Ben Lovejoy reports: The British government is considering a proposal to give iPads to prison inmates so that they can continue their education when confined to their cells, and also keep in touch with family members via FaceTime and Skype.
The Telegraph reports that the recommendation was made by an adviser to the Ministry of Justice, and is being considered by Justice Minister Michael Gove. A spokesman said that the government wanted to improve educational opportunities so that prisoners were less likely to re-offend following their release.
There does appear to be some support for the idea…
The plan is being considered by Dame Sally Coates, a former headteacher who is conducting a review of education in prisons for Mr Gove….(read more)
Mark J. Perry writes: Nobel laureate economist Friedrich Hayek (1899 – 1992) is one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century and his work still resonates with economists and scholars around the world today. Two decades after Hayek’s death, his ideas are increasingly relevant in an era where governments grow ever larger and more interventionist.
Not everyone on the left wants to quash dissent or indulge President Obama’s abuses of executive power
Charles Murray writes: Social conservatives. Libertarians. Country-club conservatives. Tea party conservatives. Everybody in politics knows that those sets of people who usually vote Republican cannot be arrayed in a continuum from moderately conservative to extremely conservative. They are on different political planes. They usually have just enough in common to vote for the same candidate.
“To simplify, progressive intellectuals were passionate advocates of rule by disinterested experts led by a strong unifying leader. They were in favor of using the state to mold social institutions in the interests of the collective. They thought that individualism and the Constitution were both outmoded.”
Why then do we still talk about the left in terms of a continuum from moderately liberal to extremely liberal? Divisions have been occurring on the left that mirror the divisions on the right. Different segments of the left are now on different planes.
“That’s not a description that Woodrow Wilson or the other leading progressive intellectuals would have argued with. They openly said it themselves.”
A few weeks ago, I was thrown into a situation where I shared drinks and dinner with two men who have held high positions in Democratic administrations. Both men are lifelong liberals. There’s nothing “moderate” about their liberalism. But as the pleasant evening wore on (we knew that there was no point in trying to change anyone’s opinion on anything), I was struck by how little their politics have to do with other elements of the left.
Their liberalism has nothing in common with the political mind-set that wants right-of-center speakers kept off college campuses, rationalizes the forced resignation of a CEO who opposes gay marriage, or thinks George F. Will should be fired for writing a column disagreeable to that mind-set. It has nothing to do with executive orders unilaterally disregarding large chunks of legislation signed into law or with using the IRS as a political weapon. My companions are on a different political plane from those on the left with that outlook—the progressive mind-set.
“It is that core philosophy extolling the urge to mold society that still animates progressives today—a mind-set that produces the shutdown of debate and growing intolerance that we are witnessing in today’s America. Such thinking on the left also is behind the rationales for indulging President Obama in his anti-Constitutional use of executive power.”
Wait, doesn’t “progressive” today reflect the spirit of the Progressive Era a century ago, when the country benefited from the righteous efforts of muckrakers and others who fought big-city political bosses, attacked business monopolies and promoted Good Government?
“As a libertarian, I am reluctant to give up the word “liberal.” It used to refer to laissez-faire economics and limited government.”
The era was partly about that. But philosophically, the progressive movement at the turn of the 20th century had roots in German philosophy ( Hegel and Nietzsche were big favorites) and German public administration ( Woodrow Wilson’s open reverence for Bismarck was typical among progressives).
“Making a clear distinction between liberals and progressives will help break down a Manichaean view of politics that afflicts the nation.”
To simplify, progressive intellectuals were passionate advocates of rule by disinterested experts led by a strong unifying leader. They were in favor of using the state to mold social institutions in the interests of the collective. They thought that individualism and the Constitution were both outmoded.
That’s not a description that Woodrow Wilson or the other leading progressive intellectuals would have argued with. They openly said it themselves.
It is that core philosophy extolling the urge to mold society that still animates progressives today—a mind-set that produces the shutdown of debate and growing intolerance that we are witnessing in today’s America. Such thinking on the left also is behind the rationales for indulging President Obama in his anti-Constitutional use of executive power. If you want substantiation for what I’m saying, read Jonah Goldberg’s 2008 book “Liberal Fascism,” an erudite and closely argued exposition of American progressivism and its subsequent effects on liberalism. The title is all too accurate.
“Too many of us see those on the other side as not just misguided but evil. The solution is not a generalized ‘Can’t we all just get along’ non-judgmentalism. Some political differences are too great for that. But liberalism as I want to use the term encompasses a set of views that can be held by people who care as much about America’s exceptional heritage as I do.“
Here, I want to make a simple point about millions of people—like my liberal-minded dinner companions—who regularly vote Democratic and who are caught between a rock and a hard place. Read the rest of this entry »
June 18, 1983: Sally Ride, First American Woman in Space
On this day in 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. She was a mission specialist aboard the Challenger. She rode the space shuttle Challenger into orbit in 1983, but she was also a NASA adviser, a lifelong educator, and a founder of Sally Ride Science, a venture dedicated to inspiring and teaching young people, especially girls, about science and space.
Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts Photo: AP
Universities are the least transparent of U.S. institutions, defending protocols more secretive than those of the Swiss banking system.
For National Review Online, Victor Davis Hanson writes: Employment rates for college graduates are dismal. Aggregate student debt is staggering. But university administrative salaries are soaring. The campus climate of tolerance has utterly disappeared. Only the hard sciences and graduate schools have salvaged American universities’ international reputations.
For over two centuries, our superb system of American public and private higher education kept pace with radically changing times and so ensured our prosperity and reinforced democratic pluralism. But a funny thing has happened on the way to the 21st century. Colleges that were once our most enlightened and tolerant institutions became America’s dinosaurs. Read the rest of this entry »
Andrew J. Coulsonwrites: Since the early 1970s, the federal government has tracked the academic achievement of American 17-year-olds.
Presented with this dismal national picture, many pundits and elected officials protest that their own states have done better.
“Overall, the correlation between spending and achievement is among the lowest I have ever seen in social-science research: 0.08 on a scale from 0 to 1.”
The trouble is, there’s been no way to verify their claims. State-level test score averages don’t reach back that far, or, as with the SAT, they aren’t taken by a representative sample of all students.
Rampell’s seemingly commonsense statement offers dramatic ramifications for the role of the federal government. If, because of the huge unintended consequences that attend it, it’s not in the country’s best interest to enable every aspiring American to buy a home . . . how many other areas of modern American life feature the government “enabling” people — read, distributing money — to pursue dreams that are not, in fact, in the country’s best interest?
Is it really in the country’s best interest to enable every aspiring college student to attend college? Right now the federal government is in the business of loaning money to young people to attend college, only to watch significant numbers — 600,000 or so last year — fail to pay the money back. College students are defaulting on federal loans at the highest rate in nearly two decades, with one in ten defaulting on their loans in the first two years. This is not merely one late check; to meet the Department of Education’s definition of default, a borrower’s loan must be delinquent for 270 days — nine months. Read the rest of this entry »
Paglia Tells Educators to Get Real. When public schools refuse to acknowledge gender differences, we betray boys and girls alike
Camille Paglia writes: Fertility is the missing chapter in sex education. Sobering facts about women’s declining fertility after their 20s are being withheld from ambitious young women, who are propelled along a career track devised for men.
“Too often, sex education defines pregnancy as a pathology, for which the cure is abortion.”
The refusal by public schools’ sex-education programs to acknowledge gender differences is betraying both boys and girls. The genders should be separated for sex counseling. It is absurd to avoid the harsh reality that boys have less to lose from casual serial sex than do girls, who risk pregnancy and whose future fertility can be compromised by disease. Boys need lessons in basic ethics and moral reasoning about sex (for example, not taking advantage of intoxicated dates), while girls must learn to distinguish sexual compliance from popularity.
Above all, girls need life-planning advice. Too often, sex education defines pregnancy as a pathology, for which the cure is abortion. Adolescent girls must think deeply about their ultimate aims and desires. If they want both children and a career, they should decide whether to have children early or late. There are pros, cons and trade-offs for each choice. Read the rest of this entry »
“It primarily afflicts males between 49 and 58” said Dr. Walter J. McGuffin, the team’s lead researcher. “Other risk factors include smoking, and prolonged exposure to certain species of birds, and primates, such as lemurs.”
“Much remains unknown, but the more law firms are informed about the risks, the better prepared they’ll be to tell their applicants to get their affairs in order.”
Since Dr. MacGuffin‘s research grant included allowances for luxury travel packages, the staff was able to interrupt their research frequently for rest, adventure, and recreation. “As a result, unfortunately, much of the actual research was left undone by the time the Medical Review Board required us to submit our finished work.”
“…even in healthy, well-adjusted males, the tumor can develop quickly, go undetected, become malignant, and in a matter of weeks, grow to the size of a jumbo can of tuna.”
Speaking by phone from the lobby of the Fasano Hotel e Restaurante Rio, Dr. MacGuffin expressed confidence that their research would eventually lead to improved diagnostics, and eventually, save lives. He emphasized the importance of early detection.
“Much remains unknown, but the more law firms are informed about the risks, the better prepared they’ll be to tell applicants to get their affairs in order.”
Observing that “none of our current diagnostic methods have been able to detect the tumor in time to save the lives of any of the patients we studied,” Dr. MacGuffin added, “the length of time the individual applicant is required to wait for results of the exam, and the amount of stress involved, are also factors. But it appears that even in healthy, well-adjusted males, the tumor can develop quickly, go undetected, become malignant, and in a matter of weeks, grow to the size of a jumbo can of tuna.’
A liberal arts education was once a gateway to wisdom; now, it can breed ignorance and arrogance
Victor Davis Hanson writes: The humanities are in their latest periodic crisis. Though the causes of the ongoing decline may be debated, everyone accepts the dismal news about eroding university enrollments, ever fewer new faculty positions, the decline in majors, and the lack of jobs for humanities graduates. Less than 8% of current BA degrees are awarded to humanities majors. The New York Times recently reported that while 45% of the undergraduate faculty at Stanford teach in the humanities, only 15% of the students major in them.
Of course, the numbers of humanities majors have been in decline since the 1970s. But what seems different today is that the humanities are less sacrosanct in the university. Literature, philosophy, and art are no longer immune from budget cuts by virtue of their traditional intrinsic value to the university. Either humanities professors can no longer make the case for the traditional role of their subjects or no one cares to listen to what they have to say.
From RocketNews24, Master Blaster brings this viral phenomenon from Yahoo! Japan News, and writes: Necessity is the mother of invention, and for university students there is no greater necessity than staying awake for late night cramming when exams come about. Some students do whatever it takes to stay up and get that last bit of info committed to memory before the big day, even to the detriment of their own health. However, one girl known by her surname of Huang has found a cheap and effective way to keep her head up and has gone viral in China’s social media for it.
Her invention, titled “Test Studying Sleep Preventative” is a revolutionary… It’s just a clothespin hanger really. But such an item is easily found in homes and dorms all over China allowing for instant implementation once you figure out what to hang it from.
Although Huang seems to show a knack for engineering, she’s actually a second year student at Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University. Still, by simply putting clumps of her hair into the various clothes pins and letting the hanger keep her head up and alert she can learn all about aquifers without the risk of dozing off.
The Daily Caller‘s Robby Soave reports: Education experts decried a new memo from the Departments of Justice and Education that instructs public schools throughout the country to cease punishing disruptive students if they fall into certain racial categories, such as black or Hispanic.
“It’s ridiculous to assign quotas for discipline based on race…If we did that, for one thing, we’d have to believe that Asian students are severely under-disciplined.”
The letter, released on Wednesday, states that it is a violation of federal law for schools to punish certain races more than others, even if those punishments stem from completely neutral rules. For example, equal numbers of black students and white students should be punished for tardiness, even if black students are more often tardy than white students.
The university has become a rogue institution in need of root-and-branch reform
NRO‘s Victor Davis Hanson writes: Two factors have so far shielded the American university from the sort of criticism that it so freely levels against almost every other institution in American life. (1) For decades a college education has been considered the key to an ascendant middle-class existence. (2) Until recently a college degree was not tantamount to lifelong debt. In other words, American society put up with a lot of arcane things from academia, given that it offered something — a BA or BS degree — that almost everyone agreed was a ticket to personal security and an educated populace.
Not now. Colleges have gone rogue and become virtual outlaw institutions. Graduates owe an aggregate of $1 trillion in student debt, borrowed at interest rates far above home-mortgage rates — all on the principle that universities could charge as much as they liked, given that students could borrow as much as they needed in federally guaranteed loans.
Few graduates have the ability to pay back the principal; they are simply paying the compounded interest. More importantly, a college degree is not any more a sure pathway to a good job, nor does it guarantee that its holder is better educated than those without it. If the best sinecure in America is a tenured full professorship, the worst fate may be that of a recent graduate in anthropology with a $100,000 loan. That the two are co-dependent is a national scandal.
Jakub Grygiel writes: The call for global solutions to global problems has become a familiar refrain: If only we could see past our petty national interests, we could come together to solve everything from climate change to poverty to terrorism. Schools like mine are increasingly being called upon to educate “global citizens” who belong to the world rather than to their nation of birth or state of choice — and who seek challenges to address rather than enemies to defeat.
But the global citizen is like the Himalayan Yeti: a figment of the imaginations of a few, not a living member of the political fauna of the world. And it isn’t something we should try to create.
According to a global-citizenship education guide issued by Oxfam, it is important to teach students that the world is unfair and unequal, and that they can and need to change it. Those terms are, by and large, empty vessels to be filled by the holder of power or the ideological flavor du jour, but most often they refer to a version of the argument that the North is richer than the South and this social injustice (another common term) must be addressed. This formulation does have a modicum of substance, albeit of a tired ideological variety reminiscent of post-colonial grievances. It also carries a set of preferred actions. The global citizen knows to drink only fair trade skim lattes.
Max Borders writes: By now you have probably heard of Bryan Caplan’s “rational irrationality.” The idea is that if the cost of holding irrational beliefs is low enough, there may be more irrationality demanded. Indeed, if holding an irrational view makes someone feel better about himself or keep membership in some in-group—but holding the view doesn’t directly harm the holder—she may very well stick with that view.
Caplan contrasts this with the idea of “rational ignorance,” which is more familiar to our readers. That simply means the cost of acquiring enough information to have a truly informed opinion about some issue is generally high, so people remain ignorant.
Both of these behaviors certainly play a role in the preponderance of dumb policies and dumb views. But are there corollaries in debate tactics?
Most libertarians find they’re arguing in social media these days. So they’re not only finding new people on whom to test their ideas, they’re finding new fallacies in response. And sometimes these fallacies work, despite being fallacious, which is probably why they’re so commonplace. This is especially true on social media, where one can quickly learn that the real point of these exchanges is to play to the audience, to provide them with an excuse to withdraw into whatever biases they already hold. Still, maybe it’s possible to raise the costs of employing these fallacies—at least a little.
We’ve decided to offer you a fun list of them, which you can use as a handy guide in the process of engaging in well-mannered, reasoned discourse online.
Argument ad KochBrotherium: This fallacy is a cousin to the genetic fallacyand guilt by association. The twist, of course, is that anything that the Koch Brothers ever say, said, fund, funded, might fund, came close to funding, could have funded, will fund, walked by, looked at, support, think about, or mention is invalid by virtue of, well, “Koch Brothers! Boo!”
The Unicorn: You’ll recognize this fallacy from the question, “Why does no libertarian country exist anywhere in the world?” Embedded in the question is the assumption that libertarian countries don’t exist because they are fantastic creatures, like unicorns. Of course, just because something doesn’t exist yet does not mean it can’t exist. Indeed, the Internet in 1990 and the American Republic in 1775 beg to differ. And the unicorn fallacy fundamentally confuses the libertarian worldview with some “L”ibertarian platform that might be the product of some electoral processes—processes most libertarians reject. Michael Lind and E. J. Dionne have brandished this fallacy rather shamelessly, and have had it parried rather effectively by better minds.
Nut-Picking: This fallacy has nothing to do with Jimmy Carter. In this style of argument, the arguer finds the kookiest or most insane person who self-identifies as libertarian and then ascribes all of that person’s beliefs or claims to all libertarians. (This one could also be called the Alex Jones fallacy.) This is a tough one to counter simply because there are plenty of nuts to pick from, and plenty of them use the l-word.
Must Be Scared/Have No Answer: This one’s pretty simple really, and a unique creature of “debate” via social media. The libertarian leaves his computer or signs off for a while and the opponent accuses the libertarian of not being able to answer his or her FB claims, which the libertarian simply never saw or had no time to answer.
The Tin Man: This fallacy was identified and named by Cole James Gentles (here) who inspired this article. With the tin man the arguer either concludes or falsely assumes that the libertarian “has no heart” because she argues against some favored policy. This cousin of the straw man (scarecrow) fallacyassumes a direct line between sympathies and outcomes. Any failure to support some means amounts to a failure to support the wished-for end. Read the rest of this entry »
KNOXVILLE – Police arrested a 15-year-old West High School student on Monday morning for assaulting a teacher after he used a lighter to ignite her hair and shirt. According to witnesses, when the teacher, 23-year-old Gabriela Penalba (pictured above) turned her back to the class, a male student lit her hair and shirt on fire.
While other students rushed to help put out the flames, the suspect reportedly tossed the lighter out the window. School resource officers responded around 10:45 a.m at which point the suspect fled, but was quickly caught after a brief chase on foot.
The suspect admitted to the assault during a subsequent police interview. He was charged with aggravated assault and evading arrest, and then taken to a juvenile detention facility.
The fire was put out before the teacher received burns to her skin.
The internet’s welcome transformation of public debate
Illustration by Miko Maciaszek
Nelson Wiseman writes: Last December, my colleague at the Ottawa Citizen, a Parliament Hill reporter named Glen McGregor, wrote a blogpost entitled “Toward a Dogme95 of Political Reporting.” It was a trim little call for a return to journalism’s basics: pick up the phone, work sources, get stories. It asked reporters to stop filing easy stories skimmed from the froth of partisan posturing or from social media, and to be more judicious about quoting the always-voluble “senior party sources.” It was fine advice. But the first bullet point of McGregor’s manifesto caught a lot of people off guard:
No more quoting political scientists: It’s lazy and signals the reporter couldn’t find any other apparently neutral or objective source to talk. These people work in academics, not politics, so I’m not interested in their opinions on anything but their own research.
This caused quite a ruckus in the cosy Canadian politics neighbourhood of the Twittersphere. A number of professors took the comment as a raised middle finger to their presence in Canadian journalism. It probably does not matter that McGregor’s intention was to criticize journalists, not academics, and was less about telling professors to stay out of journalism than it was about telling reporters to stop relying on professors to pad out their stories and launder their political views. Like most serious misunderstandings, it served the useful function of shedding some light on the relationship between journalism and academic work, and how -technology-driven shifts in our conception of status, influence and research itself called that relationship into question.
More importantly, what McGregor’s post did was call the bluff of the entire social animal known as the “public intellectual.”
Of all the conflicts to roil our educational system, this one is pretty absurd
Nick Gillespie writes: In the latest example of small-mindedness plaguing our educational system, schools around the country are attempting to ban costumes and candy on what is surely one of most kids’ favorite days of the year. The excuses range from vague concerns about “safety” to specific worries about food allergies to—get this—fears of breaching the wall of separation between church and state.
But whatever the motivation, the end result is the same as what Charlie Brown used to get every time he went trick-or-treating: a big old rock in the candy bag. What sort of lesson are we teaching our kids when we ban even a tiny, sugar-coated break in their daily grind (or, even worse, substitute a generic, Wicker Man-style “Fall Festival” for Halloween)? Mostly that we are a society that is so scared of its own shadow that we can’t even enjoy ourselves anymore. We live in fear of what might be called the killjoy’s veto, where any complaint is enough to destroy even the least objectionable fun.
Consider Sporting Hill Elementary School in Pennsylvania. Earlier this month, the school sent parents a note explaining that wearing Halloween costumes was was canceled because, well, you know, “safety is a top priority.” A spokesperson further explained, “We recognize that the education about, and celebration of, seasonal festivals is an important aspect of the elementary setting…[but] we must do so in a manner that is safe and appropriate for all children.” You’d think it would be easy enough to craft basic guidelines on what’s safe – only fake blood, no trailing ghost or ghoul fronds that might get tripped on– but such a simple task is apparently beyond the powers that be in Sporting Hill. Read the rest of this entry »
Victor Davis Hanson writes: A classical liberal was characteristically guided by disinterested logic and reason. He was open to gradual changes in society that were frowned upon by traditionalists in lockstep adherence to custom and protocol. The eight-hour work day, civil rights, and food- and drug-safety laws all grew out of classically liberal views. Government could press for moderate changes in the way society worked, within a conservative framework of revering the past, in order to pave the way for equality of opportunity in a safe and sane environment.
Among elite liberals today, all too few are of this classical mold — guided by reason and empirical observation. By far the majority are medieval and reactionary. By medieval I mean that they adhere to accepted doctrine — in this case, the progressive doctrine of always finding solutions in larger government and more taxes — despite all the evidence to the contrary. The irony is that they project just such ideological blinkers onto their conservative opponents.
Reactionary is a good adjective as well, since notions of wealth and poverty are frozen in amber around 1965, as if the technological revolution never took place and the federal welfare state hadn’t been erected — as if today’s poor were the emaciated Joads, rather than struggling with inordinate rates of obesity and diabetes, in air-conditioned apartments replete with big-screen TVs, and owning cell phones with more computing power than was available to the wealthy as recently as the 1980s. Flash-mobbing sneaker stores is more common than storming Costcos for bags of rice and flour. Read the rest of this entry »
What with first graders in Chicago Public Schools — among many other U.S. locales — having homework every single day and a proposed ban on homework in China, American parents may need to update their dinner table lecture points.
“Over the last month,” President Obama said in Buffalo, N.Y., on Thursday, “I’ve been out there talking about what we need to do as a country to make sure that we’ve to a better bargain for the middle class and everybody who’s working hard to get into the middle class.”
Stella, the second youngest of five brothers, was raised in a single parent home in Roanoke, Alabama. He was the only one of his siblings to finish high school, although he has since encouraged all of his siblings to go back and get their G.E.D.s.
Now living in Warren, Ohio, with a son of his own, Stella wanted to improve his own life and his son’s opportunities. But as a single parent with a full-time job, his options were limited.
A recent video interview of more than 50 college students on their masturbation and porn-viewing habits has become an online hit on Chinese social media sites.
The project is launched by a study group called ‘Research on Masturbation’ from Guangzhou-based Zhongshan University. The study group, headed by sexology professor Pei Yuxin at the university, aims at dissemination information and knowledge about healthy sex.
Masturbation is informally called “shou yin” in Chinese. Its literal English translation is hand dirty/lewd, with a negative connotation that strongly disapproves of the behavior.
It had been frowned upon in China for centuries as traditional Chinese medicine believes masturbation is very harmful to men’s health whereas female masturbation carried great social stigma. Even today, many web discussions and posts are devoted to discouraging masturbation. The following photo collage of screen grabs of a popular post is one example. (Read original Chinese post here.)
There is exactly one authentically radical social movement of any real significance in the United States, and it is not Occupy, the Tea Party, or the Ron Paul faction. It ishomeschoolers, who, by the simple act of instructing their children at home, pose an intellectual, moral, and political challenge to the government-monopoly schools, which are one of our most fundamental institutions and one of our most dysfunctional. Like all radical movements,homeschoolers drive the establishment bats.
In the public imagination, homeschooling has a distinctly conservative and Evangelical odor about it, but it was not always so. The modern homeschooling movement really has its roots in 1960s countercultural tendencies; along with A Love Supreme, it may represent the only worthwhile cultural product of that era. The movement’s urtext is Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing, by A. S. Neill, which sold millions of copies in the 1960s and 1970s. Neill was the headmaster of an English school organized (to the extent that it was organized) around neo-Freudian psychotherapeutic notions and Marxian ideas about the nature of power relationships in society. He looked forward to the day when conventional religion would wither away — “Most of our religious practices are a sham,” he declared — and in general had about as little in common with what most people regard as the typical homeschooler as it is possible to have.
“People forget that some of the first homeschoolers were hippies”
says Bob Wiesner, a counselor at the Seton Home Study School, a Catholic educational apostolate reporting to the bishop ofArlington, Va. In one of history’s little ironies, today most of homeschooling’s bitterest enemies are to be found on the left. “We don’t have much of a problem from conservatives,” Wiesner says. “It’s the teachers’ unions, educational bureaucrats, and liberal professors. College professors by and large don’t want students who can think for themselves. They want students they can indoctrinate, but that’s hard to do with homeschoolers — homeschoolers push back.” He relishes the story of a number of graduates of his program who attended a top-tier Catholic university and enrolled together in theology classes taught by the school’s most notorious liberals. They were of course more conversant with church orthodoxy than were many of their instructors. “The professors hated them. But the kids had fun. The president of that college at that time was trying to clean up the theology department, so when the professors would complain, he would call the students in and tell them to try to be polite — with a wink and a nod.”
One of those liberal professors is Robin West of the Georgetown law school, who wrote a remarkably shallow and evidence-free jeremiad against homeschooling that was published to the journal’s discredit in Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly. More a work of imagination than one of scholarship, the article ignores the wealth of data suggesting that homeschooling is a largely upper-income and suburban phenomenon, and that homeschooled students typically outperform their public-schoolpeers. West offers a caricature of homeschooling families far removed from reality: “The husbands and wives in these families feel themselves to be under a religious compulsion to have large families, a homebound and submissive wife and mother who is responsible for the schooling of the children, and only one breadwinner. These families are not living in romantic, rural, self-sufficient farmhouses; they are in trailer parks, 1,000-square-foot homes, houses owned by relatives, and some, on tarps in fields or parking lots. Their lack of job skills, passed from one generation to the next, depresses the community’s overall economic health and their state’s tax base.” Education scholar Brian D. Ray, who specializes in homeschooling, found that West’s claims “basically have no foundation in research evidence,” and pointed out to the contrary that “repeated studies by many researchers and data provided by United States state departments of education show that home-educated students consistently score, on average, well above the public school average on standardized academic achievement tests. To date, no research has found homeschool students to be doing worse, on average, than their counterparts in state-run schools…
French President François Hollande is said to be introducing a series of sweeping education reforms, including: an initiative to install tobacco-dispensing vending machines in boys and girls bathrooms, to provide free cigarettes, a weekly airdrop of candy baskets to schools in Paris, and the institution of “casual Friday”, where students are encouraged to wear bathrobes, pajamas, and lingerie to school…
Also under consideration: nationwide ban on Dental visits, a proposal to replace unpopular mathematics and history courses with free pony rides, and erecting a 300-foot-tall statue of Karl Marx, made entirely of dark chocolate.
With these initiatives, François Hollande will endear himself, not just to French school children, but to millions of unemployable future state dependents and welfare recipients children, all over Europe.
Last week, Hollande reaffirmed his pledge to make education one of his main domestic priorities by outlining key strategic changes to revitalize France’s school system. It’s a sweeping package of changes meant to reform a system critics claim is outdated and inefficient, but for headline writers it boils down to one concept: the French President wants to outlaw homework.
“Work should be done at school, rather than at home,” Hollande emphasized on Wednesday. He also proposes reducing the average amount of time a student spends in class in each day, while stretching the school week from four days to four and a half. It’s a bid to bring the country more in line with international standards and to acknowledge some of the current system’s shortcomings. Even the homework isn’t just an empty populist gesture — it’s meant to reflect the fact that many of the lowest-performing students lack a positive support environment at home…
“…Writing, too, is down nine points since the SAT introduced a writing section in 2006. The average score in math was 514 out of 800, five points higher than it was 40 years ago.”
“Just under 1.7 million high school seniors took the test. Nearly half were racial or ethnic minorities. A fourth did not grow up speaking English at home. Asians outscored White, Black and Latinos. But overall, according to the College Board which commissions the SATs, 6 in ten test takers are not prepared for college level work. Experts say this is a clear indication that academically, high schools are just not rigorous enough.”
In a press release, College Board President Gaston Caperton said these scores should be a “call to action to expand access to rigor for more students.””Our nations future depends on the strength of our education system. When less than half of kids who want to go to college are prepared to do so, that system is failing,” he said.