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Education



All Reason.com articles with the "Education" tag.



Published: Wed, 24 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Last Build Date: Wed, 24 May 2017 15:27:07 -0400

 



History Lessons Are Turning My Kid Into a Scofflaw (and I Couldn’t Be Happier)

Tue, 23 May 2017 00:01:00 -0400

"If I'd lived then, I'd have still gone to saloons," Anthony, my 11-year-old son, said as we watched the Ken Burns documentary, Prohibition. "But I'd have carried a gun in case I had to deal with police or militia." He commented after a scene in which Portland, Maine's Mayor Neal Dow—nicknamed "the sublime fanatic"—ordered troops in 1855 to fire on an angry crowd outside City Hall. They had gathered to protest the statewide ban on alcoholic beverages that Dow pushed through in his zeal to make the world a better place as he conceived such a thing. Like most fanatics, sublime or otherwise, the mayor didn't have a lot of patience for disagreement. One man was killed and seven wounded that day by the forces of mandatory sobriety. Interesting, well-produced, and drawing on multiple sources and experts, Prohibition lends itself beautifully to our homeschooling efforts. It does a thorough job of exploring the religious, reformist, and nativist roots of first the Temperance movement and then the push for full-on Prohibition. We've recently studied the Progressive Era and the fight for women's suffrage, and the documentary pulls in those histories, showing how social movements influence one another and often come together to achieve common goals—sometimes good, and other times leading to disastrous exercises in self-righteous presumption like Prohibition. The Prohibition website includes excellent additional material, too, including an activity asking students to decide between two conceptions of the role of government: In a democracy, people should have the freedom to make their own choices and be responsible for their actions. If they want to indulge in destructive personal behavior, that's their business, not the governments. A democratic government is made up of its citizens and a major responsibility of government is to guarantee equal opportunity for all. The government has a duty to alleviate social ills and guarantee that no one is in need. Those competing views of the state play an ongoing role through many of our lessons. Anthony knows my own opinions, and is no doubt influenced by them, but I always make sure to present him with competing viewpoints. Personally, I think the past speaks for itself as to which of those roles works better in practice, but I also see my job as raising my son to be a rational adult, not a clone of me. So when we studied the Progressive Era we worked with a series of Great Courses lectures by a college professor sympathetic to the progressives, online lectures from Hillsdale College that have a broadly conservative tone, readings from Thaddeus Russell's A Renegade History of the United States, and excerpts from Illiberal Reformers by Thomas C. Leonard. Anthony got an earful of would-be reformers decrying poverty and abuses in the world around them, but also disparaging individuals as "plastic lumps of human dough." He read pre-presidential Woodrow Wilson dismissing individual rights as "nonsense," and perused objections that adherence to respect for natural individual rights "prevent us from determining what social or individual tendencies we shall favor, what we shall depress; It will in general prevent us from imposing a social ideal, and compel us to leave a social anarchy." Anthony considered the Great Courses presenter too respectful of self-appointed shepherds who he found to be condescending and bossy, and the Hillsdale lectures overly deferential to religious authority—off-putting, to him, in its own way. To him, the pseudoscientific racism of the era, culminating in calls for eugenics controls and even elimination of whole populations, thoroughly tainted the confidence of the period's reformers that they were uniquely qualified to mold those lumps human of dough they saw all around them. The sort of molding that evangelical Protestants and progressives attempted during Prohibition, for instance. Or that their heirs attempted during the war on drugs. And with—Well, it goes on and on through examples that my son himself offered up as dangerous intrusions into other people[...]



School Choice Advocates Take Control in Los Angeles

Fri, 19 May 2017 10:45:00 -0400

Two school choice proponents won election to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board this week, and the outcome is going to be a big deal moving forward. Their additions to the board mean that supporters of charter schools and school choice now have majority control over the seven-person panel overseeing one of the largest school districts in the country. The response to the election helps illustrate some of the oversimplifications in analysis of school choice issues. Mother Jones, for example, wants to present it as a simply blue vs. red, Richie Rich-types versus the helpless poor. The headline emphasizes that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos must be thrilled at the election of Nick Melvoin and Kelly Gonez. While it's true that DeVos is a massive fan of school choice and her leadership of the Department of Education will reflect as much, Melvoin and Gonez are hardly cheerleaders of President Donald Trump's administration. In December, Melvoin wrote a commentary at Medium criticizing Trump and DeVos, arguing that the president is using school choice as an excuse to make massive cuts to federal education funding. Gonez's campaign site home page features her in the embrace of a president, but it's Barack Obama (whose re-election campaign she served), not Trump. She champions an endorsement not by religious conservatives, but the Sierra Club. The fact is, Melvoin and Gonez are both Democrats. That school choice and charter schools are extremely popular in Los Angeles is not a reflection of some invasion from the right. Los Angeles remains solidly blue (Hillary Clinton claimed 72 percent of the vote for president across Los Angeles County). But that school choice supporters took the seats in an election held in May (where turnouts are significantly lower) shows precisely how much parents value the ability to control the educational destinies of their kids. Reporting may play up how expensive the race was and how much money wealthy charter supporters spent, but that also downplays how such high spending is necessary to compete with the massive amounts of money education unions in the state pay to influence election outcomes. The political scene in Los Angeles may be heavily dominated by union leadership, but it's also been an incubator for charter schools and school choice options. The school district boasts the biggest charter program in the country, with 250 schools serving 130,000 students. Despite the constant fights between school choice advocates and unions, the district has had charter choices for decades now. The tipping point motivating school choice-loving voters may well have come in April, when the LAUSD school board voted to support three state bills backed by teachers unions that could have severely impacted the operations of charter schools. One bill, which has been shelved for now, would have gutted the appeals process for charter schools rejected by districts and would have allowed a school district to reject a charter school if it would cause a financial hardship for the district. Whenever a student leaves a public school for a charter school, the public school loses some funding. Opponents of the bill argued that it would allow school districts to reject every single charter school that comes along. LAUSD board president Steve Zimmer voted in favor of endorsing the bill. Zimmer's the man Melvoin defeated in order to join the board. Melvoin tells Reason that he's hoping his victory and the shift in power on the board to pro-school choice means that the school board won't have to "re-litigate" the idea of whether the district should support charter schools at every single meeting. But to be very clear, Melvoin has no interest in shifting all LAUSD students into charters or privately operated schools. What he really wants to do is take the lessons learned by successful charters and try to bring them back to the public schools to make the quality of public schools better. "What we need to do is learn from these schools that are high-performing and bring that to all s[...]



Wanted: A High School That Starts Classes at a Reasonable Hour

Tue, 16 May 2017 18:51:00 -0400

Via the Facebook page of Kendra Okonski comes a link to the 10-millionth study showing that adolescents need more sleep than regular humans, and that they are given to slow starts in the morning. One of the obvious implications of this is that kids would benefit if high school started later in the morning than it does for 99 percent of students. My own sophomore son gets up around 6:10 in order to show up at a school that gets things rolling at around 7:15 A.M. In a new set of guidelines, the American Society of Sleep Medicine recommends that kids between the ages of 13 and 18 get eight to 10 hours of sleep a night. Which nobody does, thus compounding the hormone-challenged years with sleep deprivation. Hilarity—and crying jags, fights, depression, bad performance, etc.—ensues. "Early school start times make it difficult for adolescents to get sufficient sleep on school nights, and chronic sleep loss among teens is associated with a host of problems, including poor school performance, increased depressive symptoms, and motor vehicle accidents," guideline author and former AASM president Dr. Nathaniel Watson said in a news release from the group. "Starting school at 8:30 a.m. or later gives teens a better opportunity to get the sufficient sleep they need to learn and function at their highest level," he said. More here. For me, one of the surest signs of a state-enforced monopoly is that most schools, whether public or private, look the same and act the same. About 90 percent of K-12 students go to public schools and while charters, home schooling, and other forms of more personalized and individualized education are gaining steam and changing the status quo, the simple fact is that most kids go to schools that are not all that different than the ones I went to as a kid in the 1970s, or that my parents went to when they were growing up in the goddamned 1930s! School starts in late August or early September and lets out in late May or early June, with requisite vacations that don't take into account parental schedules or the well-observed loss of learning that takes place every summer. And schools start ridiculously early in the mornings and then let out in the mid-afternoon, for reasons that make no sense at all. Don't buy into the myth that we're prisoners of a agricultural-economy schedule, by the way. Even if that were true (and it ain't), those days have long since passed and even farmers these days don't work by an ag calendar. I know there are schools out there that have adjusted their schedules to better edumicate teenagers. It really shouldn't be so rare, though, and I can't imagine it would be if school choice were more robust than it is. The Libertarian Moment—increasing comfort with choice and personalization that is abetted through technological and cultural innovation—has remade and improved every aspect of our commercial, professional, and personal lives. We can produce and consume all sorts of cultural expression on schedules of our choosing, we can work from home or an office, we can live with whomever we want and eat an ever-increasing array of food. And yet when it comes to legally mandated school, our kids are still getting up in the dark at a time when they are not just battling darkness but biology. That should change, and yesterday. Related video: Libertarian Bob Luddy isn't waiting for the public system to change. He's building a chain of low-cost, private schools right now. src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gOJiayZoNDI" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="340" frameborder="0">[...]



Are American Colleges Racist? Come To a Debate at the Soho Forum

Mon, 08 May 2017 13:30:00 -0400

The next Soho Forum takes in New York City on May 16 and features what promises to be an intense, Oxford-style debate over whether higher education is biased against black Americans. Author Lawrence Ross (follow him on Twitter) thinks so and will argue with Fifth Column podcast co-host Kmele Foster on the topic.

Here are details about the event:

(image) Are American Colleges Racist?

Lawrence Ross and Kmele Foster go head-to-head on Tuesday May 16th, tackling the controversial topic of racism on college campuses. Are college campuses racist against African Americans?

They will debate the following resolution:

"America's colleges have fostered a racist environment that makes them a hostile space for African American students."

For the affirmative:

Lawrence C. Ross Jr. is an author of Blackballed: The Black and White Politics of Race on America's Campuses, as well as many other books that range from history, to current affairs, to fiction. He worked as a reporter for the Los Angeles Independent Newspaper and was managing editor of Rap Sheet, hip hop's first West Coast magazine. Ross has lectured at over 300 colleges and universities.

For the negative:

Kmele Foster is a telecommunications entrepreneur and TV host. He is the co-founder and vice president of TelcoIQ, a telecommunications consultancy firm. He is also the chairman of America's Future Foundation. Foster co-hosted Fox Business' The Independents, and currently co-hosts the libertarian podcast The Fifth Column.​


Tickets are almost sold out, so get in fast. This is not a debate to be missed!

Tuesday May 16, 2017

Subculture Theater
45 Bleecker St., NY, 10012
Doors open: 5:45pm
Meeting convenes: 6:30pm
Wine-and-cheese reception: 8:15pm

Tickets must be reserved in advance.

Check out the Reason Podcast, which includes versions of Soho Forum debates.

Last fall, I debated Loyola economist Walter Block about whether libertarians should vote for Donald Trump. Things got...interesting (Block denounced me as "vile" and a "nasty man" while explaining why libertarians should be pro-Trump. Take a listen. More details here.

src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/291173311&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" frameborder="0">




Seattle Mayor Proposes Soda Tax To Fight White Privilege

Fri, 05 May 2017 14:15:00 -0400

Determined to silence local critics who have suggested he isn't America's most progressive mayor, Seattle's Ed Murray has packed so much conflicted social justice into a simple soda tax no one in the Emerald City is quite sure what to make of it. After it was suggested to him his proposed two-cents-an-ounce tax on soda sweetened with sugar would be borne disproportionately by the poor and people of color, Murray lowered the levy and included all sweetened drinks, incuding diet soda. If it doesn't doesn't explode from the sheer weight of its daffy intentions, the City Council is expected to consider the proposal sometime in June. Diet drinks, Hizzoner reasoned, were more likely to be consumed by "upper middle class white people." It had become for him "an issue of equity," a way to tackle "white privileged institutionalized racism." Huh? Murray had originally proposed the soda tax during his state of the city address in February. He said he hoped to raise $16 million in its first year to fund everything from an additional year of early public education to subsidies for food stamp recipients to shop at farmers' markets. The rationale, as it has been in other cities silly enough to consider such taxes, was to"dramatically reduce the consumption of these unhealthy products" as an attack on health problems, primarily obesity, in Seattle. The tax, Murray said, would pay the second dividend in better educations and economic opportunity. "Healthy kids get better educations and are more likely to have a brighter future," Murray said. Then came the detractors and all their talk of a regressive tax falling disproportionally on low income and minority Seattle residents. "You know what is really regressive," a defiant Murray asked at an April 27 press conference. "You know what is really taking money out of African American communities? Tolerating an educational system that is failing kids of color everyday, leaving them without a future, and giving them food that will only lead to health problems." While confusing these pristine motives with a diet soda tax on privileged whites, Murray was still unable to stop mau-mauing beverage makers, accusing them of adopting tobacco industry tactics targeting communities of color with a product "that only undermines the health of young people." The people of Santa Fe were apparently unwilling to endure all of this false posturing, roundly rejecting a soda tax referendum Tuesday. City leaders had also dangled educational services funding for lower income families as a sweetener, so to speak. Fifty eight percent of voters rejected it. Voters in lower income districts voted most heavily against it. The supposed elitism of the tax turned many voters off, as did the financial intervention of billionaire Michael Bloomberg who donated $1 million in favor of the soda tax. One anti-tax activist told the Albuquerque Journal after the election that the city should try taxing tofu instead. Murray's case for a soda tax won't be helped by the disastrous results from cities that have gone ahead with these kinds of soda taxes. As Reason has reported, Philadelphia's soda tax—which went into effect in January—has seen price hikes of 30 to 50 percent along with job losses in the beverage industry. Philly.com has reported that one of the city's largest drink distributors said it will cut 20 percent of its workforce, while an owner of several ShopRite stores said he will cut some 300 jobs. Similarly situated businesses and residents in Seattle are already pushing back on Murray's proposed soda tax. The local Teamsters Union has already come out against it with their Secretary-Treasurer saying that his union "will not support a tax that will put hardworking middle-class Americans out of a job, no matter how well-intentioned the tax may be." Local business owners have pushed back as well. One burger joint in the city put up a sign reading "Hey Mr. Mayor, $5 sodas? Your pop tax sucks!" Slightly more polis[...]



A Better Chance for Native Education

Sun, 30 Apr 2017 06:00:00 -0400

"It's just the epitome of broken," former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said of the Bureau of Indian Education's abysmal track record with Native American students. "Just utterly bankrupt." After Betsy DeVos' recent confirmation to the post Duncan held under Barack Obama, and with the GOP holding majorities in both houses of Congress, the federal government has a rare opportunity to accomplish some much-needed reforms to help children trapped in this system.

The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) receives funding from the interior, agriculture, and education departments, serving 48,000 students across 23 states. According to the Government Accountability Office, BIE day schools spent over $16,394 per pupil during the 2009–2010 school year, far above the national public school average of $10,295 per pupil. Despite this, BIE schools are some of the worst in the country, with a graduation rate barely topping 50 percent. In reading, students score an average of two grade levels lower on the National Assessment for Educational Progress than their Native counterparts in non-BIE schools. What's more, these students are disproportionately too poor to access better options.

As a school district under federal jurisdiction, the BIE is an ideal place for the new administration to put school choice into action without interfering with local control. Last April, Sen. John McCain (R–Ariz.) introduced the Native American Educational Opportunity Act, which would give Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) to eligible students attending BIE schools. Such individualized accounts give families control over the education dollars that would otherwise fund their children to attend public schools. And they're more flexible than vouchers, since they can pay for any approved educational expense, from private school tuition to tutoring, educational software, even therapy for students with special needs.

"School choice is a foreign concept to many tribal communities," testified former Arizona state Sen. Carlyle Begay in support of the bill, "yet it will play an important role in changing the outlook of education on reservations." Begay, a member of the Navajo nation, was educated in BIE schools. As a state senator, he was key to making students on Arizona Native American reservations eligible for the state's ESA. A longtime BIE reform advocate, Begay argues that school choice can help tribal communities reach the cultural self-determination they strive for.

The push for Indian ESAs may now get a second wind. Education Secretary DeVos supported McCain's bill last year, arguing it would "serve as a lifeline to students trapped in literally some of the worst schools in America—it is morally unacceptable to stand by and accept the status quo."




That Time New York's Department of Education Decided to Teach Kids What an 'Oreo' Is

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 09:35:00 -0400

For your "They Used to Do Children's Television Differently" files, here's a moment from the '70s show Vegetable Soup. Produced by the New York State Department of Education from 1975 to 1978, this multicultural-themed series aired on both PBS and NBC; the scene embedded below celebrates black slang. Not a bad idea for a segment. But at the 1:01 mark they casually throw in an expression that these days would've been vetoed long before the show got to air:

src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_e4dE4yUdnY" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0">

For the full episode, which originally aired in 1975, go here. For a nightmare-nostalgia look back at the surreal and disturbing side of the show, go here. For past editions of the Friday A/V Club, go here.




End the Ed? Rep. Massie Says Department of Education’s Days Could Be Numbered

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 14:35:00 -0400

In the days leading up to Betsy DeVos' confirmation to head the U.S. Department of Education, staffers for U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) were fielding dozens of calls every day from people urging the representative to vote against her nomination. Of course that was impossible. Confirmation votes take place in the Senate, not the House, where Massie is a member. Still, Massie says he was moved to action. On the same day—at nearly the exact same moment, thanks to text messages with Sen. Rand Paul, Massie says—DeVos got confirmed by the Senate, Massie deposited into the hopper on the floor of the House a one-sentence-long bill calling for the abolition of the U.S. Department of Education. Now, when they receive complaints about DeVos, Massie's staff informs callers that the congressman is trying to get her fired. "I've got nothing against DeVos," says Massie. "It's really that I want to eliminate her position." In remarks delivered Wednesday at a forum hosted by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, Massie admitted that his bill has a "slim chance" of passing Congress in its current, terse form. He hopes the bill will "start a discussion" and believes there's a good chance of passing something that eliminates portions of the Department of Education or otherwise trim the department's budget or role in American education. Eliminating the department's 4,500 Washington-based employees would save more than $400 million annually in government overhead costs, something that might find some favor with lawmakers struggling to grapple with the federal government's dire financial situation. And then there's the man in the White House. President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a new executive order directing the Department of Education to review its own activities and determine if it has overstepped its authority, as The Washington Post and others have reported. Trump and DeVos also have talked about plans to eliminate Title II funding for teacher and administrator training along with cutting other aspects of the department's budget. "We may have a president, for the first time since Reagan, who would actually sign this bill if it shows up at his desk," says Massie. "I think there is a reason to take it seriously." Catherine Brown, vice president for education policy at the Center for American Progress, disagrees. "It's one sentence," said Brown, who also spoke Wednesday at Cato's event. "In my view it's not a serious proposal. It would take much more than one sentence to dismantle this agency." It's true that a one-sentence bill does not allow for much detail about how the various functions of the Department of Education would be offloaded to other departments or handed down to the states. Practically, those details would have to be worked out during the legislative process, Massie says. There are likely three directions things could go, if the bill gets far enough for that debate to happen. Some programs in the Department of Education could be shifted to other parts of the government. Student loan programs could run through the Treasury, or job training programs could be moved into the Department of Labor, in the same way that school lunch programs are already run by the Department of Agriculture, for example. Brown says that would mean a lot of shuffling around and extra spending on moving trucks, but would not yield much budgetary savings. A second option would be block granting those programs down to the states, essentially letting each state decide whether it wants to prioritize, say, higher education subsidies or pre-K programs. That would allow for state-level experimentation, Massie says, letting state governments find new and better ways to hand out student aid dollars that would flow from the federal level. But states make mistakes. Brown pointed out that Texas had placed caps on special needs programs for more than [...]



Boujee, Bougie, Bourgie: Who's Appropriating Whose Culture? An Answer in 12 Songs

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 13:45:00 -0400

In order to empower "a culture of controversy prevention," administrators at American University (AU) prohibited the school's Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity from calling its badminton fundraiser "Bad(minton) and Boujee," a pun on the popular Migos song "Bad and Boujee." AU officials told the frat that them using the word boujee might be seen as "appropriating culture." "Which culture?" asks Catherine Rampell at The Washington Post. "Latin? French? Marxist? Urban hip-hop? Maybe their own?" Administrators weren't clear. But as Rampell notes, the term boujee comes from the Latin "burgus," which described a castle or fortified town. This evolved into the French "bourgeois," for people who live in town rather than the countryside. Town dwellers were more likely to engage in commerce and craftsmanship, and so rose over time to achieve middle-class incomes. That's why Karl Marx later used the term to derisively refer to the class that upheld capitalism. Over time, "bourgeois" morphed into a more generic description of middle-class (and eventually upper-middle-class) materialism and obsession with respectability. More recently, "bourgeois" was shortened to the colloquial "bourgie ," alternately spelled "bougie" or "boujee," used disdainfully to describe upper-middle-class or high-end tastes (driving your Prius to Trader Joe's after yoga class, for example). The "boujee" variation is common when referring to middle-class or upwardly mobile blacks, as in the Migos song. That's hardly this spelling's exclusive usage, though, as is evident from its entries in the crowd-sourced slang glossary Urban Dictionary. So, in a way, "boujee" is indeed an appropriation — or rather an appropriation of an appropriation of an appropriation. That's how language works. It's fluid, evolving, constantly taking from other tongues, dialects and usages. Did administrators really consider all this? Probably not, considering their refusal to articulate who was appropriating what from whom and emphasis on "controversy prevention." More likely, they just heard "frat event named after rap song" and decided to act out of that bureaucratic favorite, an abundance of caution. As Freddie de Boer notes on Facebook, the AU situation nicely illustrates how students, regardless of their ideology, "are powerless in the face of a relentless pink police state that renders every unruly impulse anodyne and unchallenging through an architecture of limitless conflict avoidance. Neither the black bloc nor the alt right can possibly defeat the army of chief litigation officers who have machined the controversy-avoidance mechanism to perfection." But back to bourgie. Google defines it as "exhibiting qualities attributed to the middle class, especially pretentiousness or conventionality." Yet the term is used differently in different subcultures—the people and milieu that Ke$ha calls bougie are different than those that the guys of Migos do, to keep in the musical vein. And they're both shades off from the "Bourgie, Bourgie" folks sung about by Gladys Knight and the Pips in their 1980 disco hit, or those conjured in The Submarines 2008 indie-pop "You, Me and the Bourgeoisie," or Discobitch's 2009 "C'est Beau La Bourgeoisie," or Jacques Brel's 1962 "Les Bourgeois," or Prince's 2013 "Da Bourgeoisie." I've heard white Midwesterners use bougie to describe anything associated with hipsters/liberals/The Coastal Elite, and liberal coastal hipsters use it to describe anything that might be quintessentially suburban or "basic." Sometimes bourgie might be a big-ass McMansion, sometimes a pumpkin spice latter, a snotty attitude, a $10 burger, Manuka honey lozenges, Sheryl Sandberg-style feminists, picnicking on a first date, or ordering first-date food that's too fancy. So, yes, the term might mean certain things in American black culture that it doesn't among lower-class [...]



California Boy Scout Battles Porn Scourge in His Community

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 17:15:00 -0400

In deciding what he wanted to do for his final project, Parker Johnson—a 15 year old Eagle Scout candidate from Fountain View, Calif.—had initially thought of building a sand volleyball court in his local park. Until Johnson became aware of a dangerous new drug epidemic sweeping through his school, affecting his classmates and others close to him. The drug? Pornography. Parker says he was first alerted to the dangers of pornography from social media posts, confirming the scourge through online research and interviews with people damaged by or addicted to erotica. Wanting to make the maximum impact on his community, he abandoned the volleyball court and launched a website to spread the news of what he calls "a silent threat to the health and well-being of children and teenagers." The problem is the website is loaded with blatant factual inaccuracies and pseudoscientific papers scourced from groups of discredited anti-porn fantatics. Most of this misleading or outright wrong information—including the fantastical claim that the $13 billion porn industry dwarfs the $200 billion company, Apple—comes from tbe Utah-based group Fight the New Drug. Fight the New Drug bills itself as a grassroots "movement for love" looking to "raise awareness about the harmful nature of pornography using only facts, science, and personal accounts." The group started in 2009 as a social media enterprise and quickly graduated to anti-porn speechifying and presentations in high schools across Utah. In a 'white paper,' How Porn Affects the Brain Like a Drug, faithfully reposted on Johnson's website, the group lays out its simple message that "to your brain, porn has the same effect as drugs." The same paper claims porn causes a number of other neurological effects associated with drug use, such as an increased tolerance in the user that can only be satisfied by more porn, and withdrawal symptoms when one tries to walk away from the incognito browser window. That paper also includes congressional testimony from Princeton University Prof. Jeffrey Satinover, who describes porn as a "form of heroin 100 times more powerful than before…injected directly to the brain through the eyes." These claims, and many others made by the group have attracted a lot of fire for their lack of scientific rigor or factual accuracy. In 2016, a group of four sex therapists wrote a scathing op-ed in the Salt Lake tribune in response to the group conducting sex education seminars in Utah high schools. In that op-ed the authors point out the leaders and presenters of FTND are not mental health nor sexuality professionals, lack the needed training or expertise to educate students on these issues, and despite their claims of scientific rigor, make comments that are flat-out false. "Drugs introduce chemicals into the brain. There is not a single study that demonstrates what neurochemicals are released in the brain when watching porn, nor that these neurochemicals are any different from those released while eating chocolate or watching football," the op-ed said. Criticism hasn't dampened FTND's sails. Their website boasts of having put on over 400 presentations at schools, and received news coverage from outlets like CNN and NPR. If anything, their movement might be gaining traction. Reason has previously covered the efforts of Utah lawmakers to label porn as a "public health crisis" and even allow "porn addicts" to sue adult websites. Similar legislation has passed in Virginia and South Dakota. Which brings us back to Johnson, who has been taking meetings with school board officials, superintendents, religious leaders, and business owners. Johnson has the endorsement of the chief of police in Fountain View, his website says. All these meetings are part of a broader effort to "begin a conversation about the dangers of pornography,[...]



Chicago Mayor Threatens Teens' Diplomas Unless They Participate in Approved Post-School Education

Wed, 05 Apr 2017 15:30:00 -0400

Hey, Chicago kids! If you're expecting your high-school diploma, you're going to have to tell your school what you plan to do with it. Oh, and if you're not going to do what the Chicago Public School system wants you to do with your diploma, they might not give you one! The City of Chicago has so ineptly financed itself that it has to tax the crap out of its citizens—literally—just to try to keep its underfunded city employee pensions afloat. It's so dysfunctional that it's the only top-10 city in America that's losing population. Yet, today Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has decided that the failure of teens to map out their post-secondary education future is a big enough problem that city bureaucrats need to get involved. And what they're going to do is such a brilliant example of how disastrous centrally planned governance is. The school system is going to withhold diplomas from graduating high school seniors unless and until they provide the school system information about their post-school plans. And to be very, very clear: This is not a "choose your own post-education adventure." You will choose from one of four government-approved options. If you want a diploma you will be required to provide proof you've been accepted to: A four-year college A community college A branch of the armed services A trade school or program That's it. That's what the City of Chicago has decided your choices for success are after you've graduated high school. Got an entrepreneurial spirit? Go get an official post-secondary stamp of approval with a business degree, kid. Or else it doesn't count. Part of a family-owned business? The city plans to regulate and tax them out of existence anyway. There's an entire list of ways this demand offends the conscience. First and most obvious, it treats people who are becoming adults as though they are wards of the state and withholds a diploma that they've earned unless they provide information to the Chicago Public School system that they have no authority to even ask for. Second, note that how all of these post-school options tie the teen further into environments subject to continued government control and operations even after reaching adulthood. Granted both the colleges and trade schools could be privately operated, but both are heavily dependent on government grants and subject to significant government control. Third, since the demand requires merely acceptance and not actual commitment to attend (at least that's what the reporting is saying now) and community colleges accept pretty much everybody, it's just insulting bureaucratic busywork when all is said and done. They can't take your diploma back if you get accepted into college and then don't attend. And that just makes it all the more offensive. It's paternalistic government nudging designed to socialize and fundamentally trick teens into thinking that this is the sum of all their choices after graduation. Fourth, imagine being a teen and not grasping the busywork "nudging" nature of this demand, concluding post-secondary education is out of reach for you for whatever reason, and believing that you have to join the military in order to get your diploma. And finally, this is clearly a jobs program—but not for these students. It's a jobs program for post-secondary educators and administrators, an attempt to force an increase in demand through this not-so-subtle coercion. Emanuel pretty much said so himself: "Starting with the freshman class, right now in high school in Chicago, by the time they come to graduation they'll have — basically think of it this way — you want to make 14th grade, not high school ... universal in people's educational program," he said. "And what I mean by that is if you graduate you'll have to have a letter of acceptance from a college, [...]



Brickbat: Seeing White

Tue, 04 Apr 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) The Los Angeles Unified School District has notified parents at Walter Reed Middle School it will face budget cuts because its student population is too white. Under a 1970s court order dealing with desegregation, schools that are less than 30 percent white get more funding. Officials say the school has been above that level for a couple of years.




Eugene Volokh: Free Speech on Campus

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 10:00:00 -0400

Eugene Volokh has a few things to say about things that aren't supposed to be said. Volokh, a professor of free speech law at U.C.L.A., has seen books banned, professors censored, and the ordinary expression of students stifled on university campuses across the nation.

Volokh believes free speech and open inquiry, once paramount values of higher education, are increasingly jeopardized by restrictive university speech codes. Instead of formally banning speech, speech codes discourage broad categories of human expression. "Hate speech. Harassment. Micro-aggressions," Volokh says. "Often they're not defined. They're just assumed to be bad, assumed they're something we need to ban."

Volokh spoke at Reason Weekend, the annual event held by Reason Foundation.

Edited by Todd Krainin. Cameras by Jim Epstein and Meredith Bragg.

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D.C. Implements Oppressive Licensing for Child Care Workers at Behest of Early Education Advocates

Fri, 31 Mar 2017 16:00:00 -0400

Scientists say that higher education for pre-school child-care workers is a good idea. So of course D.C. is going to make it mandatory that child-care workers get associate's degrees and completely screw over an entire class of lower-skilled workers. Indeed, the argument is literally that lower-skilled workers shouldn't be caring for children because that might mean that their precious, developing brains are not getting stimulated as much as they could be. But rather than passing that information along to parents to decide how much to evaluate the education of their child-care professionals as a priority, D.C. has decided to mandate more training. The consequences are, of course, going to be absolutely awful for some people who are unable to get what the city's demanding. From The Washington Post: [F]or many child-care workers, who are often hired with little more than a high school diploma, returning to school is a difficult, expensive proposition with questionable reward. Many already have more training than comparably paid jobs such as parking lot attendants, hotel clerks, and fast food workers. And unlike most professional fields, prospects are slim that a degree would bring a significantly higher income: a bachelor's degree in early childhood education yields the lowest life-time earnings of any major. Center directors have few resources to tap if they want to reward their better-educated employees. Many parents in the District are maxed out, paying among the highest annual tuitions nationally at $1800 a month. And government subsidies that help fund care for children from lower income families fall well below market rate. In the end, early child-care teachers that go on to earn diplomas often leave their jobs to work in public schools, where they can earn substantially more. One child-care center operator said that only two of her 16 employees have made it to associate's degrees thus far, and one had quit because she simply couldn't go back to school. The news story doesn't engage in the question of why parents can't decide for themselves how important it is for their child-care workers to have advanced degrees. Perhaps that's because early education advocates might not like the answers, once the realities of the likely cost increases get factored in. There's instead a heavy emphasis in the story on the mechanisms by which these poor workers might get subsidies or assistance to get the education they need to keep their livelihoods. There's also no interest in exploring the increased attention to the major problems for the poor that are a direct result from occupational licensing programs. No doubt the same people who promote such programs would, for example, see Mississippi's push to decrease the power of regulatory licensing programs as proof of how backward that southern state is. To be sure, this D.C. law is a jobs program—it's a jobs program for people who work in the field of post-secondary education itself. Nothing like using a regulatory mandate to create a demand for your educational services that might not exist otherwise. The story makes it abundantly clear that advocates for increased education of child-care workers—who, wouldn't you know it, work in the field of education—want to spread this program well beyond D.C.'s borders. Oh, incidentally, President Donald Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, have been proposing a massive child-care subsidy that would manifest via deductibles. That would perhaps help the wealthier D.C. residents cover increasing costs that would most certainly follow once child-care workers have advanced degrees. But as has been noted, such a subsidy plan would not do much for lower-income families. And so not only would poorer fa[...]



Jeff Sessions' Terrible Truth About Drugs Is a Lie

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 00:01:00 -0400

"Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life," Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared last week. The main problem with that message: It isn't true. Yes, using drugs, both legal and illegal ones, can destroy your life, but typically it doesn't. By arguing that drug education should proceed from a false premise, Sessions reminds us what was wrong with the Just Say No propaganda he would like to revive. Sessions, a former senator who was the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama in the 1980s, looks back proudly at his efforts, alongside Nancy Reagan, to "create a hostility to drug use." For Sessions as for Reagan, tolerance is a dirty word. "We must create an atmosphere of intolerance for drug use in this country," the first lady wrote in a 1986 Washington Post op-ed piece. "Each of us has a responsibility to be intolerant of drug use anywhere, anytime, by anybody." Sessions likewise emphasizes the importance of "preventing people from ever taking drugs in the first place," even if "this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use." The "prevention" Sessions favors is not simply unfashionable; it is fundamentally dishonest. Among other things, Sessions said at a Senate hearing last April, prevention aims to teach teenagers that "good people don't smoke marijuana." According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, something like 118 million Americans have used marijuana, 36 million of them in the last year. Does Sessions honestly think all those people are bad, or that anyone would believe they are? "Educating people and telling them the terrible truth about drugs and addiction will result in better choices," Sessions says. But his terrible truth sounds a lot like a lie. Sessions claims marijuana is "only slightly less awful" than heroin, and in 2014 he strenuously objected after President Obama conceded that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol. "I'm heartbroken," Sessions said. "It's stunning to me. I find it beyond comprehension." Judging from his response, Sessions literally did not comprehend Obama's point. Sessions tried to rebut Obama's statement about the relative hazards of marijuana and alcohol by declaring that "Lady Gaga says she's addicted to [marijuana] and it is not harmless." Let's put aside the merits of treating Lady Gaga as an expert on the effects of marijuana, or of extrapolating from this sample of one to the experiences of cannabis consumers generally. The most disturbing aspect of Sessions' argument was his failure to grasp that one substance can be less dangerous than another without being harmless. Saying marijuana is less hazardous than alcohol by several important measures—including impairment of driving ability, the risk of a fatal overdose, and the long-term damage caused by heavy use—is not the same as saying marijuana is 100 percent safe. Sessions not only has no patience for such nuance; he considers it a menace to the youth of America. Sessions is especially offended by the suggestion that marijuana legalization could reduce opioid-related harm by providing a safer alternative. "Give me a break," he said in a recent speech to the National Association of Attorneys General. "It's just almost a desperate attempt to defend the harmlessness of marijuana or even its benefits." Uncharacteristically, Sessions conceded that "maybe science will prove I'm wrong." If he bothered to research the subject, he would discover that several studies have found an association between medical marijuana laws and reductions in opioid prescriptions, opioid-related deaths, and fatally injured drivers testing positive for opioids. Sessions plainl[...]