The average American, as parent, student and taxpayer, has little idea of the academic rot at so many of our colleges. Save for a tiny handful of the nation's colleges, what distinguishes one college from another is the magnitude of that rot.
One of the best sources of information about our colleges is the New York City-based Manhattan Institute's quarterly Web magazine, Minding the Campus, edited by John Leo, former columnist for U.S. News & World Report.
The Democratic mayor of Washington, D.C., Vincent Gray, distinguished himself last week by getting arrested in an act of "civil disobedience" reminiscent of the '60s. The mayor, six council members and more than 40 other protesters were detained by Capitol police for blocking the street to oppose the congressional budget deal that deprived D.C. of federal funds for abortions.
They were also protesting a mandate under the same agreement that revives a popular school choice program, the "Opportunity Scholarship Program," which allows poor children in failing schools an opportunity to attend schools they and their parents believe will give them the best possible education. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan had pulled the plug on the Bush-era program after pressure from the teacher's union which, in a reversal of Bush's "No Child Left Behind," behaves as if no child in a failing school should be let out.
Last Friday the Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill granting in-state tuition to illegal immigrants. The bill had already cleared the state senate and Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) has said he will sign the bill.
Today's Baltimore Sun devoted sympathetic front-page coverage to illegal immigrants who now "celebrate the approval of in-state tuition for Maryland students regardless of immigration status."
"I want to be a part," blared the front-page headline to Nick Madigan's A-1 story. Below the headline is a picture of "Missael, an illegal immigrant from Mexico who lives in East Baltimore."
It may be laziness, or it may be failure to recognize reality, but the Associated Press's official tally of the Wisconsin Supreme Court race carried at JSOnline (but note the AP-based URL) still shows Democrat JoAnne Kloppenburg with a 204-vote lead over incumbent David Prosser, and hasn't been updated since Wednesday at 4:00 p.m.
This failure to update has occurred despite the following statement made at the 3:00 mark of the video (HT Hot Air) showing Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus explaining why over 14,000 country votes were not originally reported to the Badger State's Government Accountability Board (GAB), which oversees state elections, at a late Thursday press conference:
These numbers will be reflected in my official results, canvass report, that was submitted to the Government Accountability Board.
Ms. Nickolaus mixed up tenses, but it seems pretty clear that by using the word "official" she is saying that the GAB now has the results, and that they should be reflected in any official reports.
Accordingly, yours truly has updated the AP's non-current scoreboard with the Waukesha County correction and a couple of smaller ones:
HOUSTON -- On the day of the NCAA men's basketball final, the Supreme Court handed down a decision that is likely to produce champions for generations to come.
By a 5-4 vote, the majority upheld an Arizona tax-credit program that, writes David Savage of the L.A. Times, gives taxpayers a "dollar-for-dollar tax credit, up to $500 per person or $1,000 for a couple, for those who donate to organizations that in turn pay tuition for students attending private and parochial schools." The minority contends this violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, maintains that since such donations are with pre-tax dollars, the government never has the money, and thus, "there is no such connection between dissenting taxpayer and alleged establishment."
On Monday's Morning Edition, NPR's David Schaper slanted towards a professor and his allies in academia who object to a recent open records request into his e-mails from the Wisconsin GOP, playing five sound bites from them versus only two from a non-Republican source who thought their concerns were overblown. One of the professor's allies labeled the request a "contemporary version of McCarthyism."
Host Renee Montagne introduced Schaper's report by putting the issue in the context of the continuing debate over state employees' collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin:
Appearing on Tuesday's CBS Early Show, Newsweek senior writer Andrew Romano touted a survey in the magazine's latest issue showing that 38% of Americans failed the U.S. citizenship test and claimed to know the cause: "One of the big ones is income inequality in the United States. We're one of the most in-equal societies in the developed world."
Romano argued to co-host Erica Hill: "When people don't have a lot of money, there's a difficulty getting a good education, there's a lack of opportunity and a lack of knowledge. That's one of the reasons why we don't do as well as northern European countries, sometimes on these surveys." Hill observed: "So it's really a question of access." Romano replied: "It is. It's a big problem."
Last week, my main point was that liberals couldn't care less about changing anything in public schools because they are producing exactly what liberals want. And that biased programming will deepen in the minds and hearts of America's young people unless we patriots stand up in every community, resist those progressive tides and demand alternatives.
There are ways to improve national academic imbalances. In Part 2 here, I give seven ways to counter that torrent of progressivism. Among the list of correctives that have been proved to work are the following:
Apparently lacking any problems of graver concern in the D.C. area, today's Washington Post Metro section devoted front page real estate to young college women "Suffraging in silence."*
"On many college campuses," the subheader explains, "student government remains dominated by men, echoing gender gaps in state and national politics."
"For the past decade, women have outpaced men on key measures of college success," staff writer Jenna Johnson noted. "They attend college and graduate at higher rates, according to several studies, and they tend to earn higher grades."
But alas, lamented Johnson, "on many campuses, student government is dominated by men, echoing gender gaps in state and national politics."
A few paragraphs later, however, Johnson noted that one reason is collegiate women tend to gravitate towards investing time and energy into extracurricular clubs that follow their interests:
Less than two weeks into his new gig anchoring the 3 p.m. Eastern hour at MSNBC, Martin Bashir has already called the Tea Party "disingenuous," hailed Obama's response to the crisis in Libya, and supported raising taxes on the rich.
This afternoon Bashir added another item to that liberal laundry list.
While President Barack Obama was delivering a speech on education reform in Boston, the former ABC "Nightline" anchor seized on the opportunity to advance the fallacious narrative that Republican governors across the country are trying to vilify public school teachers.
Tuesday's CBS Early Show featured a fawning story on President Obama's Race to the Top Commencement Challenge that sounded like it was written by the White House communications department. What the segment failed to mention was the severe lack of high schools that had actually entered the contest to have Obama speak at their graduation ceremonies.
Co-host Erica Hill teased the story at the top of the 8:30AM ET half hour and portrayed the program as a great success: "More than a thousand high schools tried to get President Obama to deliver their commencement address at last year's graduation. No easy feat to get the President to your high school....how high schools around the country can compete for that honor and a visit from the President again this year." She left out the fact that this year the White House was having tremendous difficulty attracting a similar level of interest.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman doesn't believe education is the key to solving America's economic woes.
Quite the contrary, in his recent article "Degrees and Dollars," the Nobel Laureate argued that the path to a more prosperous nation is for unions to have increased bargaining power and for everyone to have "free" healthcare:
If public school teachers spent more time teaching in classrooms and less time community-organizing in political war rooms, maybe taxpayers wouldn't feel as ripped off as they do. Before the Big Labor bosses start complaining about "teacher-bashing," let's be clear: An increasing number of rank-and-file teachers feel exactly the same way.
Retired New York teacher Vinne Cusimano, who was required to pay forced union dues in order to work, wrote me this week after receiving the March 2011 edition of his union's monthly publication. The cover of the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) magazine reads: "Defend What Matters! Educate. Collaborate. AGITATE." Inside the pamphlet, NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi rails against "malicious politicians" in Wisconsin and elsewhere proposing "extreme anti-union" budget cuts. He urges his members to join "advocacy" efforts to "maintain critical resources" and lectures about the need to "value education over ideology and greed."
Cusimano, who taught for four decades in the Empire State, fired back at Ianuzzi in an open letter:
I love teachers. I really do. And I'm sure that most are overworked and underpaid. Certainly, no one is getting rich from teaching kids. I applaud the hardworking teachers across this land.
But, as has happened in Wisconsin, when teachers unions muscle legislators like the Mafia and Democrats abandon their voting posts because they don't like projected outcomes, haven't we abandoned the very foundational principles of our republic? Where were the "be civil" mainstream media police last Friday morning, when union demonstrators screamed at legislators on the floor of the Wisconsin Assembly while they voted?
More proof of union dominance and monopoly came out Feb. 22, when Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board released a report that disclosed the top 10 lobbying groups in the state. Look who is at the top of the list:
You just knew Hollywood couldn't get through an Oscars broadcast without subjecting viewers to self-important statements of left-wing politics. War, AIDS, gay marriage, global warming - pick a liberal hobby horse and chances are an entertainer used the Academy Awards to give America his or her opinion on it.
This year, the cause du jour was class warfare, as reflected in shills for organized labor and a jab at bankers. With public sector unions protesting in Wisconsin and other states where governors are trying to address huge budget shortfalls, a couple of recipients couldn't resist adding their two cents.
CBS’s Bob Schieffer hit Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie from the left on Sunday’s Face the Nation, claiming he has “demonized” teachers and urging him to give some “straight talk” about the necessity to raise taxes.
After asking if he thinks “Governor Walker out there in Wisconsin has gone too far?” in trying to end collective bargaining, Schieffer ludicrously asserted “everybody in this country on all sides of this thinks we need education reform,” but he wanted to know if Christie realized his stance has “demonized teachers and will raise questions in young people's minds as to whether they want to go into the profession?”
“Banal Bob” soon implored Christie with his standard plea: “You have a reputation as a straight talker, I think. Do you believe that the budgetary problems across this country can be resolved without raising taxes?”
"The fate of our country won’t be decided on a battlefield. It will be determined in a classroom." Do you believe that?
Last week, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called on 14 state Senate Democrats, who had fled the state instead of voting on a deficit-cutting anti-teachers-union bill, to return and do their jobs. Senate Republicans hold a 19-14 majority there but can't vote on the bill unless at least one Democrat is present.
Does that sound like democracy at work to you? Do you think it’s just a coincidence that the two largest teachers unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, are the largest campaign contributors in the nation -- $55 million in just the past two years, more than the Teamsters, the National Rifle Association or any other organization -- and that 90 percent of those contributions fund only Democratic candidates?
On Monday's Newsroom, CNN's Martin Savidge teamed up with guests Rachel Sklar and Nick Ragone to oppose a proposed bill in Texas that would allow college students with concealed carry permits to carry handguns on campus. Savidge only had conservative talk show host Ben Ferguson on to voice his support for the bill during the segment, who faced off against the three.
The anchor brought on Sklar, Ragone, and Ferguson 48 minutes into the 2 pm Eastern hour for a panel discussion on the Texas legislation. He first turned to the former Huffington Post editor: "Rachel...what do you think of the idea of Texas allowing students to carry guns?" Predictably, Sklar ripped the idea:
Welcome to the reckoning. We have met the fiscal apocalypse, and it is smack dab in the middle of the heartland. As Wisconsin goes, so goes the nation. Let us pray it does not go the way of the decrepit welfare states of the European Union.
The lowdown: State government workers in the Badger State pay piddling amounts for generous taxpayer-subsidized health benefits. Faced with a $3.6 billion budget hole and a state constitutional ban on running a deficit, new GOP Gov. Scott Walker wants public unions to pony up a little more. He has proposed raising the public employee share of health insurance premiums from less than 5 percent to 12.4 percent. He is also pushing for state workers to cover half of their pension contributions. To spare taxpayers the soaring costs of Byzantine union-negotiated work rules, he would rein in Big Labor's collective bargaining power to cover only wages unless approved at the ballot box.
The Associated Press's Scott Bauer opened his report ("Wis. lawmakers flee state to block anti-union bill") from Madison, Wisconsin today by completely misrepresenting the nature of the legislation involved in the current standoff:
Faced with a near-certain Republican victory that would end a half-century of collective bargaining for public workers, Wisconsin Democrats retaliated with the only weapon they had left: They fled.
Wow. That's pretty serious. Any reasonable reader of that paragraph would believe that evil Republican Governor Scott Walker and the GOP-controlled legislature aim to end all collective-bargaining rights, break up the Badger State's public-sector unions, and relegate them to the ash heap of history.
But that's not what's at stake, as Bauer himself, after repeating the falsehood in his 34th paragraph, finally revealed what his definition of "elimination" is in Paragraph 36:
Former first lady Barbara Bush said on Greta Van Susteren's "On the Record" this past week: "We've got a real problem in public schools. ... This is a national crisis. It's as bad as anything in our country."
When Van Susteren was pointing out from Bush's own op-ed piece that "Texas (is) 36th in the nation in high-school graduates (and) 3.8 million Texans don't have a high-school diploma," Bush said, "No more, you're killing us."
Bush was commendably protecting Texas pride as she told Van Susteren not to cite any further degrading statistics about the state of Lone Star education, though she herself references it in her op-ed piece:
In my "Black Education Disaster" column (12/22/10), I presented National Assessment of Educational Progress test data that demonstrated that an average black high school graduate had a level of reading, writing and math proficiency of a white seventh- or eighth-grader. The public education establishment bears part of the responsibility for this disaster, but a greater portion is borne by black students and their parents, many of whom who are alien and hostile to the education process.
Let's look at the education environment in many schools and ask how conducive it is to the education process. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nationally during 2007-2008, more than 145,000 teachers were physically attacked. Six percent of big-city schools report verbal abuse of teachers and 18 percent report non-verbal disrespect for teachers.
An earlier NCES study found that 18 percent of the nation's schools accounted for 75 percent of the reported incidents of violence, and 6.6 percent accounted for 50 percent. So far as serious violence, murder and rapes, 1.9 percent of schools reported 50 percent of the incidents. The preponderance of school violence occurs in big-city schools attended by black students.
Is the party of Lincoln the party of civil rights? Are Republican conservatives the new civil-rights leaders?
These are far from the most frequently asked questions in American politics, but they're worth raising.
The most underreported story regarding the recent State of the Union address was who was sitting in the Speaker of the House's box -- students, parents, teachers and the Catholic cardinal of the archdiocese of Washington. Some of the students are attending Catholic schools on a special scholarship, which freed them from the capital's failing public schools.
"We're going to have to out-educate other countries," President Obama urged this week. How? By out-spending them, of course! It's the same old quack cure for America's fat and failing government-run schools monopoly. The one-trick ponies at the White House call their academic improvement agenda "targeted investing" for "winning the future." Truth in advertising: Get ready to fork over more Cash for Education Clunkers.
Our government already spends more per capita on education than any other of the 34 wealthiest countries in the world except for Switzerland, according to recent analysis of data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Overall inflation-adjusted K-12 spending has tripled over the past 40 years, the Michigan-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy points out. Yet American test scores and graduation rates are stagnant. One in 10 high schools is a dropout factory. And our students' performance in one of the most prestigious global math competitions has been so abysmal that the U.S. simply withdrew altogether.
Following a segment on American school children learning Chinese as a second language at the end of Wednesday's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric tried her hand at reciting part of her sign off in Mandarin, telling viewers, "míngtianjiàn wanan," meaning, "See you tomorrow, good night." [Audio available here]
In the prior report, correspondent Terry McCarthy was critical of Americans for not having better foreign language skills: "Americans generally assume everyone speaks English....But Americans do not generally share such multilingual talents." He then cheered efforts in one Los Angeles elementary school to teach Chinese alongside English, starting in Kindergarten: "These kids have been studying Chinese for four years and they're pretty good....the Chinese immersion program is so popular, they have a waiting list."
On Wednesday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), in commenting on USA Today's poor decision to quote a paragraph from a New York Times op-ed by former Congressman Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) -- a bad decision because Kanjorski's call for "civility" directly contrasts with his call for someone to shoot Florida gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott just a few months ago -- I wrote that USAT Founder Al Neuharth's "'civility' credentials are also suspect."
Two days later, Neuharth, who claims to be "independent," more than justified those suspicions. In a "Plain Talk" item in Friday's paper ("Who shares blame in Tucson tragedy?"), Neuharth blamed a wide range of people for Jared Loughner's actions. "Somehow," he forgot to blame Jared Laughner. It's not a stretch to assert that many readers would be justified in believing that Neuharth may not even want to see Loughner convicted of a crime.
Neuharth took shots at talkers on the right and left. USAT published an absolutely laughable counter-response from MSNBC President Phil Griffin. The other response (from the right? Are you kidding?) was from a psychiatry prof.
Here is Neuharth's piece and its responses (published in their entirety because of their relative brevity; bolds are mine):
Today's Washington Post all but painted Tea Party conservatives in the Tar Heel State as racists opposed to racial integration and diversity in Raleigh-area schools.
In truth the Wake County, North Carolina, school board is simply moving to reverse decades of busing that shuttled some students to schools farther away from their homes in an effort to artificially engineer the socioeconomic and racial diversity of the county's individual schools.
Reporting that House Republicans will soon be voting to repeal President Obama's "job-killing" health care law, MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer wondered if the GOP should take a different route to save jobs. During her Thursday 12 p.m. EST news hour, she revealed a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report estimating that a repeal of the health care law will cost $230 billion over the next ten years.
Disregarding the GOP arguments for repealing ObamaCare, Brewer wondered aloud about the merits of the $230 billion being invested in re-education of unemployed persons.
"What would happen," Brewer asked Prof. Robert Reich of the University of California at Berkeley, "if you took $230 billion and instead put that toward re-education of the nation's unemployed?"