity?

Yesterday Christian Headlines posted an article with the following headline, “Duke University’s Student Government Rejects Young Life over LGBTQ Policies.”

The article reports:

Duke University’s student government has denied the Christian organization Young Life official status as a student group on campus, citing its policy on sexuality.

The decision by the Duke Student Government Senate on Wednesday (Sept. 11) comes amid ongoing clashes nationwide between religious student groups and colleges and universities that have added more robust nondiscrimination policies.

Young Life, like many evangelical groups, regards same-sex relations as sinful. Its policy forbids LGBTQ staff and volunteers from holding positions in the organization.

The student newspaper the Duke Chronicle reported Thursday that the student government senate unanimously turned down official recognition for the Young Life chapter, because it appeared to violate a guideline that every Duke student group include a nondiscrimination statement in its constitution. 

Young Life, which is based in Colorado Springs, is a 78-year-old organization with a mission to introduce adolescents to Christianity and help them grow in their faith. It has chapters in middle schools, high schools and colleges in all 50 states and more than 90 countries around the world.

But the student government objected to a clause in Young Life’s sexuality policy. After the student government was told the organization would not change its sexuality policy, it rejected the group.

The Young Life policy states: “We do not in any way wish to exclude persons who engage in sexual misconduct or who practice a homosexual lifestyle from being recipients of ministry of God’s grace and mercy as expressed in Jesus Christ. We do, however, believe that such persons are not to serve as staff or volunteers in the mission and work of Young Life.”

So following the Biblical guidelines on sexuality (both heterosexuality and homosexuality) will prevent your Christian group from being recognized on a College Campus.

The article concludes:

Over the past two decades, many colleges and universities have attempted to exclude religious groups because of their positions on sexuality, among them InterVarsity and Business Leaders in Christ.

Greg Jao, senior assistant to the president at InterVarsity, said about 70 colleges and universities have attempted to exclude InterVarsity chapters over the years — in some cases because it bars LGBTQ employees, in others because its faith statement more generally violates school nondiscrimination policies.

In most cases, the issues are resolved, but others have ended up in court. InterVarsity is now suing the University of Iowa and Wayne State University.

“Most of the time universities back down because it’s a violation of students’ First Amendment rights,” said Eric Baxter, vice president and senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a law firm that defends religious freedom cases.

Duke, however, may be in a different category as a private institution. Private universities don’t have the same obligations under the First Amendment’s free exercise clause that a government entity does.

As a private entity, Duke may actually be able to do this, but any Christian who sends their child to Duke is supporting an anti-Christian agenda.

Taking Away Religious Freedom And Parent’s Rights

On September 13th, CBN News reported that the New York Department of Education is moving to force all private schools in the state to perform as public schools. The department is reevaluating a 125-year-old law that would require private schools to offer the equivalent instruction to students as required in public schools.

The article reports:

This means all private schools’ curriculum, scheduling, lesson plans, hiring standards, and reporting requirements would have to follow all regulations as required by the state for public schools. The new regulations would also give the power to local school districts to oversee and inspect private and parochial schools. If a school was found lacking in compliance with the proposed regulations, the school could be closed. 

The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), a non-profit legal defense organization, represents Parents Union for Religious Integrity of Torah Education (PURITE). The parents and rabbis who sought PJI’s assistance practice ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Judaism. They have been training their youth in small religious schools known as yeshivas for thousands of years. The schools instruct in subjects such as math and English language while focusing primarily on the Torah and Talmud. 

PURITE notes that the proposed regulations would essentially outlaw their way of life and education. Parochial school leaders and homeschool families are also concerned about the suggested rules. 

PJI attorney Kevin Snider sent a letter last week to the New York Department of Education, which had been accepting public comment. Snider’s letter explains in some detail the conflict between Torah-based education and the goals of NY public schools.

This is the precursor to a move against homeschooling. Unfortunately the American public education system is failing the students. Many students who go to college are having to take remedial courses in English and mathematics before they can actually take a college course. Our children are graduating high school with no marketable skills and no practical life skills. The have been schooled in what to think, but not schooled in how to think. As parents realize that the public schools are failing their children, they are turning to other ways to educate their children.

The following chart shows the growth of homeschooling in America since 1970. People taking their children out of public school is a threat to the education establishment. We already know that children in Charter Schools, private schools and homeschooling do better than children in public school.  That is the reason the State of New York is going after private education.

Ultimately parents are responsible for raising and educating their children. That is a responsibility and right that the government is slowly infringing on.

My Favorite Democrat Got It Right Again

My favorite Democrat has always been former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York. He understood human nature and how government policies would actually hurt the people they claimed to help. He understood that the War on Poverty would destroy the African-American family structure (and eventually the white family structure) and he also understood the long-term impact of the Higher Education Act passed in 1965.

Today The Federalist posted an article about higher education in America that deals with some of the issues behind the indoctrination that is currently happening on our college campuses.

The article reports:

Far too many pundits believe culture is upstream from politics. That might be true, but bad policy is often upstream of culture. And it is shocking how often Republicans use the “culture” trope as an excuse for long-running inaction and lack of serious thought on needed policy changes.

One such example is higher education. Speakers such as Heather Mac Donald have done an excellent job of highlighting examples of the far-left bias that is prevalent at America’s higher ed institutions. Conservative YouTube channels are great at highlighting the perils of conservative speakers attempting to speak on various campuses.

But few address the elephant in the room. Taxpayers are heavily subsidizing the entrenched and blatant anti-American and anti-Christian bent in our colleges and universities.The huge budgets of these colleges — and their ability to pay professors well over six figures to teach for only several hours a week, only during the school year — is entirely the result of choices our elected officials have made.

…It started in 1965, when as part of Lyndon B. Johnson’s fateful Great Society, Congress passed the Higher Education Act. Among other things, the legislation introduced subsidized student loans to increase the number of Americans attending college, and it has been reauthorized multiple times since. Ever since, the terms of those loans have become more generous (the subsidization has increased).

The effects have been predictable, and many did predict them. For example, Democrat Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, early in his career as a policy wonk, warned the system would lead to higher college costs.

Generally speaking, more money chasing after something raises its price. But the money chasing after higher ed is uniquely dulled of its price sensitivity. Borrowers are young and have little perspective about how much they are borrowing. These young, subsidized borrowers are also robbed of price signals, as everyone gets the same rate no matter what major he or she chooses.

The article points out that college costs have increased dramatically since 1965–the costs have increased much more quickly that the rate of inflation (four times faster than inflation since 1978).

The article continues:

Nevertheless, Congress certainly succeeded in its goal of more Americans attending college: Almost 70 percent of high school graduates now enroll in college, and the percentage of Americans aged 25 to 34 years old who have a secondary degree has moved from about 25 percent in 1990 to almost 50 percent today. But although college on average still provides a positive return on investment, that return has dropped significantly. Here’s The Economist, again:

By the universities’ own measures, this [binge of money and increase of administrators] has produced splendid results. Students are more than twice as likely to receive ‘A’ grades now than in 1960. When outsiders do the grading, however, they are less impressed: One study found that 36% of students ‘did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning’ over four years of college.

For many Americans, the return on college is negative. Part of this is because many Americans going to college are ill-suited for it. For example, 40 percent of American students fail to get a four-year degree within six years of enrolling.

Please follow the link to read the entire article. It is fascinating. In the meantime, encourage you child to attend trade school instead of college. In the very near future, electricians, plumbers, and mechanics will have more job opportunities than engineers.

The Results Of Our Education System And The News Media

The Wall Street Journal posted an article today about the changing values of Americans. The article includes the chart below:

According to statistica.com (2017 data), there are 97 million Americans born between 1928 and 1964 currently in America. There are 65.45 million Americans born between 1965 and 1980 currently in America. There are 72.06 million Americans born between 1981 and 1996. I realize that these dates do not exactly correspond to the graph above, but they give you a general idea of the age of the American population. Thank God the old people still have the young whippersnappers outnumbered. Evidently we are the generation with the strongest traditional values.

This shift in values did not happen in a vacuum. In 1962, prayer was taken out of American schools. Students no longer started the day with some sort of simple prayer. I remember in Junior High School (now Middle School) we began every day with an assembly where we said the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag and sang The Lord’s Prayer. I don’t remember being significantly harmed by that. By high school, the prayer and the Pledge were gone.

The article at The Wall Street Journal goes on to describe different feelings about racism.

The article reports:

The survey also found partisan divides on views of race relations. When surveyed six years ago, about half of Republicans and a slightly larger share of Democrats said relations among the races were on a good footing. Today, half of Republicans say race relations are good, while only 21% of Democrats say so.

Overall, the latest poll found 60% of adults saying race relations are in a bad state, a smaller share than in mid-2016, before Mr. Trump took office, when 74% said relations were poor. At the time, two incidents of police shootings of African-American men had been in the news.

In the new survey, only 19 percent of African-Americans said race relations were fairly or very good, the lowest level in Journal/NBC News polling over more than two decades.

While views on race relations improved overall, the change didn’t come through when Americans were asked about Mr. Trump’s time in office, the poll found.

Fifty-six percent of adults said race relations had gotten worse since Mr. Trump became president, while 10% said they had improved.

The Journal/NBC News poll surveyed 1,000 adults from Aug. 10-14. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

I blame the news media for that one. We had more racial unrest under President Obama than we have seen under President Trump.

The article also includes an interesting comment on patriotism:

Megan Clark, a 31-year-old from Austin, Texas, said her experience as a child living overseas due to her father’s military career influenced her views on patriotism.

“Patriotism for the sake of patriotism means nothing to me,’’ she said. “If you believe in the values that your country is expressing and following and you want to support those, then, sure. But just as a blind association with wherever you happen to be from, that just doesn’t seem logical.”

Generational differences on personal values were most pronounced among Democrats. In fact, the views of Democrats over age 50 were more in line with those of younger Republicans than with younger members of their own party.

Part of the responsibility for the decline in patriotism goes to our schools. It is disconcerting to me that the Advanced Placement U.S. History books focus on the negative aspects of American history–slavery, mistreatment of Indians, etc. They don’t focus on how unique the concept of God-given rights and freedom were at the time of the American Revolution. Part of the responsibility for the decline of patriotism also falls on parents. It is up to us to teach our children to love our country. Our freedom is always only one generation away. Hopefully we are not currently watching that generation grow up.

A Program That Is Getting Results

The Washington Free Beacon posted an article today about the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, the oldest voucher program in the United States. This program began in 1990. The program offers private school vouchers to low-income Milwaukee kids using a lottery system. The article reports that just 341 students participated in the program’s first year. Today, that figure is nearly 30,000 across 126 public schools.

The article reports:

Because it has been running for so long, the MPCP has been widely studied. Past analyses have found that it increases math scores (although not reading), as well as high-school graduation and college enrollment rates. Other voucher experiments have also shown encouraging results: A 2013 study found that Washington, D.C.’s voucher program increased graduation rates by 21 percentage points, while a 2015 analysis of New York’s voucher system saw an increase in college enrollment among students with black mothers.

The authors of the new paper looked at data on students from elementary school through ninth grade who were enrolled in Milwaukee private schools in 2006. They identified 2,727 MPCP students, then used a detailed methodology to “match” them to comparable students in the Milwaukee Public School (MPS) system based on where they lived, their demographic information, their parents’ educational backgrounds, and other controls.

Having constructed their “treatment” and “control” groups, the researchers then looked at how each group faired in relation to pivotal achievement milestones: completing high school, ever enrolling in college, completing at least a year of college, and graduating from college.

The article concludes:

“MPCP students are more likely to enroll, persist, and have more total years in a four-year college than their MPS peers,” the authors write. “We also find evidence that MPCP students are significantly more likely to graduate from college, although that college completion finding is only statistically significant in our sample of students who entered the program in third through eighth grade.”

Specifically, MPCP students who were in ninth grade in 2006 were 6 percentage points more likely than their MPS peers to enroll in a four-year college—46 percent versus 40 percent. MPCP students who were in third through eighth grades were 4 percentage points more likely to enroll in a four-year college, and 3 percentage points more likely to graduate (all effects statistically significant).

These results contribute to what the authors call “a growing body of evaluation results indicating that private school voucher programs positively affect student educational attainment.” They point in particular to a Florida program, the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, the effects of which on graduation are “nearly identical.”

“The collective evidence in this paper indicates that students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program tend to have higher levels of educational attainment than a carefully matched comparison group of Milwaukee Public School students,” the authors conclude. “The MPCP students are more likely to enroll, persist, and experience more total years in a four-year college.”

Obviously the children using the vouchers to attend private schools are getting a better education than the students in public schools. I would guess that children involved in the voucher program also have a higher level of parental involvement–one of the keys to success for students. The children involved in the voucher program probably also know that there may be penalties for not doing the work required. I suspect that discipline in the private schools is probably more prevalent than in public schools. Our public schools have become places where children are not held to an academic or behavior standard. The success of the children in the voucher programs is an indication of problems in our public schools.

Usurping Parental Rights

Yahoo News posted a USA Today article about a 14-year-old school child who decided that she was a boy. The story is heartbreaking because the parents tried to provide the help the child needed, and the school undermined them every step of the way.

The article reports:

In April 2016, my then 14-year-old daughter became convinced that she was my son. In my attempt to help her, her public school undermined me every step of the way.

Throughout my daughter’s childhood, there were no signs that she wanted to be a boy. She loved stuffed animals, Pocahontas and wearing colorful bathing suits. I can’t recall a single interest that seemed unusually masculine, or any evidence that she was uncomfortable as a girl.

The only difficulty she had was forming and maintaining friendships. We later learned why: She was on the autism spectrum. She was very functional and did well in school, helped by her Individualized Education Program (IEP), a common practice for public school students who need special education.

At her high school, my daughter was approached by a girl who had recently come out at school as transgender. Shortly after meeting her, my daughter declared that she, too, was a boy trapped in a girl’s body and picked out a new masculine name.

The school began treating the girl as a boy and addressing her with masculine pronouns. The parents were unaware of this. When they found out about it, they requested that those in the school call her by her legal name at all times. Their request was ignored–the school continued to address her by a masculine name and masculine pronouns.

The article continues:

We met with the school district’s assistant superintendent, who told us the hands of school personnel are tied and that they had to follow the law. But there was no law, only the Obama administration’s “Dear Colleagues” letter of May 2016 that said schools need to officially affirm transgender students. Just three months later, in August 2016, a federal judge in Texas blocked the guidelines from being enforced. And in February 2017, the Trump administration rescinded the Obama-era guidelines, leaving it to the states to set their own policies.

I also learned that the ACLU has sent threatening letters to schools stating that it is against the law to disclose a student’s gender identity, even to their parents. But this letter appears to misunderstand federal law. The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act requires that schools allow parents to “inspect and review” their child’s education records as long as the child is under 18.

The article then reveals the peer pressure in the world of psychology:

We had our daughter evaluated by a psychologist approved by the school district. He told us that it was very clear that our daughter’s sudden transgender identity was driven by her underlying mental health conditions, but would only share his thoughts off the record because he feared the potential backlash he would receive. In the report he submitted to us and the school, he did not include these concerns that he would only share in person.

Please follow the link to the article to read the rest of the story. I need someone to explain to me how this sort of behavior by schools is in any way helpful to our children.

Does The North Carolina Legislation Really Want To Protect School Children?

I do not consider myself a person interested in guns although I am married to a person who grew up hunting and handling guns all his life. However, I am not against armed citizens. I don’t believe our crime problem is guns. I believe our crime problem has more to do with people not respecting the basic rules of an ordered society. I have also learned over the years that the only way to stop an evil person with a gun is to have an armed citizen protecting other citizens. That is why I support H216 which was introduced into the North Carolina legislature on February 28, 2019.

H216 is a simple two page law. This is the bill:

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT TO AUTHORIZE CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE FACULTY OR STAFF OF A SCHOOL TO CARRY A HANDGUN ON THE SCHOOL GROUNDS TO RESPOND TO ACTS OF VIOLENCE OR AN IMMINENT THREAT OF VIOLENCE.

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

SECTION1.This act shall be known as “The School Self-Defense Act.”

SECTION 2.G.S.14-269.2 reads as rewritten:

Ҥ 14-269.2. Weapons on campus or other educational property.

(a)The following definitions apply to this section:

(3a)Volunteer school faculty guardian. –A person who (i) is a member of the faculty or staff of a school, (ii)is a full-time or part-time employee,and (iii) possesses a valid concealed handgun permit issued to the person in accordance with Article 54B of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes.

(3b)Volunteer school safety resource officer. –A person who volunteers as a school safety resource officer as provided by G.S.162-26 or 16G.S.160A-288.4.

(g)This section shall not apply to any of the following:

(8) Subject to the condition set forth in subsection (m) of this section, a volunteer school faculty guardian, while on the grounds of the school the person is employed by or assigned to, who meets all of the following requirements:

    1. Successfully completes 16 hours of active shooter training in the School Faculty Guardian program developed and administered by the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission pursuant to G.S.17C-6(a)(21).
    2. Submits to the chief administrator of the school on an annual basis written notice that the person continues to possess a valid concealed handgun permit issued to the person in accordance with Article 54B of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes.
    3. Provides evidence satisfactory to the chief administrator of the school on an annual basis that the person has demonstrated proficiency with the type of handgun and handgun retention system used.

d.When on school grounds, only possesses the handgun during the conduct of his or her duties.

e.Except when responding to an act of violence or an imminent threat of violence at the school, keeps the handgun concealed at all times while on the school grounds. For purposes of this subdivision, the term “violence”means physical injury that a reasonable person would conclude could lead to permanent injury or death.

    1. Submits to annual drug testing.

(m)The governing body or entity of a school may opt out of the authority granted under subdivision (8) of subsection (g) of this section and prohibit a person from possessing a handgun pursuant to the authority in subdivision (8) of subsection (g) of this section on the grounds of the school or schools under its control.”

SECTION 3.G.S.17C-6(a) reads as rewritten:

“(a)In addition to powers conferred upon the Commission elsewhere in this Chapter, the Commission shall have the following powers, which shall be enforceable through its rules and regulations, certification procedures, or the provisions of G.S.17C-10:

(21)Establish and administer the School Faculty Guardian program, which provides active shooter training to volunteer school faculty guardians, as defined under G.S.14-269.2.”

SECTION 4.The provisions of G.S.143C-5-2 do not apply to this act.

SECTION 5.There is appropriated from the General Fund to the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission the sum of five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) in nonrecurring funds for the 2019-2020 fiscal year to be used to cover costs incurred in establishing the School Faculty Guardian program required under G.S.17C-6(a)(18), as enacted by Section 3 of this act.

SECTION 6. Section 5 of this act becomes effective July 1, 2019. The remainder of this act is effective when it becomes law.

Note that the teacher participation is voluntary. Also note that there is training involved. Since many of our teachers are military veterans, I think they would be well-suited for the training. Note that schools have the opportunity to opt out of the program.

Something else to consider:

 

  • Arming faculty reduces school shootings: A new study entitled “Schools that Allow Teachers to Carry Guns Are Extremely Safe: Data on the Rate of Shootings and Accidents in Schools that Allow Teachers to Carry found that:
    • Zero school shootings at schools with armed faculty: During hours when armed teachers would logically be present, none of the schools with armed faculty experienced school shootings.
    • A significant increase in school shootings at schools which do NOT allow armed faculty: Between 2001 and 2018, the number of school shootings at schools which did not allow armed faculty more than doubled.

Calling your North Carolina legislator to vote this bill out of committee and on to the floor for a vote would be a really good idea. The website to get names and phones numbers and email addresses is ncleg.gov.

 

 

Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

The New York Post reported yesterday that in a commencement speech at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, billionaire tech investor Robert F. Smith promised to pay off the student loans of the graduating class. Wow.

The article reports:

Billionaire tech investor Robert F. Smith stunned college graduates on Sunday as he gave their commencement speech — offering to pay their student debts despite it costing an estimated $40 million.

“On behalf of the eight generations of my family that have been in this country, we’re gonna put a little fuel in your bus,” Smith told the 400 graduating seniors at the all-male Morehouse College in Atlanta.

“This is my class, 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans.”

The announcement was initially met with stunned looks — before the graduates broke into cheers and tears at the largest gift ever given to the historically black college.

This is brilliant. The students were graduating–they had completed their studies–they had not dropped out. Now the students were faced with serious debt that they had accumulated in order to pay for their college education. Now they are free to pursue whatever career they choose without having that debt hanging over their heads. Paying off these debts not only helps the students, it helps America by making sure those student loans were quickly paid off. Wow.

Ruining The College Board

David Coleman has been the President of the College Board since 2012. David Coleman was one of the people responsible for developing the Common Core standards. He has now brought his total misconceptions of what works in education to the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), long used as an indication of a student’s ability and possible clue to how well they would do in college.

Yesterday The New York Times posted an article that reported the following:

The College Board, the company that administers the SAT exam taken by about two million students a year, will for the first time assess students not just on their math and verbal skills, but also on their educational and socioeconomic backgrounds, entering a fraught battle over the fairness of high-stakes testing.

The company announced on Thursday that it will include a new rating, which is widely being referred to as an “adversity score,” of between 1 and 100 on students’ test results. An average score is 50, and higher numbers mean more disadvantage. The score will be calculated using 15 factors, including the relative quality of the student’s high school and the crime rate and poverty level of the student’s neighborhood.

The rating will not affect students’ test scores, and will be reported only to college admissions officials as part of a larger package of data on each test taker.

The new measurement brings the College Board squarely into the raging national debate over fairness and merit in college admissions, one fueled by enduring court clashes on affirmative action, a federal investigation into a sprawling admissions cheating ring and a booming college preparatory industry that promises results to those who can pay.

Below is a picture of what constitutes the adversity score:

The American Thinker quoted Tucker Carlson, who noted the following about the idea:

It’s kept a secret. “Trust us,” in effect, they say. There is no appeal possible. And as a black box whose inner workings are secret, it becomes an ideal vehicle for engineering the racial results admissions offices desire.

It is easily gamed – fake addresses, even possible income manipulation (by claiming a lot of depreciation, for instance, the way that Donald Trump reported negative income in the 1980s)

And it provides perverse incentives, rewarding victim status, not achievement. Parents who start out with no advantages and work hard to provide a better life for their kids will now be handicapping them if they have high incomes and live in nice neighborhoods with good schools.

Obviously if you are a middle class parent living with the father of your children in a respectable neighborhood, the answer would be to divorce your spouse and move to Detroit. That is obscene.

It might also be a good idea to consider the consequences of this new program–how will children who do not have good SAT scores but have great adversity scores do in college? What will be the drop out rate? Will they understand the classes they are taking? The way to achieve diversity in colleges is to change the culture in communities where the work ethic has been lost. There are many first-generation Chinese children living in New York City in poverty that are gaining admission to the top schools in the city because their parents have taught them to work hard in school. Rather than risk putting students in college that are academically unprepared for what they are going to face, shouldn’t we simply encourage a cultural change in poor communities that rewards hard work in school. It can make a difference–Ben Carson is a shining example of a child growing up poor with a single parent who lacked education that taught her children the value of education. Let’s lift people up instead of making excuses for them because of where they grew up.

Poverty In America

Below are the U.S. Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines:

This is a chart from The Heritage Foundation showing changes in the poverty rate since 1959:

As you can see, the War on Poverty actually slowed down the decrease in the poverty rate that had begun in 1950.

This is a chart from Pew Research showing how the American family has changed:

First of all, living in poverty in America is not the same as living in poverty in any other part of the world.

The Heritage Foundation reports:

Because the official Census poverty report undercounts welfare income, it fails to provide meaningful information about the actual living conditions of less affluent Americans. The government’s own data show that the actual living conditions of the more than 45 million people deemed “poor” by the Census Bureau differ greatly from popular conceptions of poverty.[7] Consider these facts taken from various government reports:[8]

  • Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, at the beginning of the War on Poverty, only about 12 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
  • Nearly three-quarters have a car or truck; 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks.[9]
  • Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite television.
  • Two-thirds have at least one DVD player, and a quarter have two or more.
  • Half have a personal computer; one in seven has two or more computers.
  • More than half of poor families with children have a video game system such as an Xbox or PlayStation.
  • Forty-three percent have Internet access.
  • Forty percent have a wide-screen plasma or LCD TV.
  • A quarter have a digital video recorder system such as a TIVO.
  • Ninety-two percent of poor households have a microwave.

I think it’s time to examine closely the impact of the War on Poverty. One of the differences between business and government is that in business when something doesn’t work, you fix it. In government when something doesn’t work, you simply add more money to it. It is obvious which solution is more effective.

The goal of any poverty program should be to help people develop self-reliance and get out of the poverty program. Obviously that is not happening–we have generations of welfare recipients. Another goal of any poverty program should be to support the family unit. Obviously our current welfare programs do not do that. It’s time to reevaluate and redo our poverty programs–they are breaking the budget and not accomplishing their goals.

In March 2013, The Brookings Institute posted the following three rules to avoid poverty:

First, many poor children come from families that do not give them the kind of support that middle-class children get from their families. Second, as a result, these children enter kindergarten far behind their more advantaged peers and, on average, never catch up and even fall further behind. Third, in addition to the education deficit, poor children are more likely to make bad decisions that lead them to drop out of school, become teen parents, join gangs and break the law.

In addition to the thousands of local and national programs that aim to help young people avoid these life-altering problems, we should figure out more ways to convince young people that their decisions will greatly influence whether they avoid poverty and enter the middle class. Let politicians, schoolteachers and administrators, community leaders, ministers and parents drill into children the message that in a free society, they enter adulthood with three major responsibilities: at least finish high school, get a full-time job and wait until age 21 to get married and have children.

Our research shows that of American adults who followed these three simple rules, only about 2 percent are in poverty and nearly 75 percent have joined the middle class (defined as earning around $55,000 or more per year). There are surely influences other than these principles at play, but following them guides a young adult away from poverty and toward the middle class.

Those three rules should be the foundation of any poverty program.

This Is How We Change Our Schools

The following is a March 19th Press Release from Americans for Peace &Tolerance, a Boston-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting peaceful coexistence in an ethnically diverse America by educating the American public about radical ideologies that undermine the academic integrity at American High Schools and Universities:

NEWTON RESIDENTS SUE CITY’S SCHOOL COMMITTEE, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, PRINCIPALS AND TEACHERS FOR DISCRIMINATION AGAINST JEWS AND ISRAELIS
 
Ideological/Political Curriculum Teaches Propaganda Instead of Facts

 
NEWTON, MASSACHUSETTS. On March 12, 2019, Newton taxpayers filed a lawsuit in Middlesex Superior Court against the Newton School Committee, Superintendent of Schools David Fleishman, the principals of the Newton high schools, and certain high school history teachers. Plaintiffs are asking for a court order that would compel Newton school officials to stop indoctrinating students with anti-Semitism, bigotry against Israel, and Islamist religious dogma as part of the high school history curriculum. This suit was made necessary because the embattled school administration is shielding its teachers from scrutiny and refusing to supervise what is being taught in its classrooms. The taxpayers claim that Newton Public Schools (NPS) has deliberately failed and refused to comply with the Equal Rights Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution, with the Massachusetts Student Anti-Discrimination Act, and with civil rights regulations that require schools, through their curricula, to encourage respect for the human and civil rights of all individuals regardless of race, identity, religion, color, sex, and national origin.
 
The extensively documented 469 page legal complaint, available here, details the lengthy history of Newton residents’ efforts to have NPS address and correct the factually flawed teaching. Plaintiffs and their attorney were provided with an enormous volume of factual documentation by Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) Executive Director Ilya Feoktistov, whose investigations over the past several months formed the basis of this action. 
 
“In looking for the sources of the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel bigotry in the Newton curriculum, we discovered a few bad apple teachers who view their teaching positions as giving them license to promote their personal political agendas,” said Mr. Feoktistov. “We are also looking closely at a common pattern with these politicized teachers — most, if not all, have taken professional development courses developed with foreign funding by the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia.”
 
“Newton history teachers and school administrators must think either that anti-discrimination laws do not apply to them, or that these laws do not protect their Jewish and Israeli students,” said the President of APT, Charles Jacobs. “There is no academic freedom to brainwash students with fake history and pro-Arab or anti-Semitic propaganda that is, these days, alarmingly too common on the left in America.”
 
Evidence described in the complaint shows how Newton teachers teach that Jews and Christians deliberately forged their holy texts to contradict the Muslim Qur’an; that Zionism has “little connection” to Jewish history in “Palestine;” that the Jews took advantage of the Holocaust to gain sympathy for Zionism at the expense of “Arab plight;” and that the Israelis treat the Palestinians like the Nazis treated the Jews. After being taught all this, students are asked to debate whether there should be a one- or two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. 
 
Karen Hurvitz, attorney for the taxpayers, stated that her clients are not asking for money damages, even though defendants have certainly caused years of incalculable damage by their insistence on teaching impressionable students materials that slander Israel and Jews. “This is the type of teaching that leads to anti-Semitism — and it has. The taxpayers here are merely asking NPS to perform their duties and obey the law, which requires that their curriculum encourage respect for all people. Education should be based on fact, not on stereotypes and propaganda.”

This is how you handle educational indoctrination.

Failed Parenting

One of the most important things a parent can do is lead by example. Any time a parent does something that is not above board, it is a pretty good bet that their child will learn that it is okay to take shortcuts that may not be entirely honest. Unfortunately there seems to be a group of parents that despite their success has not yet figured this out.

The Associated Press is reporting today that federal authorities have charged a number of wealthy and famous people with falsifying information to make sure their children got into their schools of choice. I understand the desire of any parent to provide the best education possible for their children, but this scheme definitely stepped over the line.

The article reports:

Fifty people, including Hollywood stars Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, were charged Tuesday in a scheme in which wealthy parents allegedly bribed college coaches and other insiders to get their children into some of the nation’s most elite schools.

Federal authorities called it the biggest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department, with the parents accused of paying an estimated $25 million in bribes.

“These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in announcing the results of an investigation code-named Operation Varsity Blues.

…At least nine athletic coaches and 33 parents, many of them prominent in law, finance or business, were among those charged. Dozens, including Huffman, were arrested by midday.

The coaches worked at such schools as Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, Wake Forest, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles. A former Yale soccer coach pleaded guilty and helped build the case against others.

The article continues:

The bribes allegedly were dispensed through an admissions consulting company in Newport Beach, California. Authorities said parents paid William Singer, the founder of the Edge College & Career Network, the bribe money to get their children into college.

Prosecutors said Singer was scheduled to plead guilty in Boston Tuesday to charges including racketeering conspiracy. John Vandemoer, the former head sailing coach at Stanford, was also expected to plead guilty.

Colleges moved quickly to discipline the coaches accused. Stanford fired Vandemoer, UCLA suspended its soccer coach, and Wake Forest did the same with its volleyball coach.

Several schools, including USC and Yale, said they were victims themselves of the scam. USC also said it is reviewing its admissions process to prevent further such abuses.

This is a sad commentary on where we are as a society. Obviously some parents want to take the guess work out of college admissions. What is the lesson they are teaching their children? I wonder exactly how much of these scheme the children involved were aware of. Certainly if a child is recruited for a sport he has no knowledge of, he might notice that something is amiss. I hope the penalties for the parents are severe. As much as I can sympathize with the stress of getting children into good colleges (all three of my daughters are college graduates, two have advanced degrees), what these parents did is inexcusable–first of all because it is patently dishonest and second of all because of the example it sets for the students.

Racism In School Admissions Policies

There was a time in America when schools were segregated and black children did not have the educational opportunities that white children had. Now schools are integrated, and generally opportunities are more equal. Cultural differences impact the education that children receive, but generally speaking, opportunities are equal. Some cultures put a greater emphasis on academic achievement than others, and that has become obvious to our college admissions boards and to some of our specialty high schools. Those among us who care more about equal outcome than equal opportunity have tried to change their admissions policies to compensate for those cultural differences. New York City Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza have attempted to change the admissions policies for New York City’s specialized high schools.

The New York Post posted an article about the changes on March 2.

The article reports:

Last December, the Chinese American Citizens Alliance Greater New York (CACAGNY) filed a racial-discrimination lawsuit against the city after Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza announced changes to admissions to New York’s specialized high schools, eight of which measure academic ability only through the SHSAT, an objective, competitive test open to every student in the city. Wai Wah Chin, the president of CACAGNY, explains why she’s determined to fight their moves, which she says discriminate against Asians …

The article reminds us of the results of this testing program:

In 1971, New York state mandated an admissions test to the city’s specialized high schools to ensure meritocratic admission. Called the SHSAT, the test knows no race or ethnicity; privilege and wealth count for nothing. All that matters is each student’s own ability.

Because of this, a Holocaust refugee who arrived in America with no English, no wealth and no privilege could take the test two years later, enter Stuyvesant and go on to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1981. His name: Roald Hoffmann.

Chancellor Carranza says no other high-school admission system in the country relies on a single test. Well, no other admission system produced 14 Nobel Prize winners in science either.

The article lists the Mayor’s solution to bringing diversity to the specialized high schools:

But de Blasio holds that meritocracy must have a predetermined, racially balanced outcome. So when East and South Asians get 50 percent of the offers to the specialized high schools while making up 16 percent of the students, he cries “Stuyvesant doesn’t look like New York City” and devises schemes to exclude them, his Asian Exclusion Act of the 21st century.

In one scheme, he arbitrarily takes 20 percent of the seats away from each Specialized High School to limit seats available to Asians. Then, he sets aside that 20 percent for students who took the SHSAT but failed to get into any of the eight schools, and applies eligibility criteria carefully crafted to exclude as many Asians as he can.

In another scheme, he brings back Harvard’s odious “geographic diversity,” limiting admission from each middle school to just 7 percent of its students, knowing full well that Asians are concentrated in a few middle schools.

These schemes impose a targeted racial balance. What’s more, they would lead to a significant portion of the student body being unprepared for the pace and levels at which the Specialized High Schools currently operate. Such social reverse engineering is the opposite of meritocracy.

If Mayor de Blasio is able to implement his ideas, it is a pretty safe bet that the number of Nobel Prize winning scientists coming out of these schools in the future will decrease drastically. I hope the CACAGNY wins their lawsuit.

This Is A Real Bill

Yesterday PJ Media posted an article about H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act. First of all, taking money from a person who earned it and giving that money to a person who did not earn it is called robbery. You can give it nice names, but that is what it is. What about reparations for the indentured servants who came to America? What about reparations for the Irish, Italians, and other ethnic groups that were mistreated when they came to America? This is truly ridiculous. It is a shame that some people are taking it seriously. Many Americans’ ancestors weren’t even  here during slavery, why should they pay reparations for something they were never part of? How many Americans lost their lives fighting to end slavery? Are they entitled to anything?

The article reports:

The legislation seeks to “address the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.”

“It’s a commission to study the issue of what was the economic impact of the work of slaves and how does it translate in the 21st century. And what we want to do is to build a narrative, a story of the facts and out of that be able to access how we repair some of the damage,” Jackson Lee said during a recent interview after her speech at the annual Legislative and Policy Conference organized by Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.

“When you look at urban blight, when you look at schools in inner cities and rural communities that are not at the level of excellence that they should be, when you look at support for [historically black colleges and universities], all of that will be part of understanding that whole journey and that whole economic journey,” she added. “And it is interesting that these magnificent buildings were built by slaves, obviously with no compensation. That is not what we are asking for; this bill is to have a commission to hear from people all over the nation.”

How about instead of paying reparations, you begin a program to put fathers back in the homes of families of all races? How about you work on the black culture that says getting an education is a ‘white’ thing? How about you teach children of all races that they have to earn what they get–no one is simply going to give them things? How about you put strict work requirements on welfare and food stamps and limit the number of generations that can collect those benefits? How about we bring back the work ethic instead of the ‘gimme’ ethic?

 

Is This Where Our Culture Is?

Dennis Prager posted an article today in National Review about middle-class values and the attack on those values by the political left.

The article reports:

In August 2017, University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax wrote a column for the Philadelphia Inquirer in defense of middle-class values. She and her co-author cited a list of behavioral norms that, as Wax, put it, “was almost universally endorsed between the end of World War II and the mid-1960s.”

They were:

Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.

She later wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “The fact that the ‘bourgeois culture’ these norms embodied has broken down since the 1960s largely explains today’s social pathologies — and re-embracing that culture would go a long way toward addressing those pathologies.”

For her left-wing colleagues at Penn Law School, this list was beyond the pale. About half of her fellow professors of law — 33 of them — condemned her in an open letter. And Wax wrote in the Journal, “My law school dean recently asked me to take a leave of absence next year and to cease teaching a mandatory first-year course.”

If you are over the age of 60, chances are these are the values you grew up with. Many young people rebelled against these values in the 1960’s and beyond, but these were the values they grew up with.

The article continues:

The Pennsylvania chapter of the left-wing National Lawyers Guild condemned her for espousing bourgeois values and questioned “whether it is appropriate for her to continue to teach a required first-year course.”

These are now considered bourgeois values by the political left. Let’s look at the consequences of these values.

In March 2013, the Brookings Institute posted a list of three things teenagers living in poverty themselves should do to avoid poverty in their future.

This is the list:

In addition to the thousands of local and national programs that aim to help young people avoid these life-altering problems, we should figure out more ways to convince young people that their decisions will greatly influence whether they avoid poverty and enter the middle class. Let politicians, schoolteachers and administrators, community leaders, ministers and parents drill into children the message that in a free society, they enter adulthood with three major responsibilities: at least finish high school, get a full-time job and wait until age 21 to get married and have children.

I would add avoiding illegal drugs or excessive alcohol to that list. However, note that the ways to avoid poverty are very much in line with the bourgeois values that the political left is denigrating. These bourgeois values are also the building blocks of a strong society. Again, why is the political left denigrating them?

The article concludes:

There surely are mean conservatives — witness some of the vile comments by anonymous conservative commenters on the Internet. And it is a moral scandal that Ford has received death threats. The difference in left-wing meanness is the meanness of known — not anonymous — people on the left. They don’t hide behind anonymity because they do not feel bound by traditional notions of civility, for which they have contempt.

Now you can understand why the Left hates Mike Pence, a man who has, by all accounts, led a thoroughly honorable life. He — and other Evangelical Christians and Orthodox Jews — tries to live by a code that is higher than him.

That ethic is what Übermenschen seek to destroy.

They are succeeding.

I hope not. That is not the country I want to leave to my children and grandchildren.

People Get Angry When You Take Their Free Money Away

Yesterday The National Review posted an article about some recent activities by the Teachers’ Unions. The headline of the article reads, “Teachers’ Unions Plan to Become ‘More Political, Not Less Political'” This is in response to the recent Supreme Court decision that no longer allows them to take union dues from teachers who do not want to joint the union.

The article reports:

For unions, the stakes could hardly be higher. Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, warns that surveys show “many [teachers] see dues as too high” and “political activity as too leftist”; she also notes that “only half of all teachers voted for Hillary Clinton.” Internal documents from the National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest teachers’ union, anticipate that the union will lose a whopping 300,000 members. Things look even bleaker for the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the nation’s other major teachers’ union, which has 15 of its 22 largest state affiliates in former agency-fee states — and already had fewer than half its members paying full dues.

By happenstance, both unions held their big national conventions in July, providing a chance to scour the tea leaves for subtle hints as to how the unions might woo reluctant members, especially the hefty share who take issue with the leftist bent that has characterized the unions in recent decades. Even before the shock of Janus, unions worked in concert with Senate and House Republicans in 2015 to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act in a push to roll back many of the federal educational excesses of the Bush and Obama years, so a shift in approach seemed entirely possible.

It turns out that the tea leaves weren’t that hard to read, after all. At the NEA’s annual convention and representative assembly in Minneapolis, things kicked off on day one with Parkland survivor and woke gun-control activist David Hogg joining NEA president Lily Eskelsen García on stage to exhort the cheering throng, “There’s nothing more powerful in America than a pissed-off teacher.” The NEA also made time to award its Human and Civil Rights Award — given to those who have “demonstrated remarkable courage and conviction to stand up for racial and social justice” — to recipients including First Lady Michelle Obama and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

No political bias shown here.

The article concludes:

Somehow, the AFT’s new policies leaned further left than the NEA’s. The AFT unanimously endorsed a “public investment strategy for health care and education infrastructure,” which includes: universal health care, “whether single-payer health care or MediCare for All”; free tuition at all public colleges and universities, as well as “funding for wage justice for adjuncts”; universal, full-day, free child care; doubled per-pupil spending for low-income K–12 districts; and “taxation of the rich to fully fund” a raft of education programs. AFT further resolved that they would “call on our endorsed candidates to support these priorities, and toward that end we will embed these aspirations in our questionnaires to potential candidates seeking our support.” Swing-state Democrats, beware.

For those who didn’t get quite get the message, AFT president Randi Weingarten told reporters, “We’re becoming more political, not less political.” Let educators, would-be members, and public officials be forewarned.

Somehow they never tell you how they are going to pay for all this free stuff–after a while even the rich run out of money to pay their taxes.

Good Economic News

Trading Economics is reporting today:

Labor Force Participation Rate in the United States increased to 62.90 percent in June from 62.70 percent in May of 2018 as the civilian labor force grew by 601,000. Labor Force Participation Rate in the United States averaged 62.99 percent from 1950 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 67.30 percent in January of 2000 and a record low of 58.10 percent in December of 1954.

CNBC is reporting today:

The employment part of the economy continued to power forward in June, adding another 213,000 jobs though the unemployment rate rose to 4 percent, according to a government report Friday.

Economists surveyed by Reuters had expected a nonfarm payrolls gain of 195,000 and the jobless rate to hold steady at 3.8 percent, which had been tied for the lowest since 1969.

Another solid month of job gains provided little help to wages. In addition to the payroll gains, average hourly earnings rose 2.7 percent year over year, a bit below expectations of a 2.8 percent increase.

Despite increasing talk about the economy being near full employment, hiring continues to grow. Along with June’s upside surprise, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revised April’s count up from 159,000 to 175,000 and May’s from 223,000 to 244,000, a total of 37,000 more than initially stated.

The report at CNBC also states:

While the meeting summary indicated a belief that the labor outlook “had continued to strengthen,” there also was concern that businesses are having a hard time filling jobs. While some of the Fed’s contacts indicated they are raising pay, the overall feeling was that wage pressures remain subdued, which was confirmed by Friday’s report.

The bottom line here is that the economy is improving. It may not be as rapidly as some would like, but it is moving in the right direction at a brisk pace. As Americans, we might want to look at the statement that businesses are having a hard time filling jobs. If businesses are having a hard time finding qualified workers, where is the problem? Have we created a society where it is more lucrative to stay home than to work, or is the problem in our education system? Why are our schools not turning out more skilled workers? What do we need to do to change that? Is it time to bring back vocational schools and apprenticeships? Answering those questions might create an economy that continues to thrive.

When Is The Playing Field Actually Level?

Channel 8 in Cleveland reported yesterday that President Trump is planning to rescind the Obama administration policy of considering race in college admissions,

The article reports:

The shift would give schools and universities the federal government’s blessing to take a race-neutral approach to the students they consider for admission.

A formal announcement was expected later Tuesday from the Justice and Education departments, according to the official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan had not yet been disclosed.

The guidance from the Obama administration gave schools a framework for “considering race to further the compelling interests in achieving diversity and avoiding racial isolation.” That approach replaced Bush-era policy from a decade earlier.

The new guidance will not have the force of law, but schools will presumably be able to defend themselves from lawsuits by following administration policy.

Yesterday a video was posted on YouTube of an Indian student Tucker Carlson interviewed who claimed to be black in order to get into medical school. The student explains the problems with acceptance to schools based on race.

Here is the interview:

Making decisions on race is racism, regardless of who benefits. The idea that someone with lower grades or test scoress would be admitted to medical school simply because of their color may be well-intentioned, but it is wrong. The answer to past racial discrimination is not present discrimination, it is treating everyone equally. Until we learn to hire people, admit people to college, and treat all people equally, we will not have racial harmony. More discrimination is not the answer to past wrongs.

How Is The Money We Spend On Education Actually Spent?

Last week Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial explaining how the proposed tax bill might impact educational spending.

The editorial included the following chart:

As you can see from the chart, the number of administrators in education has risen much faster than the number of teachers and students, while test scores have remained essentially the same. It is definitely time that we examined our priorities in education spending,

The editorial also points out how the tax bill under consideration might impact education spending:

The National Education Association blasted the GOP tax reform plan saying that eliminating the state and local tax deduction for those who itemize taxes would be a severe blow to schools, putting 250,000 education jobs at risk.

“It would,” says NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia, “jeopardize the ability of state and local governments to fund public education. That will translate into cuts to public schools, lost jobs to educators, overcrowded classrooms that deprive students of one-on-one attention, and threaten public education.”

There are other provisions in the tax bill that might worry teachers’ unions, such as letting parents use 529 college savings plans to pay for elementary and secondary school costs. That would help make private schools more affordable — a small step toward encouraging school choice.

But it’s the so-called SALT deduction that has the unions up in arms. Why? Because getting rid of it might force high-tax states — which benefit the most from the deduction — to cut taxes and rein in their own spending.

Of course, that’s pure speculation on the NEA’s part. States won’t be obligated to change anything if the SALT deduction goes away.

I think we need to understand that the Trump Administration is generally a goal-oriented group and sometimes their goals are very subtle. The Secretary of Education is a proponent of school choice, and it seems as if the tax proposals might also encourage school choice. The public schools are not doing their job of educating our children, and parents are becoming more willing to find alternative solutions. The amount of children being home-schooled has rapidly increased in recent years. Part of this is due to the fact that test scores have not improved, and part of this is due to the fact that the schools are teaching children values that in many cases contradict the values of their parents.

It would probably be a really good idea to take a look at where our education dollars are being spent. Somehow our students managed to learn more before there was a federal Department of Education.

 

Taxes Have Consequences

For some unknown reason, politicians love to spend other peoples’ money. And they love to raise taxes to get more of other peoples’ money to spend. However, raising taxes does not always work–sometimes it has unforeseen consequences. The Laffer Curve taught us that.

Last Friday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an article about the soda tax in Philadelphia. It just hasn’t gone as predicted.

The article reports:

That 1.5 cents per ounce doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is. The Tax Foundation notes that it’s “24 times the Pennsylvania excise tax rate on beer.”

“The high tax rate on nonalcoholic beverages makes them more expensive than beer in some cases,” the nonpartisan think tank wrote.

Some people, suddenly facing absurdly high costs for colas, root beers and other soft drink favorites, are turning to alcohol instead.

Probably not what was envisioned with the tax. And the tax has been put on diet drinks as well as sugared ones. So, if they had hoped to alter people’s consumption away from sugar-filled soda toward less-unhealthy, non-sugared alternatives, it was a failure.

Tax increases never sound like much–they are sold that way. Remember the luxury tax that went into effect in 1991 that nearly killed the boat industry. The tax was only supposed to impact the rich, but it caused a serious recession as the impact of the tax began to trickle down.

The article at Investor’s Business Daily further reports:

“Beverage tax collections were originally promoted as a vehicle to raise funds for prekindergarten education,” the Tax Foundation said, “but in practice Philadelphia awards just 49% of the soda tax revenues to local pre-K programs.” The majority of the money goes to government employees’ benefits and local schools that already have funding.

…the tax didn’t bring in the money the city thought it would. The city budgeted a “conservative” $46.2 million in revenues from the tax for fiscal 2017. At current projections, they’ll come up $6.7 million short. Many people are leaving Philly to do their shopping, while others have switched to other beverages, leaving a big unexpected hole in the tax revenue estimates.

“In July, city officials lowered beverage tax revenue by 14%, leaving the prekindergarten programs that the tax promised to fund in jeopardy,” the study said.

Meanwhile, local Coca-Cola and PepsiCo operations laid off nearly 150 workers and pulled some brands off Philly shelves. And angry local businesses are suing the city over the tax.

Raising taxes is never the answer. Cutting spending usually is.

What Are We Really Teaching Our Children?

Yesterday PJ Media posted a story showing how skewed our education system has become. The story deals with a group of college graduates who were interning at a company. The didn’t like the company’s dress code and drew up a proposal and a  petition to change it.

The story reports:

The next day, all of us who signed the petition were called into a meeting where we thought our proposal would be discussed. Instead, we were informed that due to our “unprofessional” behavior, we were being let go from our internships. We were told to hand in our ID badges and to gather our things and leave the property ASAP.

We were shocked. The proposal was written professionally like examples I have learned about in school, and our arguments were thought out and well-reasoned. We weren’t even given a chance to discuss it. The worst part is that just before the meeting ended, one of the managers told us that the worker who was allowed to disobey the dress code was a former soldier who lost her leg and was therefore given permission to wear whatever kind of shoes she could walk in. You can’t even tell, and if we had known about this we would have factored it into our argument.

They just don’t get it–their argument was not the problem–their actions were.

The article concludes:

The reality is that colleges — the educational institutions that are theoretically supposed to prepare these kids for the real world — did these students a disservice by treating every petition or pet cause as valid, allowing the inmates to run the asylum. When the students hit the real world, WHAM!

The real world doesn’t have ‘safe spaces.’

American Educators Have Totally Lost Their Minds

On Tuesday, The Washington Post posted an article about a school in New York that cancelled its annual year-end kindergarten show.

This is a screenshot of the letter sent to parents followed by the text of the letter:

KindergartenShowApril 25, 2014

Dear Kindergarten Parents and Guardians,

We hope this letter serves to help you better understand how the demands of the 21st century are changing schools, and, more specifically, to clarify, misperceptions about the Kindergarten show. It is most important to keep in mind is [sic] that this issue is not unique to Elwood. Although the movement toward more rigorous learning standards has been in the national news for more than a decade, the changing face of education is beginning to feel unsettling for some people. What and how we teach is changing to meet the demands of a changing world.

The reason for eliminating the Kindergarten show is simple. We are responsible for preparing children for college and career with valuable lifelong skills and know that we can best do that by having them become strong readers, writers, coworkers and problem solvers. Please do not fault us for making professional decisions that we know will never be able to please everyone. But know that we are making these decisions with the interests of all children in mind.

Sincerely,

Ellen Best-Laimit

Angela Casano

Keri Colmone

Stefanie Gallagher

Martha DeMartini

The elementary school my children attended did a lot of plays. The plays were a chance for children to work on their memorization skills, their singing skills (if they had them) and to learn about different things. There were plays about outer space, Mary Poppins, and Alice in Wonderland. Those plays were part of their learning experience. It is a shame these teachers have decided that participating in the arts is not valuable for children–it is.

A Dissenting Opinion From The Co-Chairman Of The North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission

CO-CHAIR OF THE NC STANDARDS COMMISSION DISSENTS ON FINAL MATH RECOMMENDATIONS

Wilmington, NC, December 30, 2015 – In an open letter to her fellow commission members, Tammy Covil expressed dissatisfaction with the commission’s final vote on recommendations she states will result in nothing more than a rebrand of Common Core.

Ms. Covil serves as co-chair of the North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission. The commission was formed by the General Assembly in 2014 to review and recommend replacement for the state’s K-12 math and English language arts standards, formerly known as Common Core. Their final report is due to be released today.

“Having spent so much time and energy on such an important endeavor, I felt it necessary to recount the events that transpired over the past 15 months. Sadly, much of what occurred behind the scenes undermined our final recommendations,” Mrs. Covil stated. “Although I am disappointed that we were unable to complete our charge to the degree that the legislature had intended, I am proud of the work that went into vetting the standards. There is more than enough evidence in our findings to warrant replacement of the math standards.”

The following is the text of Mrs. Covil’s dissenting opinion:

Commission Members,

As co-chair of the North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission, I wish to inform you that I will not endorse this commission’s final recommendations.

Although one would have expected the overwhelming evidence of Common Core’s shortcomings to have convinced even the most biased individual toward the obvious conclusion of replacement, it became clear to me long before the final vote that many of the appointees had no intention of producing substantive changes to North Carolina’s academic standards.

The General Assembly appointed us to act in good faith on their legislative mandate to repeal and replace Common Core. To say that many of you disregarded your duty as an appointed member is an understatement. Some of you not only snubbed this obligation, you appeared to be actively working against it.

Over the past fifteen months, this commission entertained testimony from a multitude of education stakeholders, most notably two highly regarded experts in the field of standards development and a child brain development specialist. These experts offered compelling evidence that exposed the developmental inappropriateness and academic inefficiencies of Common Core. They provided detailed examples and cited comprehensive research to support their claims. Most of this testimony confirmed the North Carolina commission’s findings. Sentiments expressed by classroom teachers through multiple feedback opportunities and survey data further cemented the need for standards replacement.

In contrast, the education non-profits and lobby groups that were insistent upon coming before the commission to extoll the virtues of Common Core offered little more than vague platitudes, regurgitated talking points, and skewed data. Many of them failed to grasp the difference between standards and curriculum. Nor did they understand that rigor is delivered through instruction, not a standard.

What was evident in their testimony, however, was the extreme desire to protect Common Core at all costs. As was quickly determined, this was all being driven by the expectation of financial gain; one that only a nationalized curriculum could generate. Unfortunately in education, money tends to cloud sound policy decisions.

Nonetheless, their agendas and biases were exposed, yet summarily ignored.

Perhaps the most revealing aspect of this entire exercise was exhibited in the unwarranted and vicious attack on Dr. Scheick and his math group, most of whom possess more individual teaching experience than those who wrote the Common Core math standards combined. The fact that certain commission members waited until the final meeting to reveal their true colors is evidence of their intent to undermine this commission’s work from the beginning.

Even the media was stunned by this duplicitous about-face.

As you are well aware, Dr. Scheick and his team labored tirelessly for months to vet the math standards. They took to the task of ensuring that the state’s standards would meet the criteria mandated in Senate Bill 812. They did so in a very short period of time and under less than supportive circumstances. Not only were North Carolina’s math standards carefully scrutinized, they were compared to other states’ standards (both pre and post Common Core adoption), as well as other countries in order to balance global competitiveness.

How were they rewarded for their efforts? They were treated to a dog and pony show orchestrated by certain members who rarely participated during the monthly meetings, refused to offer any assistance during the math review process, and who failed to attend any of the teacher focus group meetings, despite the fact that they insisted upon them in the first place.

Impugning the character and teaching credentials of Dr. Scheick’s math team and holding the validity of their recommendations to a higher burden of proof than your own State Superintendent is the height of hypocrisy.

Interestingly enough, none of the commissioner members disputed the findings, which are quite damning, to say the least. Had anyone harbored doubt or disapproval of the findings, it was never expressed. Those of us committed to the task at hand noted this lack of cooperation and apathy.

Unlike Common Core, the Minnesota math standards have a proven track record of success. According to the math team, the Minnesota math most closely aligned with the criteria outlined by the legislature. Since it was determined in the findings that the Common Core math standards are fundamentally flawed, tweaking them would actually require more work than adopting a new set of standards and building upward. Why this was considered an unreasonable recommendation is beyond me.

Likewise, and despite the fact that 60% of high school math teachers expressed a strong desire to return to the traditional math sequence of Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II, the commission inexplicably chose to abandon this recommendation. There was virtually no professional development prior to implementation of Integrated Math, nor were there textbooks or an appropriate curriculum available to teach it. As a result, most teachers were forced to haphazardly piece together a curriculum in the hopes that it would meet course expectations. For all the talk about ensuring teacher flexibility, you could not even agree to make a recommendation that would allow teachers the option of the teaching the material in the format that they are most comfortable – So much for teacher advocacy.

Ultimately, the majority decided to punt their responsibility for offering a solution to this quagmire back to the very same department that created it. Abdicating your responsibility in this way not only implies an aversion to leadership; it indicates contempt for the educational well-being of North Carolina’s 1.5 million students and the 95,000 teachers shackled by these standards.

Rather than side with the most important stakeholders in education – teachers, parents and students – many of you predictably and shamefully cow-towed to education elitists, corporate interests and big government.

For those who so emphatically feigned concern for the costs involved in replacing Common Core with a more appropriate set of academic standards, you have failed to consider the lost funding that will result due to frustrated parents pulling their children out of the state’s public school system in protest over your decision to maintain the status quo.

Maybe that is the answer, as nothing else seems to break through the bureaucratic inertia within public education like the threat of funding cuts.

Tammy J. Covil

 

What Really Happened In Raleigh On Friday

As I have stated in previous articles, I attended the final meeting of the Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC) in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Friday. The ASRC was formed to make changes in North Carolina academic standards to improve the education of children in the state. Test scores have gone down under Common Core, and it is becoming obvious that some on the material included in Common Core is not age-appropriate or helpful to students.

Lady Liberty 1885 also attended the meeting. She interviewed Jeannie Metcalf, a member of the Commission, who walked out during the final part of the meeting and did not return.

When Lady Liberty asked Mrs. Metcalf if her leaving was due to what happened to Dr. Scheik during the math recommendations portion of the meeting, she replied:

Yes that is right.
First if all I was embarrassed and ashamed for the way Dr. Scheik was being treated. That group had 6 months to “vet” his recommendations.

Secondly my fears that I’d had from the beginning, that we were set up to fail, were quickly being realized. I was furious and wasn’t going to participate any longer in that sham. And McCroy, Tillis and Berger are entirely to blame. NO ONE on this committee should have had any ties to DPI. (June Atkinson signs the paycheck for 5 of the members and she’s the president of the group that gave us common core.)

Andre was the plant for the chamber and the business community who loves common core, plus his wife works for SAS which handles all the testing in NC.

The committee should have been filled with retired educators, parents, public officials who vocally and publicly opposed common core so that from the getgo we’d have been looking for replacements instead of renaming.

The failing fall on those mentioned above. I would have liked to have replaced the ELA standards with Sandra Stoskys and the math standards with James Milgrams. Quick, easy and we’d have had the highest best standards of any state. What a squandered opportunity. And again, this was the intended result FROM THE BEGINNING.

The children of North Carolina will pay the price for the political gamesmanship involved in selecting this committee. This is not the end of the fight for the education of North Carolina’s children; however, parents and teachers need to speak up to defend our children and grandchildren. We are in danger of raising a group of children who are stressed out by overtesting, mathematics made more confusing than necessary, and English reading assignments that are not only inappropriate for their age group, but contradict the values they are being taught at home.

An Amazing Story From A Middle School Teacher

The following was written by a friend of mine who teaches Middle School. My hope is that they are many more teachers like him and many more students like his students.

Sharing a Wonderful Experience

I know many of us grow weary and worried for the future of our great nation. This is often amplified when we look at our younger generations and the fruit of our educational system. It can certainly be food for depression. However, I would like to share a dose of superb sunshine and positive encouragement I recently received while working with two classes of middle-school students.

I was presenting material on folk literatureoral traditions. We were specifically studying fables. I had selected two pieces which create an opportunity for challenging and discussing some of the troubling modern thinking. The first selection was “The Grasshopper and the Ants.” The second was “The Scorpion and the Frog.”

The students were given the first passage to read for homework. In addition to reading the selection, the students were to answer one question, were the ants right in their response to the grasshopper? They were to write three brief paragraphs which would include their answer and support for their answer. On the following day, I asked the students to get into one of two groups – those who thought the ants were wrong, and those who thought the ants were right. We then proceeded to have a structured debate with opening comments, rebuttal statements, a period for questions and answers, and closing statements. It was an absolute joy to see the majority, about 4/5, of my students supporting the ants. Through the course of the debate/discussion, my students further impressed me with their passionate arguments supporting the rights of the producer/worker to reap the rewards of his labor. When presented with the counter argument that the ants should have at least been a little helpful to the starving grasshopper, a few students promptly set the record straight by arguing that the ants had tried to help by warning the grasshopper and encouraging him to do some work in preparation for the coming winter. When asked if it would be right for some outside force, The Grasshopper Protection Society of the Universe, to pressure/force the ants to give a portion of their goods to the grasshopper, my students responded with a resounding no. They did acknowledge that the ants could choose, on their own, to give some of their goods away, but the choice belonged to the ants. Even when applying to real-life situations – one of which was the sharing of academic success with under-achieving students – my students argued that those who worked for successful outcomes should benefit from their work and choose how to help others. They submitted that if others wanted to be successful they need to work for that success.

A real encouragement came when similar results occurred in my second class.

The second fable, given for the next day’s assignment, dealt more with the influence of our nature – i.e. the scorpion stings and kills the frog saying he had to because that is what scorpions do. The question for my students was, did the scorpion have to do what he did. Again, we had a group discussion – not a debate, but a sort of panel with a randomly selected student to represent the frog and another to represent the scorpion. At the conclusion of this discussion, I presented the students with a final question, what is stronger and more important – your nature or your power of choice? My students warmed my heart with a unanimous outcry that our choices are the most powerful.

Again, similar outcomes for both classes.

While this year has been a good year already, these two days were extraordinary! Our country will be great if these young people have anything to do with it. Find them, and encourage them.