Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

New study: voucher program improved odds of poor students graduating by 21 percent

The Daily Signal reports on the study.

Excerpt:

Private school choice initiatives have become increasingly common across the United States. Far from being rare and untested, private school choice policies are an integral part of the fabric of American education policy.

In the United States today, 56 different school choice policies exist in 28 states plus the District of Columbia, and the number of choice policies has approximately doubled every four years from 2000 to 2012.

The District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program remains the nation’s only federally sponsored private school choice initiative. It provides scholarships worth up to $8,000 in grades K-8 and $12,000 in high school to low-income children in D.C. to attend any of more than 50 participating private schools.

When the Opportunity Scholarship Program was launched in 2004, the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences selected me to lead the initial government evaluation of this pilot program in parental school choice. Demand for scholarships exceeded supply, so most applicants faced a lottery to determine if they would receive an Opportunity Scholarship, permitting us to use a “gold standard” experimental research design to determine what impact the program had on participants.

Students in our pioneering study graduated from high school at a rate 21 percentage points higher than they otherwise would have as a result of using an Opportunity Scholarship. In scientific terms, we are more than 99 percent confident that access to school choice through the Opportunity Scholarship Program was the reason students in the program graduated at these much higher rates.

But that’s just one program, how about some others?

My research team similarly found the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program significantly increased the rates of high school graduation, college enrollment and persistence in college for the low-income students participating in our nation’s oldest urban private school choice program.

Researchers at Harvard University and the Brookings Institution determined that a privately funded K-12 scholarship program in New York City significantly increased the rate at which black and immigrant students enrolled in college. Increasingly and consistently, researchers are finding that private school choice programs like the Opportunity Scholarship Program enable students to go farther in school.

It is so good for the poor, minority children if we let their parents get money for school tuition directly. We should let parents make the choice about which school is best for their child. But, Democrats oppose school choice, because they want their allies in the teacher unions to be insulated from competition from better-performing private schools.

Look how the Democrats have fought to kill the D.C. voucher program. They talk about helping poor kids, but they don’t really mean it. And note, that article is written by ultra-leftist Democrat Juan Williams, but even he cares more about poor, minority kids getting an education than the Obama administration does.

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UK’s largest teacher union tells teachers they MUST promote the gay lifestyle to students

Dina tweeted this article from the UK Daily Mail.

It says:

Schools should be forced to promote gay relationships in sex education lessons, union leaders say.

The National Union of Teachers has called for a ‘positive portrayal of same sex relationships’ in lessons to be made ‘compulsory’ under the next government.

It said MPs had a duty to tackle ‘homophobia, biphobia and transphobia’ in schools and create a ‘positive climate of understanding about sexuality’.

[…]Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute said: ‘This motion is itself an act of intolerance towards mainstream Christians and their beliefs. It would force Christian teachers to have to choose between their faith and their job.

‘I wonder whether Christian members of the NUT who have paid their dues can expect any help from the NUT when their jobs are on the line.’

He added that Church schools already teach ‘love and tolerance’ of others without having to explicitly approve of same sex relationships.

The proposal was contained in a motion on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights passed by the NUT at its annual conference in Harrogate yesterday.

It stated: ‘Conference instructs the executive to call upon the present and future government to … make it compulsory that all schools’ sex education policies include a positive portrayal of same sex relationships.’

That reminded me of this story from a few weeks ago about the Catholic teacher who was forced to take down pro-traditional marriage postings from her Facebook page.

The article says:

A Catholic high school teacher was forced to remove her Facebook page Wednesday after a petition surfaced online calling attention to her “homophobic” posts.

The petition was posted on change.org Tuesday and has 441 signatures as of Wednesday evening. It points directly to posts allegedly made by Patricia Jannuzzi, a theology teacher at Immaculata High School in Somerville, and has caught the eye of actress Susan Sarandon and former “Real Housewives of New Jersey” cast member Greg Bennett.

“Mrs Jannuzzi’s facebook is a religious curtain covering hateful message,” the petition reads. “The homophobic and short-sighted posts are disturbing and degrading.”

In a statement provided to NJ Advance Media, the school said it took “immediate action” and “mandated that the teacher involved permanently de-active her Facebook page.”

“The opinions reflected in these posts do not in any way represent the philosophy, mission or student experience of this high school,” the statement said. “… Through our investigation, we have determined that the information posted on this social media page has not been reflected in the curriculum content of the classes she teaches.”

[…]Another alumnus, Scott Lyons, who is gay and had Januzzi as a teacher, shared a letter on Facebook he sent to her after reading one of her posts. He said in the letter that he remembers Januzzi’s classes to be “focused on love and acceptance” but that he is “offended and disappointed” by her recent posts.

“While I respect the fact that people have different opinions on the matter what I can tell you from my heart is that I urge you to be careful with your words and the messaging you are putting out there,” he wrote.

Lyons is the nephew of Sarandon, who shared the post to her 3,000 followers.

“So proud of my nephew Scott and the dialogue he started,” Sarandon writes. “…High school is a tough time anyway… students don’t need teachers making it even more difficult.”

Immaculata said in its statement that the school is reviewing its social media policy with faculty and staff members.

“It is the policy of the school that all faculty and staff demonstrate respect and sensitivity to all people at all times and to avoid offending any individuals or groups,” the statement said.

The Catholic teacher linked to an article from Young Conservatives. A mainstream conservative site. And that’s what her employer did to her. Apparently, the employer is a Catholic school.

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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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