Archive for Education

Total Wow.

Karen Lewis, head of the Chicago Teacher’s Union, considering run for Mayor

To get a sense of the President of the Chicago Teacher’s Union, watch this (probably not in the office):

Nice, right? Just the sort of person you want in charge of your child’s education. So maybe Mayor is a better title for her?

Karen Lewis’ potential bid for Chicago Mayor has moved beyond just a thought — it’s an “organic,” growing movement, the fiery Chicago Teachers Union president said.

Lewis revealed on Monday she already has an unofficial exploratory committee in the works, a chairperson has been named and her camp is working to have a representative in each of the city’s 77 neighborhoods.

Since an Early & Often poll released Sunday put Lewis at a 9-percentage-point advantage over Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Lewis’ phone has been ringing non-stop, she said.

“They’ve been coming from all over the country,” Lewis said in an interview Monday. “Facebook is blowing up. Twitter is blowing up.”

Lewis lashed out at Emanuel camp’s initial response to the poll published by the Sun-Times political portal. An Emanuel political spokesman called the poll numbers “laughable.”

“There are a variety of ways to look at these problems, but laughable isn’t one of them,” said Lewis, the mayor’s top critic during the closing of 50 schools. “That is how people feel — that they’ve been laughed at and ignored.”

Lewis said she’s still not made a final decision on whether to enter the contest.

But she is already thinking about strategy. That involves drilling down to the community level on resident concerns and having a representative for each of the city’s 77 official community areas.

Perhaps she can be President of the United States someday. Foreign leaders can imagine her in jail, sitting on one of those little toilets.

- Aggie

Comments

Have a Koch and a Smile

Harry Reid it and weep:

The United Negro College Fund announced a $25 million grant Friday from Koch Industries Inc. and the Charles Koch Foundation — a large donation from the conservative powerhouse Koch name that Democrats have sought to vilify heading into the 2014 midterm elections.

The UNCF, known for its iconic motto, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” supports historically black colleges and universities and provides scholarships.

From the donation, $18.5 million will go toward nearly 3,000 merit-based scholarships to African-American students, and $6.5 million will go toward general support for historically black colleges and universities and the UNCF.

African-Americans are a key constituency within the Democratic Party. But Michael Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF, said that since the organization’s inception in 1944, it has reached out to people of all backgrounds for support without an “ideological lens” because it is in everyone’s interest. The organization has awarded $100 million in scholarships to more than 12,000 students at 900 schools this year alone, but he said the need is so great that the organization turns away nine out of every 10 applicants, or about 100,000 students annually.

He said that in today’s politically charged climate, he’s prepared to take criticism from those of different political leanings than the Kochs.

“Criticism is a small price for helping young people get the chance to realize their dream of a college education, and if I’ve got to bear the brunt of someone else’s criticism to ensure that we have the resources to help those students, then I can handle it, and I can take the heat,” Lomax said.

Lomax said he and Charles Koch, chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, based in Wichita, Kansas, had lunch together and were able to find that we “shared a profound belief in the importance of education.”

“We talked about students. We talked about the kinds of support they need. We talked about the shared belief that there are a lot of talented young people there whose lives will be transformed if they get a chance to complete a college degree,” Lomax said.

In a statement, Koch said that “increasing well-being by helping people improve their lives has long been our focus” and that the partnership will provide promising students with new educational opportunities.

“We have tremendous respect for UNCF and we are hopeful this investment will further its effectiveness in helping students pursue their dreams,” Koch said.

In case you were wondering:

Reid’s office did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Let me provide a comment for Reid: sometimes, a mind is perfectly okay to waste (as he himself demonstrates every day) if the evil Kochs are paying for it.

Comments (1)

The Left Continues To March Leftward

This would be a dog-bites-man story if it weren’t so Orwellian

In the U.S., the politics of the left versus the right rolls on with the predictability of traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge. It’s a lot of honking. Until now. All of a sudden, the left has hit ramming speed across a broad swath of American life—in the universities, in politics and in government. People fingered as out of line with the far left’s increasingly bizarre claims are being hit and hit hard.

Commencement-speaker bans are obligatory. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice withdrew as Rutgers’s speaker after two months of protests over Iraq, the left’s long-sought replacement for the Vietnam War. Brandeis terminated its invitation to Somali writer Hirsi Ali, whose criticisms of radical Islam violated the school’s “core values.”

Azusa Pacific University “postponed” an April speech by political scientist Charles Murray to avoid “hurting our faculty and students of color.” Come again? It will “hurt” them? Oh yes. In a recent New Republic essay, Jennie Jarvie described the rise of “trigger warnings” that professors are expected to post with their courses to avoid “traumatizing” students.

Oberlin College earlier this year proposed that its teachers “be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression.” The co-chair of Oberlin’s Sexual Offense Policy Task Force said last month that this part of the guide is now under revision.

I think it’s fair to say something has snapped.

Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich was driven out as CEO for donating money to support California’s Prop. 8. An online protest tried to kill Condi Rice’s appointment to the Dropbox board of directors over Internet surveillance. Incredibly, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston didn’t cave.

Earlier this year, faculty and students held a meeting at Vassar College to discuss a particularly bitter internal battle over the school’s boycott-Israel movement. Before the meeting, an English professor announced the dialogue “would not be guided by cardboard notions of civility.”

This gets worse and worse. Go to the link and read about the Harvard undergrad who published an article in The Crimson suggesting that we drop academic freedom in favor of social justice. And that we stop all research that doesn’t comply with her idea of social justice. And then read about the agreement that the Obama administration… never mind – I’ll post it:

It’s obvious that the far left has decided there are no longer constraints on what it can do to anyone who disagrees with it. How did this happen? Who let the dogs out?

The answer is not university presidents. The answer is that the Obama administration let the dogs out.

The trigger event was an agreement signed last May between the federal government and the University of Montana to resolve a Title IX dispute over a sexual-assault case.

Every college administrator in the U.S. knows about this agreement. Indeed, there are three separate, detailed “Montana” documents that were signed jointly—and this is unusual—by the civil-rights divisions of the Justice and Education Departments. Remarked DoJ’s Joceyln Samuels, “The government is stronger when we speak with one voice.”

That’s real muscle. But read the agreement. It is Orwellian.

The agreement orders the school to retain an “Equity Consultant” (yes, there is such a thing) to advise it indefinitely on compliance. The school must, with the equity consultant, conduct “annual climate surveys.” It will submit the results “to the United States.”

The agreement describes compliance in mind-numbing detail, but in fact the actual definitional world it creates is vague. It says: “The term ‘sexual harassment’ means unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.” But there are also definitions for sexual assault and gender-based harassment. All of this detailed writ is called “guidance.” As in missile.

No constitutional lawyer could read this agreement and not see in it the mind of the Queen of Hearts: “Sentence first, verdict afterwards!” Indeed, the U.S. Education Department felt obliged to assert that the agreement is “entirely consistent with the First Amendment.”

First Amendment? It’s more like a fatwa. The Obama administration has issued a federal hunting license to deputize fanatics at any university in America. They will define who gets accused, and on what basis.

The White House enabled these forces again last week, releasing an Education Department list of 55 colleges that are “under investigation” for possible Title IX violations. Not formally cited but “under investigation.” The list includes such notorious Animal Houses as Catholic University, Swarthmore, Knox College, Carnegie Mellon and Harvard Law School. In truth, every school in America is effectively on the list.

And there’s more at the link. The really unfortunate thing for all of us that just want to be left alone is that there probably is no country left on earth where that can happen. If Texas secedes from the Union, I’ll join them. If they’ll have me…

- Aggie

Comments

Do You Want To Pay For Other People’s Student Debt?

I don’t.

Another stupid Obama program backfires. And you can be sure that they will come after Good ‘Ol Steady Eddy to pay for the mistake.

ObamaCare may get most of the press, but don’t forget the growing mess that is the Obama Administration’s student-loan program. We reported last week on the rising costs of the President’s income-based repayment plans, but it seems we weren’t alarmist enough.

A new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York finds that as of the fourth quarter of 2012 only about 40% of student borrowers were paying down their loans. About 17% were delinquent, defined as 90 days past their due payment. Hard to believe, but this “measured delinquency rate” is higher than any other consumer debt product, even credit-card debt.

Yet it is only half of the “effective” delinquency rate. A whopping 14% of borrowers who were not officially delinquent had the same balance as the previous quarter and 30% saw their balances increase.

That’s because borrowers who can’t afford to pay down their loans can ask the government for a deferment or forbearance, which freezes their payments while interest continues to accrue. During a deferment, Uncle Sam pays the interest on subsidized loans. To qualify for either option, borrowers merely need to claim an economic hardship or return to school. Borrowers can postpone payments indefinitely by enrolling in college half-time—during which time they can take out even more loans. Borrowers can use the loans to pay for incidental living expenses.

Heavily indebted borrowers can also enroll in an income-based repayment plan, which caps monthly payments at 10% of their discretionary income—about $150 per month for someone earning $30,000 annually. The government then forgives the entire outstanding loan after 10 years of making these minimum payments while working for a nonprofit or the government. You have to wait 20 years if you work in the profit-making economy.

But as the New York Fed report notes, borrowers who participate in income-based repayment plans may “make only small payments, which are often insufficient to cover the accumulated interest.” Thus their loan balances grow.

Student loan debt nearly tripled to $966 billion in 2012 from $364 billion in 2004, but not merely because more students are going to school and taking out bigger loans. The Fed report’s major finding is that government programs intended to prevent defaults are actually causing many borrowers to rack up more debt. Yet these borrowers aren’t included in the government’s official default or delinquency rates.

This reduces the political pressure to rein in government student lending, even though on present trend taxpayers will have to absorb tens of billions in default losses. As with ObamaCare, Mr. Obama passes out the loan benefits to young voters now, but everyone pays the price later.

Ahem, not everyone will pay the price later. People who work for a living in the private sector will pay the price. And that is a shrinking number of “folk” or, if you prefer, dopes. It is completely outrageous for people who work their tails off, and who help their own kids with college, to have to help pay for someone else’s kids who can’t cut it in the work place. I speak as someone with grown kids who are paying off their own loans and probably don’t want to pay for their peers, or for people who are five or six years younger. Should everyone join the public sector? Is that the answer?

- Aggie

Comments

Barack Obama High

No, not high as in stoned; high as in high school.

Well, both:

Chicago students vying for hard-to-get spots in the city’s most competitive public high schools will get a new selective enrollment high school named after President Barack Obama.

For parents frustrated with a gut-wrenching process that some have compared to getting their child into an Ivy League school, 300 additional freshmen seats come as welcome news.

For Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the announcement, coupled with an earlier University of Chicago study released Thursday showing more freshmen are on track to graduate high school, was an opportunity to celebrate a new course for Chicago Public Schools.

“For the first time in the city of Chicago, I get to say that (U.S. Education) Secretary (William) Bennett, who in 1987 said the city of Chicago is the worst public school system in America, you’re wrong. Dead wrong,” Emanuel said.

And it only took you 27 years. Way to go, Chi-ca-go! But some people still aren’t happy:

Mayoral critics noted the $60 million high school was announced a day after CPS voted to turn over management of three failing schools in impoverished neighborhoods on the city’s West and South Sides to a private organization. They contend that instead of investing more resources in top-tier schools that serve a small number of students, the money should be used to help neighborhood schools across the city, many of which saw severe budget cuts this school year.

Some also wondered why Obama College Prep was not being built on the South Side in the president’s Kenwood neighborhood or in the community where First Lady Michelle Obama grew up, rather than among well-to-do North Siders.

Remember, Obama is half white, too. He represents all of us. Besides, he likes the Cubs as much as the White Sox:

Wow. “South Side kid”? He didn’t set foot in Chicago until he went there to organize communities at 24. No wonder he can’t remember a single ChiSox name. (The announcers let him off easy—I would have loved to hear him squirm trying to name any Oakland As players: “Uh… the truth is, I liked a lot of Giants, too…”)

Comments

Out: Do it for the Children—In: RACIST!

If a equals b, and b equals c, what do we know about the value of a compared to the value of c?

As Eric Holder would say, you don’t want to go there, buddy:

In late March, the Chicago Board of Education announced an ambitious plan to implement its “turnaround” model for three low-performing elementary schools in poor, predominantly black neighborhoods.

The turnaround process involves the sacking of every teacher and staffer at each of the schools, according to an email from the Chicago Teachers Union obtained by The Daily Caller.

Naturally, the union bosses aren’t happy that the nation’s third-largest school district is employing such sweeping measures to improve some of its worst schools.

The email from the teachers union also suggested that the effort to improve the schools is an effort spearheaded by Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett to damage black children and black families.

“This is an attack on Black schools that continues the assault carried out by” Byrd-Bennett “last year, when she closed 50 schools (claiming they were the last closings for at least five years).”

Byrd-Bennett is black.

No way!

Way.

What is the insidious plan this Aunt Jemimah has in mind for black children?

One of the three schools facing turnaround plans is Ronald E. McNair Elementary School, which has been on academic probation for the past 14 years. Another school is Dvorak Technology Academy, which has been on academic probation for the past 7 years. The third school is Walter Q. Gresham Elementary School, which has been on academic probation for the past 6 years.

If the Board of Education approves the plan at its board meeting on April 23, the three schools will be managed by the Academy for Urban School Learning (AUSL), a nonprofit organization which already manages 29 public schools in Chicago where over 17,000 students are enrolled.

The turnaround process involves bringing in teachers and staffers who have been specifically trained to work in low-performing schools.

And we can’t have that.

Woody Guthrie once wrote the refrain, “You can’t scare me, I’m stickin’ to the union.” If it read today “stickin’ it to the union”, it would be relevant. The union sure has been sticking it to kids—black kids—for decades.

Comments

What is “Social Justice”?

I’ve come to be very suspicious of the phrase, given those who are so fond of using it, but what does it mean?

Wikipedia?

Social justice is the ability people have to realize their potential in the society where they live.

Realize their potential—you mean like charter schools, where the pupil, not the teacher, and certainly not the teachers union, is paramount?

Ha-ha, very funny:

Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis wants schools to teach social justice, not “consumerism,” she said in a video.

“You want to talk about organizing? You want to talk about social justice?” the Chicago union leader asked. “People always talk about how that there’s no political and values in math, that you can teach math without a place for social justice.”

“Johnny has five pencils and if he spent two cents for the red pencils and eight cents for the green pencils, and he has 47 cents, how many pencils can he buy? We’ve all seen that, right?” Lewis said. ”That’s a very political statement, because it’s all about consumerism — it’s about buying stuff, right?”

Instead, Lewis prefers the approach of one progressive teacher who uses union-approved rhetoric in math problems, instead of the damaging consumerism of two cent pencils.

“Bob Peterson tells them about Jose working in a factory making piecemeal clothes. He uses the same numbers and gets the same answer,” Lewis explained. “Math is political, too.”

Told you it was funny. Apparently being a teacher is political, as well:

Lewis is best known for leading a strike within the ailing Chicago Public Schools system. Lewis’ strike caught national attention, winning 17.6 percent pay increases for Chicago teachers, who then earned on average $71,000-$76,000 per year.

Lewis is currently focusing on fighting potential pension cuts to city teachers. Illinois is facing at least $100 billion in unfunded pension liabilities for public workers.

Don’t give up a penny, Karen. Green pencils don’t grow on trees.

I thought liberals celebrated “consumerism”. That’s what Pelosi and Obama tell us when they celebrate welfare and unemployment benefits. “Folks” have the money to buy pencils, “piecemeal clothing” (thongs?), Big Macs, whatever, thereby employing stationers, seamstresses, and fry cooks—at least until a hike in the minimum wage forces employers to cut back.

As a conservative, I not only approve of but celebrate the opportunity for people to “realize their potential”. But what that has to do with this fat hackette’s (sorry, not really, for the ad hominem attack) nonsense escapes me. The very reason Jose is working in a sweatshop is that he was failed by the Chicago schools. They didn’t teach him English or good communication skills, didn’t teach him that red pencils are just as good as green, and cheaper, didn’t teach him that capitalism is the best system for people to “realize their potential”—but you have to have something to offer, a trade, skill, talent, whatever to sell in the marketplace. Those who do indeed do “realize their potential” and found businesses and whole industries. Those who don’t tend to work at the lower end of those businesses and industries, until Democrat policies ruin the economy, and they get laid off.

In this sense, “social justice” would seem to mean a vicious cycle of liberal nonsense. Which is what I thought.

Comments (2)

NYC Mayor Kicks Charter Schools Out Of City Space

The Left is getting nuttier

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took off the gloves in his battle with education reformers, rescinding an agreement for the city to share space with several public charter schools.

The move undercuts educators, parents and some 700 students at four schools, including Harlem Success 4, one of the public charter school movement’s top success stories, and two set to open in the fall. While agreements at those schools were rescinded, expansion of a fourth school was also blocked. The schools were to operate rent-free in city-owned facilities under deals backed by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an ardent supporter of charter schools.

But de Blasio, who is an unabashed critic of charter schools and won election with full-throated support of the United Federation of Teachers, said in a statement some of the city’s agreements to share class space will be voided. City officials said some of the deals that were stricken would have had elementary students attending class in high school buildings or forced cuts for public school special needs students.

“Explaining to students and families that they won’t have a school next year is the most heartbreaking thing I’ve done at Success Academies.”
- Eva Moskowitz, charter school administrator

“As a public school parent, I am committed to a fundamentally different way of making decisions about co-locations, and that’s a commitment shared by the longtime teacher now leading our school system,” de Blasio said, accusing the Bloomberg administration of having “rushed” the deals through in the “waning days” if his final term.

Just another example of how the Left hurts students of color. Disgusting.

- Aggie

Comments

LA Dodger

This is what happened:

The ambitious plan to get an iPad in more than 30,000 Los Angeles students’ hands hit another snag.

Workers at the Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD) have started confiscating iPads that bypassed the devices’ security measures, according to the Los Angeles Times. The tampered iPads could access unauthorized websites and apps, such as Facebook, YouTube, and Pandora.

The school-issued iPads were installed with their own security software that prevented students from getting access to anything but the preloaded educational software. However, students at several different schools discovered a work around within hours after students received their iPads.

Sarah Bradshaw, the chief of staff for District 5 of the LAUSD, said that there were signs that the iPad program was going to be a rough ride.

“We could see this thing coming,” she told ABC News. “So much of this has been rushed and so ill thought out.”

But this is how NPR covered it:

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A news item last week got us thinking about how American schools are changing. Many high school students in Los Angeles now have school-issued iPads. Some hacked the security on the iPads to surf forbidden sites on the Internet. School Superintendent John Deasy weathered some awkward headlines and tried to turn this into a teachable moment.

JOHN DEASY: I met with the students, collected the devices, and began a conversation about so, you’re smart, but we need you to be responsible.

INSKEEP: The incident was one of the bumps as John Deasy rolls out the plan, under which L.A. is spending $1 billion to eventually put an iPad in the hands of every student – 650,000 of them, grades K through 12. L.A. is not the first school system to try something like this, but is by far the largest.

Of all the things that you could do with your district budget, what made you think that an iPad for every student ultimately would be a thing that you’d want to do?

DEASY: All students should have access to technology. And all students should have access to live digital curriculum. I mean, what we would want for those privileged students, it’s our obligation to make sure that students who live in circumstances of poverty have exactly that.

So, he handed out a billion dollars in iPads because he thought it was “fair”. Never mind that an iPad is hardly “technology” (it’s a cross between a toy and a library), and never mind that the kids defeated the security measures in a matter of minutes, all students I knew had advantages and disadvantages. Back in my day, it was electric typewriters versus manual. Why hand out iPads that have been limited to “preloaded educational software”? Why not a textbook? When will these kids ever learn how to handle a book (tables of contents, indexes, bibliographies, etc.) if not in school?

“All students should have access to technology. And all students should have access to live digital curriculum. I mean, what we would want for those privileged students, it’s our obligation to make sure that students who live in circumstances of poverty have exactly that.”

All students should learn. That is the least that should be expected of them and the most we can do for them. Failing that (as too often happens), handing out iPads is worthless.

Comments

Let’s Move (Our Bowels)

Not quite, but you get the point:

Students in a rural Kentucky county — and their parents — are the latest to join a growing national chorus of scorn for the healthy school lunches touted by first lady Michelle Obama.

“They say it tastes like vomit,” said Harlan County Public Schools board member Myra Mosley at a contentious board meeting last week, reports The Harlan Daily Enterprise.

The growing body of USDA meal regulations implemented by the Department of Agriculture under the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010? has long been a signature issue for the first lady.

Students can only have one serving of meat or other protein. However, rich kids can buy a second portion each day on their own dime.

Hey, no fair rich kids getting seconds on chicken fingers! The top 1% (and their kids) should be miserable just like everyone else. Speaking of 1%:

Other gripes involved the new bread, which students don’t want to eat because it’s brown wheat bread, and the new milk, which is skim or one percent fat, not two percent or whole. The cafeteria’s chocolate- and strawberry-flavored milk offerings are now nonfat.

While we’re laughing:

[T]he food on offer in the cafeteria is crappy and there isn’t nearly enough of it.

Woody Allen, anyone?

Alvy Singer: [addressing the camera] There’s an old joke – um… two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ‘em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.” Well, that’s essentially how I feel about life – full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness, and it’s all over much too quickly. The… the other important joke, for me, is one that’s usually attributed to Groucho Marx; but, I think it appears originally in Freud’s “Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious,” and it goes like this – I’m paraphrasing – um, “I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.” That’s the key joke of my adult life, in terms of my relationships with women.

Part of the reason kids are on starvation diet is that they’ve taken exercise out of the school day. I don’t know how they expect to keep kids fit—mentally as well as physically—if they keep them chained to their desks all day.

Comments

Back 2 Skool

Number 2 pencils? Protractor? Pee-Chees?

Kevlar vest?

Thousands of Chicago Public Schools students will head to new schools Monday, the first day of what Mayor Rahm Emanuel has called “a new beginning” for the nation’s third-largest district.

As they go, many will be accompanied by some unfamiliar faces: A crop of newly hired workers in yellow reflective vests, Chicago firefighters and even the security guards from local public libraries, all of them expected to stand guard to ensure kids get to and from school safely.

The effort known as Safe Passage — which stations workers and others along designated routes to help students who must cross gang boundaries — is perhaps the most visible sign of how much is at stake for students in a district that has long struggled academically and financially, as well as for a mayor who has vowed since taking office that he would turn things around.

“Safe Passage is about more than just building a route to school,” Emanuel told about 1,000 people during a training session last week. “It is about building a route to college, career and beyond, so that once our kids get to school, they get the world-class education they deserve.”

This is a good thing, no doubt. It’s just a little late, as the late Hadiya Pendleton would attest to if she were around to attest to anything.

I leave it to you to ponder the meaning of a city with the strictest gun laws in the nation (or near enough) having to post guards along those routes to school that cross “gang boundaries”.

Comments

Next On The Agenda?

Raise the cost of college tuition

Everything this President does to “help” end up hurting.

This week, President Obama is hitting the road to unveil his plan to “combat the soaring costs of higher education.” His three part plan consists of connecting financial aid to school performance, supporting academic innovation, and making college more affordable.

His road tour and policy initiatives sound good in the nightly news cycle. They make for great talking points, but President Obama’s plan does not address the fundamental reasons behind why tuition is rising. Both sides can agree that rising college costs are a big problem and burden for students. But more college subsidies and government aid will not solve the problem; in fact it is the reason why tuition is rising.

Over the past thirty years tuition has risen by over 250%, despite Washington continually putting forth new government aid programs and subsides with the attempt to cut tuition costs. The more money Washington puts into the hands of students only enables the colleges and universities to continue propping up the price of education.

Maybe Fox Butterfield is out there somewhere and can explain this to our brilliant, young President.

- Aggie

Comments

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »