The 529 Plan Expansion

Recall that the tax reform enacted last December expanded the usability of 529 Plans to include expenses for K-12 education.  Now some are worried that this will harm State tax collections.  It’s a bogus beef on a number of fronts.

In December, as part of a broad tax overhaul, Congress expanded the accounts to cover up to $10,000 a year in expenses for kindergarten through 12th grade.

State budget officials are now concerned that a large number of parents will use 529 accounts to pay private-school tuition, giving them a new write-off for their state taxes.

A Presidential Library

Ex-President Barack Obama (D) plans to build a Presidential library in Chicago, and he’s looking at a non-standard concept for his library.  The folks on the Left don’t like it, as exemplified by the Chicago Tribune‘s Ron Grossman.

It seems the proposed library has a test kitchen in it, in which FLOTUS’ views of proper nutrition can be explored.  There’s also supposedly room for a yoga center; although, that’s not defined in the architectural plans.  The horror.  How unpresidential.  How unlibraryish.  Grossman bleated

President Obama, is that how you want to be remembered? As the healthy-eating and meditation-advocating president?

There’s More To It

As part of the (actually quite minor) snafu wherein the House and Senate passed trivially different versions of the tax reform bill, the Senate’s Parliamentarian ruled that 529 Savings Plans—modified by the tax bill to be usable for K-12 as well as secondary education expenses—cannot be used, on a straight majority vote, for K-12 homeschooling, even though formally schooled K-12 children and their parents can use the Plans.  Two icons of Progressive Democracy, Senators Bernie Sanders (I, VT) and Ron Wyden (D, OR), had objected and raised the matter to the Parliamentarian.

Job Cut Worries

The Left has them in the Department of Education.  It seems that the DoEd is sharply cutting back staff in its Office for Civil Rights.

[C]ritics say the move will blunt the office’s response to issues like sexual assault on college campuses and racial discrimination in public schools.

And

Some civil rights advocates are…saying the buyouts [to encourage departure] are determined by department chiefs who they say are targeting the civil rights office.

I certainly hope so.

Law enforcement and crime, including sexual assault, are matters for the police and the DoJ.  DoJ also has its own civil rights section. DoEd has—or should have—nothing to say on these matters.

Safe Spaces and Timidity

Antonia Okofor is an advocate for empowering women, and she argues that the 2nd Amendment is a valuable tool in the empowerment.

She was scheduled to speak at two Liberal (note: not Liberal Arts—they’ve long ago lost that breadth) colleges, Hampshire College and Mount Holyoke.

Hampshire College canceled Okofor’s engagement on short notice—two hours’ notice—claiming that her speech was “too controversial.”  Then the place thought better of its excuse and claimed the trivial technicality of a student application not being complete as the premise for canceling.  This is nonsense: if that had been the reason, school management would have said so in the first place.  On the other hand, the lack of dotted i’s and crossed t’s would have been just as indefensible as an excuse.  This is fear, instead, fear of a better argument.

Higher Education Improvement

The Wall Street Journal has a summary of the House’s The Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity Through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act, to be proposed this week.  It’s aimed at

filling that gap [in college graduates’ skills, with 6 million jobs left begging] by both deregulating parts of the sector and laying the conditions for shorter, faster pathways to the workforce. The act focuses on ensuring students don’t just enroll in school, but actually graduate with skills that the labor market is seeking.

Highlights include these:

Cornell Professors

apparently support racism and racist stereotyping.

Recall that George Ciccariello-Maher, Associate Professor of Politics and Global Studies at Drexel University, routinely says it’s whiteness, white victimization, all things white that are at fault for mass shootings and violence generally. For instance, this in an interview with Democracy Now!

Whiteness is never seen as a cause, in and of itself, of these kinds of massacres despite the fact that whiteness is a structure of privilege and it’s a structure of power, and a structure that, when it feels threatened, you know, lashes out.

What makes white men so prone to this kind of behavior?

Frightening the Snowflakes

It seems a Cambridge University professor had the effrontery to warn new students of a class of his—Physical Sciences—that life is hard and that it’s harder when you’re stupid.  For instance, this in an email that he sent to his incoming students:

Remember that you are NOT at any other uni, where students do drink a lot and do have what they regard as a ‘good time’—and you are NOT on a course, as some Cambridge courses sadly are, where such a behaviour pattern is possible or acceptable.

Oh, the wailing and bodice rending that resulted.

College Entrance Criteria

In an op-ed nominally centered on the failure of affirmative action in college admissions, John Katzman (o Noodle CEO and Princeton Review and 2U founder) and Steve Cohen (co-author of Getting In! The Zinch Guide to College Admissions & Financial Aid in the Digital Age) wrote this.

But the work of admissions officers is more complicated than finding the highest test scores. …. They want to put together an incoming freshman class that has aspiring journalists for the school newspaper, great athletes for all the teams, debaters, musicians, actors, dancers, legacies, and development prospects.

Free Speech at the Universities

Kent Fuchs, University of Florida President, and Glenn Altschuler, Cornell Professor of American Studies, have some…interesting…thoughts on this in their recent Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Public universities that choose to grant access to speakers who are not invited or affiliated with the institution are legally obligated to accept all such speakers. As a result, they may become hostage to Nazis or other extremists—forced to stand by as these groups capitalize on their university’s visibility and prestige to amplify their vile messages.

Fuchs and Altschuler wrote that as if it were a bad thing.  I have to ask: why are they so terrified of a contest of ideas in an open, public forum?