Friday, November 11, 2016

Cruising the Web

Gosh, a whole generation seems to have become enfeebled by college administrators who coddle them and try to prevent them from confronting anything that might be upsetting to their fragile psyches. Witness the efforts of colleges to send out sympathetic messages and safe spaces in wake of Tuesday's election results. Here is a compilation of emails from administrators and professors to students. One Yale professor allowed students to skip the exam due to the shock of Trump's election. My gosh! What are these kids going to do in the real world when they have jobs? Are they going to tell their employers that they can't come in to work because they don't like who won an election? In 1860, the South seceded; in 2016 the students are seeking safe spaces.

Katherine Timpf argues that this pampering of distressed college students demonstrates just the type of mollycoddling that made Trump's campaign appealing to a lot of people.
Reading all of these stories, I really have to wonder: Do any of these people realize that this kind of behavior is exactly why Donald Trump won? The initial appeal of Donald Trump was that he served as a long-awaited contrast to the infantilization and absurd demands for political correctness and “safe spaces” sweeping our society, and the way these people are responding is only reminding Trump voters why they did what they did.

First of all, let me say that I’m far from surprised that these kids are having mental breakdowns over this. Throughout the campaign, the mere sight of “Trump 2016” written in chalk was enough for students to demand a safe space. A professor at the University of North Carolina–Wilmington erased Trump chalkings on campus so students wouldn’t have to see them. A Bias Response Team at Skidmore College determined that writing “Make America Great Again” on dry-erase boards amounted to performing “racialized, targeted attacks.” Realizing that you are going to have to deal with Donald Trump being the president must be a hell of a lot to handle after you’ve been conditioned to believe you shouldn’t even have to deal with seeing his name or campaign slogan, so it makes a lot of sense that the reactions have been so extreme.

What’s more, I understand that for many people, the news that Donald Trump will be our next president is more than just an election result. People are concerned about their futures; people are concerned about their families. I understand all of this. But the thing is, there are children all across the country who go to school while having concerns about how things are going home. First graders do it. Yes, believe it or not, there are five-year-olds across the country who leave their broken homes full of serious problems to go to school every single day, and yet we don’t see any of them demanding a note from their teachers saying “I know life is tough for you so don’t worry about learning to add and read,” and I would encourage any one of these 5-year-olds to tell those spoiled Ivy League babies to shut the hell up and get it together.

We have become a society where our kindergartners are more capable than the adults who are studying at Yale, an institution that is supposedly reserved for our best and brightest. Newsflash, kids: “There is something in my life that is bothering me” is not automatically followed by “Therefore I do not have to attend to any of my responsibilities,” and your entitled expectation that they do has contributed far more to Donald Trump’s rise than anyone’s racist uncle.

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Among the propositions on the ballot on Tuesday, the most disappointing result was that Massachusetts voted down a proposition to lift the cap on charter schools. As the WSJ observes,
The biggest disappointments of the year came in Massachusetts and Georgia, where teachers unions spent liberally to defeat school choice for poor children. In Massachusetts 62% of voters rejected an initiative backed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker that would have lifted the state’s cap on charters and helped 32,000 kids on waiting lists. In Georgia three of five voters opposed GOP Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposed constitutional amendment that would have established a statewide recovery district for failing schools a la New Orleans.

Teachers unions portrayed the initiatives as an attack by “Wall Street ideologues” on local public schools and minorities. Elizabeth Warren, the progressive heroine, rallied the left in opposition to charters that vastly outperform traditional schools. A friend of ours in the school reform movement says one reason the initiatives failed was distrust among minority groups toward Republicans, which is a tragedy for their children though not for Ms. Warren’s union campaign contributors. A progressive’s work is never done.
It's a shame that Massachusetts voters hadn't paid attention to what David Leonhardt wrote in the New York Time. He notes that, while some charter schools have not been all that successful, there is one model of charters that researchers have agreed are achieving phenomenal success at educating minority students.
Hannah Larkin, the principal at Match, refers to such schools as “high expectations, high support” schools. They devote more of their resources to classroom teaching and less to almost everything else. They keep students in class for more hours. They set high standards for students and try to instill confidence in them. They focus on giving teachers feedback about their craft and helping them get better.

“My mother has been teaching forever. My father has been teaching for 10 years,” Christopher Perez, a physics teacher at Match, told me. “They don’t get observed. I get observed every week and have a meeting about it every week.”

While visiting Match, I was struck that teachers hardly seemed to notice when I ducked into their rooms, midclass, to watch them. They are obviously used to having observers. They welcome it, as a way to improve....

When you talk to the professors about their findings, you hear a degree of excitement that’s uncommon for academic researchers. “Relative to other things that social scientists and education policy people have tried to boost performance — class sizes, tracking, new buildings — these schools are producing spectacular gains,” said Joshua Angrist, an M.I.T. professor.

Students who go to Boston’s charter schools learn reading and math better and faster than students elsewhere. They are more likely to take A.P. tests and to do well on them. Their SAT scores are higher than for similar students elsewhere — an average of 51 points higher on the math SAT. Many more students attend a four-year college, suggesting that the benefits don’t disappear over time....

The gains are large enough that some of Boston’s charters, despite enrolling mostly lower-income students, have test scores that resemble those of upper-middle-class public schools. The seventh graders at the Brooke Charter schools in East Boston and Roslindale fare as well on a state math test as students at the prestigious Boston Latin school, the country’s oldest public school and a school with an admissions exam.

A frequent criticism of charters is that they skim off the best students, but that’s not the case in Boston. Many groups that struggle academically — boys, African-Americans, Latinos, special-education students like Alanna — are among the biggest beneficiaries. On average, notes Parag Pathak, also of M.I.T., Boston’s charters eliminate between one-third and one-half of the white-black test-score gap in a single year.
These are the very students that Elizabeth Warren and the Democrats in Massachusetts were determined to block. And there are lots of other schools across the country that are demonstrating that this success is not a one-time thing, but is reproducible. But progressives don't want to acknowledge this success.
Second, many people understandably worry that charters harm children who attend the rest of the public-school system. But there is good news here, too. Two recent analyses of multiple studies concluded that charters do not hurt outcomes at other schools — and may even help improve them, by creating competition.

Finally, no matter how successful charters may be, they undeniably make life uncomfortable for some people at traditional schools.

The best place to see this dynamic right now happens to be here in Massachusetts. On Tuesday, the state will vote on whether to allow charters to expand. Doing so would have enormous benefits: It would improve the lives of some of the 30,000 children who have lost lotteries and are now on waiting lists.

But it would also shrink traditional public schools, and many school boards and teachers unions around the state are fighting the ballot initiative. Elizabeth Warren, the state’s senior senator, opposes it, too. The critics argue that Massachusetts should instead focus on improving traditional public schools.

For anyone who sees some merit on both sides, I’d encourage listening to Susan Dynarski, one of the researchers who conducted the Boston study.

A University of Michigan professor (and Times contributor), Dynarski is a proudly progressive former union organizer. She told me that she had agonized over being on the opposite side of an issue as some of her friends and usual allies.

She wrote a Facebook post about why she hoped Massachusetts voters would approve the expansion. In the post, she acknowledged that some teachers would not want to work in charter schools. And if schools’ main function were to provide good jobs for adults, an expansion of charters might not make sense. Obviously, however, schools have another, larger mission.

“The gains to children in Massachusetts charters are enormous. They are larger than any I have seen in my career,” Dynarski wrote. “To me, it is immoral to deny children a better education because charters don’t meet some voters’ ideal of what a public school should be. Children don’t live in the long term. They need us to deliver now.”


The American Interest explains
why politicians want to have more spending on education.
Per-student spending on K-12 education has risen steadily over the last two decades, but student test scores, and teacher salaries, are stagnant. Why hasn’t this massive increase in investment produced better teachers and better opportunity for students? The short-answer, according to a new Manhattan Institute report by Josh McGee: State and local governments have catastrophically mismanaged their teacher pension systems. The cash infusion to K-12 has been used largely to pay for irresponsible pension promises politicians made to teachers’ unions and justified to the public with shoddy accounting....

[T]o cover benefits for retirees, states need to dig into education funds that might otherwise be used to attract and retain good teachers or buy better textbooks and build new facilities. So long as state governments are unwilling to reform the blue model pension-for-life civil service system, and so long as teachers unions continue to wield outsized influence in so many state legislatures, this pattern seems likely to continue indefinitely.

Campaigns to increase spending on schools are always popular, and understandably so: Education ought to be a great equalizing force in our society and, in theory, an efficient way to invest in the future. The problem is that in many states, new “K-12 spending” isn’t really an investment so much as a transfer payment to retired employees of the public schools who have been promised untenable lifetime pension benefits.
There is definitely room for smart new investment in K-12. But responsible reformers should make such investment conditional on an overhaul of the public sector pension and collective bargaining system. Otherwise, the public will keep paying more and more and getting nothing in return.
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Ben Shapiro points out that Trump's victory shows how white voters with no college education are starting to vote as minorities have been doing for years.
For decades, Democrats have treated blacks, Hispanics, Asians, women, Jews, and nearly every other ethnic and sexual constituency as an independent voting bloc, targeting them individually. Republicans have heretofore ignored that sort of tribal campaigning. Trump was the first major Republican candidate to see non-college-educated white voters as a distinct voting bloc worth pursuing. He campaigned on the basis of trade restrictions and on punishment for employers moving out of Rust Belt areas, while fighting back against the Left’s anti-white, anti-Christian agenda.

The result: Non-college-educated white voters went for Trump by a whopping 72 percent to 23 percent margin, according to CBS News’s exit polls. By contrast, Clinton won the Hispanic vote 65 percent to 29 percent. In other words, Trump won non-college-educated whites by a larger margin than Clinton won Hispanics. That’s amazing, but it’s also a testament to the alienation of non-college whites from the Democratic politicians who have patronized them for decades — calling them “bitter clingers” and “deplorables.”
But Trump and reporters shouldn't relax and think that they've now found a path to a permanent majority. They can't depend on the Democrats to keep nominating such a noxious candidate.

The NYT has a cool graphic to show how demographic groups have shifted over time from 2004 through 2016. What is notable to me is that how income groups have shifted with the wealthier voters shifting closer to the Democrats and lower-income voter shifting more in the direction of the Republicans.

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For Democrats seeking explanations for their shellacking, they should simply look at whom they nominated. Instead they're blaming sexism and racism and James Comey.
There are many reasons for Hillary Clinton’s loss: obvious corruption, lockstep leftism, disastrous health-care prescriptions, abortion fanaticism, and basic incompetence are just a few. But her loss might best be summed up in a September 22 video address she gave to the Laborers’ International Union of North America. After bashing right-to-work measures allowing freedom from unions, Clinton stared at the camera, suddenly irate. “Now, having said all this,” she bellowed, head bobbing, appearing as though she wanted to throttle the entire world, and maybe a few stuffed animals too, “why aren’t I 50 points ahead, you might ask?”

Oh dear. Why indeed? It was a question that answered itself, and a moment that, for obvious reasons, went viral. You recognized that it eerily resembled a famous scene, if you’ve seen the movie Office Space, where a terrified worker wildly shouts at downsizing consultants about how good he is with people.

Sexism certainly exists, but to attribute Clinton’s loss — the failed candidacy of an ossified political fixture with enough toxic baggage to crush 17 glass ceilings — to it is absurd. But in the Rorschach test of life, some people will always see sexism lurking around every corner, hysterically labeling each slight as a sign of eternal misogyny. It must be an exhausting way to live. Some would argue that it helped fuel the backlash that brought us Donald Trump.

Not only did Hillary Clinton see her dreams crushed, but her defeat means the end of the glory days of Chelsea Clinton.
“How’s Chelsea going to live?” another insider asked The Post. “Is she going to give speeches, go on boards? No one wants her anymore . . . You think NBC’s going to hire her now? Because she’s good on camera? Give me a break.”
She's been skating on her family's name all her adult life. Is the Foundation going to still be able to provide a living for Chelsea and all the other hangers-on who have been hoping that proximity to the Clintons would give them power? I doubt it.

Roll Call analyze
s one reason why the Democrats didn't do better in the House races. They spent too much of their time and money attacking Trump instead of their Republican opponent or pumping up their own positives.

Roger Goodell say
s that he's having trouble explaining Trump's victory to his wife and daughters.
"It [Trump's victory] makes my job harder at home, too," Goodell said. "I have twin daughters and a wife, so I have to explain that to them. So, that's yes on that front."
Really? his wife needs current events explained to her by her husband? What a patronizing attitude! How did he explain to them how he handled Ray Rice's, Josh Brown's and other players' domestic abuse? Did he have trouble explaining to his wife how the NFL for years brushed evidence about the damage that concussions were doing to its players? Or is it only politics that he has to mansplain?

Philip Bump examines how, under Obama's leadership, the Democrats have been crushed electorally.
Those are impressive losses. It turns out that President Hope and Change has been great for the Republicans.

Chris Cillizza looks at how short the Democratic bench has become.
The reason for the “Clinton or bust” strategy was simple: There simply wasn't anyone else. Vice President Biden was a possibility, but the death of his oldest son, Beau, in May 2015 effectively sidelined him. (And at 73, Biden isn't exactly a spring chicken.) Beyond Biden and Clinton, name someone else who looked ready to make a serious run at a national nomination. There isn't anyone. (Trust me, I have thought about virtually every possibility.)

Contrast that to what the Republican field looked like as the 2016 election shaped up: A dozen and a half candidates including a handful of 40-something rising stars (Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz) as well as a number of other prominent voices (Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich) within the national party who had deep and impressive résumés. And a true outsider who was making his first run for president.

That Donald Trump beat all of them is the lasting takeaway for most people. But in retrospect, the size of the GOP field — for which the party was relentlessly mocked — was also a sign of the party's health up and down the ballot. Democrats heading into 2016 simply didn't have the depth of political talent to put 10 or 12 serious candidates forward. And so they lined up behind Clinton.
And now who is left for the Democrats?
As it became increasingly clear Clinton would lose on Tuesday night, names began to bubble up as potential 2020 Democratic candidates. Michelle Obama, who has never held or run for office, was the name I heard most. Kamala Harris, the Californian who won a Senate seat last night(!), was also mentioned. So, too, was Cory Booker, who's been in the Senate for just three years. The other names — Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota — are intriguing candidates, but they almost entirely unknown nationally, even among Democrats.

One of the untold stories of the Obama presidency is how singular his victory was. Yes, Obama won more than 330 electoral votes, twice. But his success at the ballot box was never transferable. Democrats lost badly in the Senate and House in 2010 and 2014. And the damage done even further down the ballot was more grave; Democrats lost more than 900 state legislative seats in those two elections....

The result of Obama's lonely victories — coupled with a VP pick in Biden, who was not an obvious successor given his age — was defaulting to Clinton in 2016. And in the wake of her stunning loss Tuesday night, there's a remarkable paucity of obvious 2020 candidates waiting on the Democratic bench. That's a major problem for the party, which now finds itself out of the White House for the next four years.

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5 comments:

mark said...

Betsy,
I get the gloating over the Donald’s victory (again, congratulations). However, I don’t get the attacks on Chelsea Clinton. Sure, she’s benefitted from being a Clinton, but she seems to have conducted herself very well and made some contributions people around the world. With the Clinton name, she’s also been the target of some very disgraceful attacks by conservatives, starting with when she was called “the family dog” as a child.
You and conservatives have been offering a lot of advice and calls for “self-examination” over the last couple of day, so let me offer some for you and others.
Ever since you carried the conservative conspiracy that Sen. Menendez had sex with an underage prostitute (which soon morphed into him being a child-rapist), this site has at times become a cesspool. You’ve allowed a number of people to mock the Constitution and our right to due process and , make dishonest, insane accusations of despicable behavior that would (if true) land me or others in prison:
Think we should allow Syrian refugees into our country? You must want to sexually exploit the children.
Pro-choice? You enjoy abortion as a “blood-sport”
Against HB2? You want children to be abused in bathrooms.
Yes, you did call out Trump on a number of occasions. You also ignored many of his disgraceful pronouncements. And you ignored his fascism while promoting the conservative lie that Hillary vowed to shut down opposition press (which of course would be fascism). Whether or not you voted for him, you did give him support.
Obviously, you can point out that it is my choice to come here. True, but that’s not really an excuse for the garbage that has been written.
I’ll do some soul-searching, and I suggest you and others here do the same.
Thanks for letting me vent (now and in the past).

tfhr said...

mark,

Soul-searching? Great! Let us know if you find one.

Betsy's post from Thursday started with "Well, now that everyone has been gracious for 24 hours, how long will that last?" I guess we now have the inevitable answer. Why not drop all of the insults and start the New Year early with an agreement to stick to debating issues rather than calling Trump a fascist, racist, etc.? You don't like him and neither do I but we can do better on the back and forth if we just stick to the point.

What do you say?

mardony said...

This highly misleading blog entry, regarding the overwhelming defeat of the charter school cap referendum in Massachusetts, blames Democrats and teachers unions. The facts are: groups supporting the measure spent $17.5M; those opposed $9.3M, according to the latest filings. The greatest backer was a group called Great Schools Massachusetts (GSM) which spent more than $15M. The latest filings show the large majority—about $13.5 million—of GSM's funding had come from a New York-based shadowy nonprofit called Families for Excellent Schools, which does not disclose its funders. WBUR and WGBH have both recently reported on the group’s history and backers. Among those opposed, the largest contribution was $6M from the Massachusetts Teachers Association. In Georgia, the Governor's constitutional amendment was soundly defeated because voters realized that corporations and Republican corruption were the main beneficiaries, rather than students. This blog, in its bias and innuendo, does a disservice to the needed fair discussion of school reform.

tfhr said...

mardony,

Are you a union member?

You might want to disclose that if you want to discuss bias. Given that your profile was set up this month and you've never posted here before, the added context would be helpful too.

Ron K said...

mardony,
isn't it good form to attribute your post to the source when it use it verbatim?