Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Republicans furious over history lesson comparing Trump to Nazis

Republican lawmakers in Maryland have criticized a history lesson at a public high school near Baltimore in which Donald Trump was compared with Nazis and communists.

A slide used in a history class at Loch Raven high school in Towson showed a picture of Trump above pictures of a Nazi swastika and a flag of the Soviet Union.

Captions read “wants to round up a group of people and build a giant wall” and “oh, THAT is why it sounds so familiar!”

The Baltimore Sun reported that the state delegate Kathy Szeliga arranged for copies of the slide and the school system’s response to be sent to fellow Baltimore county lawmakers. She also posted the image on Facebook. “It is horrific. It is educational malfeasance,” Szeliga said on Friday.

The Baltimore county councilman Wade Kach said the slide was “a piece of propaganda” that didn’t belong in a classroom.

The school system said the slide was not part of the resources it provides for history teachers.

Charles Herndon, a spokesman for Baltimore county schools, said students in advanced high school classes are “discerning, intelligent students who are going to be able to draw their own inferences and draw their own conclusions”.

“The topics being discussed in the class included world wars and the attempts by some leaders throughout history to limit or prevent migration into certain countries. In isolation and out of context with the lesson, the image could be misunderstood,” the school district said in a statement.

The school system said the issue had become a personnel matter “which will be appropriately addressed by the school administration and is not subject to further clarification”.


Did You Know? Majority of Federal Funding for College Is for Student Loans

The federal government has grown in importance for higher education for decades. The most long-lasting effect could be its status as the lender of first resort for student loans. The vast majority of federal spending on colleges and universities comes in the form of making loans, dwarfing all other activities.

Of the $120 billion supplied by the Department of Education for higher ed institutions in FY2017-FY2018, 79 percent of this support (about $95 billion) was in the form of student loans, according to Open the Books, a nonprofit government watchdog.

Another 19 percent of funding was for direct payments, such as grants, and contracts made up 2 percent of federal funding. The vast majority, about 91 percent, of that funding went to traditional schools and community colleges. However, for-profit colleges and cosmetology schools received the rest, roughly $11 billion.

In theory, those loans wouldn’t be a problem because the students would graduate and then repay their loans accordingly. In reality, however, borrowers often don’t graduate, struggle to repay their loans, fall behind on their payments, and default. Borrowers can avoid default by enrolling in income-driven repayment (IDR) plans, but as these plans grow in popularity, graduate students with higher debt have flocked to them. IDR plans end in de facto loan forgiveness, and the Congressional Budget Office projects that $167 billion in graduate student debt and $40 billion in undergraduate student debt will be forgiven by 2029.

While loans were seen as a way to help low-income students achieve a college degree, it’s become a program that has turned the Education Department into a bank with bad borrowers, leaving taxpayers to cover the bill.


University of Southern California to Make Tuition Free for Low-Income Students

I didn't think USC was that rich

The University of Southern California announced Thursday that the private university will offer free tuition beginning next fall for students from families earning $80,000 or less.

The elite Los Angeles school will increase undergraduate aid by more than $30 million per year in a move the school expects will increase financial aid to more than 4,000 students. About a third of new students who enroll for next fall or spring are expected to benefit. An eligible student can receive up to $45,000 more financial aid under the new policy.

“This expansion of the university’s financial aid package will result in more need-based financial aid for students across the income spectrum, particularly those families who are finding it increasingly difficult to pay the rising costs of a college education,” USC said in a statement Thursday announcing the policy.

In addition, the new policy will not take home ownership into account when calculating a student’s financial need. This rule change is intended to address the surging housing prices in southern California, which can warp the optics of a family’s financial situation when a large portion of their money is tied up in their house.

“This significant step we are taking today is by no means the end of our affordability journey,” USC President Carol Folt said in the press release. “We are committed to increasing USC’s population of innovators, leaders and creators regardless of their financial circumstances.”

The school said it intends to continue expanding its financial aid program over the next few years, taking “further steps” to make attending feasible for even more students.


Monday, February 24, 2020

The Philosophical Force Driving the Fight to Rewrite History

Two recent stories that dominated academic Twitter were the cancellation of the Western Art History course at Yale and the incorporation of the 1619 Project in the school curricula in Buffalo, New York and Washington DC. Though political centrists on Twitter were outraged, no one noted that those two incidents are thematically similar. Without understanding the connection, fighting back against indoctrination throughout the education system will be impossible.

Consider the situation at Yale. Yale’s administration ended a decades-old course on the Western canon because it is arguably too big a field to cover. The course, “Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present,” was once taught by authorities like Vincent Scully but has caused “unease” among some students and faculty because it is an “idealized Western ‘canon’—a product of an overwhelmingly white, straight, European and male cadre of artists.”

Putting European art “on a pedestal” is “problematic,” as every genre and tradition are “equally deserving of study,” according to Tim Barringer, chair of Yale’s art history department. He elaborated: “The class will also consider art in relation to questions of gender, class and race” and discuss its involvement with Western capitalism. Art’s “relationship with climate change” will also be a “key theme.” Incidentally, the course was extremely popular among students, a significant number of whom were disappointed and dissatisfied with this sudden change.

In DC and Buffalo, the situation is similar, but in reverse. As the NPR report notes, the heavily criticized and flawed 1619 Project, a revisionist history about the American founding, will be a mandated part of the curriculum for 7th through 12th graders, teaching students that the American founding was predicated on slavery, not emancipation from monarchic rule. But that isn’t all. The project, essentially spearheaded by non-experts and activist journalists, also argues that “plantation economics led to modern corporate, capitalist culture and how post-Civil War politicians blocked universal health care because they opposed medical treatment for recently-freed slaves.”

Are those structural changes reflective of student-driven radicalism? While it is fair to claim that campus radicalism has increased in recent years, the evidence to the claim that they are student-driven remains sparse. On the contrary, most structural changes and campus activism are led by a section of activist faculty, who in turn take advantage of students to use them as pawns or justifications to ensure a radical agenda.

Consider the evidence from just one week of news. There’s a push for banning military presence at freshers in Cambridge University, led by university bureaucrats and political union leaders; and another push to ban a centuries-old student club for failing diversity quota at Oxford. A climate action group led by faculty and activists in the United States want the Big Ten schools to divest from fossil fuels and move toward carbon neutrality. And Berkeley rejected “76 percent of qualified applicants without even considering their teaching skills, their publication history, their potential for academic excellence” for failing to adhere to university standards for a commitment to diversity.

None of those efforts are student-led. Nor are the faculty-led “open letter” campaigns and petitions—almost always started by activist-academics, who lead campus and student activism, sometimes causing de-platforming and violence.

It is unsurprising that, in the Yale and Buffalo cases, there are also top-down restructuring attempts, pushed by a section of activist media and academia, to craft a narrative without regard to students or taxpayers, an ongoing phenomenon. One of the persistent claims is that only a small minority of academics are radical and oppose free inquiry, and that there is no indoctrination in academia.  That claim, as data suggests, is debatable, but the larger problem is when these small groups are successful in restructuring the academy and the majority stays silent because it is not worth the personal risk to try to stop them.

The bigger question, therefore, is ideological. To understand the root causes behind that top-down restructuring, one needs to understand the ideological underpinnings in the academy. Since the publication of The Authoritarian Personality in 1950 by Theodore Adorno in which the Marxist and critical theorist created a scale to determine authoritarian traits among individuals, the academic left has treated genuinely conservative instincts (nationalism, trust in hierarchy, economic conservatism) as signs of fascist sympathy. Anything related to the classical Western canon was seen as suspect, be it art, architecture, or conservative Western values. That destructive idea formed the backbone of the Critical Theories influential in the 1960s and served as the foundational basis for the queer, feminist, racial, social, and gender theories that permeate Anglosphere academia. Adorno’s influence drives the 1619 Project and Yale’s cancellation of its Western art course.

Ultimately, the aim of canceling or changing those courses are subversive, divisive, and revolutionary.
Ultimately, the aim of canceling or changing those courses are subversive, divisive, and revolutionary. They’re a radical reshaping of a unifying historical narrative, a way to reshape society as early in the educational system as possible. Both actions are driven by a section of activist-academics. Both want to negate and critique Western history. Both are sharply critical of capitalism. And both want to replace the dominant historical narrative with an alternate, relativist version. Get rid of Michelangelo, Aivazovsky, and Bernini in favor of a banana taped to the wall and Santhal tribal weaving patterns.

Replacing the historical narrative would also normalize the idea that every development of ideas from representative democracy to freedom of speech, the rule of law, and private property was strictly predicated on “capital,” an ahistorical and flawed argument. That reframing isn’t new; similar projects were tried before, most recently on the grandest scale in the Soviet Union. Reframing history is fundamental to indoctrination.

To view those acts as separate, limited in scope, and unique is, of course, an insult to intelligence. At least academic leftists in charge of higher ed are honest about their intentions, compared to a section of “centrists” who pretend they are baffled by everything that’s going on around. And it is unlikely that any reform would come from within the academy.

For example, a recent open letter against transgender activism by 30 British academics drew a counter open-letter campaign by over 3,000 academics. The radical ideological conformity within the academy, which is determined to reshape the dominant narrative, combined with the bureaucratic culture, which incentivizes further radical top-down restructuring, can only be confronted by external counter pressure. But without understanding the theoretical underpinnings behind such radicalism, it would be impossible to debate or formulate any future policies.​


Fighting for Free Speech on Campus

Leftists embrace and promote a system of higher education built on anti-American ideas.

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump signed an executive order requiring institutions of higher learning “to promote free and open debate.” Progressives largely opposed the measure, claiming the perceived assault on free speech is exaggerated.

Tell that to a conservative gun-rights supporter who was surrounded by a left-wing mob at Ohio University earlier this week. The Washington Post reports, “Students swarmed Kaitlin Bennett and her companions in a tense encounter Monday captured in several videos … showing students yelling, flipping off the visitors and at one point throwing drinks through an open window of their truck.” Bennett’s crime? She went to campus to ask students about “Presidents’ Day.”

Campus hostility toward conservative and libertarian speakers is an ongoing problem, but it goes further. There’s a powerful culture in academia that strongly discourages students from expressing traditional views on a range of topics. This culture is reinforced by the books they’re assigned, the classes they take, the papers they write, and the policies and programs implemented by the administration.

College students today must embrace, for example, the “LGBTQ” agenda, open-borders policies, theories of systemic racism, and a certain kind of socialist “solution” to climate change. They must be open to criticizing America’s and Western civilization’s founding principles. Students who conform are embraced and engaged by their classmates and professors. Those who don’t are marked as the enemy.

“Currently, I would estimate that around a quarter of Americans not only are indifferent to free speech as a fundamental value of our society, but are determined to snuff it out as soon as they have the power to do so,” John Hinderaker writes at Power Line. “They represent, generally speaking, the activist wing of the Democratic Party.”

One insidious way that colleges and universities promote leftist ideology is through mandatory student fees.

David French, former director of Alliance Defending Freedom’s Center for Academic Freedom, writes at The Dispatch, “Vast amounts of money are channeled into specifically and intentionally ideological enterprises. Student fees prop up interest groups, and sometimes they support ideologically driven campus ‘centers’ dedicated to gender equity or LGBT equality.”

Sure, conservative and religious clubs and organizations on campus may get a few dollars here and there, but that’s merely done to make the system look unbiased. “The end result is that students are involuntarily forced to fund an enormous amount of campus activism,” French adds. “It’s a comprehensive system of compelled speech that would be shockingly unconstitutional virtually everywhere but the academy.”

Of course, the crackdown on free speech goes well beyond student fees. The effort is multi-pronged, and it’s designed to embrace and promote a system of higher education built on anti-American ideas.

Older professors are being replaced with young, leftist ideologues already programmed in the new groupthink by teacher-education programs. They set up shop in their offices, eager to regurgitate their philosophy to unsuspecting students who haven’t a clue that they’re part of a reeducation program.

The result is that conservative students engage in self-censorship, itself a powerful way for the Left to silence opposing viewpoints instead of engaging them in the marketplace of ideas. Students holding traditional views fear speaking up in class or challenging those with so-called progressive viewpoints, even when their own worldview is openly attacked. Likewise, conservative professors remain silent in faculty meetings and elsewhere.

Of course, colleges and universities have official statements affirming their commitment to free speech and open dialogue. To the uncritical eye, the spirit of the First Amendment seems to be in good hands.

Don’t be fooled. There’s no such thing as free speech in the academic world, and it should worry all of us. We only need to look to Europe to get a glimpse of what awaits us when this next generation of radicals assumes power.


Australian Public School bans parents from entering grounds

Parents have simultaneously been outraged and baffled after a school on the NSW Central Coast banned them from entering the grounds to drop off or pick up their children.

Wamberal Public School has instead set up designated family meeting areas for parents, citing security reasons for the decision.

It comes amid concerns about violent outbursts by parents at schools across the country.

The change was announced in the school’s first newsletter of the year which said meeting areas for parents would be established at both entrances.  “Parents are encouraged to use these areas to minimise disruption to teaching and learning, increase safety for students & reduce pedestrian track in congested areas,” the newsletter read.

Each morning, teachers are stationed at both gates “to supervise and care for students”.

Parents accompanying children have been “asked to not proceed into other areas of the school” and “are encouraged to say goodbye at the gate where their child can enter”.

The school said the areas were introduced following parent feedback and consultation with “the Wamberal P&C, the Department’s Health and Safety, School Safety and Security experts, and our Project Reference Group”.

Angry parents fronted a Parents and Citizens meeting on Monday to get the ban reversed, the Daily Telegraph reported.

They argued they were never consulted about the change and students have grown anxious or stressed about navigating the grounds alone.

In a more recent newsletter, school principal Paul Miller addressed the issue.  “We value and appreciate feedback from our community,” he said.

“This year we are trialling new ways to make sure the school day starts and ends smoothly. The changes take into account our school’s growth, safety, community feedback and the school’s unique physical layout.”

Parents have been encouraged to complete a survey to share their thoughts regarding the family meeting area.


Sunday, February 23, 2020

Mass.: Cambridge high school struggles with equal access to AP classes

They have tried all sorts of things to get black academic achievement up to white levels but nothing works.  When will they face the obvious fact that blacks on average just have lesser academic ability?  The decades of failure to close the gap is testimony to that

They also mistake cause and effect below.  They think that because blacks feel unequally treated, it must be the fault of racism.  In fact it is their lesser ability that causes blacks  to feel unequally treated.  When teachers assume that blacks will not do well they do so because that is generally true.

CAMBRIDGE - For decades, the high school in this famously diverse and progressive city has waged war on its achievement gap. Twenty years ago, officials at Cambridge Rindge and Latin tried eliminating the school’s "house” system that divided students into schools-within-schools, saying it segregated them by race; soon after, the school created heterogeneous classrooms that mixed together students with differing academic abilities. Three years ago, the school made another landmark change to stamp out racial segregation, mandating honors English and history courses for all freshmen.

But according to one key measure, none of the efforts have worked.

A Boston Globe analysis of state data found that when it comes to Advanced Placement test taking, Black students are more underrepresented in Cambridge than in any of the 13 other towns and cities bordering Boston. Last year, just 9 percent of the 433 students who took AP exams in Cambridge were Black — although Black students made up nearly 30 percent of the enrollment at the high school.

The stubborn persistence of the gap, in the face of repeated attempts to wipe it out, has contributed to recent racial tensions at the high school, where some Black students say they still feel like outsiders. And it sharply underscores the difficulty of this widespread problem: even a place as seemingly progressive and well-intentioned as Cambridge struggles mightily.

Naia Aubourg, a 2018 graduate of Rindge and Latin, said she and many of her Black classmates were funneled into lower-level courses beginning in middle school, and teachers and counselors at Rindge and Latin never explained AP to her. Now a sophomore in college, Aubourg said she had to take extra preparatory courses to catch up when she arrived on campus as a freshman. "The opportunities in high school were only there for people who knew how to access them,” she said.

It is a vexing, deeply painful problem for Cambridge, one that has long been detailed in reports and lamented at public meetings. School officials said a series of major changes in recent years should make AP classes more diverse in time. But they acknowledged that the problem has deep and complicated roots, and that there is no easy fix.

"We recognize that it’s not going to happen overnight, that it’s probably going to be a number of years . . . and there is frustration that the pace of change isn’t faster,” Superintendent Kenneth Salim said.

First created in the 1950s, Advanced Placement courses boomed in popularity in recent decades. Considered one of the most rigorous curricula in high schools, they are widely seen as critical college preparation. But Black and Latino participation has lagged, and the College Board — the New York nonprofit that oversees the program — has in recent years urged high schools to remove obstacles to enrollment and strive for AP classes that more closely resemble their student populations.

That effort remains a work in progress. Nationally, Black students are 15 percent of all public school students, but only 9 percent of AP exam takers, according to the College Board. In Massachusetts, 9 percent of students are Black, as are 6 percent of AP test takers. Latino students face a wider divide: 21 percent of all Massachusetts students, they represent only 10 percent of AP exam takers.

Even more troubling, perhaps, is the disparity in AP exam scores, state data show. In Cambridge, white students took 411 AP tests last year and 89 percent received scores of 3 or higher out of a top score of 5, which could qualify them for college credit. By contrast, of the 50 exams taken by Black students, only 48 percent received scores in the same range.

Educators, community members and students in Cambridge said several specific policies and practices have contributed to the AP gap. Those have included a lack of basic education about AP and cumbersome entrance requirements to some AP classes, such as prerequisite courses and teacher recommendations.

And then there’s the way students have been labeled and separated by their perceived abilities, a practice known as "tracking,” which, despite high-profile counter-initiatives, has flourished periodically at both the middle and high school levels in Cambridge.

Aubourg, 19, said her course was set in middle school, when many Black students were "tracked” into a path of lower expectations. Aubourg’s mother worked long, demanding hours when her daughter was in high school, and was unfamiliar with Advanced Placement. Aubourg was an upperclassman by the time she learned — via "word of mouth” — how to access the school’s menu of advanced offerings.

Elaina Wolfson, another 19-year-old graduate of Rindge, said early tracking permanently consigned too many Black and Latino students to a path that did not prepare them. "It’s so hard to push past that barrier,” she said.

Determined to improve the experience of Black students, Cambridge school officials have attacked their achievement gap anew in recent years. As part of a multiyear initiative known as "Leveling Up,” the district did away with tracking for English and social studies classes in the first two years of high school. Heterogeneous "honors for all” classes were phased in for freshmen in English two years ago, and then in social studies last year. Physics is taught in mixed-ability classrooms to all freshmen.

Next, the district tackled tracking in middle school math classes, ending its achievement-based grouping system for seventh graders last year and for eighth graders this year.

The approach also intensifies support for students: A summer "preview” class boosts confidence for nervous AP students; two new freshman guidance counselors help explain course options; and teachers use results from the PSAT - taken by sophomores and juniors - to help identify those with AP potential.

Leaders said they have tried to learn from past mistakes. Twenty years ago, when the Cambridge school district made a controversial switch to "achievement-blind” high school classes, teachers received little preparation, and struggled to teach to the wider range of skills in their classrooms. This time, Salim, the superintendent, said the school system spent a year preparing educators, re-working curriculum, and consulting outside experts before making changes. They also sent two deans to Evanston, Ill., to study the successful measures used at Evanston Township High School to bolster Black and Latino enrollment in AP.

"Historically, individual principals or administrators have had bold ideas, but they lacked the collective support of the district as a whole,” Salim wrote in an e-mail.

Yet Salim and Damon Smith, the high school’s principal, acknowledged that vestiges of the past remain, including some teachers who may still selectively steer students away from AP.

The overall percentage of AP students who are Black and Latino has not budged, three years into the school’s "leveling up” initiative. Yet there are signs that change is taking root. Two current sections of AP US history mirror the overall diversity at the high school, which is 43 percent Black and Hispanic and 38 percent white.

One afternoon last month, those AP classes were filled with attentive sophomores — the majority of them, students of color — who listened intently to a lesson spanning the Red Scare, the Ku Klux Klan, the Chinese Exclusion Act, and the Harlem Renaissance.

Nearly all the students in both AP classes said they had been encouraged by a teacher to enroll. Most said that in the beginning, they felt nervous and intimidated. But all are planning on taking more AP classes.

One student, Herani Hiruy, 15, said some of her other honors classes are mostly white. Often, she said, she stays silent in those classrooms, reluctant to join in discussions because she is Black.

"You can tell that other people notice you’re the only person of color,” she said, "and you feel like you’re representing a whole group.”

Some students, teachers, and community residents said programmatic changes alone will never erase the divide. Real transformation, they said, will require a hard, unflinching look at the racism that persists at Rindge and Latin.

Two years ago, members of the high school’s Black Student Union drew public attention to the everyday presence of racism at their school, detailing their experiences in a series of gut-wrenching videos. Members of the group described slights, insults, and microaggressions from teachers who stereotyped them or doubted their potential.

In one video, a student recounted the teacher who, assuming she might be on "welfare,” told her she could get a fee waiver to take an AP exam.

The videos sparked outrage, including on the part of some teachers who felt they had no way to respond or offer context. More upheaval followed, after a white Cambridge School Committee member uttered the n-word during a 2018 visit to a high school class to discuss why the school’s computers block some racial slurs but not others.

Tensions flared again in December, when a long-awaited report on the n-word incident cast blame for it on a Black teacher — the adviser to the Black Student Union — who had invited the committee member to the class. In response, the student union demanded policy changes to address racism and inequities at the school.

Current Black Student Union members did not respond to interview requests. But Aubourg, who helped reinvigorate the dormant organization when she was a student at Rindge, said it was painful and eye-opening to see how some people reacted to Black students’ stories of mistreatment.

"Cambridge is famous for panels, meetings, conversations, and they’ve been having them for 30 years,” she said. "But it’s a sugar-coated conversation. No one wants to go [into] the nitty-gritty of what’s going on.”

Aubourg believed she and her classmates of color were seen as less capable by some educators. And some students internalized that bias.

Rachel Williams-Giordano, an AP US history teacher at the high school, said she has encountered some Black students who fear ridicule for seeking more challenging coursework.

"It’s not that the classes are too hard,’’ said Williams-Giordano, who is Black. "It’s that it’s not socially accepted among some of the students of color . . . It’s like, 'You’re trying to be white’ or 'You’re nerdy.’ ‘’

Caroline Hunter, a former teacher and administrator who worked at Rindge and Latin for 34 years, was a member of the "Concerned Black Staff” who produced a 1980s report exposing a racial divide in student achievement. She is stunned that the same problems persist today.

"The question,” she said, "is why is Cambridge still dealing with this tale of two cities?’’


Parents Ask Court to Stop Schools From Helping Children Make Gender Transitions

A group of Wisconsin parents is asking a state court to halt a public school district’s policy that they say instructs teachers to assist and encourage children in adopting transgender identities without notifying—and possibly while deceiving—parents.

The lawsuit is being brought by 14 parents, representing eight families, who allege the Madison Metropolitan School District’s policy violates constitutionally protected parental rights.

The lawsuit, filed in Dane County Circuit Court, includes an affidavit from Dr. Stephen B. Levine, a distinguished life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, in which he asserts that gender transitions for minors expose vulnerable children to dangerous, lifelong physical, social, and mental health risks.

“For a child to live radically different identities at home and at school, and to conceal what he or she perceives to be his or her true identity from parents, is psychologically unhealthy in itself, and could readily lead to additional psychological problems,” Levine writes in the affidavit. “Extended secrecy and a ‘double life’ concealed from the parents is rarely the path to psychological health. For this reason at least, schools should not support deceit of parents.”

Levine’s affidavit continues:

 Most children are both legally and developmentally incapable of giving informed consent to such a life-altering intervention. And parents, of course, cannot give informed consent if the fact of their child’s wish to assume a transgender identity is concealed from them.

The 14 parents are represented by lawyers with Alliance Defending Freedom and the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, both nonprofit, public interest legal organizations.

“This is a life-altering decision that educators have no business making,” Roger Brooks, ADF senior counsel, said. “As Dr. Levine explains based on decades of experience and extensive scientific literature, putting children on a pathway to puberty-blockers and cross-sex hormones can have devastating effects across a lifetime. That should serve as a wake-up call to parents and all Americans: When schools cast aside biological reality in favor of gender-identity ideology, it’s children who are hurt the most.”

The legal motion formally requests the court to impose a temporary injunction against the school district’s policy.

The school district hadn’t been served with the lawsuit as of late Wednesday, said Tim LeMonds, public information officer for Madison Metropolitan School District. LeMonds said the district wouldn’t comment without reviewing the claims.

The school district “prioritizes working in collaboration with families to support our students and it is always our preferred method of support,” LeMonds said in a formal statement, adding:

MMSD must also prioritize the safety and well-being of every individual student who walks through its doors each day. It is with this focus [that] the district stands by its guidance document on transgender and non-binary students, and recognizes its tremendous responsibility to uphold the right of every child to be educated in a safe, all-inclusive, and nondiscriminatory learning environment.

The lawsuit calls for school officials to be transparent and honest when dealing with parents, and to meet standards of informed consent.

The 50-page affidavit from Levine says that multiple studies show that among children who experience gender dysphoria or transgender identification but do not socially transition, 80% to 98% “desisted,” or became comfortable with their biological sex, by young adulthood, according to Alliance Defending Freedom.

The affidavit also says that among boys “who engaged in a partial or complete social transition before puberty,” according to other data, fewer than 20% had desisted when surveyed at age 15 or older.

“It is profoundly unethical to reinforce a male child in his belief that he is not a boy (or a female child in her belief that she is not a girl), and it is particularly unethical to intervene in the normal physical development of a child to ‘affirm’ a ‘gender identity’ that is at odds with bodily sex,” Ryan T. Anderson, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an email, adding:

To do any of this without parental involvement not only harms children but violates parental authority. Childhood and adolescence are difficult enough as it is. Adults should not corrupt the social ecology in which children develop a mature understanding of themselves as boys or girls on the pathway to becoming men or women.


Campus Food Insecurity Matters

Food insecurity among American college students is a significant problem. While outdated stereotypes of higher education presume that undergraduates live on campus, receive stipends from their parents, and gorge themselves in campus dining halls, the facts suggest the opposite.

Only 15.6 percent of today’s students reside on a college campus, at least half receive little or no financial support from their parents when it comes to paying for college, many work several jobs (in addition to studying full time), and few can afford to purchase meal plans that cover the standard 21 meals a week. Instead, most of today’s students face sizable unmet financial need that dwarfs their available resources and contributes to a shortage of funds for basic necessities, including food and even housing.

The new economics of college are well-documented, if not yet fully understood. Rising tuition and a failing financial aid system, a labor market characterized by high employment rates but low wages, and a volatile economy that stresses the shrinking middle-class—these are but some of the major problems. As colleges and universities face growing financial pressures from state budget cuts and fierce competition, they turn to food service to make a profit, raising prices on already-strapped students.

Food insecurity among college students is a problem that Americans have overlooked and ignored for a long time. This fact, plus a culturally held belief and norm that ramen is a college rite of passage, make it difficult for some to understand college food insecurity. But the data are clear. When the questions are asked of today’s students, the results strongly indicate that they have difficulty purchasing adequate food for balanced meals—the definition of food insecurity according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Research teams from multiple fields (including but not limited to sociology, economics, public health, nutrition, and social work) have assessed campus food insecurity at more than 500 colleges and universities around the country, including the University of California, California State University, City University of New York, the community colleges of California, Maricopa (AZ), Dallas, Chicago, Oregon, New Jersey, and Washington, and many more.   Taken as a whole, the research strongly suggests that food insecurity impacts at least one in three undergraduate college students. Moreover, this research has been published in both peer-reviewed journal articles, including two systematic reviews, and publicly vetted and widely distributed online reports, including a recent one covering more than 330,000 students at more than 400 colleges.

Evidence also shows that when college students experience food insecurity their health also takes a toll. Food insecurity among college students is related to higher weight status/BMI despite the notion that skipping meals results in weight loss. This is because when students skip meals to cope with not having the money to afford food, they compensate by choosing inexpensive calorie-dense foods, which contributes to weight gain. Other factors that take a toll are overall health, mental health and stress, and academic performance.

Students who are food insecure are overwhelmingly working, and working extensively, but are far less able to concentrate on their education and perform well in school. We know this both from quantitative studies and from interviews, across all levels of schooling.

Importantly, rates of food insecurity appear to be much higher among college students compared to the general population—and this makes sense because the new economics of college put students in double jeopardy. They have less time to work, and less access to work, compared to other low-income people. They face more expenses, often having to put their limited resources toward housing instead of food. And while college students are eligible for financial aid, they are far less eligible for other supports including SNAP and subsidized housing.

It is efficient and effective to take campus food insecurity seriously.
Some people assume that financial aid makes up for all of that. But the purchasing power of financial aid has declined precipitously; it hardly offsets the consequences of the systemic exclusion of students for other income supports. Students who cannot complete the financial aid application do not get that support. This includes students who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or who are DREAMers, those who are unable to obtain the required information from their parents, and those who have fled domestic violence situations without all of their paperwork.

The financial aid formula also makes mistakes or treats students differently based on their parents’ age and time to retirement. Students who are considered dependent on their parents are assumed to benefit from financial support that they may not actually receive—leaving them without financial aid or other help. For example, many LGBTQ+ students become food insecure because it is wrongly assumed that they are supported by parents from whom they are estranged.

There are many academic, financial, and health reasons to address campus food insecurity. There is nothing to gain on both ends when a student sleeps through class due to insufficient nutrition. Grades suffer when a student thinks more about how they will get their next meal rather than focusing on academics, and when this happens, no one profits. A small investment in a campus-based meal program could boost grades and allow students to maintain their financial support. It is efficient and effective to take campus food insecurity seriously.

We recommend beginning by expanding students’ utilization of the SNAP program. The GAO’s recent report confirmed that college student eligibility for SNAP far outstrips take-up at this point, and that is money left on the table that could be used to boost college attainment. Colleges should revisit their business models for campus dining services and ensure they do not put profit over retention. If government subsidies prove an efficient way to lower campus meal prices, then an expansion of the National School Lunch Program to higher education may make economic sense. The recent passage of hunger-free campus legislation by several states, along with several pending bills in Congress, allows for evaluation of that possibility.

Addressing campus food insecurity does not turn colleges into social services agencies; rather, it makes them more effective at their job—education. Addressing food insecurity does not make students dependent on the government; rather, it increases the odds that they will achieve financial independence.  That should be a goal we can all agree on.


Friday, February 21, 2020

Kentucky Poised to Advance School Choice

At his State of the Union address last week, President Trump highlighted the need for school choice across America, and rightly so. There is nobody who knows better what education is most suitable for their children than parents and the student themselves. Certainly, the government does not know best and we should do all we can to put this decision in the hands of those closest to the students in our communities.

One such state that is looking to expand school choice is the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Currently, there are two companion bills in the state legislature -- House Bill 350 and Senate Bill 110 -- that would empower parents to choose the schools that are right for their kids by creating a scholarship tax credit program. Led by Rep. Chad McCoy and Sen. Ralph Alvarado, this program would allow individuals and businesses to receive a nonrefundable tax credit when they contribute to qualified non-profit organizations that provide scholarships to lower-income students.

Despite existing unconstitutional control from the federal government on education, states are meant to have full jurisdiction over their education systems, including the funding mechanisms, and most funding runs through the state. One of the most cost-effective ways to ensure the best education for the most students is to incentivize private funding of education that goes beyond public schools. After all, it is no secret that the schools tied to certain zip codes are not always the best schools for every student living there. That would be, quite simply, impossible to ensure. The answer to this is school choice advanced primarily at the state and local level.

“The next step forward in building an inclusive society is making sure that every young American gets a great education and the opportunity to achieve the American Dream. Yet, for too long, countless American children have been trapped in failing government schools,” President Trump said. “To rescue these students, 18 states have created school choice in the form of Opportunity Scholarships. The programs are so popular that tens of thousands of students remain on a waiting list.”

Now, it may be considered objectionable that he chose to classify government schools as “failing.” Although some public schools are underperforming, many public schools across our country do indeed excel in test scores and in preparing students for further education or for successful careers.

However, objectively high-performing public schools can and do still fail students in any number of other ways, including programming, location, and culture. This is not necessarily the fault of the school, but it is incumbent on those who control school policy to recognize this reality and work to expand school choice even in those areas where public schooling performs well.

Undoubtedly, ensuring the success of students in our country is critical to continuing the prosperity we have in America and growing the quality of life for our citizens into the future. Kentucky, thankfully, is poised to take action on Rep. McCoy’s House Bill 350 to create the very program that President Trump highlighted last week. Stakeholders across the commonwealth, and other interested parties, should take action to help this bill become law.


Trump budget proposal reins in unconstitutional, bloated Department of Education

If you love a constitutionally constrained federal government, President Trump’s latest budget request for Betsy DeVos's Department of Education will warm your heart. But there’s more to be done.

Let’s start with the best part: The budget would cut $6.1 billion in education spending overall and consolidate $19.4 billion worth of K-12 programs into simple block grants to states. That cuts federal strings off of a big chunk of education money, and doing so makes sense.

This would be much more in line with the education power the Constitution gives the federal government — that is, absolutely none — and states are much closer and more accountable to the people the money is supposed to serve than bureaucrats at the Department of Education. Even better would be to let taxpayers keep their money, either by letting states opt out of federal education or by getting rid of the federal intrusion entirely. But this is a good first step.

It is also encouraging to see the administration put forward proposals to cap federal student aid and let colleges limit the debt students can take on.

It is not clear how much substantive difference these proposals would make — there are already caps on some loan programs, and institutions have little incentive to discourage borrowing since their coffers swell when students can pay more — but recognition that aid is at the heart of the college cost problem is welcome.

Things get dicier when it comes to the Education Freedom Scholarships that the secretary of education has been promoting for a while.

The Trump administration’s heart is definitely in the right place: School choice empowers families over bureaucrats and allows diverse people in a pluralist society to select the education that meets their desires and values. And the proposal tries its hardest to avoid centralizing power by taking the form of a tax credit for scholarship donors rather than direct government funding via vouchers. Plus, it is only open to states that choose to join.

Still, the proposal, which is included in this budget, doesn’t cut it in my book.

The federal tax system only exists to raise revenue to execute the specific, enumerated powers the Constitution gives the federal government, and education is not among them. The opt-in for states is also somewhat coercive, pressuring them to adopt school choice lest their citizens not get the federal tax credit. And while research has shown that vouchers are more prone to regulation than credits, credits do carry a one-size-fits-all regulation threat to private schools. In Illinois, for instance, credits are connected to a mandate that private schools receiving scholarship students administer state standardized tests.

Finally, the proposal contains some expansions of federal funding and intervention, contradicting constitutional principles and running counter to the overall positive tenor of the education budget. For good reason, career and technical education is trendy these days — we need more alternatives to increasingly less profitable college degrees — but there is no reason to increase federal spending on it by $900 million as this budget would do.

The federal government instead should just stop encouraging four-year degrees with profligate student aid.

The budget would also increase money for state grants under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The intent is to help populations that have faced and continue to face serious obstacles to success, including discrimination in public schools. But the best of intentions does not mean the Constitution can be cast aside. And good intentions notwithstanding, this act has largely created a “lawyers playground” of litigation between districts and families.

The federal government absolutely should ensure that states and districts do not discriminate in their provision of education, but that does not require big sums of federal funding. It mainly requires a robust civil rights enforcement effort — preferably not by the Education Department, which is poorly equipped for it, but by the Department of Justice.

The Trump administration is working to decrease the deep federal footprint on American education, and it will no doubt suffer the slings and arrows of outraged opponents because of it. But the administration also seems unwilling to go all-in on shrinking the federal role in education. Still, two steps forward and one step back sure beats standing still.


Political Bias and Anti-Americanism on College Campuses

Walter E. Williams
A recent Pew Research Center survey finds that only half of American adults think colleges and universities are having a positive effect on our nation. The leftward political bias, held by faculty members affiliated with the Democratic Party, at most institutions of higher education explains a lot of that disappointment. Professors Mitchell Langbert and Sean Stevens document this bias in “Partisan Registration and Contributions of Faculty in Flagship Colleges.”

Langbert and Stevens conducted a new study of the political affiliation of 12,372 professors in the two leading private and two leading public colleges in 31 states. For party registration, they found a Democratic to Republican (D:R) ratio of 8.5:1, which varied by rank of institution and region. For donations to political candidates (using the Federal Election Commission database), they found a D:R ratio of 95:1, with only 22 Republican donors, compared with 2,081 Democratic donors.

Several consistent findings have emerged from Langbert and Stevens’ study. The ratio of faculty who identify as or are registered as Democratic versus Republican almost always favors the Democratic Party. Democratic professors outnumber their Republican counterparts most in the humanities and social sciences, compared with the natural sciences and engineering. The ratio is 42:1 in anthropology, 27:1 in sociology and 27:1 in English. In the social sciences, Democratic registered faculty outnumber their Republican counterparts the least in economics 3:1. The partisan political slant is most extreme at the most highly rated institutions.

The leftist bias at our colleges and universities has many harmful effects. Let’s look at a few. At University of California, Davis, last month, a mathematics professor faced considerable backlash over her opposition to the requirement for faculty “diversity statements.” University of California, San Diego, requires job applicants to admit to the “barriers” preventing women and minorities from full participation in campus life. At American University, a history professor recently wrote a book in which he advocates repealing the Second Amendment. A Rutgers University professor said, “Watching the Iowa Caucus is a sickening display of the over-representation of whiteness.” University of California, Berkeley, professor and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich chimed in to say: “Think about this: Iowa is 90.7% white. Iowa is now the only state with a lifetime voting ban for people with a felony conviction. Black people make up 4% of Iowa’s population but 26% of the prison pop!

ulation. How is this representative of our electorate?” A Williams College professor said he would advocate for social justice to be included in math textbooks. Students at Wayne State University no longer have to take a single math course to graduate; however, they may soon be required to take a diversity course.

Then there’s a question about loyalty to our nation. Charles Lieber, former chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard, was arrested earlier this year on accusations that he made a materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statement about work he did for a program run by the Chinese government that seeks to lure American talent to China. He was paid $50,000 a month and up to $158,000 in living expenses for his work, which involved cultivating young teachers and students, according to court documents. According to the Department of Justice, Lieber helped China “cultivate high-level scientific talent in furtherance of China’s scientific development, economic prosperity and national security.”

It’s not just Harvard professors. Newly found court records reveal that Emory University neuroscientist Li Xiao-Jiang was fired in late 2019 after being charged with lying about his own ties to China. Li was part of the same Chinese program as Lieber. A jury found a University of California, Los Angeles, professor guilty of exporting stolen U.S. military technology to China. Newsweek reported that he was convicted June 26 on 18 federal charges. Meanwhile, NBC reported that federal prosecutors say that University of Texas professor Bo Mao attempted to steal U.S. technology by using his position as a professor to obtain access to protected circuitry and then handing it over to the Chinese telecommunications giant, Huawei.

The true tragedy is that so many Americans are blind to the fact that today’s colleges and universities pose a threat on several fronts to the well-being of our nation.


Thursday, February 20, 2020

This Is How Scandinavia Got Great

This is a rather surprising article to come from the NYT.  It argues that Nordic education stresses patriotism and a feeling of solidarity with fellow citizens. It sounds reasonable but Leftists deplore all that

ALMOST EVERYBODY ADMIRES the Nordic model. Countries like Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland have high economic productivity, high social equality, high social trust and high levels of personal happiness.

Progressives say it’s because they have generous welfare states. Some libertarians point out that these countries score high on nearly every measure of free market openness. Immigration restrictionists note that until recently they were ethnically homogeneous societies.

But Nordic nations were ethnically homogeneous in 1800, when they were dirt poor. Their economic growth took off just after 1870, way before their welfare states were established. What really launched the Nordic nations was generations of phenomenal educational policy.

The 19th-century Nordic elites did something we haven’t been able to do in this country recently. They realized that if their countries were to prosper they had to create truly successful “folk schools” for the least educated among them. They realized that they were going to have to make lifelong learning a part of the natural fabric of society.

They look at education differently than we do. The German word they used to describe their approach, bildung, doesn’t even have an English equivalent.

It means the complete moral, emotional, intellectual and civic transformation of the person. It was based on the idea that if people were going to be able to handle and contribute to an emerging industrial society, they would need more complex inner lives.

Today, Americans often think of schooling as the transmission of specialized skill sets — can the student read, do math, recite the facts of biology. Bildung is devised to change the way students see the world. It is devised to help them understand complex systems and see the relations between things — between self and society, between a community of relationships in a family and a town.

As Lene Rachel Andersen and Tomas Bjorkman put it in their book “The Nordic Secret,” “Bildung is the way that the individual matures and takes upon him or herself ever bigger personal responsibility towards family, friends, fellow citizens, society, humanity, our globe, and the global heritage of our species, while enjoying ever bigger personal, moral and existential freedoms.” The Nordic educators worked hard to cultivate each student’s sense of connection to the nation. Before the 19th century, most Europeans identified themselves in local and not national terms.

But the Nordic curriculum instilled in students a pride in, say, their Danish history, folklore and heritage.

“That which a person did not burn for in his young days, he will not easily work for as a man,” Christopher Arndt Bruun wrote. The idea was to create in the mind of the student a sense of wider circles of belonging — from family to town to nation — and an eagerness to assume shared responsibility for the whole.

The Nordic educators also worked hard to develop the student’s internal awareness. That is to say, they helped students see the forces always roiling inside the self — the emotions, cravings, wounds and desires. If you could see those forces and their interplay, as if from the outside, you could be their master and not their slave.

The power of educating the whole person.

Their intuition was that as people grow, they have the ability to go through developmental phases, to see themselves and the world through ever more complex lenses. A young child may blindly obey authority — Mom, Dad, teacher. Then she internalizes and conforms to the norms of the group. Then she learns to create her own norms based on her own values. Then she learns to see herself as a node in a network of selves and thus learns mutuality and holistic thinking.

The purpose of bildung is to help people move through the uncomfortable transitions between each way of seeing.

That educational push seems to have had a lasting influence on the culture.

Whether in Stockholm or Minneapolis, Scandinavians have a tendency to joke about the way their sense of responsibility is always nagging at them. They have the lowest rates of corruption in the world.

They have a distinctive sense of the relationship between personal freedom and communal responsibility.

High social trust doesn’t just happen. It results when people are spontaneously responsible for one another in the daily interactions of life, when the institutions of society function well.

In the U.S., social trust has been on the decline for decades. If the children of privilege get to go to the best schools, there’s not going to be much social mutuality. If those schools do not instill a love of nation, there’s not going to be much shared responsibility.

If you have a thin educational system that does not help students see the webs of significance between people, does not even help students see how they see, you’re going to wind up with a society in which people can’t see through each other’s lenses.

When you look at the Nordic bildung model, you realize our problem is not only that we don’t train people with the right job skills. It’s that we don’t have the right lifelong development model to instill the mode of consciousness people need to thrive in a complex pluralistic society.


Freedom Center Plans Title VI Suit Against Claremont Colleges for Funding Jew Hatred

The Colleges violated President Trump’s executive order barring federal funding for anti-Semitic hate.

In a letter sent to the heads of Pitzer College and Pomona College in Southern California, the David Horowitz Freedom Center, acting with the Dhillon Law Group, put the Claremont Consortium of Colleges on notice that their promotion and funding of anti-Semitic speakers and events is a violation of federal law and will no longer be tolerated.

Over the past several years, Pitzer, Pomona, and the other Claremont Colleges have repeatedly funded anti-Semitic rhetoric and displays on campus—largely organized by the Hamas-funded campus hate group Students for Justice in Palestine—which contribute to a hostile environment for Jewish students.

The letter cites Executive Order 13899 which was signed by President Trump on December 11, 2019. The Order directs executive agencies to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against all prohibited forms of discrimination rooted in anti-Semitism just as vigorously as against all other forms of discrimination prohibited by Title VI. Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.

This is not the first occasion on which the Freedom Center has challenged the Claremont Colleges over their funding and promotion of Jew hatred. Last fall, the Freedom Center named Pitzer as one of the “Top Ten Colleges that Promote Jew Hatred and Incite Terrorism.” Over a thousand printed newspapers containing the report on the prevalence of anti-Semitism at Pitzer were distributed by the Freedom Center on Pitzer’s campus.

Instant reaction to the newspapers proved that they had hit their mark. The president of Pitzer College, Melvin Oliver, released a public statement labeling the Freedom Center’s newspapers exposing Jew hatred on his campus as “attack speech or hate speech so extreme that it requires our response” and claiming that the report’s allegations were “demonstrably false and intentionally incendiary”—without citing a single example of these alleged falsehoods.

Freedom Center founder David Horowitz responded by thanking President Oliver for his “Orwellian smear against our Freedom Center” and stating that in fact “Hate speech is calling a legitimate, fact-based critique of your support for a Jew-hating terrorist support group like Students for Justice in Palestine hate speech.”

Horowitz concluded his response to Oliver with this thought: “Some of the students participating in this campaign of Jew-hatred are simply ignorant. You don't have that excuse. You are a disgrace – an all too typical disgrace among your academic colleagues which is why Jew-hatred is rife on our campuses today." The war of words was covered in the local and national press.

With the delivery of the Freedom Center’s legal missive to Pitzer and the Claremont Colleges last week, these institutions have been put on notice that their funding and support for Jew hatred will no longer be tolerated.


Australian Students of Western Civ will have to see through a mash of diversity propaganda

Let’s start with good news. Something truly remarkable will happen during the next fortnight. Students at two Australian universities will begin a bachelor of arts in Western civilisation. The aim is for students at the University of Wollongong and the University of Queensland to learn what past generations of university students in Australia have never learned on campus. Even more remarkably, the narky union for academics that launched, then withdrew, legal action last year over the Western civilisation course has settled down.

So they should. There is nothing objectionable, or threatening, about students learning about Western civilisation in a chronologically ordered fashion, undertaking a philosophical adventure through the major periods and epochs of intellectual and artistic change in the West. The list of subjects in the curriculum is impressive and brave, a grand intellectual sweeping story from ancient Greece to the Bible, taking in Western masterpieces in art and architecture, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, and the philosophy of democracy.

This is what all publicly funded Australian universities should be doing. Instead, this gaping vacuum in Australia’s tertiary education sector is being filled with five-year bachelor degrees at two universities offered to 60 students and funded by a private bequest by businessman Paul Ramsay through the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation.

The University of Wollongong’s curriculum guide for this degree in Western civilisation says its aim is to “create articulate graduates who are critical, creative thinkers that embrace and respect open inquiry. Our students will become well-rounded, free thinkers with … the intellectual skills and social virtues needed for conducting reasoned discussion, analysis and argument … (skills) necessary for all capable future leaders and good citizens.”

Make no mistake, the intention of the Ramsay Centre is to shake up the entire university sector. When students see a tremendous new degree at a few universities, they will demand that same impressive education at more.

This could be a groundbreaking degree, a shard of intellectual light in a dismally stupid period of Western self-loathing when even Yale University is pulling its famous course, Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present. Course instructor Tim Barringer told the Yale Daily News that it is now problematic to put European art on a pedestal. Barringer’s new syllabus note says the course will now cover art in relation to “questions of gender, class and race and its involvement with Western capitalism”. “Its relationship with climate change will be a key theme,” Barringer wrote.

Now for the bad news. The fingerprints of the diversity and inclusion police, who are deeply anti-Western, wedded to identity politics and afraid of freethinking students, are all over the curriculum design document for Western civilisation degree at the University of Wollongong.

Why are they hanging their hat on this awful and confusing document? The curriculum guide reads like a narrative of a fierce battle between two forces. On one side are those promising a “bold, innovative initiative” that will offer students a “degree … unlike any other program of study currently offered at UOW”. On the frontline of the opposing side are diversity and inclusion police and other entrenched interests who seem determined to unwind, before it even starts, an exciting and new way to educate students about the story of Western civilisation.

For every short sentence in the curriculum that talks about a degree that “focuses centrally on the study of great works of Western civilisation” there are long paragraphs trying to refocus this degree on non-Western under-represented voices and perspec­tives. From a feminist retelling of the Iliad to the “golden age of Islam” there will apparently be myriad “opportunities for students to examine contemporary thinking on gender, race and class”. After another short sentence that promises “the BA WCiv’s predominant focus is on studying exemplary masterpieces of the West”, another 13 paragraphs promise to turn this innovative degree into the study about other cultures — something already on offer at just about every major Australian university.

One reference, in particular, blows the lid on how anti-Western ideologues aim to emasculate this new degree in Western civilisation. Drawing on the idea of a “great conversation” by American philosopher Robert Hutchins, the curriculum design document says it is “trying to cultivate sympathy in many ways”.

No serious high school history teacher, let alone a university professor, would talk about history in terms of trying to cultivate sympathy. At my public school in Adelaide I was lucky enough to have a brilliant history teacher in Year 10 who taught me that there is a world of difference between sympathy and empathy. History is not about feelings, he said. It is a study of people, ideas, facts and events to gain a sense of empathy about the past and its people. Empathy, not sympathy, provides a deep understanding of our history.

Maybe all this diversity and inclusion bumf was included as a superficial, and overblown, nod to placate the forces who tried to derail the course in a courtroom last year. Only time will tell.

But the very good people, the heroes, at Wollongong University who fought to bring this new degree to students should not misjudge the insidious influence of diversity activists embedded in university bureaucracies and academe. Neither should the Ramsay Centre and its board. Wollongong University’s Diversity and Inclusivity website says the school of liberal arts is fully committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in both its staff appointments and curriculum. It promises that the Ramsay-funded degree will “bring diverse voices and perspectives into the great conversation in half of the mandatory subjects … rather than relegating diverse voices to elective subjects”.

More superficial kowtowing? Once again, we will wait and watch. But it pays to remember that at universities across the country their history curriculums are saturated with teaching “diversity and inclusion” to the Orwellian point where they exclude, and denigrate, the teaching of Western civilisation in any kind of comprehensive, integrated, chrono­logically ordered program.

University of Sydney provost and deputy vice-chancellor Stephen Garton tried to make this point when negotiating with academics opposed to a Ramsay-funded degree in Western civilisation. But facts and reason were no match for the dogmatic zeal of his campus opponents.

In a statement last December, Ramsay Centre chief executive Simon Haines announced the end to negotiations after Sydney University’s revised attempt to secure $50m in funding. Haines said “the centre and its board had misgivings about the level of commitment of key stakeholders within the university in supporting the implementation of the curriculum and the associated scholarship program”.

Haines is not a man who resorts to hyperbole. His careful words are an indictment of the intellectual leadership of Sydney University vice-chancellor Mich­ael Spence.

No one should underestimate oppositional forces at UOW and UQ, or the intellectual leadership required at both universities to ensure that students embarking on this new degree are not subjected to the same tediously anti-Western dogma that drives the diversity and inclusion police. The peak union body for academics may be quiet now, but there are already signs that diversity and inclusion ideologues stand ready to sully these degrees. If they succeed, the Ramsay Centre will need to seriously rethink its noble aim to change things from within Australian universities.


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

iPhones Are Not Accredited, So Why Are Colleges?

All of the iconic, popular consumer goods we buy, things like iPhones and iPods and Tesla electric cars, are not “accredited”—no governmental or other agency declares they are fit for public use, yet they are wildly popular expensive purchases by consumers, and watchdog organizations like Consumer Reports give us objective assessments of product quality and safety. Yet with university educational services, the assessments of school quality by news organizations like Forbes, U.S. News or the Wall Street Journal are not considered adequate, so accreditation organizations exist by the dozens, including several major regional accrediting groups evaluating whole institutions.

Two news stories reminded me that I needed to look again at accreditation. The first was that the Mother Superior of the accreditation mafia, Judith Eaton, is going to retire. Judith heads CHEA (Council for Higher Education Accreditation), the umbrella group representing nearly all accreditation organizations. Judith has been an extremely effective spokesperson, and, full disclosure, good friend.

Then I read a routine story about members elected to the Executive Committee of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, one of the nation’s regional accrediting agencies, serving universities in five states (including populous New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey), and some other territories (e.g, D.C., Puerto Rico). Of the seven members of the Executive Committee, six are or have been on the payrolls of schools that are accredited by Middle States (one representative works for NASA).

The college president, administrators or professors from College A serve on the board or an accreditation team this year and pass judgement on the worthiness of College B. Next year (or a few years thereafter), staff from College B will evaluate College A. Are you going to be especially tough in criticizing a school this year if representatives from that school might be evaluating you some day soon? HUGE conflicts of interest abound that would be impermissible in most human endeavors in the U.S.

Yet that is one of the lesser problems with our system of accreditation. Let me list several others. First, there are too many accrediting organizations—acceptable standards of the Middles States group operating in New York may differ somewhat from those of the Higher Education Commission operating in the industrial Midwest.

Second, the system is not very transparent: often the details in reports are not made public to avoid schools from being embarrassed. Related to that, accreditation is much like pass/fail grading, or for that matter, pregnancy—you either are accredited (passing grade) or are not (failing grade). Failing grades are exceedingly rare.

Third, this means little consumer information is disclosed, unlike with college rankings. Harvard has the same basic accreditation as nearby Bridgewater State, but no one thinks those institutions are remotely equal qualitatively.

Fourth, often accreditation has stressed inputs into the process of education rather than outcomes—for example, the number of library books or the college degrees of the faculty instead of whether the students have learned anything or have successful postgraduate careers.

Fifth, accreditation is a barrier to entry to providing higher education services and impedes innovation. For example, historically the accreditation agencies have approved schools, not courses, discouraging companies or institutions providing cheap or free courses to students.

Sixth, the system is rather costly. Beside institutional accreditation, most schools must endure additional accreditation in various academic subjects—the American Bar Association accredits law schools, for example, and the AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) approves business schools. Most large schools have full-time administrative staff involved in accreditation approvals.

Seventh, accreditation is a way the federal government has used to increase its mostly unsuccessful regulation of higher education institutions. Individuals cannot receive federal student financial aid unless they attend an “accredited” institution, and, ultimately, the U.S. Department of Education itself “accredits” the accreditation agencies.

CHEA is part of the One DuPont Circle (Washington, D.C.) cabal that thinks it speaks for higher education in America but which in fact, by its constraining of competition, has robbed it of some of its vitality and diversity. It is the decentralized nature of American colleges that increases choice and competition, and accreditation as it works today detracts from it. It needs to be abolished or radically reformed.


Harsh medicine to fix America’s universities

Summary: I have written hundreds of posts about ways to reform American politics. Time has shown these are inadequate – and that more extreme measures are necessary as the Left remolds America – and the Right serves the 1%, Measures are needed beyond the imagination of Boomer reformers. Now a new generation arises with bigger imaginations. Perhaps they can put their ideas into action. Here is one example, looking at America’s broken universities.


From the birth of the modern conservative movement, dissidents concerned with civic and liberal education have tried almost everything to reshape America’s universities: from refusing to donate to their alma maters (as William F. Buckley prescribed), to funding tenure-track positions, forming independent centers on campuses to host outside speakers, organizing external supplementary seminars to make up for what students do not get in the classroom, and creating new academic departments. Despite 70 years of increasingly sophisticated efforts, conservatives are now begging on many campuses merely to be heard.

America’s universities have been progressivism’s most important asset, its crown jewel. For over half a century, they have served as the left’s R&D headquarters and the intellectual origin or dissemination point for the political and moral transformation of the nation, especially through the sexual revolution and the identity-politics revolution. Universities have trained the new elites who have taken society’s helm and now set its tone through the other institutions thoroughly dominated by the left: the mainstream press, mass entertainment, Fortune 500s, and tech companies.

Universities have also brought to rural and suburban America these moral revolutions, converting generations of young people to their cause. Universities are arguably the most important institution in modern democracy – no other institution has such power to determine the fate of democracy, for good or ill. …

Regrettably, they are no longer animated by their original purpose of serving republican self-government or the freedom of the mind. As such, they must be treated as political entities.

That the freedom of speech is under attack on many campuses should not be surprising, given that the freedom of the mind, of which speech is the expression, is rarely understood as their purpose any longer. Without that purpose, most American universities no longer serve the public good for which they were created and for which they continue to be publicly funded. Their transformation, which in turn has led to the transformation of the nation, has taken place with the unwitting assistance of American taxpayers – and amounts to defrauding the public. If citizens are compelled to pay for others to go to college, it should be to the benefit of the entire nation – forming good citizens and advancing useful sciences, rather than teaching the rising generation that the nation is irredeemably evil.

Taxpayers have funded the research, bankrolled the student loans (including generous forgiveness programs), and allowed the universities and their enormous endowments to operate without paying taxes. These funding sources are the operational life blood of universities, but they can no longer be justified. In fact, it seems likely that the nation would be better off if the vast majority of America’s more than 3,000 colleges and universities closed down.

An executive order signed by President Trump on March 21, 2019, gives administrators in 12 executive-branch agencies that issue research grants broad discretion to withhold funding from universities that suppress “free inquiry” and “undermine learning.” This is a worthwhile half-step to chastening them. But given where things stand, bolder, more aggressive action is needed. If the universities are going to be rebuilt, only external force, rather than pleading or slight policy modifications, will work. Success in this could bring generational change. …

Today, these three {functions of universities} are either corrupted or on their way to corruption in the great majority of America’s universities. In their …open rebellion against these ends, America’s universities too often create students in the opposite vein: ideologues with technical skills, despisers of tradition without insight (not to mention wisdom), or scientists without perspective. These problems are hardly new and have been the centerpiece of the conservative critique of higher education for more than half a century. What is new, however, is the thoroughness of the corruption, the impossibility at this point of changing course through conventional means, and the extent of the pernicious effects of these institutions on the nation as a whole. …

The physical sciences: the next dominoes to fall.

…Should the identity revolution fully impose itself on the sciences – among the last places in universities where the freedom of the mind still excels and is celebrated – they will wither on the branch as have the social sciences and the humanities, with untold losses to our national wealth, power, and prestige. This corrosion will be slow and hidden from the public eye, but likely irreversible once it is visible to all. …We should not assume that science will prosper forever in the absence of the right intellectual conditions. …

{There are alternatives.} The federal government could pay to transfer the laboratories and scientists – or fund the creation of new national laboratories. While this sounds radical, and although there is disagreement among conservatives, it is less radical than tolerating what is already taking place. While it is bad to interrupt scientific research in such a way, it is worse and more dangerous to maintain institutions working to sink the nation while hiding behind the prestige of science. The goal, again, is to make universities serve their fundamental purpose, which at this point can be done only by rebuilding them after they are significantly weakened.

Renewal by fire.

What suicidal nation would continue to publicly fund institutions that intentionally or even semi-consciously undermine the strength and unity of the society that protects them? …

{As} fewer and fewer graduate from colleges, the employment ecosystem and America’s moral horizon would change for the better. Most practical degree programs can return to apprenticeship models. One does not need a four-year college degree to pass a Certified Public Accounting exam. Furthermore, the shortage of working-class labor in America is used to lobby for the importation of immigrants. Few Americans want to hang sheetrock after attending college. While having learned very little in classes, they have, however, often acquired a classist snobbery (and massive debt) that looks down on such labor – even if the wages for it might be higher than for the white-collar jobs to which they aspire.

Reforms like these would be catastrophic for key elements of the existing model of higher education in America. But they could be enormously helpful to forms of higher education that actually serve the nation and fulfill the purpose of the university. …

The purpose of such proposals is not punitive. It is simple sense. Universities that spread poisonous doctrines no longer believe in the purpose of the university. While it is their right to disagree with this purpose, they should not be the beneficiaries of public funds. No society should be expected to subsidize its own corrosion.

Editor’s afterword

Much of our educational system was created to establish class hierarchies, such as the “liberal arts degree.” Students sit in lectures, a format created in the 11th century – 400 years before the printing press, when books were expensive and rare. They listen to material which most will have forgotten soon after they graduate, and which has little or no effect on their either their personal lives or careers. On this they spend two to four of the best, the most high-energy years of their lives. Their first crucial years away from home are spent in a highly regulated environment, when they could be earning money and learning independence.

Tens of billions of dollars are wasted on this system, money that could be more fruitfully used elsewhere. This is a prime example of cultural senescence, a society’s inability to reform its workings to rationally meet its needs.


Professor who sued his college for violating his religious freedom after it disciplined him for repeatedly misgendering a transgender student has his lawsuit dismissed

An appeal may follow. The ADF often goes all the way to SCOTUS -- with frequent success

A federal judge dismissed a professor's lawsuit against a small, publicly funded university in Ohio that reprimanded him for refusing to address a transgender female student using the student's preferred gender terms.

Nicholas Meriwether's lawsuit alleged that Shawnee State University officials violated his constitutionally protected rights by compelling him to speak in a way that contradicts his Christian beliefs.

Schools officials contended that such language was part of his job responsibilities, not speech protected by the First Amendment, and that the case should be dismissed.

US District Judge Susan Dlott threw out the lawsuit last week, agreeing that the manner in which Meriwether addressed the student, known in the complaint as 'Jane Doe,' wasn't protected under the First Amendment.

'The Court concludes that Meriwether failed to state a claim for violation of his rights under the United States Constitution,' Dlott wrote in her ruling, as cited by Metro Weekly. 'His speech — the manner by which he addressed a transgender student — was not protected under the First Amendment.'

Meriwether, who had taught philosophy at Shawnee State for two decades, had received a written warning for violating the school's nondiscrimination policy and unsuccessfully challenged his reprimand in a grievance process. Meriwether said he treated the student like 'other biologically male students' and continued referring to the student as 'Mr.'

Shawnee State University a small, publicly funded university in Ohio, where Meriwether had taught philosophy or 20 years    +3
Shawnee State University a small, publicly funded university in Ohio, where Meriwether had taught philosophy or 20 years

In November 2019, the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian conservative law firm based in Arizona specializing in cases involving 'religious freedom, sanctity of life, and marriage and family,' filed the federal lawsuit on Meriwether's behalf.

'In January 2018, a male student demanded that Dr. Meriwether address him as a woman because he identified as such and threatened to have Dr. Meriwether fired if he declined,' the lawsuit, the text of which was obtained by NBC News, read.

'To accede to these demands would have required Dr. Meriwether to communicate views regarding gender identity that he does not hold, that he does not wish to communicate, and that would contradict (and force him to violate) his sincerely held Christian beliefs.'

The lawsuit alleged that the university 'punished' Meriwether for 'expressing views that differ from its own orthodoxy and for declining to express its mandated ideological message.'

'Continuing in their role as the self-appointed grammar police, Defendants threaten to punish him again if he continues to express his views,' the lawsuit read.

'Under their policies, all professors must refer to each student - both in and out of class - using whatever pronouns the student claims reflect his gender identity.'

Meriwether argued in his complaint that 'the number of potential gender identities is infinite' and that there are 'over one hundred different options currently available.'

Following last week's ruling, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which interceded on behalf of the transgender student during the proceedings, released a statement addressing the lawsuit's dismissal. 

'We are pleased the Court affirmed that schools can ensure that all students are able to learn and the access educational opportunities available to all students without fear of discrimination,' it stated.  


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Race-Centered Narratives Obscure the Problems of College Sports

National discussions of college athletics routinely emphasize race. That emphasis, however, is unfortunate because it diverts attention from issues that affect all student-athletes. Also, discussions of race in college sports commonly rely on questionable statistics.

Some of those statistics come from a report by Shaun Harper, head of the Center on Race and Equity at the University of Southern California. His report makes the case that big-money college athletics exploits black male athletes—or, as Harper’s Washington Post op-ed read, “Black Men Will Play and White Men Will Profit.”

Harper’s report provides useful data on graduation rates of black male athletes at major schools, including changes in those rates (or lack thereof) over the last decade. However, while many news outlets have treated the report as scholarship, it is not peer-reviewed. Furthermore, the report’s analysis of its own data is misleading in three key ways.

First, the report claims that black males are over-represented on sports rosters at major universities compared to the student body in general. That is true, but the report under-represents black men on campus by comparing men’s sports rosters to student bodies directly. Men’s rosters exclude women, meaning that even if every male student were black, men’s sports rosters would be 100 percent black men, while the student body would be only 50 percent black men.

Furthermore, the disparity owes more to the large number of elite black athletes than to the small number of black students. As outlined elsewhere, less than a fifth of the disparity is due to low enrollment of black students compared to the overall population. The disparity is largely an illusory problem—yet it is a major focus of Harper’s report.

The report also misinterprets the academic records of black athletes. In one case, it describes the low graduation rates of black male athletes as “shocking” and implies that athletics hinders black athletes’ academic pursuits. There is a simpler, if unfortunate, explanation: Graduation rates tend to be lower when a student is black, male, or an athlete, and especially when a student is all three.

For example, the same dataset that Harper cites shows that black students graduate 12 percent less often than white students, that male students graduate 5 percent less often than female students, and that white male athletes graduate 10 percent less often than white male students. Simple addition of those effects is 27 percent, which is similar to the 25 percent difference in graduation rates between black male athletes and white women in the student bodies (55 percent vs. 80 percent). Figures like that one call into question the unique plight of the black male athlete per se.

Finally, the report does not fully investigate one of its main points: The academic costs of being an elite athlete. The report cites the NCAA’s well-publicized claim that black male athletes graduate at higher rates than other black male students at Division I schools. The report then notes that the trend reverses at schools in top-level athletics, and implies that athletes graduate less often than non-athletes because of poorer academic performance.

That implication is misleading. Black male athletes graduate at similar rates—about 55 percent—at all levels of Division I schools (major conferences, mid-major conferences, or elsewhere). Instead, the reversal reflects the black athletes’ classmates: At schools that play big-money sports, black athletes are not worse students, but their black classmates are better students. Unsurprisingly, the Universities of Michigan and Texas admit different students than Eastern Michigan University and the University of Texas-El Paso. The report ignores that important context.

To be sure, college athletics programs have their problems, ranging from astronomical coaching salaries to player compensation to genuine academic misconduct. However, those problems transcend race. For example, the over-representation of black athletes, coupled with their poor graduation rates, appears to highlight preferential admissions policies for all athletes. Also, those rates may reflect the difficulties of balancing schoolwork and big-money athletics—just not in the way Harper’s report intends. Being an athlete correlates with a bigger drop in graduation rates for white males than for black males.

To be sure, college athletics programs have their problems…however, those problems transcend race.
None of that matches a narrative centered on race. Instead, the numbers suggest that race is one of several factors that affect athletes.

The recurring focus on race in college athletics by the media reveals an unfortunate pattern: The faulty conclusion that any racial inequity necessarily signals oppression or exploitation. In other spheres of American life, perhaps that is a reasonable starting point. However, in a popular, voluntary activity such as college sports, a deeper look at the statistics reveals that inequities may have other explanations. In general, oppression may require inequity, but inequity does not require oppression.

The fact that so many college football and men’s basketball players are black is probably a byproduct of other phenomena, such as disparity in athletic talent, that are seemingly beside the point. As evidence, consider that countless young white men would gladly take black men’s roster spots at major universities if given the chance. Also, black men are often over-represented at lower levels of college athletics where nobody makes much money at all. Again, those considerations point away from a narrative of exploitation with race at its center.

Are elite college athletes exploited by (predominantly white) men earning millions of dollars? Perhaps. But if we want to defend the majority of big-money athletes—in this case, black men—then we should defend all athletes, regardless of race.

The choice to focus on race risks losing arguments about college athletics entirely: A more inclusive approach would not only lack the statistical flaws outlined here, but may also be better received by the public and catalyze more public pressure. In this way, focusing on race may be counterproductive, even from the narrow perspective of helping black athletes.

Of course, race is certainly a non-trivial part of many athletes’ college experiences and should not be ignored. But acknowledging something is different from focusing on it. When presenting broad arguments about economics and education in athletics, perhaps we should consider losing the race.


Did You Know? As Tuition Goes Up, Some Colleges Freeze or Cut Prices

Private colleges that compete with public schools are scrambling to find a way to keep attracting students. To do so, freezing or lowering tuition rates have grown in popularity to bring in cost-conscious young people. Colleges such as St John’s in Maryland and New Mexico, Wells College in New York, and Utica College in New York have made major budget cuts to lower their tuition.

Tuition freezes keep tuition at a plateau for a set number of years. Expenses for room and board, though, can still increase. When a private school instead opts for a tuition cut, such as Wells College, the one-time cuts are usually more dramatic: Tuition can fall by 20 percent to 50 percent. Students rarely paid the full advertised price (the sticker price), so by cutting tuition, students and their parents don’t experience such “sticker shock.”

Cuts don’t always make college more affordable, though: financial aid is often cut simultaneously. It can still be difficult for lower- and middle-income students to afford a private school. The initial publicity of cutting tuition rates can boost enrollment because a school looks cheaper. When the University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky announced a 57 percent tuition cut for the 2019-2020 school year, it dropped the small Baptist university’s advertised tuition from $23,000 to just $9,875 per year.

The tuition cut approach is not yet dominant. Between 2006 and 2017, the average private college increased its tuition by 29 percent, according to the College Board.

When they happen, though, tuition cuts can hide other costs. Albright College in Pennsylvania announced a 45 percent tuition cut starting in 2019, dropping tuition from $44,206 to $24,500. Although they cut tuition, Albright stated that “they increased the room, board, and student services fee for all students, thus, a number of current students still see an increase in overall cost.” And when Utica lowered their tuition by $14,000 in 2016, president Laura Casamento noted that “nearly three-quarters of our families were telling us that we were too expensive.” The school then attempted to price the tuition slightly more than the price of a public school.

While tuition cuts are becoming popular within private colleges, tuition freezes are happening at public universities.

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education approved a tuition freeze to keep in-state tuition at $7,716 across the system’s 14 universities. According to Inside Higher Ed, it was the second tuition freeze in the system’s past 36 years. Virginia’s public colleges also announced a tuition freeze for the 2019-2020 school year; The Washington Post noted that it was the “first such tuition freeze in nearly two decades.” UNC-Chapel Hill also announced a tuition freeze for the 2019-2020 school year to keep prices low.

Some universities increase tuition and fees before freezing it. Ohio State University raised its tuition and fees by 3.3 percent, then froze it for the next four years. The university also increased aid so that “students with high financial need are unaffected by the change,” according to a press release.

Though a tuition cut or freeze might look like a win for students, it’s not always the full story. Students, parents, and the media need to ask whether fees, student services, and financial aid are changing as well. Otherwise, the real cost may not be dropping as much as a college claims it is.


Christian Colleges Are Worth the Investment

In his recent article, “Are Christian Colleges Worth the Debt Burden?” Douglas Oliver argues that Christian colleges have a responsibility to reduce the tuition they charge their students to avoid excessive borrowing. He invokes a version of the Bennett Hypothesis, stating that “the business model for most Christian colleges is based on high levels of student debt” and that “Christian colleges need to ‘walk the walk’ by discouraging their students from taking out large life-altering levels of debt.”

Oliver states that, as a group, Christian colleges have 1) lower-than-average default rates, 2) lower graduation rates, and 3) average long-term earnings for alumni.

While I share Oliver’s concern for students who drop out of college with onerous debt levels, that is not a phenomenon unique to Christian colleges.

I believe that students fare better at Christian colleges, both the well-prepared and those with lesser preparation or ability. I also believe that, rather than being motivated to raise tuition due to the availability of student loans, market forces push Christian colleges (and all private colleges) to control the net costs incurred by students and families. That effort has led to relatively flat loan levels over the past decade.

The default-rate advantage for Christian colleges (3.5 percentage points lower than non-Christian colleges) is significant. The student loan repayment rate at Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) institutions is 73.8 percent vs. the national average of 64.5 percent. Apart from one outlier, all 129 U.S.-based CCCU schools have default rates well under 20 percent, and 87 percent are under the national average of 10.1 percent.

Even though the national four-year private college group includes Ivy League schools such as Harvard, over half (54 percent) of CCCU schools have default rates below the national average for private, non-profit four-year colleges. I attribute that result both to the character of our students and the counsel they receive from their Christian college financial aid personnel.

A discussion of graduation rates requires nuance. Graduation rates are a function of the size and selectivity of a school as well as the academic preparation of the students. The latest data (the cohort entering in fall 2011) shows that the national average 6-year grad rate is 59 percent for CCCU schools and 64 percent for non-CCCU four-year, non-profit private schools. But that latter metric includes Harvard and 68 other schools with enrollments of over 10,000 students with a weighted average six-year grad rate of nearly 75 percent. By contrast, only two CCCU schools are so large.

A more meaningful comparison would be to compare schools with small-to-medium-sized enrollments. For schools with enrollments under 5,000 students, the weighted average six-year grad rates are similar—56.9 percent for CCCU schools and 58.6 percent for non-CCCU schools. When looking at the smallest schools (under 1,000 students), the 27 CCCU schools have a weighted average six-year grad rate of 46.5 percent, higher than 43.1 percent for non-CCCU schools.

But why should grad rates be lower at smaller schools? That has to do with the mission of the schools and the diverse populations they serve. Fifty years ago, when I enrolled at Bethel University, a small Christian college, most families sent their children to the school for a grounding in their faith before transferring to a larger school to complete a specialized major not on offer. The six-year grad rate hovered around 40 percent. Since then, the school has grown, added majors, and maintains a grad rate approaching 75 percent.

Our smallest Christian colleges are much like the school I attended a half-century ago. Mostly denominational and operating on modest budgets, they serve a higher share of low-income and first-generation students. Nonetheless, they maintain a higher grad rate than comparable secular private non-profit colleges. Many of their “dropouts” transfer elsewhere and complete their degrees.

Alumni earnings data for colleges have become more available in recent years, and it shows that Christian colleges have similar salary outcomes. For earnings outcomes, Christian colleges do well, especially considering that their comparison group includes elite schools and Christian college graduates gravitate toward lower-earning service professions (12.7 percent of CCCU grads pursue careers in human services vs. 4.2 percent from all four-year institutions).

Oliver states that “Many Christian colleges, given that they rely on tuition revenue, have an incentive to encourage more debt. To change their incentives, Christian colleges need to find a funding model that’s less reliant on tuition revenue or reduce expenses so students can avoid taking on too much debt.”

Yet, rather than encouraging debt, I have found while consulting at Christian colleges and speaking with financial officers that schools do all they can to advise students to avoid excessive debt. Good debt counseling is taught at the Ron Blue Institute for Financial Planning, which was founded at Indiana Wesleyan University and has spread to other campuses. Christian colleges are limited in stopping students from taking debt, however: In most cases, schools that participate in Title IV government aid programs may not refuse to endorse government loan applications for which the student is eligible.

Christian schools are acutely aware of the impact of debt on their students and are taking several steps to control the cost of a Christian college education. Very few have substantial endowments with which to “subsidize” tuition. For Christian donors, I encourage them to consider establishing endowment funds to help needy and deserving students. Without additional funding sources, Christian colleges are scaling back expenses, which has kept the median net cost of a CCCU college between $20,000 and $21,000.

Adjusting for inflation, the median net cost of attending a CCCU college is less today than it was 7 years ago. As a result, annual student borrowing has plateaued, as has the total debt of graduates.

I agree with Oliver that prospective college students should be wise in their college selection process, considering their career goals, academic preparedness, and financial situation. Colleges have a responsibility to provide clear information on the advantages and costs of their school. In the end, though, I maintain that a Christian college is often the best choice for a young person seeking to mature in their faith and make it their own.