Pew: 75% of Americans Have Trouble Discerning Between Fact and Opinion


A few years ago, the ACT released a study showing that K-12 teachers and college instructors believe discerning between fact and opinion is one of the most important things students can learn. Unfortunately, less than 20 percent of first-year college students are able to tell the difference between these two items.

As it turns out, discerning between fact and opinion doesn’t appear to be the sole problem of millennials. According to a recent Pew report, other Americans struggle with this task as well. Pew explains:

“A new Pew Research Center survey of 5,035 U.S. adults examines a basic step in that process: whether members of the public can recognize news as factual – something that’s capable of being proved or disproved by objective evidence – or as an opinion that reflects the beliefs and values of whoever expressed it.”

The study posed ten statements to participants, five of which were factual, five of which were opinions. (Take the quiz here.) Only one in four adults were able to correctly identify all the factual statements.

Pew Fact Opinion

Such news, of course, is quite alarming, particularly in an age when we are saturated with headlines and opinions from everyone under the sun through various social media channels. None of us want to be taken in by false ideas… but how can we avoid doing so given the culture in which we live?

The author and educator Richard Weaver (1910-1963) offered some thoughts on this subject in his book Ideas Have Consequences. According to Weaver, the continual bombardment of information, whether it be fact or opinion, is keeping us from discerning the core, root principles which can help us sort our thoughts:

“The whole tendency of modern thought, one might say its whole moral impulse, is to keep the individual busy with endless induction. Since the time of Bacon the world has been running away from, rather than toward, first principles, so that, on the verbal level, we see ‘fact’ substituted for ‘truth,’ and on the philosophic level, we witness attack upon abstract ideas and speculative inquiry.”

Weaver goes on to explain that even those who are able to recognize their facts may be missing the deeper meaning and thoughts which underlie and support them. The trick, notes Weaver, is not just to accumulate knowledge and facts, but to really know how to use them effectively:

It is not what people can read; it is what they do read, and what they can be made, by any imaginable means, to learn from what they read, that determine the issue of this noble experiment. We have given them a technique of acquisition; how much comfort can we take in the way they employ it? In a society where expression is free and popularity is rewarded they read mostly that which debauches them and they are continuously exposed to manipulation by controllers of the printing machine…. It may be doubted whether one person in three draws what may be correctly termed knowledge from his freely chosen reading matter. The staggering number of facts to which he today has access serves only to draw him away from consideration of first principles, so that his orientation becomes peripheral.”

If you are one who can take Pew’s fact and opinion quiz and successfully pass, then you are a step ahead of three-quarters of Americans. The question is, what will you do with that knowledge? Will you use it simply as a badge of honor and superiority… or are you one of the even fewer number of Americans willing to go deeper and consider the difficult thoughts, the challenging ideas, and the other aspects from which these facts stem?

Perhaps it’s time we start training both ourselves and our children to do the latter.

[Image Credit: Flickr-Maarten van Maanen CC BY-SA 2.0]

This post Pew: 3 in 4 Americans Have Trouble Discerning Between Fact and Opinion was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Annie Holmquist. We copied this post which was originally published on June 19. 2018.



Why Are More Colleges Turning a Blind Eye to Cheating?

Imagine that you’re the president of a community college. To justify your institution’s existence and your enviable salary, you must convince the board of trustees that the institution is meeting—possibly even exceeding—certain productivity benchmarks: for instance, a threshold number of new enrolments, solid graduation rates and satisfactory retention of students from year to year.

The ethical dilemma you face is whether to maintain academic integrity standards in order to make a principled stand against student cheating or relax those standards in order to artificially inflate key productivity figures—for instance, graduation and retention rates. Which would you choose?

Ever since higher education leaders and executive administrators adopted the business model, the scenario I’ve described is no longer so outlandish. In fact, it’s playing out at Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC), a community college system in Central Pennsylvania serving over 70,000 students at five campuses and in its online program, led by President John Sygielski.

HACC is no stranger to mismanagement and corruption. Poor administrative oversight has led its accreditor to twice issue warnings and temporarily suspend the community college’s accreditation. Almost a year ago HACC’s Vice President Nancy Rockey embezzled over $200k in school funds. She is now serving a federal prison sentence.

I inquired about the truth of rumors that HACC regularly conducts fake or rigged investigations into alleged violations of its academic integrity policy. I published the results of my inquiry in an article on the site  In addition, I made an open records request under Pennsylvania’s Right to Know law, asking HACC to disclose the details of one specific investigation to which I was privy. Unsurprisingly, HACC chose to claim an exemption so that it could hide the truth. I appealed the decision to the PA Office of Open Records.

While the appeal was eventually defeated, it revealed that HACC’s ersatz investigation of alleged student cheating involved merely examining the student’s transcripts, not vetting their academic work. How could this constitute a good faith investigation?

Presently, HACC’s accreditor, Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), is investigating the matter. The accreditor seeks to know, one, whether the institution failed to enforce its own academic integrity policy and, two, whether it afforded adequate safeguards to prevent student ghosting (someone other than the student taking exams and tests in the student’s place, a common practice for cheating in online courses). President John Sygielski has been sent a series of questions by MSCHE that he must answer pursuant to a possible third warning and suspension of HACC’s accreditation.

According to PennLive reporter Jan Murphy, Sygielski or “Ski” (as he likes to be called) has faced “no shortage of adversity” during his tenure as HACC’s president. Close adherence to the business model has led HACC to wade into morally murky waters. He and other college leaders should be challenged to answer a single question: Does their drive to increase productivity justify lowering academic integrity standards?

[Image Credit: Deviant Art]

This post Why More Colleges Are Turning a Blind Eye to Cheating was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Shane Ralston.

Sign the Petition Before April 24, 2018: Students For Ed Reform

We are so close to reaching our goal of 1,000 signatures on the Saint Paul Public Schools literacy petition — but we need YOU to get us there! 750+ voices are raised in support of closing the literacy gap across racial lines, and if each of us get just one more person to add their name, our people power will be undeniable when we deliver the petition to Superintendent Gothard at the next SPPS school board meeting on Tuesday, April 24th. Here are ways to get the word out:

SHARE this post on social:

#SPPSGetLITerate add your name to our petition demanding Saint Paul Public Schools make closing the literacy gap across racial lines a top priority in their next strategic plan! recruiter_id=2378161

FORWARD this link via email: literacy_petition ASK just one friend who hasn’t signed yet to text LITERACY to (347)682-4130


Owen Rickert: How Identity Politics Ruined My High School

A former high school student from Minnesota explains how social justice politics ruined the school he once loved.
Student: How Identity Politics Ruined My High School

Owen Rickert always loved his school.

The Blake School, a private college prep school, located in Hopkins, Minnesota, was a place he woke up excited to go to each morning. And then, about four years ago, something changed.

“Slowly the unification of our great community began to deteriorate,” said Rickert, who had attended Blake since kindergarten.

Rickert, currently a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, explained what happened to his school during his senior presentation last spring. In a nine-minute speech titled “Division,” Rickert explained how the Blake School’s new emphasis on race, gender, and privilege created fissures between students and kindled resentment.

“White. Black. Asian. Gay. Straight. It never mattered before. Yet now, we are all identified by what group we were assigned,” Rickert said. “We didn’t assign these; the school and society did.”

Where previously students had learned a core curriculum and were taught how to think, students suddenly found themselves being fed an agenda.

“We are not here to be manipulated to think a certain way,” Rickert said. “That is called indoctrination.”

As an example, Rickert cited the first day of school. He said students were required to introduce themselves by their pronouns.

“If someone sees themselves as a gender other than what they were born, I don’t care,” Rickert said. “But forcing me to participate in something where I have to proclaim what gender I am has no place in a school classroom.”

The school’s new emphasis on race and gender theory created an environment in which many students no longer felt comfortable to talk about and share ideas. Lectures on “white privilege” in particular seemed to chafe Rickert.

“All of a sudden the suggestion is put in front of every white person in this school that racism is inherent in them because of the color of their skin,” Rickert said. “White privilege equals shut-up; anything you say has no meaning because you are privileged.”

Rickert noted that school officials at Blake, a private institution, can run the school however they choose. Parents, similarly, are free to remove their children if they wish. He simply expressed his hope that the school he loved would rediscover its ideals.

“I’ve had many incredible teachers that helped me along the way, and for them I am grateful,” he said. “My wish for the Blake School is that it becomes what it used to be. A school where the students accepted each other’s differences, and the leaders of the school didn’t force their political agendas on us.”

We’ve noted these education trends at Intellectual Takeout before (here, here, here, here, and here), so many readers likely are familiar with the issues to which Rickert speaks.

But I was impressed to see a young man share them so clearly and calmly. Most of all, I was impressed with Rickert’s courage. There is perhaps not a single issue in America that is more difficult to challenge. Orthodoxy on social justice is expected today, at least in educated, corporate, and upper-class circles.

Those who challenge this orthodoxy know they place their careers and future prospects in jeopardy. If you doubt this, just look at what happened to Google’s James Damore or Apple’s Denise Young Smith.

Pushing back on this orthodoxy is not easy. People may loathe the ideology, but they are also afraid of it, something Rickert learned.

“As I was putting this speech together and discussing it with my friends, I was in disbelief in how many people actually agree with me,” he said. “Many have similar viewpoints but are afraid to say anything.”

I don’t believe this is some throwaway line.  I say this because I’ve experienced the same thing.

I get emails and calls from people “fed up” with the divisiveness of identity politics. Yet when I ask people to go on record for a story, they almost always decline.

This won’t do.

Writing articles about school indoctrination is all well and good, but it’s going to take parents speaking out about these issues at the local level to bring school officials back to their senses.

If parents are serious about seeing their children get a real education instead of divisive social justice mantra, they’ll need to find their voices—and their courage—like Owen Rickert did.

Convictions, even if they are right, are worth nothing if one is afraid to share them.

Fiscally Conservative Saint Paul Republicans, Independents and  Democrats Need Pat Harris As Mayor

Dear Editor:
There is one candidate for Mayor of Saint Paul who is  Opposed to Mayor Chris Coleman’s outrageous 23.9%  City Property Tax Hike, and he has stated his Opposition on the public record without equivocation or qualification on his campaign web site.

I voted for him to be our next Mayor on the first day of early voting, and I hope you too will you cast your vote for Pat Harris!  Pat Harris knows seniors, single workers starting out in life or young families with their first home,  and small business owners can’t afford the irresponsible $27.3 Million property tax hike the city council and Mayor Coleman have proposed.

The extreme Property Tax  Increases do not stop there. The Saint Paul Public Schools want $9.2 Million more in taxes from homeowners in 2018, than the $7 Million more it collected last year; this net  $2,177,729 Million increase is an unsustainable  23.6 %  increase over last year’s actual tax hike! Oh and by the way, despite asking for these higher taxes, the School Board voted to cut Direct School Allocations in the 2018 Education General Fund to only 47 cents on the dollar going directly to the classroom!

Ramsey County wants $12.7 Million in higher taxes for each of the next two years, and it’s Regional Rail Road Taxing Authority is seeking the legal maximum in new taxes for an increase of $1.3 Million to it’s $22.5 Million budget!

All tolled the City of Saint Paul, the School Board, Ramsey County and the Regional Rail Road are asking for $50,797,041 in Higher, NEW  PROPERTY TAXES!

Enough is Enough! Saint Paul Property Taxpayers need elected allies at City Hall, and that is why as a Republican, who is seeking election to the Saint Paul School Board, I am asking you to vote for Pat Harris for Mayor too!

Candidate For Saint Paul School Board

Greg Copeland sent this letter to the Editor which agreed with Pioneer Press Editor Mike Burbach.  Greg expressed to me (Publius Jr) he thought they wouldn’t publish his letter to the editor so I posted it here.

Should School Choice Matter To Christians?

Back in the day when Christianity was a part of the public school system our students achieved and had a balance of knowledge, morality and both of which help to understand who God is.  God is the source of knowledge.  Since 1962 & 1963 when Prayer and Bible Study was taken from public schools respectively our students achievements have taken a nose dive.  Student & Teachers moral values are scattered widely. Perhaps to help make all students achieve to the extent of their God given talents and to help them live fulfilling lives free of moral problems we should welcome Judeo-Christian values and teaching back to public schools.

The article below is from the website it is from a three part series about school board elections.  It was posted on October 26, 2017.  We’ve not changed it.  ~~Publius Jr

Article 2 of 3. [My Faith Votes] created this 3-part series on school boards elections to address some critical issues that every voter should consider in their local school board election.

Should School Choice matter to Christians?

There seems to be a giant wall of division between those who defend the current state of education (anchored by the teachers union) and those who believe in school choice, by way of vouchers, special programs, and educational savings accounts. As people of faith, should we take a position on school choice?

This is an issue that many believe is too complicated, better left to the educational experts and our government officials to solve. Yet, it’s an issue that gambles with the future of our children. And more importantly, it’s one that scripture speaks to clearly. In fact, at the core this is not a political issue – it’s a Biblical one.

School choice should matter to Christians for three primary reasons.

1. Choice Matters Because Parents Are Best Equipped to Care for their Children.

Nobody knows what a student needs to thrive educationally better than the student’s parents. A government or institution cannot possibly care for children in the same way that a father and/or mother can. We witness a great decline of society when we substitute the judgment of “experts” and bureaucratic systems for the judgment of parents.

Children are entrusted to parents as a gift from God. Psalms 127:3, “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.” A gift that comes with great responsibility.

Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Deuteronomy 6:6-7: “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

3 John 1:4: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

When parents can’t afford to live in a “good” school district, or don’t have the means to private school or homeschool, and are told where their children must attend school, based solely on their zip code, their freedom to educate their children as they see best is restricted. Their parental authority is compromised.

“We’ve allowed ourselves, as parents, to be bumped from the ‘table.’ We’ve allowed policy makers, school administrators, and self-interested teachers’ unions to decide what’s best for our children. This needs to change.” – Pastor Jim Garlow (Well Versed, page 78).

2. Choice Matters Because Every Child is Unique.

We know from both research and common sense that every child is different and unique, created by God (Jeremiah 1:5). Cookie-cutter factory models don’t work for every child.

In recent decades there has been some movement towards school choice as a few states have begun to slightly crack the door open for limited educational freedom through the allowing of charter schools.

These charter schools give us a glimpse of what education would look like in a free market educational system.

These are schools that are often differentiated by their special emphasis in areas such as the arts, mathematics and the sciences, classical learning, technology, and a hands-on educational model approach.

In most traditional public school environments students are expected to learn at a pre-determined pace, mass-educated, moved along through the system according to standardized tests and curriculum. For many parents whose children have special needs or special giftings and talents there are no other educational options. As one of the most advanced societies in the world, we should be doing better. It should stir us to know that our educational system is rooted in socialistic and communistic ideals rather than innovative free market ideals where opportunity abounds, choice is the currency and prosperity is the result.

One more note: This is no reflection on the incredible teachers who have dedicated their lives to helping our children learn. Rather, it is an example of a broken educational system in America.

3. School Choice Empowers the Underprivileged

Here are the facts:

  • 50.7 Million students attended public elementary and secondary schools in the fall of 2017 (NCES)
  • Of those attending public schools, roughly 2.5 Million students attend charter schools in the United States (Business Insider)
  • Experts estimate that around 3.5 Million students are homeschooled in the United States (Business Insider)
  • 4.5 Million students attend private elementary and secondary schools (ONPE 2014 survey)

The bottom line, the vast majority of students in America receive a public school education. It’s reasonable to assume that many did not have a say in the matter because they lacked the economic means to live in a “good” public school district, to attend a private school, or to be homeschooled. Nor were they lucky enough to win a lottery to attend a charter school.

This is educational discrimination and it is simply not fair. This is un-American in every way.

Pastor Jim Garlow in his book Well Versed said it best,

“We have an educational system that discriminates against the single mother and the poor, by limiting options. It’s a system that allows wealth to determine a child’s education. If you are fortunate enough to buy a home in a good school district, your child has a better chance of receiving a strong education.

“However, if you cannot afford to live in a good district or pay for a private school, you have no choice but to send your child to the school located in your neighborhood, even if it’s a poor performing school.” (Well Versed, page 77).

Educational Choice is just one way of extending care and compassion for the less fortunate. (1 John 3:17, Philippians 2:4, Deuteronomy 15:11).

If we as Christians believe all people are equal in the sight of God and should be afforded the same freedoms regardless of economic status, then it is our responsibility to care about the education of all people, regardless of their zip code. It is our responsibility to do what we can go give all families a choice in where they educate their children.

Thanks for reading part two of our education series! If you missed it, read last week’s article, “Why Should You Care about Your Local School Board.”


What’s Behind the Exodus of Black Students from Public Schools?


For a number of years, public education has been of utmost importance to those in the black community. This is partially because black access to equal public education was a hard-won victory procured by the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.

But lately, black families appear to be questioning whether public schooling is the proper education model for their children. This is evident in the rising number of black families choosing to homeschool their children and in the large numbers of African Americans who support choice options such as vouchers and charters.

The most recent evidence of the distrust black families have toward public schools can be seen in Minneapolis. According to The Star Tribune, the district has experienced a heavy exodus in recent years, much of it driven by black families:

“But now one-third of Minneapolis’ school-age children go to charter schools or public schools in other districts, a trend that raises long-term questions about the district’s financial future. Black student flight accounts for more than half of all kids leaving the district, out of proportion with the 43 percent of the school age population they represent.”

Black Students Leave Minneapolis Public Schools

Why is this drain taking place? The Star Tribune mentions three reasons.

1. Poor Environment
According to many black parents, the environments offered by their district public schools are not the type of atmosphere in which they want their children to be. Many are scared by the fights and behavior issues they see and hear about in public schools. Many black families are also headed by single parents, and as such, see the value of putting their children in a smaller, family-like environment which will fill a void in “nurturing.”

2. Dismal Academics
Although the alternative schools to which black families are sending their children are not always high-achieving in the academics department, they often outrank the district schools they left behind:

“On average, math scores for black students are 10 percentage points higher in the schools that Minneapolis black students are leaving for, than for black students staying in the district.”

Clearly, black parents are recognizing that choosing the best possible option, even if that option isn’t the most stellar, is better than leaving their children in a far less rigorous environment.

3. Ignored Parents
Perhaps one of the most interesting reasons cited for the flight from Minneapolis Public Schools is the fact that parents feel they are treated as an after-thought and left in the dark as to how their children are doing:

“Lynda Nwonye is a downtown Minneapolis mom whose son is a fifth-grader at Best Academy, a charter school on the North Side. She moved him there because of her grievances over communication and other things with Minneapolis Public Schools, and said she won’t come back.

The thing that I really like about his school is they give you an overabundance of information,’ she said.”

These three reasons for the black flight from Minneapolis Public Schools are revealing, particularly when viewed in light of school finances.

According to the Minneapolis budget for FY 2017, the district spends almost $24,000 per student. Because many of the alternative schools to which black parents are sending their children are charter schools, the children automatically receive a cut in the tax funding spent on their education. As a 2014 research report explains, Minneapolis charter schools receive 34 percent less funding than their district counterparts. Based on current spending levels, parents that choose to send their student to a Minneapolis charter school take an automatic cut of over $8,000 in funding.

Clearly, black parents are recognizing that it is more valuable to provide their children with a better, safer education which they can actively monitor, rather than one which is amply funded, but doesn’t meet the aforementioned desires.

And as more parents march with their feet and choose alternatives, one can only wonder: Are the days of traditional public schools numbered? Is it time to rethink how we educate American children?

This post What’s Behind the Exodus of Black Students from Public Schools? was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Annie Holmquist.

This was reposted.  The original story was published on September 20, 2017

Greg Copeland Champion of All in His Neighborhood Since 1992

Many people who run for office are prodded by a sitting office holder to run to make sure they hold onto a majority in that organization.  These candidates are what one might call a placeholder.  NASCAR uses placeholders to make sure that some racers can’t get closer to the front–their real goal is to hold back others so that their team members can win the race.

Greg Copeland has lived in the Cook/Payne Avenue neighborhood since 1992 and even without running for office he still is a champion and fighter for his neighbors to live in a safe and secure neighborhood.

The following is from neighborhood of Payne-Phalen, written by Greg Copeland in response to an increase in criminal activity in his neighborhood.

“I have lived at my Cook Ave/Payne Ave home since 1992 my neighbor Mark and I are the only two homeowners from that time left on this short block between Edgerton St. & Payne Ave. My alley was blocked by crime tape for many hours over the weekend behind my place and my neighbors duplex and the homeowner across the alley who is next to 615 Lawson where multiple police units were present for hours blocking access from the Salvation Army Buildings on Payne through to Edgerton St. The SPPD Crime Data Base reported an “Aggravated Assault/ Firearm”. The owner boarded up three windows Monday.

Police Reports made two weeks before about possible criminal activity at this address were not responded to; subsequent contact made to the SPPD investigating officer regarding another crime in our neighborhood did not yield a return call; contact with the landlord at 615 Lawson just days before the throng of police arrived yielded only a “Thank you.” and “Would you like to buy it ?”

It is 1992 again. It is frustrating now for new homeowners and law abiding renters. When Norm Coleman was elected Mayor in 1993 there was a New, Close Partnership on the blocks where people organized to help the Police to aggressively work to shut down drug houses and street corner drug vendors, end prostitution, clean-up graffiti, enforce excessive noise laws against ghetto blasters and a host of other quality of life crimes. We then got the Mayor to help to convert multi-family rental buildings to single family rental homes, or bring them into homeownership.

In 1996 and 1997 I worked to get the first Ramsey County/Federal Community Development Block Grant funds invested in the City of Saint Paul spent to close a 24 unit alcohol rehab facility on Cook, and a new Habitat Home was built in its place; finally winning a battle the neighbors had fought unsuccessfully for the previous 20 years.

My point is WE, homeowners and renters, can beat the criminals, and the landlords that house them; but WE need more than hollow words and press releases from the Mayor’s Office to take back our neighborhoods again. City Hall has been chasing ribbon cuttings, rather than fighting criminals in our economically challenged neighborhoods where the crime tape appears with great regularity. Beating the criminals should become job one; but the current Mayor and his cronies, have other priorities, like getting Chris elected Governor. Citizens here know this current crop of City Hall politicians, who all come from a single political party, have to be true to their altar of political correctness that allows crime to spread unchecked and intimidates good citizens from calling 911 because they are scared the politicians won’t back the cops on the beat to do their jobs, or protect the citizens calling 911 for help to enforce the law.

In 2016 Saint Paul City Hall is delivering more crime, higher property taxes, while hiking city fees for roads as well as raising basic water rates 20% to residents on the East Side, Thomas-Dale, Summit-University, the North End and West Seventh neighborhoods where incomes are lower, and seniors and families are trying to just keep the bills paid.

Of course, City Hall will tell you crime is down; really!
If you want lower tax increases and less crime you should move to Summit Avenue; it is the price of admission that is the problem for working families and retirees modest means. The $356K median value home in Summit Hill is up 5.1% in market value will pay $105 in higher taxes or 1.9% more. Dayton’s Bluff homeowners with $109K median value homes will pay $144 more in taxes, a 12% tax hike!

In Saint Paul it’s true, the Poor get poorer while the Rich pay less; so much for all that liberal talk of “equity” and “lifting all boats” in a rising tide of government spending that does not deliver either safe streets or academically excellent public schools for our Saint Paul kids.

WE are not the problem! WE do pay the property taxes, and the water bills. WAKE UP SAINT PAUL! Property owners, and renters (Apartment Values up 21.4% city wide…higher rents will follow) you are being sold a fairy tale, that higher costs, higher taxes and less public services produce: America’s Most Livable City.”

A reply to Greg Copeland on the street after one of his neighbors read the post.  We are withholding the name of the person.

Greg Fighting for his Neighborhood for 20 years;  Battling Criminals Successfully, Despite Complacent  Politicians at City Hall. 

Greg is the Champion for Seniors and Families who deserve Peace of Mind, as well as  Protection and Security for their Families, and the Investment in their Homes.

Safe Neighborhoods and Secure Schools Require Safe Streets!

This article was originally published on October 14, 2016.  It’s title has been changed to renew it.  Some in the press will criticize my posts because they aren’t “new” though I offer light they offer the same vapid offerings with different dates and places.  The content hasn’t been changed other than the title ~~ Publius Jr.

It isn’t Logical to not teach Logic in Modern Schools

Logic is More Important than Ever – So Why Don’t Schools Teach it Anymore?

One of the great ironies of our age is that schools have stopped teaching logic in an age when it’s more necessary than ever.

We live in a time defined by vast information, mass marketing, and propaganda. It’s been 70 years since Dorothy Sayers observed that by teaching young men and women to read but not think, “we have left them at the mercy of the printed word.”  She continued:

“By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words. They do not know what the words mean; they do not know how to ward them off or blunt their edge or fling them back; they are a prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects.”

Unfortunately, things have only gotten more complicated since Sayers wrote these words in 1947. With the advent of TV, the internet, social media, and smart phones we’re peppered by a continual stream of messaging from people, corporations, and organizations. They tell us what to buy, desire, and think—all the time.

“There’s a clear need for people to think more clearly in modern life and they need the tools to do that,” says Stanford computer science professor Michael Genesereth, author of a new electronic textbook. “Logic is one of those tools. And the need for it grows more important as these kids move on to college.”

Despite this need, few people reading this article have a single school in their district that offers instruction in formal logic. Why?

In her essay, Sayers said the disrepute into which logic has fallen is “entirely unjustified.” But she offers two explanations for why it happened.

The first reason is that modern man has been led to believe that “we are conditioned almost entirely by the intuitive and the unconscious.” The second reason is we’ve come to believe that universal assumptions are either unprovable or mere tautologies.

Both arguments are weak, Sayers points out. The former is a self-fulfilling prophecy (is there a better way to create human drones than denying them the tools of reason?); the latter ignores the fact that logic is primarily a tool to detect and expose bad arguments, not a device to establish a perfect moral order.

There are many reasons to teach logic to young people: it improves speaking, reasoning, and civil discourse. On the other hand, I can’t identify a single valid reason to deny students instruction in logic.

In an era in which the phrase “fake news” is commonplace and demagogues spread falsehoods with shameless ease, the teaching of logic to young people would seem a no-brainer to Americans of every creed, ideology, and political party. Am I wrong?

This post Logic is More Important than Ever – So Why Don’t Schools Teach it Anymore? was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Jon Miltimore on August 7, 2017. Reposted by on August 15, 2017.

Raheem Williams: School Choice is not Racist

School Choice and Racism: A Myth Devoid of Context

There has been a lot of recent discussion on the racial impact of school choice. Critics have used research reports to corroborate their claims that school choice increases racial segregation. While these claims have a factual basis, they are in dire need of context.

School choice can increase racial segregation, but not for reasons anyone should fear.

First, we need to differentiate between de facto (by choice) and de jure (under law) segregation. People choose who to openly associate with. This is reflected in the neighborhoods they live in, the clubs they join, and where they choose to work. Forming groups is natural, though occasionally problematic.

As a nation, we fought hard against legal segregation—a fight school choice advocates have no intention of reviving. Today, it is illegal for public schools or schools that receive public funding to discriminate on the basis of race or disability (among numerous other traits). No credible proponents of school choice want to rollback these basic civil rights.

The documented increase in segregation as a by-product of choice exists in a different context than the racial issues of the civil rights era. Charter schools in urban minority neighborhoods often offer an alternative to failing traditional public schools. The harsh reality is that the traditional school district model has failed minorities. Therefore, it is not surprising that alternatives designed to offer more choices to parents and students have disproportionately attracted students of color.

In this way, the segregation effect is no more harmful than that of modern Historical Black Colleges/Universities (HBCU). With their traditional mission to serve black students, these institutions are embraced – not criticized – for the outcomes they offer a historically disadvantaged group. Similarly, the segregation effect of school choice should not be seen as an instrument of racism, but rather as progress against a failing of the traditional public school system.

While there is nothing inherently racist about school choice, there is a subtle, unintentional racism espoused by its opponents. In its purest form, school choice seeks to expand the number options available to all parents and students. However, wealthy families already can and often do practice school choice. They can afford to buy homes in areas with high-performing traditional public schools or send their kids to private school. Without school choice, students from low-income households cannot enjoy these same advantages.

There is a subtle racism built into the assumption that poor people should not be allowed to decide what is best for their kids—a luxury the rich already have. There is a subtle racism in demanding poor children, who are often people of color, be locked into schools we know are failing them.

We have a lot of problems to address in our education system, but racism in school choice is not one of them. It is not racist to extend privileges to the poor that the rich have enjoyed for centuries. It is not racist to increase the autonomy of families to make decisions about their children’s education. It is not racist to empower underprivileged minorities. School choice advocates do not want to destroy public education, they want to save it. In the various debates surrounding education reform, it is important to remember our shared goal. We want better schools that lead to more opportunities for all of America’s children.

[Image credit: By Jbak87 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons]

This post School Choice and Racism: A Myth Devoid of Context was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Raheem Williams.

This article was reposted from Intellectual Takeout, it was originally published on August 10, 2017.

Raheem Williams is an economic research specialist at the Center for the Study of Public Choice and Private Enterprise(PCPE) at North Dakota State University. He received his B.A. in economics at Florida International University and his M.A. in financial economics from the University of Detroit Mercy. He is the founder of “The Policy,” a forum that promotes public policy dialogue across socio-economic levels. You can find more from this author on the PCPE social mediaplatforms.

Is NPR Pushing Propaganda about the Benefits of Preschool?

 Annie Holmquist | May 4, 2017

The other day, NPR published an article on the benefits of Pre-K education. Highlighting a recent consensus statement on preschool released by The Brookings Institute, the article went bonkers on social media, presumably because of the following announcement:

“Some of the nation’s top researchers who’ve spent their careers studying early childhood education recently got together in Washington with one goal in mind: to cut through the fog of studies and the endless debates over the benefits of preschool.

They came away with one clear, strong message: Kids who attend public preschool programs are better prepared for kindergarten than kids who don’t.

Such a statement is true – the education experts did determine that preschool education does prepare children more effectively for kindergarten. What’s disturbing, however, is the information that NPR withheld from the thousands who read this statement.

According to the Brookings document, the jury is still out when it comes to knowing whether or not preschool education can help children in the years after kindergarten. Some evidence suggests it does. Other evidence suggests preschool has no effect either negative or positive on a child’s future school career. Still other evidence suggests that preschool has a decidedly negative effect. Studies in this latter category include the following:

  • A 2015 NBER paper found that children enrolled in a Canadian childcare program (similar to universal preschool) exhibited greater anxiety, aggression, and crime, while also enduring decreased health and life satisfaction in the 20 years after the study took place.
  • A 2015 Vanderbilt University study found that children enrolled in Tennessee’s state preschool program fell behind their non-preschool peers in both academic and cognitive measurements by the time they hit first, second, and third grade.

These findings are recent and quite troubling. What’s even more troubling, however, is the fact that NPR  – and other news organizations and public figures – seem to push these findings aside, boldly convincing the public that preschool education is a necessary and advantageous path to pursue. It’s as if they are desperate to get children into an institutional setting at the earliest possible age, regardless of whether such a setting is good for them or not.

But then, maybe that is the goal. Early 20th century Princeton professor and theologian J. Gresham Machen once noted:

“Place the lives of children in their formative years, despite the convictions of their parents, under the intimate control of experts appointed by the state, force them to attend schools where the higher aspirations of humanity are crushed out, and where the mind is filled with the materialism of the day, and it is difficult to see how even the remnants of liberty can subsist.”

Is Machen right? Could the effort to extol the benefits of preschool without considering all the evidence be simply another way to get children to march lockstep with the education system’s way of thinking at an ever earlier age?

Read other articles by Annie Holmquist

MELSA’s Transparent Language & Learning a Blessing to Many

Sometimes you don’ t have to look very far outside of a school to learn new things.  Not everything we adults have learned came from the inside of a classroom, sometimes having a zest for learning new things, new things just seem to find you.

If you attend any of the Metropolitan Libraries you may find MELSA’s (Metropolitan Library Service Agency) newest tools for flexible learning on your own time.  There are two such online tools that you can partake of for FREE. That’s right we said FREE.  They are Transparent Language and

Transparent Language

Transparent Language Online is a powerful language learning system that uses flashcards to teach you a set of words or phrases. It is the fastest possible way to lock foreign words and phrases in your long-term memory.

Once you have created your account you will be able to access Transparent Language Online from any computer with Internet access.
Subscription purchased by the Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA), with funding from state and federal tax revenues.

To access the Transparent Language Account Set Up click here. This access is from Ramsey County.

You will identify your current language then select from a huge array of languages the one you want to learn.  The education course has a tutorial how to use the software and how to interact with it.  You will need a headset with a microphone to practice the spoken word, otherwise you can go around that and listen and practice writing the new words.

It could be a way to help you to prepare for a vacation where English is not the first language spoken, or to converse with a new neighbor who immigrated legally to this country.

How Does One Navigate Transparent Language Online? teaches the latest software, creative, and business skills. Users will get unlimited access to a vast online library of high-quality, current, and engaging video tutorials taught by recognized experts and working professionals.

Use your library card to login to for free.

To use without the Library will cost you quite a bit.  Thanks to the Library system here and across the country you can learn the latest software for work, school, or just learning something new that is interesting to you.

This is from the About Us section of leading online learning platform that helps anyone learn business, software, technology and creative skills to achieve personal and professional goals. Through individual, corporate, academic and government subscriptions, members have access to the video library of engaging, top-quality courses taught by recognized industry experts.

For 20 years, has helped students, leaders, IT and design pros, project managers—anyone in any role—build software, creative, and business skills. Now part of LinkedIn, serves more than 10,000 organizations. With tutorials in five languages, is a global platform for success.

If you’re wondering what areas can instruct you in here are the categories:  Business, Design, Developer, IT, Marketing, Web, Photography, Video, Audio+Music, 3D+Animation, Education + Elearning, and CAD.

For each learning category there are three areas to explore: Topics, Software and Learning Paths.  In some categories there will be a Guide as well.

In each tutorial you’ll have a video and a text that is highlighted as the audio covers a topic.  You can stop it at any time and review what you just saw.

If say life interrupts your learning. You can log off where you are at and your account will list where you left off and resume after life has settled down.

The tutorials are by people who are credentialed in the field they are teaching.  As there is a need for new software or tools, more tutorials will be created.

The Library isn’t just about books only anymore…but it will always be about learning.  ~~ Publius Jr.




Carl Jackson: Why We Need to Make Politics Local Again

The following article is from the Black Community News website.  It was posted on November 21, 2016 by Carl Jackson.  See Greg Copeland’s comment in the Comment link with the article and included at the end of the article.  All politics is local, and when Congressional District candidates run on things outside the borders of the area they want to represent they create a disconnect from their voters.  What is important to us, might not be important to others around the state or the country.  The common denominator with Republicans is that more Government means less local freedom, so we are for less Government, more local freedom.  ~~ Publius Jr.

voting_3Despite a crushing defeat delivered to Democrats across the country on Election Day, the Democratic analyst sitting next to me at the local Fox television studio here in Orlando, Florida, who once worked as an upper-level staffer for outgoing Rep. Alan Grayson, remained hopeful and optimistic – actually, giddy might be a more accurate description. Another Democratic strategist, also in studio, was visibly upset by the election results but was determined to get right back into the fight. Why? Some local races were going their way.

It’s no accident that the left is out rioting and protesting the results of the Nov. 8 election. They’ve grown accustomed to getting their way over the last 10 years. It also should come as no surprise to us that they’re interested in dismantling the Electoral College, which gives every state a say in national elections no matter its size and population. Additionally, it helps preserve states’ rights and their self-identity by assuring that larger states like California, Texas, New York and Florida cannot shape the political narrative and culture for the rest of the country. However, what you may not realize is that when the left loses a national election, it doesn’t stop their agenda to form a socialist America from moving forward. It just slows it. That’s what I witnessed on full display in studio election night. The left lost big on Election Day, but like Arnold Schwarzenegger, they’ll be back.

I live in Seminole County, Florida, where 15 percent of registered Republicans and 27 percent of registered Democrats didn’t bother to vote in this election cycle because they weren’t excited about their choices for president. Obviously, Democrats sitting out the election at a higher percentage gave Donald Trump the advantage to win the White House, but the low turnout amongst Democrats also allowed Republicans to remain in charge of our state House and state Senate. That may not happen again.

My concern is that the reason so many voters decided to stay home, other than their lack of enthusiasm for our presidential picks, is because they simply don’t know which party runs the state Capitol. In other words, regardless of the impact and immediacy state and local races have on their everyday lives, federal campaigns were the determining factor for why they stayed home. Even though Republicans won most of their races, this is disconcerting to me because many local politicians are running their campaigns based upon national platforms that have little or nothing to do with local politics. This strategy consequently increases government overreach locally because voters aren’t aware whom to hold accountable at home when policies adversely affect their well-being. State politics too often mirror federal elections when the truth of the matter is federal campaigns should take their cue from states.

Based on the number of Democrats that sat out the Nov. 8 election in my county alone, it would be wise for Republicans to trumpet their accomplishments locally, loud and often. Never underestimate the ability of Democrats to quickly turn an entire state blue by enticing out-of-town residents to move into big cities where voters are concentrated. Cases in point: St. Louis, Missouri, Chicago, Illinois, Baltimore, Maryland, and we’re witnessing the same trend take affect here in Orlando’s Orange County where gentrification is on the rise downtown.

In a lengthy column posted on a couple weeks ago entitled “All Politics is National,” one of several charts they posted showed that only 76 percent of people polled could identify which party controlled the U.S. House. From that same group of voters, only 47 percent could tell them which party ran their statehouse. That’s a troubling trend for voters like myself that believe in states’ rights. It also explains why the Democratic strategist I mentioned earlier were still hopeful despite losing national elections big. They were comforted by the fact they made some unexpected gains locally and statewide.

As of Nov. 8 Republicans control 68 of 98 state legislative bodies and will occupy 33 of the 50 governor’s mansions. That’s a good thing! However, since voters are more aware of national politics and tend to ignore their local politics, all it takes is one national wave election to totally shift the mood and policies of our country. Frankly, the tendency to run national politics in local districts is a serious threat to the Tenth Amendment no matter which party is in charge.

Besides the ability to practice free religious expression and pursue any dream you hope to fulfill, part of the greatness of America is getting to experience and appreciate the uniqueness of our union from state to state. I’m sure you don’t travel to Texas to experience what it feels like to live in New York, do you? That would be silly! However, it’s exactly what the left wants.

To ignore state and local politics is to nullify American exceptionalism. As conservatives we can’t let that happen. Let’s vow to get to know all of our politicians from the county commissioner to the statehouse and to the White House, and I’ll see you back at the ballot box in 2018.

Originally published at

Photo credit: lettawren (Creative Commons) – Some rights reserved

CarlJacksonCarl Jackson is a radio talk show host – his web site is Media wishing to interview Carl Jackson, please contact

The views expressed in opinion articles are solely those of the author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by Black Community News.

Here is Greg Copeland’s Comment (also in the comments section above)


Carl Jackson is right!

Citizens that ignore their local governments will pay ever higher property taxes for less city services, and put their public school boards in the control of the teachers unions, where the students’ educational needs always come in second to the welfare of adults who work to their contract; not for the taxpayers and the children’s parents.

In my One-Party Town, billed as “the most livable city”, Saint Paul, Minnesota public school students are over 75% students of color as well as students whose families live in poverty, and their academic achievement gap in reading and math has been a national disgrace for at least a quarter century; but the liberal Democrat Mayor Chris Coleman, for all of his nearly dozen years in office, has routinely declared; ‘Closing the GAP Priority #1!’. The routine never ends and the teachers union rubber stamp school board routinely demands more money to spend on adults salaries which of course boosts pay checks, but with no boost in student academic scores.

Citizens need to wake up and vote out the fools on the rubber-stamp Teacher Union-Run Public Education Boards that perpetuate the cycle of Urban Poverty for our poor children caught on a Merry-Go-Round where there is no Public Accountability for the spending or the failure.

There’s Something Rotten at the 1050 Kent St Property

Yes Indeed there is something rotten at 1050 Kent. It is The Saint Paul School Board which has been bought and paid for by Education Minnesota and the Teachers Union Bosses in the Washington DC Headquarters which gave $100,000 to buy the Saint Paul School Board Majority in the 2015 Election, under a fraud on voters calling themselves: The Caucus For Change.

Ironically all four of these Caucus members voted to buy the Polluted Hazardous Industrial site at 1050 Kent, next to Lake Loeb in a residential North End Neighborhood, for $2 Million, after it stood abandoned for over 13 years.  The former industrial site owners admitted to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, MPCA, in 2006 about the pollution and created a ground water monitoring program to track the TOXIC Chemicals on-site and also placed a public deed restriction that would not allow any public school to be built on the property!!

The four so-called Geniuses installed by the Teachers Union ignored the sites Toxic Chemicals, and the pleas by the Neighborhood NOT to Build the $24 Million School on this polluted land. Known as the River East School, it is to be used exclusively for up to 80 students with a mental health diagnosis, served by a staff of 60, all whose health could be at risk given hours of exposure over a 180 day school year.

Now the Teachers Union has endorsed yet another candidate for School Board, Jeanelle Foster, who says she does not have enough information to oppose building the River East School on polluted land. Foster wants to join the quartet of hacks that voted, 4-2 to buy this industrial toxic chemical cesspool with its unknown future legal liability for St. Paul Taxpayers.

The last thing Saint Paul Students, Parents and Property Taxpayers need is another inexperienced novice on the School Board who does not know enough about how to evaluate a proposed multi-million dollar capital construction projects to cast a NO Vote to keep our disabled school children and our staffers safe!

River East School should not be built at 1050 Kent!  We need an independent school board member, who understands public construction projects as former six year member of the Saint Paul City Long Range Capital Budget Committee for over six years which oversaw the funding and/or building of the Wabasha Street Bridge as well as Arcade and Earl Street and the planning for Phalen Corridor as it’s Vice Chairman, Greg Copeland. Greg Copeland was also City Manager of Maplewood where he over saw millions in residential street reconstruction project and city building maintenance projects.

Under the mounting public pressure of Community Opposition and the November 8 2016 Special School Board Election the school board last week said after spending thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of staff time that it would delay the start of construction for one year.  A moral victory for Students, Staff and Taxpayers, but a “delay” is not a vote to rescind the Board’s Vote to spend $2 Million Dollars to buy this Toxic Site.

Greg Copeland has pledged he will make the motion to stop this public health and safety disaster and fiscal descent into a sinkhole of legal liability for city taxpayers if he is elected to the School Board on November 8th!

Saint Paul School Board Candidate

Pioneer Press St Paul School Board Candidates Survey on Greg Copeland

This was taken from the Pioneer Press Candidates Page ( for the Special Election for St Paul Public Schools Board of Education.  They did not post his picture even though they have had his photo on file back to 2013. ~~ Publius Jr.

Greg Copeland

  • Age: 62
  • What qualifies you to hold this position? Saint Paul Taxpayers need an Independent Advocate on the School Board to be their Watchdog and to blow the whistle on what has become a School Board that is the captive of the Teacher’s Union, which spent over $100,000 to buy four seats in the 2015 Election. Group-Think in our Public Schools does not embrace Our City’s Diversity.
  • What would your top priorities be if elected? 1. Hire a New Superintendent. 2. Create an Education Plan for each individual student to ensure their personal, academic & career goals will drive their course work. 3. No Property Tax Increase! Fund Student Achievement! Make Academics Priority #1 by cutting spending on Central Office Administration & The Million Dollar Race Equity Office.
  • What do you think is the primary role of government? Our Republic must preserve Liberty! Justice Charles Evans Hughes wrote; “… imperative is the need to preserve inviolate the constitutional rights of free speech, free press, and free assembly in order to maintain the opportunity for free political discussion to…be responsive to the will of the People, and that changes, …may be obtained…”
  • Website or contact:
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