Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Stephen C. Meyer debates Peter D. Ward on intelligent design and evolution

The speakers

Stephen C. Meyer is director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (CSC) and a founder both of the intelligent design movement and of the CSC, intelligent design’s primary intellectual and scientific headquarters. Dr. Meyer is a Cambridge University-trained philosopher of science, the author of peer-reviewed publications in technical, scientific, philosophical and other books and journals. His signal contribution to ID theory is given most fully in Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, published by HarperOne in June 2009.

Graduating from Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington, in 1981 with a degree in physics and earth science, he later became a geophysicist with Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) in Dallas, Texas. From 1981 to 1985, he worked for ARCO in digital signal processing and seismic survey interpretation. As a Rotary International Scholar, he received his training in the history and philosophy of science at Cambridge University, earning a PhD in 1991. His thesis offered a methodological interpretation of origin-of-life research.

Peter D. Ward, Ph.D., is a paleontologist and professor in the Departments of Geology and Biology at the University of Washington in Seattle. He also serves as an adjunct professor of zoology and astronomy. His research specialties include the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event and mass extinctions generally. His books include the best-selling “Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe” (co-author Donald Brownlee, 2000), “Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future” (2007), and “The Medea Hypothesis: Is Life on Earth Ultimately Self-Destructive?” (2009).

The debate

Here’s the video of the debate:

The debate itself starts at around 8:19, after all the moderators have spoken.

The debate is focused on disagreements about scientific evidence.

Even though Peter Ward is an atheist, he has co-written a fabulous book that I own and have read called “Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe“. I really recommend getting this book, as it is a great book by two non-theists on the habitability argument. It’s sort of a secular precursor to Jay Richards’ and Guillermo Gonzalez’s “The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery“. The habitability argument is a really neglected argument, but it’s a good one.

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College of the Ozarks offers students tuition-free degrees – if they work part-time

This article from the Wall Street Journal has been the #1 editorial for much of the last four days.

Excerpt:

Looking for the biggest bargain in higher education? I think I found it in this rural Missouri town, 40 miles south of Springfield, nestled in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. The school is College of the Ozarks, and it operates on an education model that could overturn the perverse method of financing college education that is turning this generation of young adults into a permanent debtor class.

At this college the tuition is nowhere near the $150,000 to $200,000 for a four-year degree that the elite top-tier universities are charging. At College of the Ozarks, tuition is free. That’s right. The school’s nearly 1,400 students don’t pay a dime in tuition during their time there.

So what’s the catch? All the college’s students—without exception—pay for their education by working 15 hours a week on campus. The jobs are plentiful because this school—just a few miles from Branson, a popular tourist destination—operates its own mill, a power plant, fire station, four-star restaurant and lodge, museum and dairy farm.

Some students from low-income homes also spend 12 weeks of summer on campus working to cover their room and board. Part of the students’ grade point average is determined by how they do on the job and those who shirk their work duties are tossed out. The jobs range from campus security to cooking and cleaning hotel rooms, tending the hundreds of cattle, building new dorms and buildings, to operating the power plant.

[...]“We don’t do debt here,” [School President Jerry C.] Davis says. “The kids graduate debt free and the school is debt free too.” Operating expenses are paid out of a $400 million endowment. Seeing the success of College of the Ozarks, one wonders why presidents of schools with far bigger endowments don’t use them to make their colleges more affordable. This is one of the great derelictions of duty of college trustees as they allow universities to become massive storehouses of wealth as tuitions rise year after year.

In an era when patriotism on progressive college campuses is uncool or even denigrated as endorsing American imperialism, College of the Ozarks actually offers what it calls a “patriotic education.” “There’s value in teaching kids about the sacrifices previous generations have made,” Mr. Davis says. “Kids should know there are things worth fighting for.”

He says a dozen or so students will be taking a pilgrimage to Normandy in June to commemorate the 70-year anniversary of D-Day and the former College of the Ozarks students buried there. Amazingly, four of the school’s graduates served as generals in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.

[...]Nearly 90% of graduates land jobs—an impressive figure, given the economy’s slow-motion recovery.

“If I were an employer, I’d take our graduates over those at most any other schools,” says Mr. Davis. “The kids at these East Coast colleges strike me as being a little spoiled. Our graduates don’t expect to come into the company as the CEO.” But they certainly join a company knowing the value of work.

I am always encouraging young people to steer themselves to STEM degrees, and away from debt. If you did a STEM degree at College of the Ozarks, then you would really have a leg up on life. It’s not a good time now to follow your heart and do what you like. Now is the time to dig in and do what you have to do to pay your own way later on. It’s going to get a lot harder to have even the same standard of living as what your parents had.

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Higher education spending produced no improvement on standardized tests

Education spending has tripled since 1970

Education spending has tripled since 1970

The Heritage Foundation reports.

Excerpt:

The U.S. Department of Education recently released the 2013 results of math and reading achievement for 12th graders on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. It’s hard to say what’s been achieved.

According to the NAEP—a standardized test often referred to as the nation’s “report card”—just 26 percent of the country’s 12th graders are proficient in math. Only 38 percent are proficient in reading. Those numbers are entirely unchanged since 2009, when the NAEP was last administered.

Notably, reading achievement was significantly higher overall in 1992 when the NAEP exam was first administered in reading. Forty percent of students were proficient in reading in 1992. The new NAEP scores confirm the outcomes found on the NAEP long-term-trend assessment, which has assessed reading achievement since 1971 and math achievement since 1973. Twelfth graders today perform no better in reading than high school seniors of the early 1970s.

So is spending on education the same today as it was in the 1970s?

Let’s see:

Since the 1970s alone, inflation-adjusted federal per-pupil spending (part of the goal of which was to narrow achievement gaps) has nearly tripled.

The behemoth federal Department of Education filters all of this taxpayer money through more than 100 federal education programs, many of which are duplicative, most of which are ineffective. It’s no surprise then that this administration’s policies, which seem designed to increase program count and spending, haven’t moved the needle on achievement either.

The article has a graph showing that the biggest reason for this increase in costs is “Non-Teaching Staff”. I think that might be a problem. Maybe the task of education should be pushed down to the states or even local governments, where they can be more responsive to the needs of the customers?

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New study: Asian students outperform whites because they work harder

This is from Science, one of the top peer-reviewed journals. (H/T Nancy P.)

Excerpt:

When it comes to academic achievement, Asian-Americans outclass every other ethnic group, with more than half over age 25 holding a bachelor’s degree—well above the national average of 28%. To find what gives Asian-Americans a leg up, a team of sociologists scoured two long-term surveys covering more than 5000 U.S. Asian and white students. After crunching test scores, GPAs, teacher evaluations, and social factors such as immigration status, the team reports a simple explanation online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesAsian-American students work harder.

The team found that students from all Asian ethnic groups put greater importance on effort than on natural ability. This outlook, the team argues, causes students to respond to challenges by trying harder and has a greater impact on Asian-Americans’ academic achievement than does cognitive ability or socioeconomic status. However, the team says Asian-American students reported lower self-esteem, more conflict with their parents, and less time spent with friends compared with their white peers. The team suspects the high academic expectations or their “outsider” status in American society could be to blame.

You know, a lot of people blame racism when some minorities underperform at school. But if that were so, then why aren’t Asians affected? The answer is that underperforming at school has nothing to do with race or racism. It’s all about strong marriages, strong families and hard work. Discipline.

The soft bigotry of low expectations

In other news, judges at a debate tournament gave the first prize to two black students who used vulgar language in their speeches.

The College Fix reports.

Excerpt:

This year’s debate question centered on the Presidential War Powers. But Towson, reports The Atlantic, took a different approach:

On March 24, 2014, at the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) Championships at Indiana University, two Towson University students, Ameena Ruffin and Korey Johnson, became the first African-American women to win a national college debate tournament, for which the resolution asked whether the U.S. president’s war powers should be restricted.

Rather than address the resolution straight on, Ruffin and Johnson, along with other teams of African-Americans, attacked its premise. The more pressing issue, they argued, is how the U.S. government is at war with poor black communities.

And how did Towson plead its case? Here’s a censored excerpt provided by Pundit Press:

They say the n*****s always already qu***, that’s exactly the point! It means the impact is that the that the is the impact term, uh, to the afraid, uh, the, that it is a case term to the affirmative because, we, uh, we’re saying that qu*** bodies are not able to survive the necessarily means of the body. Uh, uh, the n***** is not able to survive.

Perhaps I am missing the finer nuances of college debate, but assuming I understand cross-examination debate correctly, this form of incoherent chaos is unacceptable, unprofessional, and in many ways, nonsensical.

For the record, I’m not white. I’m writing about this as one of those overperforming brown-skinned people.

 

Filed under: News, , , ,

Homeschooled sixteen-year-old graduates college and high school in the same week

ABC News:

CBS News:

CBS local news reports on this amazing story.

Full text:

It’s that time of year when students all across the country will be celebrating high school and college graduations. One South Florida girl will get a diploma from both in the same week and she is only 16-years old.

Grace Bush already has her bachelor’s degree from college but she doesn’t have a high school diploma yet.

“It’s kind of weird that I graduated college before high school,” said Grace Bush.

The teen from Hollywood earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice Friday morning from Florida Atlantic University.

She did it with a 3.8 grade point average and completed the four-year degree in just three years.

“I started when I was 13 at Broward College and I also took my classes throughout the summer, so I was able to finish it before four years,” said Grace Bush.

The institution’s dual enrollment program allows high performing high school students to earn credit for the same courses towards their college degree and save thousands of dollars in tuition at the same time.

Grace’s parents wanted their nine children to earn college credit in high school because they can’t afford to send all of their kids to college. Their mother, who home schooled all the kids knew early on, Grace had a knack for learning.

“At two years old, she was already reading and I was totally shocked,” said Grace’s mother, Gisla Bush.

Grace is the third oldest in the Bush family.

“My two older sisters are doing it and I’m the third to do it. My oldest sister already graduated and my second oldest sister is graduating in the summer,” said Grace Bush.

The new college graduate said she’ll be pursuing a master’s degree this fall, and then going to law school.

“I would eventually like to become chief justice of the United States,” said Grace Bush.

During her spare time she plays the flute in two orchestras and that keeps her busy but she says she will finally take a little break during the summer.

“To study for the LSAT, so I can get as high a score as possible, so hopefully I can get a full ride into a good school, law school,” said Grace Bush.

Looking at the two videos above, I saw several interesting things. This young lady did not attend public school, she was home-schooled. She had a father who was proud of her and believed in her, which affects the graduation rates of children according to a recent study. She was filmed speaking in her home in front of a little plaque with a verse from the Bible.

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