How a Parent Chooses a School by Benjamin Scafidi, Ph.D. and James P. Kelly, III, J.D

What do parents really consider when trying to choose their child’s school from a list of options? Based on the findings from our latest study, we created a graphic simulation of a parent’s likely experience choosing a school. Take a look and share your thoughts in the comments!

The idea that impoverished parents shouldn’t be trusted to choose a good educational option for their children is one repeated often by school choice critics.

For instance, Michael Walker Jones of the Louisiana Association of Educators was quoted by the New Orleans Times-Picayune saying, “If I’m a parent in poverty, I have no clue because I’m trying to struggle and live day to day.”

More-Than-Scores

Click on the cover to download a PDF version of the study.

Friedman Foundation study proves that idea isn’t just offensive to parents, it’s factually flawed. The study found 93 percent of parents from a large choice program, including those in poverty, are willing to take three or more time-consuming steps to obtain the information they need to make an informed decision about their child’s education.

Notably, low-income parents are most likely to rank graduation rates and college acceptance rates as the two most-important pieces of information they desire from private schools. Other important pieces for all parents include student-teacher ratios, a safe environment, and curriculum and course descriptions.

Considering the hot debate also going on around standardized test scores, this study surprisingly showed no parents listed them as the most important factor for choosing a school.

Based on what we know about parent priorities, check out this simulation of how a hypothetical parent might go about choosing a school.

Click on the info-graphic for a larger view.

As we can see, the school the parent chose did not have any available standardized test scores, yet he or she still determined it was the best fit. Many school choice opponents claim that test scores aren’t always a fair measure of the quality of education a school might offer. This is especially common in schools with large populations of kids who start off behind grade-level. School administrators and teachers in such a position worry test scores set the odds against their schools from the start. But, as the new study and our simulation show, test scores just aren’t that important to parents.

Looking with a wider lens, we see this parent actually wanted to stay in her ZIP Code yet did not choose her ZIP Code-assigned public school. Why? It didn’t outperform the other schools based on criteria she and many other parents find most relevant.

That’s not to say private schools don’t have room to improve. The parent in our simulation might have chosen a different private school had desired information been readily available. The new Friedman Foundation survey showed the failure of a private school to provide information would (79 percent) or might (20 percent) negatively impact a parent’s decision on whether to send his or her children there. So, if a school wants to attract more students, it would be in its leaders’ best interest to be transparent and accessible.

To read the full study by Benjamin Scafidi, Ph.D. and James P. Kelly, III, J.D. visit edchoice.org/MoreThanScores

Poll: GOP Voters Want Politicians to Support Natural Marriage

gop marriag

Click on image for downloadable copy of the survey.

WASHINGTON, PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Family Research Council (FRC) and American Values released the results of a commissioned national survey conducted by Wilson Research Strategies showing that 82 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning independents believe marriage “should be defined only as a union between one man and one woman.” 74 percent strongly agreed with this statement.

The same survey found that the voters want their elected leaders to promote this view in public policy: 75 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning independent voters disagree that “politicians should support the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples.” 67 percent strongly disagreed with this statement.

FRC President Tony Perkins made the following comments in response to the survey:

“Republican voters continue to resist the demands of cultural elites who want to see the party abandon the very core values that gave rise to American exceptionalism. The vast majority of the GOP base continues to believe that marriage is a non-negotiable plank of the national platform and want to see their elected officials uphold natural marriage as the national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage and promote in law.

“The results of this survey are no surprise especially considering what has taken place in recent months. Republican voters, like everyone else, have seen that redefining marriage is really about fundamentally altering all of society. Redefining marriage undermines our fundamental freedoms of speech and religion and in the case of the Mozilla CEO, even the ability to engage in the democratic process without the fear of losing one’s livelihood.”

American Values President Gary Bauer made the following comments:

“Public policy makers are doing a great disservice to themselves and future generations by continuing to misread the convictions of the American people, who overwhelmingly support the institution of marriage as a unique union of one man and one woman. The misinformation campaign waged by media elites muddies the debate and attempts to isolate those who support the time-honored traditions and values shared by every major world religion throughout human history.

“Incredibly, the debate is no longer about privacy and tolerance. Religious liberty, free speech and rights of conscience are now at stake. This survey should remind political and cultural leaders that this debate is far from over. If anything, it is taking on a new sense of urgency for millions of men and women of faith.”

To view the results of the survey, click herehttp://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF14D62.pdf

RELATED STORIES:

Why True American Conservatives Cannot Be Extremist and How Progressives are Ultimately Tyrants
Croatians overwhelmingly vote against same-sex marriage in a referendum
Marriage and abortion are economic issues | American Clarion

Poll: 43% of the Dutch want fewer Moroccans

The virulent attacks on Geert Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party (PVV) by opposition parties in the ruling coalition in The Netherlands and threats to have him prosecuted for his “fewer Muslim” comments in our April NER article “Geert Wilders Once Again Endures a Firestorm of Criticism” have backfired.   A new poll commissioned by the PVV reveal that Dutch voters reject those threats categorically.

A news release by the PVV today noted “43% of the Dutch want fewer Moroccans”:

At the request of the PVV, the independent research bureau “Peil.nl / Maurice de Hond” conducted an opinion poll into the view of the Dutch regarding the presence of Moroccans in the Netherlands.

No less than 43% of all the Dutch prefer to have fewer MoroccansOnly 3% wants more Moroccans, while 48% does not care how many Moroccans there are in the Netherlands. A majority of the voters of PVV (95%) and of the governing VVD (59%), but also more than one third of the voters of the Socialist SP and more than a quarter of the Labor voters prefer to have fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands.

A majority of 55% of all Dutch is opposed to a criminal prosecution of PVV-leader Geert Wilders.

Geert Wilders: “The figures are very clear. Millions of Dutch agree with me. It is great, too, that a majority of the Dutch is of the opinion that I should not be prosecuted.”

This latest poll bolsters a previous one of Dutch parties in the European Parliamentary elections just one month away on May 22 to the 25th that showed the PVV in the lead.  See our March 17th Iconoclast post, “Wilder’s Freedom Party Leads Poll for Dutch European Parliament Elections”.    We noted:

Geert Wilders” Freedom Party (PVV) leads in Dutch polls next month’s European Parliament elections.  According to a report in the Dutch publication,  Spitsnieuws:

A TNS NIPO poll published today predicts that the PVV, the Party for Freedom of Geert Wilders, will become the biggest party in the European elections in the Netherlands.

According to the poll the PVV is going to win the European elections on 22 May with 18.1% of the votes, followed by the Liberal VVD of Prime Minister Mark Rutte with 16.2% and the liberal-democrat D66 party with 15.7%.

The losers of the European elections would be the Christian-Democrats and Labor.

At the conclusion of our April NER article we said:

We hope that those Dutch folks who went to the polls on March 19th and gave the PVV victories in several smaller municipalities may be joined by others in the majority, who didn’t vote. That might provide the PVV with a victory in the May EU parliamentary elections. We have seen Wilders bounce back from previous episodes like a proverbial cat with nine lives.

Both polls taken in the Netherlands clearly indicate that the groundlings aren’t buying the ‘extremist’ charges and calls for prosecution of Wilders. Instead they may be auguries of a possible significant victory for the Freedom Party candidates in the May 2014 European Parliamentary elections.

RELATED STORIES:

France: Muslim unfolds prayer carpet in church, reads Qur’anic verses during Easter mass
UK: Shi’ite Muslim cleric investigated for hate rants against Sunni Muslims
China-Vietnam border: Seven dead as Muslims seize guns from Vietnamese border guards and shoot at them

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

March against Christian Persecution, May 17, 2014 in Orlando, Florida

In our interview with Austrian human rights advocate and counter-jihadist Elisabeth Sabaditsch –Wolff she previewed the upcoming March against Christian Persecution, The Myth of Islamophobia: The Vienna – Phoenix Connections.  We reported:

She discussed the forthcoming May 17th March against persecution of Christians in Orlando, Florida modeled on an annual one that occurs each December in Vienna. [The Orlando march will be held the evening of May 17th with remarks by the organizers and several speakers followed by a torch light silent parade].  [Sabaditsch-Wolff] will be coming to the US to join Florida March organizers Rev. Bruce Lieske and Alan Kornman of The United West.  Lieske had witnessed the last March against Christian Persecution in Vienna and was moved to sponsor one in Florida, next month. Among the European contingent attending the Orlando March will be Sister Hatune Dogan, a Syrian Orthodox Christian Nun of Turkish origins. Read her speech in an Austrian Cathedral delivered on December 28, 2013, here.

During our interview with Sabaditsch-Wolff, she noted the canard radical Muslims typically use, “first the Saturday people, then the Sunday People.  Perhaps it is time for the Saturday people to defend the imperiled Sunday people”.

Video: Prayer March For Persecuted Christians

[youtube]http://youtu.be/EumHWDhlG8w[/youtube]

That was the subject of a Wall Street Journal opinion piece by the Hon. Ron Prosor, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN published last Friday, The Middle East War on Christians.  Ambassador Prosor drew attention to the plight of ancient Christian communities in the Middle East and elsewhere threatened with extinction caught between warring radical Islamic extremist groups and ruling autocrats in the Middle East. He revealed that the only country in the region where Christian populations have increased is Israel. Further as we have written Orthodox Christians in Israel have rejected the label of Arab Christians as inappropriate and now unabashedly have signed up as loyal citizens to serve in the IDF according to Father Gabriel Naddaf, “Israel’s Christians Who Defend the Jewish State.”

That is evidence of what Caroline Glick wrote about, the rejection of the long term Pan Arabism position of Christian founders of the Ba’athist Parties in the Middle East and the radicals like the late George Habash, co-founder of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine.  In our Iconoclast post we noted this comment about Fr. Naddaf.

Orlando March against Persecuted Christians  May 17 2014 Orlando

For a larger printable version click on the flyer.

Yuval Brandsetter in a Jerusalem Post op ed about Fr. Naddaf, “The Good Father, “noted something that impressed us.  This evident assertion of Israeli Christian identification and solidarity with Israel was a rejection of Dhimmitude; the 1,400 years of Islamic Imperialism imposed on Jews and Christians under the pact of Omar.  He wrote:

In spite of his lowly position, or maybe because of it, Fr. Gabriel Naddaf has reached the conclusion that Christians residing in Israel must link their fortunes to the Jewish state. In acting on this conclusion with fortitude and a free mind, Fr. Naddaf stands in defiance of the 1,300-year legacy of dhimmitude – the legacy that both his Jerusalem Patriarch and Istanbul’s Ecumenical Patriarch continue to observe.

Prosor noted the perilous status of ancient Christian communities in the Muslim Majority Middle East:

The Middle East may be the birthplace of three monotheistic religions, but some Arab nations appear bent on making it the burial ground for one of them. For 2,000 years, Christian communities dotted the region, enriching the Arab world with literature, culture and commerce. At the turn of the 20th century, Christians made up 26% of the Middle East’s population. Today, that figure has dwindled to less than 10%. Intolerant and extremist governments are driving away the Christian communities that have lived in the Middle East since their faith was born.

In the rubble of Syrian cities like Aleppo and Damascus, Christians who refused to convert to Islam have been kidnapped, shot and beheaded by Islamist opposition fighters. In Egypt, mobs of Muslim Brotherhood members burn Coptic Christian churches in the same way they once obliterated Jewish synagogues. And in Iraq, terrorists deliberately target Christian worshippers. This past Christmas, 26 people were killed when a bomb ripped through a crowd of worshipers leaving a church in Baghdad’s southern Dora neighborhood.

Christians are losing their lives, liberties, businesses and their houses of worship across the Middle East. It is little wonder that native Christians have sought refuge in neighboring countries—yet in many cases they find themselves equally unwelcome. Over the past 10 years, nearly two-thirds of Iraq’s 1.5 million Christians have been driven from their homes. Many settled in Syria before once again becoming victims of unrelenting persecution. Syria’s Christian population has dropped from 30% in the 1920s to less than 10% today.

Prosor went on to note why Israel has become a beacon of hope for embattled Christians in the Middle East:

The scene unfolding in the Middle East is ominously familiar. At the end of World War II, almost one million Jews lived in Arab lands. The creation of Israel in 1948 precipitated an invasion of five Arab armies. When they were unable to annihilate the newborn state militarily, Arab leaders launched a campaign of terror and expulsion that decimated their ancient Jewish communities. They succeeded in purging 800,000 Jews from their lands.

Today, Israel, which I represent at the United Nations, is the only country in the Middle East with a growing Christian population. Its Christian community has increased from 34,000 in 1948 to 140,000 today; in large measure because of the freedoms Christians are afforded.

From courtrooms to classrooms and from the chambers of Parliament to chambers of commerce, Israeli Christians are leaders in every field and discipline. Salim Joubran, a Christian Arab Israeli, has served as a Supreme Court justice since 2003 and Makram Khoury is one of the best-known actors in Israel and the youngest artist to win the Israel Prize, our highest civic honor.

Father Gabriel Naddaf, a Greek Orthodox priest living in Israel, recently told me: “Human rights are not something to be taken for granted. Christians in much of the Middle East have been slaughtered and persecuted for their faith, but here in Israel they are protected.”

Perhaps Ambassador Prosor’s message will sear the consciences of American Christians and Jews to demonstrate resolve against the plague of Islamic extremism that threatens the extinction of these beleaguered ancient Middle East Christian communities.  One way to demonstrate that commitment is to join the first US March against Christian Persecution in Orlando on May 17th. The hope of the march organizers is that it may spawn dozens of others across this great land of Liberty and Freedom.

RELATED STORY: 1 In 4 Swedish Women Will Be Raped By Muslims As Sexual Assaults Increase 500%

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review. The featured image is courtesy of David Gouthard, Wall Street Journal, 4-19-14.

In Us We Trust? by GARY CHARTIER

David Rose argues that trust is a prerequisite of economic growth. David C. Rose. The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior. Oxford University Press. 2011. 269 pages. $40.16.

Economists find it easy to model human actors as rational utility maximizers, evaluating possible decisions in light of their likely outcomes and choosing those options with the most utility-maximizing consequences.

But in The Moral Foundations of Economic Behavior, David Rose argues that economic development depends on trust, and that trust can only be expected to feature prominently in a particular society when those who live in it understand key moral requirements—in particular, duties that preclude negative conduct.

As Rose notes, people who reason this way may not be particularly good trading partners. If someone assesses her options in each situation and alters her plans as her judgments about the best way to maximize her utility change, she’s unlikely to prove very reliable; she may steal from others or defraud them. And this kind of behavior will tend to dispose others not to want to trade with her. The more widespread a tendency to maximize individual utility is in a given society, the more wary people will be about trading with each other, and the more resources they will likely spend detecting and preventing opportunistic behavior.

In such a society, the benefits of widespread trade won’t be available. The society will be poor.

Those who are, in the economists’ sense, “rational” won’t be likely to behave as case-by-case maximizers. They may not be concerned about the societal consequences of fostering distrust, but they almost certainly want others to deal with them. And anyone with the reputation of being willing to cheat others is someone with whom others won’t want to trade. The discipline imposed by continuous dealing will thus dispose rational actors, even ones who might be inclined to cheat, to behave reliably.

However, the discipline of continuous dealing can’t make everyone reliable all the time. Frequently, people engaged in trading relationships are strangers, and it’s not always possible for either to be aware of the other’s reputation. And institutional mechanisms designed to require accountability from those who steal and defraud are anything but uniformly effective.

Rose focuses on a further, even more serious problem: Reputational and similar mechanisms for ensuring good behavior only work when theft and fraud can be effectively detected, but they frequently cannot. People often enjoy what Robert Frank has termed “golden opportunities”—opportunities to take advantage of others with essentially no possibility of detection. These opportunities are particularly likely to arise in connection with open-ended contracts that leave the parties with lots of discretion. One party to such a contract may be able to cheat the other with no realistic possibility of detection: While it may appear to an observer that she’s fulfilling her obligations, she may in fact be taking unfair advantage of her trading partner.

While no one may be able to detect this kind of cheating, the expectation that it might occur is enough to put a damper on people’s expectations. Trust will be inhibited, and thus so will trade—and therefore prosperity. A society can achieve the kind of wealth that widespread trust makes possible only if everyone is committed to being trustworthy even when no one’s watching and even when behaving in an untrustworthy manner won’t lead to perceptible harm to any individual.

To foster prosperity, people need to be moral, not in order to avoid bad consequences, or even in order to achieve good ones on a case-by-case basis. They need to have internalized preferences for trustworthiness—most effectively fostered by culture—that can’t be overridden by the desire to benefit themselves or others in particular situations. They need to think of the duty to be trustworthy as, effectively, absolute. A society in which people reason this way will be able to sustain widespread, persistent trust. Economic relationships among strangers will be possible, social cooperation will flourish, and prosperity will ensue.

Rose is clear that the economist qua economist can’t show that people ought to be moral, or what form moral principles ought to take. But he argues that economists can show that societies in which particular moral principles are widespread will prosper. And I’m inclined to agree: Cooperation among strangers is the foundation of prosperity, widespread trust makes cooperation possible, and a moral—and not merely instrumental—commitment to reliability is a foundation for widespread trust.

There are interesting questions to ask about Rose’s arguments: When does background injustice reduce the duty to be trustworthy? What determines when a putative moral requirement really is a moral requirement? How shall we determine just what open-ended, relational contracts actually require? But, however we resolve these questions, Rose has made a convincing case that a society full of trustworthy people will be effectively positioned to experience the miracle of economic growth.

ABOUT GARY CHARTIER

Gary Chartier is a professor of law and business ethics and associate dean of the Tom and Vi Zapara School of Business at La Sierra University in Riverside, California. He is the author of Anarchy and Legal Order: Law and Politics for a Stateless Society, published by Cambridge University Press.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

Free the Poor: Does economic freedom alleviate poverty? by Julian Adorney

2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, and many claim that President Johnson’s program has lifted millions out of poverty.  But if we really want to help the poor, research suggests that economic freedom does more than government aid.

Economic Freedom Within the United States

In “A Dynamic Analysis of Economic Freedom and Income Inequality in the 50 States: Empirical Evidence of a Parabolic Relationship,” Daniel L. Bennett and Richard K. Vedder argue that, past a certain point, economic freedom decreases inequality. Increasing economic freedom benefits the poor and middle class more than it helps the wealthy.

Bennett and Vedder analyze the 50 states in terms of their economic freedom and their income inequality over 25 years (from 1979 to 2004). Bennett and Vedder define economic freedom as more or less the degree to which government is limited. They measured and ranked states according to the size of government, the level of taxation, and the level of labor market regulation. They define income inequality using the Gini coefficient. Because different states have radically different levels of economic freedom (compare New York and North Dakota, for instance), the authors were able to draw on a wealth of data about relative economic freedom in 50 distinct economies.

The authors find a parabolic relationship between a state’s economic freedom and its income inequality. As states initially become more economically free, most of the gains go to the wealthy. But at a certain inflection point X, which 21 states had already hit by 2004, the relationship shifts: past this point, as states become more free, income inequality declines.

But does income inequality decline because the rich lose wealth (perhaps through fewer opportunities for crony capitalism), or because the gains from increasing economic freedom go primarily to the poor?  In “Income Inequality and Economic Freedom in the U.S. States,” Nathan J. Ashby and Russell S. Sobel find that it’s the latter.

Ashby and Sobel analyze the 48 states of the continental United States in terms of their economic freedom and the incomes of their poor, middle-class, and wealthy residents over 20 years (from the early 1980s to the early 2000s). They use the same measure of economic freedom as Bennett and Vedder.

The authors find a strong positive correlation between a state’s economic freedom and the income level of the poorest 20 percent of residents. Freer states did better by their poor than less free ones. In particular, Ashby and Sobel found that increasing the economic freedom of a state by one unit (equivalent to moving from 40th-freest state to 7th freest-state) increased the incomes of its poorest residents by 11 percent. By contrast, the same change increased the incomes of the richest quintile by just over a third of that (4.3 percent). The middle class also saw increases, greater than the rich but less than the poor. Increasing a state’s economic freedom by reducing taxation and regulation creates broadly shared prosperity across all quintiles. Their research helps explain why, as states become more economically free, their income inequality declines: The poor and the middle class see more gains than the wealthy.

But couldn’t this be a case of mistaken causality? Maybe some states have less poverty because they have more natural resources. With less poverty, they need less government to help the poor, meaning they’re economically freer. But Ashby and Sobel anticipated this claim. They control for about a dozen variables, including education, geography, and median income. The last controlled variable is especially important; it places richer and poorer states on a level playing field, so to speak, for the study. It combats the idea that perhaps wealthier states need less government because they have less poverty, and firmly points the arrow of causality toward economic freedom reducing poverty.

Ashby and Sobel’s research is a compelling argument against government poverty programs. Other research, for instance the Mercatus Center’s Freedom in the 50 States annual report, notes the positive effects of economic freedom on aggregate economic growth. But because their data is left in the aggregate, it’s difficult to determine to whom exactly the economic gains go. But by breaking down their research by quintile, Ashby and Sobel make a case that economic growth especially helps the poor.

Economic Freedom Worldwide

Nor is the connection between economic freedom and bottom-rung prosperity unique to the United States. Recent research in the Economic Freedom of the World (EFW) 2013 Annual Report finds the same trend internationally.

The Economic Freedom of the World (EFW) Annual Report, published by the Fraser Institute, analyzes around 150 countries in terms of factors like their economic freedom, closeness to a laissez-faire state, poverty levels, and per capita income. The results are a striking indictment of the idea that more government intervention in the economy can help the poor.

As EFW points out, the shares of a country’s GDP going to the bottom 10 percent are pretty consistent regardless of how free the country is. From communist states to progressive countries to almost laissez-faire societies, the poorest 10 percent of citizens receive about 2.5 percent of the country’s wealth. No amount of progressive policies has changed that number. But for the poor, life is still much better in an economically free country than in one with more government. More economically free countries have more wealth than less free ones, meaning the poorest 10 percent can end up with thousands of dollars more per year. The poorest citizens of the 25 percent most-free countries earn an average of $10,556 per year. The poorest citizens in the middle 50 percent of countries earn less than a third of that.

So why does more economic freedom mean less poverty? The answers are well-known to libertarians, but worth reviewing. In societies with more economic freedom, decreased taxes and regulation make it easier to accumulate savings and to start or expand a business. Today in the United States, getting permits and navigating the legal maze to start a business can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Getting the permit for a food truck, and complying with the various laws, can cost $15,000 at the high end. Regulations in the United States overall cost about 1.5 percent of the country’s income per capita. But in other countries this cost is even higher; in Germany regulations sap 4.7 percent of the nation’s income per capita. In Italy it’s 14.2 percent.

Some of these regulations drain money from existing corporations, leaving them with fewer funds to expand; others impose hefty costs on anyone wishing to start a business. Both ultimately discourage wealth creation. Countries or states with more economic freedom therefore have more jobs, more innovation, and more goods and services—ultimately more wealth—than societies burdened by a heavy government.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, legislators would do well to bear these data in mind. The cure for poverty is not more well-meaning government programs to make the United States resemble Europe. The solution, as it has always been, is more economic freedom.

ABOUT JULIAN ADORNEY

Julian Adorney is an entrepreneur and fiction writer. He has written for the Ludwig von Mises Institute and runs a libertarian blog.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

An Open Letter to Brandeis University

Dear Brandeis University faculty,

I used to admire your University; my son-in-law is a Brandeis graduate, so how could you have allowed a takeover by CAIR?.  How could you have permitted them to usurp all the authority and withdraw your offer to one of the heroines of the modern generation!  What a black eye on your school, your staff, and America!  Ayaan Hirsi Ali deserves the award for speaking out against Islam, an ideology that is responsible for perhaps the biggest joke ever played on human beings – that the women have disfigured, be in constant bondage, subservient to men, and that the ignorant would side with the perpetrators of such a crime.

I say ignorant because that is the only thing that makes any sense to have both your administrators and staff turn against the victims of one of the most evil ideologies ever to exist.  If it’s not ignorance, then they have become as evil as those who commit the crimes of home bondage, rape, beheadings, female genital mutilation, chopping limbs, and stonings.  Then you might as well join the forces who are wearing the hijabs and burqas because if you’re not doing it yet, you’ll be doing it soon enough.  You have empowered the proponents of Sharia to set the rules by which you will live.  You have allowed the immigrants to set the rules for the host population, thereby making them the victors and the Americans the vanquished.

How much longer will you permit this to continue and to what extent?  What accommodations will you make next?  Prayers five times a day to Allah?  Will you start ordering prayer rugs and be sure you have a room large enough for all the students to use?  Will you so severely alter your classes so that they will be the equivalent of madrasses?

Shame on you!  Wake up and see what Islam has done to the Middle East, killing more than 270 million poeple over 1400 centuries to turn a once-non Islamic land mass to one that is entirely subservient to a tyrannic system.  Look at Europe!  England has accepted Sharia in such ways that, if the original population doesn’t rise up soon, that country will be lost, all because they insist they want peace.  Sweden has become the rape capital of the world.  Norway is lost, controlled by Nazism and Islam.  France’s streets are blocked with the behinds of the observant immigrants and Marseilles and other cities have been degraded with the trash seen in the impoverished cities of Morocco.

Islam is here to become dominant.  You are complicit in losing our country. How will you face your children and grandchildren and the parents of the students, who you robbed because you were supposed to protect them and teach them American citizenry, rather than Islamic subjugation.  The Islamic way of life cannot co-exist with our Constitution.  You are allowing the destruction of our Constitution.  The future is in your hands and in the hands of other Universities who, unfortunately, do not deserve the right to teach our progeny.  May the parents grasp the meaning of your actions and  pull the students out before they are severely damaged.

Please retract your statements, say NO! to CAIR.  You have it within your power to stop this.

Wake up, please; please, wake up.

Shock Study: As public school funding increased student SAT scores decreased

Long-term trends in academic performance and spending are valuable tools for evaluating past education policies and informing current ones. But such data have been scarce at the state level, where the most important education policy decisions are made. State spending data exist reaching back to the 1960s, but the figures have been scattered across many different publications. State-level academic performance data are either nonexistent prior to 1990 or, as in the case of the SAT, are unrepresentative of statewide student populations.

Using a time-series regression approach described in a separate publication, this CATO Institute paper adjusts state SAT score averages for factors such as participation rate and student demographics, which are known to affect outcomes, then validates the results against recent state-level National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test scores.

This CATO study produces continuous, state-representative estimated SAT score trends reaching back to 1972.

The CATO Institute presents paper charts of these trends against both inflation-adjusted per pupil spending and the raw, unadjusted SAT results, providing an unprecedented perspective on American education inputs and outcomes over the past 40 years.

The CATO study found:

In general, the findings are not encouraging.

Adjusted state SAT scores have declined by an average of 3 percent. This echoes the picture of stagnating achievement among American 17-year-olds painted by the Long Term Trends portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a series of tests administered to a nationally representative sample of students since 1970. That disappointing record comes despite a more-than-doubling in inflation-adjusted per pupil public-school spending over the same period (the average state spending increase was 120 percent).

Consistent with those patterns, there has been essentially no correlation between what states have spent on education and their measured academic outcomes. In other words, America’s educational productivity appears to have collapsed, at least as measured by the NAEP and the SAT.

That is remarkably unusual. In virtually every other field, productivity has risen over this period thanks to the adoption of countless technological
advances—advances that, in many cases, would seem ideally suited to facilitating learning. And yet, surrounded by this torrent of progress, education has remained anchored to the riverbed, watching the rest of the world rush past it.

Not only have dramatic spending increases been unaccompanied by improvements in performance, the same is true of the occasional spending declines experienced by some states. At one time or another over the past four decades, Alaska, California, Florida, and New York all experienced multi-year periods over which real spending fell substantially (20 percent or more of their 1972 expenditure levels). And yet, none of these states experienced noticeable declines in adjusted SAT scores—either contemporaneously or lagged by a few years. Indeed, their score trends seem entirely disconnected from their rising and falling levels of spending. [Emphasis added]

Following are the state charts for Florida:

florida education trends cato 1

florida sat trends cato

To view the results for your state go to State Education Trends

RELATED STORY: More Bad News from Government-Run Education: The Corrosive Centralization of Common Core

cato school scores

For a larger view click on the chart. Courtesy of CATO Institute.

A very queer music festival in Sarasota, Florida

I use the word queer not as a pejorative but rather as the best description of how the Harvey Milk Festival in Sarasota, Florida is being billed.

K. Barnes from Sarasota Day reports:

“Now in its fifth year, the annual Harvey Milk Festival (HMF) is fast upon us. Most Sarasota folk know the event as a big, badass all-day music festival that takes place downtown at Five Points Park and hosts some of our hardest working local talent alongside big name out-of-town and national acts… But let’s get some perspective: it’s not a Pride festival, it’s a music festival. You probably won’t find leather daddies in rainbow thongs at HMF. I mean, you might – there aren’t any guidelines on who can and cannot attend the festival or restrictions on what to wear, and the climate is such that an appearance by an oiled up stud with a bright pink riding crop would only add to the day’s lighthearted tone of acceptance – but just as much as the festival promises to “foster emerging talent in musicians and artists who support diversity and reject discrimination,” it is also an increasingly family-centered event. So instead you’ll probably find Sarasotans under the age of 60 attending with their kids, and maybe even their grandkids, too.” [Emphasis added]

If this is not a gay pride festival then what is it?

If you go to the Harvey Milk Festival website it states, “The Harvey Milk Festival supports the mission of ALSO Out Youth to end all forms of violence, harassment and discrimination based on real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. ALSO Out Youth’s mission is to enhance self-esteem, promote healthy dialogue, and increase awareness of sexual minority issues. For more information, visit www.ALSOYouth.org.”

HARVEY MILK FESTIVAL MISSION STATEMENT:

The mission of the Harvey Milk Festival is to honor the life of Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay Americans elected to public office, by fostering emerging talent in musicians and artists who support diversity and reject discrimination, and to promote equality for LGBTQ people through supporting equal rights legislation.

The 2014 festival is sponsored by among others: The Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Planned Parenthood, the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-ManateeStarbucks and Sarasota Day.

Who and what is ALSO Youth?

ALSO Youth is affiliated with the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN). GLSEN was founded by Kevin Jennings. GLSEN is a national homosexual organization that targets children in the public schools, and has formed “gay straight alliance” clubs in schools across the country. ALSO Youth is the gay straight alliance club in Sarasota County. In 1995 Jennings gave a speech titled “Winning the Culture War“. Jennings stated:

“If the Radical Right can succeed in portraying us as preying on children, we will lose. Their language — “promoting homosexuality” is one example — is laced with subtle and not-so- subtle innuendo that we are “after their kids.” We must learn from the abortion struggle, where the clever claiming of the term “pro-life” allowed those who opposed abortion on demand to frame the issue to their advantage, to make sure that we do not allow ourselves to be painted into a corner before the debate even begins.

“In Massachusetts the effective reframing of this issue was the key to the success of the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth. We immediately seized upon the opponent’s calling card–safety–and explained how homophobia represents a threat to students’ safety by creating a climate where violence, name-calling, health problems, and suicide are common. Titling our report ‘Making Schools Safe for Gay and Lesbian Youth,’ we automatically threw our opponents onto the defensive and stole their best line of attack. This framing short-circuited their arguments and left them back-pedaling from day one. [Emphasis added]

That is the true story behind those involved and supporting the Harvey Milk festival in Sarasota. This is all about re-framing the issue of homosexuality and bringing in grand kids to a seemly innocuous concert to mix and mingle with those who are most interested in little boys – older homosexual men.

In both Sarasota County and Florida 70% of known HIV/AIDS cases are due to men having sex with men and boys. The FloridaHeath.gov reports:

Florida has been heavily impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The state continues to rank third in the nation in the cumulative number of AIDS cases (126,581 in 2012) and second in the nation in the cumulative number of HIV cases (49,058 in 2012). The Florida Department of Health estimates that approximately 130,000 individuals are living with HIV disease in Florida. Of those persons living with HIV disease, 49% are black, 29% are white and 20% are Hispanic. Men represent 70% of the cases. Persons over the age of 45 years represent 60%. More information on Florida data.

This event is happening as Hollywood is rocked by a scandal involving men raping under aged boys. Among the notables named so far is Bryan Singer, director of X-men. CBS reported on what the victim Michael Egan III, now 31, faced as a boy actor in Hollywood. CBS states, “At a press conference last week, Egan said men in the sex ring plied young teens with alcohol and drugs and promised them work in TV and movies. He likened the alleged behavior as being treated like ‘a piece of meat.’ He also said he was threatened with physical violence to keep quiet.”

Perhaps Sarasotans need to understand what is really happening to our youth. Perhaps it is time to tell the truth about the agenda of homosexual organizations like GLSEN and ALSO Youth. Perhaps it is time to push back against this not so subtle taking of the innocence of our most vulnerable – little boys?

RELATED LINKS:

‘X-Men’ Director Bryan Singer Accused Of Sex Abuse
Hawaii: Teachers Paid $410 to Learn How to Make Teens Gay-Friendly
Gay lobby pushing Radical Anti-bullying law in Massachusetts
Beverly Hills Hotel Boycotted by LGBT Group Over Sultan of Brunei Ownership (Report) – The Hollywood Reporter
Muslim drivers at Cleveland airport refuse to drive cabs with Gay Games advertising
Florida: Muslim who sought underage child incest fantasy jailed for 10 years
CDC: 62 Percent Of HIV-Positive Men Have Unprotected Sex- CBS Atlanta
‘Genderqueer’ rising: Colleges welcome kids who identify as neither male nor female – Washington Times
Croatians overwhelmingly vote against same-sex marriage in a referendum
Blogging ‘gays’ urge murder, castration of Christians
Prosecutor: Carl Philip Herold, charged with using son to make child porn, ‘a special kind of threat’ (updated) (photos) | AL.com
Ugandan newspaper names 200 ‘homos’ after anti-gay law signed – Yahoo News
Pro-Sin US Combats Worldwide Anti-Homosexual Sin Movement

Video: ‘X-Men’ Director Bryan Singer Accused Of Sexual Abuse, Participating In Hollywood Sex Ring Involving Boys

Christianity in Troubled Times

The vast ignorance of American history by far too many Americans is perhaps demonstrated in the failure to understand that it was the free practice of their interpretation of Christianity by the pilgrims that led to the creation of America. Plymouth colony, established in 1620, put the Atlantic Ocean between them and hostilities they had encountered in England.

To understand the role of religion in America, the First Amendment begins with a prohibition that the states shall make no law “respecting an establishment of religion…” The Founders wanted to make sure that neither the federal, nor state governments designated a particular religion as the only one. We can thank James Madison for that and the other enumerated freedoms.

Religious tolerance, which took some time to become fully established in the colonies and the new nation, has been a significant part of life in America—a nation that has always been predominantly Christian. Easter should remind us of that.

As 2012 came to a close, the Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project offered the following numbers regarding the global population of Christians. They were determined to be approximately 2.2 billion worldwide. That’s about one-in-three (32%).

About half of all Christians are Catholic (50%) while an estimated 37% belong to the Protestant tradition. The Orthodox Communion, including the Greek and Russian Orthodox, make up 12% of Christians while those who belong to other branches such as Mormons, Christian Scientists, and Jehovah Witnesses, make up about 1% of the global population.

Though Christianity took root in the Middle East, less than 1% of Christians are found these days either there or in North Africa. The largest concentration is in Europe (26%), followed closely by Latin American and the Caribbean (24%), and sub-Saharan Africa (24%). Most Christians (87%) live in countries where Christians are in the majority. Of the 232 countries and territories in the Pew study, 157 had majorities, but most had relatively small populations.

What surely has to be a cause for concern in America are the results of a Harris poll released in December 2013. While a strong majority (74%) of U.S. adults said they believe in God, the figure was down from 82% in earlier years. Belief in miracles, heaven, and other religious teachings were all in decline.

For Christians, 68% expressed a belief that Jesus is God or the Son of God, down from 72%. Belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ (65%) was down from 72% ten years earlier.

Ranging across various faith groups and other demographics, absolute certainty that there is a God was expressed by 54%, a decline from 66%.

Only 19% described themselves as “very” religious, while 40% described themselves as “somewhat” religious, a decline from 49% in 2007. Nearly one-fourth of Americans (23%) said they were “not at all” religious, a figure that has nearly doubled since 2007 when it was only 12%.

A campaign against the free practice of religion and respect for individual religious values has been in place since the election of President Obama in 2008. It has been particularly evident in the U.S. military, affecting its chaplains and those to whom they minister. There are nearly a hundred cases in U.S. courts resisting the demands of Obamacare and other actions by the administration and those in various states and cities that affect religious beliefs and values.

The introduction and support of same-sex marriage in the United States is a direct attack on a tradition that pre-dates Christianity, Judaism and other faiths. It is fundamentally anti-religious.

Beyond our shores the slaughter of Christians by Muslims in Middle Eastern and nations like Nigeria continues to pose a threat to them and those of other faiths. Islam is the greatest threat to civilization that has existed since its rise began in 632 A.D.

All Americans owe a debt of gratitude to those early pilgrims and to the Founders who understood the value of religion and its free expression. Those who demand that crosses be removed from public lands or that Christmas carols not be sung in our schools do not understand what America is all about. Christians, in particular, must vocally resist such demands and should be joined by those of other faiths.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

RELATED STORIES:

Obama’s call to close Vatican embassy is ‘slap in the face’ to Roman Catholics – Washington Times
China on course to become ‘world’s most Christian nation’ within 15 years – Telegraph

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo was taken by Andrew A. Shenouda from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

My Easter Post

Today is Easter, the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Who claimed to be the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.

George Frideric Handel wrote about Him in the famous musical composition, Messiahfirst performed on Easter Sunday in the Musick Hall in Dublin on April 13, 1742.

I believe Jesus is the Messiah. On September 13, 1981, I made a formal and public declaration of faith in Him. I believe He is faithful to show me how to live in this world, and I believe He will take care of me beyond my death.

I believe Christ loves me profoundly and that my being convinced of His love enables me to love and serve others.

My advocating for public education is inextricable from my faith, for through this blog and through my other involvements on behalf of public education, Christ enables me to contribute productively to my world and to care for people He created and loved enough to die for.

I believe in intelligent design. I am intelligent, and I came from Intelligence.

This month, April 2014, is also special to me in that this time last year, I was diagnosed with “a huge mass” in my abdomen. I wrote about the situation in detail in my Thanksgiving post.

This year, I no longer have that mass. The situation reminded me of the complexity of the human body, of how an issue with my abdomen affected my gall bladder, my nerve sensitivity in my upper chest, water retention in my legs, and pressure to my lungs, my lower back, and particularly my right side.

So much must occur in sync for my body to operate well, and when it operates well, I hardly notice.

When I was in pain from the tumor, and when I was facing the question of whether I might die from this (and particularly whether my mother would outlive me and how she would cope), and as I was having various tests leading up to my surgery, not once did I reach for Darwin’s Origin of Species for guidance or comfort.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

I am happy to use my intelligence, my wit, my senses of morality, decency, kindness, and altruism to serve humanity through my writings on this blog.

Happy Easter.

RELATED VIDEO:

EDITORS NOTE:

Matthew 28:6

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. “Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”…

The edited featured photo was taken by Wouter Hagens. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Florida Senate Passes Textbook Review Legislation

Aya Sewell, Sarasota Citizen Activist in 2010 Protests Houghton Mifflin textbook World History: Patterns of Interaction

textbooks

Click on image for a larger view.

In Tallahassee, on April 11, 2014, the Republican controlled  Florida Senate passed SB 864 sponsored by Sen. Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) by a narrow vote of 21 to 19. The measure would eliminate State Department of Education control over selection of textbooks returning that role to Florida’s 67 school districts, requiring open public hearing on texts used in courses.  The bill reflected in part concerns of conservative Groups over the Common Core Curriculum State Standards, sponsored by the National Association of Governors and Council of Chief State School Officers  seeking to impose national standards. Despite that criticism the Common Core has been adopted in Forty-four states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA).

However, SB 864 was largely prompted by a different issue; objections of parental groups in several Florida counties in about the treatment of Islam and Muslim culture in world history textbooks on the Florida State Department of Education list of approved texts.  A companion bill (HB 921) is working its way  through the Florida House sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton.  That version would provide a local option to districts to review texts; however, the selections must still meet state standards. Gaetz was quoted in a News Herald editorial saying: “I think there’s an increasing frustration by parents in our state, that they don’t have a lot of say regarding the content and materials their children use in the classroom.”

Local advocates here in Florida drew attention to misrepresentations of Islam in protests in Volusia, Brevard and Sarasota Counties. Our Iconoclast post on the subject, “Sarasota, Florida’s biased Islam textbook problem”,  highlighted the relentless efforts of citizen activist Aya Sewell. Ms. Sewell is of Iraqi Jewish  heritage, members of her family were  subject to a 1941 pogrom against the Jewish population in Baghdad, the Farhud.  Sewell led a campaign against such texts locally in Sarasota, as well as before the Florida Department of Education.  Elsewhere in the US, Tennessee parents have also raised objections to similar course material extolling Palestinian suicide bombers. Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) in Boston accused the Newton, Massachusetts school board and superintendent for permitting use of texts and course materials that engage in promoting false information regarding both Islam and demonization of Israel.  APT undertook content and bias analysis and promoted their findings that included placing ads in local area media and a petition campaign.

An article in the current edition of Education Week noted the debate over the pending Florida textbook legislation:

[Sen. ]Hays said the legislation was needed so that school board members will be accountable to parents and voters. He said school board members have blamed the state for the textbooks they picked.

“This bill imposes on the local school board members the responsibility and accountability to their citizens,” Hays said.

Opponents complained it would cost districts money to review textbooks. Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, said she was worried that some districts would wind up censoring some books, while other senators raised questions about whether districts would pick textbooks aligned to the state’s current standards.

Even Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart questioned Hays’ bill.

“From a practical standpoint it lifts a burden from us,” Stewart said. “But we heard loud and clear from districts that they rely on (the state review). They need that. They don’t have the resources to be able to do that.”

Following the Florida Senate vote on SB 864, CAIR-Florida unleashed an ad hominem campaign against Sen. Hays.  CAIR  undertook  an Action Campaign sending  Florida  Legislators an inflammatory Daily Beast  opinion column by Dean Obeidallah, that headlined, “Islamophobic Florida Republican Would Legalize Textbook Censorship”. Obeidallah  (which  means “little servant of God in Arabic”) is a former  lawyer,  self-styled Arab American stand up comic,  son of a Palestinian father and mother of Sicilian ancestry who grew up in Paramus, New Jersey.  Self proclaimed Muslim Obeidallah has been involved in several controversial issues including an apology to the Romney family.  CAIR, a Muslim Brotherhood front group, was listed as one of several unindicted co-conspirators in the 2008 Federal Dallas Holy Land Foundation Trial involving funneling tens of millions to Hamas, an MB affiliate.

This latest action by CAIR-Florida  followed earlier criticism of  SB 386, also sponsored by Sen. Hays,  on the acceptance of foreign laws in certain cases by Florida’ s court system as “bullying  legislation against Muslims and other minorities”.  Both  SB 386  and companion house  version (HB903) are currently pending floor votes in both the Senate and  House prior to the end of the 2014 Legislative session on May 2nd in Tallahassee.

To illustrate the concerns of  Floridians that prompted  Sen. Hays  and Rep. Gaetz  to sponsor SB 864 and HB 921, we  investigated  an assessment  performed  by  Jacksonville-based Verity Educate  (VE) of  one the texts on the approved list of the Florida State Department of Education. It was  Houghton Mifflin  Harcourt, Holt McDougal high school  text book called World History: Patterns of Interaction.  VE is a non-partisan, independent organization that uses scholars to examine and provide thorough reports on content accuracy and objectivity in textbooks and curricular material.   VE has performed such assessments at the request of parental groups in Massachusetts, Tennessee and Texas.

A letter we requested from the executive director of VE, Dr. Ellen R. Wald, noted the scope of their investigation of the Houghton Mifflin high school textbook:

Verify Educate examined the 2012 Tennessee edition of  World History: Patterns of Interaction. Verify Educate’s analysis concerned only the sections of the book dealing with the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as other related topics, including certain events in India, Spain, the United States, and the region around the Black Sea. This was done at the request of parents who specifically felt that their backgrounds were insufficient to examine these topics.

VE’s findings from its analysis  are:

The reviewed sections of this textbook exhibit regular flaws of factual inaccuracy, dishonesty, and bias. The primary concern with this textbook is the desire to make arguments and instill opinions in the students. These arguments come at the expense of instilling a fluency in the material (a knowledge of the language and facts). An additional effect of the focus on arguments is the lost opportunity for students to practice and develop critical thinking skills.

The most prevalent flaws in this textbook include the following:

  • The text presents religious texts and tradition as historical evidence even absent independent corroboration. The text regularly uses the Koran and other religious writings to relate events as history and fails to mention when no independent corroboration from sources outside the religion exists. In most cases the text fails to differentiate between history and religious tradition.
  • The text portrays religion as the defining characteristic of the Middle East and Central Asia throughout history, such that essentially all accomplishments and events are based on religion. Among the detrimental effects of this argument are lost opportunities for students to engage in critical thinking, distorted views of history, and the denigration of the inhabitants of this region. Limiting the basis for the history of the Middle East and Central Asia to a narrow focus on religion disparages and demeans the people, politics, geography, and historical events that occurred, particularly when religion is not highlighted in other regions.
  • The text repeatedly asserts that the religion of Islam dictates “tolerance” of non Muslims and that Muslim rulers have historically practiced “tolerance” towards the non-Muslim populations under their rule. This argument is promoted at the expense of examining historical facts honestly and fostering critical thinking. Students are presented with a conclusion and historical facts are often manipulated or stripped of nuance to convince students, even in cases when this conclusion is false. The focus on religious “tolerance” is unique to the sections of the text discussing Islam, and it  borders on obsession and bias.
  • The text depicts the depth and breadth of “Muslim contributions” as unique in history and as the result of Islam. In this regard, the text consistently attributes the successes of diverse societies to religion alone, even when these societies are geographically dispersed and chronologically distant. For example, the text connects the mathematical advances of a 9th century Spanish mathematician to the architectural exploits of a 17th century Mughal emperor in India based solely on their religion. The diverse Muslim populations over a 1500-year period do not constitute one society. In addition, the attention devoted to “Muslim contributions” far surpasses the attention given to any other society’s accomplishments.

That leads to the question of who wrote such misleading entries about Islam that the VE analysis  uncovered in the Houghton Mifflin publication.

One of those groups relied on by major textbook publishers is the Council on Islamic Education  known as the Institute on Religious and Civic Values (IRCV). Its founder, Shabbir Mansuri, is listed as an academic reviewer on a textbook used in Brevard County.

In 2001 the OC Weekly newspaper in California interviewed Mansuri about comments Lynne Cheney made lamenting the amount of time schools were spending teaching cultures that were not American. Mansuri took her comments as a personal attack.

“For the past 11 years, Mansuri has waged what he calls a ‘bloodless’ revolution: promoting an increased emphasis on world cultures and faiths – including Islam – inside American junior high and high school campuses,” the newspaper reported.

The IRCV had Saudi funding to pay Muslim scholars writing those chapters in the Prentice Hall, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin and other world history text  books.

Back in 2002,  this writer  ran interference for the American Jewish Committee chapter in Connecticut in an episode involving federal funding of a Da’wa program on Islam run with Muslim instructors as a summer program for public high school teachers at a state university.   During that episode we made the acquaintance of Stanley Kurtz  of the Hoover Institute at the time on this issue. Kurtz wrote a series of investigative articles for the NRO about the Title VI USDOE Higher Education Act grants for Middle East Studies programs dominated by Islam and Palestinian apologists. Universities, as Kurtz pointed out who benefitted from US Higher Education Act Title VI grants were engaged in preparation of work books for teachers in K-12 that engaged in role playing for fourth graders costumed as Arabs.

That effort led us to the forensic reviews –Islam in the Classroom – conducted by Dr. Gilbert T. Sewall of the American Textbook Council (ATC) on world history texts produced by the four major US textbook publishers.  Sewall  found those treatments biased   and in some cases prepared by the Saudi-financed and California based  IRVC. We later found out that effort had begun in the “image studies” funded by American oil partners of ARAMCO  in the early 1970’s objected to in the mid 1980’s  by a  study conducted by a school district in Tucson, Arizona.   The latest edition of the continuing ATC review of  Islam in the Classroom What the Texts Tell us by Dr. Sewall  was published in 2008.  Its conclusions corroborate the findings  of  Dr. Wald’s analysis in the VE report. To wit:

  • Many political and religious groups try to use the textbook process to their advantage, but the deficiencies in Islam-related lessons are uniquely disturbing. History textbooks present an incomplete and conflicted view of Islam that misrepresents its foundations and challenges to international security.
  • Misinformation about Islam is more pronounced in junior high school textbooks than high school textbooks.
  • Outright textbook errors about Islam are not the main problem. The more serious failure is the presence of disputed definitions and claims that are presented as established facts.
  • Deficiencies about Islam in textbooks copyrighted before 2001 persist and in some cases have grown  worse. Instead of making corrections or adjusting contested facts, publishers and editors defend misinformation and content evasions against the record. Biases persist. Silences are profound and intentional.
  • Islamic activists use multiculturalism and ready-made American political movements, especially  those on  campus,  to  advance and  justify  the makeover of Islam-related textbook content.
  • Particular fault  rests  with  the publishing  corporations,  boards  of  directors,  and executives who decide what editorial policies their companies will pursue.

Publishers have developed new world and U.S. history textbooks at three different grade levels. Errors about Islam that occurred in older textbooks have not been corrected but reiterated. Publishers have learned of contested facts and have had the time to correct imbalances. But instead of making changes, they have sustained errors or, in deliberate acts of self censorship, have removed controversial material.

In an interview, Dr. Wald of VE analyzed the effects of  Florida Senate Bill SB 864 :

While SB 864 leaves all of the Florida state standards intact, and even highlights further standards to ensure fairness to all ethnic, religious, and diversity groups, the bill provides for parents and communities to have a greater say in the local education system.  Given that the standards are maintained, I can’t see how this bill could engender any more censorship than would come out of the current state review process.  In fact, the bill has the potential to severely decrease censorship.  Whereas now the state board can reject material for the entire state, under this bill, each community would make its own decision, and a rejection would only impact that community.

We commend Florida Sen. Alan Hays and Rep. Matt Gaetz for their sponsorship of  SB 864 and HB 921. Given the analyses of Drs. Wald of Verity Educate and Dr. Sewall of American Textbook Council  Florida may lead the nation to reign in the misleading depiction of Islam in World History texts. By devolving reviews of leading publishers to local school districts in the Sunshine State that may allow concerned parents  to sponsors such studies forcing publishers to finally correct  errors of both omission and commission.

We look forward to the reconciliation of the Senate and House versions leading to passage and ultimate enactment into law.

RELATED STORY: Canada: Criticism of Islam forbidden by Toronto District School Board

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Lest We Forget: April 20, 1889 Alois Schicklgruber, Jr. was born

Adolf Hitler, KinderbildApril 20, 1889 is when Alois Schicklgruber, Jr. was born. You may know him better by another name – Adolf Hitler. As the world knows, to its great sorrow, he went on to become one of the most murderous tyrants in human history until his suicide in 1945.

Adolf Hitler was born on April 20, 1889 in the town of Braunau am Inn, Austria to Alois and Klara Hitler. Adolf was the fourth of six children born to Alois and Klara, but only one of two to survive childhood. Adolf’s father, Alois, was nearing his 52nd birthday when Adolf was born, but was only celebrating his 13th year as a Hitler. Alois (Adolf’s father) was actually born as Alois Schicklgruber on June 7, 1837 to Maria Anna Schicklgruber. At the time of Alois’ birth, Maria was not yet married. Five years later (May 10, 1842), Maria Anna Schicklgruber married Johann Georg Hiedler (later Hitler).

Although Hitler was a left-wing extremist (the very name of his movement, Nazi, is a contraction for “national socialism”) somehow today’s media have managed to turn the word into a pejorative against the conservative right. Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf, “By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise. Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”

If I had a buck for every time my colleagues and I have been called Nazis or fascists, why… I’d buy a lot more gold or Bitcoins.

144px-George_Santayana (1)

George Santayana – “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Take time today to call all your Republican and Democrat members of Congress and the media to remind them of this notable day. If they express outrage, respond with deep surprise:

Hitler, the founder of the National Socialist Party, was a role model for socialists. Hitler enacted big government control of everything in Germany; loved furry animals; hated smoking; was a vegetarian, murdered the innocent on an industrial scale; was inspired by the American Eugenics movement; thought Germany needed to get beyond restrictive Judeo-Christian morality; was pro-Muslim; he divided the citizenry according to race; he didn’t tolerate dissent from his political opponents; etc.

It is fitting to remember that even more than 100 years after Hitler’s birth, his legacy lives on. Two demented high school students in Littleton, Colorado, chose the anniversary of their hero’s birth to conduct the Columbine High School massacre and at the beginning of Holy week Frazier Glenn Cross, a white supremacist and member of the KKK, killed three innocent people in Kansas.

Perhaps on this April 20th, Easter Sunday, it is fitting and proper to remember the immortal words of George Santayana.

Bad Hair Days

In the new mini-documentary Locked Out, Sean Malone shares the stories of microentrepreneurs fighting against artificial barriers to entry.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/gvPdgXX27Gw[/youtube]

 

Whenever you hear someone claim the benefits of government regulation, think about sharing this post. So very often the issue is not one of public health or the public interest, but of industry cartels colluding with bureaucrats in an effort to thwart honest competition.

RELATED STORIES:

Occupational Licensure Under Attack APRIL 01, 1975 by MELVIN D. BARGER

The Legal Trenches of Economic Freedom Onerous Occupational Licensure in Texas MARCH 01, 2014 by THE FREEMAN

Urban Design and Social Complexity by SANDY IKEDA

Urban planning always risks draining the life out of what it tries to control.

This week’s column is drawn from a lecture I gave earlier this year at the University of Southern California on the occasion of the retirement of urban economist Peter Gordon.

One of my heroes is the urbanist Jane Jacobs, who taught me to appreciate the importance for entrepreneurial development of how public spaces—places where you expect to encounter strangers—are designed. And I learned from her that the more precise and comprehensive your image of a city is, the less likely that the place you’re imagining really is a city.

Jacobs grasped as well as any Austrian economist that complex social orders such as cities aren’t deliberately created and that they can’t be. They arise largely unplanned from the interaction of many people and many minds. In much the same way that Ludwig von Mises and F. A. Hayek understood the limits of government planning and design in the macroeconomy, Jacobs understood the limits of government planning and the design of public spaces for a living city, and that if governments ignore those limits, bad consequences will follow.

Planning As Taxidermy

Austrians use the term “spontaneous order” to describe the complex patterns of social interaction that arise unplanned when many minds interact. Examples of spontaneous order include markets, money, language, culture, and living cities great and small. In her The Economy of Cities, Jacobs defines a living city as “a settlement that generates its economic growth from its own local economy.” Living cities are hotbeds of creativity and they drive economic development.

There is a phrase she uses in her great work, The Life and Death of Great American Cities, that captures her attitude: “A city cannot be a work of art.” As she goes on to explain:

Artists, whatever their medium, make selections from the abounding materials of life, and organize these selections into works that are under the control of the artist . . . the essence of the process is disciplined, highly discriminatory selectivity from life. In relation to the inclusiveness and the literally endless intricacy of life, art is arbitrary, symbolic and abstracted. . . . To approach a city, or even a city neighborhood, as if it were a larger architectural problem, capable of being given order by converting it into a disciplined work of art, is to make the mistake of attempting to substitute art for life. The results of such profound confusion between art and life are neither art nor life. They are taxidermy.

So the problem confronting an urban planner, and indeed government planning of any sort, is how to avoid draining the life out of the thing you’re trying to control.

The Trade-Off Between Planning and Complexity

Viewing cities as spontaneous orders and not as works of art helps to explain the trade-off between scale and order. In general, I believe the larger the scale of a project, the fewer the discoveries and subtle connections the people who use that space will be able to make.

Placing an apartment building in a commercial block will change the character of that block in unpredictable ways, but the surrounding urban environment can usually absorb the repercussions and the problems are relatively small. A block-sized mall, however, constrains much further how people can use that space and has a disproportionately larger impact on the neighborhood. And a mega-project that takes up many blocks severely limits the diversity and range of the social connections, as it challenges the planner to substitute her genius for the genius of many ordinary people using their own local knowledge to solve problems only they may be aware of. Making something bigger increasingly limits what people can do and whom they can bump into in the space that it occupies. Scaling up narrows the range of the informal contacts that drive creativity and discovery.

And for a given size or scale of a project, the more the planner tries to predetermine the kind of activities the people who use it can do in it, the less likely that her design will complement the spontaneous contact that generates and diffuses new ideas. That’s what made a lot of traditional downtowns so important. Over time the combination of diverse uses of public space (in the sense I mean here) brought people with different skills and tastes together in large numbers. Design can of course complement that informal contact to a point, but beyond a fairly low level, human design begins to substitute for it.

Of course, small is not always beautiful, and big is sometimes unavoidable. But that makes it even more important that planners appreciate how ramping up scale and intensifying design influences a complex social order.

Private Planning Is Much More Limited in Scale

And I’m not just talking about government projects. Private projects could, in principle, have the same “taxidermic” impact on urban vitality. But as long as a planner’s design is small compared to the surrounding space, the loss of complexity and intricacy isn’t severe. It’s usually when government somehow subsidizes private projects, softening up the budget constraint, that the scale becomes massive and the downside very steep. An example of this can be found about a mile from where I live in New York. Barclays Center, the new home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, grew to an enormous size once the local and state governments offered eminent domain and other large subsidies. Building on a massive scale in an already dense urban environment is typically too expensive, even for a wealthy private developer, without such legal privileges.

A planner can’t build an entire city (or neighborhood even) because she can’t begin to design and construct the necessary diversity and social intricacy that happens spontaneously in a living city. And I don’t think she should even try to because it can irreparably damage, even kill, the living flesh of a city. What can government do? In the ordinary course of its activities a government can perhaps at best refrain from doing the things that would thwart the emergence of the invisible social infrastructure that gives rise to that diversity, development, and genuine liveliness.

The rest is mostly taxidermy.

ABOUT SANDY IKEDA

Sandy Ikeda is an associate professor of economics at Purchase College, SUNY, and the author of The Dynamics of the Mixed Economy: Toward a Theory of Interventionism. He will be speaking at the FEE summer seminars “People Aren’t Pawns” and “Are Markets Just?