Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Bobby Jindal and Mike Lee on school choice / education reform

Lousiana Governor Bobby Jindal

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

This is an editorial from the Washington Examiner, authored by school choice champion Bobby Jindal.

What is school choice?

On the most basic level, school choice represents the freedom to choose — empowering parents to select the best educational options for their sons and daughters. That could be a charter school, a private school, a religious school, home schooling, or even online learning. Governments should provide parents with the personalized and individualized tools they need to help their children excel academically.

That freedom to choose in turn will provide children with the freedom to succeed. With the right educational environment, teachers and academic training; students from all locations, income brackets and demographic groups will have better tools to compete in the global economy. We need to develop the talents of every American — no matter where he or she is from, and no matter the color of his or her skin — to maximize our country’s potential.

School choice also serves another important purpose — freeing low-income children from failing schools. No child should see his God-given talents go to waste because he is stuck in a failing school — and no parent should face the disempowerment that comes from knowing her son or daughter remains trapped in a poor school, and she lacks the financial means to move that child elsewhere. We can do better — and, by allowing parents dissatisfied with their school to move with their feet, school choice gives both high-performing and low-performing schools more incentive and motivation to improve their offerings.

Finally, school choice provides parents with freedom from the status quo — an educational-industrial complex that thinks bureaucrats, not parents, can best make decisions about the lives and futures of America’s children. It’s about pushing back when the then-head of Louisiana’s largest teachers’ union said low-income parents had “no clue” how to choose the right school for their children. And it’s even about standing up to the Attorney General of the United States, when the Department of Justice asked a court to block Louisiana’s school scholarship program on civil rights grounds — even though 90 percent of the program’s participants come from racial minority groups.

I don’t like people who talk conservative but govern liberal. I want to see the achievements.

The numbers:

For here in Louisiana, we’ve put those principles to practice. Since we removed the cap on charters in 2009, we’ve authorized almost 200 charter schools throughout the state — that’s 70,000 kids who now have a choice about where they go to school. This last year, our Recovery School District became the nation’s first school district with 100 percent charter school enrollment. And the results are dramatic: The graduation rate in New Orleans has increased from 54.4 percent before Hurricane Katrina in 2004 to 72.8 percent; the percentage of New Orleans students scoring basic and above has increased from 35 percent to 63 percent; and the percentage of failing schools in New Orleans has dropped from 67 percent in 2005 to 17 percent.

We expanded our school choice scholarship program, which was initially confined to New Orleans, statewide. Parental satisfaction with the statewide scholarship program stands at a whopping 91.9 percent. We went even further though and created a dollar for dollar rebate for donations used to fund nonpublic school scholarships low-income students through our “school tuition organizations.” Between 2008 and 2013, the percentage of students in the scholarship program who are proficient in third grade English language arts has grown by 20 percentage points and in math by 28 percentage points. Again and again, we’ve proven that giving more choice to parents is not only vital, but it gets results.

We also expanded access to online and dual enrollment courses for students across the state. This year, we’ve had over 19,000 students take advantage of our Course Choice program enrolling in advanced placement courses and career and technical courses that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to.

He’s in my top 2 for the 2016 presidential race, along with Scott Walker.

I’d like to see school choice enacted at the federal level, and fortunately, Utah Senator Mike Lee has the same idea.

Utah Senator Mike Lee

Utah Senator Mike Lee

The Daily Signal reports:

I recently introduced in the Senate a bill that would empower the people most acutely committed to the quality of our education system: America’s moms and dads. My colleague on the other side of the Capitol, Rep. Luke Messer, R-Ind., has introduced a companion bill in the House.

By giving parents more power to invest in their child’s education and to choose what school best meets their needs, the Enhancing Educational Opportunities for All Act takes an important step toward restoring accountability to our public education system—something that has been missing for far too long.

Under our current system—which has remained essentially unchanged since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act—most parents are powerless to influence the quality of their child’s education.

What occurs in public school classrooms around the country—what teachers teach and how they teach it—is the result of a long, convoluted, bureaucratic chain of command that zigzags its way from Washington to local school districts, but never includes parents.

First, Congress passes legislation authorizing federal bureaucrats to establish rules, regulations, and standards with which states must comply in order to receive federal education funds.

Next, state officials refine—or in some cases distort—these Washington directives, writing narrower rules for their school districts, which then establish the specific policies for individual schools.

At no point in this decision-making process are parents consulted.

Instead, they are left with a “take it or leave it” choice: either accept the education offered at the local public school—no matter how bad it may be—or buy a better alternative, by moving closer to a better school or paying private school tuition.

For America’s most affluent families, this is no big deal—they can afford private schools and so have the power to choose the school that is best for their children. For everyone else, it precludes parents from making choices about their children’s education.

So our bill would expand school choice to all parents, regardless of socio-economic status or zip code, by allowing federal “Title I” K-12 support funds to follow low-income students to any public or private school of their choice.

It would also remove the contribution limits on Coverdell education savings accounts and allow “529” account funds to cover K-12 education expenses.

Our bill would give working parents more opportunities to invest in a variety of learning services and products outside the classroom, such as tutoring, online courses and textbooks.

The problem facing our public school system today is not about a lack of money—we have nearly tripled our investments in elementary and secondary students since 1970. The problem is dysfunctional government policy—however well intentioned—and a lack of accountability.

And that’s exactly what we should expect when Washington bureaucrats have more control than parents over a child’s education. We have a moral and economic obligation to flip this equation and put parents back in the driver’s seat.

For when we tolerate a system in which the quality of a child’s education depends on her parents’ zip code, we fail to live up to the ideals at the heart of American exceptionalism.

And when millions of children learn from a young age not to dream big, but to surrender to the hopelessness of low expectations, we will live in a society where upward mobility is no longer rule but the exception.

We can and we must do better.

If a school is failing – and they often are, especially in poorer areas – then shouldn’t parents have the ability to send their kids to a better school? When I want to buy something online, I know I can always do better by comparing prices and reviews. Competition between suppliers drives prices down, and raises quality up. The customer is king in the free market. It can work in education, too.

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Should we be mentoring women about how to make important life decisions?

In response to Lindsay’s post about why women are so interested in “50 Shades of Grey”, I thought I would post some other really strange stories how some women make decisions.

But first this recent study reported in Newsweek. (H/T Levene)

Excerpt:

Scientifically, nice (heterosexual) guys might actually finish last. A study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin recently found that while men were attracted to nice-seeming women upon meeting them, women did not feel the same way about men.

[…]While the studies shed some light on why men find responsive women more sexually desirable, Birnbaum explains that researchers are still unsure why women are less sexually attracted to responsive strangers than men.

“Women may perceive a responsive stranger as less desirable for different reasons,” said Birnbaum in a press release. “Women may perceive this person as inappropriately nice and manipulative (i.e., trying to obtain sexual favors) or eager to please, perhaps even as desperate, and therefore less sexually appealing. Alternatively, women may perceive a responsive man as vulnerable and less dominant.”

That comports with a previous story I wrote about showing that women decide whether they like a man or not based primarily on first impressions.

From the UK Daily Mail.

Excerpt:

It takes a woman just three minutes to make up her mind about whether she likes a man or not, a study has revealed.

The average female spends the time sizing up looks, physique and dress-sense as well as taking in scent, accent and eloquence of a potential suitor.

Women also quickly judge how he interacts with her friends and whether he is successful or ambitious.

It also emerged most women believe 180 seconds is long enough to gauge whether or not he is Mr Right, or Mr Wrong.

The study also found women rarely change their mind about a man after their initial reaction – and believe they are ‘always right’ in their assumptions and judgments.

The report which was commissioned among 3,000 adults to mark the release of Instinct, a new book by Ben Kay.

Kay said: ‘I think a lot of people believe in trusting their instincts when dating. It makes it seem more magical, like it’s coming from somewhere deeper.

That last sentence is key, I think, in understanding the problem. Some women feel no need to look at academic transcripts, resumes or balance sheets in order to evaluate a man – they think that they  can decide if a man is successful or ambitious based entirely on appearances. I think the culture is leading them to do that, too, because it never used to be like this before.

Now two older stories showing how wrong this can really go.

The first one is from 2010. It’s about a string of conversions to Islam by women in the UK.

Here’s an example story:

Women like Kristiane Backer, 43, a London-based former MTV presenter who had led the kind of liberal Western-style life that I yearned for as a teenager, yet who turned her back on it and embraced Islam instead. Her reason? The ‘anything goes’ permissive society that I coveted had proved to be a superficial void.

The turning point for Kristiane came when she met and briefly dated the former Pakistani cricketer and Muslim Imran Khan in 1992 during the height of her career. He took her to Pakistan where she says she was immediately touched by spirituality and the warmth of the people.

Kristiane says: ‘Though our relationship didn’t last, I began to study the Muslim faith and eventually converted. Because of the nature of my job, I’d been out interviewing rock stars, travelling all over the world and following every trend, yet I’d felt empty inside. Now, at last, I had contentment because Islam had given me a purpose in life.’

‘In the West, we are stressed for super­ficial reasons, like what clothes to wear. In Islam, everyone looks to a higher goal. Everything is done to please God. It was a completely different value system.

‘Despite my lifestyle, I felt empty inside and realised how liberating it was to be a Muslim. To follow only one god makes life purer. You are not chasing every fad.

‘I grew up in Germany in a not very religious Protestant family. I drank and I partied, but I realised that we need to behave well now so we have a good after-life. We are responsible for our own actions.’

For a significant amount of women, their first contact with Islam comes from ­dating a Muslim boyfriend. Lynne Ali, 31, from Dagenham in Essex, freely admits to having been ‘a typical white hard-partying teenager’.

She says: ‘I would go out and get drunk with friends, wear tight and revealing clothing and date boys.

‘I also worked part-time as a DJ, so I was really into the club scene. I used to pray a bit as a Christian, but I used God as a sort of doctor, to fix things in my life. If anyone asked, I would’ve said that, generally, I was happy living life in the fast lane.’

But when she met her boyfriend, Zahid, at university, something dramatic happened.

She says: ‘His sister started talking to me about Islam, and it was as if ­everything in my life fitted into place. I think, underneath it all, I must have been searching for something, and I wasn’t feeling fulfilled by my hard-drinking party lifestyle.’

So this is not a cognitive conversion, it’s about personal fulfillment.

And then a while back there was the legions of teen fangirls in love with this convicted terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The UK Daily Mail reported on it.

Excerpt:

A startling number of teen girls have admitted to having a schoolgirl crush on bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, proclaiming their love for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect on social media.

Its a disturbing trend on sites like Twitter and Facebook, where girls have admitted to finding Tsarnaev attractive, and herald him in the ranks of Justin Bieber and One Direction singer Harry Styles.

One Twitter user, a waitress who goes by the name Keepitblunted, has said she is looking to get a tattoo of a Tsarnaev quote. ‘If you have the knowledge and the inspiration all that’s left is to take action.’

[…]Another says she is considering becoming a Muslim to better related to Tsarnaev.

The FreeJahar97 Twitter account was created on April 25 – 10 days after the double bombing.

The first tweet reads: any other beliebers out there who want to see Jahar freed and believe he is innocent? feel like i’m all alone here.. #freejahar.’

I know I didn’t know Jahar and I shouldn’t be saying this but… I miss Jahar… Is that weird? Don’t think I’m weird. I just miss him.

Tsarnaev5ever tweeted: ‘Jahar is gonna go crazy in that cell alone with just a book… I wanna send money to him… Anyone have the address?’

‘Poor Jahar… He’s only 19. ONLY 19… No one deserves to be in a 10×10… No one…’

Shadowlilly1993 posted: ‘Yall can judge me as much as you want. I’m on his side.This kid needs people behind him. I hope to meet him one day he fascinates me @J_tsar.’

I guess my response to all this is that we ought to be talking to young women about how they are making big life decisions. Shouldn’t we be doing a better job of helping women to think through what their life goals ought to be rationally and then helping them to make practical plans to achieve them? It just seems to me that there is something inside them that attaches great confidence to their emotions. Without anyone sensible to talk to about how to reach a goal through a chain of sensible steps, they can really mess up their lives. And then very often, government grows to help them pick up the pieces – we all have to pay when that happens, you know.

It’s probably a good idea for women to be more careful about picking men – after all, the man you choose will father your daughters. He’d better be good at leading women before he gets thrust into that role.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Man brings 12-year-old rape victim to three abortion clinics, none report him

Life News reports.

Excerpt:

According to the group Life Dynamics out of Texas who just published a shocking report on how sexual pedophiles use abortion to cover their rapes, one rape victim was taken to three – yes three clinics who, according to Life Dynamics, failed to report the abuse.

As Life Dynamics reports, according to court documents, 40 year-old Joseph Coles (pictured right), began having sex with his stepdaughter when she was 10-years-old.

At 12, the stepdaughter became pregnant and her mother took her to the Cleveland Surgi-Center abortion clinic. The abortion was botched and the girl almost died from internal hemorrhaging.

Although not noted in the Life Dynamics report, this blogger discovered that Cleveland Surgi-Center is a National Abortion Federation (NAF) abortion clinic which claims to have funding available. Wonder if they helped pay for this victim’s abortion?

Life Dynamics points out that given that the assaults on the child resumed afterward, it is clear the clinic did not file a report.

Following the abortion, Coles persuaded the girl’s mother to put her on birth control; however, in 2004 the child again became pregnant by Coles and was taken to Planned Parenthood in Shaker Heights.

There she refused to submit to the abortion at that time but relented three days later and was taken to the Preterm Abortion Clinic in Cleveland.

As before, it is evident no report was made by either Planned Parenthood or Preterm since the assaults on the child resumed after the second abortion.

In June of the following year, police were made aware of the situation and Coles was arrested.

Oh, we are dealing with really ethical people, here, in these abortion clinics. I don’t think they need to be regulated at all, we should just let them operate freely. Look how well that worked with Gosnell.

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Thomas Sowell: is the political left really concerned about helping minorities?

Economist Thomas Sowell

Economist Thomas Sowell

Do people who talk about race the most actually favor policies to help minorities? Thomas Sowell writes about it in Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

If anyone wanted to pick a time and place where the political left’s avowed concern for minorities was definitively exposed as a fraud, it would be now — and the place would be New York City, where far left Mayor Bill de Blasio has launched an attack on charter schools, cutting their funding, among other things.

These schools have given thousands of low-income minority children their only shot at a decent education, which often means their only shot at a decent life. Last year 82% of the students at a charter school called Success Academy passed citywide mathematics exams, compared to 30% of the students in the city as a whole.

Why would anybody who has any concern at all about minority young people — or even common decency — want to destroy what progress has already been made?

One big reason, of course, is the teachers’ union, one of de Blasio’s biggest supporters.

But it may be more than that. For many of the true believers on the left, their ideology overrides any concern about the actual fate of flesh-and-blood human beings.

Something similar happened on the West Coast last year. The American Indian Model Schools in Oakland have been ranked among the top schools in the nation, based on their students’ test scores.

This is, again, a special achievement for minority students who need all the help they can get.

But, last spring, the California State Board of Education announced plans to shut this school down!

Why? The excuse given was that there had been suspicious financial dealings by the former — repeat, former — head of the institution. If this was the real reason, then all they had to do was indict the former head and let a court decide if he was guilty or innocent.

There was no reason to make anyone else suffer, much less the students. But the education establishment’s decision was to refuse to let the school open last fall. Fortunately a court stopped this hasty shutdown.

These are not just isolated local incidents. The Obama administration has cut spending for charter schools in the District of Columbia and its Justice Department has intervened to try to stop the state of Louisiana from expanding its charter schools.

Why such hostility to schools that have succeeded in educating minority students, where so many others have failed?

Some of the opposition to charter schools has been sheer crass politics. The teachers’ unions see charter schools as a threat to their members’ jobs, and politicians respond to the money and the votes that teachers’ unions can provide.

The net result is that public schools are often run as if their main function is to provide jobs to teachers. Whether the children get a decent education is secondary, at best.

In various parts of the country, educators who have succeeded in raising the educational level of minority children to the national average — or above — have faced hostility, harassment or have even been driven out of their schools.

Not all charter schools are successful, of course, but the ones that are completely undermine the excuses for failure in the public school system as a whole. That is why teachers’ unions hate them, as a threat not only to their members’ jobs but a threat to the whole range of frauds and fetishes in the educational system.

The autonomy of charter schools is also a threat to the powers that be, who want to impose their own vision on the schools, regardless of what the parents want.

This story reminds me of another story of people on the left blocking poor minority children from better schools, in order to protect the jobs of underperforming unionized teachers.

The Heritage Foundation explains how the Department of Justice, in a Democrat administration, hurts the poorest minority students.

Excerpt:

On August 22, 2013, the United States Department of Justice filed a motion in federal court to stop Louisiana from issuing school vouchers to low-income children in numerous school districts. DOJ is basing the suit on decades-old desegregation orders that treat Louisiana as if it were the same state it was nearly 40 years ago—something that the United States Supreme Court recently rejected in the case of Shelby County v. Holder. Ironically, DOJ’s action will prevent low-income and minority students from accessing the successful Louisiana school choice program, which empowers children, underserved in their assigned public schools, to attend schools of choice that match their learning needs. Vague, open-ended, and stale court orders should not be used to prevent educational innovation and opportunity.

Vouchers are a way of helping poor, minority students to get a quality education by letting them choose to attend better schools – any school the parents choose. But school choice is a thorn in the side of the public school unions who support the political left, because it allows poor, minority child to escape underperforming schools. Poor, minority students don’t help Democrats to get elected, but public school teachers do. And that’s why the administration sides with them against the children. On the other side of the aisle, it’s the conservatives who push for more school choice, and better education for poor and minority students.

But education policy is only one area where minorities are harmed by leftist policies.  Minimum wage is another obvious choice.

Let’s take a look at the data and see how minorities are affected by leftist policies.

Excerpt:

Battles are brewing in New York, California, Minnesota and the nation’s capital over hiking minimum wages, with Democrats having the votes to ram through hikes in all four cases.

These politicians are claiming the moral high ground, saying it will help the poorest in our communities. Don’t be fooled.

Hiking the minimum wage hurts — not helps — the lowest-paid workers, especially young black men. A 10% hike in the minimum wage causes a 2.5% drop in employment among young white men without a high school diploma and a staggering 6.5% drop among young black men without that degree.

Young black males get clobbered three times as hard because they tend to work in the fast-food and restaurant industries, where any increase in labor costs produces layoffs.

[…]Only 5% of American workers earn the federal minimum, according to the latest government data, compared with 13% in 1979. Minimum wage workers are largely first-time workers. They are learning what all of us learn on our first job: to be prompt, dress appropriately, do what the boss asks and be reliable.

First-time workers face the biggest risk of being priced out of the job market by a minimum wage hike. They aren’t worth much to an employer when they start working. They don’t have the skills.

When the government increases the minimum wage, it’s more expensive to hire first-timers. According to David Neumark and J.M. Salas, University of California economists, and William Wascher of the Federal Reserve Board, “minimum wages tend to reduce employment among teenagers.”

[…]All teens are harmed, but black male teenagers are hit hardest by minimum wage hikes, according to a 2011 study by labor economists David Macpherson and William Evans. Unemployment among young black males is currently 29%, double the rate for young white males.

Macpherson and Evans found the reason is that one out of three young black men without a high school diploma works in the restaurant/fast-food industry, where profit margins are thin. Any labor-cost hikes compel these businesses to cut their workforce.

The truth of the matter is that the real minimum wage is zero. In order to help minority young people find jobs, we should strengthen the institution of marriage, encourage people to get married and stay married, lower taxes on businesses, lower regulations on businesses, and so on. But strangely, the people who talk the most about helping the poor and poor minorities in particular are all opposed to that. The Democrats won’t even build the Keystone XL pipeline or expedite other energy development initiatives to create good paying jobs. So don’t believe that people who talk the most about poverty actually have the right answers about how to solve it. After all, the Obama administration talked a lot about health care, but clearly the people who lost their doctors, lost their health care, or are paying more for less health care, do not now believe that Obamacare was the answer to the health care problem.

If you’re looking for a good recent study on the minimum wage and minority youth, take a look at this study from the Employment Policies Institute. More studies here in a previous post on this blog.

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International tests show US children lagging despite record spending on education

Jay Richards tweeted this article from the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

Since 1998, the Program for International Student Assessment, or Pisa, has ranked 15-year-old kids around the world on common reading, math and science tests. The U.S. brings up the middle—again—among 65 education systems that make up fourth-fifths of the global economy. The triennial Pisa report also shows—again—that East Asian countries like Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea produce the best outcomes.

U.S. performance hasn’t budged in a decade. For 2012, U.S. students placed 26th in mathematics, a bit below the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development average, and 17th in reading and 21st in science, close to the average. The U.S. slipped in all categories compared to international competitors, plunging from 11th in reading as recently as 2009.

American teenagers seem especially weak in core academic subjects with high cognitive demands, such as translating concepts into solutions for real-world problems. A quarter never become proficient in math. In Shanghai and Korea, the comparable figure is 10% or fewer. Some 7% of U.S. students reached the top two scientific performance levels, compared with 17% in Finland and an amazing 27% in Shanghai. Is it tiger moms or tiger schools, or maybe both?

The U.S. is way out front in one measure: per-student spending. Only Austria, Luxembourg, Norway and Switzerland spend more. Despite laying out $115,000 per head, the U.S. did no better than the Slovak Republic, which spends $53,000.

Perhaps most depressingly, the data show no statistically significant U.S. achievement improvement over time. None. In an era when it pays to be thankful for small mercies, at least we’re not getting worse, but America’s relative standing is falling as other countries improve.

[…]Massachusetts has been running public schools since 1635 and today is home to some of the best performers in the nation. The state entered Pisa as if it was its own country—but students of the same age in Shanghai performed as if they had two more years of math instruction than those in the Bay State.

[…]Pisa also adds another count to the bill of indictment for the Democrats who block reform to serve their teachers union patrons. Education Secretary Arne Duncan called the report “a picture of educational stagnation,” but liberals are major impediments to more accountability, merit-based compensation and school-choice competition. The Justice Department has even gone so far as to sue Louisiana to block its modest voucher program, which is a moral crime against the students consigned to failing schools.

There are a few areas of economics that I think that Christians really ought to understand, and education is one of them. We definitely need to be concerned about policies that make it harder for poor, minority students to get ahead. We keep throwing money at the unionized public school system, and we get no results. We need to think about making education more like online shopping. What makes online shopping great is choice and competition. If schools were allowed to compete with one another, then the customer would be assured of getting more quality for less money. The public school system is a monopoly, and it serves the teachers and the education bureaucrats – not the children.

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