Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

U.S. millennials perform horribly on technology tests compared to other countries

Education spending has tripled since 1970

Education spending has tripled since 1970

This is from the leftist Washington Post.

Excerpt:

There was this test. And it was daunting. It was like the SAT or ACT — which many American millennials are no doubt familiar with, as they are on track to be the best educated generation in history — except this test was not about getting into college. This exam, given in 23 countries, assessed the thinking abilities and workplace skills of adults. It focused on literacy, math and technological problem-solving. The goal was to figure out how prepared people are to work in a complex, modern society.

And U.S. millennials performed horribly.

That might even be an understatement, given the extent of the American shortcomings. No matter how you sliced the data – by class, by race, by education – young Americans were laggards compared to their international peers. In every subject, U.S. millennials ranked at the bottom or very close to it, according to a new study by testing company ETS.

“We were taken aback,” said ETS researcher Anita Sands. “We tend to think millennials are really savvy in this area. But that’s not what we are seeing.”

The test is called the PIAAC test. It was developed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, better known as the OECD. The test was meant to assess adult skill levels. It was administered worldwide to people ages 16 to 65. The results came out two years ago and barely caused a ripple. But recently ETS went back and delved into the data to look at how  millennials did as a group. After all, they’re the future – and, in America, they’re poised to claim the title of largest generation from the baby boomers.

U.S. millennials, defined as people 16 to 34 years old, were supposed to be different. They’re digital natives. They get it. High achievement is part of their makeup. But the ETS study found signs of trouble, with its authors warning that the nation was at a crossroads: “We can decide to accept the current levels of mediocrity and inequality or we can decide to address the skills challenge head on.”

The challenge is that, in literacy, U.S. millennials scored higher than only three countries.

In math, Americans ranked last.

In technical problem-saving, they were second from the bottom.

“Abysmal,” noted ETS researcher Madeline Goodman. “There was just no place where we performed well.”

Nope. U.S. millennials with master’s degrees and doctorates did better than their peers in only three countries, Ireland, Poland and Spain. Those in Finland, Sweden and Japan seemed to be on a different planet.

Top-scoring U.S. millennials – the 90th percentile on the PIAAC test – were at the bottom internationally, ranking higher only than their peers in Spain. The bottom percentile (10th percentile) also lagged behind their peers.

Now the problem can’t be to spend more money on education – we already spend more money than all the other countries.

Excerpt:

The United States spent more than $11,000 per elementary student in 2010 and more than $12,000 per high school student. When researchers factored in the cost for programs after high school education such as college or vocational training, the United States spent $15,171 on each young person in the system — more than any other nation covered in the report.

That sum inched past some developed countries and far surpassed others. Switzerland’s total spending per student was $14,922 while Mexico averaged $2,993 in 2010. The average OECD nation spent $9,313 per young person.

So the solution has to be something else. What could it be? Previously, I linked to some ideas from Bobby Jindal. I think that’s the direction that we need to go in if we are to solve the problem. It’s pretty clear that raising taxes and throwing more money at teachers who can never be fired no matter how badly they perform is not the answer. It’s probably a good idea for kids to focus less on indoctrinating kids in leftist ideology, e.g. – sex education, postmodern skepticism and moral relativism. It’s probably a better idea for parents to take more responsibility for raising their kids and making sure that they do their homework and develop a love of learning. But that would require that we teach children as projects and have goals for them that we push them towards.

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Women earned more doctoral and Master’s degrees than men in 2012

Women now earning majority of graduate degrees

Women now earning majority of graduate degrees

From the American Enterprise Institute Ideas blog.

Excerpt:

The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) released its annual report recently on U.S. graduate school enrollment and degrees for 2012, and here are some of the more interesting findings in this year’s report:

1. For the fourth year in a row, women in 2012 earned a majority of doctoral degrees. Of the 67,220 doctoral degrees awarded in 2012 at U.S. universities, women earned 34,761 of those degrees and 52.2% of the total, compared to 31,830 degrees awarded to men who earned 47.8% of the total (see top chart above).

[…]2. By field of study, women earning doctoral degrees in 2012 outnumbered men in 7 of the 11 graduate fields tracked by the CGS (see top chart above)

[…]3. The middle chart above shows the gender breakdown for master’s degrees awarded in 2012, and the gender disparity in favor of females is significant – women earned just under 60% of all master’s degrees in 2012, which would also mean that women earned 146.9 master’s degrees last year for every 100 degrees earned by men.

[…]Women represent 58.5% of all graduate students in the U.S., meaning that there are now 141 women enrolled in graduate school for every 100 men.

Click here for the charts.

The author of the post, Dr. Mark Perry, concludes this:

MP: Here’s my prediction – the facts that: a) men are underrepresented in graduate school enrollment overall (100 men were enrolled in 2012 for every 141 women), b) men received fewer master’s (40.5% of the total) and doctoral degrees (47.8% of the total) than women in 2012, and c) men were underrepresented in 7 out of 11 graduate fields of study at both the master’s and doctoral levels last year will get no attention at all from the media, universities and anybody in the higher education industry.

Additionally, there will be no calls for government studies, or increased government funding to address the significant gender disparities in graduate schools, and nobody will refer to the gender graduate school enrollment and degree gaps favoring women as a problem or a “crisis.”  Further, neither President Obama nor Congress will address the gender graduate enrollment and degree gaps by invoking the Title IX gender-equity law, like they have threatened to do for the gender gap in some college math and science programs. And there won’t be any executive orders to address the huge gender disparity in graduate schools by creating a White House Council on Boys and Men like the executive order issued by President Obama in 2009 to create the “White House Council on Women and Girls.”  Finally, despite their stated commitment to “gender equity,” the hundreds of university women’s centers around the country are unlikely to show any concern about the significant gender inequities in graduate school enrollment and degrees, and universities will not be allocating funding to set up men’s centers or create graduate scholarships for men.

Bottom Line: If there is any attention about gender differences in the CGS annual report, it will likely be about the fact that women are a minority in 4 of the 11 fields of graduate study including engineering and computer science (a gender gap which some consider to be a “national crisis”), with calls for greater awareness of female under-representation in STEM graduate fields of study and careers (except for the STEM field of biology, where women areover-represented).  But don’t expect any concern about the fact that men have increasingly become the second sex in higher education.  The concern about gender imbalances will remain extremely selective, and will only focus on cases when women, not men, are underrepresented and in the minority.

Men outnumber women in business, computer science, engineering and physical sciences.

I echo Dr. Perry’s point, and want to add this. In traditional Christianity, men are responsible for providing for their families. One of the ways that we men prepare for this is by getting advanced degrees in STEM-related fields, since these fields are the hardest and also pay the best. So with that in mind, what does it mean for men who want to prepare for this provider role that there is this obvious discrimination against men in graduate schools and doctoral programs? Is anyone going to do anything to change policies and incentives to favor men, like they did when women were under-represented? Of course not. The only thing that will be done is to ignorantly urge men to “man up”, while ignoring the real problems, e.g. – a lack of male teachers, schools that are not geared to male learning styles, and so on.

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Kenosha teachers vote to de-certify their teacher union, 63 – 37

The Competitive Enterprise Institute reports.

Excerpt:

Today, teachers in Kenosha, Wis., voted to decertify their union, the Kenosha Education Association, by a margin of nearly two to one. Only 37 percent of the teachers opted to retain the union in an election made possible by the labor reforms enacted under Gov. Scott Walker (R). The result goes to show that when workers have a choice on whether to join a union instead of being forced into one by law, they often choose to vote down the union.

Competitive Enterprise Institute labor policy analyst Matt Patterson said regarding the vote in Kenosha:

“Gov. Walker’s bold and effective reforms have loosened the grip of unions on Wisconsin’s public purse, to the benefit of taxpayers and to the detriment of Big Labor bosses. The news today proves what unions have long feared – that when workers are actually given a free and fair choice, they will often choose opt out of union membership altogether.

“The public at large—and an increasing number of union members—have become wise to the fact labor unions stifle innovation and burden governments and businesses with unsustainable costs and regulations.”

What that means is that the union not only does not get automatic contributions from teachers, but that the the school district cannot even withhold funds from teacher pay checks. Teachers will have to come to some sort of arrangement with the union to give them money on their own, if they want to.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel added some more details.

Excerpt:

Christina Brey, speaking for the Wisconsin Education Association Council, downplayed recertification, calling it just another hoop for local unions to jump through.

Unions can exist without certification, but they cannot bargain for limited base-wage increases with the district. And there are fees involved with chasing recertification.

“It seems like the majority of our affiliates in the state aren’t seeking recertification, so I don’t think the KEA is an outlier or unique in this,” Brey said.

She added that certification gives the union scant power over a limited number of issues they’d like a voice in.

Sheronda Glass, the director of business services in Kenosha, said it’s a new experience for the district to be under Act 10.

She said that, without the union being certified, the district is not obligated to even sit down and hear the concerns of the union over issues such as base wages and working conditions, a clause known as “meet and confer orders.”

Also, she said the district can no longer hold wages for union dues if the union is not certified.

Employees would have to pursue a different avenue if they want their wages withheld, she said.

“We’ve heard all kinds of stories about what has happened in other districts that came under Act 10 and had no teachers’ contract,” Glass said. “It’s interesting now that we’re in it.”

That comment “It seems like the majority of our affiliates in the state aren’t seeking recertification” is good news.

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Governor Bobby Jindal’s fight to give poor, minority children quality education

Here’s an update on the Democrat war on vouchers in Louisiana, posted by governor Bobby Jindal in the left-leaning Washington Post. In it, he explains how is trying to reform education in his home state of Louisiana, and how the federal government is trying to stop him for doing that.

Excerpt:

We all know the harsh cycle of poverty that exists in the United States and that a disproportionate share of those in poverty are minorities. Studies of health-care outcomes, incarceration levels and economic opportunity all show that education is key to improving quality of life.

Millions of single parents in this country work two jobs to make ends meet, hoping that their children won’t have the same struggles. Hope is their only option because they live in neighborhoods with chronically failing public schools and lack the means to move to better school districts or to send their children to private schools.

Obama and Holder think this should continue to be the reality. In Louisiana, we think the opposite is true. We believe every child deserves the opportunity to get a great education.

That’s why we started a school choice program in 2008 in New Orleans and expanded it statewide in 2012. Low-income families with children in schools graded C, D or F by the state are eligible to apply for a scholarship and send their children to schools of their choice.

The program works. From 2011 to 2013, students who had been trapped in failing schools and now attend scholarship schools showed improvement on literacy and math tests. The share of students performing at grade level rose 7 percent, state data show, even though in 2013, 60 percent of students taking the test had been in their new schools for only eight months. More than 90 percent of parents of students participating in the program reported satisfaction with their children’s schools.

This opportunity is perhaps these children’s best chance to escape the cycle of poverty. No one in their right mind could argue that the Justice Department’s efforts to block the scholarship program will help these kids. This can only be an attempt to curry favor with the government unions that provide financial largess and political power.

President Obama should do the right thing and order the Justice Department to drop the lawsuit. Not because I am asking, but because the parents and children in the scholarship program deserve an opportunity. For generations, the government has forced these families to hope for the best from failing schools. Shame on all of us for standing by and watching generations of children stay in failing schools that may have led them to lives of poverty.

We in Louisiana are rejecting the status quo because we believe every child should have the opportunity to succeed. A scholarship program is not a silver bullet for student success. Maybe a student will perform well in a traditional public school, or a charter school, or a virtual school, but the point is that parents should be able to decide, not bureaucrats in Baton Rouge or Washington.

If the president and the attorney general believe their path is right, I invite them to come to Louisiana and look these parents and children in the eyes and explain why they believe every child shouldn’t have a fair shake.

If the administration does not drop this lawsuit, we will fight every step of the way until the children prevail. Giving every child — no matter race or income — the opportunity to get a great education is a moral imperative.

You might remember that the Obama administration previously went after the D.C. voucher program, which was also for helping poor, minority students.  Why are the Democrats doing this? The answer is simple. Come election time, the Democrats rely heavily on the fundraising and activism of the teacher unions. The teacher unions have more money if they have more children trapped in their failing public schools. Therefore, Obama has every incentive to make sure that no child is allowed to leave a failing school. He needs the help of the teacher unions at election time more than he needs to help children who cannot even vote. That’s what is really going on here. Bobby Jindal would love to have the support of teacher unions, but given the choice between helping the unions and helping the children, he’s choosing the children.

The main point here is that the politicians who talk the most about spending more money on education may not be thinking about what is best for children at all. They might be thinking about paying their union supporters more, so that they will do more at election time. An alternative to just giving more money to the unions would be Jindal’s plan of giving money directly to parents and letting parents choose. Parents might not be as politically connected as teacher unions, but if your goal is to help children get an education, then maybe unions and elections don’t matter as much.

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Police invade home of homeschooling family and seize four children

The UK Daily Mail reports.

Excerpt:

Armed police in Germany launched a terrifying raid on a family’s home to seize their four children after they defied the country’s ban on home schooling.

A team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed the home of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich because they refused to send their children to state schools.

The youngsters were taken to unknown locations after officials allegedly ominously promised the parents that they would not be seeing them again ‘any time soon’.

The only legal grounds for the removal of the children, aged from seven to 14, were the family’s insistence on home schooling their children, with no other allegations of abuse or neglect.

According to court documents obtained and translated by the Home Schooling Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), officials did not even allege that the parents had failed to provide an adequate education.

The raid took place on Thursday morning at 8am at the Wunderlichs’ home near Darmstadt, 25 miles south of Frankfurt, in south-west Germany.

Citing the parents’ failure to cooperate ‘with the authorities to send the children to school’, the judge even authorised the use of force ‘against the children’ if necessary, according to court documents cited by the HSLDA.

[…]Mr Wunderlich said that he and his wife had been left devastated by the authorities’ decision to take their children. He said that his 14-year-old daughter Machsejah had to be forcibly taken out of the home.

‘When I went outside, our neighbour was crying as she watched. I turned around to see my daughter being escorted as if she were a criminal by two big policemen,’ he said.

‘They weren’t being nice at all. When my wife tried to give my daughter a kiss and a hug goodbye, one of the special agents roughly elbowed her out of the way and said — “It’s too late for that”.

‘What kind of government acts like this?’

Funny that you would ask that, Mr. Wunderlich, because here’s a story about a German homeschooling family that is being ejected from the United States.

Excerpt:

The White House has posted a response to the petition to stop the deportation of the Romeikes, a homeschooling family from Germany. The White House does not respond to issues before the courts, the response said, but they understand why parents would value the freedom to homeschool.

[…]Though the White House says it understands why parents would value the freedom to homeschool, the administration, through the Justice Department, has been trying to deport the Romeikes back to Germany, where they could lose custody of their children if they were to continue to homeschool. In the various court cases, the Justice Department has argued that the right of parents to decide their children’s education is not a fundamental right, and it agreed with a German court’s opinion that banning homeschooling teaches tolerance of diverse views.

The Romeikes lost their last appeal in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Home School Legal Defense Association, which represents the Romeikes, has now appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

In a blog post on the HSLDA website, HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris criticized the administration for taking so long say that it could not respond, and for allowing certain current unauthorized immigrants, the so-called “dreamers,” to stay in the country while going out of its way to try to deport one family.

“No one can understand why the White House is showing so much leniency to millions of immigrants who have come here illegally in hopes of securing better jobs, but is so determined to deport this one family who has come to America in search of freedom for themselves and their children,” Farris declared. “This petition was the perfect opportunity for the White House to explain why this administration appealed the original grant of asylum. This was a perfect opportunity for the White House to explain the blatantly unequal treatment being received by the Romeike family. But the White House stalled for four months and said absolutely nothing.”

Isn’t that interesting? The same administration that is pushing for amnesty for 20 million illegal immigrants wants to deport one family for homeschooling their children. What is it that causes people on the left to want to drive a wedge between parents and their own children? Why are they so anxious to raise taxes so that both parents are forced to work, and the children will be raised in government-run public schools? What is their goal in doing that? What pleasure do they get out of separating mothers from their 1-year olds? What pleasure do they get in taking a man’s child away and teaching the child things that are opposed to the father’s values – while taking his salary to pay for it?

I know that there are a lot of people who are very passionate about public education, and making everyone equal, and pushing left-wing ideologies onto children against the will of their parents. Every Democrat votes for it when they vote to tax families more to pay for higher pay and benefits for public school teachers. Still, you would think that a story like this might cause them to think twice about what their support for state-run education really means. Make no mistake, Democrats are opposed to homeschooling, and even private schooling. They don’t want parents to have a say – they just want them to pay for whatever the government decides to do with their children.

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