Education Archives

Suing Educational Success

Hurricane Katrina caused unimaginable devastation to the city of New Orleans and to the state of state of Louisiana itself, but it did provide an opportunity to push the reset button on some of the city’s and state’s policies. One of these resets has occurred in the area of education.

Last year, Louisiana’s legislature established a voucher program for poor kids who would otherwise be stuck in failing public schools. It received bipartisan support, and is part of a larger set of reforms statewide; that reset button. Here are some of the results:

  • Last spring, Louisiana’s graduation rate reached an all-time high, with 72.3 percent of students graduating from high school on time, up from 64.8 percent in 2005.
  • About 85 percent of students using Louisiana’s vouchers are black. In Louisiana, where 45 percent of blacks remain in poverty, this can only be a good thing economically, both for the kids for whom many more doors open when they have a high school diploma, and for the state economy, as more workers with a better education helps deal with unemployment.

When he was in Louisiana this month, President Obama said these words in a speech. “Let’s give everybody a chance to get ahead, not just a few at the top, but everybody. If we do that, if we help our businesses grow, our communities thrive and our children reach a little higher, then the economy is going to grow faster. We’ll rebuild our middle class — stronger.”

Now that sounds great, and it’s exactly what the school voucher program is doing; giving everybody a chance to get ahead. Which is why it’s rather incongruous of the President’s Department of Justice to be suing the state to essentially halt the program, on the grounds that if poor black children leave terrible schools for better ones, those failing schools become less diverse?

And here we get to the crux of the matter. To the Left, results don’t matter if they are achieved by proving liberal policies wrong; in this case, the idea that the government is the best educator of kids. Further, diversity has not been negatively impacted, and in some cases, has improved, so they’re making stuff up just to protect their orthodoxy, and hurting school children in the process.

Don’t listen to this administration’s rhetoric, watch what they do. Their politics are more important than the outcomes.

    Street Preaching = "Homophobic" Speech

    At least in London it apparently is.

    An American evangelist was arrested and jailed this week in London during the Wimbledon Championships while preaching about sexual immorality on the streets.

    Sports Fan Outreach International, led by Bill Adams, has been hosting an evangelistic effort in England over the past week to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with attendees of the annual Wimbledon tennis tournament. Approximately a dozen or more men and women are on the streets preaching, distributing tracts and engaging in one-on-one conversation with spectators.

    Tony Miano, a retired police officer who traveled to the UK with the team, states that he was preaching about sexual immorality from 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 on Monday when a woman became agitated by his message and began to curse.

    “[I preached about] the fact that people are in sin and are violating God’s word and His law by engaging in immorality — both heterosexual immorality and homosexual immorality,” he explained.

    Since he had included homosexuality in his sermon, the woman, who had gone into a nearby store and came out to find Miano still speaking, called the police to complain.

    Moments later, officers arrived and notified Miano that he had allegedly violated Section 5 of the Public Order Act, which prohibits public language that is threatening or insulting.

    They’ve also redefined "homophobic" as "what Christianity has believed about homosexuality for millennia." Speech code are coming to a church near you.

      Friday Link Wrap-up

      No, the Bush tax cuts didn’t cause the recession. Yes, Obama’s "recovery" has been the worst in history. These and other economic realities can be summed up in this graph. (Click for a larger version.)

       

      A sex scandal involving adults and children under their charge. No, not the Catholic church of the 60s; the public schools of today.

      While he did get the number wrong, Romney was right in that those who pay the least in income taxes are the least likely to vote for him.

      The number of scientific papers that had to be retracted last year was a 10x increase over the rate during the previous decade. And a study of those retractions finds that 3/4ths of those retractions were due to misconduct rather than honest mistakes.

      Good news in the stem cell debate. "Two stem-cell researchers have won this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their groundbreaking work in cellular reprogramming, a technique that unleashed a wave of advances in biology, from cloning to the possible treatment of diseases using a patient’s own cells." That is, there is less of a reason to use embryonic stem cells, when adult ones will do just as well.

      Hedging their bets? "A survey by the Pew Research Center discovered that 2.4 percent of Americans say they are atheists and 3.3 percent say they are agnostic. Among the atheists and agnostics, however, 6 percent said they pray daily."

      Need more money for your school district, by proving how many students attend? Make them wear microchips. Privacy takes a back seat to cash.

      And finally, some apt scripture for the VP debate last night. (Click for a larger version.)

        Friday Link Wrap-up

        Hobby Lobby could be the next Chick-Fil-A. “Hobby Lobby Sues over HHS Mandate”

        Reverend William Owens from the Coalition Of African American Pastors in an interview with John Hawkins: “Again that’s the reason I took such a stand against President Obama. In every election, in every campaign where the marriage amendment has been on the ballot, blacks in large numbers have been against it and Americans have been against it. But he’s not interested in what the people want. He’s interested in what a few people who can give him big money want.”

        I don’t usually link to Sojourner’s “God’s Politics” blog for good examples of political opinion, but their non-political item — a discussion on the recent “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” discovery — is quite good. “Five Important Questions About That ‘Jesus Wife’ Discovery”

        “Antarctic sea ice set another record this past week, with the most amount of ice ever recorded on day 256 of the calendar year (September 12 of this leap year).” I blame global warming.

        UN Secretary General George Orwell Ban Ki Moon: “Freedoms of expression should be and must be guaranteed and protected, when they are used for common justice, common purpose,” Ban told a news conference. “When some people use this freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs, then this cannot be protected in such a way.”

        Bullying works. “The Christian-rooted fast food restaurant [Chick-filA] agreed to stop funding groups such as Focus on the Family that oppose same-sex marriage in a meeting with the Chicago politician who had been blocking the company’s move there.”

        And finally, competing mottos (from Chuck Asay, click for a larger version):

          A Generation of School-Voucher Success

          That’s the title of an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about the results of a new study on how school vouchers affect their recipients.

          President Barack Obama last month signed an executive order promising to "improve outcomes and advance educational opportunities for African Americans." The order instructs federal agencies to "promote, encourage, and undertake efforts" to increase "college access, college persistence and college attainment for African American students." Unfortunately, his administration remains opposed to the Opportunity Scholarship program in Washington, D.C., which lets students—mostly low-income and African-American—use a voucher to attend a private school.

          Perhaps Mr. Obama will reconsider his position on vouchers now that we have for the first time tracked the impact of a voucher program all the way from kindergarten (in 1997) to college enrollment (in 2011). Our study compared students who won a voucher lottery with students who didn’t—the only difference between the groups was the luck of the draw, the gold standard in research design.

          The study shows that an African-American student who was able to use a voucher to attend a private school was 24% more likely to enroll in college than an African-American student who didn’t win a voucher lottery.

          Some take issue with voucher programs because the parents might actually spend the money on >gasp< religious schools (as noted in the article).

          And given the money involved, they got better results for a lower cost.

          These impacts are especially striking given the modest costs of the intervention: only $4,200 per pupil over a three-year period. This implies that the government would actually save money if it introduced a similar voucher program, as private-school costs are lower than public-school costs. To get a similar (19%) increase in college enrollment among African-Americans from a class-size reduction effort in Tennessee in the late 1980s, the public-school system had to spend $9,400 per pupil (in 1998 dollars).

          But one of the barriers to this successful program is…politics, of course.

          President Obama is certainly correct to identify the particularly steep educational barriers that African-American students must surmount if they are to become college-ready. And he seems to have nothing against private school per se, as he has long sent his own daughters to private schools. Yet—apparently thanks to opposition to vouchers from powerful teachers unions—the president still hasn’t taken the next step and helped open private-school doors for low-income children as well.

          One more reason to consider when stepping into the voting booth this November.

            When Idealism Meets Reality

            This is just Human Nature 101, but too many folks just don’t understand that.

            Apparently, many students don’t like the idea of redistribution – but, only when it applies to their grades. Redistribution of their GPAs (grade point averages) to poorer students, they say, is unfair. But, those with lower grades don’t seem to mind benefiting from the hard work of their “greedy” high-achieving classmates.

            Young America’s Foundation’s fourth annual GPA Redistribution Petition and Video Contest has produced yet another stellar student entry, this time from Carthage College. This year, the national public policy debate has focused on "fairness" through taxing the wealthy in an attempt to redistribute wealth. Many young people support this socialistic policy.

            Yet, when students at Carthage where asked if they would be willing to sign a petition to redistribute GPA points from the top 10% to the rest of the college, most of them said NO. One student said, "No, because I worked hard for my grades!"

            Another said, "At Carthage, each student has an equal opportunity to get the GPA they desire." And another, "I don’t want my GPA being taken away from me if I had an ‘A’."

            When the petitioners told students that oftentimes outside factors leave students at an unfair disadvantage, a student said, "No. I’m low-income and a minority, and I have a fairly decent GPA, so…"

            Fittingly, some of those who are not in the upper 10% welcomed the free points. "Why not? I’m down," said one student with a low GPA  (eagerly signing the petition), but then the student’s friend standing next to him said, "It takes away from people working hard… and obviously it’s paid off with their higher GPA." Later in the conversation, when the first student told his friend to sign the petition, the friend responded, "How about trying harder for a semester?"

            I wonder if these students will understand how this applies to their vote in November.

            Here’s the video.

              Friday Link Wrap-up

              If celibacy is to blame for the sexual abuse in the Catholic church, how does that explain the continuing abuses in the public schools? (Hint: it doesn’t.)

              Here are 4 hard truths of health care reform. (Hint: if they promised something, it’s generally not going to happen.)

              "[I]f you come down hard on Limbaugh because he has crossed a line, you must come down hard on Schultz and Maher because they have crossed the same line…." (Hint: Schultz and Maher supporters haven’t.)

              New York City Mayor Bloomberg, not content with nannying the well-off on what they can and can’t eat at restaurants, now is denying food to the homeless because it might be too salty. (Hint: That’s not compassion.)

              If they had been Republicans, this would have been racist. (Hint: They’re Democrats.)

              Is Zionism humanitarianism? (Hint: Yes.)

                Vanderbilt’s Right to Despise Christianity

                That’s the title of a post by Michael Stokes Paulsen at the Public Discourse website. He starts out with a statement of the facts.

                Vanderbilt University has decided that Christian student groups that hold traditional Christian religious views are not welcome on campus. They will no longer be recognized as valid student organizations. Vanderbilt’s reason is that such groups require that their leaders be Christian—that is, that their leaders embrace certain core principles of Christianity and try to live according to these principles. In Vanderbilt’s view, religious beliefs and standards “discriminate” against those students who do not subscribe to them. Therefore, student religious groups with religious beliefs and standards are banned.

                This from an institute that (allegedly) encourages debate and the free exchange of ideas. All ideas are welcome, except those that aren’t. Behavioral standards will not be tolerated in student organizations. You cannot hold to a belief system and, at the same time, expect that belief system to be held to by the members.

                I wonder if a women’s rights organization could be run by a woman, or a man, who thinks women are second-class citizens. She or he doesn’t agree with the group’s beliefs, but if they don’t allow for someone like that to lead the group, should they, too, be banned? But see that’s a belief system that Vandy doesn’t have a problem with. No matter how they paint it, it’s a case of discrimination based on beliefs.

                And thus, in a huge bit of irony, Vandy wishes to exercise a right that they themselves deny to the student groups!

                As Paulsen notes, Vandy is well within its rights to do this.

                As weird as it may sound—and as ridiculous as Vanderbilt’s actions may be—this is entirely within Vanderbilt’s constitutional rights: Vanderbilt has the right to be as hostile to orthodox Christianity and to suppress its faithful exercise on its campus as it wishes. Vanderbilt’s status as a private university gives it the First Amendment right to take whatever position it wants on the exercise of religion within its university community. Vanderbilt University has the right to despise Christianity (and other faiths, too) if it so chooses.

                Of course, having a right to do something does not make it the right thing to do. And Vanderbilt’s policy is, undeniably, an embarrassing example of political correctness run horribly amok, of intellectually incompetent administrators, and of institutional hypocrisy. But in Vanderbilt’s bad example lies a parable rich in irony about constitutional freedom under the First Amendment.

                Worth reading the whole thing. This isn’t about rights; it’s about hypocrisy, and how it and religious intolerance is being taught to the next generation.

                  Friday Link Wrap-up

                  In Canada, strip searches from possession of a deadly … crayon.

                  Also from the Great White North, government intrusion into homeschool, saying that Christian parents can’t teach a Biblical view of homosexuality. Freedom of religion is being chipped away slowly enough that most don’t see it.

                  If Obama is some post-racial president, why is he launching "African Americans for Obama"?

                  Medical "ethicists" are seriously arguing that post-birth newborns are "not persons" and can ethically be "aborted".

                  With all the religious implications of Obama’s policies, you’d think he’d have kept around his faith-based council for advice. Nope, they’ve just faded away.

                  Movie reviewers of the liberal persuasion are all for anti-war, anti-military or pro-environmental message movies, but that idea gets thrown out when they disapprove of the message. Suddenly, it’s "propaganda".

                  Scofflaw Democrats. "The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 further provides that if, for two years in a row, more than 45% of Medicare funding is coming from general revenues rather than Medicare taxes, the president must submit legislation to Congress to address the Medicare funding crisis. President Bush dutifully followed the law, but President Obama has ignored it for the last three years."

                  Obama claims that we can’t drill our way out of the energy problem, and then, in the same speech, notes that domestic oil production is at it’s highest level in 8 years. Because we drilled! Can’t have it both ways, Mr. President, but the press will try to let you have it.

                    Spending Watch

                    A couple of items related to spending and our national debt.

                    Obama called Bush’s increase in the debt "irresponsible" and "unpatriotic". What does he think about his own contribution to the debt?

                    Obama signed an agreement to fund the DC-area incredibly successful school voucher program. Yet with all the new spending he added, he didn’t fund this. Does he really care about education, or just teacher unions?

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