Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Abolish "No Child Left Behind"

Today a House and Senate conference committee met to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which was last reauthorized in 2002 as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

There are numerous problems with the proposed compromise being considered (see here, here and here, for example).

But the bigger question we should be asking of Congress is why reauthorize the ESEA in the first place?

We’ve endured 50 years of federal meddling in elementary and secondary education, and we have scant (if any) hard evidence that DC politicians—whether it’s members of Congress, presidents or their education secretaries–know what’s best for other people’s children.

The ESEA was first enacted back in 1965 as a key program in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society efforts including the elimination of poverty. The law’s stated goal was to help improve academic performance among disadvantaged students. Yet ESEA spending has far outpaced both student enrollment and achievement.

From 1966 through 2012, total ESEA spending increased approximately 180 percent from nearly $8.5 billion in 1966 to more than $24 billion in 2012 (in 2015 inflation-adjusted dollars).

[Unpublished data from “Appropriations for Programs Authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, 1966-2012,” available upon request from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development (OPEPD)/Budget Service.]

Meanwhile public elementary and secondary school enrollment (prekindergarten through high school) increased less than 10 percent over a corresponding period, from about 46 million students in 1969 to 50 million students in 2012.

In spite of ESEA spending that has outpaced student enrollment by nearly 20 to one, student achievement has been essentially flat among 17-year-olds since the early 1970s in both reading and math, increasing just two scale score points in each subject overall.

Part of the controversy surrounding today’s conference hearing concerns years of unsuccessful attempts by Congress to reauthorize the ESEA . In the absence of Congressional reauthorization, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan began unilaterally issuing waivers exempting states from various accountability provisions under NCLB without congressional approval.

While Chairman Kline and others rightly challenged Duncan’s constitutional authority to initiate this national “race to the waiver,” too many members of Congress from both sides of the aisle seem blissfully unconcerned over their own constitutionally suspect actions.

For all the popular talk in Congress about recalibrating the federal role in education so that it acts as a guardrail to keep the states in line, the word education does not appear in our Constitution, and Congress has no express authority over education. Period.

U.S. Senator Mike Lee of Utah rightly objected to the proposed ESEA compromise bill, stating that:

    ...we shouldn’t expand Washington’s control over America’s schools and pre-K programs. Instead, Congress must advance reforms that empower parents – with flexibility and choice – to do what’s in the best interest of their children. The policies in this bill move in the opposite direction.


What Congress should be doing is prohibiting any ESEA program from being reauthorized. All related program funding should be returned to the states with no federal strings attached—the most flexible plan of all.

Those funds, in turn, should be deposited into student education savings accounts controlled by their parents, not politicians—the most accountable plan of all.

Next, no piece of federal education legislation should be enacted unless the U.S. Constitution is amended giving Congress express authority to pass education-related legislation.

Finally, state lawmakers should enact and expand parental choice programs. Today, more than 1.25 million students nationwide are benefiting from parental choice programs in the states. Rigorous scientific research proves parental choice works; parental choice saves money; parental choice is constitutional; and, best of all, parental choice programs change children’s lives for the better.


Princeton Ousts Leftist hero -- the "founder" of the United Nations

Yet another student protest, yet another racist thrown under the bus. Except this one actually was racist — he just also happened to be a Democrat president and a father of the “progressive” movement.

“The Black Justice League at Princeton had demanded that the president acknowledge the racist legacy of Woodrow Wilson and remove his name from buildings on campus, mandate ‘cultural competency’ courses for all faculty and staff, and provide cultural space for black students on campus,” The Washington Post reports. “President Christopher Eisgruber immediately agreed to the idea of a cultural space Wednesday night, but declined to sign the demands and promised to continue talking with students about the other ideas.”

Wilson believed in a malleable Constitution and a virtually all-powerful executive. In fact, he was in many ways the originator of the elite administrative state in which know-it-all bureaucrats make thousands of decisions that solve problems in wreak havoc on our lives. He was also quite a racist. But as David Harsanyi writes, “Like most progressives of his era, Wilson wasn’t merely a common racist, he embraced the pseudo-scientific eugenics that would haunt millions. After his election, he didn’t only say terrible things — ‘There are no government positions for Negroes in the South. A Negro’s place in the corn field’ — he institutionalized racism in the federal government, segregating the civil service in 1913. He personally fired 15 out of 17 black supervisors appointed to federal jobs, while his postmaster general and Treasury secretary segregated their departments. He’s the only president that I know of who’s ever celebrated the Ku Klux Klan in the White House.”

But you know something? We’ll bet these same student protesters are big fans of Planned Parenthood, which was founded by a eugenicist by the name of Margaret Sanger. Heck, Planned Parenthood still gives out media awards with her name on them. She and Wilson were peas in a pod on the issue, but you won’t hear that at Princeton.


End College Football

By Victor Davis Hanson

College football players are gladiators of sorts. On the one hand, they are vastly underpaid for the risks they take as well as the profits they generate for the university and the scores of jobs they subsidize. On the other, in terms of college protocols, they are pampered and exempt from rules that other students follow. Being exploited and privileged is a bad combination.

For half a century, liberals have pointed out that football players should drop the amateur pretense, join a semi-pro club, and make the money they deserve -- given that their admissions, grades, and class attendance are exempt from university rules, and warp the college experience. Why do we treat as a privileged class those who so often do not meet university requirements that are non-negotiable for mostly indebted students without recourse to such lavish scholarships and subsidies? Entire majors, curricula, counseling, and protocols were invented simply to free football players from having to be students.

Athletes are also exempt from the new liberal policing.  The university campus has grown into a scary place, given the Maoist tendencies to go after race/class/gender enemies of the people. But no institution is more guilty of such politically correct crimes than is the football team.

The majority of the African-American players on the University of Missouri team threatened to boycott their next game, unless campus diversity demands were met, including quotas to ensure more black representation on the faculty and staff.

But why then would the football team be exempt from its own ideology?  Did the players assume that their money-generating power made them far more important than the English Department or counseling staff? Did they think they were akin to nuclear plant operators and jumbo jet pilots -- or the Democratic primary field -- whose tasks are professed as far too important to be adjudicated by non-meritocratic criteria?

Nearly half of the University of Missouri’s players are African-American, four times greater than the black percentage of the general population.

Under the Obama administration’s dictates of proportional representation and disparate impact, publicly funded institutions must ensure racial diversity, even if they are not proven to practice discrimination.

So-called “merit” criteria are no excuse when racial diversity is absent. Nor is the fallback position of "no qualified applicants in the pool." In college lingo, where are the minority recruiters at University of Missouri to broaden the recruiting base and ensure a fair sample of potential recruits? Why are Asians and Latinos underrepresented? Or for that matter whites as well? Mentoring, outreach, set-asides -- could not all these tools of fairness and equality be implemented in the fashion that they are on campuses in general to ensure a richer mosaic? Are the swimming and tennis teams ethnically diverse? The equestrians? Why are the very public manifestations of university life not reflections of university values?

Feminists insist that one in four female students is sexually assaulted on campus before graduation. If that is true, responsible parents have no business sending their kids to a unsafe university like, say, Stanford, where a walk in the quad is supposedly statistically about ten times more dangerous than strolling in downtown crime-ridden East Palo Alto at night. But do feminists target the football team. If not, why not?

Nationwide, there is an epidemic of student athletes being charged with sexual assault (again, true of the University of Missouri football team), at rates far higher than the general student population. In fact, a recent study revealed that the University of Missouri experienced 63 criminal cases involving 46 of its athletes during a recent five-year period. Statistically its athletes are among the most likely of university players nationwide to be charged with sexual assault, and far more prone to be charged than non-athlete students.

Why are these incidents ignored? Has any women’s studies program conducted a study of student athletes to determine whether they statistically assault women, especially involving the use of violence, at higher rates than the general student body? The University of Missouri football team’s threatened boycott should be a wake-up call and teachable moment to reexamine the entire football program there to investigate critical issues such as diversity and sexual assault.

Deans and provosts are often evaluated on the basis of increasing faculty diversity, rather than improving student performance, faculty teaching and research, or graduation rates and employment.

Should coaches not be subject to the same criteria? The coach who goes 2-8, but whose team looks like America (Asian linemen, Latino quarterbacks, female kickers, white punt returners, etc.), in theory should receive a bonus. In contrast, the 10-0 coach, who fails his diversity goals, should be fired for ignoring the disproportionate impact of his recruiting and player-selection criteria that had resulted in massive over-representation of one particular racial group at the expense of other groups who were largely ignored.

The truth is that the university is a dysfunctional institution. Free speech no longer exists. Trigger warnings, micro-aggressions, and safe zones have created a climate of fear and bullying on campus. Affirmative action criteria emulate the abhorrent "one-drop" rule of the Old Confederacy. Campus identity is defined by race and gender, but never class.  Annual hikes in tuition exceed the rate of inflation. Faculty are paid widely asymmetrical compensation for instruction of the identical class, depending on archaic institutions like tenure and seniority. Non-teaching personnel have soared. Graduate PhD programs have proliferated, even as jobs for their graduates have shrunk. Undergraduate university graduation rates have declined. College graduates are assumed to earn high-paying jobs; but the dismal rate of bachelor's degrees translating into employment commensurate with staggering college costs and student-loan debt would prompt federal investigations of fraud and false advertising in any other institution.

At the center of such chaos and contradiction sits college football -- the most hypocritical of all university institutions. It may have survived past liberal criticism that it was a veritable money-making and exploitative industry, run amok and immune from the campus laws that govern faculty and students. But it should not survive present liberal demands for racial diversity, proportional representation due to disparate impact, and zero-tolerance for sexual assault.


Mother's agony after reading 11-year-old son's note describing how he is being bullied at new school

British State schools are a lottery

A mother was left shocked and heartbroken after reading her 11-year-old son's harrowing account of how bullies had turned his life into 'a nightmare come true'.

Kerry Mustafa, 29, read how pupils at her son's new school had hurled racist abuse at him, threatened him with a compass, and even attacked him at school, breaking his thumb.

She suspected he was having problems so asked him to write down his feelings, but was unprepared for the extent of his turmoil revealed in the note, in which he wrote that he 'couldn't cope with it'.

Ali Junior - known as AJ - wrote about being 'petrified' and said his life had become 'a nightmare come true,' at the new school, rated outstanding by Ofsted.

He also wrote that the racist abuse he suffered made him feel 'sick', as he described how pupils at his new school had threatened to fight him on Facebook. He added: 'Then I was called names, I was heartbroken.'

The 11-year-old also wrote how his life had been much better at his previous school, and after describing the bullying and abuse, added: 'So this is my life now?'

Mrs Mustafa said: 'I'm quite lucky that AJ comes to me every time there's an incident at school or something happens. 'He has even rang me from school telling me about the bullying he is experiencing that day.  'But suddenly I realised he had told me about what was going on but he had never spoken about how he felt about it. 'So I asked him to write about his feelings but I wasn't prepared for what he had to say.'

Mrs Mustafa and AJ's father, Ali Mustafa, from Hull, East Yorkshire, have accused teachers of not doing enough and have now removed him from Sirius Academy North.

They are also contemplating schooling their young boy from home.

Mr Mustafa said: 'We've reported it so many times and every time the school says they will deal with it.

'But I'd call again and I'd speak to a different person, who hasn't got any record of what was said before and what is happening to my son.'

Mrs Mustafa added: 'We want him to go to school and be around other children and live a normal life. 'But if I can't get him into another high school, I will have to keep him at home.'

Mr Mustafa, who works as a television satellite engineer for the business he and his wife run, spoke of the change in his son's personality since he started secondary school in September.

He said: 'It's completely changed him.  'He was in a fight where he broke his thumb, he's been threatened with a compass, he's been smacked in the face, he's been called racist names like Ali Baba.

'The final straw was when he received a message from Facebook asking him if he would be in a fight. For me there is no other option. I do not want my son to go back to that school.'

In a statement from Sirius Academy North, head of school Ian Ravenscroft said: 'It would be inappropriate to comment upon specific incidents, however we take all forms of bullying and prejudice extremely seriously.

'We investigate all allegations of bullying fully and put in place support as appropriate.  'The academy's dedicated pastoral team deals swiftly with any reported concerns.' [The usual British bullshit]


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Yale president grows some balls

In an email Wednesday Yale’s President and the Dean of Yale College affirmed their support of Silliman College Master Nicholas Christakis and his wife Erika despite activists calling for their resignation.

“Both Nicholas and Erika Christakis remain committed to serving the college, and we fully support them in these efforts. They are exceptional teachers and scholars, with a longstanding and deep dedication to undergraduates,” wrote university President Peter Salovey, and Dean Jonathan Holloway.

Student group Next Yale had previously issued a list of demands which included the, “immediate removal of Nicholas and Erika Christakis from the positions of Master and Associate Master of Silliman College.”

The uproar against the Christakises started after Erika sent an email which questioned guidelines for Halloween costumes, writing:

"Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious… a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive? American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition."

Nicholas, a sociologist and physician, wished to defend his wife and attempted dialogue with students. But he was met with vulgar screaming and a student asking, “Who the f*ck hired you?”

It is unknown how Yale will respond to other protester demands that include, “abolish the title ‘master.’”


Campus zealots hound student out of lectures and bars with shouts of 'rapist' after he dared to question the effectiveness of rape 'consent workshops'

A student has been driven out of lectures and bars with shouts of ‘rapist’ after he dared to question the effectiveness of ‘consent workshops’.

Second-year George Lawlor, 19, fears for his future at Warwick University after being ostracised and bullied for challenging a student union drive to hold rape awareness sessions.

Writing in a blog, he argued that the overwhelming majority of people ‘don’t have to be taught to not be a rapist’ – and that men inclined to commit the crime would be unlikely to attend such a workshop.  He added that he found his invitation to one of the sessions ‘incredibly hurtful’.

But in the latest example of politically correct intolerance in universities, the student faced a fierce backlash from radical feminists. He was attacked on Twitter and Facebook by student activists branding him a ‘rapist’ and ‘misogynist’.

Mr Lawlor, who studies politics and sociology, fears the furore will affect his academic work – and his future career.

The abuse was so bad that he stopped going to lectures. He told the Daily Mail: ‘I was expecting a reaction, but I was not prepared for just how horrible it was. I remember putting it online and told a few people, who were … saying there would be a backlash.’

In the piece, ‘Why I don’t need consent lessons’, Mr Lawlor said he ‘loved consent’ but that organisers were ‘pointing out the obvious’ and ‘thinking they’ve saved the world’ by making men listen to lectures about rape.

He posed with a sign reading, ‘This is not what a rapist looks like’, to highlight that most right-thinking people know where the boundaries are. But he was called ‘classist’ and ‘racist’ by people who thought he was commenting on what the physical appearance of a ‘typical’ rapist was.

The article was covered on news sites in the US, all over Europe and in Australia.

Mr Lawlor said Warwick student paper The Boar ‘got all their writers together to gang up’ on him with two one-sided articles. Others deleted him as a Facebook contact and sent abusive messages.

He added: ‘In real life, the bus to university was the worst … I heard people talking to each other saying, “I really want to hit that kid”. Walking through campus, people would go silent as I walked past. It was really scary … it got really nasty.’

He said that when he ran in student union elections, someone wrote on his Facebook page, ‘I want to give this guy minus one vote’, followed by another user adding, ‘I want to give this guy minus 100 per cent oxygen’.

Mr Lawlor added: ‘There was one guy messaging me on Facebook for over a week, calling me names like racist, rapist … I’ve stopped going to lectures and seminars because of the perceived threat.’

He said he was driven out of a bar in Leamington after some students overheard his friend mention his name. ‘These six guys just crowded round me and started shouting at me … calling me a rapist, a misogynist, and threatening me … I had to get out of there,’ he said.

Mr Lawlor suggested his ordeal will have a chilling effect on other students. He said many had told him they agreed with the article but were afraid to back him publicly.

‘It’s all part of this no-platforming agenda, where they try and create “safe spaces” … but no-one ever thought to question whether I was in a “safe space”,’ he said. ‘People were calling for me to be expelled. You’re only allowed to talk about certain issues, it seems.’

He added: ‘When you search my name all you find is my name next to the word “rapist”. If you want to be a doctor or a lawyer you don’t want to risk having this sort of reputation … so there’s a fear that stops people talking freely.’


As David Starkey is the latest to be banned by our politically correct universities... Britain's students: the new fascists?

When you hear the word ‘university’, what image comes to mind? Dreaming spires? A sun- dappled quad? The brightest of Britain’s youth strolling about, minds wide open to new ideas, controversial theories, different ways of thinking?

Think again. Britain’s universities have changed. They’ve turned from citadels of intellectual inquiry into sprawling camps of conformism, where anyone who dissents from what is decreed to be the correct thought processes will be cast out into the academic darkness.

Our colleges are now stuffed not with bright-eyed students keen to discuss any ideas, however radical, but proselytising zealots who will hound off campus anyone that offends their politically correct sensibilities. They spend their time constantly on the lookout for thinkers or books or even pop songs that blaspheme against their right-on ideology.

They are what you might call the student Stasi, and I have discovered for myself what it is like to be on the receiving end of their self-righteous ire.

A year ago, in November 2014, I was due to speak at Oxford University in a debate about abortion. But a gang of fuming student feminists had other ideas.

They said it would be offensive to female students to have ‘a person without a uterus’ — what most of us call ‘a man’ — talking about abortion. Such a discussion would harm their ‘mental safety’, they claimed. So they set up a Facebook page littered with expletives which demanded that the debate should be called off.

It was like an online mob jumping up and down with pitchforks.

The Facebook furies threatened to turn up to the discussion with ‘instruments’ — and they didn’t mean musical instruments — to ‘disrupt’ it. The irony of them threatening the physical safety of a university meeting in the name of defending their own ‘mental safety’ was lost on these alleged bright young things.

Even more depressing than this ludicrous protest was the fact that Oxford’s university management kowtowed to the hysteria and cancelled the debate.

This week, Britain’s other great seat of learning, Cambridge, showed that it is likewise happy to spurn those who hold what are considered to be the ‘wrong views’.

Following complaints about the inclusion of the scabrous but brilliant historian David Starkey in a video promoting Cambridge, Starkey was banned from taking part. The short film features famous Cambridge alumni talking about how life at the university changed them, as part of a £2 billion funding drive.

Students at Cardiff University demanded that the leading feminist Germaine Greer should be ‘No Platformed’ — in other words banned from being able to speak in public — because they objected to comments she had made about transgender issues

Starkey was banned from taking part in a short film promoting Cambridge featuring famous alumni talking about how life at the university changed them, as part of a £2 billion funding drive

But the potential appearance of Starkey — known for his robustly un-PC views — caused a hissy fit among both student union officials and lecturers. They were signatories to an open letter which called the historian ‘a man who has a well-documented and undeniable history of racism and sexism’.

Now this isn’t Bernard Manning we’re talking about — it is one of Britain’s best-loved historians, who has enlightened millions about the Elizabethan era. He also regularly injects spark and sass into grey TV shows like Question Time.

No DOUBT one of the comments the university has taken offence at — like an ageing Duchess clutching her smelling salts — was his observation after the London riots of 2011 that ‘the whites have become black’.

To explain his point, he went on to talk about the pernicious influence of what he called the ‘destructive, nihilistic gangster culture’ which he said ‘has become the fashion’ in our inner cities.

He has also expressed withering views in the past on ‘pretty girl historians’ — and this is his reward, ostracised by his own university.

Thankfully, some of Starkey’s fellow historians are agitating for his place in the video to be reinstated, and are fuming against Cambridge’s capitulation to the self-appointed censors. But I don’t suppose they will do much good. These illiberal students will brook no opposition.

In the year between my being banned from the Oxford abortion debate and the shameful traducing of David Starkey at Cambridge, barely a week has passed without students screaming for the censorship of things that ‘hurt’ them. They even call for ‘safe spaces’ where they can go without feeling threatened either intellectually or physically.

Students at Cardiff University demanded that the leading feminist Germaine Greer should be ‘No Platformed’ — in other words banned from being able to speak in public — because they objected to comments she had made about transgender issues.

They insisted that Greer’s belief that men who have sex-change surgery do not become real women, has ‘no place in society’. What tyrannical arrogance to think they should be the arbiters of which voices should and should not be heard.

In the end, Greer’s lecture went ahead this week, but not without a gang of placard-waving students outside insisting that her words are ‘harmful’.

In September, the student union at Warwick University banned the Iranian-born secularist and critic of Islamism, Maryam Namazie. They said that her views would upset Muslim students.

This is a woman whose family escaped Iran in the hope that in the West they’d be free to say whatever they please. Yet Warwick students behaved like little ayatollahs themselves — affronted by the sight of a woman who has the gall to criticise Islam — and sought to shut her up.

Following a public outcry, she was re-invited — but when students resemble the finger-wagging rulers of Iran, you know there’s something rotten on campus.

Last month, the colourful feminist Julie Bindel was ‘No Platformed’ by the student union at Manchester University. Why? Because ten years ago, in the Guardian, she penned an article criticising transgenderism — blasphemy in the eyes of the self-elected guardians of accepted thought.

(She wrote: ‘I don’t have a problem with men disposing of their genitals, but it does not make them women.’)

It isn’t only different or daring thinkers who are silenced by censorious students. At the end of last year, Dapper Laughs, a perma-tanned Cockney comic, was banned from performing at Cardiff University. Student officials claimed that his jokes ‘dehumanise’ women and are therefore ‘inappropriate’. Among the thought police, the word ‘inappropriate’ signals that something is wicked, and must be stopped. Sometimes, this student intolerance crosses the line from sinister to surreal.

More than 30 student unions in Britain have banned the American singer Robin Thicke’s salacious smash hit song about seduction, Blurred Lines, claiming that it makes female students feel unsafe.

Last year, a DJ at a student bar in Oxford accidentally played Blurred Lines, causing a student official to leap up and unplug the sound system, like a nun at a school disco tut-tutting over the Rolling Stones.

Other student unions have banned lads’ mags, tabloid newspapers, even sombreros: they claim it is ‘cultural appropriation’ — whatever that means — for middle-class white kids to don Mexican hats.

Some student unions enforce these ‘No Platform’ policies not only against neo-fascist parties, but also against UKIP — which was banned at the University of East Anglia. Equally, it can be difficult for Israel-supporting students to hold discussions on some campuses because the prevailing attitude among many students and academics is pro-Palestinian.

Recently, the student union at University College, London, banned a Nietzsche reading group, fearing that it would inculcate students with Right-wing ideas.

Friedrich Nietzsche is, of course, a giant among 19th-century philosophers, and widely studied. Yet exposure to his views was deemed to be too dangerous. Nothing is safe: not famous feminists, popular historians or cheeky stand-up comedians. Everything they find distasteful must be expunged.

Such intolerance reached its nadir when students at Goldsmith’s College in London and also at Cambridge recently burned the newspapers of Far-left groups that they find offensive. Now, burning literature has dark, disgusting historical echoes.

The word ‘fascist’ must never be used lightly. But to destroy with fire words you don’t like? That is fascistic, and the very opposite of the freedom of thought that should prevail on 21st-century campuses.

As we have seen, the New Fascists, and the academic apologists who cave in to their censorious demands, frown on alternative thinking and seek to eradicate dissenting thought.

The end result is a narrow dogma in which only one world view can prevail. But a university banning freedom of thought is like a hospital giving up on medical treatment — an abandonment of its very reason to exist.

David Starkey must be reinstated in that Cambridge video. But we must go so much further: the freedom to think and debate — and, yes, to rile and offend — must be reinstated on every campus in the land.


Public University Joins LGBT Radicals in Targeting Professor Who Thinks Kids Should Have Mom, Dad

Kim Davis. Aaron and Melissa Klein. Barronelle Stutzman. Robert Oscar Lopez?

For many conservatives, the first four names—Americans who have faced state-sanctioned discrimination for trying to live in accordance with their religious beliefs about marriage—bring strong opinions about America’s deteriorating state of religious liberty.

However, it is Lopez who may be America’s most persecuted pro-family advocate—even as some pro-family and conservative leaders have declined to take up his cause.

Last year, the radical Human Rights Campaign (HRC) targeted Lopez–an associate professor of English and classics at California State University Northridge (CSUN)—as part of the so-called “Export of Hate” because of his international advocacy on behalf of children and against redefining marriage.

A bisexual man raised by lesbians, Lopez told The Daily Signal in 2014 that the HRC’s efforts have left him feeling “completely isolated,” as well as “having to worry every time I leave my home—and my wife is there with the newborn—and not knowing whether I’m going to get killed, it’s really hard.”

This past June, things got worse for Lopez: He found out that CalState administrators had spent eight months building a case against him for the crime of giving students an optional assignment to present at the Reagan Library, as well as for allegedly retaliating against students who disagreed with his conservative views on family and the rights of children.

In October, the newly tenured professor—a status earned just two years ago—was found guilty of retaliation against a student. This is a decision that could lead to his dismissal.

“The Office of Equity and Diversity first claimed that I discriminated against a heterosexual female student and a gay male student by offering them two options to fulfill 20 percent of a course grade,” Lopez told The Daily Signal in a recent e-mail. He added:

    One option was to write ten responses to the reading, an assignment I currently give out in all my classes. The other option was to prepare a research exhibit and display it at an all-day conference at the Reagan Library; it was the Reagan Library option they found ‘harmful’ because they were exposed to and had to sit next to conservatives while they ate and listened to lectures.

That conference was called “Bonds That Matter” and promoted traditional views on marriage and family.

“The gay male student was exposed as a fraud early on. That left the heterosexual woman, whose claims were subjected to a long and expensive investigation that ultimately ended up vindicating [me],” explained Lopez.

While the initial investigation revealed no wrongdoing, the campus is now claiming that Lopez retaliated against a student who reported him to the university—something he says is bunk because the student in question received an “A” in his class, she was not entitled to an award administrators claim he prevented her from getting, and “all the ‘evidence’ supporting the complainant’s retaliation claim was undocumented memory.”

Zero of three CalState administrators contacted by The Daily Signal about their targeting and persecution of Lopez responded to requests for comments. However, a spokesperson who was forwarded the e-mail told The Daily Signal that the university has done no wrongdoing in its investigation.

“CSUN is fully committed to upholding academic freedom and free speech, as well as the right of our students to bring forth concerns. Any investigation resulting from student complaints follows established CSU protocol and is conducted on the basis of determining whether or not there has been a violation of university policy,” said spokesperson Carmen Chandler.

In a disposition given to Lopez, the university claims that he was investigated only once charges were formally filed in May, by students who were graduating. However, the disposition also notes that “the facts surrounding [a female student’s] allegations … were similar to the allegations made” by two students “about the conference just days after it took place on October 3.”

Lopez says this means the investigation started last year—in violation of the campus’ policy to complete investigations “no later than 60 working days after the intake interview,” with a 30-day extension if necessary.

“We take issue with the accuracy of the allegations currently circulating relating to this investigation, but as this is a confidential personnel matter that involves confidential student information, we cannot discuss or disclose the details,” said the campus spokesperson.

Why is Lopez being targeted by university administrators? Lopez says it “is a complicated question,” and that he “faced resistance at the university due to my service in the U.S. Army Reserves, my prior work with national security, and my authorship of a 2011 book called ‘The Colorful Conservative.’”

Lopez, who says his view that “children have a right to a mother and a father” especially angered some liberal activists, thinks that outside groups may have worked with his students. “There was a mix of their own intense rage at me over my views and the real political pressure applied to them by outside groups,” he explained, saying that he has “no real gripes against the students, because I know they were weaponized by off-campus groups.”

Lopez says the latest charges may simply be administrators attempting to save face. In a letter to the university, his lawyer accused administrators of making a “purely political and ideological attack on Dr. Lopez for holding—and exposing his students to—ideas about children’s right[s] in the context of family and reproduction which are apparently unpopular at [CalState].”

Lopez considers the right to natural parents—a life circumstance he was denied growing up—so important that he and several other people raised by same-sex couples filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court on behalf of children…and against redefining marriage. He has also publicly criticized IVF, a process some same-sex couples use to have children, saying it denies children the right to natural parents.

This month, CalState’s targeting of Lopez finally received the attention it deserves, with stories by Campus Reform, The Daily Caller, and other outlets, including a link from The Drudge Report. Lopez said he hopes that “the conservative movement can find a way to fight for people like me.”



Monday, November 23, 2015

America’s Cultural Revolution Reaches Amherst

General Jeffery Amherst's alleged but unproven blanket warfare raised yet again

In dismaying news for a troubled alumnus, America's politically correct student revolutionaries have not bypassed Amherst College, as shown by a November 12-13 sit-in at the college's Frost Library. Amherst events provide a case study of modern academia's leftist domination with grave implications for academic freedom.

The student protesters issued a statement befitting the Maoist demands for self-criticism of China's Cultural Revolution Red Guards, although no cannibalism has yet occurred at Amherst. The protestors decried Amherst being "complicit in oppressive organizations" against the "systematically oppressed" and demanded statements of apologies from Amherst's Board of Trustees Chairman and President Biddy Martin. Although "only a part of short-term healing," this apology would address Amherst staff, students, and alumni who had suffered the modern lament of lacking a "safe space for them to thrive while at Amherst College."

Unbeknownst to many at the "Fairest College," these individuals endured a catalogue of horrors of several injustices including but not limited to our institutional legacy of white supremacy, colonialism, anti-black racism, anti-Latin racism, anti-Native American racism, anti-Native/indigenous racism, anti-Asian racism, anti-Middle Eastern racism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, ableism, mental health stigma, and classism.

While no institution is perfect, such sins and any corresponding inability of the Amherst College community to thrive are not immediately apparent. A campus statue commemorates Amherst alumnus and abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher while a captured Confederate cannon in a college building recalls Amherst students who fought in the Civil War. Amherst's Charles Drew Memorial Culture House carries the name of another alumnus who was a medical pioneer and, like civil rights legal pioneer Charles Hamilton Houston, is among Amherst's distinguished African-American graduates. The first Japanese graduate of a Western institution of higher learning, Joseph Hardy Neesima (Amherst Class of 1870), initiated Amherst's longstanding relationship with Japan.

Not an Amherst alumnus, but the college's unofficial mascot, Lord Jeffery Amherst, the 18th century British commander-in-chief in North America, is the current object of scorn for the college's would-be betters. Amherst's conquest of Canada from the French endeared him to American colonists, including those who named the Massachusetts hometown and namesake of Amherst College. In a 1763 letter exchange, though, Lord Amherst suggested dissemination of smallpox-infected articles among "disaffected tribes of Indians" for their "Total Extirpation."

The Frost protesters demanded that Martin condemn the "inherent racist nature of the unofficial mascot, the Lord Jeff," memorialized in the school fight song and the private Lord Jeffery Inn next to the college. According to the protesters, this condemnation "will be followed up by the encouraged removal of all imagery" pertaining to Lord Amherst (perhaps even including his portrait in the college's Meade Art Museum?).

"Some people believe that drawing a parallel between Jeffrey Amherst and Adolf Hitler is going too far," a Native American student in the 2014 Amherst College class once said, "but for me and many other Native people, Amherst is our Hitler."

Yet the reality of Lord Amherst's offending letters during Pontiac's Rebellion, a conflict involving several Indian tribes in the Pennsylvania colony and Great Lakes area, is more complex. While Indians seized several British outposts, 600 settlers sought protection at Fort Pitt with its garrison of 125 soldiers on the site of modern Pittsburgh, then enduring the deprivations of a siege by 1,000 Indians. Historical evidence indicates that the fort's commanding officer, Captain Simon Ecuyer, independently implemented Lord Amherst's scheme with indeterminate effect.

"The Fort Pitt smallpox episode is just one example of the degree of hatred that animated both sides during Pontiac's Rebellion," a Pennsylvania historical society writes.

Once celebrated by colonists and Indians alike for its peaceful intercultural relations, Pennsylvania had become a killing ground in which each side became convinced that its future rested on extirpating the other. Indians raided British posts and settlements...burning homesteads, taking captives, and torturing and murdering soldiers and civilians. British colonists and soldiers retaliated with equal brutality."

The "British were willing to use biological warfare against their Indian enemies," the historical society writes objectively without Hitler hyperbole. The fact that several British officers like Ecuyer independently considered smallpox stratagems demonstrates that Lord Amherst possessed no unique cruelty. Indeed, evidence indicates that the British tried to weaponize smallpox against rebels in the American Revolution, a tactic that recalls medieval military uses of animal carcasses.

Lord Amherst had particular grudges against Native Americans, although there is no record of his in belloextermination musings ever affecting the various Indian tribes with which the British often traded, negotiated, and formed alliances. Inflated reports of Indians killing and scalping British soldiers in French captivity during the 1757 Fort William Henry massacre outraged him and the rest of British North America. While deplorable, Lord Amherst's hatred found echoes centuries later in American icon Theodore Roosevelt.

"I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians," he declared, "but I believe nine out of 10 are, and I shouldn't like to inquire too closely into the case of the 10th."

Such historical nuances are unlikely to find a fair hearing among the Frost protesters who demanded a vague "zero-tolerance policy for racial insensitivity and hate speech." They particularly condemned posters placed on campus with statements such as "All Lives Matter" and "in memoriam of the true victim of the Missouri Protests: Free Speech." The "racially insensitive" students involved should "be required to attend extensive training for racial and cultural competency.

Martin's call in a statement largely sympathetic to the protesters to "protect free speech while also establishing norms within our communities that encourage respect" is cold comfort under the circumstances. Absent rigorous respect for intellectual freedom, the Left's sacred cows such as LGBT agendas and non-Western faiths like Islam will go unchallenged while aspects of Western civilization like Lord Amherst will endure the strictest of scrutiny. The noxious ramifications of such biases extend well beyond the idyll of elite institutions like Amherst, a fact that should provoke alumni and parents to exercise adult supervision over increasingly infantile students.


A Conservative Student’s Take On the Recent College Protests

Can liberalism defend itself from its progeny? This question is rarely considered by liberals themselves. But after seeing the disturbances on America’s campuses over the last couple of weeks, they would be well-advised to start.

Universities are supposed to be bastions of liberalism. Liberal administrators have insisted for decades that they know how to craft an environment free of hatred and bigotry.

Under their beneficent control, America’s campuses would nurture a belief in universal human dignity that undergirds the traditional liberal worldview. Multiculturalism and affirmative action were stepping stones aimed at vindicating the most important value of all: tolerance.

 The Definition of Intolerance

Of course, tolerance that proceeds in only one direction – “tolerance for me, but not for thee” – is the very definition of intolerance.

Yet that intolerant conception is now accepted as correct by some leftist students nationwide.

The results have been predictably disastrous.

The left has perverted the liberal idea of tolerance by combining it with the perverse politics of identity and power. Too afraid of being labeled racists by campus radicals, the liberals have largely given up fighting for their own professed principles: democracy, equality under the law, equality of political rights, and the rule of law.

The drive to reduce “inequalities” in pursuit of “social justice” on campuses now takes precedence over every long-standing right cherished by liberals, most especially the freedom of speech.

Today’s students are willing to trade freedom for comfort. They will end up with neither.

How Did Things Get so Bad?

Identity politics, which is diametrically opposed to individualism and freedom, is now ingrained in the fabric of our universities. The sorting of students into “oppressors” and “oppressed” starts at the beginning of the contemporary college experience.

Those sorted into the “oppressed” category are exhorted to bring up their “marginalization” at every opportunity. Most of them cannot describe how they have personally faced substantial racial, ethnic or other discrimination (because few have).

So instead, they dutifully recite talking points about the “structural oppression,” “white supremacy,” and “systemic racism” allegedly faced by their identity group.

When conflict erupts, the “oppressed” are entitled to do as they please. If they behave well, they are praised for restraint in the face of injustice. If they behave badly, even violently, the “system” is blamed, and they are absolved of all responsibility.

Those sorted into the “oppressor” category usually consist of people who are some combination of white, heterosexual, Christian, and male.

Their highest calling is self-flagellation. They are required to condemn their own “privilege” and denounce the accomplishments of themselves and their families as unearned and unjust. They are to apologize for their identity group at every opportunity.

Those who try to think for themselves are denounced for their heresy as traitors to the cause of collective liberation. Those who insist on following any kind of moral principle or precept – which will necessarily offend some people – are deemed intolerant and demonized.

A Culture Of Hypersensitivity

We are now viewing the utter inability of liberalism to stand up for its own values. Modern American universities are no longer liberal models, but due to their restrictive and Orwellian environments, foster hypersensitivity and conformity.

The sense of victimization that these students feel is used to justify their nasty tactics. If you are on the wrong side of the social justice war, they will not stop at attacking your arguments. They will go after you personally – your job, your reputation, and your livelihood – to intimidate.

Not realizing that capitulation welcomes contempt rather than respect, liberal college administrators have capitulated and accommodated the radicals.

The radical left wants power, not justice. Liberals betray their own principles of freedom and equality under the law when they acquiesce to policies of racial quotas in the classroom and political censorship on the campus.

University of Missouri students demand a faculty that is a minimum of 10 percent black, and demand the addition of a mandatory “awareness and inclusion” curriculum developed by non-white students and faculty. They want to dictate the academic offerings of a university, with special treatment for their own racial groups. That is not equality.

Leftists are destroying liberalism. Universities are quickly gaining a well-deserved reputation as some of the least free institutions in American life.

The task is for conservatives, and true liberals, to stand up for America’s moral, legal, and political foundation.

Establishing classical liberal values in America required tremendous sacrifice on the part our forefathers. We are not about to see that legacy damaged by students who have no understanding of the source of their own freedom and prosperity.


Reflections on the revolution

Isaac Cohen

That the American university is in crisis is a statement that now commands wide agreement.

What are students complaining about? That Yale and other elite universities are mired in outdated conventions and ideas, which exclude and discomfit students who don’t “fit the mold.” For conservatives, and even for many moderates, these claims are mysterious: There are few institutions in American life that are so utterly beholden to the left and its principal tenets. But that doesn’t seem to impress the radicals. And so what happens is that students’ particularized grievances — an “insensitive” administrative email, perhaps, or an alleged “white girls only” party or, at Mizzou, a “poop swastika” drawn in a public bathroom — are transformed into abstract condemnations of entire schools. A university’s “racial climate” — which can include anything and everything about it — is deemed insufficiently “sensitive” or “inclusive.”

Of course, nebulous accusations that an entire institution is “insensitive” are nearly unfalsifiable, especially when these charges are ultimately grounded in feelings or, as the phrase goes today, students’ “lived experiences.” Indeed, it sometimes seems that the unfalsifiable nature of so many of these muzzy claims is quite deliberate. It is virtually impossible to quarrel with feelings. Muddled language makes for muddled minds, and muddled minds make for easy, unanswerable indictments.

Our administrators, who ought to act with prudence and foresight, appear helpless in the face of these indictments. Consider President Salovey’s email to the Yale community this week. Without any fight or pushback — indeed, with no thoughts as to burdens versus benefits — he capitulated in most respects to the demands of a small faction of theatrically aggrieved students. Within his prolix “letter to the community,” there was but one good idea: a reduction in the student income contribution, which rather ought to be done away with entirely and replaced with something like the law school’s career options assistance program.

Aside from this, three main proposals stand out: the further funneling of resources toward the “intellectually ambitious and important fields” of race, ethnicity, gender, inequality and inclusion; the doubling of cultural house funding; and mandatory diversity training for faculty and staff, as well as new orientation programs that “explore diversity and inclusion.”

These are all bad ideas, for many reasons. But if President Salovey sees any downsides, one would never know it from his message. The only hint of reservation that can be found in Salovey’s email is his brief assurance that our commitment to eradicating racism and discrimination in no way “conflicts with our commitment to free speech.” Although one would hope that this assurance is valid, it is also largely beside the point.

What is wrong with Salovey’s plan for Yale, and the direction in which he is taking our fine university? The diversity behemoth is an enormous waste of academic time and energy. The cultural houses arguably contribute to campus-wide racial balkanization at least as much as they diminish it. Mandatory diversity training presents a grave threat to intellectual honesty and rigorous inquiry, because it assumes the truth of propositions that must ultimately be tested by empirical study.

The proliferation of hyper-ideological “studies” majors takes us further, as Glenn Loury put it, “onto a slippery slope that slides down into intellectual mediocrity.” The growing amount of time Yale students spend thinking about racial injustice is taken away from acquiring useful analytic skills and concrete knowledge in a broad range of subjects vital to our world’s future, and from learning to think carefully, rigorously and quantitatively, including about race and social inequality. These shortcomings have little to do with threats to free speech.

The true crisis of the American university is one of cowardice and craven capitulation. If free speech is to have meaning, people must have the courage to speak. My suspicion is that many students and faculty agree with at least some, if not most, of these assertions. Yet few dare to say so. And even fewer will argue for their merits.

That refusal to speak up is unfortunate. Campus radicals see themselves as moral crusaders, as champions of a secular “social justice” creed. They are not nihilistic relativists without a point of view. Rather, they want the university’s authorities to accede to their vision, to accept their point of view and their grievances without resistance. But that presents the university with a true “teachable moment” — to show our so-called activists, gently but firmly, why their view of reality, of the university’s role and of what’s best for society’s future, is shallow, hollow and misguided.

H. L. Mencken once said that democracy tends to degenerate into a “mere combat of crazes.” He might just as well have said the same about the modern American university.

Do those who run Yale care to prove him wrong?


Blame the White Guy 2015

University group hosts "White Privilege" retreat

The University of Vermont recently held a retreat exclusively for Caucasian students so they could explore white privilege.

“Examining White Privilege: A Retreat for Undergraduate Students Who Self-Identify as White,” was the name of the three-day conference, as first reported by the website Campus Reform.

It’s a bit wordy for a t-shirt, in my humble opinion. They should’ve just called it “Blame the White Guy 2015.”

The retreat was sponsored by the university’s African, Latino, Asian, Native American and Bi/Multiracial Student Center — ALANA for short.

“It’s a new retreat specifically for white students to engage in building a stronger and inclusive campus community,” ALANA stated on its website.

The taxpayer-funded university would not tell me how the “free” retreat was financed. Typically, when you see the word “free” it means “courtesy of the American taxpayer.”

ALANA said the purpose of the getaway was for white students to “recognize and understand white privilege from an individual experience as well as the impact of white privilege on the UVM community and beyond.”

They also felt it was necessary for the university’s white students to “conceptualize and articulate whiteness from a personal and systematic lens.”

I have no idea what that means.

I’m also having a difficult time understanding what it means to self-identify as white. Is that someone who belongs to a country club, cuts the crust off his bread and doesn’t have any discernable rhythm?

ALANA provided testimonials from white privilege alumni who gave the retreat a thumbs-up.

It was a “great opportunity to talk about an identity that I had not previously felt equipped to comfortably discuss,” said one pale face.

I can only imagine the fun they must’ve had at — noshing on salmon and arugula in the mess hall, sitting around a campfire crooning Barry Manilow songs and sharing scary stories about how their pigmentation oppressed people of color.

As we all know, the only way to build a stronger and inclusive university campus is to shame the white children into acknowledging they are personally responsible for every imaginable evil that has befallen the world — from global warming to that episode of “Happy Days” when Fonzie jumped over the shark.

I was particularly intrigued by a series of questions they asked the campers: What does it mean to be white and how does whiteness impact you?

The other day I contemplated my whiteness while I was watching a “Dukes of Hazzard” marathon.

Truth be told, I do enjoy Hank Williams Junior and NASCAR and mayonnaise. But I also enjoy Tyler Perry movies.

Some folks might self-identify as black. Others might self-identify as white. But as for me, I self-identify as an American — a free man.

And I think that’s a privilege no matter what color you are.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

An Unhappy History Seems to Be Repeating Itself

Riots in black neighborhoods. Rebellions on campus. The news these past few months and particularly in the past week has been full of stories that remind us, as William Faulkner wrote a little more than half a century after the Civil War, “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.” We’re seeing something that looks eerily like the recurrence of events that led, half a century ago, to the destruction of much of our cities and much of our campuses.

Half a century before the recent uproar at Yale and the University of Missouri, America saw protracted rioting at the Berkeley campus of the University of California in the fall of 1964. Half a century before the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, America saw in Los Angeles' Watts the first of the 1960s horrifying urban riots.

The Berkeley students' cause was “free speech,” protesting the ban on tables in campus with electioneering material for candidates such as Lyndon Johnson. Students held up signs proclaiming “Do not fold, bend, mutilate, or spindle” — a disclaimer on the IBM punch cards then used to input data onto huge multi-frame computers. In retrospect, this was a sign of the baby-boom generation’s rejection of the cultural uniformity of the post-World War II years.

But the rebellions that followed on multiple campuses for many years were transmogrified into many other things — banning military presence on campus, authorizing separate black organizations, firing administrators and establishing racial quotas and preferences in admissions.

In the process campuses were transformed into leftist enclaves in the larger society, with “tenured radicals” reshaping faculty in their own image, black and Hispanic groups self-isolating into mono-racial cliques and speech codes enacted to punish anyone who dissented from campus orthodoxy. Scholarship in many areas has been profoundly weakened and trivialized — a huge loss to society.

That’s the atmosphere highlighted in the violent and frenzied protests lately at the University of Missouri, Yale and Claremont McKenna College. Protesters are demanding high-visibility denunciations of real or imagined racial slights and the creation of “safe spaces” for students desperate not to hear opinions other than their own. If this is as representative of generational attitudes as the baby boomers' punch-card signs, we’re in for an even more polarized, less tolerant and seriously infantilized future.

Eleven months after the first Berkeley protests, a riot broke out in Watts, a black neighborhood in Los Angeles, after an argument following the arrest of a black motorist who had been drinking and driving. It lasted for six days and was followed by dozens more over the next three years, with especially high death tolls in Newark, Detroit and Washington.

After 1968, riots ceased but violent crime exploded in black communities, destroying what had been stable neighborhoods, retail areas and factories. Crime was vastly reduced in the 1990s, but you can still see the damage in such places as Detroit and Newark today.

Elite de-legitimatization of law enforcement followed the 1960s riots and something similar may be happening again. After the August 2014 shooting of a violent suspect in Ferguson, Missouri, protests and violence erupted across the nation, and police in many cities ceased proactive patrolling — and murder rates exploded in Baltimore, St. Louis, Milwaukee and many other cities.

The Berkeley protests came just after passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and on the brink of passage of Johnson’s Great Society legislation. The Watts riot came just after passage of the hugely effective Voting Rights Act of 1965. Today’s campus and city rioting comes just as the most liberal administration since has at least partially succeeded in “the fundamental transformation” of the nation. Liberal government seems not to squelch protest but to embolden it.

One is reminded of Alexis de Tocqueville’s observation that the French Revolution arose not out of desperation but at a time of rising expectations. The defenestration of liberal university administrators is reminiscent of the Jacobins guillotining the Girondists and then being guillotined themselves. The revolution eats its own — and destroys its own redoubts.

Berkeley and Watts were followed in California by the election of Gov. Ronald Reagan, riding a wave of support from a GI generation that financed its great universities and supported civil rights legislation. Nationally, Republican presidents won five of the next six elections. Will today’s sequels produce a similar response?


Author on Common Core: ‘A Comprehensive Dumbing Down of American Education at Every Level’

“The Common Core is supposed to be improving state standards in education, but its bigger effect has been a comprehensive dumbing down of American education at every level, from kindergarten through graduate school,” Peter Wood, president of the National Association of  Scholars, said in an interview with

Wood is a co-author of Drilling Through the Core: Why Common Core is Bad for American Education, published in September by Pioneer Press. The book includes Wood’s history of the Common Core controversy and critical essays by more than a dozen mathematicians and English scholars.

“The major criticism coming from the scholars is that it’s lowered standards in both math and English language arts, the two parts of the K-12 curriculum that the Common Core covers,” Wood told 

“When the Common Core was being put in place, there was a large promise that it would be ‘internationally benchmarked’, meaning the standards would be as high or higher than the highest standards found around the world. And if you go into Common Core materials, you will still find that phrase.

“But the math standards are set way below all of the Asian nations, and the U.S. language arts standards are not matched to international standards,” Wood pointed out.

“The section on math is written by mathematicians who look upon the changes as a comprehensive lowering of standards so that students at the end of high school know a lot less math than they used to and are not prepared for college-level math,” he said.

Scholars also panned the curriculum’s major de-emphasis of English literature.

 “The teaching of literature is not abandoned, it’s downgraded, so you end up with a very fragmentary and impoverished view of what language can do,” he continued.

“The Common Core has this peculiar emphasis that language exists to convey information. One of the results of fetishizing information is that the texts get fragmented… and there’s no distinction made between work of imaginative power and work that’s purely utilitarian in order to treat everything as a kind of encyclopedia entry.

“So in your English language instruction, you can and do get things like EPA regulations and repair manuals read alongside excerpts of the works of Robert Frost and Jane Austen.”

 “I started writing about Common Core in 2009 before the standards themselves had actually been adopted and the public backlash was something I anticipated because the public never got the chance to assess it until after it was already implemented,” Wood told “Bringing the primary stakeholders in only after the bridge is built is highly questionable public policy.”

“The problems with Common Core math start in first grade and accumulate from there. So the only way that students who plan on getting STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] degrees in college can catch up is to take math instruction outside their high school,” he noted.

“As far as English language arts, it puts a big burden on families to introduce their children to a more systematic and richer reading program than they’re going to get in school.

“I fully understand that not every parent is in the position to effectively counter what goes on in the schools, but the only option for most parents is Do It Yourself – teach it yourself, find a family friend or hire a tutor who can do it for you. In the meantime, cry bloody murder to your school board.”

Forty-two states and the District of Columbia adopted “this breathtakingly comprehensive reform of our nation’s schools before there were any standards that people could evaluate,” he noted.

“Now we’ve got the standards and the results of the tests that go with the standards. And [National Assessment of Educational Progress] NAEP scores nationwide show that the states that most strongly endorsed the Common Core have seen some of the biggest drops. So the governors of many states are now trying to dance their way out of a situation they helped to create.”

Wood predicted that during the next three or four years, more states will become disenchanted with Common Core because “it is way more expensive than advertised and the results are much worse than anyone had expected.”

“Inventing a one-size-fits-all curriculum for the country, pretending it’s a state-level initiative while ceding enormous power to the federal government and private corporations that actually run the Common Core, that experiment will wind down. It clearly is something that the American public is going to resist tooth and nail, and that makes it politically unsalvageable. But the costs of extraction are high, so we will extract slowly instead of all at once.”

However, by then the damage to the U.S. economy will have been done, he said. “To the extent that we’re a nation that is in a tight competitive position with other developed nations that depend on well-educated engineers, scientists and other technologists for whom math is a basic tool, this puts us in a terrible position.

“Common Core will extract a major price for the U.S. in international competitiveness, but it will be a delayed reaction until the generation that has been Common Core-ized enters the job market, at which time the people who invented it and the politicians who implemented it will be gone from the scene and it will be somebody else’s problem.”


Higher Education Under Attack From Within

College campuses were once bastions of diverse opinion — a garden where ideas thrived and where contrary viewpoints were freely expressed. But they’re fast becoming cesspools of narrow-mindedness that stifle free speech — where political correctness overrules common sense and where free thinking is discouraged. Colleges and universities are occupied ever more by students offended because someone expressed a different opinion, didn’t pay proper deference or wore the “wrong” costume on Halloween.

Student protests are returning to 1960s-70s levels and arise because some students think there aren’t enough minority professors on campus, while others decry a lack of “social justice.” Some have called for hunger strikes over what they perceive as a lack of support for students of color.

If students don’t like a professor’s point of view, or they detect “microaggressions” in the classroom, they feel led to demand the professor resign or be fired. If you’re a Hispanic kid and someone wears a sombrero and a poncho on Halloween, it’s time for a protest. Heck, the mob claimed the scalp of University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe last week, all for imprecise failures to address vague charges of racism.

And did you know that the First Amendment makes some college kids feel unsafe? Would you ever have imagined that such an idea could take hold on an American college campus?

The vice president of the Missouri Students Association, Brenda Smith-Lezama, told MSNBC last week, “I personally am tired of hearing that First Amendment rights protect students when they are creating a hostile and unsafe learning environment for myself and for other students here.” Poor little thing must be terrified listening to the radio or watching television or movie drama. And she suffers under the delusion that her comfort is more important than someone else’s rights.

While these kids have yet to accomplish much, they believe the world must work to calm their fears. Their perceptions may be adequate to drive protests and hunger strikes, but they don’t necessarily reflect reality.

Many of the complaints have a racial element, but they really center on hypersensitive feelings about things that have always been normal aspects of life. Suddenly, these normal campus happenings that students — white students, black students, Asian and Hispanic students, female students — have dealt with successfully for decades with little or no difficulty are now scary and threatening.

College once was a place where kids learned to think. Today, many of them seem to know only how to feel; emotion rules rationality. Listening to different ideas used to be enlightening, mind-expanding. Now, it makes the kiddies cry for their mommies.

Missing from these children-in-adult-bodies is even the suspicion that not everything revolves around them, that they are not the be-all and end-all of the known universe.

And they also want someone else to pay off their college loans for them, because … well, just because.

It’s certainly true that tuition has outpaced the rate of inflation for decades, but this is primarily due to the very kind of government subsidies students demand in greater portion now.

Yet, generally speaking, the process of gaining entry to an institution of higher learning is long established and has worked well for decades. Colleges and universities are places where the qualified may go to advance their education, and most of the onus is on the student to fund their education through parental help, scholarship assistance, student loans, the GI Bill, or good old-fashioned hard work. And then it is the student’s responsibility to perform as expected academically to complete their degree requirements, and then go out and get a job and become a productive member of society.

That is called “life,” and life is not a smooth ride, most times. Tens of millions of Americans have successfully navigated the sometimes-troubled waters successfully without being coddled and nursed along the way. Conquering challenges and facing adversity head-on build character.

The whining behavior demonstrated on college campuses recently shows a fundamental failure of thousands of young people to have learned the basic rules of life. Their minds haven’t grown up at the same rate as their bodies.

However, bowing to the whims of students is letting the inmates run the asylum. College is (or once was) a place for learning. Professors led the learning process, administrators ran the school, and the students worked hard and did what they had to do to master the material. If students weren’t happy in a particular environment, or couldn’t hack it, they were free to leave.

As bad as the current state of higher education is, it is much worse for America at large. A generation or two with millions of young people among them who can’t cope with the problems of going to college surely won’t be able to be good citizens, hold down jobs in a productive economy, or staff a strong, able military capable of defending the country — or even make sensible decisions about for whom they will vote. They can hardly be expected to weigh complex arguments rationally when anything that doesn’t agree with their narrow ideas makes them hide under their beds.

This is what liberalism hath wrought, and it will most likely get worse.


Students Across US Demand Free College, Stumble Over Who Will Foot the Bill

Students swarmed college campuses across the nation Thursday to rally against the rising costs of higher education, demanding free college tuition, the zeroing out of student debt, and a $15 minimum wage hike for campus employees.

The protests, which spawned from a social media movement called the Million Student March, hit 110 colleges throughout the U.S. and quickly rose as a top trending topic on Twitter.

The grassroots group said it was uniting to fight for education as a “human right,” citing analysis that found that the average class of 2015 graduate who took out a loan for a bachelor’s degree has more than $35,000 in debt.

“Education should be free,” the group’s website reads. “The United States is the richest country in the world, yet students have to take on crippling debt in order to get a college education.”

But how the group proposes to pay for the plan is unclear.

Keely Mullen, one of the national organizers for the Million Student March, struggled to outline a funding strategy after Fox Business Network anchor Neil Cavuto asked who exactly would “pick up the tab” for the group’s proposed provisions.

“The 1 percent of people in society that are hoarding the wealth and really sort of causing a catastrophe that students are facing,” Mullen initially responded.

Cavuto noted that those who fell into that category recently saw their taxes rise to about 40 to 50 percent of their income, asking how much more Mullen believed they should pay.

The question commanded the rest of the 9-minute interview, but Mullen was unable to offer a concrete reply other than to argue that the tax rate should continue to rise “until we have a system where not one in two families are threatened with poverty.”

Mary Clare Reim, a research associate at The Heritage Foundation, pointed to economist Milton Friedman’s coined phrase, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch,” noting that college tuition will always come with a price tag because it is a service.

“The question is who pays and how much,” Reim said.

The reason tuition rates have skyrocketed, she continued, is because of the steep increase in federal student loans, which have encouraged colleges and universities to raise their prices.

“When students are not paying for their tuition, colleges have no reason to offer competitive or even realistic prices,” she said. “Instead, the federal government has made a promise to offer student loans regardless of tuition costs, which is why we are seeing this unprecedented cost of a college education.”

She added that offering every student in the country free tuition as the Million Student March proposed would drive the U.S. further into debt, “leaving our economy so weak that there would be no jobs for all of these students we just paid to educate.”

“Calling tuition free college a ‘right’ and demanding someone else pay for your education will do you no good if that right can’t use your education to get a job and contribute to the economy.”


Friday, November 20, 2015

Arizona State Offering Course Exploring 'Problem of Whiteness'

Could you imagine the uproar if a university thought that it could make money offering a course titled “The Problem of Blackness”? For the second time, Arizona State University will offer a course exploring the problem of whiteness. The course, titled U.S. Race Theory & the Problem of Whiteness, seeks to explore institutionalized racism. Equality, so often espoused on liberal college campuses, would call for Arizona State to offer a few more courses that, let’s just say, would be politically incorrect in this day and age of “safe spaces” and the unrest that toppled the president of University of Missouri earlier this month. As Mark Alexander explained last year when the course was initially offered:

I would argue that there are to varying degrees undeniable societal biases based on all those human traits and attributes we are supposed to ignore — race, gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation, etc.

Do I think those biases are so pronounced that some groups experience more privilege under some circumstances than others? Yes. Is it worth discussing? Yes, but only if that discussion includes the whole color spectrum of privilege. …

Beyond all the benefits that clearly fit under the category of “black privilege” (if anyone dared label them as such), perhaps the most obvious would be the across-the-board institutionalization of affirmative action and a wide range of other preferential treatment standards based on the sole attribute of being anything but white.


Vanderbilt Professor Facing Protests Tells Students to ‘Grow Up’

A black conservative professor who found herself the latest target of student protests nationwide has one thing to say to those calling for her to be suspended from the university where she teachers: “Grow up.”

Among other allegations, students accused Carol Swain, a professor of law and political science at Vanderbilt University for nearly 27 years, of “unprofessional intimidation on social media” and “discriminatory practices in the classroom.”

Swain actively posts her Christian conservative view points on her public Facebook page and website called BeThePeopleTV. She has authored numerous award-winning books and has been cited by the Supreme Court, according to her résumé.

But recently, her conservative values left her at odds with students on campus who started a petition demanding she be removed from the university.

Swain told The Daily Signal in a phone interview on Friday the petition, posted on, originally demanded that she be fired but has since been amended to read in part:

    "We are petitioning that Carol Swain be temporarily suspended from her position as professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University pending an investigation into student allegations of unprofessional intimidation on social media, discriminatory practices in the classroom, and unclear representation as a Public Figure with invocations of the Vanderbilt name on her Facebook page....

    Over the past few years, Professor Carol Swain has become synonymous with bigotry, intolerance, and unprofessionalism. While Swain first and foremost has a right to her personal beliefs and the right to freedom of speech within and outside of the classroom, it recently came to the attention of the Vanderbilt community that Carol Swain has let her hate-filled prejudices negatively impact her work, our student body, and Vanderbilt’s reputation."

Swain said the students behind the protests never took any of her classes, all of which are elective.

“My classes are elective, so no one has to take any of my classes, and no one has to go to my blog page or go to my Facebook,” she said. “I feel that I have been defamed by the students and the petition has been filled with lies, and they ought to be held accountable for what they’ve done.”

Those students, she said, “don’t get to decide whose speech is more valuable than someone else’s.”

Since its release, the petition garnered more than 1,500 signatures. A petition in support of Swain has gained more than 1,000 signatures.

In response to the protests, Nicholas S. Zeppos, the chancellor of Vanderbilt University, released a statement that in part read:

    "Professor Swain’s opinions are her own. They do not reflect the opinions of the university in any way. They are not my opinions, the opinions of the provost, or the opinions of university leadership.....

    Vanderbilt University is committed to diversity, inclusion, and freedom from discrimination.  Ensuring that our campus is a safe, welcoming, and supportive environment for every member of the Vanderbilt community has been, and will always be, our top priority."

Zeppos did not address whether or not the university planned to investigate allegations of discrimination made against Swain. According to the petition, those allegations include:

    "Firstly, Professor Carol Swain has failed to clearly separate her role on her Facebook page as a “Public Figure” from the Vanderbilt name, creating a situation in which the public may misconstrue her as speaking on behalf of the University. We want to make it clear that Carol Swain in no way represents our alma mater, regardless of the fact that she teaches here.

    Secondly, there have been several instances in which students have contacted Professor Swain to hold an intellectual debate with her, and in return, she has resorted to name-calling and posting their personal contact information on her public page. In many cases, students claimed this led to public shaming, intimidation, and/or harassment by her followers.

    Additionally, several students who claim to have taken Professor Swain’s class(es) have expressed concerns that minority students enrolled in her class(es) – especially those who are LGBTQIA+ and/or non-Christians – expose themselves to unfair assessment in-class and may receive lower grades than their peers simply because of their identities. At a University that prides itself on fairness, diversity and inclusion, these allegations are entirely unacceptable if true.

Swain, who is currently on sabbatical, called those allegations “lies” and said she “earned the right” to call herself a professor on Facebook.

“They don’t own the word professor,” she said. “Professor is a word, and I’ve earned the right to call myself a professor.”

Swain did admit to paraphrasing a “threat” she received from a student via Facebook and said she shared a link to that student’s public Facebook on her own page. Swain has since deleted that post.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have done that, but the student contacted me,” Swain said. “My point in showing it was to show the level of disrespect and what I have to put up with at Vanderbilt University with this person saying I was a disgrace.”

“It’s something that has changed in the student body, that they think they can control what people do, not just inside the classroom, but outside the classroom,” Swain said.

While she’s strong in her views, Swain said the situation has taken a personal toll. “It hurts more to be attacked because the students have been my life. That’s, to me, the sole reason why it’s been so distressing on a personal level.”

But if it causes people to look at the “attacks” on freedom of speech and freedom of religion, Swain says she’s “not sorry about it.”

“I’m very concerned about what’s happening across the nation, and I believe university administrators have lost control and that they’re making a serious mistake when they give into students using those 1960s, 1970s protest strategies,” she said.

After the University of Missouri president was forced to resign earlier this week over his handling of cases involving discrimination, protests have spread nationwide. Vanderbilt University is among a group of colleges and universities facing student protests over alleged incidents of racism and other types of discrimination.


Liberal Professor's Choice Words for Student Fascists

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, a liberal Clintonista stalwart, appeared on Megyn Kelly’s Fox program to discuss the suppression of free speech sweeping the nation’s universities. He isn’t thrilled with the movement and didn’t offer kind words. Instead, he heavily criticized the students' childish antics. From the interview:

    “These are the same people who claim they’re seeking diversity. The last thing many of these students want is real diversity, diversity of ideas. They may want superficial diversity of gender or superficial diversity of color, but they don’t want diversity of ideas. We’re seeing a curtain of McCarthyism descend over many college campuses. I don’t want to make apologies to the 1930s, but we have to remember that it was the students at universities who first started burning books during the Nazi regime.

And these students are book burners. They don’t want to hear diverse views on college campuses. … It’s the worst kind of hypocrisy. They want complete freedom over their sex lives, over their personal ives, over the use of drugs, but they want mommy and daddy dean and president to please give them a safe place [to] protect them from ideas that may be insensitive and maybe will make them think. … If you’re going to be a college administrator or a professor, if you have tenure, you have to speak back to the students, you have to call these things what they are: double standards, hypocrisy, bigotry, McCarthyism, and the fog of fascism is descending quickly over many American universities. We have to fight back against these students.”

On that last point, commentator David Harsanyi echoes Dershowitz’s perspective. He writes:

    “The thousands of other University of Missouri students … could have held a counter-protest against dimwitted fascists cloistered in safe spaces. Where are those student groups? Why was there no pushback from those kids — and really, there was none as far as I can tell, at either Missouri or Yale — against the bullies who want administrators fired for thought crimes? It can mean that students are too intimidated, too uninterested or not very idealistic about these freedoms. None of those things bodes well for the future.

    "And where is the faculty, those brave souls who value the freedom to debate and champion sometimes-controversial ideas when mobs of students are making wild accusations against their school without any real evidence? Where are they when students shut down conservative, libertarian or not-progressive-enough Democrats from speaking at their schools?

Fellow commentator Mona Charen, meanwhile, gets to the crux of the problem:

    "During what liberal academics praised as the ‘idealistic’ 1960s, American students (sometimes armed) seized buildings, held a dean hostage, looted research files and committed promiscuous vandalism. Nazi students (egged on by professors) ‘cleansed’ Heidelberg and other universities of Jews and others. Russian universities became incubators for radicals who took their ideas into the streets. During the Cultural Revolution, Mao’s faithful pupils subjected their teachers to ’re-education' and even occasionally cannibalized them.

    "Students are natural radicals. The job of academics in a free society that hopes to remain so is to instill respect for freedom of thought and expression. Our problem is that many of the students who were burning professors' research notes in the 1960s are now on the faculty.”

We’re reaping what we’ve sown.


UK: Two teachers in 'Trojan horse' school face lifetime ban for feeding pupils 'diet of Islam'

Two teachers from a school linked to the 'Trojan horse' scandal could be banned for life after a hearing found that they 'fed pupils a diet of Islam' which 'stifled their development'.

Inamulhaq Anwar and Akeel Ahmed exercised 'undue religious influence' on children at Park View Academy in Birmingham, a disciplinary panel ruled yesterday.

Pupils were never taught sex or relationship education, according to officials, and were 'immersed in orthodox Islamic doctrine' - which could leave them vulnerable to being groomed by extremists.

Anwar, 34, and Ahmed, 41, were 'generals' in the campaign to enforce Islamic discipline in the school, according to the Birmingham-based panel.

They were found to have implemented 'an undue amount of religious influence in pupils' education', and could now face being the first British teachers to be banned from the classroom permanently.

A total of 11 other staff at Park View and Oldknow Academy face charges of misconduct over the 'Trojan horse' affair, which allegedly saw teachers conspire to introduce hardline Islamic teaching to schools in the West Midlands.

Yesterday, a National College of Teaching and Leadership disciplinary panel chose to accept the evidence of a staff member that Anwar and Ahmed were central figure in Park View's religious indoctrination programme.

The panel said that pupils were 'fed a diet of Islam' which had in turn 'stifled their development as normal teenagers'.

It also found that the conduct of the two men tended to undermine tolerance and respect for the faith and belief of others.

Chairman Mark Tweedle said that the teachers were 'guilty of unacceptable professional misconduct' which 'may also bring the profession into disrepute'.

He said that the claims were 'in no way concerned with extremism', but added: 'Pupils raised in a predominantly Muslim community and immersed in orthodox Islamic doctrine at school are more likely to feel isolated and inadequately prepared for the world as they grow up.

'As such they are more likely to be vulnerable from the actions and inferences of others who may exploit any sense of alienation.'

Mr Tweedle said the panel had found that 'Park View was leading the way in the introduction of Islamic practice - perhaps more so than in other British state schools.'

Among the allegations found to have been proven were the claim that Ahmed and Anwar 'reformed the school curriculum to exclude proper teaching of sex and relationship education, use of contraception and safe sex'.

Mr Tweedle went on to say that 'pupils' development was being stifled and they were not being allowed to develop likes normal British teenagers'.

The panel concluded: 'This omission meant the relevant boys were not being fully informed as to how to keep themselves safe [from STDs] and meant they were not being prepared for life in modern Britain.'

Mr Tweedle said both teachers had also failed to afford pupils the chance to 'explore different cultures and form their own views'.

Ahmed organised religious assemblies where boys were segregated from girls, and encouraged prayer during the school day through posters, a call to prayer on the school's loudspeaker system, and direct reminders to teachers.

Separately, Anwar was also found to have breached proper recruitment procedures at Park View's sister school Nansen Primary, in hiring a personal acquaintance as deputy headmaster.

Park View was placed in special measures by Ofsted after the 'Trojan horse' allegations came to light, and it has since been renamed Rockwood Academy.

Ahmed and Anwar will be told what sanctions they will face at a later date.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Obscene British Primary school BANS blind seven-year-old girl from using walking cane 'because it could trip up teachers'

Typical British bureaucrsats.  Give them an ounce of authority and they will find ways to hurt people with it.  They're wavering under publicity, however

A primary school has banned a blind seven-year-old girl from using her walking cane at school for 'health and safety' reasons - in case she trips up teachers and pupils.

Lily-Grace Hooper, from North Bristol, suffered a stroke when she was just four days old. It caused the little girl to lose her 3D vision, become blind in her right eye, and to only be able to see lights and colours in her left. Earlier this year a charity donated her a fibre-glass walking cane after she started using cardboard tubes to guide herself at home.

But now Hambrook Primary School has said it posed a high risk to others around her after a safety assessment. Lily-Grace has been told she cannot use it and should instead have full adult support at all times - and has to 'walk carefully'.

The decision by Hambrook Primary School and the Sensory Support Service - which does assessments for schools - has infuriated Lily-Grace's mother, Kristy.

Kristy, 38, said: 'When the school told me she can no longer bring her cane into school, I just thought this must be health and safety gone mad.

'She hasn't had any problems with any of the other students, and none of the parents have complained about it - in fact, they have all been very supportive. 'I don't understand where the school is coming from.

'Lily-Grace has taken to the cane very quickly, and she needs it as she travels to school, walks to the playground, or just being in school.

'I am absolutely livid. What about the health and safety of my girl? I like the school, they are a good school, but this really is very poor advice.

'It's just ridiculous. If you took a walking cane away from a blind adult, you would say that was discrimination. It's the same here.'

But a risk assessment by the Sensory Support Service on behalf of the school said the cane caused high risk to people around her.

The risk assessment said Lily-Grace should use hand rails to get about and she has also has been asked to 'walk carefully over all surfaces'.

The report added she should use a shortened cane, something her parents say is not suitable because the long and light stick has been specifically designed to suit her needs.

Ms Hooper is now worried her daughter will become dependent on having someone show her around, and a helper would set her daughter apart from the rest of her class.

She added: 'It is a disability, but I want to celebrate it and make sure she can become independent.'

Sarah Murray, founder of Common Sense Canes, who donated a stick to Lily-Grace, said the treatment of the school girl was 'absolute nonsense'.

She added: 'I've heard about this health and safety reasons, and I just cannot fathom what the school is thinking. Why are they taking a cane away from a little girl?'

Charity for vision-impaired children, Blind Children UK, said it was imperative a child learned independence from a young age. A spokesman said: 'Using a cane teaches a child to keep themselves safe and can help them to become less reliant on others.

School head Jo Dent said they would discuss the situation with the family. She said: 'The school's mobility officer raised health and safety issues around the new cane following a recent risk assessment.

'We have to consider all of our pupils, so it is important that we have an opportunity to discuss the situation before we make any decisions. 'We are very keen to resolve this issue as soon as possible and have been actively seeking to engage with the parent to bring this to an agreeable conclusion.

'The pupil has not been banned from bringing in their cane, we have simply asked them to not use it around school as a temporary measure until we have the chance to meet with the parent and discuss the situation.


Education Disaster

By Walter E. Williams

The 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress report, also known as The Nation's Report Card, shows that U.S. educational achievement, to put it nicely, leaves much to be desired.

When it comes to reading and math skills, just 34 percent and 33 percent, respectively, of U.S. eighth-grade students tested proficient or above — that is, performed at grade level or above. Recent test scores show poor achievement levels in other academic areas. Only 18 percent of eighth-graders are proficient in U.S. history. It's 27 percent in geography and 23 percent in civics.

The story is not much better when it comes to high schoolers. According to 2010 and 2013 NAEP test scores, only 38 percent of 12th-graders were proficient in reading. It was 26 percent in math, 12 percent in history, 20 percent in geography and 24 percent in civics (

Many of these poorly performing youngsters gain college admission. The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education reports, "Every year in the United States, nearly 60 percent of first-year college students discover that, despite being fully eligible to attend college, they are not ready for postsecondary studies."

That means colleges spend billions of dollars on remedial education. Many of the students who enroll in those classes never graduate from college. The fact that many students are not college-ready takes on even greater significance when we consider that many college courses have been dumbed down.

Richard Vedder, emeritus professor of economics at Ohio University, argues that there has been a shocking decline in college academic standards. Grade inflation is rampant. A seminal study, "Academically Adrift," by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, argues that very little improvement in critical reasoning skills occurs in college. Adult literacy is falling among college graduates. Large proportions of college graduates do not know simple facts, such as the half-century in which the Civil War occurred. Vedder says that at the college level, ideological conformity is increasingly valued over free expression and empirical inquiry.

While educational achievement among whites is nothing to write home about, that for blacks is no less than a disaster. Only 13 percent of black eighth-graders score proficient or above in math, and only 16 percent do in reading. In 2013, only 7 percent of black 12th-graders scored proficient in math, and only 16 percent did in reading. The full magnitude of the black education tragedy is seen by the statistics on the other end of the achievement continuum. "Below basic" is the score given when a student is unable to demonstrate even partial mastery of knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work at his grade level. In 2013, 62 percent of black 12th-graders scored below basic in math, and 44 percent scored below basic in reading.

Dr. Thomas Sowell has written volumes on black education. The magnitude of today's black education tragedy is entirely new. He demonstrates this in "Education: Assumptions Versus History," a 1985 collection of papers. Paul Laurence Dunbar High School is a black public school in Washington, D.C. As early as 1899, its students scored higher on citywide tests than any of the city's white schools. From its founding in 1870 to 1955, most of its graduates went off to college. Dunbar's distinguished alumni included U.S. Sen. Ed Brooke, physician Charles Drew and, during World War II, nearly a score of majors, nine colonels and lieutenant colonels, and a brigadier general.

Baltimore's Frederick Douglass High School also produced distinguished alumni, such as Thurgood Marshall and Cab Calloway, as well as several judges, congressmen and civil rights leaders. Douglass High was second in the nation in black Ph.D.s among its alumni.

The stories of the excellent predominantly black schools of yesteryear found in Sowell's study refute the notion of "experts" that more money is needed to improve black education. Today's Paul Laurence Dunbar and Frederick Douglass high schools have resources that would have been unimaginable to their predecessors. Those resources have meant absolutely nothing in terms of academic achievement.


Divestment: an illiberal, anti-academic movement

A new report exposes the campaign to turn students against fossil fuels

The University of Oxford hit the headlines earlier this year when it ruled out investing in coal and tar sands. Oxford’s own press releases paraded this ‘divestment’ as a victory for environmental campaigners. Less trumpeted was the fact that Oxford had no investments in coal or tar sands from which to divest. Nothing had changed. The announcements were simply intended to send a message to the world that ‘Oxford University is a world leader in the battle against climate change’.

That Oxford’s declaration rang hollow has not stopped it becoming a much vaunted success story in a campaign to get universities to divest from fossil fuels. The divestment movement, seemingly student-led and hugely popular, has rapidly become a growing force on campuses around the world. Now, the origins and practices of this campaign have been uncovered and meticulously detailed by the National Association of Scholars (NAS). Its latest report, Inside Divestment: The Illiberal Movement to Turn a Generation Against Fossil Fuels, sets out the reality behind the virtue-signalling headlines.

Inside Divestment explains how ‘the fossil-fuel-divestment movement emerged from a single campaign at Swarthmore College in fall 2010, and has grown into an international movement’. But, as the NAS report shows, such apparent global influence is not the whole story. The divestment movement, a collection of local campaigning groups, might be fronted by students, but ‘many are run by small numbers of full-time organisers’ who are ‘orchestrated by Bill McKibben’s activist group’. With relatively few student activists, the divestment movement ‘makes up in boasts what it may lack in grassroots support’.

Despite much publicity, then, only 44 higher-education institutions have actually divested from fossil fuels. This figure represents just 0.24 per cent of colleges and universities in the world and 0.62 per cent of those in the US. Few of the ‘divested’ institutions are large or prestigious and, as at Oxford, some ‘have sold no investments at all since their divestment decisions’. However, as Inside Divestment explains, such figures mean little to a movement whose own advocates acknowledge that, even if successful, it ‘will not decrease the share price of fossil-fuel companies or appreciably shrink their profits or access to capital’. The movement’s claims that divestment can stop global warming and improve the environment are also exposed as bogus: ‘It can do neither.’

This practical impotency does not matter to the divestment movement, which, as the NAS report repeatedly demonstrates, is not a political campaign aimed at winning people over to particular arguments, but a moral crusade. Oxford is not alone in its grandstanding. By self-consciously eschewing debate in favour of moral declarations and emotional demonstrations, the divestment campaigners betray the principles of free inquiry that higher education should be defending.

The divestment movement has been able to garner such widespread but passive support in higher education because values have already trumped the pursuit of truth. As Inside Divestment notes, ‘the divestment movement is itself a spin-off from the larger campus-sustainability movement’. Universities have legitimised a blurring of the boundaries between scholarship and political activism. Two campaigns took root when ‘professors gave college credit to students who worked on a fossil-fuel-divestment campaign’, while another started at a university that ‘assigned every freshman a summer reading – Eaarth, by Bill McKibben’.

Faculty involvement lends weight to the unashamed moral crusading of the divestment movement. The NAS report notes that ‘small numbers of students run vociferous campaigns focused on publicly shaming those who disagree’. The aim is not to give students access to facts for them to make up their own minds; rather, it’s to present them with moral certainties and polarise opposition. It gives students a cause that channels feelings of both anger and moral superiority. Those questioning divestment are presented as uncaring oppressors: ‘Anything besides full agreement counts as immorality.’ The divestment movement’s strategy is ‘to intimidate the uncommitted into joining, or at least not opposing, divestment’.

The moral certainty of the divestment campaigners sits particularly uncomfortably within universities, whose whole reason for existence should be underpinned by critical thinking and the questioning of absolutes. The divestment movement’s conviction that when it comes to climate change, ‘the time for rational debate is over’, makes it a campaign that cannot permit dissent. The desire to bypass the public, or students, comes from McKibben, who ‘argued that needed a new strategy that was not reliant on going “through the political system”’. It is not surprising, then, that, ‘only a handful of colleges have held actual debates about fossil-fuel divestment’. But the argument that the science is now settled is undercut by the facts: ‘[D]ata show us to be in the midst of more than 18 years during which there has been no appreciable global warming.’

The moral imperative of the campus climate crusaders to ignore facts, bypass arguments and prevent debate places the divestment campaign in opposition to academic freedom. Inside Divestment reveals the extent to which the movement ‘scorns discourse as needless delay’. Campaigners decry debate as ‘a hopeless waste of time’ and ‘unproductive’. Fearmongering means ‘divestment activists commonly argue that the time for civil discourse is over. Talk is only a means of delay that the earth cannot afford.’ Such arguments are made most crudely by activist students. One Swarthmore student published an article on her campus blog with the subheading, ‘Fuck your constructive dialogue’. In it she argued that ‘those who stood for “constructive dialogue” about “facts and reason” rather than “hyperbole and emotion” were just putting up smokescreens to block their “elitist” intentions.’ Such students only echo the views of the movement’s leaders, who favour conflict over dialogue, arguing: ‘“Open conflict” could “correct a bias”, such as Swarthmore’s “bias toward cognitive linearity”, that is, logic-driven debate.’

With its disregard for truth, logic, debate and academic freedom, the divestment movement represents an assault on the principles that have underpinned higher education for over a century. Universities are transformed from places of intellectual inquiry into sites for political campaigning. Divestment campaigners further exacerbate the trend for higher education to be more concerned with the promotion of particular predetermined values than with the pursuit of knowledge. The New School in New York announced its divestment from fossil fuels, along with the creation of a climate-change curriculum intended to form students into ‘climate citizens’. In contrast, the NAS’s Inside Divestment is a clarion call to debate. It provides the badly needed, dispassionate, detailed and rational account of the divestment movement that, to its shame, has failed to emerge from within academia.


Fourth grader threatened with sexual harassment charges for writing his classmate a love letter saying her 'eyes are like diamonds'

What started as an innocent love letter passed from a nine-year-old boy to the girl he likes in class has caused something of a scandal at a small Florida elementary school.

The fourth grader is now being threatened with charges of sexual harassment because of the note - only he doesn't know what sexual harassment is.

The letter describes the girl as 'pretty' and 'cute' and says she has 'eyes like diamonds', but other kids in the class started making fun of the boy and said that he wanted to see the girl naked.

That's when the principal was notified, and an investigation was launched at the Hillsborough district school in Tampa.

The boy's mother, who asked not to be named, is outraged over how her son has been treated.

'That's when the principal proceeded to tell me that it wasn't appropriate that he was writing the note and that if he writes another note, they are going to file sexual harassment charges on my nine-year-old,' the mom told ABC Action News.

The school district said that because the boy sent more than one letter the situation qualifies as harassment. 

The district also said it discourages children passing notes because it is a distraction.

However the boy's mother said it was a harmless gesture.

'He's nine - what little kid doesn't write love notes?' the mom said.  The mother added: 'My son doesn't even know what sexual harassment means.'

A psychologist told the network that she doesn't believe the incident can be classed as harassment.  However she encouraged parents to talk to their children about boundaries.

The school has so far not commented on the letters.