A New Approach To Getting Out Of Doing Something You Don’t Want To Do

High School is not fun for everyone. Teenagers are often not the kindest of people–particularly to anyone who might actually be an individual or be different in some way. Social media has made that worse–bullying doesn’t stop anymore when you close the front door of your house behind you. Bullying on social media has resulted in teen age suicides. Bullying has always been a problem, but it seems as if we are not teaching our children to be resilient. One article seeking to solve the problem might without realizing it illustrate why the problem exists.

Yesterday The Daily Caller posted an article stating the following:

Middle and high school students are citing anxiety as their reason for pushing back against assigned in-class presentations as research shows that nearly one-third of teenagers have an anxiety disorder.

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that an estimated 31.9 percent of adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 exhibit some form of anxiety. It’s an increase that experts say has been driven by the rise of social media, more pressure on students to go to college and other factors.

Students and teachers are split about whether offering alternatives to oral presentations will help anxious students or hurt them by letting them get around developing public speaking skills. The issue was brought to the foreground of discussion after a Sept. 8 tweet from a high school student that said “stop forcing students to present in front of the class and give them a choice not to” was retweeted more than 130,000 times.

“Nobody should be forced to do something that makes them uncomfortable,” a 14-year-old eighth grader identified only as Ula told The Atlantic in a Wednesday story. “Even though speaking in front of class is supposed to build your confidence and it’s part of your schoolwork, I think if a student is really unsettled and anxious because of it you should probably make it something less stressful. School isn’t something a student should fear.”

The word I would use to describe the above statement is not suitable for this blog. If students are not taught to face their fears as students, how are they going to face them as adults? Taking challenges away from students robs them of the opportunity of learning how to overcome challenges. The world is not always going to be sweet and padded. They might as well learn that before they leave school. For example, if I were allowed to vote on whether or not to go for my annual physical exam, I would vote not to do it. It makes me anxious. Therefore I should not have to do it. I really don’t think that works in real life.

Some Charity Has A Purpose

Today’s Daily Caller posted a story about the relationship between Bill Gates and Common Core. Common Core is the federal takeover of education heavily funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates. The Foundation has spent over $200 million in an effort to push the Common Core Standards Initiative in the last couple years.

The article explains one possible motive for the expenditure:

On the Microsoft Web site, a webpage dated April 22, 2014 entitled “Tech Essentials for Testing Success” describes in considerable detail how schools using computer-based, Common Core-aligned tests will now need to spend a bunch of money — on Microsoft products.

“Ready or not,” Microsoft warns, “testing for the State Standards is about to become a reality for schools in 45 states, Washington, D.C., and four US territories. That means a switch to online testing beginning the spring of 2015.”

Later on comes the sales pitch:

For many schools, time is running out. In a report issued by Smarter Balanced in 2012, it found that 56.1 percent of K–12 schools reporting were still running on aging Windows XP, which had an end of service (EOS) date of April 8, 2014. In the face of this looming cutoff of support, it’s recommended by IT professionals to migrate to the new Windows as soon as possible.

Microsoft additionally advises schools to upgrade “all units” “to a minimum of 1 GB of internal memory” and to make sure their screens and processors are up to snuff. (Wouldn’t you know it: in some cases, “Power Macs are not supported.”) Schools might also need to outlay tax dollars on Internet connections and hardware such as headphones.

Notice that “Power Macs are not supported.” If the government were not involved in this, they would be charging Microsoft with monopoly. As usual, if you want to know what Common Core is about, follow the money.

Taxpayer-Funded Inflation

Yesterday Smartmoney.com posted an article explaining how government student loans and grants have caused an increase in college tuition. The article points out that federal aid for college students has increased 164% over the past decade, but many potential students still find the cost of a college education unaffordable

The article points out:

Lesley Turner, a PhD candidate at Columbia University, looked at data on aid from 1996 to 2008 and calculated that, on average, schools increased Pell Grant recipients’ prices by $17 in response to every $100 of Pell Grant aid. More selective nonprofit schools’ response was largest and these schools raised prices by $66 for every $100 of Pell Grant aid.

The article further states:

After adjusting for differences among schools, the authors find that Title IV-eligible schools charge tuition that is 75% higher than the others. That’s roughly equal to the amount of the aid received by students at these schools.

Studies like these suggest that if one goal of government is to make college affordable, aid should become more thoughtful instead of merely more plentiful. And the total cost of federal spending on college isn’t fully known. That’s because spending on loans dwarfs that on grants. Student loans recently eclipsed credit card debt.

The article reminds us that with high unemployment and the unavailability of the high paying jobs that graduates need to pay off their college loans, the taxpayers could wind up paying the bill for a lot of college tuition loans.

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