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Barack Obama

A biography of Barack Obama designed for fourth graders and approved under the new federal Common Core curriculum standards portrays white voters as racists, hell bent on preventing Obama from becoming president.

The book in question, entitled “Barack Obama,” is published by Scholastic, and is now being read by elementary school students under the Common Core program, Red Flag News reports.

The book tells the story of Obama’s historic campaign to become the nation’s first black president. So far so good. But along the way the text paints white voters in a rather unflattering light: “Some people said Americans weren’t ready for that much change. Sure Barack was a nice fellow, they said. But white voters would never vote for a black president,” the book reads.

The book then mentions Obama’s former minister Jeremiah Wright: “Obama’s former pastor called the country a failure,” it reads. “God would damn the United States for mistreating its black citizens, he said.”

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The text makes no mention of the fact that millions of white voters did, in fact, vote for Obama. Nor does it mention that Obama distanced himself from Wright during his campaign.

With no real context provided for these assertions, it’s reasonable to assume that many nine or ten year old kids would simply take these assertions at face value, believing, for example, that “white voters would never vote for a black president.”

The Common Core standards, which the federal government has used to consolidate control over the curriculum that local schools use, have been controversial from the start, coming under fire for poor quality and political bias.

Examples of Common Core gone amuck include a 4th grade workbook that that depicts Uncle Sam as a father figure, holding a baby “citizen.” The workbook tells students that the government “is like a nation’s family,” and is there to protect and provide for citizens. Another Common Core text coaches students in ebonics, utilizing terms such as “Po Pimp” and “mobstaz.”

The “Barack Obama” biography is the just the latest example of how Common Core curriculum is being polluted by distortions of the facts and political bias. Worst of all, these standards are being nationalized. So they will affect students all across the country.

Nathan Harden is editor of The College Fix and author of the book SEX & GOD AT YALE: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad.

Follow Nathan on Twitter @NathanHarden

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OPINION: An increase in the minimum wage would actually hurt those who it seeks to help—poor people, young people and minorities

President Barack Obama recently made a full-throated appeal for an increase in the federal minimum wage, and thusly, both minimum wage hikers and minimum wage cutters are now lining up and girding their loins for a battle on the economic front.

In the pro-hike corner is University of Massachusetts-Amherst economist Arindrajit Dube, whose recent study shows that a minimum wage increase might be the magical elixir that the ailing economy needs to decrease unemployment and lower the nation’s poverty rate.

His study suggests that if Congress were to implement the president’s plan to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, an increase of 39 percent, it would essentially reduce the poverty rate.

The data, Dube says, shows that a minimum wage increase would jettison 4.6 million people out of poverty directly and, over time, eat away at the myriad number of the nation’s poor by 6.8 million.

In short, the UMass economist states, the economy and the well-being of low-wage workers would be greatly improved if Congress forced poor people to sell their labor at higher costs.

The irony, of course, is that an increase in the minimum wage would actually hurt those who it seeks to help—poor people, young people and minorities.

To wit, if the minimum wage is raised from $7.25 to $9.00 an hour–and foisted upon the people in any particular region–then, many economists argue, the necessary consequence will be new, more qualified applicants will emerge for the higher-paying jobs and erase the opportunities for those doing the labor in the first place. Again – poor people, young people and minorities.

Those who are on the lower rungs of the economic totem poll are the ones who suffer the consequences of a minimum wage increase.

Noted economist Robert Murphy recently echoed this sentiment in an article for Library of Economics and Liberty.

He said, among other things, that raising the minimum wage would likely induce harm to young teenagers and college students, all of whom lack workplace experience and market place skills, if “the specific employees who would be working for $10.10 an hour are different from those who would be working for $7.25 an hour.”

What is likely to happen, according to Murphy, is that the new $10.10 an hour wage would attract new workers into the labor pool, allowing firms to be pickier about those they employ, inevitably causing companies to leapfrog over some of the younger and inexperienced candidates.

At the end of the day, labor is, much like a gallon of milk or a car, a commodity with a price tag on it, meaning that it can be sold on the open market.

If the federal government mandates that it be priced at a higher level, then not only is the government making the price of doing business increase, but it is also essentially telling youngsters and disenfranchised minority groups to sell their labor for a higher price than what the market can abide.

The data appear to show that the young, poor and minorities need to be wary about calls to increase the federal minimum wage.

Which takes us back to Dube’s analysis of the data.

The nearly 40 percent minimum wage increase may decrease the poverty rate, but it’s at the expense of poor people, young people and minorities.

Economist David Neumark of the University of California-Irvine, conducted an exhaustive study last year showing that the 70 percent increase in the minimum wage in 2009 cost young people hundreds of thousands of jobs. The teen unemployment rate for September of 2009, shortly after he made his prediction, hit 25.9 percent (a quarter of all teenagers 15-20 years-old were unemployed), which was up from 23.9 percent in July of 2009.

Worse yet, Newmark’s data showed the unemployment rate for black people during that same interval went up from 39 percent in July of 2009 to an astonishing 50.1 percent after the minimum wage increase.

It is important to note that a sky high unemployment rate for teenagers and early 20-somethings spells ruin for future generations because prosperity for individuals is accumulated over a period of time through vast amounts of experience in the work force.

In other words, the longer the young are unemployed, the longer it takes for them to become productive members of the American economy.

College Fix contributor Christopher White is a University of Missouri graduate student and an editorial assistant for The College Fix.

IMAGE: Trusty Pics / Flickr

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President Barack Obama touched on his education plans for the upcoming year in the annual State of the Union address Tuesday, but his comments largely ignored looming problems facing students and schools, included several misleading comments, and promised grandiose – yet underfunded – proposals.

Here is a breakdown of the president’s rhetoric:

Higher Ed Crisis – What Crisis?

The president did not address with any substance the so-called higher education bubble, which refers to the unsustainable combination of several factors, such as the rising cost of tuition, ballooning student loan debt, and skyrocketing unemployment for college grads.

But he did take credit for bringing about solutions with regard to a crisis last summer spawning from the expiration of the government subsidy of Stafford student loans, which would have doubled the current interest rates for the loans from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.

However, Congressional gridlock had yielded way to a Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013, which tied “federal student loan interest rates to financial markets” and allowed for “interest rates [to] be determined each June for new loans being made for the upcoming award year, which runs from July 1 to the following June 30.”

“We worked with lenders to reform student loans, and today, more young people are earning college degrees than ever before,” the president stated.

The bill also gave “millions the opportunity to cap their monthly student loan payments to ten percent of their income,” said the president, “and I want to work with Congress to see how we can help even more Americans who feel trapped by student loan debt.”

The numbers tell a different story, however.

Despite the reforms, “default rates rose for the sixth year in a row,” reported Equal Justice Works, a nonprofit advocacy group that seeks to reduce educational debt for students. 

Race to the Top

President Obama revisited Race to the Top, a K-12 federal education reform program that aims to be “a competitive grant program designed to encourage and reward states that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform.”

The program was signed into law as part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, with a budget of $4.35 billion. In 2011, the president requested an additional $1.35 billion in funding for the program.

According to the president, the program has been a success since its inception.

“Teachers and principals in schools from Tennessee to Washington, D.C. are making big strides in preparing students with skills for the new economy – problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering, and math,” the president said.

He made no mention of the massive criticism it has garnered from many economic and educational institutions.

Elaine Weiss, of the Economic Policy Institute, says the program’s “policies fall short on teacher improvement and fail to address core drivers of opportunity gaps,” resulting in “shortcomings [that] have spurred state–district and union–management conflicts that hinder progress.”

Nationwide Pre-K

The president continued to push for universal preschool.

“Last year, I asked this Congress to help states make high-quality pre-K available to every 4-year-old,” Obama said. “As a parent as well as a president, I repeat that request tonight.”

Sounds nice, but there’s no money for it.

A democrat-sponsored bill, A Strong Start for America’s Children Act of 2013, was introduced to the House of Representatives last November seeking to implement Obama’s request by “establish[ing] a federal-state partnership to provide access to high-quality public prekindergarten programs for all children from low-income and moderate-income families.”

It remains in legislative limbo, as questions over funding for the program have proven to be a significant roadblock for the Obama administration. So now there’s talk of robbing other coffers to fund the effort, and sidestepping Congress altogether to make it happen.

Last April, the Huffington Post reported that the administration had proposed “plans to foot the bill for a major new pre-kindergarten program in part with an increase in tobacco taxes.”

The proposition was shot down in Congress, leaving the administration to look toward “discretionary funding allocations in Race to The Top, a federal education grant to the states, and even Obamacare,” reported Robby Soave in The Daily Caller.

Since last year’s State of the Union address, 30 states have individually raised funding for pre-K classes, according to the president during his address.

However, it is not enough, “and as Congress decides what it’s going to do, I’m going to pull together a coalition of elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropists willing to help more kids access the high-quality pre-K they need,” the president stated.

Fast Internet For All

Obama revisited another plan from his 2013 State of the Union address, once again asking Congress for their aid in making high-speed Internet available to 99 percent of the nation’s students.

The president’s plan, known as ConnectEd, seeks to “foster a robust ecosystem for digital learning” and “make our schools an integral part of the broadband and technology transformation.”

“Tonight, I can announce that with the support of the FCC and companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint and Verizon, we’ve got a down payment to start connecting more than 15,000 schools and 20 million students over the next two years, without adding a dime to the deficit,” the president said.

Oh, really?

According to tax reporter Kelly Phillips Erb of Forbes, the program is slated to cost between $4 billion and $6 billion.

“But the administration has a plan to pay for it: raise fees on cell phone users,” Phillips Erb reported. “[It] could result in as much as $12 in increased fees for cell phone customers over three years.”

The Federal Communications Commission would determine the increase in tax, bypassing Congress.

Although the commission has yet to make a decision on the tax increase, the chairman Thomas Wheeler issued a statement in support of ConnectED following the address, stating,:“The Federal Communications Commission shares the president’s commitment to seizing the opportunities of digital learning, which is why we’ve already launched an effort to modernize our successful E-Rate program – the nation’s largest education technology program.”

E-rate is a part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act signed by President Clinton, helping “schools and libraries obtain access to state of the art services and technologies at discounted rates.”

The president concluded the education portion of the address by stating: “The bottom line is, Michelle and I want every child to have the same chance this country gave us.”

College Fix contributor Julianne Stanford is a student at the University of Arizona.

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Barack Obama may be the first black president of the United States of America, but his presidency has not solved or eased longstanding racial tensions in this country.

That according to Arizona State University history professor Matthew Whitaker, who said in a speech Friday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that America is at a “fork in the road” regarding social justice and equal rights.

The balance favors those who put Obama in office, he said.

He cited the coalition of the population who elected Obama, and said they are not going to slow down, but will grow in number and influence.

As a result, Whitaker called Obama the “architect of the new America” in regard to the future of politics.

Whitaker’s address, titled “Race and Region in the Age of Obama” launched by recalling Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, which the scholar described as warm, touching and relatable. But he told his audience that it was also meant to challenge imperialism and militarism.

The ASU professor commented that many have a new vision of race relations as a result of Obama’s election, but Whitaker suggested improvement of race relations in America has not been achieved under Obama.

He said African Americans are still not free, but progress and equality in some measure can be seen.

As a historian, Whitaker said that through the Founding Father’s study and readings of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, revolutionary values eluded people of color, women, and the unwanted.

A vision of equality eventually exploded, he said, as a result of these values in 1861 at the start of the Civil War.

After the Civil War, a new kind of resistance to people of color led to what Whitaker described as “virtual slavery” at the turn of the century, to which it would take another century before this began to change.

Professor Whitaker claims that Obama’s election signifies that change in society, calling the electorate an “astringent” because they bring to the surface the imperfections in the American society.

The event was hosted by the University of Arizona Africana Studies Program, in which they described the address as a “provocative discussion” regarding the need for interracial alliances and activism to promote progress in social justice and race relations.

Whitaker is also the author of “Peace Be Still: Modern Black America from World War II to Barack Obama.”

College Fix contributor Katie Jones is a student at the University of Arizona.

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A new book written by Ian Haney López, a UC Berkeley law professor, claims Republican politicians use a discreet racist language to speak to white voters and gain their support.

“Campaigning for president in 1980, Ronald Reagan told stories of Cadillac-driving ‘welfare queens’ and ‘strapping young bucks’ buying T-bone steaks with food stamps,” states the Amazon description of the book. “In trumpeting these tales of welfare run amok, Reagan never needed to mention race, because he was blowing a dog whistle: sending a message about racial minorities inaudible on one level, but clearly heard on another. In doing so, he tapped into a long political tradition that started with George Wallace and Richard Nixon, and is more relevant than ever in the age of the Tea Party and the first black president.”

The description continues:

In Dog Whistle Politics, Ian Haney López offers a sweeping account of how politicians and plutocrats deploy veiled racial appeals to persuade white voters to support policies that favor the extremely rich yet threaten their own interests. Dog whistle appeals generate middle-class enthusiasm for political candidates who promise to crack down on crime, curb undocumented immigration, and protect the heartland against Islamic infiltration, but ultimately vote to slash taxes for the rich, give corporations regulatory control over industry and financial markets, and aggressively curtail social services. White voters, convinced by powerful interests that minorities are their true enemies, fail to see the connection between the political agendas they support and the surging wealth inequality that takes an increasing toll on their lives. The tactic continues at full force, with the Republican Party using racial provocations to drum up enthusiasm for weakening unions and public pensions, defunding public schools, and opposing health care reform.

In short, to this professor, white voters are simpletons with racist tendencies who are tricked by evil, greedy Republican politicians:

Crack down on crime?” = A secretly racist phrase that appeals to white voters. (Not just what it says – crack down on crime).

Curb undocumented immigration?” = A secretly racist phrase that appeals to white voters. (Not honor and obey the laws of this land).

Protect the heartland against Islamic infiltration?” = A secretly racist phrase that appeals to white voters. (Not put the U.S. Constitution before Sharia Law).

White voters, convinced by powerful interests that minorities are their true enemies, fail to see the connection between the political agendas they support and the surging wealth inequality that takes an increasing toll on their lives?” = White voters are stupid racists who can’t comprehend how this country should operate, financially and otherwise. (Not that most conservative voters believe it’s the victimization mentality and corresponding social policies of Democrats that have bled this country dry).

The tactic continues at full force, with the Republican Party using racial provocations to drum up enthusiasm for weakening unions and public pensions, defunding public schools, and opposing health care reform?” = Republicans/white voters are racists who hate teachers and cops and want poor people to die in the streets. (Not ballooning pensions are bankrupting cities across this nation, teachers unions are protecting the very worst in the field, and the Affordable Care Act is so bad it’s literally imploding on itself).

The professor told Democracy Now:

“The point of this sort of analysis is not to say, ‘Hey, there’s a lot of racism against minorities.’ Yes, that’s a problem, but what’s core here is that this sort of racism is being used to fool a lot of whites into voting for Republicans whose main allegiance is to corporate interests. Right? And so, I really want to emphasize this point: This is about race, but this is about race as it affects all of us; this is about race as it wrecks the whole middle class.”

Haney López is billed as “one of the nation’s leading thinkers on how racism has evolved in the United States since the civil rights era.” His UC Berkeley faculty website claims Dog Whistle Politics “lays bare how conservative politicians exploit racial pandering to convince many voters to support policies that ultimately favor the very rich and hurt everyone else.”

I think it lays bare just how far the divide is between average Americans and the professors who claim to know so much about our country. Haney Lopez’s viewpoint is not uncommon among higher education scholars across the nation, the ones teaching our young people!

IMAGE: Scrmgenie/Flickr

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A Youth Misery Index that measures young Americans’ woes has skyrocketed under President Barack Obama and hit an all-time high.

The index, released Wednesday, was calculated by adding youth unemployment and average college loan debt figures with each person’s share of the national debt. While it has steadily grown over the decades, under Obama the figure has shot up dramatically, from 83.5 in 2009 to 98.6 in 2013.

The index has increased by 18.1 percent since Obama took office, the highest increase under any president, making Obama the worst president for youth economic opportunity, according to the nonprofit that released the figure.

“Young people are suffering under this economy,” said Ashley Pratte, program officer for Young America’s Foundation, which developed the index and calculates it annually using federal statistics. “They’re still living in their parent’s basements, unable to find full-time jobs that pay them what they need in order to pay back their debt.”

Youth unemployment in 2013 was 16.3 percent, and student loan debt came in at a record-breaking average of $29,400 last year, the foundation points out; what’s more, each person’s share of the roughly $17 trillion dollar national debt stands at its highest level ever: $52,948.YMI.YAF

“We are racking up this huge tab,” Pratte said in an interview Wednesday with The College Fix. “Young people have no part of this debt, but it’s the generation that has to deal with it.”

The foundation added 16.3, which represents youth unemployment, with 29.4 – the average 4-year- college loan debt – and 52.9, each person’s national debt burden, to generate its 2013 figure of 98.6.

In 2012 it was 95.1, and the year before that 90.6. When Obama first took office in 2009, it was 83.5.

When President George Bush left office in 2008 – the index was 69.3. When the figure debuted in 1993, it came in at 53.1.

The foundation argues “there appears to be a statistically significant relationship between government expenditures and the Youth Misery Index.”

“Under the Obama administration alone, the YMI has increased by 18.1 percent, the highest increase under any president, making Obama the worst president for youth economic opportunity—not quite the hope and change many young people were looking for.”

Pratte said this represents a prime opportunity for conservatives.

“This entitlement society is perpetuated by the Obama administration,” she said. “You want health care, we’ll give it to you for free. That was a promise, and young people are inclined to expect these things.”

“When they realize, ultimately, they have to pay for it, this is an opportunity for conservatives to get their message out there. … Young people are really adverse to government intrusion.”

IMAGE: Young America’s Foundation

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