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  1. One of the things that I have noticed is one of my favorite populists, Bernie Sanders ranting over the years about "Free Colleges, Cancel Debt." I don't watch TV that often but when Bernie starts pointing the finger, I rather watch robots on CNBC. I am willing to listen to defenders of this idea, of free colleges, I don't pretend to be an expert on North American schooling system, the number of tests that one had to do in some parts of Europe in order to make it to higher education, allowed a certain percentage to be paid by the government via a bursary, that's all I know. It is/was affordable that way there. ---> but a question would be, where is Bernie going to get the money to fund this if a lot of people want to go to college for free? Looking forward to reasonable responses. 😄
  2. ---> FInally, a libertarian article that is trending. The well-known left and right media companies had monopolies after the State of the Union. Time to give someone else a platform too. The writing at reason.com, they like to blend a little bit of irony into their writing which serves well. Now, I am sure @robosmith will get going at finding holes, 😄 in my defense, before the California committee wakes up that I am not familiar with the specific cases in the below article, however, this trend needs to be talked/ranted about. Time and Time, I see articles trending about people not being allowed to speak. Helllllo? Wake up? This is not people like "Ye" or "Nick Fuentes". ---> It does not matter if it's a Religious or a Progressive Ideological echo-chamber. The mob thinking needs to be tackled in my opinion. --- When my son, Anthony, began looking at colleges, the environment they offer for free-wheeling debate was an important consideration. Respect for freedom of speech and thought at colleges has been on the ropes for a while and worsened over the past year. Some schools, like the ones to which my son applied, rank well when it comes to tolerance for diversity of ideas, but others are the absolute pits. The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), a civil liberties group that began with a focus on academia, just published a rogues' gallery of institutions of higher education that anybody with an independent mind should avoid. "Each year, FIRE bestows a special dishonor upon a select group of American colleges that go above and beyond in their efforts to trample expressive freedom. These are the schools that stopped at nothing to crush faculty rights, destroy student expression, and leave guest speakers in the dust," the group announced on February 2. "For that, we owe them their just reward: A spot on our exclusive '10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech' list." The dishonored schools are: Hamline University (MN), The Pennsylvania State University*, Collin College (TX), Texas A&M, University of Pennsylvania, Emerson College (MA), Emporia State University (KS), Tennessee Tech, University of Oregon, and Loyola University (IL). Additionally, Georgetown University (DC) won a Lifetime Censorship Award for taking "122 days to determine that a 45-word tweet is protected political speech." That involved law professor Ilya Shapiro who ultimately resigned despite prevailing through the ordeal over comments about the Supreme Court selection process. He worried that the school "set me up for discipline the next time I transgress progressive orthodoxy." After the university's multiple appearances on the "10 Worst" list for transgressions ranging from the Shapiro incident to preventing students from campaigning for Bernie Sanders, FIRE bestowed the lifetime award to acknowledge "Georgetown's fondness for censorship." In this dubious achievement, it joins Yale University, DePaul University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Syracuse University. The other schools on this year's "10 Worst" list may not fall into the same repeat-offender category, but they've certainly been creative in earning their booby prizes. Minnesota's Hamline won its spot by dismissing an adjunct art professor who "showed a 14th century painting depicting Islam's prophet Muhammad—but not before she offered multiple warnings, acknowledged that some Muslims believe the prophet should not be depicted in any way, and told students they weren't required to look," in FIRE's words. The ensuing controversy over speech and academic freedom continues, with the faculty last month asking President Fayneese Miller to resign. Collin College, a Texas community college and therefore bound by the First Amendment, earned its distinction for a series of retaliations against faculty who upset the administration. Its most recent move was to fire "history professor Michael Phillips for advocating for the removal of Confederate statues and criticizing the college's COVID-19 policies," as FIRE puts it. Phillips is suing Collin. The University of Oregon gained its ranking by directing faculty search committees to impose diversity, equity, and inclusion assessments of candidates that go well beyond the stated goal of creating a welcoming environment and instead serve as ideological litmus tests. "Basically, if you want to work at UO, you have to pledge allegiance to and promote administrators' DEI [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] vision," notes FIRE. "These requirements violate faculty's freedom of expression and academic freedom." DEI statements have proliferated throughout academia and are now included in consideration for tenure at 21.5 percent of colleges and universities, and at 45.6 percent of large institutions of higher education, according to a 2022 survey by the American Association of University Professors. Some are less ideological than others, but there's a tendency for them to increasingly demand adherence to specific points of view. "Every psychologist who wants to present at the most important convention in our field must now say how their work advances anti-racism," NYU Professor Jonathan Haidt objected last year to an "explicitly ideological" DEI requirement from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. He announced his resignation from the professional organization rather than comply. DEI statements entered my son's academic considerations as well, though tangentially. After he'd already decided to attend the University of Arizona, the state's Goldwater Institute reported that "Arizona's three public universities have all begun forcing faculty job applicants to provide mandatory 'diversity statements' as a condition of hiring." So far, 28 percent of job postings at the University of Arizona require DEI statements, far less than the 73 percent of postings at Northern Arizona University or the 81 percent at Arizona State University. The University of Arizona scores well overall in terms of respect for free speech, ranked as it is in 18th place (above average) on FIRE's latest College Free Speech rankings. That's good news for my kid, but the news isn't so encouraging overall for anybody pursuing higher education. That assessment found an increase in the number of schools hitting rock-bottom "red light" status relative to those enjoying "green light" ratings when it comes to tolerance for ideas and expression. "Two universities joined the ranks of green light schools this year: the University of North Carolina at Asheville and the University of South Florida. While none of the green light schools lost their status, 12 schools dropped from a yellow to a red light rating, and the percentage of red light schools rose by 0.8 percent, the first increase in 15 years," according to FIRE. That kind of slippage in maintaining an open and respectful environment for speech and thought is why it's so important to call out schools that, for whatever reason, punish people who express themselves and debate ideas. Without consequences, it's too easy for them to target dissidents, activists, agitators, and heterodox thinkers. Ultimately, you end up with echo chambers instead of institutions of learning. By all appearances, my son is off to a good start in higher education with his plans to attend a school that meets his educational needs while also encouraging open discussion. Everybody preparing college applications would be well-served to similarly consider the environment for free speech when they contemplate their continuing education, and to cross off all of those listed among the "10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech." https://reason.com/2023/02/10/free-speech-group-calls-out-10-censorship-prone-colleges-to-avoid/
  3. I just finished reading an article in The Washington Post which is rare in this U.S. divided climate. --> There are professionals in every organisation which always look for ideas to conversate with "the other side", instead of pointing the finger. The Question that they asked is: Can political opponents have a civilized conversation about education? --- by Jay Matthews Rage over education issues fills campaign speeches, op-ed pages and cable news shows, but are these outbursts making schools and teachers better? I have been looking for reasoned arguments between people on opposing sides that illuminate the best and most politically possible improvements we can make in teaching and learning. Not having found any so far, I tried creating my own. I contacted former Indiana Republican congressman Luke Messer, a partner in the law firm Bose McKinney & Evans. He is president of a nonprofit organization called Invest in Education, which lobbies for more school choice. I asked him if he would like to have an email discussion about how to make schools better. We are similar in some ways but at different places in the school debate. He is unfriendly to teacher unions. With the exception of some of their political ads, I am for them since I remember what they did for my mom, a lifelong substitute teacher. Messer and I both like public charter schools, but I regularly note that only 1 in 4 of them have better achievement rates than regular public schools. Messer promotes government grants to parents, often called vouchers, to pay for private schooling, while I think that reform won’t get us far. We agreed to hash out these issues and see where that took us. Here is what we know. Despite the push by school-choice advocates to get more kids into charter and private schools, more than 80 percent of American children remain in regular public schools. Some of the school boards that run them are under fire, but surveys show parents are mostly happy with what their children are learning there. That being the case, I asked Messer what he thinks of my view that raucous complaints by parents at school board meetings don’t do much good. Mothers and fathers have the right to speak out, but they have busy lives and usually lack the time to get involved enough to make a difference. Messer said his group is not focused on fighting teachers unions or electing politicians of any particular party. “Our goal is to expand school choice, all forms of school choice, to give families maximum freedom to choose the best educational environment for their own child,” he said. “Private choice enrollment — vouchers, tax credits, ESAs [education saving accounts] — have soared in the last decade,” he said. “In 2012-2013, there were about 246,000 kids in private school-choice programs. Today there are about 700,000. Thirty-one states plus D.C. now have some type of private school-choice support. Charter enrollment has grown by around 1 million kids over the last decade. Home schooling has also skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic.” He did not mention the fight over how or whether to teach issues of gender and race in schools. His organization does not get into that. I think that part of the education debate comes from political campaigns trying to make voters angry. It does nothing to improve reading, writing, math and other important classroom activities. Messer said expanding charters and private school-choice programs even more “would facilitate the systemic change in K-12 education that many of us have been fighting for.” That takes our discussion to the heart of the matter. He argues that a key to improving learning would be passage of the Education Choice for Children Act (ECCA), which would create federal tax credit scholarship for kids who want to move to private schools in all 50 states. I say it would take more than that to put significantly more children in classes where teachers are motivated to challenge students with deeper lessons and give them the individual attention they need. I think one reason the number of kids attending charters has grown more than the number using private school vouchers is that existing private schools have limited space for new applicants. Messer responded that there is plenty of room for more private school students with vouchers. “There are tens of thousands of empty and available Catholic school seats in New York City and Philadelphia alone,” he said. He estimated at least a million private school places are available across the country. The failure of teachers unions to stem rising enrollment in charters shows they are good at making Democratic Party campaign platforms more hostile to those kind of schools but don’t discourage parents who want to make a change. The most successful charter networks, such as KIPP, IDEA and Uncommon, have not only pleased parents but have had a marked influence on regular public schools. In the past two decades, those charters’ opening of college-level high school courses such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate to low-income children has helped inspire a growth in participation in AP, IB and Cambridge courses in regular neighborhood schools. Only 1 percent of high schools had at least half of their 11th- and 12th-graders in those courses in 1998. By 2019 that number had risen to 12 percent. Also, the anti-charter rhetoric of teachers unions appears to have had no effect on ambitious principals and teachers in regular schools who are making classes more challenging. Messer and I agree on that. He told me education reform “has occurred in red and blue communities with teachers of both parties.” Energetic principals and teachers may vote differently from each other on Election Day, but they share a willingness “to challenge the status quo, fight for kids and stand up to the teachers union establishment opposing reform,” he said. Messer makes an excellent point about the popularity of at least the concept of school choice. “Eighty percent of African American and Latinos" support choice, he said. Even higher percentages of independents and Republicans support school choice programs.” I think there is also an unrecognized form of increased school choice that may be the most important reason for rising average achievement in American schools over the past several decades. Parents are on average more affluent now than they were a half-century ago. That means they have more money to move to neighborhoods where the schools seem better to them. Messer and I agree it is important to support parents who want better schools. Bigger incomes help. So do more good charters and more good private schools with space for kids with tuition vouchers. But we both know that improving the schools takes more than just new federal laws. At the end of our discussion, Messer said, “Admittedly, none of this is a silver bullet. Nobody has found the magic formula to triple student achievement.” “What makes most schools, charter or not, successful are great leaders who hire great teachers,” he said. “Partisan politics plays almost no role.” I could not have said that better myself. Our schools were making progress before the pandemic. We have to count on the educators who made that happen to keep going as American schooling gets back into shape. A reasonable discussion of what reforms might help is what we need, not angry buzzwords.
  4. This morning, while I was reading the news, I came across a trending article. From California 😄 I placed this article in Federal Politics because Universities, if I am not mistaken in the US do get help from the federal government. Hope that gives it legitimacy. University department removes the word 'field' over 'racist connotations' References including "field work" and "going into the field" may have connotations for descendants of slavery and immigrant workers "that are not benign", the school of social work at the University of Southern California wrote in a letter to staff and students. Explaining the decision, it said: "We have decided to remove the term 'field' from our curriculum and practice and replace it with 'practicum'. "This change supports anti-racist social work practice by replacing language that would be considered anti-Black or anti-immigrant in favour of inclusive language. "Language can be powerful, and phrases such as 'going into the field' or 'field work' maybe have connotations for descendants of slavery and immigrant workers that are not benign." The letter was addressed to staff and students from the "Practicum Education Department", which until recently was called the Field Education Department. It continued: "Our goal is not just to change language but to honour and acknowledge inclusion and reject white supremacy, anti-immigrant and anti-blackness ideologies. "We know changing terminology can be challenging, and a complete transition will take some time." "Staff and stakeholders have raised concerns about the use of the term 'field worker' and its implications for descendants of Black and Brown individuals," it said in a memo. "While the widespread use of this term is not intended to be harmful, we cannot ignore the impact its use has on our employees," the memo reads. "Establishing shared language is essential to our collective progress." ---> I will start a poll, do you agree with the decision to remove the word "field" due to "racist connotations"?
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