From the September 4 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered:
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Fox News highlighted a blog post by a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) freshman to attack an English course on the "literature of 9/11" for being one sided in favor of so-called "terrorists," despite evidence that the course includes diverse perspectives on the attacks and the War on Terror that followed.
On the August 31 editions of Fox & Friends and Outnumbered, Fox hosts criticized a course offering at the University of North Carolina, entitled "The Literature of 9/11." The segments drew from an August 28 post at the conservative blog The College Fix, written by a UNC freshman, that was also featured on FoxNews.com. Fox & Friends co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck claimed that the course did not represent the views of victims of the 9/11 attacks or their families, then briefly interviewed a man who lost his cousin in the attacks:
ELIZABETH HASSELBECK: Students at one of the top universities in the country will learn about the September 11th attacks through the eyes of the terrorists, instead of the victims. A UNC-Chapel Hill's freshman seminar class, "Literature of 9/11," sympathizes with the terrorists who sparked the national tragedy, presenting America as imperialistic. Some of the required reading includes poetry by Guantanamo Bay detainees, but nothing at all from the perspective of September 11th victims or their families.
Outnumbered co-host Lisa "Kennedy" Montgomery introduced a segment on the class by citing The College Fix's claims that "None of the readings assigned in the freshman seminar present the Sept. 11 attacks from the perspective of those who died or from American families who lost loved ones." The co-hosts then focused their discussion on the supposed "one-sided" perspective of the course, and questioned whether the class should be cancelled. Kennedy went on to read her own comic take on what a poem written by a Guantanamo detainee might sound like, and stated that "most of this writing would make great lining for the bottom of my parrot's cage":
KENNEDY: I want to point out a little bit of the syllabus. The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a little bit of literature told from the perspective of a Pakistani-American who finds America to be greedy and imperialist.
SANDRA SMITH: It appears from the course's online description, of which you read some of it, it says "We will explore a diverse array of themes related to the 9/11 attacks and the War on Terror." A diverse array of themes. But, you-- going back, none of the readings assigned in the freshman seminar present the perspective of those who died, or the families who lost loved ones. How is that a diverse array of theme? There's no diversity in this course.
KENNEDY: It's not diverse at all. And I think we should offer a thousand dollars to the first student who takes this class from Professor Neel Ahuja and actually disagrees with him, and we'll see what kind of a grade they get. Because I guarantee you--
HEATHER MACDONALD: Right, because he will shut down debate, that professor. Yeah.
KENNEDY: I guarantee the first person who presents a logical argument for why much of this writing would make great lining for the bottom of my parrot's cage -- I don't have a parrot, but if I did I would probably line the bottom with a lot of this literature -- and, you know, present a more well-rounded opinion of what actually happened.
The course, titled "ENGL 072: Literature of 9/11," is one of 82 freshman year seminar courses across all departments offered at UNC for the Fall 2015 semester, as of August 31. Professor Neel Ahuja, an Associate Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and Geography, has taught the course since 2010. The original College Fix post about the course also cited a UNC student-driven rating page called Blinkness, which posts anonymous comments from supposed former students, to suggest that Ahuja had a personal agenda. Professor Ahuja's rating page received just four relatively positive comments from 2010 through August 29, 2015, but has since been swarmed with dozens of hateful messages demanding that he be fired, deported, or handed over to the terror group ISIS. According to his personal website, Ahuja was raised in Topeka, Kansas.
In addition, the full list of assigned readings for the course does in fact contain diverse literature representing the perspectives of Arab-Americans, residents of New York City, members of the U.S. military and their families, survivors of the attacks, non-partisan terrorism researchers, artists, historians, musicians, and the international Muslim community, as well as several texts aimed to honor or memorialize victims of the attacks. Here are just a few examples the Fox hosts failed to mention:
The course does include a collection of poems written by detainees at Guantanamo Bay, but all of the selections were cleared for release by the United States military during the Bush administration. One of the poets was detained at 14 and held for seven years without charge before his release. Another poet, the only journalist ever held in Guantanamo, was also released without charge after seven years in captivity.
Fox News tried to blame First Lady Michelle Obama's healthy school lunch program for reports of financial woes and layoffs at school districts, but it failed to disclose that the study it cited comes from a group supported in part by food industry companies that sell their product to schools, including PepsiCo, General Mills, and Domino's.
On the August 26 edition of Fox News' Special Report, host Bret Baier highlighted the findings of a new study from the School Nutrition Association (SNA) that claims implementation of the National School Lunch Program's healthier nutritional standards has led to school district worker layoffs and financial struggles. The standards were established after Congress passed the Healthy Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010, the centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative.
Baier told viewers, "School is back, or soon will be, and healthy school lunches are resulting in unhealthy school finances." He went on to cite the SNA study's claim that "56 percent of districts have lost lunch participants because of the new healthy standards championed by the first lady" and that "seven of 10 [school districts that responded] say the standards have hurt the financial situation of the local meals programs, with almost half choosing to reduce staffing."
But Baier failed to disclose that the School Nutrition Association, which describes itself as "a national, nonprofit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country," has deep ties to the industry that sells food products to school districts. As Media Matters has previously written, the SNA lists Schwan's Food Service, a company that specializes in providing pizza to schools and restaurants, as a "major" donor. The association has also accepted funding from PepsiCo, General Mills, ConAgra, and Domino's Pizza. Schwan and PepsiCo also hold seats on the SNA's board of directors.
Schwan, ConAgra, and General Mills were also among major members of the food industry behind successful lobbying efforts to preserve pizza's classification as a vegetable for the purpose of school nutritional standards in 2011.
A Wall Street Journal editorial on student debt takes aim at Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's New College Compact college affordability plan, arguing that Democrats have "encouraged student debt" in order to win over young voters with debt relief proposals. In addition to favoring fewer opportunities for low-income students, the board's argument ignores the flawed and sometimes corrupt private lending system that led the government to reform the student loan process, and the recession-driven policies supported by both parties that have sent higher-ed costs skyrocketing.
The August 21 WSJ editorial characterized Clinton's recently-announced student debt relief proposal as part of a larger "arc of progressive politics" that first causes problems, and then presents voters with solutions. The short editorial - which is also short on facts - is worth quoting in its entirety (emphasis added):
The arc of progressive politics these days seems to be hoping to benefit from proposing policies to solve the problems their previous policies have created--and hoping nobody notices the cause and effect.
Hillary Clinton and the other Democratic presidential candidates have been proposing new ways for college students to reduce or write-off their student loans. The goal is to win over millennial voters with more taxpayer largesse, while slowly turning higher education into one more universal federal entitlement. Mrs. Clinton's proposal would cost a hefty $350 billion over 10 years, by her own no doubt conservative estimate.
What Democrats don't say is that such taxpayer generosity wouldn't be necessary if they hadn't done so much to encourage students to load up on taxpayer-guaranteed debt. The Education Department reported this week that some 6.9 million Americans with student loans hadn't made a single payment in at least 360 days. That's up 6%, or 400,000 borrowers, in a year.
The Obama Administration took over the student loan market in 2010, easing terms and expanding benefits. Now that the bills are coming due in (sic) more deadbeats, Democrats hope to benefit again by handing the tab to taxpayers. They nail you coming and going. [Wall Street Journal, 8/21/15]
The editorial lays the blame for the national student debt crisis at the feet of the Obama Administration, which it says "took over the student loan market" in 2010. That's a reference to The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which eliminated the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program, a lending system that dates back to 1965 and offered government-guaranteed student loans through private and nonprofit lenders. In its place, the government created the present-day Direct Loan program, which cuts out private lenders and issues loans directly to students (private lending continued without the government's backing).
Among other things, the 2010 education loan overhaul lowered interest rates for certain borrowers, upped maximum award amounts for Pell grants, expanded access to both income-based repayment and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness plan by allowing borrowers to consolidate into loans eligible for these programs, and made income-based repayment significantly more affordable. The Congressional Budget Office projected that the new, simplified loan program would save the government $68 billion over 11 years.
The WSJ editorial made no mention of the 2010 law's cost savings for the government or students, or the circumstances that laid the groundwork for the reform. Before 2010, the government was paying millions to private lenders to subsidize interest rates on federally-backed loans. In 2004, it was discovered that private lenders were exploiting a legal loophole and overcharging the government for those subsidies. In 2007, several lenders also admitted to engaging in illegal deals with colleges to encourage students to borrow from them.
Those revelations shook public and policymakers' confidence in the whole system of privately-issued, taxpayer-backed student loans and helped set the stage for the 2010 reforms.
In August, 2012 -- two years after the Direct Loan program began -- the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a report that showed how private student loans, which often come with variable interest rates and limited repayment options, expose borrowers to greater credit risk and higher costs. Despite that damning finding, the Republican Party's 2012 party platform called for an end to direct lending and a return to the FFEL-style lending system that had allowed private lenders to overcharge taxpayers and exposed student borrowers to higher debt costs.
Another of The Journal's claims -- that progressive policies have created a cycle of "entitlement" -- is undermined by the fact that bipartisan measures have increased pressure on students to borrow ever-higher amounts of money to pay for college. State-level budget cuts to higher education in the wake of the 2007 recession, for example, have been a proven cause of higher college costs across the board, especially at community colleges. An in-depth analysis of state higher education disinvestment from 2007-2012 by the Center for American Progress found that 29 of 50 states had lowered their direct funding of public institutions. By Media Matters' count, legislative leadership in those 29 states was almost evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, proving the fallacy of the Journal's claim that progressive policies are responsible for driving up higher-ed costs.
Finally, the Journal's claim that expanding access to student loans leads to more "deadbeats" looking to taxpayers to foot their loan bills echoes a common conservative talking point that says expanding access to higher education through accessible student loan programs results in unqualified (read: undeserving) students going off to college.
That argument ignores the reality that taking on some measure of student debt is inevitable for most Americans, regardless of what kind of school they attend. In 2013, the most recent year for which data is available, nearly 70 percent of graduates of public or private nonprofit schools had loan debt. Tuition costs are rising quickly at every type of higher education institution, according to figures from the National Center for Education Statistics: private colleges, state universities, vocational schools, community colleges, even professional certification programs. And the growing debt burden is shouldered disproportionately by low-income, black and Hispanic borrowers, many of whom lack the adequate financial resources to avoid borrowing.
The bottom line is that any argument against the loan simplification measures and expanded student aid established in 2010 is an argument to limit college opportunities, which will inevitably hit low-income, minority students hardest. The Wall Street Journal's elitist dismissal of the serious problem of student debt, and its partisan argument against worthwhile policy solutions, reinforces a stratified system of higher education that limits opportunities for deserving Americans.
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Right-wing media have falsely claimed Hillary Clinton's debt-free college plan eliminates student financial responsibility and doesn't address rising tuition costs. In fact, students on the plan would be required to work, and the proposal ties federal funding to states lowering school costs.
From the August 18 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
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From the July 13 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered:
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From the July 12 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
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From the July 7 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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From the June 24 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Fox News host Steve Doocy claimed that the College Board has "all but dismissed" seminal works in American history for use in advanced placement courses -- including the Mayflower Compact, the Gettysburg Address, and Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have A Dream' speech -- to raise fears that "U.S. history may be history" in American schools.
Fox News has spent the week hyping an open letter published by the National Association of Scholars (NAS), a conservative group critical of the Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History Course framework that the College Board released last year. Fifty-five scholars signed the letter, which claims the revised guidelines focus on "the conflict between social groups" rather than "sources of national unity and cohesion." An NAS press release about the letter says the new framework "ignores American exceptionalism."
In a "Trouble with Schools" segment on June 12, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy claimed that "seminal works in the canon of American history have been all but dismissed by the new guidelines for the AP History issued by the College Board." Guest Whitney Neal, of the Bill of Rights Institute, said the College Board changed the guidelines "because they have an agenda to push."
While Doocy's main concern was his belief that the College Board has eliminated "seminal works," including the Gettysburg Address, the Mayflower Compact, and Rev. King's 'I Have A Dream' speech, Neal claimed that the biggest change has to do with how the board addressed the founding of America, arguing they ignored the role of religion. However, when an incredulous-sounding Doocy asked, "So they've left the religion part out?" Neal conceded, "It's there ... almost like as an afterthought, right? It's kind of like down the page a couple."
There are several problems with Doocy and Neal's claims. One of the biggest is that they are attacking a set of guidelines, not a strict formula for how to teach AP U.S. History, which has always been up to individual schools and teachers. The College Board has responded to similar criticism before by pointing out that "a framework doesn't dictate curriculum, it only guides it. And it is absurd to conclude that teachers wouldn't teach such important issues as part of American history."
Second, even though College Board doesn't decide which primary sources or "seminal works" are used in each classroom, the primary sources that they recommend haven't changed since 2006, and still include all of the works Doocy claimed have been "dismissed."
Finally, Neal's claim that the guidelines only mention religion and religious freedom as an afterthought ignores one of the new guideline's learning objectives. "Peopling" directly addresses the role of religion in U.S. history, and the guidelines for "Period 3: 1754-1800" make several references to religion's role in America's founding.
Fox & Friends mocked students pushing for gender-neutral, uniform graduation robes in Maryland schools as the "P.C. police."
Students in Montgomery County, Maryland, are pushing for district schools to switch from a gendered dual-color scheme to single-color robes for all graduates. According to The Washington Post, the effort started at James Hubert Blake High School after the school's gay-straight alliance became aware that four students at another county high school were barred from wearing the color robe that conformed with their gender identity:
The student group believed single-color robes were the best way to go for many of their peers, including those who are transgender or questioning their gender identity.
So they wrote to the principals last June, noting that colleges use robes in one color as well as practical benefits of a change: Same-color robes make it easier for staff to organize students and for families watching the ceremony to follow along. Girls would no longer have to buy white outfits to wear beneath white robes, and more families would be able to pass down robes from child to child.
On the June 10 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade teased a segment on the school's decision to adopt uniform graduation robes for all students by saying "I believe there's way too many gender-bending stories in the news right now":
Later in the show, co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck introduced a segment on the graduation robes by claiming "the P.C. police are on patrol in Maryland schools, and this time mandating that graduation robes be gender-neutral." Hasselbeck spoke to Julie Gunlock, the Culture of Alarmism Director of the conservative Independent Women's Forum, who asserted that students should worry about "real hardship in the world" like ISIS:
GUNLOCK: I do think it's also important that educators and parents teach kids about real hardship in the world, I mean, in ISIS-controlled Iraq, you have women that are being raped and mutilated and murdered. Homosexuals are being thrown off rooftops; Christians are being hunted down and executed. This seems to me the real issues we should be concerned about -- not having to wear a color that conflicts with your own identity for one hour.
Blake High School's Allies 4 Equality explained the significance of gender-neutral robes in a letter to county principals: "Graduation is a day of celebration. People don't feel like they can celebrate if they feel pressured to accept gender roles that make them uncomfortable. Some in the community may protest that two colors of robes is a tradition. Our concern is that this tradition is hurtful to some students, who may not have the courage to speak out about it."
From the June 9 edition of Fox Business Network's Making Money with Charles Payne:
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From the May 31 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
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