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How Bad is the Neo-Antisemitism on American Campuses?

Our review of the Americans for Peace and Tolerance documentary, Hates Spaces:  The Politics of Intolerance on American Campuses raised the question of how extensive is the problem of the New Antisemitism. Moreover with the recent US abstention on UN Security Council  adoption of Resolution  2334 how might  the strident  anti-Zionism  messages exacerbate the problems  of Anti-Israelism, Antisemitism  and  Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on American university campuses.

We saw in our review of Hate Spaces that hate mongering of Israel and Jewish students has been fostered by Palestinian and Muslim Brotherhood groups connected to the US designated terrorist organization Hamas, Muslim Students Association  (MSA) and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). They have been abetted by progressive academic associations and even anti-Zionist groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and J Street that alleges it is “pro-peace, pro-Israel.”

Moreover, administrations at many higher education institutions are caught in the dilemma of trying to prevent disruption and threats to Jewish and non-Jewish students  by the abuse of traditional academic freedom and free speech standards. Further, as we shall see adoption of state and even federal standards of what constitutes Anti-Zionism  as Anti-Semitism have failed  to  stop the  atmosphere of intolerance on  American campuses.   That may result in draconian measures possibly violating Supreme Court rulings on so-called ‘protected speech’.  This article will provide   background that  might determine how much worse  the hostile environment  could  become  for  Jewish students on  many  American campuses and  the seeming  difficulty  in the academy to alleviate it.

Spike in Israel Hate and Antisemitism across U.S. College Campuses

AMCHA Initiative, the leading NGO focused on campus Antisemitism, in a recent report identified more than 600 incidents at the top 100 American campuses; an increase of 45 percent over the same period in 2015.  AMCHA was co-founded in 2011 by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin , a Hebrew  Language lecturer at the University of  California Santa Cruz and  UCLA professor emeritus Leila Beckwith “ to investigate, document, educate about, and combat Antisemitism at institutions of higher education in the United States.”  AMCHA, “Hebrew for ‘your people’, sought to adopt protocols for defining as discriminatory anti-Zionism as Antisemitism.  The AMCHA report attributed this increase to:

The suppression of Jewish students’ freedom of speech and assembly doubled, while calls for Israel’s elimination tripled. The calls and acts opposing Israel’s right to exist were found to be highly correlated with behavior that targeted Jewish students for harm.amcha-logo

Underlying this spike in campus Antisemitic intolerance, she said was:

The presence of three factors — anti-Zionist student groups; faculty who support boycotts of Israel; and pro-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activity — are “each strong predictors of anti-Jewish hostility.”

The target Rossman – Benjamin says is: “Jewish students …whether they actually support Israel or not. Their support is presumed just based on the fact that they are Jewish.”

The 50 Worst Universities for Jewish Students

A Brandeis University report released in October 2016 identified the top 50 American University “hotspots”. Among the top 10 were Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, Northwestern University, and the several University of California campuses at Irvine, Los Angeles, Berkeley and Davis. Here are examples of Israel hatred and Antisemitism cited by Jewish students:

Rutgers University in New Jersey

Members of the SJP “stood in front of the dining hall wearing white shirts with red ‘blood’ splattered across them. They had signs saying ‘this is what the Jews did to us.’ I felt extremely harassed; even though it was not personally directed at me, when I stood there I saw complete hatred that they had to all of the Jews walking by. There were even some people, a part of SJP, shouting profanities and giving the middle finger to the Jews that were just standing next to them.”

Northeastern University

A junior said campus life became “unsafe” when “a group on campus put eviction notices on the dorm room doors of Jewish people.” The incident, and others like it, was reported in the press to be the work of SJP members.

Ohio State

A woman student opened her door “to see my next-door neighbor drawing a swastika on my door.”

The special case of the University of California at Irvine

Perhaps the worst case of anti–Israel and Jewish hatred has occurred on the University of California at Irvine over the past decade. Unfortunately, it had been abetted by the former head of the local Orange County Jewish Federation.  An affiliate foundation of the Federation financed a program called the Olive Tree Initiative that brought students in a supposed ‘accidental’ contact with a Hamas Palestinian legislative leader in 2009 in the west bank. Local Orange County Jewish community activists found themselves under attack creating counter marches during MSU Israeli Apartheid Awareness Weeks that featuring notoriously Antisemitic speakers like Malik Ali.

In February 2010, MSU students from both UC Irvine and UC Riverside disrupted a speech being given by former Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren. That brought charges by the Orange County District Attorney against 11 MSU members of heckling under California laws. The trial resulted in convictions of 10 MSU members and a year’s suspension by the university, subsequently reduced to one term.

Over the past six years we have written and interviewed Jewish students at UC Irvine regarding MSU/SJP disruption of campus Israeli Independence Day events. On May 18, 2016, another disruption by the SJP chapter, Jewish Voice for Peace and Black Student groups occurred at UC Irvine. They were objecting to a showing of an Israeli film, “Behind the Helmet” about IDF soldiers, two of whom were present, at an event sponsored by Students Supporting Israel. The SJP –led protesters blockaded the exit, verbally assaulted the audience with anti-Israel and Antisemitic epithets that required campus police to escort attendees from the SSI event.  Chancellor Gilman released a statement condemning the SJP-led disruption:

A group of protesters reportedly disrupted the event, blocking exit paths. Participants feared for their safety, calling on our police force for assistance. While this university will protect freedom of speech, that right is not absolute. As I mentioned in a campus message at the beginning of the academic year (freespeech.uci.edu), threats, harassment, incitement and defamatory speech are not protected. We must shelter everyone’s right to speak freely – without fear or intimidation – and allow events to proceed without disruption and potential danger.

He referred the matter to the office of the Orange County District Attorney for review of  campus police incident reports and statements of eyewitnesses that found no basis for criminal charges.

Notwithstanding in August 2016, the UC Irvine Office of Student Conduct found that the SJP chapter violated university policy. A  Los Angeles Times  August 18, 2016  report noted “university policy prohibits “obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary procedures or other university activities.”  The SJP chapter at UC Irvine will be required to undertake a so-called “power meeting” on conduct of protests.  An UC Irvine spokesperson Cathy Lawson said:

The program is designed to help SJP members “better understand how to host constructive events and protests if they want to protest and add to the conversation, rather than detract from it.” The written warning, she said, puts SJP on notice through March 2017 that its behavior is under increased scrutiny and that another violation could lead to harsher consequences.

Office of Student Conduct head Parham noted in an email:  “We support and defend groups exercising free speech and assembly, yet we must protect everyone’s right to express themselves without disruption. This is a bedrock principle of our university.”

amcha-coalition-at-the-university-of-california-board-of-regents

AMCHA coalition at the University of California Board of Regents, March 23, 2016.

So what’s being done about the problem?

On March 23, 2016, AMCHA co-founder, Tammi  Rossman-Benjamin,  backed by Jewish community leaders ,  was successful  in having the Regents of the California University System adopt hate speech standards, specifically addressing the various forms of  campus  Antisemitism.   Leaders and Representatives included AMCHA Initiative, Bruins for Israel, Iranian American Jewish Federation, Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, Simon Wiesenthal Center, StandWithUs, Students Supporting Israel at UCLA, Zionist Organization of America, UC Students, UC Professors, and concerned UC Alumni testified at the UC Regents Meeting.  Rossman-Benjamin in a statement wrote:

The vote, with the inclusion of the condemnation of Antisemitic forms of anti-Zionism, represents a new direction in administration addressing modern Antisemitism.  We are incredibly proud of this achievement. It was a challenging journey to arrive at this point, one that required the persistence of AMCHA, our extraordinary at-will coalition partners, students, activists, alumni and supporters.

The Board of Regents adopted an anti-discrimination protocol that included “anti-Zionism” such as BDS, as long as the matter was deemed “Antisemitic”.

The reality following this remarkable achievement in California was that the MSA and SJP were allowed to carry out their annual Israel Apartheid Awareness and anti-BDS campaigns on university system campuses, including the May 18, 2016 disruption at UC Irvine.

Swastika vandalism breaks out on campuses after Presidential Election

Following the electoral victory of Donald Trump there was a spike of Antisemitic Swastika vandalism on college campuses across America reported by The Algemeiner:

At Northwestern University in Illinois, two anti-Trump freshmen — one of them Jewish — spray-painted a swastika, images portraying genitals and anti-gay and racist slurs, alongside the president-elect’s name, on the wall of a non-denominational campus chapel.

At the University of Mississippi, a swastika was found in a residence hall elevator. According to a report in the student newspaper The Daily Mississippian, it was the “fourth instance [on campus] since Election Day.”

At the American University in Washington, DC, a swastika next to the phrase “Go Trump” was discovered on a classroom wall. According to the student newspaper The Eagle, students later modified it to look like an octagon, and changed the words to “Go Drumpf,” adding the words “peace” and “love” to the graffiti. The incident came on the heels of an anti-Trump protest on campus, during which students burned American flags.

At Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania, a Star of David with a swastika drawn in its center was found in a classroom.

In Indiana, a swastika was discovered drawn on a dry erase board hanging outside of a dorm room door at Earlham College. “This act was completely reprehensible and totally unacceptable,” the school’s president said in a statement.

In Oregon, Reed College students found Antisemitic, racist and homophobic graffiti — such as a swastika surrounded by a circle alongside the phrase “White is right” — on the wall of a bathroom at the school’s library.

That prompted Aviva Slomish, International Campus Director for Boston-based Middle East Media watchdog CAMERA to call on university officials to “denounce these episodes and thoroughly investigate and punish the offenders.”

In early December 2016, a Rutgers Jewish student, Avi Kulich was interviewed by The Tab about the continuing threats on the New Jersey campus in the wake of this swastika vandalism.  His comments underline the increasingly hostile campus environment towards Israel and Jews graphically portrayed in Hate Spaces:

Students for Justice for Palestine are pretty big on campus. And at virtually every left-wing protest Israel manages to get mentioned somehow.

I think they see Jews as both benefiting from white privilege and as complicit in so-called Palestinian ‘suffering.’ Most of this is based on misinformation and lies and they have no issue supporting groups like Hamas that expressly call for extermination of Jews.

People like to pretend they’re just ‘anti-Zionist’ and not ‘Antisemitic,’ but Israel is a Jewish state and Zionism is the effort to have a Jewish state in their ancestral homeland.

[…]

It’s blatant Antisemitic blood libel. Most anti-Israel rhetoric is tinged with Antisemitism.

Abusing Free Speech – the Dilemma Facing American Universities

On December 1, 2016, the US Senate unanimously passed the “Antisemitism Awareness Act”.  Final passage of the companion House version awaits the start of the 115th Congress on January 3, 2017. The legislation “expands the Department of Education’s definition of Antisemitism to include problematic criticism that ‘demonizes’ and ‘delegitimizes’ Israel or applies a ‘double standard’ against the Jewish state.”   The effort to rein in Antisemitic speech by Muslim Brotherhood affiliated groups on American campuses runs into existing Supreme Court rulings allowing protected speech under the 1969 ruling in the Brandenburg v State of Ohio matter involving a KKK leader. The dilemma that many university administrators face is barring campus  protests that violate academic freedom and  ‘protected speech’ standards. Barring disruption of free speech events and threatening physical harm are matters about which  university administrations have established policies.  However  preserving  free speech  on campus  some critics believe, as expressed in a recent Wall Street Journal exchange of letters, “shields campus free-speech intimidators.”

The trigger for the WSJ letters was a December 16, 2016, op-ed by UC Irvine Law School dean Erwin Chemeresky and Chancellor Robert Gilman, “A Bill to Police Campus Speech.”  Their  argument is that  the changes in the definition of what constitutes Antisemitic campus speech runs  afoul of First

Amendment ‘protected speech’.  They concluded:

To put the point simply: Congress should not pass legislation that requires a government agency to monitor and respond to political speech—even if that speech ‘demonizes’ Israel or any other country.

We agree that the problem of anti-Semitism on campus and in society generally, is real and ought to be addressed. There are many steps colleges can take. They should ensure that Jewish and pro-Zionist students are included and that the proud expression of Jewish identity on campus is welcomed. Universities should make clear that attempts to disrupt events organized by Jewish or pro-Israel students will not be tolerated. Campus leaders should speak out against hateful speech, and they can react swiftly to any actual threats, harassment or destruction of property.

But the solution most despised by the Constitution is for Congress to pass a law that threatens universities and speakers merely because of the views being expressed. The Antisemitism Awareness Act is troubling because it seems to do precisely that.

One critical letter writer to the editor of the WSJ, pointed out that Dean Chemeresky had violated his own principal in the matter of a fee imposed on the campus Young Republican for bringing in anti-PC gadfly Milo Yiannopoulous alt-right speaker.  That , the letter writer suggested violated the 1992 Supreme Court ruling in the Forsyth County  case banning so-called “pay to speak”  The argument being that “UC Irvine penalizes those who engage in speech.” Noting that Dean Chemeresky had defended the convicted MSU 10 students who “criminally disrupted” the speech  of former  Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren on campus at UC Irvine in 2010.

Conclusion:

Perhaps the answer lies in adopting federal standards regarding Antisemitic hate speech protocols modeled on that adopted by the Board of Regents of the University of California system.  A more drastic step may be the adoption of legislation designating the Muslim Brotherhood  affiliates in the U.S. as terrorist organizations.  That in the opinion of some Trump advisers might stop the anti-Israel and Antisemitic activities of Muslim Brotherhood affiliates on college campuses.

The matter of addressing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel was taken up in model state legislation  developed by  Professor Eugene Kontorovich of  Northwestern University’s  Pritzker School of Law and promoted by the Washington, DC –based Israel Allies Foundation. To date 14 states have passed the anti-BDS legislation, the latest being signed into law by Ohio Governor John Kasich.  We will see if any of these initiatives come to fruition in 2017.  In the meantime, the SJP is seeking to establish chapters at high schools across the country.

Parents of college students  concerned about the potential spike in New Antisemitic  incidents on American campuses  might keep a watching brief by periodically checking with the AMCHA Initiative Antisemitism Tracker.  Another  useful  source is the Algemeiner report on the 2016 40 worst American universities hostile to Jewish Students.

Why Students Give Capitalism an ‘F’ by B.K. Marcus

bernie sanders half of a sign socialismNot only are young voters more likely to support Democrats than Republicans, they are also more likely to support the most left-wing Democrats. In recent polls of voters under 30, self-declared democratic socialist Bernie Sanders beats the more mainstream Hillary Clinton by almost six-to-one.

Former professor Mark Pastin, writing in the Weekly Standard, acknowledges some of Clinton’s flaws as a candidate, but concludes that “the most compelling explanation” for young Democrats’ overwhelming preference for Sanders “is that young voters actually like the idea of a socialist revolution.”

I’m embarrassed to confess that when I was a young voter, I probably would have been among the “Sandernistas.”

I don’t think Pastin is right about the revolution, though. Much of Sanders’s success in defanging the word socialism is in pairing it with an emphasis on democracy, as George Bernard Shaw and the Fabians did in an earlier era. Democratic socialists — at least among my comrades — preferred the idea of evolutionary socialism, and we tried hard to distance ourselves from the revolutionary folks.

Whether by evolution or revolution, however, what we all sought was less competition and more cooperation, less commerce and more compassion. Above all, we wanted greater equality.

“When I asked my students what they thought socialism meant,” Pastin writes, “they would generally recite some version of the Marxist chestnut ‘from each according to ability and to each according to need.'” That sounds about right, but add to that the assumption that it’s government’s job to effect the transfer.

My father, gently skeptical of my politics, pointed out a problem confronting American socialists: we tended to imagine ourselves on the receiving end of the redistribution — rob from the rich and give to the rest of us. “However poor we may think we are in the United States,” he told me, “we would have to give up most of what we now have in order to make everyone in the world equal.” This was strange to hear from someone always behind on the rent and facing ever-growing debt.

Pastin makes a related point: “I’ve always thought that socialism appealed to students because they have never not been on the receiving end of government largesse.”

As an informal test of his students’ egalitarian beliefs, Pastin “would offer to run the class along socialist principles, such as the mandate to take from the able and give to the needy.” Specifically, he proposed subtracting points from the A students and transferring them to those who would otherwise earn lower grades.

Even the most ardent socialist students balked at this arrangement. In fact, according to Pastin, the highest-performing students were both more likely to be self-declared socialists and more likely to meet his proposal with outrage: grading, they argued, should be a matter of merit.

Is it pure hypocrisy on the part of these rhetorical radicals, or is there a logical consistency behind this apparent contradiction in their values?

Trying to recall the details of my own callow political folly, I seem to recall three main issues behind my anti-capitalistic mentality:

  1. “Capitalism” was just the word we all used for whatever we didn’t like about the status quo, especially whatever struck us as promoting inequality. I had friends propose to me that we should consider the C-word a catchall for racism, patriarchy, and crony corporatism. If that’s what capitalism means, how could anyone be for it?
  2. Even when we left race and sex out of the equation, our understanding of commerce was zero-sum: the 1 percent grew rich by exploiting the 99 percent.
  3. For whatever reason, none of us imagined we’d ever be business people, except on the smallest possible scale: at farmer’s markets, as street vendors, in small shops. Those things weren’t capitalism. Capitalism was big business: McDonald’s, IBM, the military-industrial complex.

I don’t know how many of today’s young socialists hold these same assumptions, but a question recently posted to Quora.com sounds like it could have been written by one of my fellow lefties in the 1980s: “Should I drop out of college to disobey the capitalist world that values a human with a piece of paper?” (See Praxis strategist Derek Magill’s withering advice to the would-be dropout.)

Even if a different array of confusions drives the radical chic of millennial voters, what is clear is that they see American capitalism as rigged. “Crony capitalism,” from their perspective, is redundant — and “free market” is an oxymoron. They’re not necessarily opposed to meritocracy; they just don’t see what merit has to do with the marketplace.

Grading that would penalize the studious to reward the slackers is obviously unfair, and a sure-fire strategy to kill anyone’s incentive to do the homework. It’s not that the socialist students are applying the principle inconsistently; it’s that they don’t see what merit has to do with commerce. Some of that may be intellectual laziness, some is the result of indoctrination by anti-capitalist faculty, but much of it is also based in the reality of America’s mixed economy.

Not only have young voters spent most of their lives sheltered from the productive side of the commercial world, schooled by men and women who are themselves deliberately insulated from the marketplace, but time spent in the reality of the private sector is hardly an education in what the advocates of economic freedom have in mind when we talk about the free market.

If my own experience is any guide, today’s democratic socialists will have to spend a lot of time unlearning much of what they’ve been taught.

Pastin’s informal experiment is an illuminating first step, and it’s a powerful way to expose the conflict between his students’ understanding of merit and the socialists’ understanding of equality. But there’s also a danger in comparing the economy to the classroom. By offering his grade redistribution as an analogy for socialism, Pastin seems to imply that the merit-based grade system better resembles a free market. But that’s silly.

For one thing, studying hard for your next exam may improve your own GPA, but it probably doesn’t help your classmates. In contrast, an unhampered marketplace makes everyone better off, however unequally.

More significantly, in a free economy, there is no one person in the role of the grade-giving professor. In the absence of coercion, power has a hard time remaining that centralized. Yes, wealth can be seen as a kind of grade, but in the free market, an entrepreneur’s profits and losses are like millions of cumulative grades from the consumers. A+ for improving our lives. F for wasting time and resources.

That kind of spontaneous, decentralized, self-regulating prosperity is every bit as radical as the visions of young socialists, minus the impoverishing effects of coerced redistribution. It’s almost certainly not what they imagine when they say they oppose “capitalism.”

B.K. MarcusB.K. Marcus

B.K. Marcus is editor of the Freeman.

Ideas in Exile: The Bullies Win at Yale by Diana Furchtgott-Roth

The student speech bullies have won at Yale. Erika Christakis, Assistant Master of Yale’s Silliman College, who had the temerity to suggest that college students should choose their own Halloween costumes, has resigned from teaching. Her husband, sociology professor Nicholas Christakis, Master of Silliman College, will take a sabbatical next semester.

One of the bullies’ demands to Yale President Salovey was that the couple be dismissed, and a resignation and sabbatical are a close second.

As had been widely reported, Erika Christakis said,

Is there no room any more for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious, a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive? American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition.

At issue are costumes such as wearing a sombrero, which might be offensive to Mexicans; wearing a feathered headdress, which might offend Native Americans, previously termed Red Indians; and wearing blackface to dress up as an African American.

Dr. Christakis’s comment is so obvious that it hardly needs to be said. Students who are admitted to Yale are some of the brightest in the country, and it should not be the role of the University to tell them how, or whether, to dress up at Halloween.

The speech bullies want mandatory diversity training, rules against hate speech, the dismissal of Nicholas and Erika Christakis, and the renaming of Calhoun College because its namesake, John Calhoun, defended slavery.

If America is to be whitewashed of the names of individuals from prior centuries who fall short of the political standards of the 21st century, we will be a nation not only without names but also without a past. The names of our states, our municipalities, and even our universities would disappear. Elihu Yale was a governor of the East India Company, which may have occasionally engaged in the slavery trade. It is easy to condemn the dead who cannot defend themselves. But if we curse the past, what fate awaits us from our progeny?

Not all Yale students agree with the tactics employed by the bullies. Freshman Connor Wood said,

The acceptance or rejection of coercive tactics is a choice that will literally decide the fate of our democracy. Our republic will not survive without a culture of robust public debate. And the far more immediate threat is to academia: how can we expect to learn when people are afraid to speak out?

The Committee for the Defense of Freedom at Yale has organized a petition in the form of a letter to President to express concern with the bullies’ demands. Over 800 members of the Yale community have signed. Zachary Young, a junior at Yale and one of the organizers of the petition, told me in an email, “We want to promote free speech and free minds at Yale, and don’t think the loudest voices should set the agenda.”

Nevertheless, it appears that the loudest voices are indeed influencing President Salovey. He has given in to protesters by announcing a new center for the study of race, ethnicity, and social identity; creating four new faculty positions to study “unrepresented and under-represented communities;” launching “a five-year series of conferences on issues of race, gender, inequality, and inclusion;” spending $50 million over the next five years to enhance faculty diversity; doubling the budgets of cultural centers (Western culture not included); and increasing financial aid for low-income students.

In addition, President Salovey volunteered, along with other members of the faculty and administration, to “receive training on recognizing and combating racism and other forms of discrimination.”

With an endowment of $24 billion, these expenses are a proverbial drop in the bucket for Yale. But it doesn’t mean that the administration should cave. Isaac Cohen, a Yale senior, wrote in the student newspaper,

Our administrators, who ought to act with prudence and foresight, appear helpless in the face of these indictments. Consider President Salovey’s email to the Yale community this week. Without any fight or pushback — indeed, with no thoughts as to burdens versus benefits — he capitulated in most respects to the demands of a small faction of theatrically aggrieved students.

Yale’s protests, and others around the country, including Claremont-McKenna, the University of Missouri, and Princeton, stem from the efforts of a small group of students to shield themselves from difficult situations. Students want to get rid of speech that might be offensive to someone that they term a “micro-aggressions.” This limits what can be said because everything can be interpreted as offensive if looked at in a particular context.

For instance, when I write (as I have done) that the wage gap between men and women is due to the sexes choosing different university majors, different hours of work, and different professions, this potentially represents a micro-aggression, even though it is true. Even the term “the sexes” is potentially offensive, because it implies two sexes, male and female, and leaves out gays, lesbians, and transgenders. The term “gender” is preferred to “sex.”

What about a discussion of the contribution of affirmative action to the alienation of some groups on campuses today? Under affirmative action, students are admitted who otherwise might not qualify. In Supreme Court hearings on Wednesday, Justice Antonin Scalia said, “There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to — to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a less — a slower-track school where they do well.”

The majority of students at Yale want an open discussion of all subjects, but the attack on the Christakises have frightened them into silence. Zach Young told me,

If the accusers’ intent was to enlighten and persuade, their result was to silence and instill fear. I worry that because of this backlash, fewer students or faculty — including people of color and those of liberal persuasions — will feel comfortable expressing views that dissent from the campus norms. Why risk getting so much hate, disgust, calls against your firing, just for the sake of expressing an opinion?

Why indeed? The answer is that arguing about opinions is the only way to get a real education. Let’s hope that another university stands up for freedom of speech and offers the Christakises teaching positions next semester.

This article first appeared at CapX.

Diana Furchtgott-RothDiana Furchtgott-Roth

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor, is director of Economics21 and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Florida Rep. Ray Pilon files legislation returning power to parents, teachers and school boards

Florida Citizens Alliance (FLCA) has been working on both a comprehensive bill to restore local K-12 education control and a focused curriculum bill to fix the loopholes in SB 864, passed in 2014 as FS 1006.283.

FLCA in a press release states:

We are very pleased to report that Senator Alan Hays and Representative Ray Pilon are championing companion bills to fix FS 1006.283 and its loopholes:  SB 1018 and HB 899.

The purpose/intent of the original SB 864 was to assign constitutional responsibility for all instructional materials to school boards, and require a transparent policy/process for school boards and parents to remove objectionable materials. Due to several loopholes in FS 1006.283, the spirit and intent of the original bill are currently being ignored by many school districts in Florida.

Here is a brief summary of the loopholes that the two companion bills (SB 1018 and HB 899) that are intended to “fix” FS 1006.283.

FLCA in an email states:

Please use the petition at right to send a “shout out” to Senator Hays and Representative Pilon, thanking them for their leadership, and to urge your Florida House Representative and Florida Senator to co-sponsor their respective versions of these bills.  The petition is also copying your local school board, asking them to aggressively support these companion bills.

FLCA is urging Florida parents, students and teachers to call their house representative and senator to ask that they co-sponsor these bills. Here are FLCA talking points you can use in your call.  Use these links to get appropriate phone numbers for the Florida House and Florida Senate. We strongly suggest that you call now (before Christmas) and again in January as the legislative cycle begins.

Passage of these companion bills will require an aggressive and sustained set of actions to garner support. Here is an expanded set of 5 actions that FLCA urges parents, students and teachers to put into practice in support of these companion bills.

ABOUT THE FLORIDA CITIZENS ALLIANCE:

The Florida Citizens’ Alliance (FLCA) is a coalition of citizens and grassroots groups working together through education, outreach and community involvement to advance the ideals and principles of liberty.  We believe these include but are not limited to individual rights, free markets, and limited government.

Student Demands: Conformity, Thought Police, Show Trials by Walter Olson

Of the demands being made by protesters in the current wave of unrest on American campuses, some no doubt are well grounded and worth considering. Some of them, on the other hand, challenge academic freedom head on.

Some would take control of curriculum and hiring out of the hands of faculty. Some would enforce conformity of thought. Some would attack the rights of dissenters. Some would merely gut the seriousness of the university.

Last night I did a long series of tweets drawing on a website which sympathetically compiles demands from campus protests — TheDemands.org — and noting some of the more troublesome instances:

  • From Dartmouth: “All professors will be required to be trained in not only cultural competency but also the importance of social justice in their day-to-day work.”
  • From Wesleyan: “An anonymous student reporting system for cases of bias, including microaggressions, perpetrated by faculty and staff.”
  • From the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: “White professors must be discouraged from leading and teaching departments about demographics and societies colonized, massacred, or enslaved under white supremacy.”
  • From Guilford College: “We suggest that every week a faculty member come forward and publicly admit their participation in racism inside the classroom via a letter to the editor” in the college paper.

My series drew and continues to draw a strong reaction. Now I’ve Storified the tweets as a single narrative, including some of the responses. Read it here.

Cross-posted from Overlawyered.

Walter OlsonWalter Olson

Walter Olson is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies.

Tobacco Use Decreased by 64% among High School Students Since 1997 while Marijuana Use Doubled

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzes tobacco and marijuana use among white, African American, and Hispanic students in grades 9 through 12 from 1997 to 2013. The data come from CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) conducted every two years.

The good news is that student use of cigarettes and cigars has declined 64 percent, from 20.5 percent in 1997 to 7.4 percent in 2013. The bad news is that marijuana use more than doubled during that time, from 4.2 percent to 10.2 percent.

Further, marijuana use among students who also used cigarettes or cigars increased from 51.2 percent to 62.4 percent over that time, with even higher increases towards the end of the study period among African American and Hispanic students.

The use of marijuana among those who used cigarettes or cigars did not change among Hispanic students from 1997 to 2007, but then escalated from 54.9 percent to 73.6 percent in 2013. African American students’ marijuana use among those who used cigarettes and cigars held steady until 2009, but increased even further, from 66.4 percent then to 82 percent in 2013.

When tobacco and marijuana are used together, the likelihood of harm to individuals, including cognitive, psychological, respiratory, and addiction problems, also increases.

The substantial 64 percent decline in cigarette and cigar use among students took place as the result of evidence-based strategies such as increasing tobacco product prices, adopting comprehensive smoke-free policies, and conducting national public education media campaigns.

Read “Cigarette, Cigar, and Marijuana Use Among High School Students—United States—1997-2013” here.

Hillsdale College Students on the GOP Presidential Debate

HILLSDALE, Mich. /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Hillsdale College students joined nationally syndicated Salem Radio Network host Mike Gallagher during live coverage of the CNN Republican Presidential Debate and in a post-debate focus group. Student reactions to the debate included:

students hillsdale college

Students at Hillsdale College engage with nationally syndicated radio host Mike Gallagher during the Republican Presidential Debate on Sept. 16, 2015.

Christy Allen, senior, political economy major from Paradise Valley, AZ:Chris Christie had a great performance tonight, but Carly Fiorina did something really special. There is no question she belonged in that debate, and she went a long way in showing that she belongs in the White House.”

Mary Catherine Meyer, senior, English literature major from Littleton, CO:Marco Rubio did well by addressing the issue of family several times. That is an important factor in our country’s future. Carly Fiorinaperformed wonderfully. She spoke about the torch and the sword; she showed us a bit of light tonight, and in her character, the strength that she would fight for it.”

Kristin Berg, senior, history major from Shelby Township, MI: “I went into tonight’s debate with an open mind, but it became obvious that Carly Fiorina is the strongest candidate. She was articulate and knowledgeable, and she made it very clear that her priority is the security and character of the country. She knows what America needs, and I look forward to seeing how she does in the race.”

Michael Aavang, senior, politics major from Stevens Point, WI: “I came into tonight’s debate a reluctant Trump supporter because of his assertiveness and expressed interest in doing what is good for America, but Carly’s true merit and grit came through, eclipsing his attempt at showmanship. She stoically and confidently addressed every question with articulate and educated responses. She showed she has the country’s interests at heart. I think she rightfully captivated the audience and will see a huge bounce in the polls.”

Dom Restuccia, senior, politics major from South Lyon, MI: “Rubio established himself as the commander-in-chief in the room with the most substantive answers, the greatest handling of foreign policy issues, and a clear articulation of conservative values. He demonstrated himself as the champion who can bring the many factions of the Republican party to bear with a 21st century campaign to face down the Democrat electoral machine. Yet Fiorina trumped “the Donald.” She had the two best moments of the night, going after Trump for attacking her looks and responding to questions on Iran, where she connected the issue of the Iran nuclear deal to the defense of innocent life.”

Jacob Weaver, sophomore, philosophy and history major from Novi, MI: “Tonight’s debate proved that we have a field of incredible candidates, all with unique backgrounds and qualifications. However, a good field of candidates does not save our country from jeopardy. I urge voters – for the sake of Americans past, present, and future – to seek a leader of passion, of prudence, and of principle.”

Conner Dwinell, junior, economics major from Lincoln, NE:Carly Fiorina won in a landslide. If I wasn’t absolutely in her camp before, I am now. If you are looking for a firecracker and someone who is going to stick it to the man, I would move out of Donald Trump’s camp and into Carly’s.”

Emily Runge, senior, politics major from Newton, KS:Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina stood out to me tonight. They articulated their positions well, along with an overall vision for the nation. Particularly, they both did an incredible job overall on foreign policy. Over the next months, I want them to prove to me that they will follow through with their policies and deliver as President.”

Sarah Onken, senior, politics and mathematics major from Seymour, IN: “To say Carly Fiorina made an outstanding appearance this evening is the understatement of this campaign season. I appreciated Marco Rubio’s comments on the necessity of the strength of the family in our nation. This debate demonstrated that principled, articulate candidates such as Fiorina, Rubio, and Cruz will continue to do well in this primary season.”

Alex Buchmann, senior, politics major from Broomfield, CO: “Trump didn’t lose any followers, Carson maintained his followers, and Fiorina gained new followers. Everyone else on the debate stage has effectively been reduced to political pundits contributing to what has now become a privatized republican race.”

Bailey Amaral, senior, political economy and Spanish major from Houston, TX: “I’m proud to remain a staunch supporter of Ted Cruz. He demanded that conservatives stop surrendering and start standing on principle when asked about defunding Planned Parenthood. I was also blown away by Carly Fiorina and her commitment to defend America from its enemies abroad and restore its culture from internal decay. We have an American Thatcher on our hands. Fiorina won’t back down.”

Veronica Lyter, Ph.D. candidate in politics and statesmanship from Chicago, IL: Carly Fiorina said that a leader challenges the status quo and produces results—this election, for Fiorina, is about changing the system. I would have liked to hear her speak more about what that change might look like and on what principles she would implement that change. The candidates seemed to agree unanimously that Planned Parenthood needs to be defunded, but the Planned Parenthood video scandal overshadowed the abortion issue as a whole. Also, I would have liked to hear the candidates speak more on abortion generally. Finally, the question of Kim Davis came up, but it overshadowed the whole issue of marriage. I would have liked to hear the candidates speak more about marriage and the family.”

John Brooks, MA candidate in politics and statesmanship from South Lyon, MI: “I was most impressed with Fiorina’s concern about the character of the American people as she discussed Planned Parenthood. The American Founders thought virtue to be of utmost importance for the perpetuation of the Union. Fiorina’s worry is well founded: can a nation that justifies infanticide long endure?”

Zachary Reynolds, MA candidate in politics and statesmanship from Alleyton, TX: “I was looking for substance, someone to get beyond political rhetoric. A few candidates gave us that, but none better than Carly Fiorina. She offered us a strong ideal connected to concrete policies and plans.”

Hillsdale College is one of the crown jewels of American education,” said Mike Gallagher, nationally syndicated radio host and moderator of the student focus group. “I cannot think of a better place to be in America tonight than with these bright college students. I was so encouraged to see this group of Millennials so committed to the political process.”

Selected students will also be featured during The Mike Gallagher Show radio broadcast from 9 a.m. to noon EST on Sept. 17 to discuss the Republican debates.

About Hillsdale College

Hillsdale College, founded in 1844, has built a national reputation through its classical liberal arts core curriculum and its principled refusal to accept federal or state taxpayer subsidies, even indirectly in the form of student grants or loans. It also conducts on outreach effort promoting civil and religious liberty, including a free monthly speech digest, Imprimis, with a circulation of more than 2.9 million.

About the Salem Radio Network

Dallas-based Salem Radio Network (a division of Salem Media Group) provides 24/7 national news to over 1600 terrestrial radio stations and SiriusXM’s Patriot Channel on satellite radio through its SRN News and Townhall.com news services. SRN also produces national talk shows including Bill Bennett’s MORNING IN AMERICA, The Mike Gallagher Show, The Dennis Prager Show, The Eric Metaxas Show, and The Hugh Hewitt Show.

VIDEO: What is the U.S. Constitution? Why is it important?

The James Madison Institute recently visited a college campus in Florida, camera in hand, to ask students walking by if they’d like to answer those questions and more.

Yes. You heard that right. We randomly asked students if they would like to do an on-camera interview about the U.S. Constitution and many said, “Sure!”

We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. What we heard was, well, you’ll just have to watch to find out!

Watch the short video. Take a break from your day and hear what these students had to say!

Constitution Day is fast approaching. As part of JMI’s Preston A. Wells, Jr. Center for American Ideals and our Campus Representatives program, we will host several events on college campuses across Florida the week of Sept. 14 to commemorate this important day. This video was created to help promote these events, which are also featured on our website jamesmadison.org.

Please help us share by forwarding this email. You can also visit our Facebook and Twitter pages and share from those social media platforms.

REPORT: Student Opposition Undermines UK Counter-Radicalisation Policy

A new report reveals the extent of extremism on UK university campuses.

Across British universities, the government’s counter-radicalisation strategy, Prevent, is being prevented from functioning effectively due to widespread student opposition, reveals Preventing Prevent? Challenges to Counter-Radicalisation Policy On Campus. This is in part influenced by the narrative of extremist groups targeted by the policy, with over 40 student union leaders signing an open letter attacking Prevent organised by the pro-terrorist group CAGE on 11 July.

Recording over 100 on-campus events hosting speakers with extreme views or a history of involvement with extremist organisations each year since 2012, Student Rights’ latest report shows the alarming reach of extremism on UK campuses. The report also highlights how a number of those convicted of terrorist offences have passed through Britain’s higher education institutions.

By providing an in-depth analysis of Prevent and the criticisms levelled against it, the publication shows that the strategy is frequently misunderstood by those who oppose it and in fact uses a range of targeted and accountable measures that could effectively curb the influence afforded to extremists in the UK.

Further findings include:

  • Student Rights logged 132 events in 2012, 145 in 2013, and 123 in 2014. The speakers featured have suggested that there is a Western war against Islam; supported individuals convicted of terrorism offences; expressed intolerance of non-believers and/or minorities; and espoused religious law as a method of socio-political governance – opposing democracy in the process.
  • Despite this evidence, student activists have claimed Prevent is a racist policy; that lecturers spy on students; that vulnerable people will be stigmatised; and that the expression of controversial ideas will be suppressed.

The report also seeks to provide policy makers and practitioners with a set of recommendations which can ensure that civil society actors who seek to challenge extremist influence on our campuses are supported, and that universities and student unions are aware of their responsibilities to those vulnerable to radicalisation.

Rupert Sutton, Student Rights Director, commented:

“The evidence presented in this report shows that extremism on university campuses remains a serious issue while the dominant narrative is one which draws on extremist campaigning to undermine attempts to challenge the problem.

As such, it is vital that the government works to increase support for those challenging extremist narratives about Prevent, and that any guidance for university staff addresses fears driven by these narratives.

Universities should be the best place to challenge extremist ideas, yet at present this is simply not happening – something that must change if we are to successfully oppose on-campus radicalisation”.

Preventing Prevent? Challenges to Counter-Radicalisation Policy on Campus is available to download here

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of a protester with her face painted in the colors of the Palestinian flag chants during a pro-Gaza demonstration outside the Israeli embassy in London. Photo credit:REUTERS.

Goal of “gay” programs in schools: Persuade kids to “come out” early as homosexuals. Here’s how they do it —

Why are so many kids – many of them troubled – now “coming out” as homosexuals, announcing to everyone that this is their true “identity”, that it’s “who they are”? It doesn’t happen by accident. It’s carefully calculated by national homosexual activist groups pushing their programs in the nation’s schools.

This is the fourth part in our series on this year’s annual GLSEN Conference in Boston in April which brought together LGBT teachers, activists, and supportive administrators where they outlined their latest tactics for the schools. Part IIIexposed the transgender agenda in schools. Part II revealed their plans to push “gay clubs” in middle schools.

Students take in the GLSEN conference.
[MassResistance photo]

At that conference, there were kids as young as 11 and 12, and that younger age group was clearly the focus of much of the conference.

They know that the earlier they get to the youth, the easier their recruitment effort will be. Scene from a Gay Pride Week event in Boston.
[MassResistance photo]

The significance of having youth “come out”

Most people — certainly most parents – have no idea that a major focus of the homosexual movement is to persuade schoolchildren to first accept homosexual behavior as normal, even fashionable and desirable, and then move on to embrace a homosexual “identity”.

They use various well-honed psychological methods to do this. Youths particularly vulnerable to this are those who are troubled, bullied, have family problems or issues with a parent, or have been sexually molested. Younger kids in general are easier to seduce into this false belief, the movement understands.

Making the decision to embrace a homosexual identity, or “coming out,” appeals to their spirit of rebellion and adventure (and often a desire for attention), and has a lasting psychological effect on a young person. The youth is led to fully believe that he (or she) is completely homosexual, has been from birth, and even becomes angry when that is challenged. But in addition, the youth is easily persuaded to begin experimenting with  homosexual behaviors – which over time become addictive. And he or she becomes emotionally connected with the homosexual movement.

One of the favorite psychological methods of helping bring kids into this state of mind is to have them go through the possibly traumatic process of “coming out” to their parents. It helps solidify the “identity” in the youth’s mind, as the youth deals with the parents’ reaction.

Training teachers & activists – Workshop on “Coming out to your parents”

The conference had a high-profile workshop dedicated to the process of helping schoolchildren “come out”:

Coming out to your parents

Coming out to parents as LGBTQ is a big decision. Learn what to expect and get support. Interactive workshop and resources for participants.

Presenter: Pam Garramone, Greater Boston PFLAG

What is PFLAG? The national homosexual group that puts the most energy into persuading kids to “come out” – and then getting their parents to accept that – isParents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). It even goes further, to turn newly supportive parents into pro-homosexual activists. This also helps push the child deeper into the behavior and movement.

Pam Garramone, Greater Boston PFLAG director, mingles with the kids at Youth Pride Day in Boston in 2007.
[MassResistance photo]

PFLAG is very well-funded (from various US corporations and apparently some taxpayer money) and is very aggressive. PFLAG has chapters in just about every part of the country and is heavily involved with schools. Chapter meetings are held in locales (often liberal churches) around the country.

From what we at MassResistance have seen, kids at school often get steered in that direction by influential homosexual teachers, radicalized school counselors, and other kids in “gay straight alliance” clubs in the schools. This workshop was mostly geared to help them show kids who are in the process of “coming out” how to deal with their parents – or what to do when their parents simply won’t accept the child’s homosexuality as normal or permanent.

Garramone started out the workshop by telling the attendees that it’s not only “gay” but “LGBTQIA” (lesbian gay bisexual transgender questioning/queer intersex ally) kids that PFLAG works with.

She said that PFLAG makes over 200 presentations per year at middle schools and high schools across the state.  In addition to “coming out” support, PFLAG works with school administrators to make the schools “safer and more inclusive” for LGBT students.

The school presentations include faculty training sessions, assemblies, sessions with personal stories, and health classes, she said.

Handed out at the conference:

Pamphlet by “Out and Proud” homosexual group:“Read this before coming out to your parents.
The American Psychological Associationput out this terrible unscientific pro-“gay” pamphlet, “Answers to your questions about sexual orientation and homosexuality.

She said that kids don’t know if they’re gay or lesbian until they’re 10 or 11 years old, though they know their sex at age 2 or 3. But even gay or lesbian is far too limiting. She brought up the 50 gender options now being listed by FaceBook. It’s not just “binary” – people come in and out of phases their whole lives, she said. (Interestingly, she is admitting a contradiction: Sexual identity is fluid, but at the same time, people are “born” that certain way.)

When kids ‘come out’ PFLAG is ready to help

When kids decide to “come out” PFLAG is ready to spring into action. She said that PFLAG has 13 support groups in the greater Boston area, and provide “one-on-one support,” including phone counseling with parents to help them accept their child’s homosexuality (or whatever LGBTQIA identity). PFLAG also does group support.

She described the “phases” that parents go through when a child “comes out” which PFLAG works to successfully lead them through:

Shock – “No you’re not”
Disbelief – “I can’t believe this”
Denial – “You’ll grow out of it”
Guilt – “What did I do wrong?”
Expressing feelings – Listening, asking questions
Acceptance

Garramone said that PFLAG is working towards “100% acceptance” by parents.

She said that such intervention is critical because otherwise, when kids “come out”, 30% of parents kick them out of the house (and these youth make up 40% of all homeless kids); 50% of parents don’t want to talk about it; and only 20% are supportive. (Is this really true? Like most statistics cited by homosexual activists, these are likely not trustworthy.)

PFLAG’s well-crafted ‘coming out’ self-help book

PFLAG publishes a number of nice-looking but very devious and misleading booklets which they give out to kids in schools on various LGBT subjects. This 24-page book, “Be yourself” is a how-to book for kids to “come out” to their parents. It was passed out to kids and adults at this conference.

PFLAG publication given out to kids at the conference, and many other places.

Some quotes from the book:

“Coming out as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (GLBT) youth can be especially complicated and fraught with questions.”

“If you’re a guy, your friends are probably talking about girls, and if you’re a girl, they’re talking about guys. And, while most people your age seem to fit neatly into expected gender roles, you may feel you don’t – or don’t want to.”

“Your school years are a time of figuring out what works for you, and crushes and experimentation are often part of that. Over time, you’ll find that your’re drawn mostly to men or women – or both – and then you’ll know.”

“Remember that your parent(s) are from an older generation – one that was more homophobic and transphobic than yours.”

“PFLAG can help a lot with this process. PFLAG and PFLAG members can help provide books, fillms, and information for you and your parents, and by providing contacts with other families who have GLBT children, or counselors who can help your parents work through their feelings.”

It’s a very slick process that can devestate a vulnerable kid for life. This is what parents are up against in their schools. But most don’t even know it.

PFLAG hands out its “Be Yourself” book to kids wherever it can. This
is the PFLAG table at a recent “Youth Pride” event in Boston. [MassResistance photo]

Call to abolish Florida Department of Education

Sandra Stotsky, Professor Emerita, University of Alabama.

Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D., former Senior Associate Commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Education and Professor Emerita at the University of Alabama, released a statement concerning the upcoming summit called for by Governor Rick Scott on Common Core State Standards.

Dr. Stotsky is known nationwide for her in-depth analyses of the problems in Common Core’s English language arts standards. Her current research ranges from the deficiencies in teacher preparation programs and teacher licensure tests to the deficiencies in the K-12 reading curriculum and the question of gender bias in the curriculum. She is regularly invited to testify or submit testimony to state boards of education and state legislators on bills addressing licensure tests, licensure standards, and Common Core’s standards (e.g., Utah, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Florida and Texas).

The following is the full text of Dr. Stotsky’s statement:

I have been invited by parent groups in Florida to comment on Common Core’s English language arts standards using the format that Interim Commissioner Pamela Stewart chose to give them.  Although Governor Scott requested meetings at which parents could express their concerns, she deliberately chose a method that in effect prevents discussion and an open forum.  By telling parents that they can comment only one by one, and only on the particular standards in Common Core, in a 3-hour period of time, she is in effect spitting in their faces. Parents can also send in their individual comments by computer, a method that also prevents discussion. If this is how a Department of Education treats the parents of the children whose education this Department is supposed to improve, then there is no reason for Florida parents to support the existence of such a Department. It should be abolished by referendum.

I was a senior associate commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education from 1999 to 2003.  At no time were critics of the Department’s draft documents treated as shabbily as Florida parents are now being treated.   Public comment was regularly allowed at Board of Education meetings, and the Department held many meetings around the state when it was developing the Bay State’s own standards. And when criticism was received on drafts of standards documents, the Department staff courteously and publicly answered these criticisms. They acted as public servants, not as bureaucrats trying to foist their own untested ideas on other people’s children.

The Massachusetts Department of Education also held a large public meeting on Common Core’s standards to which the standards writers were invited. It was informative for the audience to hear Jason Zimba, the mathematics standards writer, indicate that Common Core’s math standards would not prepare high school students for STEM. I recommend that the Florida Department of Education hold a similar meeting and invite parents and teaching faculty at its own higher education institutions to attend and question Common Core’s standards writers.

WDW – FL contributor Diane Kepus wrote, “Governor Scott recently tossed the parents and taxpayers of Florida a bone regarding implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) leading many to believe he was going to “shut down” implementation of CCSS via his Executive Order Number 13-276. However some are questioning if the EO has any teeth.”

“Governor Scott issues an Executive Order and uninformed citizens believe he is stopping CCSS in Florida. What he did was withdraw Florida from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) only. He stated he was going to hold three hearings for public comments, look into finding someone else for testing and acknowledged concerns regarding the Federal overreach and the data collection of psychological attitudes and beliefs,” noted Kepus.

Kepus concluded the bottom line is: The Florida implementation of Common Core State Standards is untouched, unaffected and on track. It appears former Commissioner Stotsky has come to the same conclusion.

Study calls on US DOE to stop bribing states to adopt Common Core

The United States Department of Education (USED) should be prohibited from making adoption of national English and math standards known as Common Core a condition or incentive for receipt of federal funding, and both USED and organizations like the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, whose dues are paid with taxpayer funds, should make public the amount of time and money they have invested in promoting Common Core according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

“Common Core fundamentally alters the relationship between the federal government and the states,” says former Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott, the author of A Republic of Republics: How Common Core Undermines State and Local Autonomy over K-12 Education. “States are sacrificing their ability to inform what their students learn.”

To read the full study click here.

Three federal laws explicitly prohibit the federal government from directing, supervising, funding, or controlling any nationalized standards, testing, or curriculum. Yet Race to the Top (RttT), a competitive $4.35 billion federal grant program, gave preference to states that adopted or indicated their intention to adopt Common Core and participated in one of two federally funded consortia developing assessments linked to Common Core.

USED subsequently made adoption of Common Core one of the criteria for granting states conditional waivers from the accountability provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

In his preface for the paper, Iowa’s U.S. Senator Charles Grassley writes that when gov­ernment makes “decisions that affect a child’s education, these decisions should be made at a level of government close to the parents and students who are affected.” He goes on to criticize how what began as a plan to develop standards that states could adopt voluntarily has become a subject of federal coercion.

Scott notes that the adoption of new standards normally takes years from the time they are initially written by panels of educators, made available for extended periods of public review, and revised until they are adopted. But because of RttT’s deadlines, these periods were reduced to a few months or even weeks.

As a result of the rushed process, states adopted Common Core without knowing about assessments; the outcomes for which students, and in some cases teachers, will be held accountable. Other unknowns include what the passing score will be, who will set it, and whether it will be the same from state to state.

The three most populous states – California, Texas and Florida – also have systematic processes for adopting textbooks. These reviews happen on a regular cycle and would be disrupted and often expedited due to the need to adopt instructional materials aligned with the new standards in time for them to be implemented.

The expedited process by which Common Core was adopted in most states meant teachers had no opportunity to inform the standards’ content. In some states, the new standards are substantially different than what had been taught. In many cases, teachers will be teaching material in different grades than it had been before.

Scott describes all the “learning on the go” Common Core will require as a very expensive gamble. The one-year cost of new technology, instructional materials and teacher professional development is estimated at $10.5 billion for the 45 states and the District of Columbia, which have adopted the standards. With ongoing expenses, the cost is expected to rise to about $16 billion.

Scott also describes why Texas chose not to adopt Common Core while he served as commissioner of education. Disruption of the textbook adoption cycle, the lengthy process of making the standards available to the public and seeking approval from the state Board of Education, and the cost of changing procedures and parts of the education code were among the reasons for the decision not to adopt.

Texas would have been in line for a $700 million RttT grant, but “it costs more than $300 million per day to run public schools in Texas,” Scott says. “Giving up substantial autonomy to direct education policy in return for roughly enough money to run the schools for two days was not a trade-off we were willing to make.”

This report is co-sponsored by the American Principles Project, the Pacific Research Institute, and the Civitas Institute. Pioneer’s extensive research on Common Core national education standards includes:  Common Core Standards Still Don’t Make the Grade,The Road to a National Curriculum: The Legal Aspects of the Common Core Standards, Race to the Top, and Conditional Waivers, and National Cost of Aligning States and Localities to the Common Core Standards. Recent national media coverage includes op-eds placed in The Wall Street Journal and The Weekly Standard.

ABOUT THE PIONEER INSTITUTE:

Pioneer Institute is an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions based on free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.

Grassroots movement to arm teachers gains momentum

Long before Wayne LaPierre held his press conference the internet was alive with practical solutions on how to prevent another Newtown, CT like attack on schools. Most comments coalesced around arming school based administrators and teachers. One idea is to provide concealed carry training to school based administrators and on a voluntary basis to teachers. The school district would cover the costs of the training, license and purchase of an approved weapon.

Virginia is considering legislation requiring teachers be armed.

Several photographs and photo-shopped signs were circulated graphically demonstrating the popularity of this solution. Two stand out and were the most often received by WDW. Below is a widely distributed photo allegedly depicting an Israeli teacher and her class of elementary school students:

armed teacher in israel

This photo-shopped sign with the caption “Which sign is most likely to deter a school shooting?” is widely circulating on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites:

 GunFreeZoneSign

Comments on these images may be best represented by a common sense approach to the issue. The argument goes something like this – if there is something valuable that society wants to protect and defend then society must have armed guards in place. Examples of protected areas include: government offices at every level, sensitive installations such as military bases or nuclear power plants, airports, banks, prisons and national parks.

Many are asking why we are not similarly protecting our most precious natural resources – our children?

USA Today reports, “About 70% of public schools don’t have [a] police officer and almost 60% don’t have any security staff. Those with police tend to be big and urban schools, according to a USA TODAY data analysis.” Clearly at some point schools decide to have an armed guard present. The only restriction is cost weighted against the potential threat.

Political opponents focus on taking away guns, not on protecting the children as is done for most politicians. History and statistics work against opponents to arming those most responsible for the protection of our children – school based administrators and teachers.

PLEASE TAKE OUR ONLINE SURVEY ON THE QUESTION OF ARMING SCHOOL STAFF:

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