Occupy Wall Street’s latest grievance centers on student loan programs and higher education reform, and the group’s most recent campaign involves a movement-wide boycott on student loan debt repayment. Early Monday afternoon, a crowd of faculty and student organizers assembled at the southeast corner of New York City's Zuccotti Park to announce Occupy Student Debt, a national initiative directed at recruiting student loan borrowers and requesting that they willfully default on their loan payments. The campaign consists of three pledges:
The ACLU’s Nebraska franchise is demanding that a school district in that state put a stop to prayer at its high school graduation, even though the ceremony is sponsored and run privately by parents. Ten years ago the ACLU targeted Lakeview High School in Columbus, Nebraska, for its graduation prayer, arguing that the practice violates the U.S. Constitution’s supposed separation of church and state. To appease the secular watchdog group, the school district spun off the graduation ceremony to parents, making the ceremony a private event at which they believed prayers would be beyond the ACLU’s self-commissioned purview.
When 70 students attending economics professor Greg Mankiw’s (left) Economics 10 class on November 2nd walked out in protest, they wrote an open letter to him explaining why:
"Today, we are walking out of your class…in order to express our discontent with the bias inherent in this introductory economics course…
The Penn State University sex-abuse scandal certainly seems unique. College-football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky (shown at left) could have been investigated as early as 1995 for abusing young boys, but instead was allowed to commit his crimes for another 10 years. School athletic director Tim Curley and senior vice president for business and finance Gary Schultz face charges of lying to a grand jury investigating Sandusky, and university president Graham Spanier has been fired. And even more headline-grabbing, famed head football coach Joe Paterno has also been discharged. While not accused of any criminally actionable behavior, the gridiron legend is condemned for failing to do enough to stop the abuse after becoming aware of it.
Another Baptist college has caught the attention of the media for enforcing its stated lifestyle policy. A man who insists he has lived as a female since he was a toddler was expelled from California Baptist University in Riverside after he checked “female” as his gender on the school’s online application form. The school, which is associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, took the action after 24-year-old Domaine Javier, who looks like a woman, appeared on an MTV reality show and confessed that he is biologically male. According to the Riverside Press-Enterprise newspaper, letters Javier received from the university explained that he was expelled for “committing or attempting to engage in fraud, or concealing identity,” and for giving false or misleading information during the university’s investigation into the matter.
A Baptist university in Georgia is receiving abundant media attention for a “Personal Lifestyle Statement“ it recently updated, that requires faculty and staff to adhere to a set of biblical standards that include shunning homosexual behavior. Employees have been told that they must either sign the statement as a pledge, or face termination.
The U.S. Department of Education’s statistical and testing arm, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), released its latest “progress” report November 1st: The survey measuring fourth- and eighth-grade scores on the controversial National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, was billed as having found “significant” improvement for both grades in math and a slight improvement in reading — until one examines the numbers. The Washington Times piece by Ben Wolfgang, reported that reading scores among fourth-graders “remained flat on the study’s 500-point scale,” results that overall fall far short of the proficiency standards set for 2014 in math, reading and science by the No Child Left Behind Act. This Act is currently being rewritten to provide waivers and other changes to accommodate its failure without admitting so outright.
Despite the public perception that public school teachers in general are underpaid, Jason Richwine, senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation and co-author of “Assessing the Compensation of Public-School Teachers,” says “the reality is that it’s just not true. There’s no way to look at the data and conclude that they are underpaid. They are certainly paid more than they can get if they work in the private sector…” In fact, Richwine found that “public-school teachers receive compensation about 52% higher than their skills would otherwise garner in the private sector.”
When Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) released his economic plan, which calls for eliminating the U.S. Department of Education, the howls of outrage from the media were predictable. Paul was accused of wanting to end the federal student loan program immediately and, therefore, of being anti-education.
All summer long, news sources reiterated complaints about the once-vaunted No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act as being unachievable. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, many state governors, the teacher unions, and other worthies called for “waivers” to underperforming schools and a serious overhaul to NCLB, ostensibly because many (even most) schools could not reach the goals of 100 percent proficiency in math and reading by 2014. Indeed, many could not even make significant progress toward that goal in the interim years.
Just as young people were headed to universities across the nation and the K-12 back-to-school season was percolating in parents’ minds, a front-page Washington Times’ headline disclosed on August 17: “Scores show students aren’t ready for college — 75% may need remedial classes.”