Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Are secular leftists on campus interested in discussing different viewpoints?

A few stories that lead me to think that they are not.

First, Campus Reform writes:

A female student was threatened by feminist and LGBT organizations at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington after she invited them to attend a pro-life event.

Madison Marston sent personal email invitations to UNCW’s National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), PRIDE, and the Women’s and Gender Studies Student Association (WSSA), to extend an invitation to Ratio Christi’s “Abortion and Human Equality: A Pro Life Defense of the Unborn” discussion. The three organizations collectively declined while threatening Marston for sending the invitation.

“Each of the leaders of PRIDE, NARAL and WSSA ask that you no longer contact us directly,” the email, obtained by Campus Reform said. “As a student organization, your events are on the CAIC calendar, part of Hawk e-News, and disseminated in a variety of other ways, which is sufficient for us to be aware of them. We do not need, nor want, these invitations. If you continue to attempt to contact any of us, we will take further action.”

In the email, the organizations said they already had a separate event scheduled for that same date but also said they will not participate in any debates with the Christian apologetics organization as they do not share the same beliefs when it comes to abortion and LGBT issues.

“As such, we have no desire to debate them with you or your organization,” the organizations said in the email.

[…]“We have no desire to attend any event sponsored by your organization and its narrow beliefs steeped in religious bigotry and intolerance.”

[…]Ratio Christi’s event, scheduled for Feb., 26, will host Adams, an outspoken conservative professor at UNCW, “to present a scientific and philosophical argument on the topic of abortion,” according to the event’s press release obtained by Campus Reform.

The free event has a Q&A portion concluding Adams’ talk, during which Marston, a biology and chemistry major, was hoping the other student organizations could participate.

“I had naively thought UNCW’s pro-choice student organizations would jump at any and every opportunity to participate in events on the topic of abortion,” Marston told Campus Reform in an interview. “Or at least, I thought they would be somewhat interested in having a platform to defend their views. If they believe so strongly that abortion is a woman’s right—why are they afraid to defend their belief?”

[…]UNCW’s College Democrats also declined the invitation to attend the event as “our party’s views do not align with the views of the speaker.”

I think the pro-abortion folks, the LGBT folks and the Democrats are not so much interested in debate as they are in coercing anyone who disagrees with them.

Next article is from Fox News.

They write:

Students at Acalanes High School were given a handout with LGBT terminology – including words like pan-sexual, demi-boy and gray gender.

Teenagers at a California high school were publicly shamed for disagreeing with speakers allowed to push an LGBT agenda during an English class, according to several upset parents.

The Queer Straight Alliance at Acalanes High School, in Lafayette, lectured students in several ninth-grade English classes on Jan. 29 about LGBT issues, according to Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, which is representing the parents.

During the class, the students, ages 14 and 15, were instructed to stand in a circle. Then, they were grilled about their personal beliefs and their parents’ beliefs on homosexuality, PJI alleges.

“The QSA had students step forward to demonstrate whether they believed that being gay was a choice and whether their parents would be accepting if they came out as gay,” PJI attorney Matthew McReynolds said. “Students who did not step forward were ridiculed and humiliated.”

PJI is a law firm that specializes in religious liberty cases. They are representing several families who had children in the freshman classes — some of whom also are angry because there was no parental notification of the LGBT lecture.

“Singling out students for ridicule based on their moral or political beliefs is a Marxist tactic that should have no place in the United States of America,” Dacus said.

Yes, and Christian parents are paying for it by force – there is no school choice. You are forced to pay for this, whether you use it or not.

And finally, an essay on the bullying of Christians and conservatives that happens in schools, from ISI Review.

Excerpt:

“The new intolerance” is shorthand for the chilled public atmosphere in which religious believers now operate. Many people of faith face unique burdens that would have been unthinkable even a couple of decades ago: burdens of ostracism, of losing the good opinion of their neighbors, of being trash-talked in the public square. Some even face the loss of livelihood or the constant threat and reality of litigation; for a primer, see the hounding last spring of Mozilla CEO Brandon Eich for his donation years earlier on behalf of traditional marriage.

Although this new intolerance has begun to attract attention and debate, the connection between that phenomenon and the rise in unbelief among twenty-somethings remains to be explored. And the scrutiny is overdue. It is well known, and well documented by social science, that many students, not only in America but all over, lose their religion in college. The interesting question is why.

[…]Students, like any other human beings, cannot help being sensitive to atmospherics. Let’s think again of the new force that drives a CEO out of his post for having donated to defend traditional marriage. If the new intolerance can penalize an “alpha” like him so dramatically, how much more menacing must it be to people just starting out, whose futures and livelihoods depend so heavily on the opinion of their peers?

[…]It’s time to air the idea that college students do not stay out of church or synagogue because their education leads them to enlightened conclusions about the big questions. No, the more likely dynamic is that thanks to the new intolerance, the social and other costs of being a known believer in the public square mount by the year—and students take note. Hence intimidation on the quad, multiplied over many years and campuses, is an unseen engine of secularization.

This intimidation didn’t work on me, but I have met Christian women who were very sensitive to peer approval when they got to college. They went from Bible verse memorization to shacking up to abortion to divorce. They started to drift because of the peer-shaming and the professor-shaming, and then it is cemented by the repeated experiences of binge-drinking, hooking up and shacking up. The repeated experience of putting aside God and moral boundaries in order to have fun forms a new worldview at a deep level, and it continues as they age.

Even if they come back to the Christian faith at a superficial (emotional, devotional) level, the underlying worldview is hard to fix. Attempts to re-orient them towards an effective Christian life that addresses the real problems that Christians are facing today in the culture will not be accepted. The self-centered life-plan that was formed in college remains intact, with just a veneer of piety on top to justify it when it’s called into question.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , ,

New study: college freshmen reading lists contain no conservative books

Lots of leftist books, though. Here’s the post about the study from The College Fix.

Excerpt:

Young America’s Foundation has surveyed the required reading programs for incoming college freshmen nationwide and found that, over the past three years, none of the colleges have assigned a conservative-leaning book.

None of them.

Young America’s Foundation surveyed the top 50 schools as noted by Forbes, and “found that many of the ‘required’ books only offered left-wing perspectives on topics such as race, feminism, socialism, inequality, and wealth redistribution.”

[…]“Young America’s Foundation believes young people should be exposed to a true liberal education-one that includes both liberal and conservative ideas, but there appears to be no balance in these readings that are required by colleges and universities,” YAF states. “From the moment students enroll in college through graduation day, they are exposed to liberal themes-and few, if any, will read a conservative book or heard from a conservative professor.”

That’s not all, check this out from National Review.

Excerpt:

Although it has barely registered yet in our public debates, the teaching of American history in our high schools has just been seized in what a few sharp-eyed critics rightly call a “curricular coup.” The College Board, the private company that creates the SAT test and the various Advance Placement tests, has issued a new set of guidelines that is about to turn the teaching of American history into exactly the sort of grievance-based pedagogy that D’Souza decries in his film.

Leftist academics have finally figured out a way to circumvent state and local control over America’s schools and effectively impose progressive political indoctrination on the entire country. Once the AP U.S. History test demands blame-America-first answers, public and private schools alike will be forced to construct an American history curriculum that “teaches to the test.”

Up until the last few months, the College Board has provided high school teachers with only a brief topical outline for the AP U.S. History test. The brevity of this outline has permitted states, school districts, and teachers across the country to approach American history in their own way.  Now, however, the College Board has created a lengthy and detailed “framework” for their AP U.S. History test.  That framework effectively forces teachers to adopt an ideologically left-leaning approach to American history, heavily emphasizing our country’s failings while giving short shrift to our founding principles.

If you’re going to send your kids to college, try to keep them in a STEM field. If not STEM, then trade school. Non-STEM programs are just swimming in left-wing propaganda. You don’t went to go 30K into debt just to pay for brainwashing by narrow-minded academics.

Filed under: News, , , , , , ,

Psychologist recommends Darwinian storytelling to suppress design intuitions

Amy Hall of Stand to Reason linked to this post by David Klinghoffer on Evolution News.

Excerpt:

The Wall Street Journal salutes the research of Boston University psychologist Deborah Kelemen. She has discovered that it’s possible with Darwinian storytelling to suppress common sense in children of the kind that leads them to recognize artifacts of intelligent design in nature.

The Journal notes that quite apart from religious instruction, kids are primed to see life as reflecting “intentional design.” It’s intuitive. The corrective is to catch them at an early age and train them to see things in a Darwinian light.

By elementary-school age, children start to invoke an ultimate God-like designer to explain the complexity of the world around them — even children brought up as atheists. Kids aged 6 to 10 have developed their own coherent “folk biological” theories. …

Dr. Kelemen and her colleagues thought that they might be able to get young children to understand the mechanism of natural selection before the alternative intentional-design theory had become too entrenched. They gave 5- to 8-year-olds 10-page picture books that illustrated an example of natural selection. The “pilosas,” for example, are fictional mammals who eat insects. Some of them had thick trunks, and some had thin ones. A sudden change in the climate drove the insects into narrow underground tunnels. The thin-trunked pilosas could still eat the insects, but the ones with thick trunks died. So the next generation all had thin trunks.

Before the children heard the story, the experimenters asked them to explain why a different group of fictional animals had a particular trait. Most of the children gave explanations based on intentional design. But after the children heard the story, they answered similar questions very differently: They had genuinely begun to understand evolution by natural selection. That understanding persisted when the experimenters went back three months later.

One picture book, of course, won’t solve all the problems of science education. But these results do suggest that simple story books like these could be powerful intellectual tools. The secret may be to reach children with the right theory before the wrong one is too firmly in place.

There are a number of interesting points here. First, that the example of natural selection is fictional. The mammalian order Pilosa (anteaters and sloths) is real, but “pilosas” are not. Second, it is decidedly in the micro-evolutionary realm — a kind of evolution that no one disputes, certainly not advocates of the theory of intelligent design. There’s no reason to think that the “pilosas” are on their way to true speciation, of the kind that evolutionary theory is really challenged to account for, any more than Darwin’s finches. The extrapolation from such a trivial thing into the origin of all species and all biological complexity by unguided natural processes is a cheat.

Most enlightening is that Dr. Kelemen and her colleagues would, to begin with, seek to talk children out of their intuitive response. Among ID researchers, the approach would be to test that intuition, objectively weighing the empirical evidence without preconceptions. Dr. Kelemen would “suppress” it: her own word!

The abstract of her research publication calls the Darwinian storytelling “interventions”. 

I do think it’s important for parents to counter what these educators are interested in doing to their children.

First, it’s important for parents to consider whether teachers are paid for their work (by parents who use privates schools) or whether their salary is coming from the government (parents are forced by law to pay taxes for government-run “public” schools), which has other purposes for children than parents have.  Second, it’s important for parents to decide how they intend to explain to their children the difference between macroevolution and microevolution, lest naturalistic educators use evidence for microevolution as a way of persuading children to accept macroevolution. Third, parents have to decide how to teach their children about the the standard cosmology, cosmic fine-tuning, the origin of life and the Cambrian explosion – each of which is lethal to naturalism, and each of which is more rooted in experimental science than clumsy storytelling. Unfortunately, the good evidence that modern science offers is largely unknown to most parents, who still trust teachers to teach children truth and practical skills.

I do think it’s important for parents to have some sort of plan for dealing with this, and money to fund their plan. The BU professor is obviously not capable of winning an argument about Darwinism with a grown-up with a good knowledge of the facts, but that’s not her purpose. She is a psychologist in Boston – it’s unlikely she is familiar with actual experimental science related to origins. She’s not interested in debating William Lane Craig or Stephen C. Meyer – she’s never even heard of them. She doesn’t want to talk about the details of experimental science with someone who has an awareness of it, she just wants to pass her own religion (naturalism) on to your children when they are too young to know how to resist her. And I’m sure that she’d like the assistance of a secular government to accomplish that. And believe me, there are powerful people who are very interested in helping her, and in making sure that no parent can stop her from indoctrinating their children.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Democrats want government social workers to visit children starting “at birth”

This is from CNS News. (H/T Pearcey Report via Nancy)

Excerpt:

Will America be a better and freer country three decades from now if the children who turn four in this decade spend most of their waking hours with members of a government teachers union rather than with their moms?

President Barack Obama’s vision of America, not surprisingly, starts with very young children spending their time in the custody of government employees.

“I believe we should start teaching our kids at the earliest ages,” Obama said last week.

When he used the word “we” here, Obama was not talking about Michelle and himself, he was talking about the government. When he used the words “our kids,” he was not talking about his own children — who attend the most expensive private school in Washington, D.C. — he was talking about other people’s children and grandchildren.

[…]Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius explained at the National Press Club last April — at a lectern shared with American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten — that Obama’s vision for federal involvement in the lives of very young children does not stop with 4-year-olds.

Obama’s budget calls for HHS to spend $15 billion over 10 years to fund an Obamacare provision called the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. An HHS budget document says this program will send government-funded “nurses, social workers, and other professionals” into people’s homes to “improve parenting skills.”

“I think that there still needs to be great understanding of what the president has put on the table is really a birth-to-five proposal, recognizing that you can’t start at 4-year-olds,” Sebelius said at the National Press Club.

“We really need to start at birth,” said Sebelius.So, there will be an enhancement of home-visiting, which we know is an evidence-based strategy that helps people be good parents from the onset, helps the first and best teacher a child will ever have learn important skills.

[…]Obama, and his allies in government, advocate policies that violate the natural law and destroy human lives. They advocate, for example, the deliberate killing of innocent human lives through abortion (and, in Obama’s case, through intentionally neglecting-to-death born children who have survived abortions). They advocate destroying the family by redefining it to include, so far, carnal relationships between people of the same sex — thus denying that children have a God-given right to a mother and father.

Sebelius has been Obama’s chief agent in attacking the First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion. At this very moment, she is fighting in federal court to force Catholic schools in Washington, D.C., to secure health coverage for their faculty and staff that would provide abortion-inducing drugs in direct and unambiguous violation not only of the inalterable teachings of the Catholic Church but also in direct and unambiguous violation of the inalienable God-given right to life expressly recognized in the founding document of this nation.

For each of the last five years, according to the CDC, at least 40 percent of the babies born in the United States were born to unmarried mothers. As recently as 1980, it was only 18.4 percent.

Obama’s vision of a government that “educates” babies aims at forming the characters of the tragically increasing number of children born illegitimately in the United States — and as many other children as his programs can reach.

His strategic aim is to make them allies in his cause.

I don’t think that strangers in government can do as good of a job as my future wife and I can do. And I don’t like having to pay them to try. Big government secularists seem to have a deep suspicion of parents, and they seem to want to get the children away from them as quickly as possible, especially the fathers. Fathers are bad, I guess, because we teach children about God and about morality, and we teach them to be practical and independent. These are things that a secular leftist government does not like. But they do like to take money from fathers. And mothers too, if they can get it. None of this taking of money and then using it to influence your children is voluntary either. The whole idea that government will be interfering with my family, should I choose to start one, is really upsetting to me. Why don’t they raise their families with their own money, and leave me to raise mine with my money? What gives them the right to push their views on my children, paid for with my salary?

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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