Wednesday, March 02, 2016
Louisiana Shows Why 'Free' College Education Doesn't Work
“Free” college education sounds easy enough. A few dollars shuffled here, a few tax raises there, and — voilà! — you're set to earn a college degree without the burden of student loans. This mentality explains much of Bernie Sanders' appeal, particularly among young Americans. On the Socialist's own website is a section called “It's Time to Make College Tuition Free and Debt Free,” in which he spells out a six-step plan to eliminate tuition costs. After all, he writes, “The University of California system offered free tuition at its schools until the 1980s,” and many foreign nations do so today; why not implement it full-scale in America?
Perhaps he never stopped to ponder why California made reforms. A 1982 New York Times article noted, “In hindsight, many educators say, the system was allowed to grow too large in the 1960's and is now having difficulty adapting to the falling birth rate, a state fiscal crisis and changing demands from students.” But California isn't the only state whose experiment with the idea has gone awry. In a new Daily Signal article, Norbert Michel outlines the problems that plague Louisiana's tuition-free plan — Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS).
What began as a program to subsidize state residents with low income in the 1980s went entirely mainstream in 1997, when income caps were nixed entirely. All students had to do was maintain a C average. But while college participation rose, so did the financial problems. “A person receiving ‘free' tuition may not see it (or even care), but subsides actually raise the total cost of an education,” writes Michel. “The core problem is that they remove the paying customer — in this case the student — from the equation. Without the subsidy, the paying customer receives the direct benefit for the service and bears the direct cost. If that person doesn't think the cost is worth it, they don't pay.” The other problem? “When the influx of students hits … it strains universities' existing resources. So the transfer of money has the natural tendency to lead to expanded facilities, faculty, and staff. But these increases call for a permanently higher level of funding, and all of these effects tend to reinforce each other. That is, school officials have a built in reason to ask for larger transfers, and politicians have a built in excuse to raise taxes.” Sound anything like ObamaCare?
It all has a compound effect. State budget shortfalls affect school finances. And in Louisiana's case, it's small institutions along with out-of-state and non-TOPS eligible students that get particularly hammered. Sanders posits that tuition-free systems work both here and abroad. They don't. And the evidence is there for anyone willing to to do a little homework and familiarize themselves with Econ 101.
UK: Hope Not Hate: devoured by its own censorious logic
Campus censorship continues to eat itself. Nick Lowles, head of anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate, took to social media today to decry the fact that NUS Black Students is pushing to have him removed from an upcoming panel on anti-racism. All because, the little pillocks claim, he is ‘Islamophobic'.
‘Never mind all the work HOPE not hate [sic] has done challenging anti-Muslim hatred', Lowles fumed in a Facebook post. ‘It seems that some ultra-left activists believe I'm Islamophobic because I have repeatedly spoken out against grooming and dared condemn Islamist extremism.'
Lowles dubbed the move ‘lunacy', and, on the surface, it's hard to disagree. Alongside the attempts to No Platform anti-Islamist campaigner Maryam Namazie, the call to ban Lowles speaks to the mania of the Islamophobia industry, which has been readily taken up by so-called campus radicals. In this blinkered worldview, any criticism of Islamism is taken as an act of mini-imperialism, an expression of racial hatred.
Many have taken to Twitter to mock the move. ‘Not long now before Muslims are No Platformed by the NUS for being Islamophobic', jibed writer Sunny Hundal. Commentator Dan Hodges was similarly unimpressed: ‘Okay, we've now reached peak lunacy.' But while these bemused onlookers continue to furrow their brows, one little detail has been missed: it was Hope Not Hate that helped popularise No Platform in the first place.
Since it was founded, Hope Not Hate has maintained that the only way to oppose the British far right is to block them from speaking. Along with Unite Against Fascism, Hope Not Hate has long supported the NUS's No Platform policy. Though Lowles suggested in an interview a few years back that, in the internet age, No Platform was becoming ‘outdated', he remains a staunch supporter of it in certain instances.
So the attempt to ban Lowles now isn't really lunacy at all – rather, it's a vindication of the most basic argument against censorship. As Thomas Paine put it more than 200 years ago: ‘He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression: for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach unto himself.' This is a lesson that Lowles is finally learning.
Australia: Safe Schools activist Roz Ward is a Commo
The architect behind a contentious sexual diversity program set to become mandatory across all Victorian schools is an outspoken hard-left warrior who has publicly denounced Immigration Minister Peter Dutton as a “sexist prick”.
Safe Schools Coalition Victoria co-founder Roz Ward has also conceded the Safe Schools Coalition program is part of a broader Marxist strategy to change society.
Ms Ward is a La Trobe University academic who moonlights as a writer for Red Flag, the publication of the Socialist Alternative, a Trotskyite self-described Marxist organisation that has become a dominant force among university radicals and the broad-left activist movement.
Ms Ward’s recent contributions include an article published in January, titled “Sexist text messages are the least of Peter Dutton’s crimes”, in which she accuses the minister of being responsible for instances of sexual abuse being experienced by refugees at the Nauru processing centre.
“Dutton is responsible for these horrors,” she writes. “Sure, call out casual sexism, but we should rage longer and harder against his ongoing crimes against refugees.”
In another article, Ms Ward accused the former Victorian Liberal government of turning train stations into prisons after the introduction of a safety policy in 2012 of manning platforms with armed guards. She denounced the guards, known as “protective services officers”, as “uniformed thugs”.
The program has recently been linked with an improved public perception of safety.
A prominent campaigner on gay, lesbian and transgender issues, including marriage equality, Ms Ward has repeatedly claimed that the Safe Schools Coalition was derived out of a bid to stamp out homophobia within schools.
Victorian Education Minister James Merlino, who posed for photographs with Ms Ward at the recent Pride March, declined a request for an interview yesterday.
However in a statement, his spokesman said that the “scare campaign” being run by opponents of Safe Schools Coalition has been “nothing short of disgraceful”.
“The comments from federal MPs like Cory Bernardi and George Christensen are perfect examples of the kind of attitudes that we need to change,” he said.
The Victorian government was the first to provide public funds to the cause. Former Labor education minister Bronwyn Pike, who has an openly gay son, announced $80,000 in seed funding in October 2010. A year later, the newly elected Coalition government announced further funding of $416,000 and the federal Labor government then lent its support in 2013 when Senator Penny Wong, who is gay, unveiled $8 million over four years to “help stop homophobia and create more inclusive school communities”.
The Safe Schools Coalition program has since been rolled out to more than 500 schools and has the backing of the Australian Secondary Principals Association and the Australian Education Union.
Despite the program’s stated aims, its politically correct approach to sex education — under which teachers are counselled that it is “heterosexist” to refer to students as “girls and boys” and children are instructed to role-play gay teenagers — has outraged religious groups and conservative politicians.
Many have questioned whether it is appropriate for schools to be teaching children as young as 11 the meaning of terms such as “queer”, “pansexual”, “sister girl” and “trans guy”.
The Coalition’s website also lists more than 40 primary schools or P-12 colleges that have registered.
One of those, St Kilda Primary School in Melbourne, took part in the Midsumma Festival’s annual Pride March in January alongside the Safe Schools Coalition.
Ms Ward, who manages the program in Victoria, wrote about the landmark occasion on the coalition’s website: “For the first time ever we marched with a primary school as well as more than a dozen secondary schools, which just really shows the progress that has been made.”
St Kilda Primary School principal Sue Higgins confirmed that the school had taken part, but did not respond to further questions via email, including whether students had taken part.
West Australian Education Minister Peter Collier has raised concerns, describing aspects of it as “almost offensive”.
A former high school teacher, he said it could hurt the children it aimed to protect, although it had the hallmarks of an effective bullying strategy. “I cannot see or fathom any situation where drawing attention to a particular set of students is going to necessarily assist that child,” Mr Collier said.
“I feel as soon as you start to identify or isolate very discrete elements of student cohorts, inevitably you’re going to draw attention to those students and if anything it could work in reverse.”
He said only 16 of the state’s 800 public schools had registered for the program.