Hilary White

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Eliminating feminist teacher bias erases boys' falling grades, study finds

Hilary White
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January 17, 2013,  (LifeSiteNews.com) – Has the Sexual Revolution, and the feminist ideology that drives it, pushed men out of universities by undermining boys in school as early as kindergarten? Some writers are beginning to connect the dots between the shift over the last few decades in educational practices from fact-based grading to evaluation based on “non-cognitive” and “emotional skills” and the drop in school performance of boys.

In the 1970s, feminist critics regularly complained that the school system favored “male thinking.” Facts, dates, rote learning, and math skills that were seen as “too masculine” for girls. In the intervening decades, feminists have made huge strides throughout the Western world, and education – particularly in the training of teachers – has been transformed as a result.

That most government policy makers and academics accept this as an unqualified success has left bewilderment as to how the new, more “fair” teaching styles have resulted in poor outcomes for boys and ultimately for the men they must become.

A five-year research project, funded by the Departments of Education and Justice in Northern Ireland, has just been released that found “systemic flaws” in the way students are evaluated that leave boys disadvantaged. Boys from poor neighbourhoods in Belfast and other cities are especially vulnerable to learning underachievement and health problems.

Dr. Ken Harland and Sam McCready from the University of Ulster said that the problem has been clear for “several decades,” but that “it was extremely difficult for the research team to find specific strategies addressing boys’ underachievement.”

“Although teachers who were interviewed as part of this study recognised the predominance of boys with lower academic achievement, they generally did not take this into account in terms of learning styles or teaching approaches,” he said.

The Belfast Telegraph quoted a pupil who told the researchers, “Teachers should understand better the way boys think and why they do some things. They’re out of touch.”

The problem of boys’ underachievement in primary and secondary school follows them into their later lives. Research from 2006 has tracked the decline in male academic performance over the same period as the rise of feminist-dominated ideologies in academia and policymaking.

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The ratio of males to females graduating from a four-year college stood at 1.60 in 1960, fell to parity by 1980, and continued its decline until by 2003, there were 135 females for every 100 males who graduated from a four-year college. Another study found that half of the current gender gap in college attendance can be linked to lower rates of high-school graduation among males, particularly for young black men.

The work of one American researcher may offer clues to the question of why and how. Professor Christopher Cornwell at the University of Georgia has found that a heavily feminist-driven education paradigm systematically favours girls and disadvantages boys from their first days in school.

Examining student test scores and grades of children in kindergarten through fifth grade, Cornwell found that boys in all racial categories are not being “commensurately graded by their teachers” in any subject “as their test scores would predict.”

The answer lies in the way teachers, who are statistically mostly women, evaluate students without reference to objective test scores. Boys are regularly graded well below their actual academic performance.

Boys are falling significantly behind in grades, “despite performing as least as well as girls on math tests, and significantly better on science tests.”

After fifth grade, he found, student assessment becomes a matter of “a teacher’s subjective assessment of the student’s performance,” and is further removed from the guidance of objective test results. Teachers, he says, tend to assess students on non-cognitive, “socio-emotional skills.” This has had a significant impact on boys’ later achievement because, while objective test scores are important, it is teacher-assigned grades that determine a child’s future with class placement, high school graduation and college admissibility.

Eliminating the factor of “non-cognitive skills…almost eliminates the estimated gender gap in reading grades,” Cornwell found. He said he found it “surprising” that although boys out-perform girls on math and science test scores, girls out-perform boys on teacher-assigned grades.

In science and general knowledge, as in math skills, the data showed that kindergarten and first grade white boys’ grades “are lower by 0.11 and 0.06 standard deviations, even though their test scores are higher.” This disparity continues and grows through to the fifth grade, with white boys and girls being graded similarly, “but the disparity between their test performance and teacher assessment grows.”

The disparity between the sexes in school achievement also far outstrips the disparity between ethnicities. Cornwell notes that “the girl-boy gap in reading grades is over 300 percent larger than the white-black reading gap,” and boy-girl gap is about 40 percent larger than the white-black grade gaps.

“From kindergarten to fifth grade,” he found, “the top half of the test-score distribution” among whites is increasingly populated by boys, “while the grade distribution provides no corresponding evidence that boys are out-performing girls”.

These disparities are “even sharper for black and Hispanic children” with the “misalignment of grades with test scores steadily increases as black and Hispanic students advance in school.”

The study, he said, shows that “teachers’ assessments are not aligned with test-score data, with greater gender disparities in appearing in grading than testing outcomes”. And the “gender disparity” always favours girls.

The American thinker Christina Hoff Sommers, author of the book The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men, wrote that “the idea that schools and society grind girls down has given rise to an array of laws and policies intended to curtail the advantage boys have and to redress the harm done to girls.”

Sommers wrote in The Atlantic,“These are things everyone is presumed to know. But they are not true.” She notes an incident at New York’s tony Scarsdale High School in which, at a conference on student achievement, a male student presented evidence from the school’s own records showing that far from being pressed down, girls were far outstripping boys.

When the teachers checked the student’s data, “they found little or no difference in the grades of boys and girls in advanced-placement social-studies classes. But in standard classes the girls were doing a lot better.” The revelations, she said, were not well received. Scarsdale is a school that has thoroughly accepted the received wisdom that that girls are systematically deprived, and this belief has led their gender-equity committee to offer a special senior elective on gender equity that continues to preach the message.

“Why has that belief persisted, enshrined in law, encoded in governmental and school policies, despite overwhelming evidence against it?” Sommers traces it back to the work of one academic feminist, Carol Gilligan, a pioneer of “gender studies” at Harvard University. Gilligan’s speculations launched a veritable industry of feminist writers, citing little or no reviewable data, lamenting the plight of girls “drowning or disappearing” in the “sea of Western culture”

“Most of Gilligan’s published research, however,” Sommers points out, “consists of anecdotes based on a small number of interviews.”

Sommers has identified the work of Gilligan and her followers as “politics dressed up as science” and points out that she has never released any of the data supporting her main theses. Nevertheless, the idea that girls are lagging behind boys continues to lead the discussion at nearly every level of public policy on education, and not only in the U.S.

The global reach of American left-wing feminism has led to similar changes, and similar outcomes, in nearly every Western nation.

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Cardinal Renato Martino
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Church doctrine on marriage ‘cannot change’, but some bishops will try: Cardinal Martino

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By Hilary White

In a lengthy interview in an Italian Catholic paper, a former Vatican ambassador to the UN has said that any change to the Catholic doctrines surrounding marriage and sexuality is impossible. Cardinal Renato Martino has joined an impressive list of high-ranking prelates to say that the Synod cannot alter Catholic doctrine.

The cardinal told La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana there will “certainly” be presentations from bishops at the Synod “that do not correspond with the doctrine of the Church, but in the end, it will not be able but to reaffirm what the Church has always said about the family.”

“The Church cannot change what it has always proclaimed,” said Martino, a veteran of many battles to defend the unborn and the natural family at the international level.

“I believe that the Synod will be an opportunity to throw down the challenge – the Church’s traditional teaching on the family will be made clear,” the cardinal said.

He said he is “tranquil” as to the outcome of the Synod, which normally results in an apostolic exhortation, written in the name of the pope, but expressing the opinion of the assembled bishops.

A meeting of cardinals in February sparked an ongoing uproar throughout the Church when Cardinal Walter Kasper, who had been hand picked by Pope Francis to present the keynote address, suggested a “solution” for Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried, to allow them to return to the reception of Communion without changing their lifestyles.

The Church, however, has always taught, in keeping with the words of Jesus in the Gospel, that marriage is a permanent state that can only be dissolved by the death of one of the spouses. A civilly remarried person is, in the eyes of the Church, in a state of mortal sin as an adulterer, and cannot receive Communion until he has repented and received the sacrament of reconciliation. The suggestion has since been furiously denounced by leading prelates as impossible and a “solution” that would be disastrous for both the Church and for the spiritual state of the Catholics involved.

Martino affirmed that he knows the pope well, saying, “I believe that Francis is a lot like John Paul II, in faithfulness to the Church’s teaching. For Francis, the family is fundamental too. Moreover, a Pope cannot do new things, never before heard of. It is only the style that changes, but the doctrine is what it is and the pope must proclaim it.” 

Catholic teaching and Catholic practice are two different matters, however, and some are expressing concerns that a de facto change could be achieved simply by attrition. Patrick Archbold, a Catholic blogger and columnist for the National Catholic Register, warned that the application of the teaching is likely to be left in the hands of the very bishops and national conferences who have been agitating for change.

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Archbold expressed fears, coming from many quarters, that the Synod could easily be a replay of the debacle over the Church’s teaching on contraception. In 1968, Pope Paul VI clearly laid out the doctrine on birth control in the encyclical Humanae Vitae, but it was ignored and undermined in practice by bishops at the local level for the next five decades, with the pulpits remaining silent as the Sexual Revolution charged forward.

Archbold writes at his blog, Creative Minority Report, “When introducing doctrine-undermining change into the Church, the last thing you want is to be clear that is what you are doing.”

Instead of any explicit departure from the Church’s teaching, he said he expects a document that will “include language about the pastoral care of souls in troubled situations, but it will be generally orthodox.”

“But at some point…they will recommend the Bishops conferences to study and implement pastoral guidelines to help those in this situation.” These are the same bishops conferences, he said, who have made laxity in teaching on sexual morals the norm throughout the Church.

He expects, “No mandate, no direct assertions on what to do, but just a call for Bishop conferences to study the problem and implement pastoral practices in line with the synodal documents. That is when the horse will be permanently out of the barn.”

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Gov report: 1,036 ObamaCare plans illegally fund abortions

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By Dustin Siggins

Co-written by Ben Johnson

An internal government watchdog agency has found that – despite promises from President Obama and legal language in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – some 1,036 ObamaCare insurance plans are illegally paying for elective abortions.

The Affordable Care Act requires that insurance companies take up a separate, $1 surcharge to cover abortion. However, the majority of the issuers examined by GAO violate the payment structure, and use federal health care subsidies to cover elective abortions.

“Every ObamaCare taxpayer subsidized health insurance plan in New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island and Hawaii pays for abortion-on-demand,” said the office of Congressman Chris Smith, R-NJ, the co-chairman of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.

On Monday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that out of 18 insurance issuers it sampled for the report, 15 "indicated that the benefit [of abortion] is not subject to any restrictions, limitations, or exclusions." The issuers provide "nearly one-quarter of [qualified health plans] covering non-excepted abortion services" in 28 states that do not restrict abortion coverage via health insurance plans more than the ACA.

The pro-life movement expressed outrage at the violation of the law.

Mary Harned, staff counsel for Americans United for Life (AUL), said that the ACA's language "is unambiguous – 'separate payments' are required. Yet insurance issuers are not collecting separate payments. In fact, the Obama administration is telling issuers that they do not need to collect two checks. When issuers seek guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), they are told that they can merely itemize the amount of a premium that will be used to pay for abortions."

The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) responded to the GAO's revelation by saying it will try to offer clearer explanations of the rules.

But Harned said the government is deliberately allowing states to skirt the law. "GAO uncovered evidence that at least one state department of insurance was unaware that issuers needed to file their plans for segregating the abortion premium from taxpayer funds with the state. At least two issuers indicated that they had not filed segregation plans, and at least one was not aware of any direction by the state to file such a plan.”

Americans should not have to finance abortion unwittingly through their insurance premiums, pro-life leaders said – a fact already codified into law.

“The American people should not be forced to purchase an Obamacare health care plan before they are able to find out what is in it,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “Americans should not be forced to play a game of moral Russian roulette when they select a health care plan.”

Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser said that “ObamaCare breaks from the long tradition of the Hyde Amendment, which has prevented taxpayer funding of abortion with broad public support, and was not included in the law.”

She added that the disclosure proves that several vulnerable Democratic senators "voted for taxpayer funding of abortion in ObamaCare."

National Right to Life Committee Legislative Director Douglas Johnson agreed, “Those really responsible for this scandal are the lawmakers, such as Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Begich of Alaska, and Mark Udall of Colorado, who voted against the pro-life amendment that would have prevented this massive federal funding of abortion-covering plans, as well as those who voted to enact the bill after the amendment was rejected, such as Mark Pryor of Arkansas.”

Dannenfelser, Perkins, and others says that Congress should correct this situation by passing the "No Taxpayer Founding of Abortion Act," introduced by Congressman Smith.

In a series of statements, Republican House leaders condemned the government funding of abortion.

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House Speaker John Boehner said that the Obama administration “repeatedly denied congressional requests for its public release.”

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana said, "Many of us argued at the time ObamaCare passed that it would funnel taxpayer dollars to elective abortions, despite President Obama’s repeated broken promises to the contrary. This independent report validates our claims and proves that yet another ObamaCare promise has been broken.”

He called the news "the most recent in a string of ObamaCare broken promises to the American people."

The Obama administration has side-stepped the issue of which ObamaCare plans fund abortion since the passage of the ACA. Last October, and again in December, then-HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was grilled by pro-life Congressmen about whether Americans would be able to determine if their insurance plan funds abortion.

“I don’t know," Sebelius answered. "I know exactly the issue you’re talking about. I will check and make sure that is clearly identifiable.”

Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, said, “For a president who claims to pursue the most transparent administration, he continues to reject calls to shed light on what exactly is in plans on the health care exchange.”

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Lisa Bourne

Catholic Relief Services: We’re ‘proud’ that we don’t discuss faith

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By Lisa Bourne

While some pro-life activists are criticizing Catholic Relief Services (CRS) after a high-ranking executive said last month that the agency is “proud” they do not discuss faith with the people they serve, CRS itself is defending the statement, saying it was misinterpreted. 

The controversy began when Bill O’Keefe, CRS’ vice-president for government relations and advocacy, told CNN’s Belief Blog, “We assist people of all backgrounds and religions and we do not attempt to engage in discussions of faith."

“We’re proud of that. We like to say that we assist everybody because we’re Catholic, we don’t assist people to become Catholic,” he added in the August 9 piece.

“We assist people of all backgrounds and religions and we do not attempt to engage in discussions of faith."

The statement drew criticism from Catholic pro-life and pro-family groups, who said the comments are another sign that the U.S. Bishops’ foreign relief agency has shed its Catholic identity and effectively operates as a secular NGO.

“How great is it that Catholic Relief Services is serving the poor and marginalized in dangerous areas of the world,” Father Shenan Boquet, president of Human Life International, told LifeSiteNews. “Yet how sad that CRS spokespeople again boast that they do not preach the Gospel love of Jesus Christ, as a matter of policy.”

“This is so radically out of line with what Pope Francis has repeatedly said,” Father Boquet added, “and is something that Pope Benedict warned against in both Deus Caritas est and Caritas in Veritate.”

“For CRS to be ‘proud’ of the fact that it doesn't evangelize may help it to get grants from the federal government," said Steven Mosher, president of Population Research Institute. "After all, such activities are specifically forbidden to federal grantees. But it is an abdication of their responsibility as Catholics - really everyone's responsibility as Catholics - to spread the Gospel."

Michael Hichborn, director of American Life League’s Defend the Faith project, agreed.

“The bottom line is that there can be no division between charity and the work of evangelism,” he said.  “But CRS just stated that it is ‘proudly’ doing just that.”

Hichborn told LifeSiteNews he believes the statement highlights the fact that for CRS social works supersede evangelization.  

But in reality, he argued, charitable works “are the loving tools by which we evangelize. Any act to divorce evangelization from works of charity neuters the Church and relegates charity to mere philanthropy. Catholic Relief Services, by their own admission, is content to feed bodies and starve souls."

CRS responds to criticisms

Paul Eagle, CRS’ communications director, suggested that O'Keefe's statement was misunderstood, telling LifeSiteNews that their work is a clear example of not proselytizing, but preaching the Gospel through works.

“We are indeed proud that we witness the Church’s mission and the call of the Gospel to care for those in need, regardless of who they are or what they believe, through the work that CRS does every day,” he said. “This is a central part of the Church’s evangelizing mission, but it does not include proselytizing or requiring that people become Catholic to receive our assistance.”

Eagle told LifeSiteNews that CRS follows St. Francis of Assisi, who has been reflected in the leadership of Pope Francis. He pointed to a famous quotation that is often attributed to St. Francis, which goes, "Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words."

“Our work is a clear example of not proselytizing, but preaching the Gospel through what we do,” Eagle said.

Eagle directed LifeSiteNews to a CRS web page which states that CRS “rejoices in” the encyclical Caritas in Veritate, and has grown in a deeper understanding of its mission through study and reflection on Benedict’s earlier encyclicals Deus Caritas Est and Spe Salvi

Eagle also pointed to the CRS initiative, “Impact Investing,” saying it contains a response to Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium.

Pro-life critics cite papal support

But Father Boquet said a policy banning discussions of faith or preaching the Gospel is clearly opposed to Catholic teaching on charity.

“This is a radical departure from how the Church has always understood her essential charitable and missionary work,” he said.

He quoted Pope Francis in his first homily as pope: “We can walk as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not profess Jesus Christ, things go wrong. We may become a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord,” the pope said.

Pope Francis has repeated this theme several times, most recently in June of this year, said Father Boquet. At that time, “he said that the Church cannot just be a ‘well organized NGO,’ or just some institution with people who are ‘fans’ of being Catholic.”

Boquet and the other pro-life critics pointed out that several recent popes have written at length on the need for evangelization to remain at the heart of its charitable work.

“This is a radical departure from how the Church has always understood her essential charitable and missionary work."

In Evangelii Nuntiandi Pope Paul VI wrote that generous Christians are often tempted to reduce the Church’s mission to the realm of the temporal, downgrading it to be man-centered. The Holy Father said in that document that this reduction to a focus on material well-being would mean the Church would lose her fundamental meaning.

Pope Benedict XVI echoed this teaching in Deus Caritas Est, stating, "The entire activity of the Church is an expression of a love that seeks the integral good of man: it seeks his evangelization through Word and Sacrament."

In Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict cited Pope Paul VI, writing that Christian charity is “part and parcel of evangelization,” because, “Jesus Christ, who loves us, is concerned with the whole person.”

Many CRS employees not Catholic

Mosher also highlighted Pope Benedict’s motu proprio titled ‘On the Service of Charity,’ which he said “is quite clear in that the work of Catholic charities should be grounded in the Mass and the Sacraments, which implies evangelization.”

The CNN Belief Blog article also reported that CRS “doesn't even like” to be labeled missionary because of the word's association with evangelizing, stating:

Though Catholic Relief Services says it is motivated by the Gospel to embody Catholic social and moral teaching, it does not preach to the people it helps.

In fact, you don't even have to be Catholic to work for Catholic Relief Services. Among its 4,500 workers are many Muslims, Hindus and members of other religions, said Bill O’Keefe, the organization’s vice president of advocacy.

Eagle told LifeSiteNews CRS is proud as a Catholic agency that it works collaboratively with all people regardless of faith, which is especially important in communities where the majority of people are not Catholic.

He added that CRS takes steps to ensure Catholic identity in preparing employees for work with CRS, referencing a tutorial, "Protecting Life,” which was reviewed by the USCCB.

At the same time, experience has shown that what CRS cannot account for is the personal opinions of its non-Catholic employees, which, according to Mosher, inevitably affect the way they perform their jobs. A May 2014 LifeSiteNews article reported on public campaign records showing that since 1990 CRS employees have donated tens of thousands of dollars, 98.1 percent of their political donations, to elect pro-abortion politicians to office.

LifeSiteNews has also reported on the fact that numerous CRS employees in key policy positions have in previous jobs advocated for activities that violate Church teaching.

For example, Daphyne Williams, who has worked for CRS since 2008 and helped to develop a controversial policy whereby CRS would provide “complete and accurate” information on condoms, was hired after working at a series of pro-abortion organizations. One, which she listed on her LinkedIn page until LifeSiteNews reported on it in 2012, was called Pro-Choice Resources.

In another more dramatic case, a CRS employee was charged and convicted after deliberately ramming her car into a crowd of pro-life activists at the March for Life.

“As far as the claim that they somehow ‘evangelize’ by not preaching the Gospel, by not hiring Catholics … this simply makes no sense,” Mosher told LifeSiteNews.

“They say that ‘they help people because they're Catholic.’ But CRS employees, including very senior employees, are often - as the organization itself proudly admits - not Catholic at all,” said Mosher. “So it is hard to take this defense seriously.” 

Mosher said that statements indicating CRS is proud that is does not evangelize raise the question of whether CRS's donors are being defrauded by an organization that claims to be "Catholic," but distances itself from the Church in its actual programs and practices.

“If Catholic Relief Services is not going to hire practicing Catholics, work through the local Catholic Church around the world, and preferentially serve Catholic populations,” Mosher said, “then it has no business calling itself ‘Catholic.’ For it is not. It is just another humanitarian NGO which can make no special claim on Catholics.”

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