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Trump’s ban on Critical Race Theory, explained

Does Critical Race Theory promote racial harmony or does it “sow division” as the Trump administration claims? And what is its relation, if any, to Marxism?


With the November election just around the corner, it’s only to be expected that President Trump would seek to rally conservative voters and drive his supporters to the polls. So, when his administration, on September 4, instructed the federal government to eliminate all training in “Critical Race Theory,” some thought it was just a red-meat stunt to excite the Republican base. Others saw it as an act of right-wing censorship and an obstruction of racial progress.

In truth, there’s much more to this development than mere politicization and censorship.

Here’s a breakdown of what the administration is doing and why it’s a welcome move.

The executive memo

“It has come to the President’s attention that Executive Branch agencies have spent millions of taxpayer dollars to date ‘training’ government workers to believe divisive, anti-American propaganda,” Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought wrote in the executive memorandum.

“Employees across the Executive Branch have been required to attend trainings where they are told that ‘virtually all White people contribute to racism’ or where they are required to say that they ‘benefit from racism,’” Vought explained. “According to press reports, in some cases these training [sic] have further claimed that there is racism embedded in the belief that America is the land of opportunity or the belief that the most qualified person should receive a job.”

The order instructed federal agencies to identify and eliminate any contracts or spending that train employees in “critical race theory,” “white privilege,” “or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil.”

The exposé

How did it “come to the President’s attention,” and what press reports is Vought referring to?

Well, President Trump is known to watch Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News. And days before the memo was issued, Carlson had on journalist Christopher Rufo to discuss his multiple reports uncovering the extent to which Critical Race Theory (CRT) was being used in federal training programs.

“For example, Rufo claimed, the Treasury Department recently hired a diversity trainer who said the U.S. was a fundamentally White supremacist country,” wrote Sam Dorman for the Fox News web site, “and that White people upheld the system of racism in the nation. In another case, which Rufo discussed with Carlson last month, Sandia National Laboratories, which designs nuclear weapons, sent its white male executives to a mandatory training in which they, according to Rufo, wrote letters apologizing to women and people of color.”

Rufo challenged President Trump to use his executive authority to extirpate CRT from the federal government.

The debate

CNN’s Brian Stelter (as well as Rufo himself) traced Trump’s decision directly to the independent investigative journalist’s self-proclaimed “one-man war” on CRT, of which the recent Carlson appearance was only the latest salvo.

Selter characterized Trump’s move as a reactionary attack on the current national “reckoning” on race. He cited the Washington Post’s claim that, “racial and diversity awareness trainings are essential steps in helping rectify the pervasive racial inequities in American society, including those perpetuated by the federal government.”

So which is it? Is CRT “divisive” and “toxic” or is it “rectifying” and “anti-racist”?

Intellectual ancestry

To answer that, it would help to trace CRT to its roots. Critical Race Theory is a branch of Critical Theory, which began as an academic movement in the 1930s. Critical Theory emphasizes the “critique of society and culture in order to reveal and challenge power structures,” as Wikipedia states. Critical Race Theory does the same, with a focus on racial power structures, especially white supremacy and the oppression of people of color.

The “power structure” prism stems largely from Critical Theory’s own roots in Marxism—Critical Theory was developed by members of the Marxist “Frankfurt School.” Traditional Marxism emphasized economic power structures, especially the supremacy of capital over labor under capitalism. Marxism interpreted most of human history as a zero-sum class war for economic power.

“According to the Marxian view,” wrote the economist Ludwig von Mises, “human society is organized into classes whose interests stand in irreconcilable opposition.”

Mises called this view a “conflict doctrine,” which opposed the “harmony doctrine” of classical liberalism. According to the classical liberals, in a free market economy, capitalists and workers were natural allies, not enemies. Indeed, in a free society all rights-respecting individuals were natural allies.

A bitter inheritance

Critical Race Theory arose as a distinct movement in law schools in the late 1980s. CRT inherited many of its premises and perspectives from its Marxist ancestry.

The pre-CRT Civil Rights Movement had emphasized equal rights and treating people as individuals, as opposed to as members of a racial collective. “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” Martin Luther King famously said.

In contrast, CRT dwells on inequalities of outcome, which it generally attributes to racial power structures. And, as we’ve seen from the government training curricula, modern CRT forthrightly judges white people by the color of their skin, prejudging them as racist by virtue of their race. This race-based “pre-trial guilty verdict” of racism is itself, by definition, racist.

The classical liberal “harmony doctrine” was deeply influential in the movements to abolish all forms of inequality under the law: from feudal serfdom, to race-based slavery, to Jim Crow.

But, with the rise of Critical Race Theory, the cause of racial justice became more influenced by the fixations on conflict, discord, and domination that CRT inherited from Marxism.

Social life was predominantly cast as a zero-sum struggle between collectives: capital vs. labor for Marxism, whites vs. people of color for CRT.

A huge portion of society’s ills were attributed to one particular collective’s diabolical domination: capitalist hegemony for Marxism, white supremacy for CRT.

Just as Marxism demonized capitalists, CRT vilifies white people. Both try to foment resentment, envy, and a victimhood complex among the oppressed class it claims to champion.

Traditional Marxists claimed that all capitalists benefit from the zero-sum exploitation of workers. Similarly, CRT “diversity trainers” require white trainees to admit that they “benefit from racism.”

Traditional Marxists insisted that bourgeois thoughts were inescapably conditioned by “class interest.” In the same way, CRT trainers push the notion that “virtually all White people contribute to racism” as a result of their whiteness.

Given the above, it should be no wonder that CRT has been criticized as “racist” and “divisive.”

Reckoning or retrogression?

Supporters of CRT cast it as a force for good in today’s “rectifying reckoning” over race.

But CRT’s neo-Marxist orientation only damages race relations and harms the interests of those it claims to serve.

In practice, the class war rhetoric of Marxism was divisive and toxic for economic relations. And, far from advancing the interests of the working classes, it led to mass poverty and devastating famines, not to mention staggering inequality between the elites and the masses.

Today, the CRT-informed philosophy, rhetoric, and strategy of the Black Lives Matter organization (whose leadership professed to be “trained Marxists”) is leading to mass riots, looting, vandalism, and assault. The divisive violence has arrested progress for the cause of police reform, destroyed countless black-owned small businesses, and economically devastated many black communities.

Those who truly wish to see racial harmony should dump the neo-Marxists and learn more about classical liberalism. (FEE.org is the perfect place to start.)

So much for CRT being a force for good. Of course, even horrible ideas are protected by the First Amendment. The government should never use force to suppress people from expressing ideas, speech, or theories it dislikes.

Critics insist that President Trump is engaged in this kind of censorship by targeting CRT.

Not so.

No one is banning White Fragility, the blockbuster CRT manifesto. No one is locking up those who preach CRT or ordering mentions of it stripped from the internet.

The memo simply says that taxpayer dollars will no longer be spent promulgating this theory to federal government employees. As heads of the executive branch, presidents have wide latitude to make the rules for federal agencies under their control. Deciding how money is spent certainly falls under their proper discretion—and it is always done with political preferences in mind, one way or the other.

It is not censorship for Trump to eliminate funding for CRT, anymore than it was “censorship” for the Obama administration to choose to tie federal contracts to a business’s embrace of LGBT rights.

Elections have consequences, one of the most obvious being that the president gets to run the executive branch. If we don’t want the president’s political preferences to be so significant in training programs, then we should simply reduce the size of government and the number of bureaucrats.

In the meantime, stripping the federal government of the divisive, toxic, and neo-Marxist ideology of Critical Race Theory is a positive development for the sake of racial justice and harmony.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

COLUMN BY

Dan Sanchez

Dan Sanchez is the Director of Content at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) and the editor-in-chief of FEE.org. He co-hosts the weekly web show FEEcast, serving as the resident “explainer.” … 

Tyler Brandt

Tyler Brandt is a Senior Associate Editor at FEE. He is a graduate of UW-Madison with a B.A. in Political Science. In college, Tyler was a FEE Campus Ambassador, President of his campus YAL chapter, and… 

Brad Polumbo

Brad Polumbo (@Brad_Polumbo) is a libertarian-conservative journalist and the Eugene S. Thorpe Writing Fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education. He was previously a Media and Journalism Fellow at… 

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EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

‘OPEN THE SCHOOLS’: President Trump Calls For Defunding Schools That Remain Shuttered

President Donald Trump demanded that Democrats assist him in re-opening public schools on Thursday, saying schools that remain closed should lose government funding.

Trump has pressed for reopening schools for weeks, making several threats to limit or cut funding altogether if children continue to be forced into distance learning. The main opposition to reopening comes from teachers unions, which consistently align with the Democrats.

Trump first began his push to reopen schools in July, arguing that his Democratic opponents were halting the reopening process for political reasons.

“We have to open our schools. Open our schools. Stop this nonsense,” Trump said Thursday. “It’s only political nonsense. They don’t want to open because they think it will help them on November 3rd. I think it will hurt them on November 3rd.”

Governors across the country ordered schools to close for the final months of the 2019-2020 school year, but states and districts disagree on when classrooms should reopen. The Trump administration released a set of eight recommendations in August for how schools can safely reopen.

The White House recommendations are as follows:

  • Educate teachers and students about the symptoms of COVID-19
  • Require students and teachers to “self-assess” their health each morning
  • Encourage frequent hand washing
  • Minimize large, indoor gatherings
  • Maintain high levels of ventilation in classrooms
  • Require students and teachers to socially distance from “high-risk individuals”
  • Encourage the use of masks
  • Post instructions for hygiene and social distancing around the school

Trump maintains that distanced learning is not an adequate replacement for schooling.

“When you sit at home in a basement looking at a computer, your brain starts to wither away,” Trump said when announcing the recommendations. “We have a lot of good experience at that just by taking a look at what’s happening in politics.”

Trump’s comments echoed those of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which came forward last month to urge state governments to reopen schools in the fall, saying risk of COVID-19 spread among students is low. The group also said dangers of keeping students home and away from learning outweighs the potential risk of spread.

“Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation,” the group said according to U.S. News.

COLUMN BY

ANDERS HAGSTROM

White House correspondent.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved

1776 Initiative Is Helping Turn Civics Education Around

Entrepreneur and civil rights movement veteran Robert L. Woodson Sr. believes that American civics can help save our country—and that’s the mission of 1776, a major initiative launched earlier this year by the Woodson Center, which Woodson founded to give local leaders the training they need to improve their communities.

Featuring essays by notable scholars and writers such as Clarence PageJohn McWhorter, and Carol M. Swain, and eventually a curriculum and multimedia resources, 1776 offers “perspectives that celebrate the progress America has made on delivering its promise of equality and opportunity and highlight the resilience of its people.”

A recipient of the Bradley Price and the Presidential Citizens Medal, Woodson began 1776 to counter The New York Times’ 1619 Project, a series of essays launched a year ago this month with a very different focus: It teaches that America is defined, now and forever, by slavery. As Nikole Hannah-Jones wrote in the 1619 Project’s lead essay: “Anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country.”

In Woodson’s view, the 1619 Project inculcates the “diabolical, self-destructive” idea that “all white Americans are oppressors and all black Americans are victims.”


How are socialists deluding a whole generation? Learn more now >>


“Though slavery and discrimination undeniably are a tragic part of our nation’s history,” Woodson notes, “we have made strides along its long and tortuous journey to realize its promise and abide by its founding principles.”

Woodson continues: “People are motivated to achieve and overcome the challenges that confront them when they learn about inspiring victories that are possible and are not barraged by constant reminders of injuries they have suffered.”

He points to the surprising number “of men and women who were born slaves” but “died as millionaires,” the existence of famous black business districts in cities such as Durham, North Carolina, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the midst of oppression and segregation, and heroes like baseball Hall of Fame slugger Hank Aaron as powerful examples for black uplift.

And it’s a lesson that Woodson knows firsthand.

Born in a low-income Philadelphia neighborhood, he rose up beyond his circumstances through hard work, the support of his family, and a good peer group. He entered the U.S. military, where he flew aircrafts for the space program; attended the University of Pennsylvania; and worked for the American Enterprise Institute, before starting the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise in 1981. (It was rebranded as the Woodson Center in 2016.)

The Woodson Center’s mission is to seek out “individuals and organizations” already present in communities and help them “build their capacities,” in part by helping them “in linking to the resources they need.”

The center has helped more than 22,000 adults reach financial literacy and has trained over 2,600 grassroots leaders in 39 states, helping them “attain more than 10 times the funding expended by the Center.”

Though the center works on the “whole range” of issues associated with the “problems of poverty,” Woodson notes a “particular emphasis on those dealing with youth violence,” since “the restoration of civil order is a necessary foundation for civic health.”

In “The Triumphs of Joseph: How Today’s Community Healers Are Reviving Our Streets and Neighborhoods,” Woodson writes that low-income black communities are “dying from self-inflicted wounds.” He calls it a “moral free-fall,” one that “penetrates beyond all boundaries of race, ethnicity, and income level.”

In light of violent protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, Woodson has been active in print and on television, arguing that though Floyd’s killing was unconscionable, the violent protests that have ensued are “devastating the people in whose name they demand justice.”

Another way the Woodson Center combats civic breakdown is through its Violence Free Zone initiative, which aims to reduce youth violence by providing mentors to young students to “encourage their personal, academic, and career success.” The center reports that this initiative has led to a 50% reduction in crime, a 23% reduction in truancy, and a nearly 10% improvement in both student GPA and graduation rates.

Woodson views the 1619 Project and Black Lives Matter as major contributors to the growing belief that the foundations of America itself must be torn down. Against what he sees as defeatism and a denial of moral agency, Woodson preaches an ethic of self-reliance and personal resilience.

As Woodson sees it, “Nothing is more lethal than a good excuse for failure.”

His vision, a deeply American one, should be heeded by his countrymen of all colors.

Originally published by RealClearEducation

COMMENTARY BY

Mike Sabo, formerly a research assistant for the B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics at The Heritage Foundation, is the editor of Real Clear Public Affairs: American Civics. Twitter: .


A Note for our Readers:

Democratic Socialists say, “America should be more like socialist countries such as Sweden and Denmark.” And millions of young people believe them…

For years, “Democratic Socialists” have been growing a crop of followers that include students and young professionals. America’s future will be in their hands.

How are socialists deluding a whole generation? One of their most effective arguments is that “democratic socialism” is working in Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Norway. They claim these countries are “proof” that socialism will work for America. But they’re wrong. And it’s easy to explain why.

Our friends at The Heritage Foundation just published a new guide that provides three irrefutable facts that debunks these myths. For a limited time, they’re offering it to readers of The Daily Signal for free.

Get your free copy of “Why Democratic Socialists Can’t Legitimately Claim Sweden and Denmark as Success Stories” today and equip yourself with the facts you need to debunk these myths once and for all.

GET YOUR FREE COPY NOW »


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

‘Nice White Parents’ Responsible for Failing Public Schools, New York Times Says

Why does the public education system continue to fail America’s children? Policy experts have pondered this question for decades.

Most say the answer is complicated, requiring a nuanced, collaborative approach.

But not The New York Times. It found the problem, and it’s simple: white parents.

The solution? “Try, whenever possible, to suppress the power of white parents.”


How are socialists deluding a whole generation? Learn more now >>


That quote comes from the Times’ podcast “Nice White Parents,” which chronicles the history of a single public school in New York. Specifically, the host, Chana Joffe-Walt, decides to look into the racial history of this school.

Her first finding: Many parents who advocated for the integration of public schools, specifically this public school, did not end up enrolling their children. Instead, they chose to send their children to established schools with a history of success. This choice—made predominantly by white families—is why the school has struggled, Joffe-Walt says.

She contacts several of these parents to scold them for not sending their children to a worse school to serve the larger cause of public education. Some parents note that although they believed in advancing school integration, they perceived this particular school to struggle academically, noting that many students could not read at grade level.

Joffe-Walt chalks up these criticisms to racism, rather than a genuine observation that the school would be a step backward academically for a student functioning at grade level.

Does she offer concrete policy solutions to fix the underlying academic issues plaguing the school? Of course not. Instead, she perpetuates the myth that parents choosing to exit the public school system leads to underfunded schools.

In reality, schools are not underfunded. Not even close. In fact, since the creation of the Department of Education in 1979, education spending has gone only in one direction: up. Test scores, by contrast, have remained entirely stagnant.

New York spends almost $23,000 per student per year in the public school system—a close second to Washington, D.C., for the highest per-pupil expenditure in the country. That figure also is significantly higher than most private school tuitions. So why are so many schools still failing?

One reason: The public school system is drowning in bureaucracy. And bureaucrats get paid before teachers—and before students get new textbooks.

Ben Scafidi at Kennesaw State University has studied the concept of administrative bloat in the K-12 public education system extensively. He found that between 1950 and 2015, the student population at public schools had grown roughly 100%. During that same time period, teaching staff had grown 243%.

Although that disproportionate growth in the number of teachers compared to the growth in student population is shocking enough, that is hardly his biggest finding. During that same time period, “administrators and other staff” in the public school system grew 709%.

An increase in administrative staff exceeding 700% compared to just a 100% increase in students seems to be a far more likely answer to why heavily funded public schools appear to lack resources than the choices of some parents to seek out the best education options available for their children.

Throughout “Nice White Parents,” Joffe-Walt details examples of parents’ getting involved in the day-to-day operation of the school, and paints this involvement as affront to public schooling.

In Episode 1, for example, she describes how when “white parents” came into the school, many wanted their children to learn French, yet no French classes were offered. The parents formed a committee, held fundraisers, collaborated with administrators, and got their French program.

This is problematic, according to “Nice White Parents,” because a French program strays from the cultural needs of the majority-minority population of the school.

This scenario is exactly why every family needs school choice. There never will be a one-size-fits-all public school system that will offer the foreign language needs and wants of every family, nor other such demands.

The New York Times and the makers of “Nice White Parents” argue that the solution to the different wants and needs of families is to ignore the wishes of parents altogether and let education bureaucrats decide what is best for their children.

School choice proponents, by contrast, believe that every family in America should be empowered to choose an education option that is custom fit for their child’s needs. Through programs such as vouchers or education savings accounts, every family would be financially empowered to make that decision. Students do better when their parents are actively engaged in their education.

A podcast attacking parental autonomy is bad enough. But the fact that The New York Times attacks parents of a particular race for executing their autonomy is worse. “Nice White Parents” isn’t just troubling, it’s wrong, and an affront to American ideals.

Ultimately, this hurts all children because “Nice White Parents” racializes the failure of the public schools, hurting the students who are trapped there and don’t have the resources to flee the public system.

There has got to be some accountability for the failure of the public system. The New York Times’ use of a racist canard to avoid systemic culpability for failing these kids isn’t going to cut it.

COMMENTARY BY

Mary Clare Amselem is a policy analyst in education policy at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: .


A Note for our Readers:

Democratic Socialists say, “America should be more like socialist countries such as Sweden and Denmark.” And millions of young people believe them…

For years, “Democratic Socialists” have been growing a crop of followers that include students and young professionals. America’s future will be in their hands.

How are socialists deluding a whole generation? One of their most effective arguments is that “democratic socialism” is working in Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Norway. They claim these countries are “proof” that socialism will work for America. But they’re wrong. And it’s easy to explain why.

Our friends at The Heritage Foundation just published a new guide that provides three irrefutable facts that debunks these myths. For a limited time, they’re offering it to readers of The Daily Signal for free.

Get your free copy of “Why Democratic Socialists Can’t Legitimately Claim Sweden and Denmark as Success Stories” today and equip yourself with the facts you need to debunk these myths once and for all.

GET YOUR FREE COPY NOW »


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

I’m a Former Teacher. Here’s How Your Children Are Getting Indoctrinated by Leftist Ideology.

Your children are being indoctrinated. The education system designed to teach them how to think critically has been weaponized by the radical left to push an anti-American agenda.

As someone who has worked in education for four years, I have seen firsthand how your children are being ensnared by the left and their teachers.

I worked with kids from ages 3 to 13 and saw the brainwashing that exists at all levels of education. The left uses a combination of propaganda and suppression to push kids into the ensnaring grip of socialism and anti-patriotism.

First is the propaganda. Teachers will assign work instilling the idea that the pillars of Western civilization were evil, and their memories deserve to be thrown in the trash.


How are socialists deluding a whole generation? Learn more now >>


Here’s an example. I was helping one of my elementary school students with a homework assignment about listing famous Britons throughout history. She already had some of the more obvious ones: Shakespeare, Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth.

“Well, how about Winston Churchill?” I recommended.

“Oh no, not him,” she replied. “He was a racist and didn’t think women should have rights. He wasn’t a good guy.”

I was floored. It clearly wasn’t something she came up with on her own. She was just regurgitating propaganda her teacher had taught her. All sense of nuance and critical thinking about the man who saved Europe from the Nazis was gone. Churchill committed “wrongthink,” so in the bin he goes.

Another way the left propagandizes is through the normalization of its views and positions as nonpolitical.

The Black Lives Matter organization is a prime example of this. Many of my colleagues wore Black Lives Matter pins and apparel to school in blatant violation of school rules forbidding political statements on clothing.

When I asked for a justification of the behavior, I was told it wasn’t political to support the group, it was a matter of human rights. The children would see these pins and clothes and connect radical leftist groups with basic human dignity. “How dare you question Black Lives Matter? I was taught this is a matter of human rights!”

But it isn’t just a matter of actively teaching that America and the West are evil. Suppression of “wrongthink” is equally as important to the brainwashing process. The lessons I was allowed to teach also were censored.

I was preparing a lesson on Thanksgiving involving Pilgrims and American Indians, with an activity centered on making paper teepees for arts and crafts. Cue the progressive panic.

Other teachers at the school were incensed that a non-Indian was “appropriating” Native American culture for an activity. Of course, these teachers weren’t Indians either, they just wanted to virtue signal.

The whole thing culminated in a hilarious incident where my colleagues tracked down the one teacher on staff who was one-sixty-fourths Native American and asked her if it was cultural appropriation. In her esteemed authority, it most certainly was. The school administrators pulled me aside and promptly nixed the project.

The suppression extends to American religious values as well. I would try to engage my students with folk stories from around the globe to teach them world history and other cultures.

Story time went on without a hitch until I decided to tell stories from the Bible. Other teachers began to complain I was preaching Christian values to the children and attempting to convert them.

Keep in mind, this wasn’t a problem when I was sharing stories from other ancient cultures throughout history. Stories about ancient India and China were fine and encouraged as “sharing unheard voices.” After sharing the story of the Tower of Babel, I was told to switch back to non-Christian stories or face consequences.

The young adults who today gleefully tear down statues of the Founding Fathers were incubated in our very own schools, groomed to burst from the education system and burn America down.

The left argues the great men and women who built this nation are problematic and must be destroyed. Conservatives must demand an end to the indoctrination of our youth or face a new American public taught since childhood that the country shouldn’t exist.

COMMENTARY BY

Douglas Blair is an administrative assistant at The Heritage Foundation and a graduate of Heritage’s Young Leaders Program.

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A Note for our Readers:

Democratic Socialists say, “America should be more like socialist countries such as Sweden and Denmark.” And millions of young people believe them…

For years, “Democratic Socialists” have been growing a crop of followers that include students and young professionals. America’s future will be in their hands.

How are socialists deluding a whole generation? One of their most effective arguments is that “democratic socialism” is working in Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Norway. They claim these countries are “proof” that socialism will work for America. But they’re wrong. And it’s easy to explain why.

Our friends at The Heritage Foundation just published a new guide that provides three irrefutable facts that debunks these myths. For a limited time, they’re offering it to readers of The Daily Signal for free.

Get your free copy of “Why Democratic Socialists Can’t Legitimately Claim Sweden and Denmark as Success Stories” today and equip yourself with the facts you need to debunk these myths once and for all.

GET YOUR FREE COPY NOW »


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

VIDEO: Vaping in the Classroom

One of the challenges of being a public high school teacher is developing a constant awareness of what is transpiring in my classroom. Even when I conference individually with my student, my eyes and ears are open in a hyper-observant manner that I have cultivated over decades.

Of course, times change, and over those decades, what I’ve needed to pay attention to has evolved– including smoking, it seems.

Now, there’s vaping.

I saw a commercial for vaping in which the advertiser stated that vaping is meant to help smokers who are trying to quit.

Nice try.

As that advertiser was speaking, I was hearing my own high-school-classroom, overlay script:

Vaping makes it easier for teenagers to access nicotine without being detected. Why, they can even vape during class, and many teachers would not even realize it because it would not occur to them to even consider that it could. Oh, yet, and that means we will make a load of money off of teens even as we promote the idea that Smoking Is Bad for Your Health.

Vaping in class– during class! I learned that this was possible only months ago. And part of the problem for many school districts is that they may not have adjusted their smoking policies to include vaping. As any student caught vaping would likely (and quickly) point out, a vape is not a cigarette. That is true. Vaping involves inhaling vaporized nicotine, and the exhale is not nearly as noticeable as that of a cigarette.

img_1409
Vaping in class. (Youtube, 2016)

What complicates detection is that the vaping instrument may look like a flash drive to the untrained eye. (The vaping device may be longer than a flash drive, but not always, I have learned.)

img_1410
A Juul brand vape. (Time)
img_1407
Juul vaping device charging via USB port (looking like an elongated flash drive) (EdWeek)
img_1408
Juul USB port charger (EdWeek)
img_1406

One Juul pod has the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes (EdWeek) and lasts for about 200 puffs (TIME)

According to coverage in a March 2018 article on vaping in TIME, the teen appeal was not part of intentional marketing:

Ashley Gould, chief administrative officer at Juul Labs, says that the product was created by two former smokers specifically and solely to help adult smokers quit, and that the company has numerous anti-youth-use initiatives in place because “we really don’t want kids using our product.” Gould also notes that Juul uses age authentication systems to sell only to adults 21 and older online, though most of its sales take place in retail stores, where state laws may allow anyone 18 and older to purchase the devices.

The design, she adds, was not meant to make the device easier to hide.

“It was absolutely not made to look like a USB port. It was absolutely not made to look discreet, for kids to hide them in school,” Gould says. “It was made to not look like a cigarette, because when smokers stop they don’t want to be reminded of cigarettes.” …

Does Juuling help you quit smoking?

It’s not yet clear. Gould acknowledges that Juul doesn’t have great end-user data since its products are mostly sold in retail stores, but she says the company is actively researching the effectiveness of its devices.

Research about the efficacy of nicotine replacement therapy using tools such as e-cigarettes and nicotine gum is relatively inconclusive. A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine even found that smokers trying to quit may actually have less success if they use e-cigarettes.

Even so, both the vape device and the vape action are easy to hide in plain sight in the public school classroom– all the more reason for school admin, teachers, and staff to educate themselves on the issue.

On July 31, 2018, EdWeek published the following video on vaping (also known as “Juuling,” derived from a brand name, Juul):

Regarding the long-term effects of vaping, not much is known yet because vaping is still relatively new. That noted, common sense dictates that vaping is problematic because nicotine is addictive, and the young person vaping is opening the door to chemical addiction by repeatedly inhaling concentrated nicotine and may well be damaging or otherwise impeding healthy growth and development.

Regarding the effects of vaping, the March 2018 TIME article offers the following:

While e-cigarettes contain fewer toxic substances than traditional cigarettes, the CDC warns that vaping may still expose people to cancer-causing chemicals. (Different brands use different formulations, and the CDC’s warning did not mention Juul specifically.)

It’s not clear exactly how e-cigarettes affect health because there’s little long-term data on the topic, says Dr. Michael Ong, an associate professor of general internal medicine and health services at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles. “We just don’t have a lot of information as to what the harms potentially are going to be,” he says. “There likely would be health risks associated with it, though they’re not going to be the same as a traditional cigarette.”

Doctors do know, however, that each Juul pod contains nicotine equivalent to a pack of cigarettes. That’s troubling, because nicotine is “one of the most addicting substances that we know of,” Ong says. “Having access to that is certainly problematic,” Ong adds, because it may get kids hooked, which could potentially lead them to later take up cigarettes.

Juul’s products come in flavors including mango, fruit medley and creme brûlée — and the chemicals used to flavor vaping liquid may also be dangerous, Ong adds. “Even if the manufacturer doesn’t intend it to be something that’s kid-friendly, it’s kid-friendly,” he says. A 2016 study suggested that these flavoring agents may also cause popcorn lung, a respiratory condition first seen in people working in factories that make microwave popcorn.

There we have it teachers: Vape Detection 101.

Watch out for those flash drives.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by deutsch29 is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Cianna Jolie on Unsplash.

Washington Post Advice Columnist Gets it Right on Irrational Fear of School Shootings

These days the cynical adage “if it bleeds, it leads” seems as applicable to the news media as ever. This is all the more reason that Washington Post advice columnist Carolyn Hax should be applauded for a recent piece where she sought to quell her readers’ out-sized fears about school shootings. Titled, “Apply the empirical method to your school-shooting anxieties,” Hax urged her readers to take a moment to look at the facts about school shootings before succumbing to fear.

In the column, a parent of a kindergartner told Hax, “I am just a wreck every time I see news about a school shooting.” The Parent went on to explain “I know there are daily risks in life (getting in a car, etc.) but I am having a really hard time with the possibility that something fatal could happen to her at school,” and asked “I’d love to hear thoughts on how to deal with this anxiety.”

In the opening of her response, Hax didn’t mince words, writing, “Throw facts at your anxiety, because it is in fact irrational.” Hax explained,

Something fatal can happen to all of us anywhere — and does, eventually — but the likelihood of any U.S. child dying by any cause is very low. When something bad does happen, it is typically accidental; you brush past the “daily risks” but the numbers are much grimmer for that car trip than for any school day. School shootings are more terrifying because they’re outside our daily risk trade-offs — such as, do we stick only to places we can walk, or accept the risk inherent in vehicle travel?

The simple truth is that school shootings are extremely rare.

In another excellent piece published in the Washington Post last March, Harvard Instructor David Ropeik explained just how vanishingly rare such incidents are. Walking readers through the numbers, Ropeik noted,

The Education Department reports that roughly 50 million children attend public schools for roughly 180 days per year. Since Columbine, approximately 200 public school students have been shot to death while school was in session, including the recent slaughter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. (and a shooting in Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday that police called accidental that left one student dead). That means the statistical likelihood of any given public school student being killed by a gun, in school, on any given day since 1999 was roughly 1 in 614,000,000.

As one writer for the New York Times put it, “A school can expect a shooting once every few thousand years.”

Moreover, despite the prevailing news media narrative, school shootings are not becoming more common. In fact, according to research from Northeastern University Professor of Criminology, Law, and Public Policy James Alan Fox, schools are safer than they were in the 1990s.

A February piece for Northeastern.edu that summarized Fox’s work quoted the professor as follows,

Four times the number of children were killed in schools in the early 1990s than today, Fox said. “There is not an epidemic of school shootings,” he said, adding that more kids are killed each year from pool drownings or bicycle accidents.

The trouble many Americans have in accurately evaluating the prevalence and risks of violence extends beyond school shootings. Polling routinely shows that Americans believe crime is worsening, even as it has trended downwards.

Given the obvious difficulty many have in evaluating risk, and much of the news media’s alarmist bent, it is incumbent upon those who have been exposed to the facts to share their knowledge with others. Hax’s call to reason should help some to better understand the realities of school shootings, and in a small way help inject some much needed sanity into the school safety debate.

Some Refreshing Honesty about the Purpose of Mass Schooling in Florida by Kerry McDonald

In case there was any ambiguity over the idea that mass schooling values and rewards conformity and compliance, an elementary school in Florida has made it very clear.

At Deer Park Elementary School in Pasco County, signs appeared this week showing a hierarchy of behaviors from good to bad. “Democracy” was at the top, “Anarchy” was at the bottom. While there are many issues with these posters, beginning with the fact that public schooling is far from democratic, the one causing the most outrage among parents is the desire for children to exhibit “Cooperation/Conformity.”

“Conform! How Orwellian,” one parent wrote on Facebook.

The posters, tied to the school’s “behavior and classroom culture” project modeled after author Marvin Marshall’s Raise Responsibility System of discipline, suggest that a young person who “complies” and “conforms” is a model student. Under relentless pressure from parents and student advocacy organizations, the school indicated they would temporarily remove the posters until they could better communicate their initiative to parents and the public.

These school posters explicitly reveal the troubling reality that mass schooling retains its 19th-century roots as a system of social control. Originally designed to bring order to an increasingly diverse population, the industrial model of mass schooling continues to impose order by encouraging compliance, rewarding conformity and eliminating individuality.

As author and academic, Noam Chomsky, says “the education system is supposed to train people to be obedient, conformist, not think too much, do what you’re told, stay passive…”

In educator John Holt’s bestselling book, How Children Learn, republished this month in honor of its 50th anniversary, Holt writes about the systematic ways schooling destroys children’s natural curiosity and originality:

We like to say that we send children to school to teach them to think. What we do, all too often, is to teach them to think badly, to give up a natural and powerful way of thinking in favor of a method that does not work well for them and that we rarely use ourselves. Worse than that, we convince most of them that, at least in a school setting, or any situation where words or symbols or abstract thought are concerned, they can’t think at all.”

The elementary school posters in Florida are an overt reminder that schooling and learning are strikingly different. Children, especially those young elementary schoolers, have an incredible capacity for creativity, an inherent zest for exploration and discovery, and an insatiable appetite for learning about the world around them. Then they go to school where tactics that encourage conformity and compliance crush their natural learning instincts. At least these posters tell the truth.

Reprinted from Intellectual Takeout.

DeVos Confirmed: Everything They Said about Her Is False by James Agresti

Betsy DeVos has been confirmed as Secretary of Education, but just barely. In the course of the hearings, outrageous claims were made about her views. Most originated from the public school industry itself, which is clinging to old forms for dear life. The result has been nothing but confusion. Let’s look more carefully.

In an op-ed for the New York Times, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) alleges that she is voting against Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education because:

  • DeVos opposes policies that allow “our young people, all of them, to participate in our democracy and compete on a fair footing in the workforce.”
  • DeVos supports “voucher systems that divert taxpayer dollars to private, religious and for-profit schools without requirements for accountability.”
  • “The voucher programs that Ms. DeVos advocates leave out students whose families cannot afford to pay the part of the tuition that the voucher does not cover; the programs also leave behind students with disabilities because the schools do not accommodate their complex needs.”

Each of those claims is belied by concrete facts, and Hassan is guilty of most of the charges she levels at DeVos. Also, Hassan sent her own daughter to a private school, an opportunity that she would deny to other children.

A Fair Footing

Under the current U.S. education system, the quality of students’ schooling is largely determined by their parents’ income. This is because wealthy parents can afford to send their children to private schools and live in neighborhoods with the best public schools. Such options narrow as income declines, and the children of poor families—who are often racial minorities—typically end up in the nation’s worst schools.

Contrary to popular perception, funding is not the primary cause of differences between schools. Since the early 1970s, school districts with large portions of minority students have spent about the same amount per student as districts with fewer minorities. This is shown by studies conducted by the left-leaning Urban Institute, the U.S. Department of Education, Ph.D. economist Derek Neal, and the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Moreover, contrary to the notion that certain minorities are intellectually inferior, empirical and anecdotal evidence suggests that with competent schooling, people of all races can excel. For example, in 2009, Public School 172 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York, had:

  • a mostly Hispanic population.
  • one-third of the students not fluent in English and no bilingual classes.
  • 80% of the students poor enough to qualify for free lunch.
  • lower spending per student than the New York City average.
  • the highest average math score of all fourth graders in New York City, with 99% of the students scoring “advanced.”
  • the top-dozen English scores of all fourth graders in New York City, with 99% of students passing.

These and other such results indicate that school quality plays a major role in student performance. Hassan and other critics of school choice are keenly aware of this, as evidenced by the choices they make for their own children. For example, Obama’s first Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, stated that the primary reason he decided to live in Arlington, Virginia, was so his daughter could attend its public schools. In his words:

That was why we chose where we live, it was the determining factor. That was the most important thing to me. My family has given up so much so that I could have the opportunity to serve; I didn’t want to try to save the country’s children and our educational system and jeopardize my own children’s education.

Duncan’s statement is an admission that public schools in the D.C. area often jeopardize the education of children, but he would not let this happen to his child. Few parents have the choice that Duncan made because most cannot afford to live in places like Arlington, where the annual cash income of the median family is $144,843, the highest of all counties in the United States.

Other prominent opponents of private school choice—like Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Bill Clinton—personally attended and also sent their own children to private K-12 schools. Likewise, Hassan’s daughter attended an elite private high school (Phillips Exeter Academy) where Hassan’s husband was the principal.

The existing U.S. education system does not provide an equal footing for children, but Hassan criticizes DeVos for supporting school choice, which would lessen this inequity. By its very definition, school choice allows parents to select the schools their children attend, an option that Hassan and other affluent people regularly exercise.

Taxpayer Money and Accountability

Four lines of evidence disprove Hassan’s claim that DeVos wants to “divert taxpayer dollars” to non-public schools “without requirements for accountability.”

First, private school choice generally increases public school spending per student, which is the primary measure of education funding. As explained by Stephen Cornman, a statistician with the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, per-pupil spending is “the gold standard in school finance.”

Private school choice programs boost per-student funding in public schools because the public schools no longer educate the students who go to the private schools, which typically spend much less per student than public schools. This leaves additional funding for the students who remain in public schools.

According to the latest available data, the average spending per student in private K-12 schools during the 2011-12 school year was about $6,762. In the same year, the average spending per student in public schools was $13,398, or about twice as much. These figures exclude state administration spending, unfunded pension liabilities, and post-employment benefits like healthcare—all of which are common in public schools and rare in private ones.

Certain school costs like building maintenance are fixed in the short term, and thus, the savings of educating fewer students occurs in steps. This means that private school choice can temporarily decrease the funding per student in some public schools, but this is brief and slight because only 8% of public school spending is for operations and maintenance.

Second, school choice provides the most direct form of accountability, which is accountability to students and parents. With school choice, if parents are unhappy with any school, they have the ability to send their children to other schools. This means that every school is accountable to every parent.Under the current public education system, schools are accountable to government officials, not students and parents. Again, Hassan knows this, because her son has severe disabilities, and Hassan used her influence as a lawyer to get her son’s public elementary school to “accommodate his needs.”

Unlike Hassan, people without a law degree, extra time on their hands, or ample financial resources are at the mercy of politicians and government employees. Short of legal action or changing an election outcome, most children and parents are stuck with their public schools, regardless of whether they are effective or safe. That is precisely the situation that DeVos would like to fix through school choice, but Hassan talks as if DeVos were trying to do the opposite.

Third, taxpayer funds are commonly used for private schools, and Hassan actually wants more of this. Her campaign website states that she “will fight to expand Pell Grants” but fails to reveal that these are often used for private colleges like, for example, Brown University, the Ivy League school that she, her husband, and her daughter attended (disclosure: so did this author).

In other words, Hassan supports using taxpayer money for top students to attend elite private universities, but she opposes the same opportunity for poor students to attend private K-12 schools.

Hassan’s position on college aid also undercuts her objection that DeVos supports programs that “leave out students whose families cannot afford to pay the part of the tuition that the voucher does not cover.” If that were truly Hassan’s objection, she would also oppose aid that doesn’t cover the full costs of every college, because that would leave out students who can’t pay the rest of the tuition.

Fourth, contrary to Hassan’s rhetoric about accountability to taxpayers, she supports current spending levels in public K-12 schools, “debt-free public college for all,” and expanding “early childhood education” in spite of the facts that:

  • the U.S. spends an average of 31% more per K-12 student than other developed nations, but 15-year olds in the U.S. rank 31st among 35 nations in math.
  • federal, state, and local governments spend about $900 billion per year on formal education, but only 18% of U.S. residents aged 16 and older can correctly answer a word problem requiring the ability to search text, interpret it, and calculate using multiplication and division.
  • the average spending per public school classroom is $286,000 per year, but only 26% of the high school students who take the ACT exam meet its college readiness benchmarks in all four subjects (English, reading, math, and science).
  • federal, state and local governments spend $173 billion per year on higher education, but 80% of first-time, full-time students who enroll in a public community college do not receive a degree from the college within 150% of the normal time required to do so.
  • 4-year public colleges spend an average of $40,033 per year for each full-time student, but one-third of students who graduate from 4-year colleges don’t improve their “critical thinking, analytical reasoning, problem-solving, and writing” skills by more than one percentage point over their entire college careers.
  • the federal government funds dozens of preschool programs, and the largest —Head Start—spends an average of $8,772 per child per year, but it produces no measurable benefit by the time students reach 3rd grade.

In sum, Hassan supports pumping taxpayer money into programs with high costs and substandard outcomes, but she opposes doing the same for private K–12 schools that produce better outcomes with far less cost.

Left Behind?

Hassan’s claim that private school choice programs “leave behind students with disabilities because the schools do not accommodate their complex needs” is also false.

In Northern and Central New Jersey, there are more than 30 private special education schools that are approved by the state. As far as parents are concerned, these schools serve the needs of their children better than the public schools in their areas. If this were not the case, these private schools would not exist.

More importantly, if parents don’t think that a private school will be best for their special needs child, school choice allows them to keep the child in a public school that is better-funded thanks to the money saved by school choice.

In a recent brief to the Nevada Supreme Court, the nation’s largest teachers’ union, and its state affiliate argue that free-market voucher programs will lead to “cream-skimming—the drawing away of the most advantaged students to private schools––and lead to a highly stratified system of education.”

As detailed above, the current public school system is highly stratified by income, and income and education go hand in hand. Hence, the real issue is not stratification but what happens to students who stay in public schools. Contrary to the belief that school choice will harm these students, a mass of evidence shows the opposite.

At least 21 high-quality studies have been performed on the academic outcomes of students who remain in public schools that are subject to school choice programs. All but one found neutral-to-positive results, and none found negative results. This is consistent with the theory that school choice stimulates competition that induces public schools to improve.

Who Wins and Who Loses?

Wide-ranging facts prove that school choice is a win for students, parents, and taxpayers. However, it financially harms teachers unions by depriving them of dues, because private schools are less likely to have unions than public ones.

In turn, this financially harms Democratic politicians, political action committees, and related organizations, which have received about $200 million in reported donations from the two largest teachers’ unions since 1990. Unions also give many unreported donations to Democratic Party causes.

Teachers’ unions are firmly opposed to private school choice, and the National Education Association has sent an open letter to Democrats stating that “opposition to vouchers is a top priority for NEA.”

So why does Hassan oppose giving other children opportunities that she gave to her own children? Motives are difficult to divine, but the reasons she gave in her op-ed are at odds with verifiable facts and her own actions.

James Agresti

James Agresti

James D. Agresti is the president of Just Facts, a nonprofit institute dedicated to publishing verifiable facts about public policy.

RELATED ARTICLE: Bill to Shut U.S. Education Department Introduced in Congress

Government Shouldn’t Decide Who Uses Which Bathroom by Doug Bandow

There’s Simply No Single Right Answer.

The North Carolina legislature voted in March to require that people use the bathroom designated for their biological sex. The state was criticized for violating gay and transgender rights. The Obama administration may cut federal education, housing, and transportation aid to North Carolina in response.

Bathroom use has been an issue in other states, including Illinois, Texas, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Kansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, and South Dakota. Legislation proposed and passed differs by state on how to define gender — ranging from chromosomes to birth certificate to anatomical sex. Obviously, people can’t change their chromosomes. They can, however, change their gender identity and its associated physical traits, which is where the controversy begins.

The president’s position appears to be that people have a legal right to use the bathroom of their choice, regardless of their gender, however defined. With the club of federal funding, he is attempting to socially engineer America.

This is central planning run riot.

Good people should approach anyone in the midst of gender change with humility and compassion. For most of us, it is unimaginable what would cause someone to desire to shift genders. It is a personal issue of the most profound nature. It shouldn’t be debated and decided in the public square.

And politicians aren’t doing a good job addressing the question. It may not make sense to most people for someone who looks like a guy to use the ladies room, however he sees himself, but neither does it seem right to force someone who looks like a guy to use the ladies room because he was born female. And it certainly makes no sense to let one person or group of people force everyone else to comply with their preference, even when that group is a majority of voters.

Bathroom use shouldn’t be a question for bureaucrats, politicians, lawyers, or judges to answer.

Who should use which bathroom? If it’s in your home, you decide. Likewise, a private company or other private organization should set the rules for its building. What does the owner want? What do customers or members prefer? What is the best way to balance competing interests given the community’s dominant moral sense?

Most people in most places probably believe that people should use the bathroom that matches their physical characteristics, whether changed or not. And we know from the current debate that many (if not most) people prefer not to share a bathroom with someone who appears to be of the other sex, irrespective of the gender with which he or she identifies.

However, one can imagine a “progressive” individual, business owner, or group deciding otherwise. And whether that decision reflected special solicitude for vulnerable individuals or a desire to shape public attitudes, it would be no cause for complaint.

There’s simply no single right answer — and no justification for government to intervene in such intimate, private decisions.

What about bathrooms in public facilities, such as a government office, school, airport, or military base? These are all theoretically “owned” by everyone. Everyone has a stake in the issue — and thus a “right” of some sort — but there’s no accepted, overarching principle that determines with whom you must share a bathroom. A local majority may need to rule in such cases, but someone will always be unhappy with the result, especially if the relevant decision-makers are far away, protected from the consequences.

For Washington pols to insist that, say, teenage girls in a small town in downstate Illinois accept as a bathroom mate a child who appears to be a boy is an act of extraordinary chutzpah. The girls’ refusal to do so does not necessarily reflect malevolent discrimination; it may simply be an understandable reaction to basic biology. Politicians have no right to impose their particular agenda.

Of course, differing opinions don’t justify ignoring the interests of those in the midst of gender change, whether it involves surgery or not. Access to a bathroom is critical for almost everything people do — going to school, working outside your home, going shopping, and traveling. Some kind of accommodation should be made. But what kind?

Again, there’s no single solution that fits every public establishment, let alone private entity, across the country. Larger buildings could offer more options, such as separate bathrooms, like family-friendly single facilities. Communities and student bodies differ in attitudes and openness. Even those who are transgender may desire different outcomes in different circumstances.

Most important, all participants need to demonstrate understanding and sensitivity. No one of goodwill wants to add to the distress of someone changing gender. At the same time, those going through the process should not try to use government to impose their preference on schoolmates, neighbors, coworkers, and others. People should look for alternatives and compromises to work it out. Compromise, compassion, private property rights, and decentralized decision-making are enough to resolve this issue.

Politicians already control education, manage health care, provide social services, and underwrite businesses — and now they even decide who should use which bathroom. It’s time to return life’s most important decisions to the people. A good place to start would be keeping government out of our bathrooms.

Doug BandowDoug Bandow

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and the author of a number of books on economics and politics. He writes regularly on military non-interventionism.

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Three reasons why Trump’s support of transgender bathrooms is wrong

EDITORS NOTE: Congressman Vern Buchanan (FL-District 16) did an email survey of constituents on the issue of transgender bathrooms. Here is the question and responses as of May 16th, 2016:

Do you support the new Obama administration directive requiring all public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice?
  • Strongly support
 23.16%
  • Somewhat support
  8.39%
  • Somewhat oppose
  5.59%
  • Strongly oppose
 62.84%

What will happen when a Muslim girl showers with a male who thinks he’s a girl?

After all, you have to laugh sometimes! Our reader domstudent11 posed this little query which demonstrates so hilariously how the Left will tie itself into knots with its political correctness nonsense!

From domstudent11:

restroom sign

Here’s what baffles me: at the same time that Obama is suing North Carolina for it’s “bathroom” law and trying to bully schools into mingling boys and girls in bathrooms and locker rooms, he is “importing” thousands of Muslims who would find it permissible to attack a non-relative male seen with any of their women.

What does he think will happen when Muslim girls are forced to shower with males who “think” they are female?

What does he think will happen when a Muslim husband sees a man (who “feels” like a woman) following his wife into a public restroom?

The only solution I can see is that public facilities and schools will be expected to provide an additional bathroom/locker room for Muslim girls only. Muslim boys would be free, of course, to share the facilities with infidel girls (if they are feeling like girls on any given day). Fair isn’t it?  Other suggestions?

This post is archived in our ‘Comments worth noting’ category, here.

Afterthought: Where is the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Obama’s bathroom policy?

RELATED CARTOON: 

liberal logis gays mulim islamophobia graphic

EDITORS NOTE: Here are passages from the Qur’an and Hadith on sodomy:

“Do you approach males among the worlds. And leave what your Lord has created for you as mates? But you are a people transgressing.” They said, “If you do not desist, O Lot, you will surely be of those evicted.” He said, “Indeed, I am, toward your deed, of those who detest [it].” — Quran, Sura 26 (Ash-Shu’ara), 165-168

And [mention] Lot, when he said to his people, “Do you commit immorality while you are seeing? Do you indeed approach men with desire instead of women? Rather, you are a people behaving ignorantly.” — Quran, Sura 27 (An-Naml), 54-55

“If you find someone doing the deed of the people of Lot, then execute the doer and the one to whom it was done.” reported by Ibn Abbas, Book of Legal Punishment, Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Book 17, Hadith 40 [Number 1456], Hasan.

Those who commit unlawful sexual intercourse of your women – bring against them four [witnesses] from among you. And if they testify, confine the guilty women to houses until death takes them or Allah ordains for them [another] way. And the two who commit it among you, dishonor them both. But if they repent and correct themselves, leave them alone. Indeed, Allah is ever Accepting of repentance and Merciful. — Quran, Sura 4 (An-Nisa), 15-16

Here are passages from the Qur’an on the roles of men and women:

Quran (4:34)“Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them.”

Quran (2:228)“and the men are a degree above them”

Quran (33:59)“Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them…” Men determine how women dress.

Quran (33:33)“And abide quietly in your homes…” Women are confined to their homes except when they have permission to go out.

Quran (2:223)“Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will.” Wives are to be sexually available to their husbands in all ways at all times. They serve their husbands at his command. This verse is believed to refer to anal sex (see Bukhari 60:51), and was “revealed” when women complained to Muhammad about the practice. The phrase “when and how you will” means that they lost their case.

Quran (66:5)“Maybe, his Lord, if he divorce you, will give him in your place wives better than you, submissive, faithful, obedient, penitent, adorers, fasters, widows and virgins” A disobedient wife can be replaced.

We Pay Millions to ‘Ghost Teachers’ Who Don’t Teach by Jason Bedrick

The Philadelphia school district is in a near-constant state of financial crisis. There are many factors contributing to this sorry state — particularly its governance structure — but it is compounded by fiscal mismanagement. One particularly egregious example is paying six-figure salaries to the tune of $1.5 million a year to “ghost teachers” that do not teach. Pennsylvania Watchdog explains:

As part of the contract with the School District of Philadelphia, the local teachers union is permitted to take up to 63 teachers out of the classroom to work full-time for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. The practice, known as “release time” or “official time,” allows public school teachers to leave the classroom and continue to earn a public salary, benefits, pension and seniority.

These so-called ghost teachers perform a variety of jobs for the PFT, serving as either information officers for other teachers or carrying out the union’s political agenda.

“Teachers should be paid to teach,” attorney Kara Sweigart, who is arguing ghost teacher lawsuits for the Fairness Center, a free legal service for employees who feel they’ve been wronged by their unions, told Watchdog.

“At a time when school districts are hurting financially, districts should be devoting every tax dollar to support students,” she said, “not to pay the salaries of employees of a private political organization.”

According to public salary data available through Philadelphia city agencies, the school district is paying 16 ghost teachers $1.5 million this year. All of them are making at least $81,000.

PFT Vice President Arlene Kempin, who has been on release time since 1983, is among the highest paid at $108,062. Union head Jerry Jordan, who has also been on release time for more than 30 years, is earning $81,245, according to district payroll logs. The 16 ghost teachers on the books this year are making an average salary of almost $98,000.

The “ghost teacher” phenomenon is far from unique to Philly or even the education sector. Such “release time” subsidies for ghost teachers, policemen, firefighters, and bureaucrats of all stripes are common features of public-sector union contracts nationwide. Last month, a Yankee Institute report found that Connecticut provided unions with $4.1 million to subsidize 121,000 hours union-related activities, “the equivalent of more than a year’s worth of work for 50 full-time employees.” Meanwhile, the Goldwater Institute in Arizona is in the midst of a lawsuit against the city of Phoenix for unconstitutionally providing millions of dollars in release-time subsidies.

According to the most recent report from the federal Office of Personnel Management, the federal government paid more than $157 million in 2012 for federal employees to work for their unions for a total of 3,439,449 hours. And those are just the direct costs.

In his book, Understanding the Teacher Union Contract: A Citizen’s Handbook, former teacher union negotiator Myron Lieberman explained how difficult it is to account for the full amount of subsidies that taxpayers provide to the unions:

Most school board members are not aware of the magnitude of these subsidies. In school district budgets, the subsidies are never grouped together under the heading “Subsidies to the Union.” Instead, the subsidies are included in school district budgets under a variety of headings that may or may not refer to the union…

School districts pay for these subsidies from a variety of line items in the district budget: payments to substitute teachers, teacher salaries, and pension contributions, among others.

In most situations, the union subsidy is lumped together with other expenses paid for under the same line item; for example, the costs of hiring substitutes for teachers who are on released time for union business may be included in a budget line for substitutes that also covers substitutes for other reasons, such as replacing teachers on sick leave, personal leave, maternity/paternity leave, and so on.

Taxpayer dollars allocated for education should be spent on items and activities that assist student learning, not to promote the interests of private organizations (especially when their interests often collide with the interests of students). Union work should be paid out of funds the unions collect through dues and donations, not funds expropriated from unwilling and unwitting taxpayers.

Cross-posted from Cato.org.

Jason Bedrick

Jason Bedrick

Jason Bedrick is a policy analyst with the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom.

Why Schools Don’t Learn by Kevin Currie-Knight

The last 100 years have seen drastic technological innovations — from the way we communicate to the way we travel to the way we consume entertainment. One thing that hasn’t changed is the way we do school. Teacher, chalkboard, lesson, test, move up a grade, repeat.

Maybe the best argument for school choice is that we have no idea what kind of innovations could improve education until we allow radical competition. After all, if government ran the entertainment industry, we might still be watching black and white movies and listening to phonograph records. Instead, we stream films and songs online through a galaxy of services from Netflix and Hulu to Pandora and Spotify.

Where We Are

Think about how many features of our existing education system are wrongly treated as inevitable:

  1. Students are segregated by age. This means that all students have the same amount of time to learn a certain amount of stuff in nth grade before we test them to see if they can move to grade n + 1.
  2. We divide our school curricula into discrete subjects: math, science, language, history, arts, physical education, and so on. Students learn the math required to do science in math class and read about history in history class but read literature in English class.
  3. The school day starts in the early morning and runs until mid-afternoon, and the school year is a fairly big chunk of 175 to 180 days (with a few small breaks) followed by a two- to three-month summer break.

These are just three routine features of school that we barely notice, let alone question.

Once we do question them, alternatives quickly come to mind. One could imagine, for instance, a school that didn’t teach math, science, and history as separate disciplines but found creative ways to teach them in combination — or schools that aren’t automatically structured by age.

School choice allows schools to experiment with different curricula and teaching approaches, but it also allows them to experiment by modifying some of those features that we often take for granted but probably shouldn’t.

How We Got Here

To fully appreciate the need for experimentation in educational spaces, let me introduce two terms, one from behavioral psychology, the other from economics. The first is status quo bias, which sounds like what it means. Behavioral psychologists have discovered in people a marked (often unconscious and uncritical) acceptance of the way things are. When we experience the world a certain way, we often become attached to that way without even realizing our attachment. Of course students are divided into grades based roughly on age. Of course we teach science and history in different classes.

The second term, from political science, is path dependence. Path dependence is the idea that certain things come to be the way they are because past decisions affect the range of available subsequent choices. Picture a business spending lots of money on a certain software program that everyone at the company learns. The business and employees will become so invested in the current program that it will be hard to switch to a different one later. Even if a much better program comes along, the cost of switching may become prohibitively high, so the company will stick with what it knows.

Path dependence caused the unquestioned features of our education system to evolve the way they did. Why are schools open in fall, winter, and spring but closed during summer? The myth is that this schedule has to do with the days when kids were expected to work on farms, but really the shape of the school calendar is a vestige of the pre-air-conditioning era.

With widespread air conditioning, why do we continue to adjourn for summers? Because we have structured so much of our social fabric on the idea that kids and teachers have summers off. Theme parks, summer vacation destinations, and other business interests depend on kids having summer breaks. Parents plan for their children to be off during the summer. Summer break has a cultural inertia akin to a company’s commitment to legacy software. Once we get used to schooling done a certain way, we come to think of that as how school should be done, which ensures that even things like summer break continue well past their usefulness. That’s path dependence.

Status quo bias factors in when we become so used to schools having a summer break (or operating from early morning to mid-afternoon, Monday through Friday) that we fail to think of this system as anything but the way it has to be.

The Way Forward

Surpassing the educational equivalent of legacy software is precisely what makes school choice important. Competition allows some people to experiment with different ways of doing things while others can stick with what’s familiar. Markets also disrupt the kind of lock-in that path dependence often creates. While it may be costly for our imagined business to switch to the new software, other businesses may find it easier, and the market will help decide which decision was wiser.

One could object, of course, that new alternative schools — with their different schedules of operation or different approaches to curricula — will get things wrong, to the detriment of students. Yes, some schools will try what ultimately fails. But unlike big centralized bureaucracies, businesses learn quickly from their failures and adapt — or they go broke. Contrast that process to the time it takes for government to abandon a program everyone knows isn’t working.

Unless you think the current school system is doing fine, the only way forward is through innovation, and innovation requires the sort of experimentation that happens naturally in the free market.

Kevin Currie-KnightKevin Currie-Knight

Kevin Currie-Knight teaches in East Carolina University’s Department of Special Education, Foundations, and Research. His website is KevinCK.net. He is a member of the FEE Faculty Network.

If your school allows ‘Day of Silence’, keep your child home this Friday

On Friday, April 15, high schools (and many middle schools) across the country will be hosting the LGBT movement’s annual “Day of Silence.”

During this all-day event, student activists and even school officials encourage students to be silent for the entire day as a sign of solidarity with the international LGBT movement. Students are encouraged to wear special pro-homosexual badges, stickers, and bracelets – which are often handed out at the school entrances that day. There are also pro-LGBT posters in the hallways, handouts, and even workshops.

Although the adult activists claim that the “Day of Silence” is put together by “students,” it is in fact organized behind the scenes by adults with the enthusiastic cooperation of school officials. They use materials and instructions from a national homosexual activist group.

Parents must. Please join the national effort to restore to public education a proper understanding of the role of government-subsidized schools.

You can actively oppose this hijacking of the classroom for political purposes and help de-politicize the learning environment by calling your child out of school if your child’s school allows students to remain silent during instructional time on the “Day of Silence.”

If students will be permitted to remain silent, parents can express their opposition most effectively by calling their children out of school on the “Day of Silence” and sending letters of explanation to their administrators, their children’s teachers, and all school board members.

TAKE ACTION

1.  Call your local schools and ask whether they permit students or teachers to remain silent in the classroom on “Day of Silence.” IMPORTANT: Do not ask any administrator, school board member, or teacher if the school sponsors, endorses, or supports DOS. Schools do not technically sponsor the Day of Silence. Technically, it is students, often students in the gay-straight alliance, who sponsor it. Many administrators will tell you that they do not sponsor the DOS when, in fact, they do permit students and sometimes even teachers to remain silent during instructional time. Also ask administrators whether they permit teachers to create lesson plans to accommodate student silence.

2.  Find out what date the event is planned for your school. (The national date in 2016 is Friday, April 15, but some schools observe DOS on a different date).

3.  Inform the school of your intention to keep your children home on that date and explain why.

Visit www.doswalkout.net for complete information on opposing the “Day of Silence.”

RELATED ARTICLES:

Tennessee School Board stands up to LGBT pressure — protects students from high school “gay” club.

Missouri Attempts to Send Religious Liberty Bill Straight to the People

Mississippi Is on the Right Side of History

Big Sports Benches People of Faith

VIDEO: Terrorists and Their Textbooks

What do the Boston Bombers have to do with a Holt McDougal textbook titled “Modern World History: Patterns of Interaction” used in their high school?

This brief film illustrates how Islam-biased content in K-12 history and geography textbooks can indoctrinate and radicalize our children, causing some of them to evolve into homegrown terrorists. By quietly getting major textbook publishers to include language that enhances Islam, while demeaning Christianity and Judaism, Islamists are attempting to win the hearts and minds of America’s middle- and high-school students.

In the film, Citizens for National Security (CFNS) connects the dots between our country’s classrooms and acts of terrorism.

RELATED ARTICLE: Dealing with Terrorism without Falling into its Trap