The Conversation

Education: Issues and news stories about Education

Common Core Takes Centerstage At RGA Annual Meeting In Florida

Nov 20, 2014 2:06 PM PT

Common Core has quickly become the issue that could very well derail any future state or federal elections, especially those hotly contested Republican primary races.

During a panel discussion at the annual RGA meeting in Florida, Ohio Governor John Kasich backed his support for Common Core saying that “Governor’s, state superintendants, and principles” came up with Common Core, and doesn’t see Common Core as being the “Obamacore” of education standards.

Continue reading

Easy money goes to an administrator's head, both at universities and in Washington

Oct 15, 2014 8:38 PM PT

I've heard conflicting opinions about whether or not a systemic student-loan crisis is building up, i.e. a bubble comparable to the subprime mortgage bomb we all had so much fun with back in 2008.  But there's no doubt an individual crisis is saddling students with ridiculous debt loads, as tuition rates skyrocket.  

On CNBC Monday, big-time investor Mark Cuban - who does indeed think a major systemic student loan crisis is brewing - suggested putting a cap on student loans to choke off the flood of easy money:

Instead of taxes, jobs or government spending billionaire investor Mark Cuban said tackling the $1 trillion student debt crisis would be most effective in saving the U.S. economy.

The burden of loans is curtailing college graduates' purchasing power that could stimulate the economy, Cuban said at Inc.'s GrowCo conference.

"That's the same money that, when you graduated, you used to move out of the house or you went out and spent money that improved the economy and helped companies grow," he said. 

The best way to fix the student loan bubble is to limit the allotted amount of loans each student is allowed to receive each year to no more than $10,000, Cuban said, adding that a cap on student debt would force universities to lower tuition and curb spending.

Rising tuition costs don't help the economy as much as increasing students' purchasing power—a college may just use the extra cash to "build a better fitness center at your school."

Tuition revenue is "just easy money and easy money goes to a college administrators' head just as much as anybody else," Cuban said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" Monday. 

"Anytime you create easy money, you're gonna create a bubble or inflation and that's what's happening with college tuition," Cuban said. 

Continue reading

Yale Buckley Program to Continue With Hirsi Ali Lecture Following Pressure to Withdraw Invite

Sep 10, 2014 9:07 AM PT

Yale University's Muslim Student Association (MSA) along with other groups on campus signed a letter to the Buckley Foundation asking to dis-invite Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali born American political women's right activist who speaks out against radical Islam, from speaking on campus next week. According to The Yale Daily News, Ali scheduled to give a lecture  titled “Clash of Civilizations: Islam and the West” on September 15 as part of the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program speaker series.  Ali, the daughter of a Somali politician and opposition leader, was previously dis-invited from speaking at Brandeis University after campus groups, including Muslim activists, urged the administration to cancel her speech. Hirsi Ali later wrote at the Wall Street Journal what she would have said at Brandeis.

Although The Yale Daily News says the MSA's letter to the Buckley Foundation did not ask for the organization to dis-invite Hirsi Ali, Buckley Foundation president Rich Lizardo told Breitbart News on Wednesday that the MSA specifically attempted to get the foundation to withdraw its invitation to Hirsi Ali.

"In our meeting the [MSA] student representative, said she would like the Buckley Program to reconsider the invite to [Hirsi Ali]. She said it 'would be really offensive to many people in my community and we would prefer if she didn't come on to campus on to our home,'" Lizardo said. "So I immediately said that would be a non-starter for us."

The Buckley program's Executive Director Lauren Noble told Breitbart News the MSA provided another alternative, when the foundation made it clear it would not withdraw the invite. "The other alternative they proposed was to not permit her to speak about Islam or inviting another speaker the Muslim Student Association deems more representative and qualified to discuss the subject," Noble said.

Lizardo says that there will be several members of the administration in the audience as well as the chief of the Yale Police and the Assistant Chief of the Yale Police. "We're not anticipating disruptions but we're hoping that if people protest," he noted, "they do it civilly and respectfully, following the rules that Yale has, but we are taking extra precautions."

"We have an ally who has moderated for us to in the past. He's a professor here at Yale--Harvey Goldblatt. And he will be at the front of the room introducing Miss Hirsi Ali, while making sure that no disruptions occur." Lizardo added, "I've met with members of the administration including the dean and they are fully ready to support us in terms of making sure the event goes smoothly." 

Below is an e-mail about Hirsi Ali's upcoming speech the Yale MSA sent out on Wednesday.  Hirsi Ali, who has publicly spoke and written  about her life as a Muslim girl in East Africa, endured genital mutilation and her family’s attempts to force her into an arranged marriage. The email calls Hirsi Ali's experiences as a child as "unfortunate circumstances." :

From: Yale MSA <>
Date: Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 9:15 AM
Subject: Dear Friends: More Speech, Not Hate Speech
To: Yale MSA <>

To the Yale community, and to the Buckley program board and staff,

We write to express our concerns about the speaker that is coming to campus this September 15, 2014. The Buckley Foundation is inviting Ayaan Hirsi Ali to discuss the topic “Clash of Civilizations: Islam and the West.”

The level of radical inaccuracy in representing a faith that is part of our community compels all of us, not just Muslims on campus, to act on Yale’s fundamental values of freedom of speech and diversity of thought to express our sentiments.

We sympathize with the unfortunate circumstances that Ms. Hirsi Ali faced in her Muslim household as a child and we recognize that such experiences do exist in many countries, including Muslim-majority ones. We condemn such actions and contend that Islam does not promote them. It is important to distinguish Islamic teachings from the practices of some Muslims, which can be based on a variety of sociopolitical reasons and which do exist in other non-Muslim communities around the world.

Our concern is that Ms. Hirsi Ali is being invited to speak as an authority on Islam despite the fact that she does not hold the credentials to do so. In the past, under such authority, she has overlooked the complexity of sociopolitical issues in Muslim-majority countries and has purported that Islam promotes a number of violent and inhumane practices. At her worst, Ms. Hirsi Ali has said that Islam is a “destructive nihilistic cult of death” worshiping a “fire-breathing Allah” that, in all of its forms, needs to be “defeated.”

While the Muslim community and its allies cannot but believe that the students of the Buckley program care to “promote intellectual diversity” in a respectful and purposeful manner, we do want to reiterate that we feel highly disrespected by the invitation of this speaker. Moreover, it would be more beneficial for someone with representative scholarly qualifications to be speaking if the goal is “to foster open political discussion and intellectual engagement on campus.”

The comments Ms. Hirsi Ali has made on Islam have been classified as hate speech and have been considered unprotected libel and slander. She has been condemned for them by national organizations and universities. The Muslim community and its allies are disappointed that our own fellow Yalies would invite such a speaker knowingly and that she would have such a platform in our home.

While we have legitimate concerns from what we know, and while we cannot overlook how marginalizing her presence will be to the Muslim community and how uncomfortable it will be for the community’s allies, we are hopeful that the discussion is constructive and that Ms. Hirsi Ali speaks only to her personal experiences and professional expertise.

In advancing freedom of speech on campus, we are happy to work together, with the Buckley program and with others, to facilitate representative dialogue about Islam.  We are also happy to engage anybody curious about why we feel this way. The Muslim community at Yale is vibrant and its doors are always open to those interested in learning more— not about a perceived clash of civilizations, but about Islam as something that represents a meaningful faith experience for a community of Yalies. We encourage you to reach out to the Coordinator of Muslim Life and to the Muslim Students Association to learn more about Muslim beliefs, practices, experiences, and events.

We welcome those interested in honest learning and productive dialogue to visit the musalla in Bingham D or to join us in our next Friday service and lunch at 1:00pm in Dwight Chapel.

With peace,

The Women’s Center

Asian American Student Alliance (AASA)

Black Church at Yale (BCAY)

The Slifka Center

Council on Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)

Yale Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics (AHA)

Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship

Hindu Student Council (HSC)

St. Thomas More Undergraduate Council

Youth Evangelical Fellowship

The Arab Students Association (ASA)

Black Student Alliance (BSA)

Yale African Student Association (YASA)

Jews and Muslims at Yale (JAM)

Korean American Students at Yale (KASY)

South Asian Society (SAS)

Yale Friends of Turkey

Nepali Association of Yale-Undergraduate Affiliates (NAYA)

Yale Friends of Israel (YFI)

Japanese American Student Union (JASU)

Yalies for Pakistan

Students of Nigeria

Chinese American Student Association (CASA)

Albanian Students at Yale College

Dominican Student Association

Taiwanese American Society (TAS)

Women’s Leadership Initative (WLI)

Students for Syrian Relief

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)

Building Bridges

Survivor’s Inbox

Asian American Political Action and Education Committee (PAEC)

J Street U

Broad Recognition


and the Muslim Students' Association (MSA)


Teacher Makes Sixth-Graders Re-Enact the Death of Michael Brown

Aug 21, 2014 8:36 AM PT

In response to Student Suspended For Saying 'Bless You' After Classmate Sneezed:

An excellent return across the school-lunacy net!  I'll drop back and use a backhand swing to send the ball back your way, with an assist from the Selma, Alabama Times-Journal:

A sixth grade Brantley Elementary teacher was put on paid administrative leave Wednesday after a Facebook post revealed the teacher allegedly instructed the students Tuesday to reenact a Ferguson, Mo. shooting known nationwide.

Jessica Baughn, the mother of Brantley sixth grade student Jimmy Griffin, posted a complaint Tuesday on the Sound Off Selma Facebook page. In the post, Guaghn expressed her shock after learning a teacher had told the class to reenact the shooting in which an unarmed Mike Brown was shot by police Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo.

Students were reportedly asked to research the shooting online, finding out such details as to how many times Brown was shot and where.

“I don’t think that it needs to be talked about at school at all, let alone reenacted,” Baughn said. “It scares me as a parent, because any one of those children could have picked up their aunt, uncle, grandma or whoever’s gun and pointed it at another child and it went off accidentally.”

Continue reading

America's newest crime: killing dinosaurs with imaginary guns

Aug 20, 2014 3:21 PM PT

It's been a while since we had a bracing dose of zero-tolerance insanity from America's loopy educational system.  Take it away, NBC News in South Carolina!

A 16-year-old Summerville High School student says he was arrested Tuesday morning and suspended after writing about killing a dinosaur using a gun.

Alex Stone said he and his classmates were told in class to write a few sentences about themselves, and a "status" as if it was a Facebook page.

Stone said in his "status" he wrote a fictional story that involved the words "gun" and "take care of business."

"I killed my neighbor's pet dinosaur, and, then, in the next status I said I bought the gun to take care of the business," Stone said.

Stone says his statements were taken completely out of context.

"I could understand if they made him re-write it because he did have "gun" in it. But a pet dinosaur?" said Alex's mother Karen Gray."I mean first of all, we don't have dinosaurs anymore. Second of all, he's not even old enough to buy a gun."

Continue reading

The Nanny State Ruins Everything

Aug 4, 2014 5:06 PM PT

In response to Nanny State goes wild with bake-sale ban:

School carnivals are turning cake walks into book walks, huh? Brilliant. I swear there's a conspiracy among liberal educators to make children despise books. I say this as a parent whose children who were required to list all the books they read during the week - titles, authors, and the number of pages read, per school policy. If they hit the class goal for the month, they were given a coupon for a free personal pan pizza (probably verboten, now being too unhealthy.) They made reading turn into a tedious chore, but it's a pretty standard elementary school policy designed to get kids reading. 

Continue reading

Nanny State Goes Wild with Bake Sale Ban

Aug 4, 2014 1:27 PM PT

The Wall Street Journal bids farewell to a staple of school life since time immemorial: the bake sale.  Those Who Know What's Good For Us have decided bake sales are out of the question for our roly-poly student bodies, you see.

Campus bake sales—a mainstay of school fundraisers—are going on a diet. A federal law that aims to curb childhood obesity means that, in dozens of states, bake sales must adhere to nutrition requirements that could replace cupcakes and brownies with fruit cups and granola bars.

Jeff Ellsworth, principal of the kindergarten through eighth-grade school in Chapman, Neb., isn't quite sure how to break the news to the kids. "The chocolate bars are a big seller," said Mr. Ellsworth.

The restrictions that took effect in July stem from the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act championed by first lady Michelle Obama and her "Let's Move!" campaign. The law overhauled nutrition standards affecting more than 30 million children. Among the changes: fatty french fries were out, while baked sweet potato fries were deemed to be fine.

Continue reading

Are Teachers Unions Doomed?

Jun 15, 2014 1:07 PM PT

With revenue and membership dropping, losses in court cases, all on top of internal dissension and even some splintering, the nation's two largest education unions, the National education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, are struggling to map out a future, let alone a politically important one.

Responding to all these challenges has proved difficult, analysts say, because both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers are divided internally. There’s a faction urging conciliation and compromise. Another faction pushes confrontation. There’s even a militant splinter group, the Badass Teachers Association. 

Continue reading

Higher Education Failed Democrat Congresswoman

May 29, 2014 12:44 PM PT

Allen West once said," Education is the great equalizer." Apparently, this wasn't the case for Florida Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D), who just made the case for why college students should put down the pot and pay attention in class.

Listen to the Florida A&M and University of Florida graduate butcher the English language during a House VA meeting, where she said that there was nothing wrong with the VA in Florida.

Continue reading

USDA Backs Off Whole Gain School Rule

May 28, 2014 4:43 PM PT

As school nutrition officials and members of Congress complaining that the Obama administration's "healthier school-lunch standards" are from impractical to impossible to put in place, the Agriculture Department has opted to let some schools delay adding more whole-grains to the menu.

USDA said schools can put off for two years a requirement that all pastas in schools be whole-grain rich, or more than half whole grain, if they can demonstrate that they have had "significant challenges" in preparing whole-grain pasta. Many schools have complained that the whole-grain pastas don't hold together well when cooked.

Continue reading

The latest neurotic campus brownshirt freak-out: Camels are racist

May 16, 2014 8:21 AM PT

There are reasons to be deeply concerned about the fascist tendencies of campus pressure groups, which are reveling in their use of the Heckler's Veto to drive speakers with challenging ideas (or even politically incorrect resumes, such as Condoleeza Rice) away from what used to be revered as bastions of free speech and intellectual exploration.  The American student mind is increasingly not merely closed, but welded shut and surrounded by land mines.  As with all forms of thuggery, we're getting more of this because it works, as craven or sympathetic administrators buckle under to one whiny protest group after another.

But there are also reasons to laugh at the brownshirts, who - in a healthy society - would be actively mocked before they were ignored into impotence.  For example, Campus Reform notes that the special snowflakes at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota decided that camels are racist.  

The “Hump Day” event, put on by the Residence Hall Association (RHA), was supposed to be “a petting zoo type of atmosphere” in which students could hang out and take photos with a live camel. According to Aaron Macke, the group’s advisor, the camel is owned by a local vendor and trained for special events.

But the event was subsequently cancelled after students took to Facebook to proclaim their concerns. The students said they were concerned about the money spent on bringing the camel to campus—around $500—and the implication that it would be racially insensitive to Middle Eastern cultures.

The Facebook group called “Protest Hump DAAAAAAY!” had more than 100 RSVP’d attendees before it was deleted on Wednesday.

“RHA’s goal in programming is to bring residents together in a fun and safe environment where all people can enjoy themselves,” RHA president Lindsay Goodwin said in a statement on RHA’s Facebook page. “It appears however, this program is dividing people and would make for an uncomfortable and possibly unsafe environment for everyone attending or providing the program. As a result, RHA has decided to cancel the event.”

Continue reading

Chamber CEO: Obama Administration's New Rules Are 'Pretty Dumb'

May 12, 2014 12:35 PM PT

In response to Obama's War on Workers:

An update to my post last week on Obama's War on Workers.  Today the U.S. Chamber's President and CEO posted a commentary on the proposed 800+ regulations on for-profit educational institutions.  He writes:

Students would be hurt the most. Enrollment numbers in private sector educational institutions reflect a growing demand from students who come from low-income backgrounds and underserved communities. By throwing down additional financial obstacles, the federal government could prevent them from pursuing a life-changing opportunity. 

 The Department of Education admits that without the aid tens of thousands of students could be forced out of programs without immediately enrolling somewhere else. Independent studies project that one in five schools wouldn’t meet the standard, and that as many as a third of all students at for-profit institutions would be displaced. 

What happens to their job prospects and earning potential then? And where will employers find workers for jobs requiring specific skills? For a nation facing the twin challenges of a skills gap and an income gap, the rule is a pretty dumb idea!

View Discussion

Obama's War on Workers

May 8, 2014 12:20 PM PT

The Obama Administration wants to eliminate jobs and make more people dependent on the government.  There simply isn't any other way to put it.  They have turned their sites on for-profit, non-traditional colleges, like trade schools and continuing-ed programs for those who are seeking additional skills or training in a competitive job market.  From Derek Hunter at Townhall:

For the last few years, the Obama administration has waged a war against for-profit colleges, higher education institutions whose student body is made up of non-traditional students – older and poorer – seeking to obtain marketable skills in this weak economy. The Department of Education has been attempting to impose new regulations on these schools, restricting student loans for applicants, which would shut many of them down and limit higher education options for millions of students.

While every college-bound student would undoubtedly love to attend Columbia or Harvard, that’s simply not in the cards for most people. For the rest of us, it’s smaller schools, cheaper schools, state schools.

But a four-year college isn’t for everyone, especially right out of high school. Some people, myself included, aren't mentally ready for college right out of high school, and many more simply want to learn a trade. That’s who the Obama administration is targeting with their latest attempt to regulate for-profit schools out of existence.

Continue reading

Rutgers University Intolerance Symptom of Societal Dismay

May 7, 2014 9:05 AM PT

And here we think that colleges like Rutgers University are incubators of debate and diverse thoughts. In large part they still are but the intolerant such as Professor Robert Boikess and the students have decided that their thoughts, beyond their right to protest should override all others. 

What is also missing are the loud voices from the University and anyone who supports the decision to invite Secretary Rice.  Karl Rove is right about the torture issue by both its definition and the responsibility of the current president and administration if that really is the case. 

Continue reading

Another Heckler's Veto triumph: Condi Rice backs out of Rutgers address

May 3, 2014 6:45 AM PT

Speaking of free expression versus mob rule, chalk up another win for the Heckler's Veto, as a gang of whiny malcontents manages to scuttle Condoleeza Rice's commencement address to Rutgers.  The Associated Press reports:

Rice said in a statement Saturday that she informed Rutgers President Robert Barchi that she was declining the invitation.

"Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families," Rice said. "Rutgers' invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time."

The school's board of governors had voted to pay the former secretary of state under President George W. Bush and national security adviser $35,000 for her appearance at the May 18 ceremony.

But some students and faculty had protested, staging sit-ins and saying Rice bore some responsibility for the Iraq War as a member of the Bush administration. Barchi and other school leaders had resisted the calls to disinvite Rice, saying the university welcomes open discourse on controversial topics.

In her statement, Rice defended her record, saying that she was honored to serve her country and that she had "defended America's belief in free speech and the exchange of ideas." But she said she didn't want to detract from the spirit of the commencement ceremony.

Continue reading

Michelle Malkin Rips Common Core and Jeb Bush (Video)

Apr 28, 2014 8:52 AM PT

FOX News' pint-sized Filipino firebrand, Michelle Malkin, was in Florida this past weekend to deliver the keynote address to the Hernando County (Po-dunk) GOP's Lincoln Day dinner.

During her speech, Malkin dug deep into her heart to express the love she felt for Jeb Bush and his embrace and sponsorship of Common Core "Fed Ed" standards. (Sarcasm)

Continue reading

Court throws the book at special-needs student for recording bullies

Apr 16, 2014 5:58 AM PT

The Heritage Foundation relates the amazing story of a 15-year-old special-needs student in Pennsylvania who couldn't stand the relentless abuse he was subjected to by his fellow students, so he recorded their taunts on an iPad, hoping this documentary evidence would finally compel the school administrators to take action.

And leap into action they did... against the bullied student.  They kicked him out of his math class, brought a police lieutenant into the school to interrogate the young man, threatened him with felony wiretapping charges, and actually got him convicted of disorderly conduct.  His family is currently appealing the ruling.  As far as I can tell from this report, none of the actual bullies was inconvenienced at all, but their victim and his family get to enjoy the effort and expense of navigating through the court system.  Naturally, the school doesn't feel like commenting on any of this.

Continue reading

Over 100 NYC School Staffers Had Student Flings In 5 Years

Apr 16, 2014 4:34 AM PT

Richard Condon, New York City school's commissioner of investigation haa examined 593 complaints of illicit relationships since April 2009 and has substantiated 104 of those cases. 

That means over "100 city teachers, administrators and other school staffers have been caught in the last five years engaging in sexual or “inappropriate” relationships with students, according to the New York Post.

“I’m absolutely stunned at that number,” said Laura Timoney, a Community Education Council member whose 15-year-old daughter attends a city high school on Staten Island. “It’s shocking, but what do you do to stop this?”

Continue reading

Ayaan Hirsi Ali Responds To Brandeis University

Apr 9, 2014 3:09 PM PT

Ayaan Hirsi Ali released the following statement in response to Brandeis University's decision to rescind its offer of an honorary degree. The statement speaks for itself:

“Yesterday Brandeis University decided to withdraw an honorary degree they were to confer upon me next month during their Commencement exercises. I wish to dissociate myself from the university’s statement, which implies that I was in any way consulted about this decision. On the contrary, I was completely shocked when President Frederick Lawrence called me—just a few hours before issuing a public statement—to say that such a decision had been made.

“When Brandeis approached me with the offer of an honorary degree, I accepted partly because of the institution’s distinguished history; it was founded in 1948, in the wake of World War II and the Holocaust, as a co-educational, nonsectarian university at a time when many American universities still imposed rigid admission quotas on Jewish students. I assumed that Brandeis intended to honor me for my work as a defender of the rights of women against abuses that are often religious in origin. For over a decade, I have spoken out against such practices as female genital mutilation, so-called 'honor killings,' and applications of Sharia Law that justify such forms of domestic abuse as wife beating or child beating. Part of my work has been to question the role of Islam in legitimizing such abhorrent practices. So I was not surprised when my usual critics, notably the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), protested against my being honored in this way.

“What did surprise me was the behavior of Brandeis. Having spent many months planning for me to speak to its students at Commencement, the university yesterday announced that it could not “overlook certain of my past statements,” which it had not previously been aware of. Yet my critics have long specialized in selective quotation – lines from interviews taken out of context – designed to misrepresent me and my work. It is scarcely credible that Brandeis did not know this when they initially offered me the degree.

“What was initially intended as an honor has now devolved into a moment of shaming. Yet the slur on my reputation is not the worst aspect of this episode. More deplorable is that an institution set up on the basis of religious freedom should today so deeply betray its own founding principles. The 'spirit of free expression' referred to in the Brandeis statement has been stifled here, as my critics have achieved their objective of preventing me from addressing the graduating Class of 2014. Neither Brandeis nor my critics knew or even inquired as to what I might say. They simply wanted me to be silenced. I regret that very much.

“Not content with a public disavowal, Brandeis has invited me 'to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues.' Sadly, in words and deeds, the university has already spoken its piece. I have no wish to 'engage' in such one-sided dialogue. I can only wish the Class of 2014 the best of luck—and hope that they will go forth to be better advocates for free expression and free thought than their alma mater.

“I take this opportunity to thank all those who have supported me and my work on behalf of oppressed woman and girls everywhere.”

Continue reading

Freedom and self-respect at Brandeis

Apr 9, 2014 12:11 PM PT

In response to Wretched Brandeis Bows to Muslim Pressure, Withdraws Degree from Ayaan Hirsi Ali:

I especially like the detail that the one quote of Ali's they keep citing as the reason for ripping up her honorary degree comes from a seven-year old interview with Reason.  It's not exactly a hidden aspect of her world-view, either.  Are we supposed to believe the Brandeis brass doesn't know how to perform a cursory Internet search?  Nobody read her books?  Did they just look at a photo of Ali and think, "She has a nice smile, let's give her an honorary degree?"

Continue reading

Wretched Brandeis Bows to Muslim Pressure, Withdraws Degree from Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Apr 9, 2014 4:58 AM PT

Brandeis University has prostrated itself before radical Islam and the idol of political correctness, withdrawing an honorary degree that was to have been granted to feminist and Muslim critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali next month. The university's excuse was that Ali had said nasty things about Islam in the past: "we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values,” it said in a statement.

How ridiculous--as if by honoring someone for their achievements, the university identifies itself with every idea that person has had, everything he or she has said or done. Does a university that grants a doctorate to President Barack Obama identify itself with the hateful teachings of Jeremiah Wright's church, where Obama spent twenty years of his life? If not, then what nonsense is Brandeis spouting about Ali's hard words on Islam?

Continue reading

The creationism distraction

Mar 25, 2014 5:07 PM PT

Over at The Federalist, my friend David Harsanyi susses out an organized media campaign to use creationism as a means of frightening secular parents away from school choice:

Yes,14 states spend “nearly $1 billion” of taxpayer tuition on “hundreds of religious schools” that teach kids the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. This would be more troubling if we didn’t spend hundreds of billions every year not teaching millions of kids how to read. Voucher programs offer a wide variety of choices for parents, unlike the closed, failing districts schools that so many kids are trapped in. As of now, public schools spend around $638 billion on around 55 million students but only 250,000 students – almost all of them poor — are free to use vouchers and tax-credit scholarships. Of those kids, the vast majority do not attend schools with curriculums that feature intelligent design. Yet, judging from all the “special investigations” of creationism in schools, you might be under the impression it was the most pressing problem faced by educators.

I suspect that untold numbers of parents would sacrifice their children to the Gods of Creationism if meant they could attend safe and high-achieving schools. A lot of these schools score well. But that’s not the choice, either. Stephanie Simon’s piece [at Politico] offers a perfunctory acknowledgement that not all private schools are churning out fundamentalists, but then spends around two-thirds of her time discussing school-choice advocacy broadly  – with the obligatory “Koch-funded” group playing a part — and conflating all that can be conflated about the issue. School-choice activism (Politico calls it a “big-money push,” which in the context of union money is laughable) focuses primarily on an escape route for underprivileged kids and the need to create a more competitive public schools, not religious education.

Continue reading

Advertising the super-State

Mar 21, 2014 8:41 AM PT

I don't have children myself, but my friends with kids have very little good to say about the weird Common Core system.  An awful lot of it strikes me as an attempt to move educational metrics away from results to process - it doesn't matter if kids come up with the right answers to something absolute like a math question, or that it takes them a long time to grind their way to a solution, provided they can show they followed the "right" problem-solving methods, and avoided damage to their fragile self-esteem.  This has the convenient, and probably not coincidental, side effect of allowing the educational establishment to give itself high marks for teaching those "right methods," even as the number of students coming up with the wrong answers would ordinarily make them look pretty bad.

Michelle Malkin, unquestionably one of the leading critics of Common Core, has a new look at where the money to promote the program is coming from:

They’re everywhere. Turn on Fox News, local news, Animal Planet, HGTV, The Family Channel or talk radio. Pro-Common Core commercials have been airing ad nauseam in a desperate attempt to persuade American families to support the beleaguered federal education standards/testing/technology racket. Who’s funding these public relations pushes? D.C. lobbyists, entrenched politicians and Big Business interests.

The foundational myth of Common Core is that it’s a “state-led” initiative with grassroots support that was crafted by local educators for the good of all of our children. But the cash and power behind the new ad campaign tell you all you need to know. For parents in the know, this will be a refresher course. But repeated lies must be countered with redoubled truths.

Continue reading

California Teachers' Lawsuit Highlights Unions' Abuse

Jan 12, 2014 10:43 AM PT

Conservatives are eagerly anticipating the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals's hearing later this year of a lawsuit, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, brought by a group of public school teachers against the state's powerful union over the collection of dues for political activities. The CTA argues that the teachers can easily opt out of the political portion of their dues, so essentially the dissident teachers have nothing to complain about.

The original complaint by the plaintiffs raises serious doubts about that. Under California's "agency shop" law, teachers are not required to join the union, but are required to pay union dues, as a condition of employment. Of union expenditures, some 65%--by the union's estimate--is "chargeable," i.e. related to collective bargaining and not political activity. The only way to opt out of the remaining, "non-chargeable" part is to leave the union.

Continue reading

Why Hasn't Arne Duncan Been Fired?

Nov 22, 2013 1:01 PM PT

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has yet to offer a sincere apology for his recent statement that "white suburban moms" were responsible for opposition to the Common Core standards. The closest he has come is his statement on MSNBC's Morning Joe Thursday that he was sorry that his wording had been "clumsy."

He has yet to apologize for using explicitly racial language to marginalize opponents of the policy. And at this point the blame has to rest with his boss, President Barack Obama. Notably, the president has credited much of his success to his own white suburban mom, who made sure he received the best education possible.

Continue reading

Dog Requires Surgery After Eating Homework

Nov 22, 2013 5:07 AM PT

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - 13-Year-old Payton Moody spent hours constructing her candy-covered volcano for her eighth grade science class.  Kara Moody, Payton's mother, told that her daughter "had chocolate as the mountain and used Twizzlers for lava coming out, with blue M&Ms for water," held together by 50 straight pins. "She used the pins because I didn't want the hot glue gun around her younger brother." 

On Oct. 2, while most of the family was away at their son's football game, the family's 2-year-old yellow Labrador named Reggie knocked the completed candy volcano off Payton's desk and proceeded to eat "every last little bit," including the straight pins. 

Continue reading

Mom Furious After Son Makes Honor Roll With C's and D's

Nov 15, 2013 6:43 AM PT

PASCO COUNTY, Florida - Parents are generally proud when their child makes the honor roll, but Beth Tillack, the mother of one such student at Pasco Middle School, is anything but beaming. When examining her son's report card, Tillack read hand written comments from his teacher - including "good job," a smiley face and a note saying her son had made the honor roll.  The only problem was, her son received a "C" and "D" among the grades. 

"I immediately assumed it's a mistake," said Tillack. "It doesn't make any sense. The bottom line is there is nothing honorable about making a D. I was not happy, because how can I get my child to study for a test when he thinks he's done enough."

Continue reading

University Plans Bruce Springsteen Theology Class

Nov 13, 2013 7:22 AM PT

Known for teaching courses in early rabbinic literature, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Jewish mysticism and Plato, a professor at Rutgers University is now looking to the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen to enlighten first year students. 

Azzan Yadin-Israel, an associate professor of Jewish studies and classics, will offer a Byrne Seminar, exploring the theological underpinnings of Springsteen’s lyrics, and the song writer’s reinterpretation of biblical stories. Byrne Seminars are one-credit courses with lighter workloads, offering an introduction to research for classes not to exceed 20 students. 

Continue reading

Tennessee High School Segregates Students at Lunch Based on Grades

Nov 1, 2013 2:36 AM PT

LA VERGNE, Tenn. (WSMV) - A Tennessee high school is stirring up controversy for a policy that separates students at lunch based on their grades. Specifically, La Vergne High School student who are making poor grades are separated from their classmates and made to eat lunch in a separate location. 

Paul Morecroft, who has a special needs daughter in the 10th grade, said, "To me, it's considered separation, because you have your special needs kids and the kids getting the good grades on one side, and the kids getting below an 80 on the other side. " He called the policy a "civil rights violation and segregation, no doubt."

Continue reading

South African Teacher Fired After Taking Students to Get Penises Pierced

Oct 31, 2013 5:24 AM PT

JOHANNESBURG - A high teacher at Willowridge High School, east of Pretoria, has reportedly been fired after he took three students to have their penises pierced. The unnamed teacher has been on paid suspension since earlier this year and had been awaiting a disciplinary hearing for a series of controversial actions - actions that include taking three schoolboys for Prince Albert piercings, having his own penis pierced in front of the teens, taking one youngster for a tattoo and giving the boys pasta shaped as male genitalia. 

The chairman of the school's governing body, Stefano Bruni, said "The disciplinary was handled as a pre-dismissal arbitration by the CCMA (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) and the outcome of the pre-dismissal was guilty on certain charges. The recommendation of sanction was dismissal and the educator is no longer at the school.”

The teacher who is apparently part of a well-known Afrikaans folk group was reportedly found guilty on three charges. 

Continue reading

High School Teacher Fired After Allegedly Taking Students to Strip Club

Oct 24, 2013 9:06 AM PT

INDIANA - A high school chemistry teacher has been fired after being accused of taking his students to a strip club and allowing them to drink alcohol at his home. 

According to a probable cause affidavit, 31-year-old Travis Lechien, a teacher at Hanover Central High School in Cedar Lake allowed students visit him at home “on four or five separate occasions." Students allegedly drank beer and smoked Lechien's hooka. 

Continue reading

LAUSD Stops Home Use of iPads After Students Hack Devices in One Week

Sep 26, 2013 8:40 AM PT

The Los Angeles Unified School District is halting the home use of Ipads after it took students at Theodore Roosevelt High school only one week to hack the devices. 300 students were able to bypass the security so they could surf the web freely using their school-issued iPads, raising concerns about plans to distribute tablets to all students in the district. 

"Outside of the district's network ... a user is free to download content and applications and browse the Internet without restriction," two senior administrators said in a memo to the Board of education and L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy. "As student safety is of paramount concern, breach of the ... system must not occur."

Continue reading

Teacher Investigated for Duct Taping 9-Year-Old Students' Mouths Closed

Sep 18, 2013 10:08 AM PT

FRESNO, California - An elementary school teacher is under investigation after students claim he encouraged them to put duct tape over their mouths during a lesson.  The Madera Unified superintendent confirmed that Jack Bush, a teacher at Parkwood elementary school, is being investigated after a 9-year-old student complained to her mother upon arriving home from school last Friday. 

The student's mother, Natalie Kaitangian, told a local reporter that she asked her daughter to explain a possible reason: "I asked her 'Was it because you were talking?' She said, 'No. We were quiet." She said 'We were being rewarded.' And I said that doesn't make sense to me. She said, 'It doesn't make sense to me either. I felt uncomfortable.'"

Continue reading

Middle School Teacher Suspended for Showing Rap Video Supporting Same-Sex Marriage

Sep 13, 2013 8:22 AM PT

ALEXANDER COUNTY, N.C. - A middle school teacher has been suspended for showing a music video that supports same-sex marriage to an eighth-grade social studies class at West Alexander Middle School. 

The video in question: Macklemore's "Same Love," which according to the Seattle rap star was written to support a referendum in Washington State to legalize same-sex marriage. 

Continue reading

Did Regent University President Resign Over Pat Robertson's Diamond Mining Controversy?

Sep 9, 2013 5:11 PM PT

The news that Pat Robertson's Regent University president Carlos Campo resigned abruptly and without explanation last Friday evening is causing some to speculate as to what might be behind the resignation, despite claims from the institution that it had nothing to do with any financial, or moral irregularities on anyone's part.

However, the news does come just as a documentary alleging that Regent founder Pat Robertson used a refugee crisis in the 1990's to help fund a diamond mining operation in Rwanda is also making headlines.

The film was aired at the Toronto International Film Festival and may receive legal action by Robertson, reported Mal Vincent of the Virginia Pilot last week.

Continue reading

Philadelphia Borrowed $50 Million to Open Schools On Time

Sep 9, 2013 4:48 PM PT

It took an extra $2 million in state funding and Philadelphia had to borrow $50 million to open their public schools on time, but many are still sounding alarm bells.

In addition, the district and its two unions, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and the Commonwealth Association of School Administrators, are still at the bargaining table discussing possible givebacks.

Continue reading

Let's Move: Policy or Educational Campaign?

Sep 6, 2013 10:43 AM PT

In response to Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" Slides to Bottom of the Popularity Poll:

Interesting and unsurprising numbers on whether people think the federal government should be involved in school lunch standards.  What's missing is whether people identify that policy with the First Lady's Let's Move campaign.  I've seen her talking about it on a dozen reality and talk shows, including Top Chef, Sesame Street, The Biggest Loser, and Restaurant Impossible.  Given past First Ladies' roles (with the exception of HillaryCare) in promoting pet projects like reading and saying no to drugs, I doubt many people think Let's Move is anything but a media campaign.  On its merits (kids should eat healthy, exercise more, etc) there's nothing wrong with Let's Move.  However, when it comes to federal government mandates and proof that some of the programs aren't working (i.e. kids choose not to eat rather than eat quinoa-kale salad), the public remains in the dark that those things are tied to Let's Move. 

View Discussion

North Carolina To Spend 800K to Teach Kids Abstinence

Sep 6, 2013 7:52 AM PT

RALEIGH - North Carolina's State Board of Education approved a plan to distribute about $800,000 to 19 rural public school districts to help teach children to abstain from sex. The federal money will focus on students in grades 4 through 6 who are at increased risk for bearing children out of wedlock. 

The federal health overhaul aka "Obamacare" extends the current program that allows for states to distribute funds for the purpose of teaching abstinence education. 
Participating school systems are in Alleghany, Anson, Ashe, Bertie, Bladen, Caldwell, Duplin, Edenton/Chowan, Edgecombe, Greene, Halifax, Lee, Lenoir, Richmond, Robeson, Scotland, and Swain counties. The two others eligible are Nash/Rocky Mount Schools and Robeson County Charter School.

Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" Slides to Bottom of the Popularity Poll

Sep 5, 2013 5:22 PM PT

Fewer than 20% of those surveyed support the type of Federal Government interference in local schools First Lady Michelle Obama has been using American tax dollars to push as part of her "Let's Move" effort.

Let’s Move! is committed to providing healthier foods in our nation’s schools, and encourages all schools to provide school breakfast.

Continue reading

Slate Manifesto: Sacrifice Your Kids' Learning Potential for the Common Good!

Aug 29, 2013 10:55 AM PT

 You can't make this stuff up:

You are a bad person if you send your children to private school. Not bad like murderer bad—but bad like ruining-one-of-our-nation’s-most-essential-institutions-in-order-to-get-what’s-best-for-your-kid bad. So, pretty bad.

I am not an education policy wonk: I’m just judgmental. But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good.

Continue reading

FL Gov Rick Scott Opposes Common Core Data Mining

Aug 15, 2013 8:01 AM PT

Florida Governor Rick Scott supports  Common Core. Scott has openly supported and campaigned for the higher educational standards, which has lead to many of the 2010 grassroots  activists, who supported his campaign, to take pause with his decision to push through higher education standards.

During a Q & A with reporters in Miami, Florida, Scott was asked about the controversial issue.

Continue reading

Education Reform 'Is the Arms Race of the 21st Century'

Aug 8, 2013 8:50 AM PT

The Common Core debate continues to gain momentum.

Rising Republican star, Florida Speaker of the House Will Weatherford, has stating that he “is not in favor of a national education curriculum,” and understands the “legitimate concerns” about Common Core’s data mining efforts, but  feels that there is “a lot of misinformation” being circulated about the education standards.

Continue reading


Breitbart Video Picks



Fox News National


Send A Tip