Archive for the ‘ Teachers ’ Category

This paper presents the first analysis of the effect of teacher collective bargaining on long-run labor market and educational attainment outcomes. Our analysis

Source: The Long-Run Effects of Teacher Collective Bargaining by Michael Lovenheim, Alexander Willen :: SSRN

The Costs of Teacher Collective BargainingBy Rick Hess on October 4, 2016 9:10 AMChicago’s teachers are on the verge of striking—for the third time since 2012. Median teacher pay in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is over $78,000 a year. CPS spends another $27,500 per teacher on benefits. And CPS is offering its teachers an 8.7 percent pay boost over the next four years. So why are Chicago’s teachers threatening to strike?Well, Illinois teachers are supposed to contribute nine percent of their salary towards their defined benefit pension; CPS teachers currently contribute two percent, with the district picking up the rest. The city is asking that teachers contribute the requisite amount—hence, the uproar.CPS is already looking at a shortfall of $300 million in 2017. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has backed a $250 million property tax hike to help address the underfunded pension system, which has about $10 billion in liabilities. If teachers picked up their full nine percent pension contribution, it would save CPS about $130 million a year. As Emanuel put it in August, he was asking teachers to “be part of the solution, of a fair deal to strengthen our classroom and secure their position.”Meanwhile, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is angry that CPS has been forced to cut staff and is demanding that the system hire more nurses and counselors. That would obviously be easier to do if unions worked with the district to control things like pension costs.This all brings to mind an intriguing Cornell University working paper recently published by Michael Lovenheim and Alex Willen. Titled “The Long-Run Effects of Teacher Collective Bargaining,” the 2016 paper is a pioneering look at the impact of teacher collective bargaining on long-run labor market and educational attainment outcomes for students. Using the fact that states have adopted “duty-to-bargain” laws at different points in time, Lovenheim and Willen explore how the presence of collective bargaining affects long-term outcomes.Lovenheim and Willen find that collective bargaining leads to worse labor market outcomes. They report that students who live in a state with a “duty-to-bargain” law for all 12 years of their schooling have two percent lower earnings and work 0.50 fewer hours per week by the time they’re 35-to-49. Using the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the authors also find that collective bargaining leads to sizable reductions in mastery of cognitive and non-cognitive skills.As they write, “Our results suggest laws that support collective bargaining for teachers have adverse long-term labor market consequences for students.” Regular readers know that I’m always inclined to treat this kind of sweeping scholarship with a lot of caution. That’s not because of any particular concerns about the quality of the data or the analysis. It just seems self-evidently prudent to be cautious when drawing clear causal conclusions from complex econometric models that use sprawling data sets to address complex social interactions.That said, I find the logic of the analysis pretty compelling. Chicago is a case study in how teachers’ unions have siphoned vast sums out of classrooms and into retirement and health benefits that do nothing for students—and that frequently, I’m afraid, aren’t configured to help attract or keep terrific teachers. We’ll see how Chicago’s latest drama plays out, but it sure seems like the CTU is bent on demonstrating the costs of collective bargaining.

Source: The Costs of Teacher Collective Bargaining – Rick Hess Straight Up – Education Week

Just weeks after ITT Tech’s demise, The Department of Education removed recognition from ITT’s accreditor.

Source: Department of Education ITT accreditor ACICS – Business Insider

Ask parents of teenagers what they’re worried about, and amon

Source: Why helping teens get more sleep could save lives – CNN.com

Ask parents of teenagers what they’re worried about, and among the issues they’re likely to bring up is their teens not getting enough sleep. So many teens stay up past midnight and get up early, especially when their school starts, in some cases, well before 8:00 a.m.
A new study finds that pattern is not only dangerous — it could be deadly.

The study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that teens who get less than seven hours of sleep on school nights were more likely to engage in risky behaviors — such as texting and driving, drinking and driving, riding with a driver who was drinking, and not wearing a seat belt in a car or a helmet while on a bicycle — than teens who sleep nine hours a night.
“It was rather surprising to find such an impact of short sleep duration on these injury-related behaviors and suggests that sleep deprivation may play an important role in poor judgment and decision-making among adolescents,” said Janet Croft, chief of the epidemiology and surveillance branch of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and one of the co-authors of the study.
Results are in: School starts too early, autism screening, PTSD and more
Results are in: Kids start school too early
This current CDC report, which analyzed questionnaires from more than 50,000 high school students in 2009, 2011 or 2013, is just the latest research to document how worrisome a lack of sleep for teens can be.
Back in 2011, the CDC found that insufficient sleep for teens, which was described as less than eight hours on average a night, was associated with cigarette, alcohol and marijuana use, sexual activity, not getting enough exercise, feeling sad or hopeless, and seriously considering attempting suicide. Almost 70% of teens were not getting enough sleep, the CDC found.
Read the CDC report (.PDF)
Doctors around the country grew so concerned about the impact of a lack of sleep on teens, including the connection with obesity, depression and traffic accidents, that the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement in 2014 recommending that schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. so that teens can get the recommended 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep a night.
But last year, researchers from the CDC and the U.S. Department of Education found that, based on data from the 2011-2012 school year, only 18% of the schools surveyed started classes at the recommended time of 8:30 a.m. or later, while more than 80% started earlier. Students in Louisiana were found to go to school the earliest with an average start time of 7:40 a.m.
‘Our society does not respect sleep’
Think about this: If you have to be at school at 7:40 a.m., and you have a 30-minute commute and need at least 30 minutes to have breakfast, shower and get out the door, you must be up at 6:40 a.m. at the latest. If you want to get the recommended 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep, you need to be in bed between 9:10 p.m. and 10:10 p.m. Do you know any teens who go to bed that early?
“The real issue at this point is that our society does not respect sleep, and we have grown-ups that brag about how, ‘We can get on with five hours of sleep,’ ‘We can drink that Red Bull and soldier on,’ ‘Sleep is for wimps,’ ‘I’ll get enough sleep when I’m dead,'” said Maribel Ibrahim, co-founder of Start School Later, a nonprofit focused on increasing public awareness about the relationship between sleep and school hours. “These are the statements that are horrifying, because really sleep is an essential third pillar of health.”
Let kids sleep later
School days: Teens need to start later (Opinion)
For way too many years, I’ve gotten too little sleep. From 4:00 a.m. wake-up calls during my days covering the White House, to sleeping just three hours at a stretch when I had my girls, to early wake-ups even now, I still don’t regularly get enough sleep — but I see the difference when I do. I’m fresher, quicker and all-around better at my job and as a parent when I get more sleep, and that is the case with teens, too.
A study by the University of Minnesota of more than 9,000 students in eight public high schools from three states found that schools with start times of 8:30 a.m. or later report improved academic performance in core areas such as math, English, science and social studies, better scores on state and national achievement tests, improved attendance and a reduction in tardiness.
Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, Missouri, moved up the start time for the school day from 7:50 a.m. to 8:55 a.m. at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.
The school has not done any study on the impact of the later start time, but anecdotal evidence from parents does point to some improvement, said Jennifer Rukstad, the school’s principal.
“There was just lots and lots of complaining about the impact on the life of the family, and so once you kind of allowed that to get through, then if you would ask the parents what kind of impact has it had on your child as far as their affect and their performance. And everyone said, ‘Oh, they’re much easier to get along with,'” Rukstad said.
“A teenager is going to go to bed when they go to bed, no matter what time they are supposed to get up, so if they’re going to stay up until midnight, they’re going to stay up until midnight whether school starts at 7:50 or 8:55. So they are, in general, getting a little more sleep than they were before, because they don’t have to get up as early,” she said. “But I have no data that says that performance has gone up, that we’ve dropped depression rates. We just don’t have data on that.”
Doctors: Early school start times unhealthy for students
Early school start times unhealthy, doctors say
The experience at Rock Bridge also points to the challenges of implementing later start times at every school around the country. The school day at Rock Bridge ends at 4:05 p.m., which affects athletic teams that need to travel a distance for games and after-school clubs. After-school clubs are not nearly as popular as before-school clubs, Rukstad said.
People generally love the start time, but hate the end time, she added. It’s possible, she said, that at some point in the next few years, based on financial pressures, busing needs and teaching demands in the district, the school time at Rock Bridge might move back to a slightly earlier time, but not as early as 7:50 a.m.
“There are just some limitations, especially when you look at middle school and high school of having their schedules so vastly different,” said Rukstad. (Middle schoolers start their day at 7:30 a.m.)
‘The enemy is ignorance’
Ibrahim of Start School Later said more schools are moving in the direction of starting later. When her group was formed in 2011, she said, schools in a total of 23 states attempted to begin the school day at a later time. Today, schools in 44 states have made the move, she said.
“So it is becoming a conversation piece. People are talking about it, and right now we have school districts that have done it,” she said. “All the previous obstacles that were cited are really not obstacles at all. The biggest obstacle is fear of change.”
Just this week, Maryland passed legislation which will recognize schools that are making strides toward healthy hours, said Ibrahim. “It’s really going to bring even more attention to the problem and it’s going to support school districts that are really trying to make a change,” she said.
Calming the teenage mind in the classroom
Calming the teenage mind in the classroom
What can a parent do? Researchers at the CDC say parents can encourage their children to practice good sleep habits, such as setting a regular bedtime and wake-up time, including on weekends, and limiting the use of devices such as computers, video games and cell phones in the bedroom after a certain hour.
“Parents may benefit themselves and their children by setting a good example,” said Anne Wheaton, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a co-author of the new study. “Adolescent sleep habits tend to reflect their parents’ sleep habits.”
The greatest thing parents can do to help their teens get more sleep, according to Ibrahim of Start School Later, is really get educated on the issue of school start times. “Ironically, even well-meaning school districts that have attempted to implement school start times have gotten backlash from the community, from the parents, because the school districts are not the villains necessarily. Really the enemy is ignorance,” said Ibrahim. “The enemy is assuming, ‘Oh this isn’t that big a deal. Just turn off your devices at night and stop texting and all will be well.’ That would be great if kids could get up at 7:30 in the morning, but it’s not great when they still have to get up at 5:00.”
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It will be years before my girls, 8 and 10, begin high school. But after going through the research, hearing the benefits of later school start times, and knowing how difficult it is to get a teen to go to bed early despite a parent’s best intentions, I’m hoping by the time they get there, later start times will be as normal in high school as a teenager’s eye roll.
“We’ll say, ‘Oh my gosh, they used to start school at what time?'” joked Ibrahim.
Do you think high schools should have later start times? Share your thoughts with

Judges rule that the state’s job protections for teachers do not deprive poor and minority students of a quality education, or violate their civil rights.

Source: California Appeals Court Reverses Decision to Overturn Teacher Tenure Rules – The New York Times

LOS ANGELES — A California appeals court ruled on Thursday that the state’s job protections for teachers do not deprive poor and minority students of a quality education or violate their civil rights — reversing a landmark lower court decision that had overturned the state’s teacher tenure rules.

The decision put a roadblock — at least temporarily — in front of a national movement, financed by several philanthropists and businesspeople, to challenge entrenched protections for teachers, championed by their unions.

Two years ago, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge struck down five California statutes connected with the awarding of tenure, as well as rules that govern the use of seniority to determine layoffs during budget crises. Ruling in a case brought by a group of nine high school students — four of whom have since graduated — the judge, Rolf Treu, said the statutes violated the students’ rights to an equal education under the California Constitution because they allowed poorly performing teachers to remain indefinitely in classrooms.

In reversing the trial court’s decision, a panel of three appeals judges wrote that if ineffective teachers are in place, the statutes themselves were not to blame because it was school and district administrators who “determine where teachers within a district are assigned to teach.” The laws themselves, the judges wrote, do not instruct districts in where to place teachers.

“The court’s job is merely to determine whether the statutes are constitutional,” the panel wrote, “not if they are ‘a good idea.’”

Teachers unions immediately welcomed the ruling.

“I consider this a victory for teachers and a victory for students,” said Eric C. Heins, the president of the California Teachers Association. “What these statutes have done is, one, they bring stability to the system, and for many students they bring stability to their schools and to the teachers in their schools. For many kids, the school environment is the only stable environment that many of them have.”

Tom Torlakson, the state superintendent of public instruction in California, said the appeals court decision would allow districts to recruit and train teachers at a time of shortages in the state.

“All of our students deserve great teachers,” Mr. Torlakson said in a statement. “Teachers are not the problem in our schools — they are the answer to helping students succeed on the pathway to 21st century college and careers.”

The plaintiffs in the case, known as Vergara v. California, said they would appeal to the state Supreme Court.

“The Court of Appeal’s decision mistakenly blames local school districts for the egregious constitutional violations students are suffering each and every day,” Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., the lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “But the mountain of evidence we put on at trial proved — beyond any reasonable dispute — that the irrational, arbitrary and abominable laws at issue in this case shackle school districts and impose severe and irreparable harm on students.”

The decision came just a day after another group of parents served notice to defendants in a lawsuit challenging Minnesota’s job protections for teachers. A similar lawsuit is also pending in New York.

The plaintiffs in Minnesota and New York vowed to press on, with backing from the Partnership for Educational Justice, a New York-based group that receives financing from the foundations of Eli Broad, a Los Angeles billionaire, and the Walton family, founders of Walmart.

Katharine Strunk, an associate professor of education at the University of Southern California, said that while the ruling may be considered a victory for teachers’ unions, the case had sparked a national conversation over teacher hiring and firing.

“The judges are saying things are not right in California, that there are drawbacks to the current system, but this is not something for the courts to decide,” Ms. Strunk said. “I don’t think anyone believes that these laws are the best we can do.”

After the trial court judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs two years ago, Arne Duncan, former United States secretary of education, applauded the decision, saying he hoped it would prompt policy makers to change tenure statutes. On Thursday, John B. King Jr., Mr. Duncan’s successor, was not immediately available for comment.

The plaintiffs argued that because the state allows districts to grant tenure after just two years, and because districts often spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to remove teachers they consider low-performing, tenure rules can lock in ineffective educators for life.

All too often, the plaintiffs argued, the worst teachers are placed in schools with high concentrations of low-income and minority students.

In its ruling, the appeals court said that “the challenged statutes do not in any way instruct administrators regarding which teachers to assign to which schools.”

The judges acknowledged that principals got rid of “highly ineffective teachers” by transferring them to other schools, including schools with many poor students.

“This phenomenon is extremely troubling and should not be allowed to occur,” they wrote, “but it does not inevitably flow from the challenged statutes.”

The sexual act did not occur on school grounds, Sheriff Entrekin said. Means is charged with one count of a school employee engaging in a sex act or deviant sexual intercourse with a student under the age of 19 years old. The charge is a felony.

Source: Etowah County teacher accused of having sex with student | WHNT.com

There was a moment at a recent rally when the nature of the tuition beast was suddenly, and unforgettably, revealed; when “Mandy,” an anonymous NYU junior, took the stage to tell exactly how, and why, she had no choice but to become a prostitute to meet NYU’s soaring price.

Source: With No Other Choice, This Student Resorted to Prostitution to Meet NYU’s Soaring Price

Feds to stop tipping off colleges on student choices

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For years, the federal government has been delivering inside information to colleges about an applicant’s school preferences that has harmed some students’ chances for admission and awards.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has been serving as a tip sheet to colleges by sharing with them the schools that a child was applying to, as well as the school order that a teenager listed on the aid application. Most students list their schools in order of preference, which some colleges have used to make admission and aid decisions.

Most teenagers and their parents had no idea that the federal government was tipping off schools, but those who learned about this practice have been alternatively livid and scared about how this information was being used. With pressure building for the U.S. Department of Education to stop sharing what should be confidential information, the department has announced that it will end the practice beginning with the 2016-17 FAFSA.

A Department of Education official provided the following explanation in an email for the policy change to CBS MoneyWatch:

We are making this change because of information we have received that some colleges were using the listing of the other schools in a manner that is not appropriate. For example, some colleges use that information in their admissions decision process — looking to see if any of their competitors were listed. Similarly, some use the information to determine if and how much institutional aid to provide — why spend money if the student would likely come to my school anyway? We also determined that there is no legitimate student aid need for such information.

Before making this decision, the official said the department conducted extensive research and consulted with various stakeholders including colleges, state agencies and others in the higher-ed industry.

FAFSA, which millions of students use, allows a financial aid applicant to list up to 10 schools on the aid application. Colleges need to know if students are applying for financial aid so they can create aid packages for their accepted applicants.

Colleges’ reliance on FAFSA lists for more than their original use came to light in 2013 when Inside Higher Ed, a trade publication, suggested that some schools were denying admission based on list order and possibly reducing financial aid.

This is a murky area and no one knows for sure how common such FAFSA data-mining is. A 2015 study, however, suggested that some moderately selective schools did reduce aid based on students’ list orders.

Although schools will no longer gain access to a student’s school list via the FAFSA, state higher-ed agencies will continue to have access to students’ college preferences. Several states, including Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut, require that students put a state university first on the FAFSA list to be eligible for some state grants.

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Lynn O’Shaughnessy On Twitter»

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Lynn O’Shaughnessy is a best-selling author, consultant and speaker on issues that parents with college-bound teenagers face. She explains how families can make college more affordable through her website TheCollegeSolution.com; her financial workbook, Shrinking the Cost of College; and the new second edition of her Amazon best-selling book, The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price.

via FAFSA closes the door to college snooping – CBS News.

Most teens start school too early in the morning, which deprives them of the sleep they need to learn and stay healthy, a new study says.

The American Academy of Pediatrics last year urged middle schools and high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. in order to allow teens — who are biologically programmed to stay up later at night than adults — to get the recommended 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep each night.

But 83% of schools do start before 8:30 a.m., according to a study released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The average start time for 39,700 public middle schools, high schools and combined schools was 8:03 a.m., based on data from the 2011-2012 school year.

School systems have debated whether to delay school start times for years. Many parents have asked schools to start later, arguing that their teens have trouble waking up early enough to get to school by 7:30 a.m., let alone learn.

“It makes absolutely no sense,” said physician M. Safwan Badr,  a past president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “You’re asking kids to learn math at a time their brains are not even awake.”

But many school officials have argued that starting class later would make it more difficult to schedule after-school sporting events, which often require teams to take buses to other parts of their districts.

“It’s a logistical nightmare,” said Daniel Domenech, executive director of AASA, the School Superintendents Association., who said that school districts have to consider the cost of school buses, as well as traffic and after-school activity schedules.

Allowing high schoolers to sleep in could mean sending elementary kids to school in the dark during the winter, as they would have to take the early schedule. That could pose a safety dangers to the youngest kids as they walk to school or wait at bus stops, Domenech said.

Starting high school later also would mean starting sports practices later and make it more difficult for teens to get to after-school jobs, Domenech said.

He notes that early school start times are nothing new.

“This has been going on forever, and kids have been graduating from school and going on to college,” Domenech said. “It certainly doesn’t seem to have hurt them all these years.”

Yet studies show that today’s teens are chronically sleep deprived, said Judith Owens, director of sleep medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and lead author of the pediatric academy report.

Two-thirds of high school students today fail to get even eight hours of sleep on school nights, according to the CDC report. Adolescents who don’t get enough sleep are at higher risk for being overweight, depressed and using tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs, but less likely to get enough exercise, according to the CDC. Over time, people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to develop heart disease and type 2 diabetes, Owens said.

“This is a major public health issue,” said Badr, noting that parents should consider sleep to be as important for a child’s health as nutrition and exercise. He encourages parents to be firm with kids, setting bed times and telling teens to shut off their electronic devices.

Sleep deprivation also can lead to drowsy driving and car accidents, Owens said.

Studies on driving simulators show that “not getting enough sleep at night is the equivalent of consuming three or four beers and being moderately intoxicated,” Owens said. “So teens are getting behind the wheel as impaired as if they had consumed a fair amount of alcohol.”

Owens notes that students who finish school in the early afternoon spend more time unsupervised, giving them more time to get into trouble before their parents arrive home from work.

While some adults assume that sleepy teens are lazy, Badr said that adolescents’ natural sleep cycles are very different than adults’.

While the average adult’s body tells her to sleep from about 11 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., the typical teen body wants to sleep from about 12 a.m. or 1 a.m. until 8 a.m. or 9 a.m., Badr said. When school starts too early, “they’re waking up at a time when their brain doesn’t want them to be awake.”

Kids forced to wake up too early also miss out on REM sleep, which is important for consolidating memories and helping people to remember what they learned that day, Owens said. REM sleep tends to be concentrated in the last third of the night, or between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. for a typical teen, Badr said.

“It’s like telling you that you have to get up at 3 o’clock in the morning and function at full capacity,” Owens said.

Some schools have made changes aimed at improving teen sleep.

Owens has worked with the public school system in Fairfax County, Va., where high school used to begin at 7:20 a.m., and the first buses began picking kids up as early as 5:45 a.m. This fall, high school will begin at 8:10 a.m. Researchers are collecting data to see if the later start time leads to any changes in test scores or health, including the number of kids who report being depressed or who are injured playing sports, Owens said.

 

 

The vast majority of schools start before 8:30 a.m., which is earlier than doctors recommend for teens..

 

 

Toddlers who spend a lot of time in front of a TV may be at greater risk of being bullied later in life, a new study suggests.

As the number of hours of TV watching increased, so did the risk of being victimized by classmates in middle school, according to the study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

“Television to me is a pleasant pastime,” said study coauthor Linda Pagani, a psychologist and professor in the school of psycho-education at the University of Montreal and a researcher at the brain health division of the Sainte-Justine’s Children’s Hospital. “But too much of one pastime can come at the detriment of another.”

Boys watching TV Chris Stein / Getty Images

When kids watch too much television, they can “grow up with deficits in their emotional skills,” study coauthor Linda Pagani said.

When you go beyond two hours of TV watching, it takes away from more engaging activities, Pagani said. Most important of those would be direct interactions with parents, where children learn how socialize and develop “emotional intelligence,” she added.

“Emotional intelligence is driven by social experience,” Pagani explained. “I talk, you listen. You talk, I listen. We look each other in the eye. Eye contact is a really powerful mode of communication. It tells a lot about people’s internal states. Kids can grow up with deficits in their emotional skills.”

And that, Pagani said, may leave them more vulnerable to bullying.

Pagani and her colleagues followed 991 girls and 1,006 boys who were taking part in the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development. When the children were 29 months old, the researchers queried parents about the kids’ TV viewing habits, including DVD watching. Parents were also asked about their children’s behavior — how impulsive or aggressive they were, for example.

Then in the sixth grade, the children filled out a survey that asked questions about how frequently other children called them names or said mean things to them; how often they were excluded from play; how often they were pushed, hit or kicked; how often other children made fun of them or laughed at them, and how often they were forced to give up something that belonged to them.

When the researchers analyzed the two sets of data, they found that for each additional hour a child watched TV, there was an increase of 11 percent in the amount of bullying they experienced in middle school.

And that was true even when the researchers took into account factors such as the child’s own behavior and cognitive abilities, as well as family characteristics such as income, family functioning and the mother’s level of education.

While there is no question that the study shows a strong association between TV watching in toddlers and later victimization by classmates, it’s not clear what the exact mechanism of that is, experts said.

“It’s a really nice study,” said Alan Kazdin, Sterling professor of psychology and psychiatry and professor of child psychology at Yale University. “But they are taking a big leap when it comes to causation. Children who sit in front of a TV all day tend not to be gregarious and they are more prone to depression, for example.”

Patrick Tolan, director of the Youth-Nex Center at the University of Virginia and a professor in UVA’s Curry School of Education, put it this way: “It’s impressive that you can see long-term effects of TV watching. But it’s not clear whether TV watching is directly related to victimization, or to a lot of poor performance and poor functioning and victimization is just one aspect of that.”

Tolan pointed out that some of the negative effects of TV can be mitigated by parents watching along with a child and then discussing the content. For example, he said, “If someone is being pushed around, a parent might say, ‘He should get help from the teacher.'”

That way, Tolan said, TV watching is not completely passive and can actually become a learning experience.

Kazdin said he hopes the study doesn’t lead parents to focus solely on limiting TV time as a strategy to protect kids from being bullied.

One of the best ways to protect children against bullying is to encourage them to pursue something they are interested in, be it sports or music or dance or another activity, Kazdin said. “Find out what makes their eyes light up,” he added.

When kids get to be good at something, it builds their confidence, “and that is an enormous protection,” Kazdin said.

For her part, Pagani said she doesn’t want the new findings to make parents feel bad, but rather to alert them to the impact of too much TV. “Knowledge is power,” she said.

Study: TV time for toddlers linked to risk of being bullied – TODAY.com.

We’re a culture obsessed with parenthood, or “parenting,” as we like to call it.  Countless websites, books, and magazines provide advice for parents aspiring to perfection. And paramount on any good parent’s priority list is making sure our kids are safe and healthy.  So we pay extra for organic milk and banish trans fats from our kitchens.  We deliberate over the safest car seats and sign petitions to ban sodas from school cafeterias.  We talk to our kids early and often about the dangers of smoking, drinking and drugs.

But when it comes to the hazards of sex, our approach falls somewhere between passivity and paralysis.  For whatever reasons – concern about imposing fear and shame, embarrassment about being hypocritical, or not believing that kids are capable of self-control – we can’t bring ourselves to just say “don’t!”  We make sure our kids know about condoms and the Pill, and tell them we’re always there if they want to talk.  Which is the equivalent of shutting our eyes, crossing our fingers, and hoping.  Hoping that our kids won’t get pregnant, or get someone else pregnant.  Hoping that they won’t catch that STD that causes infertility or cancer.  Hoping the chemical bonds that they form and then break won’t break their hearts.

Because here’s the rub.  It is an indisputable fact that having sex means taking risks.  We can reduce the risks of unwanted consequences, but we can’t eliminate them.  We wouldn’t tell our kids that it’s okay to smoke — as long as they smoke low tar cigarettes.  Or that drugs are fine — but only in small doses.  But we tell them – by not telling them otherwise – that risking pregnancy, life-threatening diseases, and emotional devastation is okay.

Here are some cold, hard facts to consider.  Every year there are ten million – ten million! – new cases of sexually transmitted diseases among our sons and daughters who are 15 to 24 years old.  As of 2008, one in four teenagers already had an STD, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  The most commonly transmitted STD is HPV, or human papillomavirus.  We now know that certain types of HPV cause cancers of the head and neck.  Think Michael Douglas.  Others cause cervical cancer.  Another “common STD,” according to the CDC, is chlamydia.  In 2013, there were nearly a million cases among 15- to 24-year olds.  If our daughters are among that million, it could mean they’ll never be able to have kids of their own.

When it comes to the hazards of sex, our approach falls somewhere between passivity and paralysis. For whatever reasons – concern about imposing fear and shame, embarrassment about being hypocritical, or not believing that kids are capable of self-control – we can’t bring ourselves to just say “don’t!”

As for getting pregnant, the CDC reports that nearly half of all pregnancies in this country are unintended.  For women 19 and younger that rises to four out of five.  What’s not to understand here?  Sex makes babies!  According to the Guttmacher Institute, at 2008 rates, one in ten women will have an abortion by the time she is 20 years old.  Even if you’re morally neutral on the subject of abortion, the image of your  daughter crying in her college dorm room as she contemplates the possibility of aborting your grandchild can’t be a pretty one.  And even if you believe abortion is the equivalent of getting a tooth pulled, how could you not worry about the possibility of some psychological fallout.

Then there are the emotional consequences of sexual intimacy.  Studies have linked sexual activity with depression in teenage girls.  We now know about oxytocin, a hormone released in the female brain during sexual activity.  Among other things, it promotes feelings of bonding and trust.  Like it or not, sex comes with emotional strings attached.  Dr. Miriam Grossman is a psychiatrist who worked in the campus counseling center at UCLA.  She recounted the devastating effects of casual sex among her patients in her book, Unprotected.  “Almost daily, I prescribe medication to help students, mostly women, cope with loss and heartbreak.”  Are we willing to live with the prospect of our kids suffering from depression?  Depression that was preventable?

As parents we spend our lives trying to protect our kids.  So here’s a radical thought.  How about urging them to wait till they’re married before having sex?  If we really want what’s best and safest and healthiest for our kids, let’s start a sexual revolution.  Hey, it’s been done before.

Marcia Segelstein has covered family issues for over 20 years
as a producer for CBS News and as a columnist. She has written for “First Things,” “World Magazine,” and “Touchstone.”  She is currently a Senior Editor and columnist for “SALVO” magazine. Her columns can be found at www.salvomag.com.

 

The real truth about sex: What we’re not telling our kids | Fox News.

I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me

by Edward Schlosser on June 3, 2015

I’m a professor at a midsize state school. I have been teaching college classes for nine years now. I have won (minor) teaching awards, studied pedagogy extensively, and almost always score highly on my student evaluations. I am not a world-class teacher by any means, but I am conscientious; I attempt to put teaching ahead of research, and I take a healthy emotional stake in the well-being and growth of my students.

Things have changed since I started teaching. The vibe is different. I wish there were a less blunt way to put this, but my students sometimes scare me — particularly the liberal ones.

Not, like, in a person-by-person sense, but students in general. The student-teacher dynamic has been reenvisioned along a line that’s simultaneously consumerist and hyper-protective, giving each and every student the ability to claim Grievous Harm in nearly any circumstance, after any affront, and a teacher’s formal ability to respond to these claims is limited at best.
What it was like before

In early 2009, I was an adjunct, teaching a freshman-level writing course at a community college. Discussing infographics and data visualization, we watched a flash animation describing how Wall Street’s recklessness had destroyed the economy.
More on college

I was a liberal adjunct professor. My liberal students didn’t scare me at all.

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3 destructive things you learned in school without realizing it

The video stopped, and I asked whether the students thought it was effective. An older student raised his hand.

“What about Fannie and Freddie?” he asked. “Government kept giving homes to black people, to help out black people, white people didn’t get anything, and then they couldn’t pay for them. What about that?”

I gave a quick response about how most experts would disagree with that assumption, that it was actually an oversimplification, and pretty dishonest, and isn’t it good that someone made the video we just watched to try to clear things up? And, hey, let’s talk about whether that was effective, okay? If you don’t think it was, how could it have been?

The rest of the discussion went on as usual.

The next week, I got called into my director’s office. I was shown an email, sender name redacted, alleging that I “possessed communistical [sic] sympathies and refused to tell more than one side of the story.” The story in question wasn’t described, but I suspect it had do to with whether or not the economic collapse was caused by poor black people.

My director rolled her eyes. She knew the complaint was silly bullshit. I wrote up a short description of the past week’s class work, noting that we had looked at several examples of effective writing in various media and that I always made a good faith effort to include conservative narratives along with the liberal ones.

Along with a carbon-copy form, my description was placed into a file that may or may not have existed. Then … nothing. It disappeared forever; no one cared about it beyond their contractual duties to document student concerns. I never heard another word of it again.

That was the first, and so far only, formal complaint a student has ever filed against me.
Now boat-rocking isn’t just dangerous — it’s suicidal

This isn’t an accident: I have intentionally adjusted my teaching materials as the political winds have shifted. (I also make sure all my remotely offensive or challenging opinions, such as this article, are expressed either anonymously or pseudonymously). Most of my colleagues who still have jobs have done the same. We’ve seen bad things happen to too many good teachers — adjuncts getting axed because their evaluations dipped below a 3.0, grad students being removed from classes after a single student complaint, and so on.

I once saw an adjunct not get his contract renewed after students complained that he exposed them to “offensive” texts written by Edward Said and Mark Twain. His response, that the texts were meant to be a little upsetting, only fueled the students’ ire and sealed his fate. That was enough to get me to comb through my syllabi and cut out anything I could see upsetting a coddled undergrad, texts ranging from Upton Sinclair to Maureen Tkacik — and I wasn’t the only one who made adjustments, either.

I am frightened sometimes by the thought that a student would complain again like he did in 2009. Only this time it would be a student accusing me not of saying something too ideologically extreme — be it communism or racism or whatever — but of not being sensitive enough toward his feelings, of some simple act of indelicacy that’s considered tantamount to physical assault. As Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis writes, “Emotional discomfort is [now] regarded as equivalent to material injury, and all injuries have to be remediated.” Hurting a student’s feelings, even in the course of instruction that is absolutely appropriate and respectful, can now get a teacher into serious trouble.

(Shawn Rossi)

In 2009, the subject of my student’s complaint was my supposed ideology. I was communistical, the student felt, and everyone knows that communisticism is wrong. That was, at best, a debatable assertion. And as I was allowed to rebut it, the complaint was dismissed with prejudice. I didn’t hesitate to reuse that same video in later semesters, and the student’s complaint had no impact on my performance evaluations.

In 2015, such a complaint would not be delivered in such a fashion. Instead of focusing on the rightness or wrongness (or even acceptability) of the materials we reviewed in class, the complaint would center solely on how my teaching affected the student’s emotional state. As I cannot speak to the emotions of my students, I could not mount a defense about the acceptability of my instruction. And if I responded in any way other than apologizing and changing the materials we reviewed in class, professional consequences would likely follow.

I wrote about this fear on my blog, and while the response was mostly positive, some liberals called me paranoid, or expressed doubt about why any teacher would nix the particular texts I listed. I guarantee you that these people do not work in higher education, or if they do they are at least two decades removed from the job search. The academic job market is brutal. Teachers who are not tenured or tenure-track faculty members have no right to due process before being dismissed, and there’s a mile-long line of applicants eager to take their place. And as writer and academic Freddie DeBoer writes, they don’t even have to be formally fired — they can just not get rehired. In this type of environment, boat-rocking isn’t just dangerous, it’s suicidal, and so teachers limit their lessons to things they know won’t upset anybody.
The real problem: a simplistic, unworkable, and ultimately stifling conception of social justice

This shift in student-teacher dynamic placed many of the traditional goals of higher education — such as having students challenge their beliefs — off limits. While I used to pride myself on getting students to question themselves and engage with difficult concepts and texts, I now hesitate. What if this hurts my evaluations and I don’t get tenure? How many complaints will it take before chairs and administrators begin to worry that I’m not giving our customers — er, students, pardon me — the positive experience they’re paying for? Ten? Half a dozen? Two or three?

This phenomenon has been widely discussed as of late, mostly as a means of deriding political, economic, or cultural forces writers don’t much care for. Commentators on the left and right have recently criticized the sensitivity and paranoia of today’s college students. They worry about the stifling of free speech, the implementation of unenforceable conduct codes, and a general hostility against opinions and viewpoints that could cause students so much as a hint of discomfort.
It’s not just that students refuse to countenance uncomfortable ideas — they refuse to engage them, period.
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I agree with some of these analyses more than others, but they all tend to be too simplistic. The current student-teacher dynamic has been shaped by a large confluence of factors, and perhaps the most important of these is the manner in which cultural studies and social justice writers have comported themselves in popular media. I have a great deal of respect for both of these fields, but their manifestations online, their desire to democratize complex fields of study by making them as digestible as a TGIF sitcom, has led to adoption of a totalizing, simplistic, unworkable, and ultimately stifling conception of social justice. The simplicity and absolutism of this conception has combined with the precarity of academic jobs to create higher ed’s current climate of fear, a heavily policed discourse of semantic sensitivity in which safety and comfort have become the ends and the means of the college experience.

This new understanding of social justice politics resembles what University of Pennsylvania political science professor Adolph Reed Jr. calls a politics of personal testimony, in which the feelings of individuals are the primary or even exclusive means through which social issues are understood and discussed. Reed derides this sort of political approach as essentially being a non-politics, a discourse that “is focused much more on taxonomy than politics [which] emphasizes the names by which we should call some strains of inequality [ … ] over specifying the mechanisms that produce them or even the steps that can be taken to combat them.” Under such a conception, people become more concerned with signaling goodness, usually through semantics and empty gestures, than with actually working to effect change.

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Herein lies the folly of oversimplified identity politics: while identity concerns obviously warrant analysis, focusing on them too exclusively draws our attention so far inward that none of our analyses can lead to action. Rebecca Reilly Cooper, a political philosopher at the University of Warwick, worries about the effectiveness of a politics in which “particular experiences can never legitimately speak for any one other than ourselves, and personal narrative and testimony are elevated to such a degree that there can be no objective standpoint from which to examine their veracity.” Personal experience and feelings aren’t just a salient touchstone of contemporary identity politics; they are the entirety of these politics. In such an environment, it’s no wonder that students are so prone to elevate minor slights to protestable offenses.

(It’s also why seemingly piddling matters of cultural consumption warrant much more emotional outrage than concerns with larger material implications. Compare the number of web articles surrounding the supposed problematic aspects of the newest Avengers movie with those complaining about, say, the piecemeal dismantling of abortion rights. The former outnumber the latter considerably, and their rhetoric is typically much more impassioned and inflated. I’d discuss this in my classes — if I weren’t too scared to talk about abortion.)

The press for actionability, or even for comprehensive analyses that go beyond personal testimony, is hereby considered redundant, since all we need to do to fix the world’s problems is adjust the feelings attached to them and open up the floor for various identity groups to have their say. All the old, enlightened means of discussion and analysis —from due process to scientific method — are dismissed as being blind to emotional concerns and therefore unfairly skewed toward the interest of straight white males. All that matters is that people are allowed to speak, that their narratives are accepted without question, and that the bad feelings go away.

So it’s not just that students refuse to countenance uncomfortable ideas — they refuse to engage them, period. Engagement is considered unnecessary, as the immediate, emotional reactions of students contain all the analysis and judgment that sensitive issues demand. As Judith Shulevitz wrote in the New York Times, these refusals can shut down discussion in genuinely contentious areas, such as when Oxford canceled an abortion debate. More often, they affect surprisingly minor matters, as when Hampshire College disinvited an Afrobeat band because their lineup had too many white people in it.
When feelings become more important than issues

At the very least, there’s debate to be had in these areas. Ideally, pro-choice students would be comfortable enough in the strength of their arguments to subject them to discussion, and a conversation about a band’s supposed cultural appropriation could take place alongside a performance. But these cancellations and disinvitations are framed in terms of feelings, not issues. The abortion debate was canceled because it would have imperiled the “welfare and safety of our students.” The Afrofunk band’s presence would not have been “safe and healthy.” No one can rebut feelings, and so the only thing left to do is shut down the things that cause distress — no argument, no discussion, just hit the mute button and pretend eliminating discomfort is the same as effecting actual change.

In a New York Magazine piece, Jonathan Chait described the chilling effect this type of discourse has upon classrooms. Chait’s piece generated seismic backlash, and while I disagree with much of his diagnosis, I have to admit he does a decent job of describing the symptoms. He cites an anonymous professor who says that “she and her fellow faculty members are terrified of facing accusations of triggering trauma.” Internet liberals pooh-poohed this comment, likening the professor to one of Tom Friedman’s imaginary cab drivers. But I’ve seen what’s being described here. I’ve lived it. It’s real, and it affects liberal, socially conscious teachers much more than conservative ones.

Oxford University, where a debate on abortion was canceled last year. (Sura Ark/Getty Images)

If we wish to remove this fear, and to adopt a politics that can lead to more substantial change, we need to adjust our discourse. Ideally, we can have a conversation that is conscious of the role of identity issues and confident of the ideas that emanate from the people who embody those identities. It would call out and criticize unfair, arbitrary, or otherwise stifling discursive boundaries, but avoid falling into pettiness or nihilism. It wouldn’t be moderate, necessarily, but it would be deliberate. It would require effort.

In the start of his piece, Chait hypothetically asks if “the offensiveness of an idea [can] be determined objectively, or only by recourse to the identity of the person taking offense.” Here, he’s getting at the concerns addressed by Reed and Reilly-Cooper, the worry that we’ve turned our analysis so completely inward that our judgment of a person’s speech hinges more upon their identity signifiers than on their ideas.

A sensible response to Chait’s question would be that this is a false binary, and that ideas can and should be judged both by the strength of their logic and by the cultural weight afforded to their speaker’s identity. Chait appears to believe only the former, and that’s kind of ridiculous. Of course someone’s social standing affects whether their ideas are considered offensive, or righteous, or even worth listening to. How can you think otherwise?
We destroy ourselves when identity becomes our sole focus

Feminists and anti-racists recognize that identity does matter. This is indisputable. If we subscribe to the belief that ideas can be judged within a vacuum, uninfluenced by the social weight of their proponents, we perpetuate a system in which arbitrary markers like race and gender influence the perceived correctness of ideas. We can’t overcome prejudice by pretending it doesn’t exist. Focusing on identity allows us to interrogate the process through which white males have their opinions taken at face value, while women, people of color, and non-normatively gendered people struggle to have their voices heard.

But we also destroy ourselves when identity becomes our sole focus. Consider a tweet I linked to (which has since been removed. See editor’s note below.), from a critic and artist, in which she writes: “When ppl go off on evo psych, its always some shady colonizer white man theory that ignores nonwhite human history. but ‘science’. Ok … Most ‘scientific thought’ as u know it isnt that scientific but shaped by white patriarchal bias of ppl who claimed authority on it.”

This critic is intelligent. Her voice is important. She realizes, correctly, that evolutionary psychology is flawed, and that science has often been misused to legitimize racist and sexist beliefs. But why draw that out to questioning most “scientific thought”? Can’t we see how distancing that is to people who don’t already agree with us? And tactically, can’t we see how shortsighted it is to be skeptical of a respected manner of inquiry just because it’s associated with white males?

This sort of perspective is not confined to Twitter and the comments sections of liberal blogs. It was born in the more nihilistic corners of academic theory, and its manifestations on social media have severe real-world implications. In another instance, two female professors of library science publicly outed and shamed a male colleague they accused of being creepy at conferences, going so far as to openly celebrate the prospect of ruining his career. I don’t doubt that some men are creepy at conferences — they are. And for all I know, this guy might be an A-level creep. But part of the female professors’ shtick was the strong insistence that harassment victims should never be asked for proof, that an enunciation of an accusation is all it should ever take to secure a guilty verdict. The identity of the victims overrides the identity of the harasser, and that’s all the proof they need.

This is terrifying. No one will ever accept that. And if that becomes a salient part of liberal politics, liberals are going to suffer tremendous electoral defeat.

Debate and discussion would ideally temper this identity-based discourse, make it more usable and less scary to outsiders. Teachers and academics are the best candidates to foster this discussion, but most of us are too scared and economically disempowered to say anything. Right now, there’s nothing much to do other than sit on our hands and wait for the ascension of conservative political backlash — hop into the echo chamber, pile invective upon the next person or company who says something vaguely insensitive, insulate ourselves further and further from any concerns that might resonate outside of our own little corner of Twitter.

Update: After a discussion with a woman whose tweet was quoted in the story, the editors of this piece agreed that some of the conclusions drawn in the article misrepresented her tweet and the article was revised. The woman requested anonymity because she said she was receiving death threats as a result of the story, so her name has been removed. Unfortunately, threats are a horrible reality for many women online and a topic we intend to report on further.

I'm a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me – Vox.

THE major factor driving increasing costs is the constant expansion of university administration. According to the Department of Education data, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, which Bloomberg reported was 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions.

Even more strikingly, an analysis by a professor at California Polytechnic University, Pomona, found that, while the total number of full-time faculty members in the C.S.U. system grew from 11,614 to 12,019 between 1975 and 2008, the total number of administrators grew from 3,800 to 12,183 — a 221 percent increase.

via The Real Reason College Tuition Costs So Much – NYTimes.com.

Because the Holocaust is force fed by state law enacted at the demands of the special interest group that will benefit the most from it.

Uniformly, social studies textbooks fail to allow the Irish to speak for themselves, to narrate their own horror.

These timid slivers of knowledge not only deprive students of rich lessons in Irish-American history, they exemplify much of what is wrong with today’s curricular reliance on corporate-produced textbooks.

First, does anyone really think that students will remember anything from the books’ dull and lifeless paragraphs? Today’s textbooks contain no stories of actual people. We meet no one, learn nothing of anyone’s life, encounter no injustice, no resistance. This is a curriculum bound for boredom. As someone who spent almost 30 years teaching high school social studies, I can testify that students will be unlikely to seek to learn more about events so emptied of drama, emotion, and humanity.

Nor do these texts raise any critical questions for students to consider. For example, it’s important for students to learn that the crop failure in Ireland affected only the potato—during the worst famine years, other food production was robust. Michael Pollan notes in The Botany of Desire, “Ireland’s was surely the biggest experiment in monoculture ever attempted and surely the most convincing proof of its folly.” But if only this one variety of potato, the Lumper, failed, and other crops thrived, why did people starve?

Thomas Gallagher points out in Paddy’s Lament, that during the first winter of famine, 1846-47, as perhaps 400,000 Irish peasants starved, landlords exported 17 million pounds sterling worth of grain, cattle, pigs, flour, eggs, and poultry—food that could have prevented those deaths. Throughout the famine, as Gallagher notes, there was an abundance of food produced in Ireland, yet the landlords exported it to markets abroad.

The school curriculum could and should ask students to reflect on the contradiction of starvation amidst plenty, on the ethics of food exports amidst famine. And it should ask why these patterns persist into our own time.

More than a century and a half after the “Great Famine,” we live with similar, perhaps even more glaring contradictions. Raj Patel opens his book, Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World’s Food System: “Today, when we produce more food than ever before, more than one in ten people on Earth are hungry. The hunger of 800 million happens at the same time as another historical first: that they are outnumbered by the one billion people on this planet who are overweight.”

Patel’s book sets out to account for “the rot at the core of the modern food system.” This is a curricular journey that our students should also be on — reflecting on patterns of poverty, power, and inequality that stretch from 19th century Ireland to 21st century Africa, India, Appalachia, and Oakland; that explore what happens when food and land are regarded purely as commodities in a global system of profit.

via Why the real story of the Irish Famine is not taught in U.S. schools – IrishCentral.com.

Class on ‘Problem of Whiteness’ stirs controversy

An Arizona State University course entitled “U.S. Race Theory and the Problem of Whiteness” has sparked protests and even garnered hate mail for the professor, but some on campus see no problem with the subject.

via The Latest US and World News – USATODAY.com.

Hedge fund executives have unleashed a tsunami of money the past few years aimed at getting New York’s politicians to close more public schools and expand charter schools.

via Hedge fund execs’ money for charter schools may pay off – NY Daily News.

For centuries, boys were top of the class. But these days, that’s no longer the case.

A new study by the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries, examined how 15-year-old boys and girls performed at reading, mathematics and science. Boys still score somewhat better at maths, and in science the genders are roughly equal. But when it comes to the students who really struggle, the difference is stark: boys are 50% more likely than girls to fall short of basic standards in all three areas.

Why are girls performing better at school than their male classmates?

First, girls read more than boys. Reading proficiency is the basis upon which all other learning is built. When boys don’t do well at reading, their performance in other school subjects suffers too.

Second, girls spend more time on homework. On average, girls spend five and a half hours per week doing homework while boys spend a little less than four and a half hours. Researchers suggest that doing homework set by teachers is linked to better performance in maths, reading and science. Boys, it appears, spend more of their free time in the virtual world; they are 17% more likely to play collaborative online games than girls every day. They also use the internet more.

Third, peer pressure plays a role. A lot of boys decide early on that they are just too cool for school which means they’re more likely to be rowdy in class. Teachers mark them down for this. In anonymous tests, boys perform better.

In fact, the gender gap in reading drops by a third when teachers don’t know the gender of the pupil they are marking.

So what can be done to close this gap? Getting boys to do more homework and cut down on screen-time would help. And offering boys a chance to read non-fiction would help too: they’re keener on comics and newspapers. But most of all, abandoning gender stereotypes would benefit all students. Boys in countries with the best schools read much better than girls.

And girls in Shanghai excel in mathematics. They outperform boys from anywhere else in the world.

What are you going to do whiner?  That teacher’s job id more protected than that of a sitting judge!

The only remedy is complete abandonment of the public school system….

 

 

This Note From My Son’s Teacher Went Too Far

 

 

 

(Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Babble.com. It has been reprinted here with permission. Disney is the parent company of both ABC News and Babble.)

I’m a responsible parent. I’m a tough disciplinarian. I don’t lie on reading logs. My kids get flu shots and their bedtimes are carved in stone. But in spite of all that Type-A parenting, I’m still human. I make mistakes and forget things once and a while, and recently I forgot to sign my second-grader’s homework. Now keep in mind, he did the homework. He did the math worksheets and the spelling activity. He studied for the geography quiz and practiced for the timed math tests. He did the required reading on his reading log and completed the reading worksheet, but what his mom failed to do was sign off on it.

I get it. I get that my son’s teacher wants parents invested in checking off the completion of every assignment. I get that she wants parents to know what’s going on, but I’d like to believe this truth is evident by the quality of the work he turns in – by the nicely written penmanship, by his carefully written name scrolled across every worksheet (front and back), and by the parent-completed reading log pictured above. But hey, I respect that that two parent signatures each week are her policy and I totally forgot one, but what I’m having a hard time reconciling is the manner in which she chose to communicate with me for a first offensive. Why have we skipped the pleasantries and reached code orange? Whatever happened to sticky notes? Or a polite reminder in the corner?

But the worst part wasn’t how the amber admonition of terror made me feel, it was how my 7-year-old reacted to it. He was afraid to show me his reading log for fear that he’d done something horribly wrong. And sadly, he’d gone above and beyond the 80 minutes of required reading that week only to be rewarded with a herculean orange tongue-lashing? Of course he thought he was in trouble. I felt like I was in trouble!

But was I crazy for feeling so shocked and angry? Was my receptivity meter off? Knowing I have a tendency to be overly sensitive, I took it to Facebook (you know, to the people who know all) to gauge the appropriateness of my reaction.

One-hundred and sixty comments later, I learned my feelings were echoed by all.

Reactions ranged from anger:

That teacher is a j*** off. Our poor kids have so much thrust upon them at school. Seriously, that reaction was over board.

She doesn’t have self control. I would be a bit scared to leave my kids with her.

I have a problem with any teacher who would demand that a parent comply with any sort of arbitrary rule. They can make rules for the kids, but as an adult, I would resent it. I graduated from high school thirty years ago. I’d be tempted to sign my name right under the phrase “bite me.”

Seriously, I would be in the Principal’s office then the district offices. Uncalled for!

What ever happened to lighting a bag of poo on a teachers door step?

To passive-aggressive:

You should get every single parent you know to sign it. Even parents you don’t know.

I would get an orange marker and freaking sign every single thing like that! That’s just rude!

That’s inappropriate on the teacher’s behalf. I would have returned it with my signature in bigger letters and bolder color because I’m feisty like that.

Hmmm, just wait till the first time SHE forgets something. Go buy some really bright markers.

Sign your name over the entire page and return it !!!

 

This Note From My Son’s Teacher Went Too Far – ABC News.

ON CREATIVITY

How do people get new ideas?

Presumably, the process of creativity, whatever it is, is essentially the same in all its branches and varieties, so that the evolution of a new art form, a new gadget, a new scientific principle, all involve common factors. We are most interested in the “creation” of a new scientific principle or a new application of an old one, but we can be general here.

One way of investigating the problem is to consider the great ideas of the past and see just how they were generated. Unfortunately, the method of generation is never clear even to the “generators” themselves.

But what if the same earth-shaking idea occurred to two men, simultaneously and independently? Perhaps, the common factors involved would be illuminating. Consider the theory of evolution by natural selection, independently created by Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace.

There is a great deal in common there. Both traveled to far places, observing strange species of plants and animals and the manner in which they varied from place to place. Both were keenly interested in finding an explanation for this, and both failed until each happened to read Malthus’s “Essay on Population.”

Both then saw how the notion of overpopulation and weeding out (which Malthus had applied to human beings) would fit into the doctrine of evolution by natural selection (if applied to species generally).

Obviously, then, what is needed is not only people with a good background in a particular field, but also people capable of making a connection between item 1 and item 2 which might not ordinarily seem connected.

Undoubtedly in the first half of the 19th century, a great many naturalists had studied the manner in which species were differentiated among themselves. A great many people had read Malthus. Perhaps some both studied species and read Malthus. But what you needed was someone who studied species, read Malthus, and had the ability to make a cross-connection.

That is the crucial point that is the rare characteristic that must be found. Once the cross-connection is made, it becomes obvious. Thomas H. Huxley is supposed to have exclaimed after reading On the Origin of Species, “How stupid of me not to have thought of this.”

But why didn’t he think of it? The history of human thought would make it seem that there is difficulty in thinking of an idea even when all the facts are on the table. Making the cross-connection requires a certain daring. It must, for any cross-connection that does not require daring is performed at once by many and develops not as a “new idea,” but as a mere “corollary of an old idea.”

It is only afterward that a new idea seems reasonable. To begin with, it usually seems unreasonable. It seems the height of unreason to suppose the earth was round instead of flat, or that it moved instead of the sun, or that objects required a force to stop them when in motion, instead of a force to keep them moving, and so on.

A person willing to fly in the face of reason, authority, and common sense must be a person of considerable self-assurance. Since he occurs only rarely, he must seem eccentric (in at least that respect) to the rest of us. A person eccentric in one respect is often eccentric in others.

Consequently, the person who is most likely to get new ideas is a person of good background in the field of interest and one who is unconventional in his habits. (To be a crackpot is not, however, enough in itself.)

Once you have the people you want, the next question is: Do you want to bring them together so that they may discuss the problem mutually, or should you inform each of the problem and allow them to work in isolation?

My feeling is that as far as creativity is concerned, isolation is required. The creative person is, in any case, continually working at it. His mind is shuffling his information at all times, even when he is not conscious of it. (The famous example of Kekule working out the structure of benzene in his sleep is well-known.)

The presence of others can only inhibit this process, since creation is embarrassing. For every new good idea you have, there are a hundred, ten thousand foolish ones, which you naturally do not care to display.

Nevertheless, a meeting of such people may be desirable for reasons other than the act of creation itself.

No two people exactly duplicate each other’s mental stores of items. One person may know A and not B, another may know B and not A, and either knowing A and B, both may get the idea—though not necessarily at once or even soon.

Furthermore, the information may not only be of individual items A and B, but even of combinations such as A-B, which in themselves are not significant. However, if one person mentions the unusual combination of A-B and another unusual combination A-C, it may well be that the combination A-B-C, which neither has thought of separately, may yield an answer.

It seems to me then that the purpose of cerebration sessions is not to think up new ideas but to educate the participants in facts and fact-combinations, in theories and vagrant thoughts.

But how to persuade creative people to do so? First and foremost, there must be ease, relaxation, and a general sense of permissiveness. The world in general disapproves of creativity, and to be creative in public is particularly bad. Even to speculate in public is rather worrisome. The individuals must, therefore, have the feeling that the others won’t object.

If a single individual present is unsympathetic to the foolishness that would be bound to go on at such a session, the others would freeze. The unsympathetic individual may be a gold mine of information, but the harm he does will more than compensate for that. It seems necessary to me, then, that all people at a session be willing to sound foolish and listen to others sound foolish.

If a single individual present has a much greater reputation than the others, or is more articulate, or has a distinctly more commanding personality, he may well take over the conference and reduce the rest to little more than passive obedience. The individual may himself be extremely useful, but he might as well be put to work solo, for he is neutralizing the rest.

The optimum number of the group would probably not be very high. I should guess that no more than five would be wanted. A larger group might have a larger total supply of information, but there would be the tension of waiting to speak, which can be very frustrating. It would probably be better to have a number of sessions at which the people attending would vary, rather than one session including them all. (This would involve a certain repetition, but even repetition is not in itself undesirable. It is not what people say at these conferences, but what they inspire in each other later on.)

For best purposes, there should be a feeling of informality. Joviality, the use of first names, joking, relaxed kidding are, I think, of the essence—not in themselves, but because they encourage a willingness to be involved in the folly of creativeness. For this purpose I think a meeting in someone’s home or over a dinner table at some restaurant is perhaps more useful than one in a conference room.

Probably more inhibiting than anything else is a feeling of responsibility. The great ideas of the ages have come from people who weren’t paid to have great ideas, but were paid to be teachers or patent clerks or petty officials, or were not paid at all. The great ideas came as side issues.

To feel guilty because one has not earned one’s salary because one has not had a great idea is the surest way, it seems to me, of making it certain that no great idea will come in the next time either.

Yet your company is conducting this cerebration program on government money. To think of congressmen or the general public hearing about scientists fooling around, boondoggling, telling dirty jokes, perhaps, at government expense, is to break into a cold sweat. In fact, the average scientist has enough public conscience not to want to feel he is doing this even if no one finds out.

I would suggest that members at a cerebration session be given sinecure tasks to do—short reports to write, or summaries of their conclusions, or brief answers to suggested problems—and be paid for that; the payment being the fee that would ordinarily be paid for the cerebration session. The cerebration session would then be officially unpaid-for and that, too, would allow considerable relaxation.

I do not think that cerebration sessions can be left unguided. There must be someone in charge who plays a role equivalent to that of a psychoanalyst. A psychoanalyst, as I understand it, by asking the right questions (and except for that interfering as little as possible), gets the patient himself to discuss his past life in such a way as to elicit new understanding of it in his own eyes.

In the same way, a session-arbiter will have to sit there, stirring up the animals, asking the shrewd question, making the necessary comment, bringing them gently back to the point. Since the arbiter will not know which question is shrewd, which comment necessary, and what the point is, his will not be an easy job.

As for “gadgets” designed to elicit creativity, I think these should arise out of the bull sessions themselves. If thoroughly relaxed, free of responsibility, discussing something of interest, and being by nature unconventional, the participants themselves will create devices to stimulate discussion.

Published with permission of Asimov Holdings.

 

Published for the First Time: a 1959 Essay by Isaac Asimov on Creativity | MIT Technology Review.

You may soon be a Google search away from immediate access to professional medical advice. The search engine giant is testing a new feature that urges people Googling illnesses or symptoms to jump on a video call with a medical professional.

The finding was reported on Friday by Reddit user jasonahoule. When he typed “knee pain” into his Chrome app, a Google pop-up explaining the temporarily free video chat feature appeared atop his search results:

“Based on your search query, we think you are trying to understand a medical condition. Here you can find health care providers who you can visit with over video chat. All visit costs are covered by Google during this limited trial.”

google doctor

A screenshot of Reddit user jasonahoule’s phone.

In an emailed statement to The Huffington Post, Google confirmed that it is testing out the search feature.

“When you’re searching for basic health information — from conditions like insomnia or food poisoning — our goal is provide you with the most helpful information available,” a Google spokesperson told The Huffington Post. “We’re trying this new feature to see if it’s useful to people.”

Doctors using this service are able to prescribe medicine at their discretion, Google said. The company does not coordinate insurance coverage but patients can apply for reimbursements. All payments are made through Google Wallet.

To clarify, people have been able to connect to medical professionals using Google video chat since last November with the launch of Google Helpouts, a service that connects Google users to professionals of various sorts for a fee. What’s new here is that the feature now appears in Google Search for some people.

While the service is currently free for those who see it, you should expect that to change if it becomes a permanent feature. In Google Helpouts, professionals can decide what they wish to charge.

If permanently implemented by Google, the feature could stop some from diagnosing their own illnesses using only Internet research. A survey by Pew Research Center last year found that 35 percent of U.S. adults have gone online to self-diagnose a medical condition. And while 41 percent said that a medical professional eventually confirmed the diagnosis, 18 percent said a professional did not agree, and 35 percent did not seek a professional opinion at all.

This story has been updated with additional information from Google on the service.

Google Tests Out Feature To Protect You From Sketchy Online Diagnoses.

Developing your communication skills will lead to success

By Hannah Morgan

Whether you are an aspiring leader or in a support role, developing your communication skills can impact your success. First, let’s take a look at the complexities of communication. It’s more than the words you use. It’s how and when you choose to share information. It’s your body language and the tone and quality of your voice.

These are things you should consider as you strive to improve your interactions with others:

Know the outcome. Before you begin planning what you will say in an upcoming meeting, consider what you want the outcome of your communication to be. What actions do you want others to take? How will you move people? That’s the term used in Daniel Pink’s “To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.” Pink contends that we are all in sales today. “Whether we’re employees pitching colleagues on a new idea, entrepreneurs enticing funders to invest or parents and teachers cajoling children to study, we spend our days trying to move others.”

Build a reputation. In the workplace, other people’s perceptions of you don’t form based on a single encounter. But never forget how valuable a good first impression is! In order to gain respect and be seen as a trusted authority, eager team member or dedicated employee, you will need to build your reputation over time. Every interaction — from how you greet your co-workers in the morning to how you summarize a status update in an email — contributes to how people view you.

Avoid flaunting power and intellect. Compelling communicators don’t strong-arm people into paying attention or dazzle listeners by showing off how much they know. Leave your ego at the door when speaking to people. Establish an even playing field, and place yourself at the same level with your listeners. Avoid a condescending tone of voice and terminology your audience will not immediately understand. While you may be the smartest, most knowledgeable person on a particular topic, wait for the invitation to share your expertise.

Be confident. A wimpy response isn’t going to gain the recognition or support you desire. Confidence is queen when it comes to effective communication. Use strong action verbs, avoid filler words, such as “um”‘ or “‘ah,” look people in the eye and sit or stand up straight when called on to speak.

Show awareness of others. Shoving your great ideas or accomplishments down throats of listeners isn’t going to work. Building relationships is part of the communication process and is key to your success in conveying your message. When you deeply understand how your audience thinks and feels and what is important to them, you can use that information to craft a message that will resonate with your listeners. Your message should imply concern for others. As the saying goes, “walk a mile in their shoes” to understand what’s important to the people you are communicating with.

Consider timing. There is a time and a place for everything. When you are aware of the events or emotional state of those you are communicating with, you can improve the timing of your message. Appropriate timing means you have taken the person and occasion into consideration and know when to share your message.

Master the art of listening. The most adept communicators are experts at listening and reading between the lines. Mastering the art of listening isn’t easy. You will most likely feel tempted to share your own insights, opinions or assumptions while listening to someone. Avoid commentary or interjecting. Instead, ask open ended follow-up questions. This provides evidence that you are hearing and listening to the person. It shows your respect for the person speaking and for the information they are sharing. Practicing good listening skills will help you gain the respect of those you encounter.

Earn respect and trust. Earning respect and trust from your colleagues, managers and customers doesn’t happen automatically. Your title and role don’t give you any special privileges. If you work hard to exceed expectations and deliver with integrity, you are on your way to establishing the right to be trusted. Consistently repeat these steps to earn the right to be heard.

All these things probably sound familiar. You’ve read them before. What you really want is concrete help in improving your communication. There are thousands of books on the topic of communication. These self-help books can arm you with more insight and tools to improve your understanding of the intricacies of communication, but there is nothing as powerful as practicing what you learn.

Here’s how to develop your communication skills:

Learn from mentors. Enlist help from managers or leaders you respect. These mentors can provide constructive feedback and real-time coaching.

Watch TED Talks. Learn how to present by watching innovative thinkers featured in TED Talks. In 18 minutes or less, these videos capture presentations of great communicators. Since 2006, TED has been hosting conferences and events centered around science, technology, business, culture, art and design to share – as TED puts it – “Ideas Worth Spreading.”

Join Toastmasters International. Join a Toastmasters club, and build your skills in a “learn-by-doing” meeting. Toastmasters International has been around 90 years helping members improve their communication, public speaking and leadership skills.

Attend a Dale Carnegie program. Go to one of Dale Carnegie’s well-known leadership development programs, which are based on his legendary book, “How to Win Friends & Influence People.” According to the Dale Carnegie Training website, these programs teach you how to: “strengthen interpersonal relationships, manage stress and handle fast-changing workplace conditions.” The description continues: “You’ll develop more effective communication skills and be better equipped to perform as a persuasive communicator, problem-solver and focused leader. And you’ll develop a take-charge attitude initiated with confidence and enthusiasm.”

Hannah Morgan writes and speaks on career topics and job search trends on her blog Career Sherpa. She co-authored “Social Networking for Business Success,” and has developed and delivered programs to help job seekers understand how to look for work better.

Master This One Skill And It Will Take You Far.

 

Cold blood runs there

— For two weeks, jurors heard a Carlsbad mother’s story of a dysfunctional marriage, abuse by her schoolteacher husband, and the fear she felt right before she shot him to death in their bedroom.

On Wednesday, after two days of deliberating, the Vista jury found Julie Harper, 41, not guilty of first-degree murder and deadlocked on lesser charges — an outcome that outraged the victim’s friends and at least one juror who said she was convinced Harper was lying.

Harper had faced 50 years to life in prison if convicted of the maximum charge in the 2012 death of her 39-year-old husband, Jason.

The judge declared a mistrial after jurors hung 9-3 in favor of not guilty of second-degree murder, and 7-5 in favor of manslaughter.

Harper — who showed little reaction to the verdict — testified that her husband had raped her and verbally abused her for years and that she shot him as he moved toward her in a rage during an argument. Prosecutors disputed that story and said she had decided to kill him.

Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe declined to comment after the verdict, citing the potential for a retrial.

Harper’s attorney, Paul Pfingst, said the verdict should put the case to rest.

“To be really clear here, nine jurors determined that there was not a (second-degree) murder,” Pfingst said. “And there was a major split on the two remaining counts — to show that it’s likely this case could never be decided by a jury.”

One of the jurors said after court Wednesday that she hoped a future jury would convict Harper.

“I was completely 100 percent convinced of first-degree murder,” said April Penning, who was Juror No. 4. “I don’t believe she was abused.”

She said she was the sole holdout for a conviction on that charge, but acquiesed in the hopes the panel would convict on second-degree murder.

The Women on the Jury did not buy her story

Penning said other jurors believed that Harper had been abused, and that she fired the gun by accident. She said the jury of eight men and four women was primarily split on gender lines, with men more sympathetic to the defendant.

Jason Harper was a math teacher and volleyball coach at Carlsbad High School. Julie Harper, who once worked as a real estate agent, had been a stay-at-home mother in recent years.

photo
Jason Harper

Their marriage took center stage at the trial, with the defense presenting Julie Harper’s secret cellphone video recordings of two discussions in which the husband questioned his wife over money.

Dead men cannot defend themselves

“The betrayal of (Jason Harper’s) character by the suspect was unfair and inaccurate,” friend and fellow coach Andy Tomkinson said. He described Jason Harper as “gentle, calm, and above all, a really, really good father.” Three of Jason Harper’s friends said Wednesday they were shocked by the verdict.

The public has been brainwashed by the mass media

The verdict comes as recent news events have shone a spotlight on domestic violence, most notably the publication of a video showing NFL player Ray Rice punch his then-girlfriend in an elevator. And on Tuesday, the wife of Bell Gardens mayor fatally shot her husband and told police it was to keep him from brutally beating their son.

Casey Gwinn, former San Diego city attorney and a widely known domestic violence victim advocate, said verdicts such as Harper’s may be due in part to greater awareness about domestic violence.

Gwinn founded the first Family Justice Center in the city in 2002 to prevent family violence. His National Family Justice Center Alliance has helped leaders open more than 80 similar centers around the nation.

“There’s a sensitivity now to juries and the public to battered women syndrome and the dynamics that occur when a person gets to the point where the person feels there’s not any other choice but to pick up a weapon,” Gwinn said Wednesday from Milwaukee, where he was helping open another center.

“I think it’s historically very difficult for people to understand how verbal and emotional abuse can put you in fear for your life,” he added.

Harper’s trial tactics were not based on a true battered woman syndrome defense, which typically involves a long history of abuse, and ends with the woman killing the man when she is not in immediate danger, such as when he is sleeping.

This case was more about self-defense in the immediate moment, with testimony of abuse oftentimes flitting around the edges.

“You are allowed to use force to repel force if you believe your life is in imminent danger,” said Gretchen von Helms, a criminal defense attorney not associated with this case.

Von Helms said such a defense can still be messy for jurors.

“In self-defense cases you’re admitting I did something wrong but have to say I’m justified and did it under the law and here’s why.”

Julie Harper testified last week that she shot her husband as he came at her during a struggle — she said he was enraged and had tried to sexually assault her, which she said he had done more than two dozen times over more than two years. A few days before the shooting, she said, she had started sleeping with a gun under her pillow.

Watanabe argued that Harper’s testimony was not true, and that she had been deteriorating mentally and emotionally long before the shooting, as she prepared to end the couple’s 11-year marriage. (apparently by murdering the father of the children)

He pointed to a backpack Harper had pulled together, with more than $36,000 cash, and passports for herself and her children. Harper said she had packed the bag weeks earlier, following advice she found in domestic violence books recommending that abused spouses have such a bag at their disposal in case they need to flee quickly.

Watanabe also said that her actions afterward — including taking her children out for breakfast, trying to find play dates for the kids, and hiding the gun instead of calling 911 — undermined her claims that she shot her husband in self-defense.

The case will be back in front of Vista Superior Court Judge Blaine Bowman on Oct. 15, at which time the prosecutor is expected to say whether his office will retry Harper on the lesser charges.

— In the months and weeks before she fatally shot her husband, a Carlsbad woman had disengaged emotionally from her marriage and began putting together the tools she would need to make her exit, a prosecutor said Monday.

“This case is very much about the deterioration of Julie Harper,” Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe told a jury Monday during his opening statement.

“She had checked out of this family and checked out of the kids’ lives,” the prosecutor said in Vista Superior Court. “This deterioration very much had an effect on their marriage.”

The prosecutor said Harper, 41, forged checks in her husband’s name about a week before the Aug. 7, 2012 shooting, allowing her to withdraw $9,000 of Jason Harper’s money. She filed for divorce a couple days later.

Watanabe said the evidence would show that Julie Harper also filled a “getaway bag” with several items, including Social Security cards, passports for herself and her children, her husband’s will and $39,000.

He said the bag served as evidence that Harper “knew she was guilty” of murder.

But Harper’s lawyer said the bag — a blue backpack that was found later at Harper’s father’s home — was not evidence of a woman who tried to escape, but of one who was preparing to start a new life after splitting from an abusive husband.

Paul Pfingst told the jury that Jason Harper “hated” his wife, a stay-at-home-mother who he believed was not contributing financially to the marriage. Pfingst said Harper would yell and curse at his wife in front of their three children, and had repeatedly threatened to divorce her.

“The nature of his cruelty will be discussed when Julie testifies,” Pfingst said, adding that it was his client who tried for years to keep the family together.

Eventually, she and filed for divorce yet stayed in the home and did not tell the husband. The shooting happened five days later.

Indicating self-defense may become an issue in trial, Pfingst asked the jury to consider why a woman would file for divorce and then take the life of the person she is divorcing. He said the panel would be asked to determine, after hearing all the evidence, whether the killing was lawful.

Police found The body of the father of the children, Jason Harper in the master bedroom of the family home in  Carlsbad , His body was lying face down beneath blankets and other household items. They discovered the body after receiving a call from Pfingst, the lawyer for the woman that gunned him down, who asked them to check the house on Badger Lane.

He had been shot once in his left side with a .38-caliber handgun. The gun was never recovered.

Watanabe told the jury Monday that Julie Harper shot her husband between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., while the couple’s children were watching cartoons downstairs. The two older children — ages 8 and 6 — said later that they heard a thump and went upstairs to see what had happened.

Apparently the shot was fired at point blank range likely being pressed into his body above his heart to muffle the sound.

Harper told them their father had fallen off a chair, the prosecutor said.

Watanabe told the jury that the defendant then carried out a “day of deceit,” during which she took tried to arrange play dates for her children, dropped them off with her sister, sent a text message posing as her husband to a relative’s phone, and then went to her father’s office in Normal Heights.

She and her father retained Pfingst, who arranged for her to surrender to police.

Watanabe painted a very different picture of Jason Harper than was described in court by the defense attorney. “Everybody loved Jason,” he said.

He said the defendant made only a brief mention in divorce filings that her husband had been verbally abusive, used profanity, had pushed and shoved her, and twisted her arm on one occasion.

“This is the extent of Julie Harper’s description of their ‘abusive’ marriage,” Watanabe said.

If convicted of murder and a gun-use allegation, Harper faces a possible sentence of 50 years to life in prison.

— A woman accused of killing her husband, a Carlsbad High School teacher, while their young children were in another room described her long-deteriorating marriage to a jury Monday.

Julie Harper, 41, of Carlsbad, said husband Jason often screamed and yelled at her, berated her, ridiculed her weight, called her names and eventually cut off her access to their joint checking account — instead giving her a monthly allowance of $260 in the year before the 39-year-old math teacher was shot to death on their bedroom floor Aug 7, 2012.

photo
Julie Harper sits in the courtroom at the Vista Courthouse on Sept. 15, the first day of her murder trial. Harper is accused of killing husband Jason Harper in their Carlsbad home on Aug. 7, 2012. — Charlie Neuman

“I still loved him despite everything he had done to me and (the way he) treated me,” Julie Harper told jurors during three hours on the stand at the Vista courthouse. She is expected to resume testifying in her own defense Tuesday.

Harper is charged with murder and the use of a gun, and faces up to 50 years to life in prison if convicted.

Her testimony thus far has not gone into the details of the deadly encounter, and she has not yet been cross-examined by the prosecutor.

Harper said her husband insisted she pay him $3,000 a month to cover her half of their mortgage and household expenses, even after she stopped working as a real estate agent when the market dried up and she stayed at home with their children. She said she used her savings and inheritance money to cover her half. But she started to run out of money in 2010 and told her husband she would have to contribute less than $3,000 a month — news she said left him “livid.”

In 2008, she was diagnosed with a form of arthritis, but she said he refused to allow her to pay for her medical expenses from their joint checking account.

She eventually began keeping notes about their fights and his treatment of her, including what she said were instances in which he forced her to have sex. She also said their children had grown “terrified” of him. When he died, the older children were ages 6 and 8, and the youngest about 18 months.

In addition to hearing Harper read from the notes she’d kept, jurors also saw recordings she made of two encounters between the pair.

One of the videos — made the night before their 10th wedding anniversary — shows no faces, just voices. Jason Harper can be heard calling his wife names, saying their marriage “sucks (expletive)” and that he was only there for the kids. He also said his wife was “cruel” for paying for $400 in day care expenses from their joint checking account, telling her it was only a joint account if she contributed to it.

The second video, from May 2012, is shot at an odd angle, looking up at Jason Harper as he holds their young son. The child eventually starts to cry as Harper yells at his wife about money and a weekend getaway she had planned for the family of five.

“Don’t force me into going somewhere until I get my $3,000,” he said on the video.

Carlsbad woman who shot husband to death not guilty of 1st-degree murder | UTSanDiego.com.

 

How Much Money Does Your Doctor Get From Medical Companies?

 

 

Use this search tool to find out

 

Doctors received $3.5 billion from pharmaceutical companies and device makers over a five month period in 2013, according to figures the federal government released this week. The massive dataset includes 4.2 million individual payments made to physicians (including dentists) for things like meals, consulting fees and royalty payments for devices they have helped invent. The new data includes 360,000 doctors by name.

 

In the days leading up the release of the information, physician groups mobilized to argue that the data, which the 2010 Affordable Care Act mandates be disclosed, is incomplete and misleading. For their part, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversaw the release, states that, “Just because there are financial ties doesn’t mean that anyone is doing anything wrong.” CMS withheld the names of the recipients on 40 percent of the payments over concerns about data quality.

 

Using the following tool, you can search for any physician in the database by last name and see any gifts, consulting fees, paid travel, or other payment he or she received between August and December of 2013.

 

Search for physicians by last name. You can further narrow it down by first name, city or state. Type three letters to get started.

 

Critics of this sort of disclosure are quick to point out that there are many positive benefits to relationships between drug and device companies, which produce new life-saving treatments every year, and the doctors who get those treatments to patients who need them. Meanwhile, some research suggests that even cursory relationships with industry do affect a doctor’s behavior.

 

Among those doctors who were identified, orthopedic surgeons were by far the most compensated. They account for 11 of the 18 physicians who received over $1 million over the five covered months in the data:

 

Name Specialty Location Amount
Stephen S Burkhart Orthopaedic Surgery San Antonio, TX $7,356,276
Chitranjan S. Ranawat Counselor New York, NY $3,994,022
Thomas S Thornhill Orthopaedic Surgery Boston, MA $3,921,410
Richard Scott Orthopaedic Surgery Boston, MA $3,849,711
Neal Selim Elattrache Sports Medicine Los Angeles, CA $2,413,281
Lawrence A Lynn Counselor Columbus, OH $2,338,790
Timothy A Chuter Surgical Critical Care San Francisco, CA $2,304,899
Roger P Jackson Orthopaedic Surgery of the Spine North Kansas City, MO $1,764,704
Steven B. Haas Orthopaedic Surgery New York, NY $1,752,797
John Satterfield Fordtran Counselor Dallas, TX $1,715,554
Richard Edward Jones Orthopaedic Surgery Dallas, TX $1,457,517
Regis William Haid JR. Neurological Surgery Atlanta, GA $1,252,971
Amar S. Ranawat Counselor New York, NY $1,216,534
Michael D. Ries Orthopaedic Surgery Carson City, NV $1,185,840
Douglas Edmund Padgett Counselor New York, NY $1,139,670
Carlos Jesus Lavernia Adult Reconstructive Orthopaedic Surgery Miami, FL $1,116,854
Roy W Sanders Orthopaedic Surgery Temple Terrace, FL $1,021,282
Thomas A Russell Orthopaedic Surgery Germantown, TN $1,017,736

 

While the reason for the prominence of orthopedic surgeons at the top of the list varies for each doctor, orthopedic surgery often involves cutting edge devices for things like knee and hip replacements, many of which are exceedingly expensive. In some cases, doctors are receiving thousands of dollars in royalties for these devices because they have a stake in the intellectual property rights. (This is separate from owning part a stake in the company itself, which is reported separately.)

 

The picture of which pharmaceutical company pays doctors the most is less clear because payments are often recorded under the name of the subsidiary company making the payment. DePuy Synthes, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson that manufactures orthopedic and neurosurgery devices, tops the list of companies making payments to doctors during the period with $34.5 million. Arthrex, Inc., a manufacturer of orthopedic surgical supplies, came in second with $15.5 million. Astra Zeneca and Pfizer are also among the top 10 with $15.3 million and $10.01 million respectively. This analysis does not include anonymized payments.

 

Company Total Payments State
DePuy Synthes Sales Inc. $34,542,816 Massachusetts
Arthrex, Inc. $15,506,504 Florida
AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP $15,385,817 Deleware
Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc $13,778,926 Pennsylvania
Smith & Nephew, Inc. $12,020,808 Tennessee
Forest Laboratories, Inc. $10,398,208 California
Pfizer Inc. $10,017,632 New York
Allergan Inc. $9,709,723 California
Biomet, Inc. $9,675,365 Florida
Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. $9,238,383 Maryland

 

Of all payments, $109 million is documented as “compensation for services other than consulting, including serving as faculty or as a speaker at a venue other than a continuing education program.” Consulting fees accounted for $91 million. Food and beverages accounted for $57.4 million, and travel and lodging accounted for $45 million. Because the disclosures require that the location of travel be disclosures, we are able to build a picture of where companies like to fly doctors for conferences, speeches, meetings, and other events:

 

City No. of Payments Total Payments
Chicago 7098 $2,182,736
New York 5757 $2,100,144
Dallas 5453 $1,333,772
Atlanta 4087 $1,056,913
Miami 3081 $930,366
San Diego 2751 $717,280
San Francisco 2696 $1,022,034
Las Vegas 2503 $750,983
Philadelphia 2478 $597,493
Houston 2368 $623,391

Data that was withheld because of unresolved disputes will be published in future disclosures

How Much Money Does Your Doctor Get From Medical Companies? | TIME.

Pulling the curtain back on long-hidden industry relationships, the federal government revealed that U.S. doctors and teaching hospitals had $3.5 billion worth of financial ties with drug and medical-device makers in the last five months of 2013.

The details published Tuesday in a new government databasehave been sought for years by consumer advocates and lawmakers concerned that conflicts of interest in the medical profession are jeopardizing patient care and costing taxpayer-funded health programs.

This first batch of payment data covers just five months of 2013, but it shows the extensive ties medical companies have forged with doctors and academic medical centers across the country. About 546,000 U.S. physicians and 1,360 teaching hospitals received some form of compensation.

California doctors and hospitals received 18% of the U.S. total, or $638 million, for the five-month period.

In all, the data show nearly $2.5 billion in direct payments to medical providers — with 60% of that related to research. There was an additional $1 billion reported for medical providers’ ownership stakes in companies. That includes grants from companies and money that doctors invested themselves.

Advocates have long been concerned that this corporate largess — from speaking and consulting fees to luxury trips and meals — can lead to patients getting the wrong drugs or medical procedures. Those decisions can harm patients and drive up the nation’s $3-trillion medical tab, experts warn.

Consumer advocates hailed the release of the information after years of debate in Congress and steadfast opposition from industry groups.

“This exposure will require everybody to talk about something that’s been underground,” said Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project in San Francisco. “It’s a widespread practice that does influence the kind of care patients get.”

The database’s immediate impact for consumers may be limited. It’s difficult for consumers to search for their doctors in the data, and the government website ran into technical troubles Tuesday. Obama administration officials said improvements are underway and more data will be published in June.

The Physician Payments Sunshine Act, originally authored by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), was included in the Affordable Care Act that President Obama signed in 2010 amid growing demands for more openness in the U.S. healthcare system.

In the last several years, the Obama administration has lifted some of the secrecy by publishing data on how much hospitals charge for medical procedures and how much the massive federal Medicare program pays individual physicians.

However, federal officials urged people not to rush to conclusions because financial ties between medical providers and manufacturers don’t necessarily signal wrongdoing.

The database “does not identify which financial relationships are beneficial and which could cause conflicts of interest. It simply makes the data available to the public,” said Dr. Shantanu Agrawal, a deputy administrator at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Indeed, physicians and academic medical centers defend industry collaboration as essential to advance research into life-saving treatments. For example, drugs and devices that companies donate to doctors to use in their research are included in the database as company contributions.

Critics also questioned the accuracy of the government data and the potential for doctors’ reputations to be tarnished unfairly. Similar complaints arose this year when Medicare published its physician payment data.

“If the information made available to the public involves dollar amounts without full context, it can lead to gotcha-style news stories and healthcare providers facing the presumption of ethical wrongdoing even when they have done nothing wrong and their work is benefiting patients,” said Mary Grealy, president of the Healthcare Leadership Council, an association of medical industry leaders.

Medical groups complained that physicians had not been given adequate opportunity to review the information before it was published.

Eeric Truumees, a spine surgeon in Austin, Texas, and a board member of the North American Spine Society, said he tried twice to log onto the federal website before Tuesday to check his data and couldn’t get through.

Federal officials acknowledged the rollout of the new database was rocky.

About 40% of the records published Tuesday don’t include physician or hospital names because they are being checked for accuracy, officials said. The bulk of those records were related to research. An additional 199,000 records are being withheld for now because they are either exempt from the reporting requirement or under dispute.

The law requires medical companies to report payments and gifts to physicians that exceed $10.

The government data show that City of Hope, a major cancer treatment center in Duarte, received $122.5 million in royalty income from drug maker Genentech, a unit of Swiss giant Roche Holding. The hospital said the royalties stem from research in the early 1980s and the money is shared among the “inventors, their labs and City of Hope and used to further support basic research.”

Botox maker Allergan Inc. of Irvine reported $17.6 million in general payments, the fourth-highest amount among companies nationwide. Biotech giant Amgen Inc., based in Thousand Oaks, listed $7 million. Those amounts don’t reflect payments for research or ownership interests.

The largest share of the money reported Tuesday related to medical research, accounting for 43% of the $3.5 billion overall. The remaining $2 billion was split fairly evenly between general payments and ownership stakes.

In recent years, pharmaceutical giants have agreed to pay billions of dollars in legal settlements with federal prosecutors to resolve claims that the companies used their financial ties with doctors to promote unapproved uses for drugs.

Grassley said the data should eventually become a valuable resource for consumers, insurers and taxpayers.

“It should empower consumers to learn whether their doctors take payments,” he said, “and if so, why and whether that matters to them.”

Database shows $3.5 billion in industry ties to doctors, hospitals – LA Times.

Oceanside teacher resigns after being investigated for telling class about robots shooting students – 10News.com KGTV ABC10 San Diego.

What’s the best way to teach teachers?

What’s the best way to teach teachers?.

California State University campuses are charging students huge fees for something their tuition is supposed to cover — classes.

In the past five years, some schools have shifted classes that were covered by tuition to special sessions, where single courses can cost more than $1,000 each, on top of a student’s annual tuition of about $5,500.

“It is hard, but it was a choice I had to make if I wanted to graduate on time,” said Laura Montes, an accounting major at San Jose State who paid $1,050 extra for a summer writing course that was overbooked during the regular school year.

Between 2007 and 2012, San Jose State alone cut back regular class offerings for 281 courses while adding more expensive versions funded almost entirely by student fees, according to a critical study of three campuses by California’s state auditor.

Laura Montes, center, attends a writing workshop taught by Monica Peck at San Jose State University in San Jose, Calif. on Monday, July 21, 2014. The class

Laura Montes, center, attends a writing workshop taught by Monica Peck at San Jose State University in San Jose, Calif. on Monday, July 21, 2014. The class is a required course in order to graduate. It is funded entirely through student fees. (Gary Reyes/Bay Area News Group)

CSU Long Beach cut access to 398 courses and CSU Sacramento cut back 177 courses as they increased special sessions of the same classes, the audit revealed.

While the audit did not examine other schools, enrollment figures show a dramatic expansion of special session courses across the system.

CSU East Bay is offering special sessions this summer, at $724 a course — much less than San Jose State.

Decades ago, Cal State created its “extended education programs,” which offer the special classes, for job training and enrichment — not for full-time college students. But by last summer, more than 57,000 college students took the special courses — 17 times the number who took them in 2008.

What’s more, San Jose State and other campuses socked away surpluses from the courses. San Jose State’s reserve once reached $28 million, more than twice its CSU limit. Similar programs at CSU Sacramento and CSU Long Beach had reserves of nearly $11 million each in 2012, according to the audit.

“Extended education has become a cash cow for local campuses,” said Susan Meisenhelder, a professor emeritus at CSU San Bernardino and a former president of the California Faculty Association. “It’s pushed with all this warm and fuzzy access rhetoric, but it’s really to generate revenue.”

San Jose State’s leaders refused to respond to several interview requests for information about its special course fees and reserve.

Charging full-time students extra for courses their tuition is supposed to buy has set the system on a troubling course, say students and some faculty and lawmakers. And, because need-based state university grants don’t cover the cost of such classes, the policy could harm CSU’s many low-income students, they say.

The shift came at the height of the state budget crisis, after CSU’s former chancellor in late 2009 allowed campus presidents to expand their high-cost special classes in the summer.

Monica Peck, left, teaches a writing workshop course at San Jose State University in San Jose, Calif. on Monday, July 21, 2014. At right is student, Bao

Monica Peck, left, teaches a writing workshop course at San Jose State University in San Jose, Calif. on Monday, July 21, 2014. At right is student, Bao Lam. The class is a required course in order to graduate. It is funded entirely through student fees. (Gary Reyes/Bay Area News Group)

Some students sued in 2010, arguing that state law prohibited replacing, or “supplanting,” regular classes with the special ones. CSU won the case, arguing that it violated no law as long as it didn’t eliminate a required course from regular session, even if it reduced the number of classes for it.

Now, the Legislature is considering how to more narrowly define the term “supplant” to prevent CSU from adding special sessions of courses that have been trimmed back in regular session.

Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, wanted to make the special class fees equivalent to a regular session class fees for students forced to enroll in them because they couldn’t get into a regular course.

But CSU fought to defeat the bill.

“The measure is an extreme response to a very specific issue and will harm students and faculty,” wrote Karen Zamarripa, CSU vice chancellor for advocacy and state relations, in a letter opposing Gray’s bill.

CSU is doing its best to help students after severe budget cuts during the recession, Zamarripa and other CSU officials have argued.

“We’re interested in meeting the demands that students have for courses, and any method that allows us to do that is important,” said Brad Wells, CSU East Bay’s vice president of administration and finance.

The compromise legislation by Gray and Das Williams, the Assembly’s Higher Education Committee chairman, would let CSU expand fee-based courses at the expense of regular classes only if state funding drops. AB2610 might not reverse the practice, said Gray, but it will “stop the bleeding.”

Monica Peck, right, teaches a writing workshop course at San Jose State University in San Jose, Calif. on Monday, July 21, 2014. At left are students, Uyen

Monica Peck, right, teaches a writing workshop course at San Jose State University in San Jose, Calif. on Monday, July 21, 2014. At left are students, Uyen Tran, left, and Bao Lam, center. The class is a required course in order to graduate. It is funded entirely through student fees. (Gary Reyes/Bay Area News Group)

“We’ve sent a clear message to the CSU system what the expectations are for students,” he said.

Meanwhile, as students pay extra, some campuses — which set their own prices for the courses — are making money from the classes. State law and CSU policy allow schools to charge fees for a program’s cost and a small reserve, but the December audit found the schools routinely had multimillion-dollar surpluses.

San Jose State hiked its summer-course price by more than $200 in 2012, the audit report said, even though the administration expected the fees would bring in $2 million more than the classes cost. The auditor said the school had no adequate justification for the increase.

“I think if more people knew that, they would be upset, because who wouldn’t?” Montes said after learning of the reserve. The special class fee is “money we really don’t have, and to find out perhaps it’s not necessary to spend that much money is upsetting.”

CSU administrators say the courses are merely optional, not required. Students don’t always feel they have a choice.

If she had been able to get into a writing course during the year, San Jose State student Jevon Vines said, she wouldn’t be spending her summer writing essays. But, like other students, she didn’t want to risk delaying graduation and paying an extra semester’s tuition.

“If I hadn’t taken it in the summer I probably never would have gotten it during the regular semester,” she said.

“So I was willing to pay the extra $1,000 to get in and get it over with.”

Follow Katy Murphy at Twitter.com/katymurphy.

 

California State University’s big hidden fee – San Jose Mercury News.

When Akihiko Takahashi was a junior in college in 1978, he was like most of the other students at his university in suburban Tokyo. He had a vague sense of wanting to accomplish something but no clue what that something should be. But that spring he met a man who would become his mentor, and this relationship set the course of his entire career.

Takeshi Matsuyama was an elementary-school teacher, but like a small number of instructors in Japan, he taught not just young children but also college students who wanted to become teachers. At the university-affiliated elementary school where Matsuyama taught, he turned his classroom into a kind of laboratory, concocting and trying out new teaching ideas. When Takahashi met him, Matsuyama was in the middle of his boldest experiment yet — revolutionizing the way students learned math by radically changing the way teachers taught it.

Instead of having students memorize and then practice endless lists of equations — which Takahashi remembered from his own days in school — Matsuyama taught his college students to encourage passionate discussions among children so they would come to uncover math’s procedures, properties and proofs for themselves. One day, for example, the young students would derive the formula for finding the area of a rectangle; the next, they would use what they learned to do the same for parallelograms. Taught this new way, math itself seemed transformed. It was not dull misery but challenging, stimulating and even fun.

Photo

Credit Photo illustration by Andrew B. Myers. Prop stylist: Randi Brookman Harris.

Takahashi quickly became a convert. He discovered that these ideas came from reformers in the United States, and he dedicated himself to learning to teach like an American. Over the next 12 years, as the Japanese educational system embraced this more vibrant approach to math, Takahashi taught first through sixth grade. Teaching, and thinking about teaching, was practically all he did. A quiet man with calm, smiling eyes, his passion for a new kind of math instruction could take his colleagues by surprise. “He looks very gentle and kind,” Kazuyuki Shirai, a fellow math teacher, told me through a translator. “But when he starts talking about math, everything changes.”

Takahashi was especially enthralled with an American group called the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, or N.C.T.M., which published manifestoes throughout the 1980s, prescribing radical changes in the teaching of math. Spending late nights at school, Takahashi read every one. Like many professionals in Japan, teachers often said they did their work in the name of their mentor. It was as if Takahashi bore two influences: Matsuyama and the American reformers.

Takahashi, who is 58, became one of his country’s leading math teachers, once attracting 1,000 observers to a public lesson. He participated in a classroom equivalent of “Iron Chef,” the popular Japanese television show. But in 1991, when he got the opportunity to take a new job in America, teaching at a school run by the Japanese Education Ministry for expats in Chicago, he did not hesitate. With his wife, a graphic designer, he left his friends, family, colleagues — everything he knew — and moved to the United States, eager to be at the center of the new math.

As soon as he arrived, he started spending his days off visiting American schools. One of the first math classes he observed gave him such a jolt that he assumed there must have been some kind of mistake. The class looked exactly like his own memories of school. “I thought, Well, that’s only this class,” Takahashi said. But the next class looked like the first, and so did the next and the one after that. The Americans might have invented the world’s best methods for teaching math to children, but it was difficult to find anyone actually using them.

It wasn’t the first time that Americans had dreamed up a better way to teach math and then failed to implement it. The same pattern played out in the 1960s, when schools gripped by a post-Sputnik inferiority complex unveiled an ambitious “new math,” only to find, a few years later, that nothing actually changed. In fact, efforts to introduce a better way of teaching math stretch back to the 1800s. The story is the same every time: a big, excited push, followed by mass confusion and then a return to conventional practices.

The trouble always starts when teachers are told to put innovative ideas into practice without much guidance on how to do it. In the hands of unprepared teachers, the reforms turn to nonsense, perplexing students more than helping them. One 1965 Peanuts cartoon depicts the young blond-haired Sally struggling to understand her new-math assignment: “Sets . . . one to one matching . . . equivalent sets . . . sets of one . . . sets of two . . . renaming two. . . .” After persisting for three valiant frames, she throws back her head and bursts into tears: “All I want to know is, how much is two and two?”

Today the frustrating descent from good intentions to tears is playing out once again, as states across the country carry out the latest wave of math reforms: the Common Core. A new set of academic standards developed to replace states’ individually designed learning goals, the Common Core math standards are like earlier math reforms, only further refined and more ambitious. Whereas previous movements found teachers haphazardly, through organizations like Takahashi’s beloved N.C.T.M. math-teacher group, the Common Core has a broader reach. A group of governors and education chiefs from 48 states initiated the writing of the standards, for both math and language arts, in 2009. The same year, the Obama administration encouraged the idea, making the adoption of rigorous “common standards” a criterion for receiving a portion of the more than $4 billion in Race to the Top grants. Forty-three states have adopted the standards.

The opportunity to change the way math is taught, as N.C.T.M. declared in its endorsement of the Common Core standards, is “unprecedented.” And yet, once again, the reforms have arrived without any good system for helping teachers learn to teach them. Responding to a recent survey by Education Week, teachers said they had typically spent fewer than four days in Common Core training, and that included training for the language-arts standards as well as the math.

Carefully taught, the assignments can help make math more concrete. Students don’t just memorize their times tables and addition facts but also understand how arithmetic works and how to apply it to real-life situations. But in practice, most teachers are unprepared and children are baffled, leaving parents furious. The comedian Louis C.K. parodied his daughters’ homework in an appearance on “The Late Show With David Letterman”: “It’s like, Bill has three goldfish. He buys two more. How many dogs live in London?”

The inadequate implementation can make math reforms seem like the most absurd form of policy change — one that creates a whole new problem to solve. Why try something we’ve failed at a half-dozen times before, only to watch it backfire? Just four years after the standards were first released, this argument has gained traction on both sides of the aisle. Since March, four Republican governors have opposed the standards. In New York, a Republican candidate is trying to establish another ballot line, called Stop Common Core, for the November gubernatorial election. On the left, meanwhile, teachers’ unions in Chicago and New York have opposed the reforms.

The fact that countries like Japan have implemented a similar approach with great success offers little consolation when the results here seem so dreadful. Americans might have written the new math, but maybe we simply aren’t suited to it. “By God,” wrote Erick Erickson, editor of the website RedState, in an anti-Common Core attack, is it such “a horrific idea that we might teach math the way math has always been taught.”

The new math of the ‘60s, the new new math of the ‘80s and today’s Common Core math all stem from the idea that the traditional way of teaching math simply does not work. As a nation, we suffer from an ailment that John Allen Paulos, a Temple University math professor and an author, calls innumeracy — the mathematical equivalent of not being able to read. On national tests, nearly two-thirds of fourth graders and eighth graders are not proficient in math. More than half of fourth graders taking the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress could not accurately read the temperature on a neatly drawn thermometer. (They did not understand that each hash mark represented two degrees rather than one, leading many students to mistake 46 degrees for 43 degrees.) On the same multiple-choice test, three-quarters of fourth graders could not translate a simple word problem about a girl who sold 15 cups of lemonade on Saturday and twice as many on Sunday into the expression “15 + (2×15).” Even in Massachusetts, one of the country’s highest-performing states, math students are more than two years behind their counterparts in Shanghai.

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The new math of the ’60s, the new, new math of the ’80s and today’s Common Core math all stem from the idea that the traditional way of teaching math simply does not work.

Adulthood does not alleviate our quantitative deficiency. A 2012 study comparing 16-to-65-year-olds in 20 countries found that Americans rank in the bottom five in numeracy. On a scale of 1 to 5, 29 percent of them scored at Level 1 or below, meaning they could do basic arithmetic but not computations requiring two or more steps. One study that examined medical prescriptions gone awry found that 17 percent of errors were caused by math mistakes on the part of doctors or pharmacists. A survey found that three-quarters of doctors inaccurately estimated the rates of death and major complications associated with common medical procedures, even in their own specialty areas.

One of the most vivid arithmetic failings displayed by Americans occurred in the early 1980s, when the A&W restaurant chain released a new hamburger to rival the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder. With a third-pound of beef, the A&W burger had more meat than the Quarter Pounder; in taste tests, customers preferred A&W’s burger. And it was less expensive. A lavish A&W television and radio marketing campaign cited these benefits. Yet instead of leaping at the great value, customers snubbed it.

Only when the company held customer focus groups did it become clear why. The Third Pounder presented the American public with a test in fractions. And we failed. Misunderstanding the value of one-third, customers believed they were being overcharged. Why, they asked the researchers, should they pay the same amount for a third of a pound of meat as they did for a quarter-pound of meat at McDonald’s. The “4” in “¼,” larger than the “3” in “⅓,” led them astray.

But our innumeracy isn’t inevitable. In the 1970s and the 1980s, cognitive scientists studied a population known as the unschooled, people with little or no formal education. Observing workers at a Baltimore dairy factory in the ‘80s, the psychologist Sylvia Scribner noted that even basic tasks required an extensive amount of math. For instance, many of the workers charged with loading quarts and gallons of milk into crates had no more than a sixth-grade education. But they were able to do math, in order to assemble their loads efficiently, that was “equivalent to shifting between different base systems of numbers.” Throughout these mental calculations, errors were “virtually nonexistent.” And yet when these workers were out sick and the dairy’s better-educated office workers filled in for them, productivity declined.

The unschooled may have been more capable of complex math than people who were specifically taught it, but in the context of school, they were stymied by math they already knew. Studies of children in Brazil, who helped support their families by roaming the streets selling roasted peanuts and coconuts, showed that the children routinely solved complex problems in their heads to calculate a bill or make change. When cognitive scientists presented the children with the very same problem, however, this time with pen and paper, they stumbled. A 12-year-old boy who accurately computed the price of four coconuts at 35 cruzeiros each was later given the problem on paper. Incorrectly using the multiplication method he was taught in school, he came up with the wrong answer. Similarly, when Scribner gave her dairy workers tests using the language of math class, their scores averaged around 64 percent. The cognitive-science research suggested a startling cause of Americans’ innumeracy: school.

Most American math classes follow the same pattern, a ritualistic series of steps so ingrained that one researcher termed it a cultural script. Some teachers call the pattern “I, We, You.” After checking homework, teachers announce the day’s topic, demonstrating a new procedure: “Today, I’m going to show you how to divide a three-digit number by a two-digit number” (I). Then they lead the class in trying out a sample problem: “Let’s try out the steps for 242 ÷ 16” (We). Finally they let students work through similar problems on their own, usually by silently making their way through a work sheet: “Keep your eyes on your own paper!” (You).

By focusing only on procedures — “Draw a division house, put ‘242’ on the inside and ‘16’ on the outside, etc.” — and not on what the procedures mean, “I, We, You” turns school math into a sort of arbitrary process wholly divorced from the real world of numbers. Students learn not math but, in the words of one math educator, answer-getting. Instead of trying to convey, say, the essence of what it means to subtract fractions, teachers tell students to draw butterflies and multiply along the diagonal wings, add the antennas and finally reduce and simplify as needed. The answer-getting strategies may serve them well for a class period of practice problems, but after a week, they forget. And students often can’t figure out how to apply the strategy for a particular problem to new problems.

How could you teach math in school that mirrors the way children learn it in the world? That was the challenge Magdalene Lampert set for herself in the 1980s, when she began teaching elementary-school math in Cambridge, Mass. She grew up in Trenton, accompanying her father on his milk deliveries around town, solving the milk-related math problems he encountered. “Like, you know: If Mrs. Jones wants three quarts of this and Mrs. Smith, who lives next door, wants eight quarts, how many cases do you have to put on the truck?” Lampert, who is 67 years old, explained to me.

She knew there must be a way to tap into what students already understood and then build on it. In her classroom, she replaced “I, We, You” with a structure you might call “You, Y’all, We.” Rather than starting each lesson by introducing the main idea to be learned that day, she assigned a single “problem of the day,” designed to let students struggle toward it — first on their own (You), then in peer groups (Y’all) and finally as a whole class (We). The result was a process that replaced answer-getting with what Lampert called sense-making. By pushing students to talk about math, she invited them to share the misunderstandings most American students keep quiet until the test. In the process, she gave them an opportunity to realize, on their own, why their answers were wrong.

Lampert, who until recently was a professor of education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, now works for the Boston Teacher Residency, a program serving Boston public schools, and the New Visions for Public Schools network in New York City, instructing educators on how to train teachers. In her book, “Teaching Problems and the Problems of Teaching,” Lampert tells the story of how one of her fifth-grade classes learned fractions. One day, a student made a “conjecture” that reflected a common misconception among children. The fraction 5 / 6, the student argued, goes on the same place on the number line as 5 / 12. For the rest of the class period, the student listened as a lineup of peers detailed all the reasons the two numbers couldn’t possibly be equivalent, even though they had the same numerator. A few days later, when Lampert gave a quiz on the topic (“Prove that 3 / 12 = 1 / 4 ,” for example), the student could confidently declare why: “Three sections of the 12 go into each fourth.”

Over the years, observers who have studied Lampert’s classroom have found that students learn an unusual amount of math. Rather than forgetting algorithms, they retain and even understand them. One boy who began fifth grade declaring math to be his worst subject ended it able to solve multiplication, long division and fraction problems, not to mention simple multivariable equations. It’s hard to look at Lampert’s results without concluding that with the help of a great teacher, even Americans can become the so-called math people we don’t think we are.

Among math reformers, Lampert’s work gained attention. Her research was cited in the same N.C.T.M. standards documents that Takahashi later pored over. She was featured in Time magazine in 1989 and was retained by the producers of “Sesame Street” to help create the show “Square One Television,” aimed at making math accessible to children. Yet as her ideas took off, she began to see a problem. In Japan, she was influencing teachers she had never met, by way of the N.C.T.M. standards. But where she lived, in America, teachers had few opportunities for learning the methods she developed.

Photo

Credit Photo illustration by Andrew B. Myers. Prop stylist: Randi Brookman Harris. Butterfly icon by Tim Boelaars.

American institutions charged with training teachers in new approaches to math have proved largely unable to do it. At most education schools, the professors with the research budgets and deanships have little interest in the science of teaching. Indeed, when Lampert attended Harvard’s Graduate School of Education in the 1970s, she could find only one listing in the entire course catalog that used the word “teaching” in its title. (Today only 19 out of 231 courses include it.) Methods courses, meanwhile, are usually taught by the lowest ranks of professors — chronically underpaid, overworked and, ultimately, ineffective.

Without the right training, most teachers do not understand math well enough to teach it the way Lampert does. “Remember,” Lampert says, “American teachers are only a subset of Americans.” As graduates of American schools, they are no more likely to display numeracy than the rest of us. “I’m just not a math person,” Lampert says her education students would say with an apologetic shrug.

Consequently, the most powerful influence on teachers is the one most beyond our control. The sociologist Dan Lortie calls the phenomenon the apprenticeship of observation. Teachers learn to teach primarily by recalling their memories of having been taught, an average of 13,000 hours of instruction over a typical childhood. The apprenticeship of observation exacerbates what the education scholar Suzanne Wilson calls education reform’s double bind. The very people who embody the problem — teachers — are also the ones charged with solving it.

Lampert witnessed the effects of the double bind in 1986, a year after California announced its intention to adopt “teaching for understanding,” a style of math instruction similar to Lampert’s. A team of researchers that included Lampert’s husband, David Cohen, traveled to California to see how the teachers were doing as they began to put the reforms into practice. But after studying three dozen classrooms over four years, they found the new teaching simply wasn’t happening. Some of the failure could be explained by active resistance. One teacher deliberately replaced a new textbook’s problem-solving pages with the old worksheets he was accustomed to using.

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Teachers primarily learn to teach by recalling their memories of having been taught, about 13,000 hours of instruction during a typical childhood — a problem since their instruction wasn’t very good.

Much more common, though, were teachers who wanted to change, and were willing to work hard to do it, but didn’t know how. Cohen observed one teacher, for example, who claimed to have incited a “revolution” in her classroom. But on closer inspection, her classroom had changed but not in the way California reformers intended it to. Instead of focusing on mathematical ideas, she inserted new activities into the traditional “I, We You” framework. The supposedly cooperative learning groups she used to replace her rows of desks, for example, seemed in practice less a tool to encourage discussion than a means to dismiss the class for lunch (this group can line up first, now that group, etc.).

And how could she have known to do anything different? Her principal praised her efforts, holding them up as an example for others. Official math-reform training did not help, either. Sometimes trainers offered patently bad information — failing to clarify, for example, that even though teachers were to elicit wrong answers from students, they still needed, eventually, to get to correct ones. Textbooks, too, barely changed, despite publishers’ claims to the contrary.

With the Common Core, teachers are once more being asked to unlearn an old approach and learn an entirely new one, essentially on their own. Training is still weak and infrequent, and principals — who are no more skilled at math than their teachers — remain unprepared to offer support. Textbooks, once again, have received only surface adjustments, despite the shiny Common Core labels that decorate their covers. “To have a vendor say their product is Common Core is close to meaningless,” says Phil Daro, an author of the math standards.

Left to their own devices, teachers are once again trying to incorporate new ideas into old scripts, often botching them in the process. One especially nonsensical result stems from the Common Core’s suggestion that students not just find answers but also “illustrate and explain the calculation by using equations, rectangular arrays, and/or area models.” The idea of utilizing arrays of dots makes sense in the hands of a skilled teacher, who can use them to help a student understand how multiplication actually works. For example, a teacher trying to explain multiplication might ask a student to first draw three rows of dots with two dots in each row and then imagine what the picture would look like with three or four or five dots in each row. Guiding the student through the exercise, the teacher could help her see that each march up the times table (3×2, 3×3, 3×4) just means adding another dot per row. But if a teacher doesn’t use the dots to illustrate bigger ideas, they become just another meaningless exercise. Instead of memorizing familiar steps, students now practice even stranger rituals, like drawing dots only to count them or breaking simple addition problems into complicated forms (62+26, for example, must become 60+2+20+6) without understanding why. This can make for even poorer math students. “In the hands of unprepared teachers,” Lampert says, “alternative algorithms are worse than just teaching them standard algorithms.”

No wonder parents and some mathematicians denigrate the reforms as “fuzzy math.” In the warped way untrained teachers interpret them, they are fuzzy.

When Akihiko Takahashi arrived in America, he was surprised to find how rarely teachers discussed their teaching methods. A year after he got to Chicago, he went to a one-day conference of teachers and mathematicians and was perplexed by the fact that the gathering occurred only twice a year. In Japan, meetings between math-education professors and teachers happened as a matter of course, even before the new American ideas arrived. More distressing to Takahashi was that American teachers had almost no opportunities to watch one another teach.

In Japan, teachers had always depended on jugyokenkyu, which translates literally as “lesson study,” a set of practices that Japanese teachers use to hone their craft. A teacher first plans lessons, then teaches in front of an audience of students and other teachers along with at least one university observer. Then the observers talk with the teacher about what has just taken place. Each public lesson poses a hypothesis, a new idea about how to help children learn. And each discussion offers a chance to determine whether it worked. Without jugyokenkyu, it was no wonder the American teachers’ work fell short of the model set by their best thinkers. Without jugyokenyku, Takahashi never would have learned to teach at all. Neither, certainly, would the rest of Japan’s teachers.

The best discussions were the most microscopic, minute-by-minute recollections of what had occurred, with commentary. If the students were struggling to represent their subtractions visually, why not help them by, say, arranging tile blocks in groups of 10, a teacher would suggest. Or after a geometry lesson, someone might note the inherent challenge for children in seeing angles as not just corners of a triangle but as quantities — a more difficult stretch than making the same mental step for area. By the end, the teachers had learned not just how to teach the material from that day but also about math and the shape of students’ thoughts and how to mold them.

If teachers weren’t able to observe the methods firsthand, they could find textbooks, written by the leading instructors and focusing on the idea of allowing students to work on a single problem each day. Lesson study helped the textbook writers home in on the most productive problems. For example, if you are trying to decide on the best problem to teach children to subtract a one-digit number from a two-digit number using borrowing, or regrouping, you have many choices: 11 minus 2, 18 minus 9, etc. Yet from all these options, five of the six textbook companies in Japan converged on the same exact problem, Toshiakira Fujii, a professor of math education at Tokyo Gakugei University, told me. They determined that 13 minus 9 was the best. Other problems, it turned out, were likely to lead students to discover only one solution method. With 12 minus 3, for instance, the natural approach for most students was to take away 2 and then 1 (the subtraction-subtraction method). Very few would take 3 from 10 and then add back 2 (the subtraction-addition method).

But Japanese teachers knew that students were best served by understanding both methods. They used 13 minus 9 because, faced with that particular problem, students were equally likely to employ subtraction-subtraction (take away 3 to get 10, and then subtract the remaining 6 to get 4) as they were to use subtraction-addition (break 13 into 10 and 3, and then take 9 from 10 and add the remaining 1 and 3 to get 4). A teacher leading the “We” part of the lesson, when students shared their strategies, could do so with full confidence that both methods would emerge.

By 1995, when American researchers videotaped eighth-grade classrooms in the United States and Japan, Japanese schools had overwhelmingly traded the old “I, We, You” script for “You, Y’all, We.” (American schools, meanwhile didn’t look much different than they did before the reforms.) Japanese students had changed too. Participating in class, they spoke more often than Americans and had more to say. In fact, when Takahashi came to Chicago initially, the first thing he noticed was how uncomfortably silent all the classrooms were. One teacher must have said, “Shh!” a hundred times, he said. Later, when he took American visitors on tours of Japanese schools, he had to warn them about the noise from children talking, arguing, shrieking about the best way to solve problems. The research showed that Japanese students initiated the method for solving a problem in 40 percent of the lessons; Americans initiated 9 percent of the time. Similarly, 96 percent of American students’ work fell into the category of “practice,” while Japanese students spent only 41 percent of their time practicing. Almost half of Japanese students’ time was spent doing work that the researchers termed “invent/think.” (American students spent less than 1 percent of their time on it.) Even the equipment in classrooms reflected the focus on getting students to think. Whereas American teachers all used overhead projectors, allowing them to focus students’ attention on the teacher’s rules and equations, rather than their own, in Japan, the preferred device was a blackboard, allowing students to track the evolution of everyone’s ideas.

Japanese schools are far from perfect. Though lesson study is pervasive in elementary and middle school, it is less so in high school, where the emphasis is on cramming for college entrance exams. As is true in the United States, lower-income students in Japan have recently been falling behind their peers, and people there worry about staying competitive on international tests. Yet while the United States regularly hovers in the middle of the pack or below on these tests, Japan scores at the top. And other countries now inching ahead of Japan imitate the jugyokenkyu approach. Some, like China, do this by drawing on their own native jugyokenkyu-style traditions (zuanyan jiaocai, or “studying teaching materials intensively,” Chinese teachers call it). Others, including Singapore, adopt lesson study as a deliberate matter of government policy. Finland, meanwhile, made the shift by carving out time for teachers to spend learning. There, as in Japan, teachers teach for 600 or fewer hours each school year, leaving them ample time to prepare, revise and learn. By contrast, American teachers spend nearly 1,100 hours with little feedback.

It could be tempting to dismiss Japan’s success as a cultural novelty, an unreproducible result of an affluent, homogeneous, and math-positive society. Perhaps the Japanese are simply the “math people” Americans aren’t. Yet when I visited Japan, every teacher I spoke to told me a story that sounded distinctly American. “I used to hate math,” an elementary-school teacher named Shinichiro Kurita said through a translator. “I couldn’t calculate. I was slow. I was always at the bottom of the ladder, wondering why I had to memorize these equations.” Like Takahashi, when he went to college and saw his instructors teaching differently, “it was an enlightenment.”

Learning to teach the new way himself was not easy. “I had so much trouble,” Kurita said. “I had absolutely no idea how to do it.” He listened carefully for what Japanese teachers call children’s twitters — mumbled nuggets of inchoate thoughts that teachers can mold into the fully formed concept they are trying to teach. And he worked hard on bansho, the term Japanese teachers use to describe the art of blackboard writing that helps students visualize the flow of ideas from problem to solution to broader mathematical principles. But for all his efforts, he said, “the children didn’t twitter, and I couldn’t write on the blackboard.” Yet Kurita didn’t give up — and he had resources to help him persevere. He went to study sessions with other teachers, watched as many public lessons as he could and spent time with his old professors. Eventually, as he learned more, his students started to do the same. Today Kurita is the head of the math department at Setagaya Elementary School in Tokyo, the position once held by Takahashi’s mentor, Matsuyama.

Of all the lessons Japan has to offer the United States, the most important might be the belief in patience and the possibility of change. Japan, after all, was able to shift a country full of teachers to a new approach. Telling me his story, Kurita quoted what he described as an old Japanese saying about perseverance: “Sit on a stone for three years to accomplish anything.” Admittedly, a tenacious commitment to improvement seems to be part of the Japanese national heritage, showing up among teachers, autoworkers, sushi chefs and tea-ceremony masters. Yet for his part, Akihiko Takahashi extends his optimism even to a cause that can sometimes seem hopeless — the United States. After the great disappointment of moving here in 1991, he made a decision his colleagues back in Japan thought was strange. He decided to stay and try to help American teachers embrace the innovative ideas that reformers like Magdalene Lampert pioneered.

Today Takahashi lives in Chicago and holds a full-time job in the education department at DePaul University. (He also has a special appointment at his alma mater in Japan, where he and his wife frequently visit.) When it comes to transforming teaching in America, Takahashi sees promise in individual American schools that have decided to embrace lesson study. Some do this deliberately, working with Takahashi to transform the way they teach math. Others have built versions of lesson study without using that name. Sometimes these efforts turn out to be duds. When carefully implemented, though, they show promise. In one experiment in which more than 200 American teachers took part in lesson study, student achievement rose, as did teachers’ math knowledge — two rare accomplishments.

Training teachers in a new way of thinking will take time, and American parents will need to be patient. In Japan, the transition did not happen overnight. When Takahashi began teaching in the new style, parents initially complained about the young instructor experimenting on their children. But his early explorations were confined to just a few lessons, giving him a chance to learn what he was doing and to bring the parents along too. He began sending home a monthly newsletter summarizing what the students had done in class and why. By his third year, he was sending out the newsletter every day. If they were going to support their children, and support Takahashi, the parents needed to know the new math as well. And over time, they learned.

To cure our innumeracy, we will have to accept that the traditional approach we take to teaching math — the one that can be mind-numbing, but also comfortingly familiar — does not work. We will have to come to see math not as a list of rules to be memorized but as a way of looking at the world that really makes sense.

The other shift Americans will have to make extends beyond just math. Across all school subjects, teachers receive a pale imitation of the preparation, support and tools they need. And across all subjects, the neglect shows in students’ work. In addition to misunderstanding math, American students also, on average, write weakly, read poorly, think unscientifically and grasp history only superficially. Examining nearly 3,000 teachers in six school districts, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently found that nearly two-thirds scored less than “proficient” in the areas of “intellectual challenge” and “classroom discourse.” Odds-defying individual teachers can be found in every state, but the overall picture is of a profession struggling to make the best of an impossible hand.

Most policies aimed at improving teaching conceive of the job not as a craft that needs to be taught but as a natural-born talent that teachers either decide to muster or don’t possess. Instead of acknowledging that changes like the new math are something teachers must learn over time, we mandate them as “standards” that teachers are expected to simply “adopt.” We shouldn’t be surprised, then, that their students don’t improve.

Here, too, the Japanese experience is telling. The teachers I met in Tokyo had changed not just their ideas about math; they also changed their whole conception of what it means to be a teacher. “The term ‘teaching’ came to mean something totally different to me,” a teacher named Hideto Hirayama told me through a translator. It was more sophisticated, more challenging — and more rewarding. “The moment that a child changes, the moment that he understands something, is amazing, and this transition happens right before your eyes,” he said. “It seems like my heart stops every day.”

 

Why Do Americans Stink at Math? – NYTimes.com.

THE ACTUAL DECISION HERE

James Ryan, dean of Harvard University’s graduate school of education, said the verdict “will likely cause lawyers in other states to think about bringing similar suits.” But he pointed out that the decision explicitly called on the state Legislature to fix the unconstitutional statues at issue. As a result, there will likely be “back-and-forth” between the Legislature and courts for many years to come.

Silicon Valley mogul David F. Welch, founder of an optical-telecommunications firm, who created Students Matter, an advocacy group, to challenge teachers unions in California. Welch pumped several million dollars into the effort. Students Matter is considering similar lawsuits in New York, Connecticut and other states with teacher job protections similar to those in California, Boutrous said.

The court found that the nine student plaintiffs and their team had proven both of their points. One, that California’s laws directly cause students to be unreasonably exposed to grossly ineffective teachers. And two, that poor and minority students, in particular, are saddled with those teachers. The ruling was so complete that the judge declared every state law in question unconstitutional:

-California teachers are permitted to earn lifetime employment after a mere 18 months in class, well before they could truly earn that status or even be properly evaluated for it. The upshot, said the judge, is that “both students and teachers are unfairly, unnecessarily and for no legally cognizable reasons (let alone a compelling one) disadvantaged.”

-The dismissal process for grossly ineffective teachers in California is so complex and costly that it does not work; many districts do not even bother trying. That leaves thousands of underperforming teachers knowingly remaining in front of students. The judge blasted the system as so problematic that it turned dismissal into an illusion.

-California’s “last-in, first-out” law gives top priority in a time of layoffs to ineffective teachers if they have seniority while better teachers with fewer years are sent packing. The judge called that a lose-lose situation, supported by logic that was “unfathomable.”

Now what? In California, the ruling is on hold pending appeal, but the precedent has been set.

The Vergara case reflects just the start of opportunities for action in other states, where many leaders are searching for better ways to evaluate teachers.

California school districts employ roughly 280,000 full-time equivalent teachers, and the average annual teacher’s salary is just under $70,000.

In 37 states, including New York, states still make decisions on whether to grant tenure — protected employment — to teachers in three years or less.

In 33 states — again, including New York — states do not consider classroom performance in deciding which teachers go in a systemwide layoff. Instead of merit, they favor length of service.

And in 38 states, the cumbersome teacher dismissal process allows multiple appeals. This is not due process; it is an undue burden on those trying to protect teacher quality. And it can be dangerous. In New York, even teachers accused of sexual misconduct have stayed on the job.

It would be no surprise to see parents in New York and elsewhere take the cue of the Vergara plaintiffs and take matters into their own hands. It is empowering to know the courts can help.

“This is a huge deal,” said Sandi Jacobs, a policy director for the National Council on Teacher Quality, a privately funded group that aims to change states’ teacher-employment policies. “This has a huge ripple effect nationally in telling policy makers that policies that harm students can be challenged,” said Ms. Jacobs, who testified on behalf of the plaintiffs in the case.

Ms. Jacobs’s group points to Florida, Indiana and Colorado as having what it considers to be best-practice policies where classroom performance is a “top criterion” to be considered in layoff decisions.

It should never have come to this: Students taking on the powerful governments and teachers unions, all to challenge laws that inexplicably and directly lead to a worse public education.

DESPITE the earthquakes of reform that have rattled public education in recent years, there are parts of the system that still resemble “The Lost World”, where prehistoric creatures still roam. A long-standing demand of education reformers has been that it should be easier for schools to fire bad teachers. The terms in many teacher contracts forbid this. Most schools when making cuts are forced to fire the newest teachers rather than the worst ones—a policy is better known as “last in, first out”. The result is that a lot of bad (and often expensive) teachers linger in the system.

Having lousy teachers is terrible for children and their future prospects. Pupils assigned to better teachers are more likely to go to college and earn decent salaries, and are less likely to be teenage mothers, according to work published in 2011. If teachers in grades 4 to 8 are ranked according to ability, and the bottom 5% are replaced with teachers of average quality, a class’s cumulative lifetime income is raised by $250,000. Bill Gates once pointed out that if every child had mathematics teachers as good as those in the top quartile, the achievement gap between America and Asia would vanish in two years.

Owing to the glut of studies showing that teacher quality is more important than a classroom’s size, income level or access to high-tech wizardry, 18 states and Washington, DC, now require tenure decisions to be “informed” by measures of whether a teacher is any good. Fifteen states and DC are using teacher efficacy as a factor in deciding whom to lay off. And in 23 states teachers can now be sacked if their evaluations are unsatisfactory.

California, though, was one of these Jurassic Lost Worlds where the dinosaurs of the teaching world still roared. Its mighty teachers’ unions helped it withstand change. But thanks to a lawsuit brought by Students Matter, an advocacy group formed by David Welch, a rich entrepreneur from Silicon Valley, all this may now change. Mr Welch (with the help of some extremely expensive lawyers) has just won a case challenging teacher tenure, and a Los Angeles court has now ruled that job protections are unconstitutional. The court struck down five teacher-tenure laws.

The lawsuit, brought on behalf of nine schoolchildren, concentrated on three areas: teacher tenure, dismissal procedures and the seniority rules. The plaintiffs had argued that the rules resulted in grossly ineffective teachers obtaining and retaining permanent employment, and these teachers were disproportionately in schools serving low-income and minority students. The judge said this violated fundamental rights to equal education. “There is also no dispute that there are a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms,” he said, adding that “the evidence is compelling. Indeed it shocks the conscience.”

Implementation of the ruling has been stayed pending appeals. The California Teachers Association has promised a fight. Teachers complain that they can now be fired on unreasonable grounds, and they have criticised the circumvention of the legislative process. But Mr Welch has said he felt obliged to go through the courts after watching union-backed Democrats repeatedly resist attempts at reform. From the start he and his allies were keen to frame the case as a defence of children’s civil rights, not an attack on teachers. John Deasy, the superintendent of the Los Angeles school district, compared the denial of adequate education to ethnic-minority children to the refusal of café owners to serve coffee to black students over 50 years ago.

This decision is one for the history books, says the National Council on Teacher Quality, a reformist research group. Even Mr Welch’s legal team sounded surprised at the scale of their victory.

The ruling will affect one in eight public-school children in America, thanks to the size of California’s education system, and could resonate well beyond the Golden State. As the NCTQ announced, “this landmark case should put states across the country on notice: policies that are not in the best interest of students cannot stand.” Roars of approval all around.

The case began with courageous students, because they had to endure the nightmare: grossly incompetent teachers, mainly in poor and minority schools, protected by state laws. And when the court ruling thundered down Tuesday, the impact was profoundly clear: Students, you win.

Sweeping and unambiguous, the outcome of Vergara v. California is more than one decision in one big state, although even that much is significant given the shudders it will cause. It is an indictment of laws in any state that protect inferior teachers at the expense of students — and a powerful inspiration for other families nationwide who will turn to the courts out of desperation.

It is precisely because of its spillover national implications that this case has had so many people watching, and they all just became witnesses to history. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu said the evidence of the deleterious effect of ineffective teachers on students is so compelling that it “shocks the conscience” — a line that instantly gave voice to countless parents.

The court found that the nine student plaintiffs and their team had proven both of their points. One, that California’s laws directly cause students to be unreasonably exposed to grossly ineffective teachers. And two, that poor and minority students, in particular, are saddled with those teachers. The ruling was so complete that the judge declared every state law in question unconstitutional:

-California teachers are permitted to earn lifetime employment after a mere 18 months in class, well before they could truly earn that status or even be properly evaluated for it. The upshot, said the judge, is that “both students and teachers are unfairly, unnecessarily and for no legally cognizable reasons (let alone a compelling one) disadvantaged.”

-The dismissal process for grossly ineffective teachers in California is so complex and costly that it does not work; many districts do not even bother trying. That leaves thousands of underperforming teachers knowingly remaining in front of students. The judge blasted the system as so problematic that it turned dismissal into an illusion.

-California’s “last-in, first-out” law gives top priority in a time of layoffs to ineffective teachers if they have seniority while better teachers with fewer years are sent packing. The judge called that a lose-lose situation, supported by logic that was “unfathomable.”

Now what? In California, the ruling is on hold pending appeal, but the precedent has been set.

The Vergara case reflects just the start of opportunities for action in other states, where many leaders are searching for better ways to evaluate teachers.

In 37 states, including New York, states still make decisions on whether to grant tenure — protected employment — to teachers in three years or less.

In 33 states — again, including New York — states do not consider classroom performance in deciding which teachers go in a systemwide layoff. Instead of merit, they favor length of service.

And in 38 states, the cumbersome teacher dismissal process allows multiple appeals. This is not due process; it is an undue burden on those trying to protect teacher quality. And it can be dangerous. In New York, even teachers accused of sexual misconduct have stayed on the job.

It would be no surprise to see parents in New York and elsewhere take the cue of the Vergara plaintiffs and take matters into their own hands. It is empowering to know the courts can help.

It should never have come to this: Students taking on the powerful governments and teachers unions, all to challenge laws that inexplicably and directly lead to a worse public education.

Brown is former anchor for CNN and NBC and and founder of Parents’ Transparency Project, an education advocacy group.

Calling it a landmark decision, lawyers for the plaintiffs said that California was just the start of a planned effort to knock down tenure in a state-by-state campaign across the country. Those who have opposed tenure — from both the right and the left — have long said that the protection is an impediment to stronger U.S. education because it keeps bad teachers in the nation’s classrooms. Tuesday’s decision could mark a new front in national education reform, with attacks on tenure moving into the courtroom.

“This is going to be the beginning of a series of these lawsuits that could fix many of the problems in education systems nationwide,” said plaintiffs attorney Theodore Boutrous, who was joined in the effort against tenure by former U.S. solicitor general Ted Olson. The same legal team won a U.S. Supreme Court victory that allowed same-sex marriages to resume in California. “We’re going to roll them out to other jurisdictions.”

Boutrous and Olson were among several prominent lawyers hired by Silicon Valley mogul David F. Welch, founder of an optical-telecommunications firm, who created Students Matter, an advocacy group, to challenge teachers unions in California. Welch pumped several million dollars into the effort. Students Matter is considering similar lawsuits in New York, Connecticut and other states with teacher job protections similar to those in California, Boutrous said.

The ruling was a serious blow to labor unions, whose core mission is to protect teachers’ jobs. The judge issued a stay pending an appeal by the unions, and a final resolution could take years.

John Deasy, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District and a witness for the plaintiffs, called it a “historic day.”

“We can rectify a catastrophe,” Deasy said. “We can and will and must assure that children have the most effective teachers in their classrooms every day. Not some children, not most children, not even nearly all children. But all children.”

Labor leaders said the case is part of a broad assault on unions, as government workers make up more than half of the nation’s union membership.

“Let’s be clear: This lawsuit was never about helping students, but is yet another attempt by millionaires and corporate special interests to undermine the teaching profession and push their own ideological agenda on public schools and students while working to privatize public education,” Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, said in a statement.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said the lawsuit focused on the relatively small pool of “grossly ineffective” teachers — estimated at 1 percent to 3 percent of California’s 275,000 teachers — and ignores other factors that affect the quality of education, especially for poor children.

“It’s surprising that the court, which used its bully pulpit when it came to criticizing teacher protections, did not spend one second discussing funding inequities, school segregation, high poverty or any other out-of-school or in-school factors that are proven to affect student achievement and our children,” Weingarten said.

Tenure and related employment laws in California protect teachers from arbitrary firings, reward experienced teachers and make teaching an appealing career option, Van Roekel said. The ruling will make it more difficult to attract and retain high-quality teachers, he said.

But the plaintiffs argued that California’s laws make it too difficult to get rid of ineffective teachers, costing districts as much as $450,000 in each instance and taking 10 years in one case, according to one trial witness.

In a 16-page ruling, in the case of Vergara v. California, Treu struck down three state laws as unconstitutional. The laws grant tenure to teachers after two years, require layoffs by seniority, and call for a complex and lengthy process before a teacher can be fired.

Treu said the evidence presented at trial “is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience.”

Defendants in the case, including Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and other state officials, were joined by the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers.

In many ways, the case was a proxy fight for some of the national conflicts over the teaching profession.

Backing Welch were some of the most incendiary players in the fight over the future of public schools, including Michelle Rhee, the former schools chancellor in Washington who got rid of tenure in the District in 2009 and went on to form an advocacy group aimed at eliminating it across the country.

“It is my hope that this movement continues on the national stage for all of our students,” said Rhee, who is now chief executive of Students First.

For the unions, the ruling poses a serious threat to tenure, which was first adopted by New Jersey in 1909 to protect teachers from firings on the basis of race, pregnancy, politics or other arbitrary factors.

It figures that New Jersey would be the cause of this fucking mess.  A shit state filled with shitheads that all have their heads up their assess!

The California unions have staved off attempts to change the laws through the legislature, leading Welch to try through the courts.

Welch used a novel civil rights approach, arguing that poor and minority students in California are being denied their right under the state constitution to equal access to public education because they are more likely than affluent white students to be taught by “grossly ineffective” teachers.

Under the laws struck down by the court, school districts have about 18 months after a teacher is hired to award tenure. That is not enough time to make a valid decision, the judge found, noting that California is one of only five states with a period of two years or less. Thirty two states have a three-year period and nine states have four- or five-year periods. Four states have no tenure system.

The complaint also attacked seniority rules and “last in, first out” policies, which say the newest teachers are the first to be laid off when jobs are cut, regardless of performance.

Since 2010, Republican governors and legislatures have been trying to eliminate or weaken teacher tenure laws. Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and a potential Republican presidential candidate who heads an education foundation, applauded the ruling, saying “its impact will be felt well beyond California.”

Some Democrats also joined in cheering Tuesday’s verdict.

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), an old-school liberal and the top Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, suggested that the anti-tenure movement ought to spread beyond California. “It is not only Californians who should celebrate today’s decision, but families in every state and school district across the country,” Miller said. “Unfortunately, school districts nationwide have policies in place that mirror those challenged in Vergara. . . . This is simply indefensible. Today’s ruling puts every school with similar policies on notice.”

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan also criticized tenure laws.

“The students who brought this lawsuit are, unfortunately, just nine out of millions of young people in America who are disadvantaged by laws, practices and systems that fail to identify and support our best teachers and match them with our neediest students,” Duncan said in a statement.

A historic victory for America’s kids  – NY Daily News.

Is College Worth It? Clearly, New Data Say – NYTimes.com.

How not to say the wrong thing: Asshole

When Susan had breast cancer, we heard a lot of lame remarks, but our favorite came from one of Susan’s colleagues. She wanted, she needed, to visit Susan after the surgery, but Susan didn’t feel like having visitors, and she said so. Her colleague’s response? “This isn’t just about you.”

When Susan had breast cancer, we heard a lot of lame remarks, but our favorite came from one of Susan’s colleagues. She wanted, she needed, to visit Susan after the surgery, but Susan didn’t feel like having visitors, and she said so. Her colleague’s response? “This isn’t just about you.”

This woman loves Katie, and she said what she did because the sight of Katie in this condition moved her so deeply. But it was the wrong thing to say. And it was wrong in the same way Susan’s colleague’s remark was wrong.

Susan has since developed a simple technique to help people avoid this mistake. It works for all kinds of crises: medical, legal, financial, romantic, even existential. She calls it the Ring Theory.

Draw a circle. This is the center ring. In it, put the name of the person at the center of the current trauma. For Katie’s aneurysm, that’s Katie. Now draw a larger circle around the first one. In that ring put the name of the person next closest to the trauma. In the case of Katie’s aneurysm, that was Katie’s husband, Pat. Repeat the process as many times as you need to. In each larger ring put the next closest people. Parents and children before more distant relatives. Intimate friends in smaller rings, less intimate friends in larger ones. When you are done you have a Kvetching Order. One of Susan’s patients found it useful to tape it to her refrigerator.

Here are the rules. The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, “Life is unfair” and “Why me?” That’s the one payoff for being in the center ring.

Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings.

When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to help. Listening is often more helpful than talking. But if you’re going to open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn’t, don’t say it. Don’t, for example, give advice. People who are suffering from trauma don’t need advice. They need comfort and support. So say, “I’m sorry” or “This must really be hard for you” or “Can I bring you a pot roast?” Don’t say, “You should hear what happened to me” or “Here’s what I would do if I were you.” And don’t say, “This is really bringing me down.”

If you want to scream or cry or complain, if you want to tell someone how shocked you are or how icky you feel, or whine about how it reminds you of all the terrible things that have happened to you lately, that’s fine. It’s a perfectly normal response. Just do it to someone in a bigger ring.

Comfort IN, dump OUT.

There was nothing wrong with Katie’s friend saying she was not prepared for how horrible Katie looked, or even that she didn’t think she could handle it. The mistake was that she said those things to Pat. She dumped IN.

Complaining to someone in a smaller ring than yours doesn’t do either of you any good. On the other hand, being supportive to her principal caregiver may be the best thing you can do for the patient.

Most of us know this. Almost nobody would complain to the patient about how rotten she looks. Almost no one would say that looking at her makes them think of the fragility of life and their own closeness to death. In other words, we know enough not to dump into the center ring. Ring Theory merely expands that intuition and makes it more concrete: Don’t just avoid dumping into the center ring, avoid dumping into any ring smaller than your own.

Remember, you can say whatever you want if you just wait until you’re talking to someone in a larger ring than yours.

And don’t worry. You’ll get your turn in the center ring. You can count on that.

Susan Silk is a clinical psychologist. Barry Goldman is an arbitrator and mediator and the author of “The Science of Settlement: Ideas for Negotiators.”

How not to say the wrong thing – Los Angeles Times.

The fat girls have taken over the planet!

Yale student claims university threatened to suspend her if she didn’t gain weight | Fox News.

▶ 9 FEMALE ORGASM Facts

▶ 9 FEMALE ORGASM Facts You NEVER Knew! – YouTube.

Typical beautiful bimbo has no fucking idea what she is talking about other than her own masturbation rituals. Ignorance behind the eye makeup.

Another victim of too many shampoo bottles?….

Tie a board to your ass for this one boys!

For someone who talks a lot about sex you don’t know that much about your body. Your clitoris is 6 inches long and not a “tiny little area”, the bit you see is just the top bit like an iceberg, the rest of it is inside you. Even I know that and I’m asexual. Oh, and the most erotic organ you have is your brain.
Hey Broad! Men do have different ranges for an orgasm. I know I do. There are times I cum ok and then there are times that i cum so hard that my legs are shaking when I’m done. Love your vids, babe! Keep up the good work, hun.

Ladies: How To Get “The Ultimate” Orgasm You Know You Want! – YouTube.

Hey, its like reality tv but right in front of you like “reality”

Florida family claims teacher aides stood by while student was attacked – NY Daily News.

The 5 Least Literate Cities in America | TIME.com.

Soon every faculty member will have a personal senior manager: Is this a good way to spend money?

by Richard Evans

(A PDF version of this article is available.)

In a letter to the UC Davis community, Chancellor Katehi and Provost Lavernia declared that we should work collectively “to address today’s major budget cuts, which come as a consequence of the state’s decade-long disinvestment in higher education.” I think there is a more immediate target for constructive change that would balance the UC budget.

It’s true that UC’s share of the state’s general fund has been declining (from 7.5 percent in 1967-68 to as low as 3 percent in recent years, according to the California Postsecondary Education Commission[1]), but that has been a steady trend. The more immediate reason for the current enormous increases in student fees, and for the sudden need for employee furloughs, is the startling recent growth of UC’s senior management. Data available from the UC Office of the President shows that there were 2.5 faculty members for each senior manager in the UC system in 1993. Now there are as many senior managers as faculty.[2] Just think: Each professor could have his or her personal senior manager.

faculty_management_fte

In the decade beginning in 1997, while faculty increased by 24 percent and student enrollment increased 39 percent, senior management grew by 118 percent. This past year, with the budget crisis in full swing, senior management has grown at twice the rate of faculty. That comes at a high price, because many managers are very well compensated for their work. A report on administrative growth by the UCLA Faculty Association[3] estimated that UC would have $800 million more each year if senior management had grown at the same rate as the rest of the university since 1997, instead of four times faster.

What could we do with $800 million? That is the total amount of the state funding cuts for 2008-09 and 2009-10, and four times the savings of the employee furloughs.[4] Consider this: UC revenue from student fees has tripled in the last eight years. The ratio of state general fund revenue to student fee revenue in 1997 was 3.6:1. Last year it was 1.9:1. If we used that $800 million to reduce student fees, the ratio would go back to the 1997 value.[5] To put another way, it could pay the educational fees for 100,000 resident undergraduates.

Of course the budget crisis is more complex than this. Of course we must try to convince the state government and the public of the wisdom of investment in our university system. But changing attitudes about public investment is a large task that involves far more than just UC. I’m not sure that those who are reluctant to increase UC support will be swayed by arguments presented by a UC president whose 2008 compensation was $828,000. Or by a new UC Davis chancellor whose salary (27 percent greater than that of her predecessor) equals that of the US president.

Our effort to solve the budget problems has a greater chance for success if we first aim at something we have direct control over. UC has shared governance (in theory), and does its own hiring. I suggest that we — administrators, faculty, staff and students — review the justification, costs, and benefits related to the explosive growth in senior management. If we could reduce management costs by $800 million, we could eliminate much of the financial hardship on students and staff. We could argue convincingly to the governor and state legislature that a well-run UC deserves full support. Perhaps most impressive, we could present a model for turning back a nationwide trend in university hiring.

FOOTNOTES

[1] Source: http://www.cpec.ca.gov/completereports/2008reports/FiscalProfiles2008.asp

[2] Source: http://www.ucop.edu/ucophome/uwnews/stat/

[3] Source: http://www.uclafaculty.org/FASite/Admin._Growth.html

[4] Source: http://www.dateline.ucdavis.edu/dl_detail.lasso?id=11822

[5] Source: http://www.cpec.ca.gov/FiscalData/FundingOptions.asp

via Keep California’s Promise » Soon every faculty member will have a personal senior manager: Is this a good way to spend money?.

Bail set at $500K for accused cyberbully

By Teri Figueroa4:34 p.m.Jan. 28, 2014

VISTA CA— An 18-year-old man accused of sending online death threats to El Camino High students in Oceanside the day after two teens were gunned down in a city park pleaded not guilty Tuesday.

Samuel Ruiz was arrested last week at MiraCosta College, where he was taking a class, after Oceanside police detectives linked him to messages sent shortly after a deadly ambush at Libby Lake Park in March.

Ruiz posted $50,000 bail and was released from jail after his arrest in the cyberbullying case. But during his arraignment Tuesday in Vista Superior Court, Ruiz’s bail was raised to $500,000 by Judge Marshall Hockett and the defendant was taken into custody.

He is charged with making a criminal threat, and faces a sentence of up to three years and eight months if convicted.

Oceanside police said the threatening messages were sent March 14, a day after two teens were fatally shot and two of their friends were injured during an ambush at the park. The messages were sent to several high school students and told them they would be killed if they did not stop talking about the Libby Lake killings, police said.

Detectives initially suspected Ruiz was behind the messages, which were sent by someone who went by the name “Bart Chang,” but Ruiz denied any involvement, police said.

Then, in late December, an El Camino High student received a message from a “Bart Chang” stating the student would be killed when school started up after winter break.

The investigation led detectives to Ruiz, who was arrested on the MiraCosta campus on Jan. 21. During the arrest, he was found carrying a spring-loaded knife, an illegal weapon, police said.

Ruiz has no apparent connections to those who received the threats or to the five gang members accused in the killings of Melanie Virgen, 13, and Edgar Sanchez, 15, at Libby Lake Park.

The teens were shot and killed at the park when they were sitting by a makeshift memorial for two friends who had been killed at the park in May 2011.

via Bail set at $500K for accused cyberbully | UTSanDiego.com.

U.S. history doesn’t make the grade at the nation’s elite liberal arts colleges, where students can dodge classes on America’s founding by studying electronic dance, movie animation and, at one school, a course on “The Rhetoric of Alien Abduction,” a new report finds.

The report — “Education or Reputation?: A Look at America’s Top-Ranked Liberal Arts Colleges” — found that within those top 29 colleges, not a single institution except for three military academies requires a “foundational, college-level course” in American history or government.

“If you look at the course catalogs of most of these institutions, they recognize the importance of a strong foundation of varied skills and knowledge, but in many respects these are simply empty promises,” said Anne Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, which released the report on Monday. “It’s essentially representative of the ‘anything goes’ curriculum that reigns on college campuses nowadays.”

For example, a student at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, can avoid a survey course in American history by fulfilling the general education concentration requirement by completing courses like “History of Electronic Dance Music” or “Decoding Disney: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Animated Blockbuster,” according to the report.

“Majors must take two courses from either East Asia or Latin America, however,” the report continues. “It appears the faculty understands how shoddy these requirements are, since they add the warning on the history department site: ‘Students considering graduate study in history are advised to undertake some course work in U.S. and modern European history to prepare for the Graduate Record Examination.’”

Of the 29 top-ranked liberal arts colleges, only the United States Air Force Academy, the United States Military Academy, and the United States Naval Academy requires a survey course in American history. One school, Claremont McKenna in California, requires U.S. history or economics but not both. Just two of those institutions require an economics course, and five require a survey course in literature, according to the report.

A survey conducted in 2011 found that 70 percent of Americans think colleges and universities should require all students to take basic classes in core subjects such as writing, math, science, economics, U.S. history and foreign language. Those most likely to agree (80 percent) were ages 25-24, or those most aware of what the job market requires, the survey found.

“It’s time for students and families to take a hard look at what they’re paying for and what they’re going to get,” Neal told FoxNews.com. “It’s possible to invest $250,000 in an education that ends in little intellectual growth, narrowed perspective and which qualifies the graduate for very little.”

Nationwide, inflation-adjusted tuition and required fees at four-year nonprofit colleges increased by an average of 13 percent in 2012-13, costing an average of $29,056. That figure jumps to $43,742 among the “elite liberal arts colleges” detailed in the report. Factoring in housing costs and other costs, the total cost of attendance typically exceeds $53,000 annually. Furthermore, students who graduate with debt start their professional careers with an average debt between $12,749 and $26,567, the report found.

For those who devote their careers to education, the report is not especially eye-opening.

“Maybe I’ve been doing this for too long, but none of this is particularly surprising,” said Neal McCluskey, associate director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom. “What most people might find most disturbing or surprising is that the biggest reason the cost of college is going up is bureaucracy. There’s a tendency to think if you’re paying more, you’re getting more – well, that doesn’t seem to be the case.”

A lack of focus on the core product — a sound, varied education — on the nation’s campuses of higher learning is a key component of the problem, McCluskey said. Too much emphasis is placed on recreational and alternative activities and issues like grade inflation continue to plague colleges large and small.

“Because they’re small, we tend to think they’d be sort of immune from problems we tend to associate with giant research universities,” McCluskey said of elite liberal arts school in the report. “But this is telling us that those cute little colleges have the same problems as the mega-university with 30,000 students.”

As the sticker price of college continues to surge upward, coupled with rising inflation and a dwindling job market, McCluskey said more and more people may find that the typical four-year path “doesn’t make a whole lot of sense” for them.

“For some people, it would make more sense to get specific skills and then move on,” he told FoxNews.com. “The traditional, residential four-year model just makes less and less sense for most people and a report like this demonstrates one of the reasons why that is.”

America’s top liberal arts schools skip U.S. history, report finds | Fox News.

Updated Dec. 28, 2013 10:46 p.m. ET

Philadelphia

‘What you’re seeing is how a civilization commits suicide,” says Camille Paglia. This self-described “notorious Amazon feminist” isn’t telling anyone to Lean In or asking Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. No, her indictment may be as surprising as it is wide-ranging: The military is out of fashion, Americans undervalue manual labor, schools neuter male students, opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women, and sexiness is dead. And that’s just 20 minutes of our three-hour conversation.

When Ms. Paglia, now 66, burst onto the national stage in 1990 with the publishing of “Sexual Personae,” she immediately established herself as a feminist who was the scourge of the movement’s establishment, a heretic to its orthodoxy. Pick up the 700-page tome, subtitled “Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, ” and it’s easy to see why. “If civilization had been left in female hands,” she wrote, “we would still be living in grass huts.”

The fact that the acclaimed book—the first of six; her latest, “Glittering Images,” is a survey of Western art—was rejected by seven publishers and five agents before being printed by Yale University Press only added to Ms. Paglia’s sense of herself as a provocateur in a class with Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern. But unlike those radio jocks, Ms. Paglia has scholarly chops: Her dissertation adviser at Yale was Harold Bloom, and she is as likely to discuss Freud, Oscar Wilde or early Native American art as to talk about Miley Cyrus.

Ms. Paglia relishes her outsider persona, having previously described herself as an egomaniac and “abrasive, strident and obnoxious.” Talking to her is like a mental CrossFit workout. One moment she’s praising pop star Rihanna (“a true artist”), then blasting ObamaCare (“a monstrosity,” though she voted for the president), global warming (“a religious dogma”), and the idea that all gay people are born gay (“the biggest canard,” yet she herself is a lesbian).

Neil Davies

But no subject gets her going more than when I ask if she really sees a connection between society’s attempts to paper over the biological distinction between men and women and the collapse of Western civilization.

She starts by pointing to the diminished status of military service. “The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service—hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster,” she says. “These people don’t think in military ways, so there’s this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we’re just nice and benevolent to everyone they’ll be nice too. They literally don’t have any sense of evil or criminality.”

The results, she says, can be seen in everything from the dysfunction in Washington (where politicians “lack practical skills of analysis and construction”) to what women wear. “So many women don’t realize how vulnerable they are by what they’re doing on the street,” she says, referring to women who wear sexy clothes.

When she has made this point in the past, Ms. Paglia—who dresses in androgynous jackets and slacks—has been told that she believes “women are at fault for their own victimization.” Nonsense, she says. “I believe that every person, male and female, needs to be in a protective mode at all times of alertness to potential danger. The world is full of potential attacks, potential disasters.” She calls it “street-smart feminism.”

Ms. Paglia argues that the softening of modern American society begins as early as kindergarten. “Primary-school education is a crock, basically. It’s oppressive to anyone with physical energy, especially guys,” she says, pointing to the most obvious example: the way many schools have cut recess. “They’re making a toxic environment for boys. Primary education does everything in its power to turn boys into neuters.”

She is not the first to make this argument, as Ms. Paglia readily notes. Fellow feminist Christina Hoff Sommers has written about the “war against boys” for more than a decade. The notion was once met with derision, but now data back it up: Almost one in five high-school-age boys has been diagnosed with ADHD, boys get worse grades than girls and are less likely to go to college.

Ms. Paglia observes this phenomenon up close with her 11-year-old son, Lucien, whom she is raising with her ex-partner, Alison Maddex, an artist and public-school teacher who lives 2 miles away. She sees the tacit elevation of “female values”—such as sensitivity, socialization and cooperation—as the main aim of teachers, rather than fostering creative energy and teaching hard geographical and historical facts.

By her lights, things only get worse in higher education. “This PC gender politics thing—the way gender is being taught in the universities—in a very anti-male way, it’s all about neutralization of maleness.” The result: Upper-middle-class men who are “intimidated” and “can’t say anything. . . . They understand the agenda.” In other words: They avoid goring certain sacred cows by “never telling the truth to women” about sex, and by keeping “raunchy” thoughts and sexual fantasies to themselves and their laptops.

Politically correct, inadequate education, along with the decline of America’s brawny industrial base, leaves many men with “no models of manhood,” she says. “Masculinity is just becoming something that is imitated from the movies. There’s nothing left. There’s no room for anything manly right now.” The only place you can hear what men really feel these days, she claims, is on sports radio. No surprise, she is an avid listener. The energy and enthusiasm “inspires me as a writer,” she says, adding: “If we had to go to war,” the callers “are the men that would save the nation.”

And men aren’t the only ones suffering from the decline of men. Women, particularly elite upper-middle-class women, have become “clones” condemned to “Pilates for the next 30 years,” Ms. Paglia says. “Our culture doesn’t allow women to know how to be womanly,” adding that online pornography is increasingly the only place where men and women in our sexless culture tap into “primal energy” in a way they can’t in real life.

A key part of the remedy, she believes, is a “revalorization” of traditional male trades—the ones that allow women’s studies professors to drive to work (roads), take the elevator to their office (construction), read in the library (electricity), and go to gender-neutral restrooms (plumbing).

Michelle Obama‘s going on: ‘Everybody must have college.’ Why? Why? What is the reason why everyone has to go to college? Especially when college is so utterly meaningless right now, it has no core curriculum” and “people end up saddled with huge debts,” says Ms. Paglia. What’s driving the push toward universal college is “social snobbery on the part of a lot of upper-middle-class families who want the sticker in the window.”

Ms. Paglia, who has been a professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia since 1984, sees her own students as examples. “I have woodworking students who, even while they’re in class, are already earning money making furniture and so on,” she says. “My career has been in art schools cause I don’t get along with normal academics.”

To hear her tell it, getting along has never been Ms. Paglia’s strong suit. As a child, she felt stifled by the expectations of girlhood in the 1950s. She fantasized about being a knight, not a princess. Discovering pioneering female figures as a teenager, most notably Amelia Earhart, transformed Ms. Paglia’s understanding of what her future might hold.

These iconoclastic women of the 1930s, like Earhart and Katharine Hepburn, remain her ideal feminist role models: independent, brave, enterprising, capable of competing with men without bashing them. But since at least the late 1960s, she says, fellow feminists in the academy stopped sharing her vision of “equal-opportunity feminism” that demands a level playing field without demanding special quotas or protections for women.

She proudly recounts her battle, while a graduate student at Yale in the late 1960s and early ’70s, with the New Haven Women’s Liberation Rock Band over the Rolling Stones: Ms. Paglia loved “Under My Thumb,” a song the others regarded as chauvinist. Then there was the time she “barely got through the dinner” with a group of women’s studies professors at Bennington College, where she had her first teaching job, who insisted that there is no hormonal difference between men and women. “I left before dessert.”

In her view, these ideological excesses bear much of the blame for the current cultural decline. She calls out activists like Gloria Steinem, Naomi Wolf and Susan Faludi for pushing a version of feminism that says gender is nothing more than a social construct, and groups like the National Organization for Women for making abortion the singular women’s issue.

By denying the role of nature in women’s lives, she argues, leading feminists created a “denatured, antiseptic” movement that “protected their bourgeois lifestyle” and falsely promised that women could “have it all.” And by impugning women who chose to forgo careers to stay at home with children, feminists turned off many who might have happily joined their ranks.

But Ms. Paglia’s criticism shouldn’t be mistaken for nostalgia for the socially prescribed roles for men and women before the 1960s. Quite the contrary. “I personally have disobeyed every single item of the gender code,” says Ms. Paglia. But men, and especially women, need to be honest about the role biology plays and clear-eyed about the choices they are making.

Sex education, she says, simply focuses on mechanics without conveying the real “facts of life,” especially for girls: “I want every 14-year-old girl . . . to be told: You better start thinking what do you want in life. If you just want a career and no children you don’t have much to worry about. If, however, you are thinking you’d like to have children some day you should start thinking about when do you want to have them. Early or late? To have them early means you are going to make a career sacrifice, but you’re going to have more energy and less risks. Both the pros and the cons should be presented.”

For all of Ms. Paglia’s barbs about the women’s movement, it seems clear that feminism—at least of the equal-opportunity variety—has triumphed in its basic goals. There is surely a lack of women in the C-Suite and Congress, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a man who would admit that he believes women are less capable. To save feminism as a political movement from irrelevance, Ms. Paglia says, the women’s movement should return to its roots. That means abandoning the “nanny state” mentality that led to politically correct speech codes and college disciplinary committees that have come to replace courts. The movement can win converts, she says, but it needs to become a big tent, one “open to stay-at-home moms” and “not just the career woman.”

More important, Ms. Paglia says, if the women’s movement wants to be taken seriously again, it should tackle serious matters, like rape in India and honor killings in the Muslim world, that are “more of an outrage than some woman going on a date on the Brown University campus.”

Ms. Weiss is an associate editorial features editor at the Journal.

The Weekend Interview With Camille Paglia: A Feminist Defense of Masculine Virtues – WSJ.com.

Math: People either love it or hate it. For all the haters out there, what if a little zap to the brain could put you on the road to math whizdom?

A new study from the University of Oxford found that applying electrical currents to certain parts of the brain improved a person’s mathematical performance for up to six months.

“We are very excited to see these results,” said Dr. Roi Cohen Kadosh of the University of Oxford and lead author of the study. “We actually aimed to get to this stage in a few years, but we got here sooner than expected.”

The researchers used a kind of stimulation known as transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS. It is a non-invasive technique where a weak electrical current is applied to the parietal lobe, an area of the brain responsible for numerical understanding, spatial sense and navigation.

The study was small and still in the early stages of research, which caused some doctors to voice skepticism about whether practical applications would ever arise in the findings. Still, the developments are exciting in the realm of brain research.

Until this point, researchers said there had not been a treatment that targets numerical ability without having significant side effects to other areas of the brain, such as impaired attention.

“I am certainly not advising people to go around giving themselves electric shocks, but we are extremely excited by the potential of our findings,” Kadosh said in the study. “Electrical stimulation will most likely not turn you into Albert Einstein, but if we’re successful, it might be able to help some people to cope better with math.”

The Nuts and Bolts

Fifteen healthy adults with normal mathematical abilities were involved in the study. Each participant had to learn a series of fake symbols that represented numbers while receiving the noninvasive brain stimulation.

The results, published in the journal Current Biology, showed that the brain stimulation to the parietal lobe improved participants’ ability to learn the new numbers compared to those who were not zapped or those who were zapped in other areas of the brain. The improvements lasted six months after the week-long exercise.

Dyscalculia

Kadosh said that the stimulation could help people with a variety of disabilities that stem from the parietal lobe.

About 15 to 20 percent of the population has moderate to severe numerical disabilities, and many other people lose their number-processing skills as a result of stroke, dementia or other neurodegenerative diseases.

Dyscalculia is a disability in which people have specific difficulty in learning mathematics. It is associated with dyslexia because many people easily confuse math symbols and numbers.

Dr. Stefani Hines is a developmental and behavioral pediatrician at Beaumont Hospital’s Center for Human Development in Oakland County, Mich. She often sees children with learning disabilities such as dyscalculia.

“I’m working in the trenches and I’ve never heard of this as a treatment for math disabilities,” Hines said. “This might hold some promises at some point in the future if we can figure out what population it will serve and we make sure there are no risky side effects.”

Dyscalculia.org is a website described as a global resource for people with math learning disabilities. Renee Newman, president of the organization, said that the study’s findings are significant.

 

Brain Stimulation Improves Math Skills, Says Study – ABC News.

A 2012 study found no relationship between the amount of time spent on homework and grades, but did find a positive link between homework and performance on standardized tests. A 2006 analysis of homework studies found a link between time spent on homework and achievement, but found it was much stronger in secondary school versus elementary school. That analysis also found that for junior high school students, homework reaches the point of diminishing return at around 90 minutes, and between 90 minutes and 2.5 hours for high schoolers.

 

via Homework debate: Too much, too little or busy work? – CNN.com.

JEFFREY BROWN: “If you want an education, the odds aren’t with you,

JEFFREY BROWN: You add a larger level. You write: “Midway through the last decade, the 20th century, American higher education changed. Colleges and universities entered a new phase in which they stopped being intellectually driven and culturally oriented and began to model themselves on business.”But, for now, Mark Edmundson, the new book is

“Why Teach?: In Defense of a Real Education.” Thanks so much.

 

Author Argues Colleges Focus More on Professional Training Than Transformation | PBS NewsHour | Sept. 4, 2013 | PBS.

On May 31st, president Barack Obama strolled into the bright sunlight of the Rose Garden, covered from head to toe in the slime and ooze of the Benghazi and IRS scandals. In a Karl Rove-ian masterstroke, he simply pretended they weren’t there and changed the subject.

More Taibbi: The Last Mystery of the Financial Crisis

The topic? Student loans. Unless Congress took action soon, he warned, the relatively low 3.4 percent interest rates on key federal student loans would double. Obama knew the Republicans would make a scene over extending the subsidized loan program, and that he could corner them into looking like obstructionist meanies out to snatch the lollipop of higher education from America’s youth. “We cannot price the middle class or folks who are willing to work hard to get into the middle class,” he said sternly, “out of a college education.”

Flash-forward through a few months of brinkmanship and name-calling, and not only is nobody talking about the IRS anymore, but the Republicans and Democrats are snuggled in bed together on the student-loan thing, having hatched a quick-fix plan on July 31st to peg interest rates to Treasury rates, ensuring the rate for undergrads would only rise to 3.86 percent for the coming year.

Though this was just the thinnest of temporary solutions – Congressional Budget Office projections predicted interest rates on undergraduate loans under the new plan would still rise as high as 7.25 percent within five years, while graduate loans could reach an even more ridiculous 8.8 percent – the jobholders on Capitol Hill couldn’t stop congratulating themselves for their “rare” “feat” of bipartisan cooperation. “This proves Washington can work,” clucked House Republican Luke Messer of Indiana, in a typically autoerotic assessment of the work done by Beltway pols like himself who were now freed up for their August vacations.

Not only had the president succeeded in moving the goal posts on his spring scandals, he’d teamed up with the Republicans to perpetuate a long-standing deception about the education issue: that the student-loan controversy is now entirely about interest rates and/or access to school loans.

Obama had already set himself up as a great champion of student rights by taking on banks and greedy lenders like Sallie Mae. Three years earlier, he’d scored what at the time looked like a major victory over the Republicans with a transformative plan to revamp the student-loan industry. The 2010 bill mostly eliminated private banks and lenders from the federal student-loan business. Henceforth, the government would lend college money directly to students, with no middlemen taking a cut. The president insisted the plan would eliminate waste and promised to pass the savings along to students in the form of more college and university loans, including $36 billion in new Pell grants over 10 years for low-income students. Republican senator and former Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander bashed the move as “another Washington takeover.”

The thing is, none of it – not last month’s deal, not Obama’s 2010 reforms – mattered that much. No doubt, seeing rates double permanently would genuinely have sucked for many students, so it was nice to avoid that. And yes, it was theoretically beneficial when Obama took banks and middlemen out of the federal student-loan game. But the dirty secret of American higher education is that student-loan interest rates are almost irrelevant. It’s not the cost of the loan that’s the problem, it’s the principal – the appallingly high tuition costs that have been soaring at two to three times the rate of inflation, an irrational upward trajectory eerily reminiscent of skyrocketing housing prices in the years before 2008.

More Taibbi: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever

How is this happening? It’s complicated. But throw off the mystery and what you’ll uncover is a shameful and oppressive outrage that for years now has been systematically perpetrated against a generation of young adults. For this story, I interviewed people who developed crippling mental and physical conditions, who considered suicide, who had to give up hope of having children, who were forced to leave the country, or who even entered a life of crime because of their student debts.

They all take responsibility for their own mistakes. They know they didn’t arrive at gorgeous campuses for four golden years of boozing, balling and bong hits by way of anybody’s cattle car. But they’re angry, too, and they should be. Because the underlying cause of all that later-life distress and heartache – the reason they carry such crushing, life-alteringly huge college debt – is that our university-tuition system really is exploitative and unfair, designed primarily to benefit two major actors.

First in line are the colleges and universities, and the contractors who build their extravagant athletic complexes, hotel-like dormitories and God knows what other campus embellishments. For these little regional economic empires, the federal student-loan system is essentially a massive and ongoing government subsidy, once funded mostly by emotionally vulnerable parents, but now increasingly paid for in the form of federally backed loans to a political constituency – low- and middle-income students – that has virtually no lobby in Washington.

Next up is the government itself. While it’s not commonly discussed on the Hill, the government actually stands to make an enormous profit on the president’s new federal student-loan system, an estimated $184 billion over 10 years, a boondoggle paid for by hyperinflated tuition costs and fueled by a government-sponsored predatory-lending program that makes even the most ruthless private credit-card company seem like a “Save the Panda” charity. Why is this happening? The answer lies in a sociopathic marriage of private-sector greed and government force that will make you shake your head in wonder at the way modern America sucks blood out of its young.

In the early 2000s, a thirtysomething scientist named Alan Collinge seemed to be going places. He had graduated from USC in 1999 with a degree in aerospace engineering and landed a research job at Caltech. Then he made a mistake: He asked for a raise, didn’t get it, lost his job and soon found himself underemployed and with no way to repay the roughly $38,000 in loans he’d taken out to get his degree.

Collinge’s creditor, Sallie Mae, which originally had been a quasi-public institution but, in the late Nineties, had begun transforming into a wholly private lender, didn’t answer his requests for a forbearance or a restructuring. So in 2001, he went into default. Soon enough, his original $38,000 loan had ballooned to more than $100,000 in debt, thanks to fees, penalties and accrued interest. He had a job as a military contractor, but he lost it when his employer ran a credit check on him. His whole life was now about his student debt.

More Taibbi: The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia

Collinge became so upset that, while sitting on a buddy’s couch in Tacoma, Washington, one night in 2005 and nursing a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, he swore that he’d see Sallie Mae on 60 Minutes if it was the last thing he did. In what has to be a first in the history of drunken bullshitting, it actually happened. “Lo and behold, I ended up being featured on 60 Minutes within about a year,” he says. In 2006, he got to tell his debt story to Lesley Stahl for a piece on Sallie Mae’s draconian lending tactics that, curiously enough, Sallie Mae itself refused to be interviewed for.

From that point forward, Collinge – who founded the website StudentLoanJustice.org – became what he calls “a complaint box for the industry.” He heard thousands of horror stories from people like himself, and over the course of many years began to wonder more and more about one particular recurring theme, what he calls “the really significant thing – the sticker price.” Why was college so expensive?

Tuition costs at public and private colleges were, are and have been rising faster than just about anything in American society – health care, energy, even housing. Between 1950 and 1970, sending a kid to a public university cost about four percent of an American family’s annual income. Forty years later, in 2010, it accounted for 11 percent. Moody’s released statistics showing tuition and fees rising 300 percent versus the Consumer Price Index between 1990 and 2011.

After the mortgage crash of 2008, for instance, many states pushed through deep cuts to their higher-education systems, but all that did was motivate schools to raise tuition prices and seek to recoup lost state subsidies in the form of more federal-loan money. The one thing they didn’t do was cut costs. “College spending has been going up at the same time as prices have been going up,” says Kevin Carey of the nonpartisan New America Foundation.

This is why the issue of student-loan interest rates pales in comparison with the larger problem of how anyone can repay such a huge debt – the average student now leaves school owing $27,000 – by entering an economy sluggishly jogging uphill at a fraction of the speed of climbing education costs. “It’s the unending, gratuitous, punitive increase in prices that is driving all of this,” says Carey.

As Collinge worked to figure out the cause of those cost increases, he became focused on several highly disturbing, little-discussed quirks in the student-lending industry. For instance: A 2005 Wall Street Journal story by John Hechinger showed that the Department of Education was projecting it would actually make money on students who defaulted on loans, and would collect on average 100 percent of the principal, plus an additional 20 percent in fees and payments.

Hechinger’s reporting would continue over the years to be borne out in official documents. In 2010, for instance, the Obama White House projected the default recovery rate for all forms of federal Stafford loans (one of the most common federally backed loans for undergraduates and graduates) to be above 122 percent. The most recent White House projection was slightly less aggressive, predicting a recovery rate of between 104 percent and 109 percent for Stafford loans.

When Rolling Stone reached out to the DOE to ask for an explanation of those numbers, we got no answer. In the past, however, the federal government has responded to such criticisms by insisting that it doesn’t make a profit on defaults, arguing that the government incurs costs farming out negligent accounts to collectors, and also loses even more thanks to the opportunity cost of lost time. For instance, the government claimed its projected recovery rate for one type of defaulted Stafford loans in 2013 to be 109.8 percent, but after factoring in collection costs, that number drops to 95.7 percent. Factor in the additional cost of lost time, and the “net” projected recovery rate for these Stafford loans is 81.8 percent.

Still, those recovery numbers are extremely high, compared with, say, credit-card debt, where recovery rates of 15 percent are not uncommon. Whether the recovery rate is 110 percent or 80 percent, it seems doubtful that losses from defaults come close to impacting the government’s bottom line, since the state continues to project massive earnings from its student-loan program. After the latest compromise, the 10-year revenue projection for the DOE’s lending programs is $184,715,000,000, or $715 million higher than the old projection – underscoring the fact that the latest deal, while perhaps rescuing students this coming year from high rates, still expects to ding them hard down the road.

But the main question is, how is the idea that the government might make profits on defaulted loans even up for debate? The answer lies in the uniquely blood-draining legal framework in which federal student loans are issued. First of all, a high percentage of student borrowers enter into their loans having no idea that they’re signing up for a relationship as unbreakable as herpes. Not only has Congress almost completely stripped students of their right to disgorge their debts through bankruptcy (amazing, when one considers that even gamblers can declare bankruptcy!), it has also restricted the students’ ability to refinance loans. Even Truth in Lending Act requirements – which normally require lenders to fully disclose future costs to would-be customers – don’t cover certain student loans. That student lenders can escape from such requirements is especially pernicious, given that their pool of borrowers are typically one step removed from being children, but the law goes further than that and tacitly permits lenders to deceive their teenage clients.

Not all student borrowers have access to the same information. A 2008 federal education law forced private lenders to disclose the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) to prospective borrowers; APR is a more complex number that often includes fees and other charges. But lenders of federally backed student loans do not have to make the same disclosures.

“Only a small minority of those who’ve been to college have been told very simple things, like what their interest rate was,” says Collinge. “A lot of straight-up lies have been foisted on students.”

Talk to any of the 38 million Americans who have outstanding student-loan debt, and he or she is likely to tell you a story about how a single moment in a financial-aid office at the age of 18 or 19 – an age when most people can barely do a load of laundry without help – ended up ruining his or her life. “I was 19 years old,” says 24-year-old Lyndsay Green, a graduate of the University of Alabama, in a typical story. “I didn’t understand what was going on, but my mother was there. She had signed, and now it was my turn. So I did.” Six years later, she says, “I am nearly $45,000 in debt. . . . If I had known what I was doing, I would never have gone to college.”

“Nobody sits down and explains to you what it all means,” says 24-year-old Andrew Geliebter, who took out loans to get what he calls “a degree in bullshit”; he entered a public-relations program at Temple University. His loan payments are now 50 percent of his gross income, leaving only about $100 a week for groceries for his family of four.

Another debtor, a 38-year-old attorney who suffered a pulmonary embolism and went into default as a result, is now more than $100,000 in debt. Bedridden and fully disabled, he accepts he will likely be in debt until his death. He asked that his name be withheld because he doesn’t want to incur the wrath of the government by disclosing the awful punch line to his story: After he qualified for federal disability payments in 2009, the Department of Education quickly began garnishing $170 a month from his disability check.

“Student-loan debt collectors have power that would make a mobster envious” is how Sen. Elizabeth Warren put it. Collectors can garnish everything from wages to tax returns to Social Security payments to, yes, disability checks. Debtors can also be barred from the military, lose professional licenses and suffer other consequences no private lender could possibly throw at a borrower.

The upshot of all this is that the government can essentially lend without fear, because its strong-arm collection powers dictate that one way or another, the money will come back. Even a very high default rate may not dissuade the government from continuing to make mountains of credit available to naive young people.

“If the DOE had any skin in the game,” says Collinge, “if they actually saw significant loss from defaulted loans, they would years ago have said, ‘Whoa, we need to freeze lending,’ or, ‘We need to kick 100 schools out of the lending program.'”

Turning down the credit spigot would force schools to compete by bringing prices down. It would help to weed out crappy schools that hawked worthless “degrees in bullshit.” It would also force prospective students to meet higher standards – not just anyone would get student loans, which is maybe the way it should be.

But that’s not how it is. For one thing, the check on crappy schools and sleazy “diploma mill” institutions is essentially broken thanks to a corrupt dynamic similar to the way credit-rating agencies have failed in the finance world. Schools must be accredited institutions to receive tuition via federal student loans, but the accrediting agencies are nongovernmental captives of the education industry. “The government has outsourced its responsibilities for ensuring quality to weak, nonprofit organizations that are essentially owned and run by existing colleges,” says Carey.

Fly-by-night, for-profit schools can be some of the most aggressive in lobbying for the raising of federal-loan limits. The reason is simple – some of them subsist almost entirely on federal loans. There’s actually a law prohibiting these schools from having more than 90 percent of their tuition income come from federally backed loans. It would seem to amaze that any school would come even close to depending that much on taxpayers, but Carey notes with disdain that some schools use loopholes to go beyond the limit (for instance, loans to servicemen are technically issued through the Department of Defense, so they don’t count toward the 90 percent figure).

Bottomless credit equals inflated prices equals more money for colleges and universities, more hidden taxes for the government to collect and, perhaps most important, a bigger and more dangerous debt bomb on the backs of the adult working population.

The stats on the latter are now undeniable. Having passed credit cards to became the largest pile of owed money in America outside of the real-estate market, outstanding student debt topped $1 trillion by the end of 2011. Last November, the New York Fed reported an amazing statistic: During just the third quarter of 2012, non-real-estate household debt rose nationally by 2.3 percent, or a staggering $62 billion. And an equally staggering $42 billion of that was student-loan debt.

The exploding-debt scenario is such a conspicuous problem that the Federal Advisory Council – a group of bankers who advise the Federal Reserve Board of Governors – has compared it to the mortgage crash, warning that “recent growth in student-loan debt . . . has parallels to the housing crisis.” Agreeing with activists like Collinge, it cited a “significant growth of subsidized lending” as a major factor in the student-debt mess.

One final, eerie similarity to the mortgage crisis is that while analysts on both the left and the right agree that the ballooning student-debt mess can be blamed on too much easy credit, there is sharp disagreement about the reason for the existence of that easy credit. Many finance-sector analysts see the problem as being founded in ill-considered social engineering, an unrealistic desire to put as many kids into college as possible that mirrors the state’s home-ownership goals that many conservatives still believe fueled the mortgage crisis. “These problems are the result of government officials pushing a social good – i.e., broader college attendance” is how libertarian writer Steven Greenhut put it.

Others, however, view the easy money as the massive subsidy for an education industry, which spent between $88 million and $110 million lobbying government in each of the past six years, and historically has spent recklessly no matter who happened to be footing the bill – parents, states, the federal government, young people, whomever.

Carey talks about how colleges spend a lot of energy on what he calls “gilding” – pouring money into superficial symbols of prestige, everything from new buildings to celebrity professors, as part of a “never-ending race for positional status.”

“What you see is that spending on education hasn’t really gone up all that much,” he says. “It’s spending on things like buildings and administration. . . . Lots and lots of people getting paid $200,000, $300,000 a year to do . . . something.”

Once upon a time, when the economy was healthier, it was parents who paid for these excesses. “But eventually those people ran out of money,” Carey says, “so they had to start borrowing.”

If federal loan programs aren’t being swallowed up by greedy schools for expensive and useless gilding, they’re being manipulated by the federal government itself. The massive earnings the government gets on student-loan programs amount to a crude backdoor tax increase disguised by cynical legislators (who hesitate to ask constituents with more powerful lobbies to help cut the deficit) as an investment in America’s youth.

“It’s basically a $185 billion tax hike on middle-income and low-income citizens and their families,” says Warren Gunnels, senior policy adviser for Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the few legislators critical of the recent congressional student-loan compromise.

unnels notes with irony that a few years ago, when Obama moved to eliminate private-lender middlemen from the servicing of federally backed loans, much hay was made out of the enormous profits private industry had long earned on the backs of students. The Congressional Budget Office issued a report estimating that Obama’s program would save $86.8 billion over a 10-year period by eliminating private profits from the system. Obama said taxpayers were “paying banks a premium to act as middlemen,” adding that it was a “premium we cannot afford.”

The outrage over profits, however, was short-lived.

“It was wrong when banks were making an $86 billion profit on students, but somehow it’s OK when the government makes a $185 billion profit on them,” says Gunnels.

One of the reasons the money has kept flying out the government’s door over the years is that data about student-loan-default rates has been carefully concealed from the public and from Congress. For years, when it reported statistics about student defaults, the DOE relied upon a preposterous arbitrary calculation called the “cohort default rate,” which essentially measured the rate of default only within the first two years of graduation. In 2008, Congress passed a law forcing the DOE to switch to a theoretically more accurate three-year measurement, which it sent to Congress for the first time last year. Overnight, the picture looked a good bit grimmer. The 2009 number, based on the old two-year 2009 “cohort” rate, was 8.8 percent. When the new three-year number came out, the rate had jumped to 13.4 percent.

The Department of Education refuses to release more accurate default numbers. But outsiders think the DOE is lowballing it. The Chronicle of Higher Education charges that the government “vastly undercounts defaults.” In 2010, it estimated that one in five had defaulted on their loans since 1995, that 31 percent of community-college students default and that an astonishing 40 percent of students attending for-profit schools end up defaulting. A report by the Inspector General of the Department of Education has come to similar conclusions about the reliability of the absurd and arbitrary “cohort” figure.

However high that default number really is, what’s clear is that the state is still able to turn billions in profit on its lending, and expects to continue to do so for the next 10 years. The reason for that, again, lies in something everyone who has a student loan understands implicitly – the state and its collectors are not ­squeamish collecting the money they’re owed. The government is in the pain business, and business is good.

“They called me at work, sometimes two to three times a day, doing all the stuff they aren’t supposed to do: threats, et cetera,” says 41-year-old Shawn FitzGerald, who owes $300 a month and says he expects to be paying off education loans into his sixties. “They told the receptionist at my job that I was in legal trouble. . . .”

“Sallie Mae has started sending letters to my deceased mother,” says Thomas Daggett of Chesterfield, Massachusetts, who left school in the Nineties and owes $35,000.

“I have been told I made the wrong decision going to college, as well as being told I was a failure, an idiot and a mooch,” says Larissa, a young woman from a blue-collar town outside Chicago. “I’ve had ex-boyfriends that I never even lived with contacted by collection agents, my childhood friend’s distant relatives contacted by them, as well as distant relatives of my own. . . .”

“I try not to look at the balances because the prospect of paying them off with my shit salary is so goddamn depressing it makes me want to chug vodka until I pass out,” says Robert Boardman, a proud but underemployed owner of a doctorate from the University of Michigan.

There’s a particularly dark twist to the education story, which is tied to the collapse of the middle class and the overall shittening of our economic landscape: College degrees are actually considered to be more essential than ever. The New York Times did a story earlier this year declaring the college degree to be the “new high school diploma,” describing it as essentially a minimum job requirement. They found an Atlanta law firm that requires even clerks, secretaries and runners to have four-year degrees and cited research that everyone from hygienists to cargo agents needs to have graduated from college to get hired.

You can look at this development in one of two ways. One way is to see a college degree as a better investment than ever, which was the conclusion of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which noted that the difference in earnings between the poorly and well-educated has risen in recent years with the worsening economy.

But another way to look at this new truth is that, because of the poor job market, young people may have less of a chance than ever to actually get a good job commensurate with their education. If they don’t have the degree, then they have no chance at all. So if they even want a clerking job, they must dive face-first into the debt muck and take their chances that they won’t end up watching the federal government take bites out of disability checks while their law degree gathers dust downstairs somewhere. So, yes, a college education is a great thing, and you probably need one now more than ever – the problem is that it may very well be mandatory, may have less of a chance of ever getting you a job, and you may still be paying for it on your deathbed no matter what.

There are powerful reasons for both the left and the right to be willfully blind to the root problem. Democrats – who, incidentally, receive at least twice as much money from the education lobby as Republicans – like to see the raging river of free-flowing student loans as a triumph of educational access. Any suggestion that saddling befuddled youngsters with tens of thousands of dollars in school debts is somehow harmful or counterproductive to society is often swiftly shot down by politicians or industry insiders as an anti-student position. The idea that limitless government credit might be at least enabling high education costs tends to be derisively described as the “Bennett hypothesis,” since right-wing moralist and notorious gambler/dick/hypocrite Bill Bennett once touted the same idea.

“It is wrong to suggest that student aid is a cause for growing college costs, in any sector,” David Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, wrote in The Washington Post last year, bemoaning the “re-emergence” of the Bennett theory. “To argue so is counterproductive to the goal of making higher education accessible and affordable.”

Conservatives, meanwhile, with their usual “Fuck everybody who complains about anything unless it’s us” mentality, tend to portray the student-loan “problem” as a bunch of spoiled, irresponsible losers who are simply whining about having to pay back money they borrowed with their eyes wide open. When Yale and Penn recently began suing students who were defaulting on their federal Perkins loans, a Cato Institute analyst named Neal McCluskey pretty much summed up the conservative take. “You could take a job at Subway or wherever to pay the bills,” he said. “It seems like basic responsibility to me.”

But conservatives most of all should hate the current system for any number of reasons – for being a massive hidden tax, for being a market-defying subsidy artificially keeping ineffective and poor-performing institutions in business, and for being an example of arbitrary government power seizing not just money borrowed plus interest, but billions in additional fees and penalties from ordinary people.

Progressives should hate the predatory tactics of lenders and the sleazy way universities rely upon loan-shark collection methods to keep themselves in fancy new waterfalls, swimming pools and tenure-track jobs.

But nobody hates it enough, except for the people actually trying to pay the bills with increasingly worthless degrees. Instead, the credit keeps flowing and the debt bubble keeps expanding, thanks to leaders like John Boehner (whose daughter reportedly works at Sallie Mae’s student-collections firm, General Revenue Corp.) and Dianne Feinstein (who introduced legislation to increase limits on Pell grants while her husband was heavily invested in for-profit colleges).

In a way, America itself is violating the Truth in Lending Act. It’s cheering millions of high school graduates toward college every year, feeding them into the debt grinder under the banner of increased opportunity, when full disclosure would require admitting that there isn’t a hell of a lot waiting for them on the other side, where the middle class has nearly vanished and full employment is going the way of the dodo.

We’re doing the worst thing people can do: lying to our young. Nobody, not even this president, who was swept to victory in large part by the raw enthusiasm of college kids, has the stones to tell the truth: that a lot of them will end up being pawns in a predatory con game designed to extract the equivalent of home-mortgage commitment from 17-year-olds dreaming of impossible careers as nautical archaeologists or orchestra conductors. One former law student I contacted for this story had a nervous breakdown while struggling to pay off six-figure debt. It wasn’t until he tapped into one of the few growth industries open to young Americans that his outlook brightened. “I got my life back on track by working for a marijuana delivery service in Manhattan,” he says. “I’ve had to compromise who I am . . . because I started down a path that I couldn’t turn away from. Student loans aren’t hope. They’re despair.”

This story is from the August 29th, 2013 issue of Rolling Stone.

The College-Loan Scandal: Matt Taibbi on the Ripping Off of Young America | Politics News | Rolling Stone.

Well schools are indeed doing what they say; preparing children for their future.  They will go from one institution where they have no rights at all (school) into another (prison).

The ONLY way to fix this is to have zero tolerance for public schools.  Vouchers instead of vultures!  Get your kids away from the union protected pedophiles.

Boys are Bad, Girls are Good.

Men are Monsters, Ladies are lovely.

Fucking femi-nazis

Christina Hoff Sommers: School Has Become Hostile to Boys | TIME.com.

Picasso Les Enfants

The older woman is giving fellatio to a very young boy. This is pedophilia. This was apparently normal enough everyday activities that it warranted being documented by the painter.   The very X-rated Picasso painting soon to be shown at the Metropolitan Museum (which owns it).

Gary Tinterow, the Met’s curator in charge of 19th-century, modern and contemporary art, told Carol that the work hadn’t previously been shown “not because of its subject matter or because of questions of its

authenticity, but because it’s not very good.” But 13 years ago, another Met curator (who requested anonymity) had told me (scroll down) that the painting was in storage because the 20th-century galleries were populated “by so many school children.”

And we do not want any of those boys to think they can receive a cock sucking from anyone at any time in their lives.  For gods sake his career has not even started yet.  What if he is never able to provide for all her needs?

 

via CultureGrrl | NY Times Timing: Last on Picasso, First on Panza.

The victim is the villain:

How about firing teachers, principals, and suing school districts that allwo “hostile work conditions” to continue instead of expelling the bully!

Almost all school shootings in recent years have involved victims who retaliated. This presentation is based on Dr. Beane’s son’s journey and a study of other young people who have experienced the destructive path that threatens the well-being of students and creates unsafe schools. Dr. Beane’s illustrations (using an apple, styrofoam plate, skewer, etc.) and true heart-breaking stories are unforgettable.

Dr. Beane has served as an expert witness for the defense attorney in a criminal case involving retaliation – explaining to the jury why a high school student took the path from hurt to revenge. It is important for DARE officers to understand this path and to be able to identify where victims are on the path. If there is ever a hostage situation involving victims of bullying, this information will be extremely helpful to officers.

via For DARE Officers | Training & Services > Bully Free Program.

These FOOLS are collecting money for their big fat salaries but do not have the guts to actually push for implementation of policies that WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Step 1 start a “non-profit”

Step 2 latch on to emotional cuuses

Step 3 never actually solve anything

Step 4 collect big fat paychecks

Organizations like DARE are part of the problem because they take up resources that could be directed to actually solving the problem!

If a manager or company allows a “hostile workplace” condition to continue to exist they get sued, fired, and publicly humiliated.

Start doing that to teachers, principals, and school districts and this bullying shit will end on the first day of implementation!

D.A.R.E. America | Empowering Children to Lead Safe and Healthy Lives.

San Jose State’s big experiment with massive online courses fails massively – Yahoo! News

On the bright side, over 80 percent of the students who participated completed the courses. Each class cost just $150

via San Jose State’s big experiment with massive online courses fails massively – Yahoo! News.

Using CTFD assures you that — whichever way you choose to parent — your child will be fine (as long as you don’t abuse them, of course). To see it in action, here are some sample parenting scenarios and how CTFD can be employed:

via Latest Parenting Trend: The CTFD Method | David Vienna.