Tuesday, January 22, 2019

UK: Education is NOT the great leveller

This is a fairly iconoclastic article.  That the author is of Hungarian origin may explain that. She is able to take an outside view.

But she is of course right -- though she doesn't really spell out why.  Social class continua are heavily correlated with IQ -- which is genetically inherited -- and education can do nothing to increase IQ.  Rich people are mostly smarter and have mostly smarter kids.  So their kids inherit their class position both socially and genetically. There are of course exceptions but most people end up in a social position matched to their IQ. Smart kids do at times emerge from poor backgrounds and provision to advance them is well warranted.  Grammar schools do that.

The push for more and more education for everyone, however,  is fundamentally misguided.  The years out of the workforce impoverish the country, if anything

Britain is unusual in having what could be seen as two status hierarchies -- a wealth hierarchy and a nobility hierarchy. Some members of the nobility (titled hereditary aristocracy) can even be poor.  But the two have a long history of melding into one another.  Poor aristocratic males -- and some not so poor -- have a historic habit of marrying rich American heiresses, for instance.  Winston Churchill was one of the results of such a union.  The American family buys prestige and the British family has its fortunes refreshed.  And as the progeny of often self-made men, the ladies concerned will be bright.

More broadly, noble titles are still much valued and respected in Britain so an aristocratic male will have a wide choice of potential partners.  He is able in fact to get a woman with it all -- brains and beauty.  And so it often happens.  So there has long been a steady influx of brains into the nobility -- so even in Britain, prestigious persons generally tend to be bright

For two decades, social mobility has been a central concern in British politics. Increasing equality of opportunity, in the context of rising inequalities between people’s lives, has been a shared goal across the party political spectrum. Politicians have also agreed that educational policy is crucial to achieving this goal. This has made the thrust of speeches on social mobility given over the years by politicians including Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Theresa May interchangeable.

Yet, new research I’ve published with my colleague John Goldthorpe, which brings together results from extensive British birth cohort studies, points to a serious disconnect between the discussion of social mobility in political and policy circles and the findings of sociological research.

In our analysis, we treat social mobility in terms of social class, and make a clear distinction between absolute and relative mobility rates. Absolute rates simply refer to the proportions of individuals who have moved to different class positions to those of their parents, whether in an upward or downward direction. Relative rates compare the chances of individuals from different class origins ending up in a different class “destination”.

Contrary to what has become widely claimed in the media, mainly as a result of – often misunderstood – research by economists, social mobility in Britain is not in decline.

Absolute rates of class mobility between generations have been stable at least over the period since World War II. Men and women today are just as likely to be found in different class positions to those of their parents as they were in the 1950s.

The important change is, however, that rates of upward mobility are falling and rates of downward mobility are rising, as our research and the graph above shows. In this sense, young people now face less favourable mobility prospects than their parents or grandparents did. This is the result of the slowdown in the steady growth of managerial and professional employment that drove increasing upward mobility in the “golden age” from the 1950s up to the 1980s.

Relative rates of social mobility are also essentially stable: the inherent “stickiness” between the class positions of parents and children has altered little over at least the last half century. And in the case of “long-range” mobility – between, say, the lower stratum of the working class and those in managerial and professional jobs – quite extreme inequalities in relative chances exist.

Our findings show that the children of parents in higher managerial and professional positions are 20 times more likely to end up in such positions, rather than in working class positions, than children of working class parents are.

Not a low mobility society

Education plays an important role in determining whether a person is class mobile or immobile. But it does not follow that more education means more mobility at a societal level. For education to promote mobility at a societal level, the association between a person’s class origins and their educational attainment must weaken, while the association between their educational attainment and their class destinations must strengthen. But as our research shows, neither of these changes is in fact apparent. And that’s especially the case if education is considered in relative terms: for example if account is taken of the fact that a degree is worth far more in the labour market if only 10% of a birth cohort have one than if 40% do.

Again, contrary to what is widely claimed in the reports such as those by the Social Mobility Commission, Britain is not a distinctively low mobility society. Across European countries, rates of absolute class mobility are very similar. And as regards relative rates, Britain is one of a group of West-Nordic countries that show – comparatively – high fluidity within their class structures.

One reason for this is that, in Britain, education is not class destiny to the same extent as it is in a country such as Germany. In Germany, and several other Western-Central European countries, the educational system is highly stratified, with early selection for different types of school. Because there is then a tight link between formal educational qualifications and employment opportunities, educational inequalities are rather systematically translated into labour market inequalities. Where such “credentialism” prevails, education can in fact prove a barrier to, as much as a source of, social mobility.

No great leveller
Education is not “the great leveller” that can break the link between inequality in the conditions under which people live and inequality of opportunity. Parents with superior resources – economic, as well as social and cultural ones – will use their resources as necessary to give their children a competitive edge. Those wealthy enough can resort to the private sector, but for others the “commercialisation of opportunity” occurs by buying houses in the catchment areas of high-performing state schools, engaging private tutors for their children, and providing them with extensive out-of-school activities and experiences designed to improve their academic performance.

In addition, further education, or lifelong learning, turns out to promote immobility rather than mobility. As my research shows, it mainly gives “second chances” to those from more advantaged backgrounds whose performance in mainstream education gave them insufficient assurance that they would be able to maintain their parents’ position. It primarily serves to prevent downward mobility.

So far as absolute mobility is concerned, the most effective way of increasing upward mobility would be through economic and social policies that could renew the expansion of managerial and professional employment, so as to bring back the conditions of the golden age. One way of equalising relative rates of social mobility would be for employers to develop internal promotion and training policies to take full advantage of the educationally “wasted talent” that exists among their workforces and to remove requirements for formal qualifications of an irrelevant kind.

But in all societies with a capitalist market economy, a conjugal family system and liberal-democratic policies, a limit may exist on the extent that mobility chances can be equalised. As this limit is approached, policies aimed at further equalisation will become increasingly contested, and social mobility will cease to be a matter on which political consensus prevails.


Corruption Is Inherent in the Government Education System

Violent criminals have always been (former California governor) Jerry Brown’s favorite candidates for pardons, but on his way out the door, Brown saw fit to pardon Bill Honig, once the subject of a gushing profile in People magazine. The former state education boss was convicted on felony conflict-of-interest charges during the 1990s, but in 2011 Brown picked Honig for the state Board of Education. The convicted felon withdrew his name, but there’s more to the story.

Bill Honig knew government education was a bust, complaining that dumbed-down textbooks were “all horrors,” but he still defended the system. The alleged partisan of “quality education” would not allow parents in Compton and other inner-city areas to choose the schools their children attend. He said school choice would create “elite academies for the few and second-rate schools for the many” and authored “Why Privatizing Public Education Is a Bad Idea,” in The Brookings Review. Honig opposed 1993’s Proposition 174, the last school-choice measure to come before California voters. So did his successor Delaine Eastin, another close ally of the California Teachers Association.

On Eastin’s watch, the California Department of Education gave away more than $20 million to an interlocking directorate of ineligible “community-based organizations.” When auditors uncovered this massive fraud, Eastin fired the whistleblowers and kept the money flowing. Both whistleblowers sued to get their jobs back, and a jury awarded one $4.5 million and held Eastin liable for $1.4 million in non-economic damages and $150,000 in punitive damages because she had “acted with malice.” The rewards were subsequently reduced and punitive damages dropped, so Eastin did not need a pardon from the governor, the office she sought last year.

California taxpayers should also consider Eastin’s pal John Mockler, who wrote Proposition 98 as an “antidote” to Proposition 13. Mockler formed a lobbying firm to represent publishers and education bureaucrats. These connections came in handy when he served as state secretary of education and executive director of the State Board of Education under governor Gray Davis. Mockler became a rich man working both sides of the table, but his conflict of interest never drew charges.

As Mockler, Eastin and Honig confirm, corruption is inherent in the government monopoly education system. That is unlikely to change under new governor Gavin Newsom, who wants to expand the system with universal pre-school and spend $1.8 billion on a range of early education programs.


City targets Christian school
Christian school takes 8-year legal battle to the U.S. Supreme Court

Eight years ago, Tree of Life Christian Schools purchased a vacant building in Upper Arlington, Ohio.

Dedicated to educational excellence and nurturing young lives in Christ, the school had been growing. And it was pushing the limits of its four campuses with nearly 600 students. Naturally, the school went looking for a bigger facility.

Tree of Life planned to relocate its four growing campuses to one central location, which would allow the current student body to grow to approximately 1,200 students.

But the city had other plans.

Upper Arlington officials denied zoning approval for the school, even though the zoning code allows for daycare facilities and other nonprofit uses of the buildings in that area. Tree of Life was singled out because it was religious.

The city claims that it denied the school’s zoning requests because the school would not generate tax revenue for Upper Arlington. But if Tree of Life Christian Schools were to relocate, it would provide more than 150 new jobs as well as greater tax revenue for the city—tax revenue it hadn’t received from the vacant site in years.

The law is clear. The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act prohibits local governments from treating religious organizations on unequal terms in land use and zoning matters.

And yet, for eight long years, the city has blocked this Christian school from using its own building!

It’s time for the discrimination to stop.

Today, Alliance Defending Freedom filed a petition with the United States Supreme Court on the school’s behalf. We’re asking the Court to take this case and put a stop to the city’s religious discrimination against Tree of Life.

It is no longer a question of if the government will discriminate against people of faith and religious organizations because of who they are and what they believe—the question is when and where such discrimination will occur.

Litigating these important cases is our chief line of defense for religious freedom in the next few years. But it is only through God’s provision and your prayers and support that we can even show up to the fight.

Via email

Monday, January 21, 2019

UK: Elite food? Oxford college bans octopus from menu in bid to make disadvantaged students feel more 'comfortable'

Royall is an old Labour party hack

The president of an Oxford college has asked for octopus to be taken off in a bid to prevent upset among disadvantaged students, it was claimed.

Baroness Royall, head of Somerville College, has reportedly said she wanted to make the college welcoming to all and change its culture.

The Telegraph reported how Baroness Royall had told catering staff to replace an octopus terrine dish with a less exotic alternative, following a complaint from a first-year student.

Lady Royall, the former Labour leader in the House of Lords, revealed the incident in a blog post titled ‘I am determined to move fast on widening access to Somerville’, published on the college’s website yesterday.

In the blog, she discussed the steps the college had taken to increase the intake of students from disadvantaged backgrounds including a ‘Demystifying Oxford Day’ for state school students.

The baroness wrote: ‘I feel sure that there is more we can do to … encourage more strong candidates to apply, especially from disadvantaged backgrounds.

‘I also want to turn the spotlight on ourselves and ask how we should change the culture of Somerville and Oxford to ensure that we are welcoming to all.

‘One of our students told me of her bemusement at being served an octopus terrine at the Freshers’ Dinner.

‘I’m sure the cephalopod dish was delicious but it might not be quite right for every-one.’

Lady Royall reportedly made the decision to remove the dish following a complaint from a first-year student at Somerville College in Oxford (pictured)    +3
Lady Royall reportedly made the decision to remove the dish following a complaint from a first-year student at Somerville College in Oxford (pictured)

A Somerville student called the move ‘tokenistic’. ‘It also implies that octopus, and certain food dishes, are not for people from a particular background and should be reserved for the privileged few,’ they said.

However, Joe Inwood, president of Oxford University’s student union, praised the move. ‘It is great to see colleges listen to feedback,’ he said.

A spokesman for the college told the Telegraph: ‘The point of education is to widen horizons, including introducing students to new tastes. But we want to make sure that, at the Freshers’ Dinner at least, food is served that everyone is likely to be comfortable with.’


Pence: 'To See Major News Organizations Attacking Christian Education Is Deeply Offensive To Us'

Vice President Mike Pence, defending both his wife and his Christian faith, spoke Thursday about the liberal backlash resulting from Karen Pence's decision to return to a Christian school as a volunteer art teacher.

"To see the mainstream media...criticize my wife because she's choosing to return to the classroom of an elementary Christian school is wrong," Pence told "Washington Watch."

Pence told EWTN, a Catholic news network:

My wife and I have been in the public eye for quite a while. We're used to the criticism. But I have to tell you, to see major news organizations attacking Christian education is deeply offensive to us.

We have a rich tradition in America of Christian education, and frankly, religious education broadly defined. We celebrate it. The freedom of religion is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution prohibits a religious test for holding public office. We'll let the other critics roll off our back, but this criticism of religious education in America should stop.

Immanuel Christian school, located in Northern Virginia, says on its website: "We are, first of all, a Christian school and as such establish the biblical basis from which we will teach a Christian world and life view. While we recognize that not all parents will agree with every item in this statement, it is necessary that the parents agree to support the premise that their child will be taught from the perspective provided in our statement of belief."

What outraged some on the left is the school's policy against "moral misconduct," which includes "heterosexual activity outside of marriage (e.g., premarital sex, cohabitation, extramarital sex), homosexual or lesbian sexual activity, polygamy, transgender identity, any other violation of the unique roles of male and female, sexual harassment, use or viewing of pornographic material or websites.”

The Huffington Post reported on Thursday that an LGBTQ advocacy group "has sent Immanuel Christian 100 copies of A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, a children’s book about a boy bunny who falls in love with another boy bunny. Included with the books is 'a heartfelt note that encourages the school’s leaders to accept LGBTQ young people,' the group said."

In an essay on Thursday, the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins said the fury directed at Karen Pence for simply volunteering at a Christian school should serve as a warning for all Christians:

Three years after the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal, Perkins wrote, "all of the lies about 'love' and 'tolerance' have been eclipsed by the court cases, articles, and editorials demonizing people of faith. What Americans see now is the truth: the Left is coming for our freedom. And they have no intention of letting up," he continued:

Like Joe Biden's wife, Karen Pence spent years in the classroom. When Mike was in Congress, she taught art at Immanuel Christian School in Virginia -- and no one batted an eye. Of course, that was back in the early 2000s, when the Left's charm offensive on same-sex marriage was still in full swing. We'll be accommodating, they said. We just want to co-exist, they said. Our relationships won't affect you, they said. A handful of years later, "affected" doesn't begin to describe to what happens to conservatives who think differently than the totalitarian Left.

Of course, the Pences are not strangers to the other side's viciousness. Every time the media is reminded about the family's faith, they become hysterical all over again -- a scene that played out this week when Karen announced she'd be volunteering at Immanuel Christian this spring. "I am excited to be back in the classroom and doing what I love to do," she said in a statement. "I have missed teaching art, and it's great to return to the school where I taught art for 12 years."

She can't go back there, LGBT activists raged! They reject homosexuality! Yes, well, that's what orthodox Christian schools do. (Not to mention Jewish and Muslim ones too.) Would it have been headline news if Jill Biden taught at a Roman Catholic school? Probably not. Yet, the Left and their media chums are hurling profanity at the Pences for something that, even five years ago, wouldn't have been controversial. Frankly, the only thing that would have been shocking is if Karen worked at a Christian school that didn't act like a Christian school.

Perkins said the left's "real problem" isn't that Karen Pence is working at a Christian school; the real problem is that evangelical schools exist at all.

"There used to be a consensus in this country that religious liberty was for everyone. When the Religious Freedom Restoration Act came before Congress, only three members voted against it. Over time, some liberals tried to isolate faith -- to churches, Christian schools, or family rooms. You've heard me say before that the Left's hope is to quarantine religion within the four walls of the church. Now, it's becoming clear -- even that won't satisfy them."


The subjects kids SHOULD be studying: One of Australia's smartest people reveals the skills teenagers need to get high-paying jobs - and why part-time work at McDonald's is crucial to their success

One of Australia's most intelligent men has shared some advice on which skills schoolchildren need in order to clinch a lucrative career later in life.

Dr Alan Finkel, Australia's Chief Scientist, said the key to kick-starting a first-rate career was by studying challenging subjects alongside a part-time job at McDonald's.

He said a solid academic background coupled with essential life skills was critical for ensuring a high-flying career path.  

The 65-year-old explained that English and maths were crucial subjects of study when it came to ensuring the employment 'door of opportunity' stays open.

'Mastery of language is crucial to succeeding in whatever you do — whether it's writing a report to advise the government on electricity markets or a job application,' Dr Finkel told Cosmos magazine.

'Your ability to 'win friends and influence people' will only be as good as your language skills. The best way to hone them is to read a lot, and read some more. Novels, histories, science-fiction — it doesn't matter, just read!'

He added that maths is the language of science and business based jobs, and emphasised the importance of having a solid understanding of the subject when it came to pursuing a career in the medicine, engineering or economic fields.

Reiterating the significance of a strong academic background, he told the publication: 'Every time you drop an enabling subject — bang! A door of opportunity slams shut.'

The former Chancellor of Monash University, in Melbourne, also added that life skills such as resilience, clear thinking and collaboration were of value, and can be achieved by working a part time job at a fast food chain such as McDonald's or volunteering.

However, he noted life skills weren't of much use unless accompanied by strong academic results. 'They are useless unless you study demanding subjects through which you can practise these skills,' Dr Finkel told the publication.

'There is no substitute for raw knowledge, even in the age of internet search. After all, there is no use learning to collaborate if you don't have anything distinctive to contribute,' he added.

But while he advised studying well-regarded subjects such as maths and sciences was highly advantageous, he acknowledged that which subjects students chose wouldn't dictate their career paths for the rest of their lives.

The neuroscientist, engineer and entrepreneur said it was 'critical' to ensure initial tertiary studies were done really well, but once established in the workforce, it was easy enough to switch from one job to another.  


Sunday, January 20, 2019

Most 'Oxbridge' students are privately educated. One state school bucks this trend in a big way

This is a lot less remarkable than it seems.  Admission to the school is highly selective. The students are bright to begin with.  It is not an elite school socially but it is an elite school intellectually.  It has no lessons for mainstream government schools

Elite UK universities Oxford and Cambridge are renowned for stringent admissions policies and student populations weighted in favor of private schools, but one state school has had remarkable success in bucking that trend.

Brampton Manor Academy has revealed that 41 of its students have received offers to study at Oxford or Cambridge, collectively known as Oxbridge, the highest number since its sixth-form college (teaching students in the final two years of high school) opened in 2012.

"We were delighted when last year we sent 20 students to Oxbridge, having seen the number increase gradually from just one offer in 2014," executive principal Dayo Olukoshi said in a press release. "For this to have more than doubled again is phenomenal."

The school is in the London borough of Newham, one of the most deprived in the British capital.

Almost all of the students in question are from ethnic minority backgrounds, according to the press release. Half of them receive free school meals as part of a government program designed to assist disadvantaged families, and two-thirds will become the first in their family to study at university.

State schools in the UK are funded by taxpayer money, and would be called public schools in the United States.

Just 7% of British schoolchildren are educated at independent (a.k.a. private) schools. Yet they still score about 40% of the places on Oxford and Cambridge undergrad programs. These children are generally from wealthy families -- private school fees run to tens of thousands of pounds per year -- and are primed for an Oxbridge education.

However Brampton Manor is making significant progress in opening Oxford and Cambridge up to students from different backgrounds. "We are passionate about instilling within our students the self-belief that they are good enough, that their talent and potential is far more important than any preconceived notion of the 'type' of student Oxbridge might be looking for," said Sam Dobin, Director of Sixth Form.

"These young people have often overcome so much to get to this point and now have such exciting futures ahead of them; we couldn't be prouder of them."

"This incredible achievement really helps challenge some of the myths about who Oxford and Cambridge is for, showing that we are open to everyone with the talent, passion and drive to study here," said Sam Lucy, Director of Admissions for the Colleges at the University of Cambridge.


Experimental colleges once were the future. Now, what is their future?

When Hampshire College opened its doors in 1970, it was part of a wave of new schools founded as experiments in alternative education. Some let students set their own course of study and didn’t require letter grades. Some focused on the classics. Some drew students interested in farming or the environment.

But Hampshire’s current financial troubles raise questions about whether this style of education is a luxury that consumers today can no longer afford. Some of the problems facing alternative schools are the same as those facing more traditional small schools: a shrinking pool of college-age students, rising costs, and small endowments. But alternative schools also struggle with unique challenges, given their unorthodox offerings.

“It’s awfully hard for those institutions and their graduates to prove what they’ve learned in a job market that is oriented toward hit-the-ground-running and prove-you-can-do-something from day one,” said Dennis Jones, the past president of National Center for Higher Education Management Systems.

Hampshire officials announced this week that, amid economic pressures, they are looking to merge with another college and might not admit a freshman class this fall. Across the country, it’s a not-uncommon fate for alternative schools, many of which have shut down or reinvented themselves — or are facing pressure to do so.

Franconia College, which opened in New Hampshire in 1963 in an old inn in the White Mountains as an experiment in alternative education, shut down 15 years later after financial problems that began nearly from the start. It had also come under attack from political conservatives in the state who accused it of harboring draft dodgers and fostering a culture of drugs and sexual promiscuity.

In Plainfield, Vt., another atypical college faces an uncertain fate. Goddard College, known for its “low-residency” program where students come to campus for only one week per semester, is on academic probation with the regional accrediting agency. The agency has cited concerns over Goddard’s finances and leadership and has given the school two years to correct the problems. Goddard was established in 1938 on a former sheep farm as a communal setting for “plain living and hard thinking.”

Other nontraditional schools have morphed to stay afloat. New College, in Sarasota, Fla., was founded in 1960 as a private college to foster the arts and free students from traditional curricula. The school is located on the former estate of Edith and Charles Ringling, who helped found the famous circus. It uses a “contract system” where students negotiate an agreement with their adviser each semester about their courses and expectations for the term. In 2001 it became the honors college of the state system.

Many of the alternative colleges that appear to be more financially sound are those with big endowments, or those that are so small and narrowly focused that they can operate with very few students.

Darron Collins, president of College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, said his school has a successful niche that helps it stay strong. The school offers only one major — human ecology — and students design their own program under that umbrella. The campus has two organic farms and two island research stations.

Collins said the school, which has just 350 students, has also been conscious of trying to keep overhead costs like administrative salaries low.

“I’m never going to say we are immune to things, because the demographics are tight,” he said, but applications are up, and about 25 percent of the school’s students are international.

Antioch College in Ohio, which focuses on practical work training for students and uses written evaluations in addition to grades, has a different type of survival story. The school was founded in the mid-1800s but closed in 2008. Three years later it was reopened by a group led by alumni who purchased the campus and offered the first four classes of students free tuition. The school is now transitioning to paid students and ended fiscal 2017 with a $1.7 million loss, the records show.

Mark Roosevelt, president of the Santa Fe campus of St. John’s College, said small schools struggle not because of their particular niche but because of practical concerns like managing their endowment and enrollment.

The St. John’s endowment is about $190 million, Roosevelt said. The school has focused more on fund-raising lately and is more than halfway toward its capital campaign goal of $300 million. Hampshire’s endowment is about $52 million, according to the school.

The curriculum at St. John’s College, which also has a campus in Annapolis, Md., is composed of a rigid curriculum where students read Homer, Plato, Nietzsche, and Einstein, and must learn to translate ancient texts.

Jones, the past president of the nonprofit higher education consulting organization, said that while students may appreciate alternative types of higher education, it is increasingly difficult to justify the cost. At Hampshire, for instance, the tuition is $50,000, plus $14,000 for room and board.

But the struggles of these schools does not mean innovation is dead, Jones said. These days, schools are forced to be creative economically, rather than simply academically. Many students pay for their own degrees and are worried about debt, so schools are trying different economic models to keep costs down, such as online education.

“Institutions that challenge the economic model are the new frontier of higher education innovation,” he said.

Evergreen State College, in Olympia, Wash., is an alternative school that has stayed healthy thanks to its public status. It has always been part of the Washington state system, a factor that its administrators say has helped keep tuition affordable. Tuition at Evergreen is about $7,000 per year for in-state students plus about $12,000 for room and board.

The school was founded in 1967 with a similar goal of giving students more control over their learning and curriculum. It now has about 3,000 students.

Still, Sandra Kaiser, vice president for college relations, said enrollment has been on a 10-year decline, driven, ironically, in part by the strong economy. About half of Evergreen’s students are community college transfer students. But fewer students typically attend community college when the economy is healthy, and jobs are plentiful. She said the school is constantly evaluating how to best serve students, who are increasingly nontraditional, including older adults and veterans.

“We have to really improve and renew in order to serve students,” she said.


Democrats Ready Universal Pre-K Pitch Ahead of 2020

Democrats appear ready to weave universal pre-kindergarten into their pitch for winning back working-class voters, with the 2020 campaign just underway.

The pitch was best exhibited most recently by former secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro when he announced his presidential bid.

"To be the smartest nation requires an early investment in our children's education," Castro told a crowd gathered in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas. "Today, we live in a world in which brainpower is the new currency of success.… As president, we'll make [universal pre-K] happen … for all children whose parents want it, so that all of our nation's students can get a strong start."

Before abandoning his own presidential ambitions earlier this month, Tom Steyer laid out a broad vision for what he called the "5 rights," including "the right to learn," which the California billionaire and political activist hoped would be enshrined in any future Democratic Party platform.

"If we don't provide free, quality public education for kids, pre-K through college or skills training, we are creating, legislating inequality," Steyer told a group in Iowa, just hours before he dropped out of the race.

Steyer and Castro's endorsement is only the most recent in a long political trend. Democrats at every level of government—municipal, state, and federal—have endorsed the policy, despite its overall effectiveness being mixed if not downright negative.

There is strong evidence that the overall benefits of pre-K are most notable shortly after the program ends but fade away over time. One study published in 2018 found students who didn't partake in pre-K programs on average tested better than those that did by the second and third grades.

Similarly, a 2014 report by the Heritage Foundation showed that in Oklahoma, which implemented universal pre-K in 1998, the results have been negligible. Fourth-grade reading scores, an initial measure of the impact of early childhood education, have remained nearly unchanged in the state between 1998 and 2014. Furthermore, even though Oklahoma spends almost $7,400 per student on early childhood education the state's standardized test scores are still below the national average.

Results at the federal level haven't been much better. In 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services published a report on the effectiveness of Head Start, which provides early childhood education to families living at or below the poverty line. The report inadvertently showed that although Head Start spent more than $180 billion over 48 years, it had almost no effect on the "cognitive, social-emotional, health, or parenting outcomes" of its participants.

A widespread debate further exists as to whether universal pre-K programs are actually "universal." Critics have cited that most programs claiming to be such actually take a "targeted" approach that restricts eligibility to child and family characteristics. Of those, the most common requirement is family income. A 2015 report by the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes found that nearly 58 percent of all publicly funded pre-K programs set family income thresholds at or below 185 percent of the poverty level.

Other pre-K programs claiming to be "open to all enrollees" also fall short of being universal because of funding issues that limit available space. The National Institute for Early Education Research found that only 10 states in the country had enrollment numbers above 50 percent. Only four states provided pre-K to more than 70 percent of eligible children.

Proponents have mostly ignored or written off such findings. The majority of the arguments in favor of universal pre-K are steeped in appeals to emotion. When pushed, champions have claimed that for every dollar spent on pre-K a seven-dollar savings occurs in programs to reduce teen pregnancies, boost graduation rates, and reduce incarceration, among others.

The 7-to-1 return on investment claim has become a staple of the universal pre-K conversation, even being cited by former President Barack Obama in his 2013 State of the Union address. It's accuracy, however, has been widely discredited as it is the result of one study conducted more than 50 years ago of 58 "at risk" children. It has not yet been replicated in state pre-school programs.

While Democrats might be making a bet on universal pre-K, voters are unsold. At the ballot box, the feel-good measure has a mixed record. Some larger municipalities have voted to tax themselves for pre-K, but some of the failures are noteworthy. Although the vote was from 2006, deep blue California rejected new taxes for pre-K which "had drawn high levels of support in early public-opinion polls, but eventually succumbed to months of debate over the benefits of such a program," according to a report by Education Week.

In the 2018 elections, voters in Colorado and Pittsburgh voted down education packages that earmarked significant funds toward early childhood education and pre-K, while Seattle bolstered their program with new funds.

Corey DeAngelis, an education expert with the libertarian Cato Institute, says these kinds of campaign offerings make perfect sense from the politician's point of view.

"It's just easy for a politician who doesn't really understand the educational system to just say, ‘Okay, more might be better, let's just add another year on to the beginning of the K-12 system, and let's just do 14 years rather than 13 years,'" DeAngelis told the Washington Free Beacon. "But it takes a lot more work to ask what about the system is leading to bad educational outcomes? Improving the years of education they're already going to get takes a lot more thinking and work than just saying, ‘Well, let's just add another year.'"

If Cato analysts represent the right-of-center thinking on pre-K, the political left has notable critics as well.

The Brookings Institution wrote just last year that, "unabashed enthusiasts for increased investments in state pre-K need to confront the evidence that it does not enhance student achievement meaningfully, if at all."

"It may, of course, have positive impacts on other outcomes, although these have not yet been demonstrated. It is time for policymakers and advocates to consider and test potentially more powerful forms of investment in better futures for children."


Friday, January 18, 2019

Boys are BORN cavemen.  It's not "culture" or the schools that makes them that way

The article below has a slightly new wrinkle on an old claim that stereotyped masculine behaviour is encouraged in the school environment to the detriment of boys' academic performance.  The wrinkle is that Asian kids seem to be immune from that.  Every bit of evidence that they produce in favour of their various contentions is however in the hopeless old "correlation is causation" mode.  It proves nothing and ignores other explanations for what it observes.

As with most Leftist writing, it fails to consider WHY boys have such a rambunctious character.  They just assume that something in their environment teaches them that. 

But that is rubbish. Little boys are born as apprentice cavemen.  Even before they can walk they will be moving about energetically, climbing on things and generally getting into mischief.  Most mothers of boys will tell you that. And once they have become steady on their feet they will always be running and jumping and climbing.  Most little boys have only one speed -- top speed.  And when they do walk it is often a strut. Observing how masculine their little boys are from an early age, many mothers will lovingly describe their little boy as "My little man".

Little boys are the product of millions of years of primate evolution.  They have evolved to chase and catch juicy animals.  And that means they are born to run, jump, throw and hit.  That is what cavemen did and their descendants have inherited that as deeply inborn, vital characteristics.  It is so deeply embedded that it comes out from their earliest years.

So that is why boys are restless in classrooms and much prefer outdoor activities.  It also explains why men's sports are much more participated in and watched than are women's sports.  There have been great efforts in recent years to promote women's sport but the results are sad.  I was for a few moments watching on TV a major game of women's cricket in Australia recently.  Cricket is BIG in Australia.  But at the women's match I could not help noting all the empty seats in the stadium.

Males and females are both human so inherit all the same traits but they inherit them at different strengths.  There are some women who inherit a stronger weighting of masculine traits than usual -- producing the generally welcome "tomboys". The army never has a shortage of potential female recruits.

Leftists often talk of "culture" as being behind human differences.  They tend not to think about what is behind culture, however.  Very often it is inborn characteristics. So male genes are behind male culture.

In my experience, the most striking cultural difference that is best explained by genetics is the case of Australian Aborigines.  They are a VERY different group -- in good ways and bad.  They are superbly adapted to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle that they lived before the white man came along but  do not fit into white society well at all.  They are a generally polite and friendly people but their employability is very low.

But for all their poor fit to white society, it has rather overwhelmed them.  The common language of urban Aborigines is not any native tongue but a broad Australian version of English. And most of their other customs and memories have gone the same way. Yet they still speak firmly of their "culture".  They speak of many important ways in which they differ from whites.  And they do differ. 

They have, as a major instance, an enormous compulsion to be part of a group.  They must always be in the company of other Aborigines.  White jailers sometimes put them into solitary confinement -- whereupon the Aborigine will do his best to commit suicide, sometimes successfully. The same phenomenon is behind the way an Aboriginal tribe will sometimes "sing" an erring member to death.  The singing is a formal way of casting the wrongdoer out of the tribe and into aloneness. No-one thereafter will have anything to do with him. Someone sung does normally die shortly thereafter. The excommunication and disfellowshipping of Christian groups has got nothing on Aboriginal "singing".

So amid their deculturation by white society, Aborigines, even part-Aborigines, retain some unique "cultural" characteristics. But they are not cultural at all.  They are inherited from days when a group was needed for a successful hunt.  So much that is attributed to culture is in fact inborn.  Genetics lie behind much that is glibly dismissed as culture.

So what about the Chinese?  Why do Chinese boys and girls differ very little in their pre-teenage years?  It is probably a combination of inherited and cultural factors.  Three thousand years as agriculturalists has probably reduced to some extent their inherited caveman instincts.  Germanic peoples were hunting much more recently -- and some still do.

But for historic reasons China has long had a great reverence for education, and educational achievement in particular. So, as has often been observed, Chinese children have their noses held to the grindstone from an early age.  Nothing is secondary to education. And if that means that outdoorsy instincts must be suppressed, then so be it.  Only when parental influence begins to wane in the teenage years do Chinese males become a bit more "boyish".

Over all, girls outperform boys in school. It starts as early as kindergarten. By the time students reach college, women graduate at a higher rate than men.

But there’s an exception. Asian-American boys match the grades of Asian-American girls in elementary school, a new study has found. For them, the gender achievement gap doesn’t appear until adolescence — at which point they start doing worse as a group than Asian- American girls.

The study adds to a growing body of research suggesting that boys’ underperformance is not because of anything innate to boys. Instead, it seems, it’s largely because of something external: their school environments and peer influences.

Girls are encouraged to be diligent, cooperative and ambitious — all things that serve them well in school. Boys are more sensitive than girls to environmental influences, according to a variety of research, and they feel pressure to be strong, tough and athletic. They get the message that doing well in school is not masculine, social scientists say. Even in peer groups that prize good grades, it’s considered uncool to seem to try hard to earn them.

Asian-American boys are somehow sheltered from that message in early childhood. The reasons could give parents and teachers information about how to help boys of all races reach their full potential.

“These findings show it doesn’t have to be this way, that boys necessarily have to underachieve,” said Amy Hsin, the paper’s author and a sociologist at Queens College in New York.

“How we parent, how we help children think about their masculinity, and school culture and peer norms have effects on their performance in school.”

Looking at grade point averages of white and Asian-American students, she found that unlike white students, Asian- American boys and girls have no significant grade differences until ninth grade. Then, boys fall behind girls by the equivalent of one-third of a letter grade, about the same as the gender difference in white students’ grades, according to the new study, published last month in the journal Sociological Science.

It used data on about 9,200 white and 1,700 Asian-American students from two national studies that followed the same students over time (the groups were too small to analyze differences among Asian ethnic groups.) The results are not definitive. The sample size is relatively small, and the analysis uses grades, which, unlike test scores, are influenced by teachers’ subjective assessments of students. Yet the results fit with other research that shows the effect of outside influences on academic performance, particularly for boys.

One reason Asian-American children do so well as a group is that Asian immigrant families tend to be very focused on education, as the sociologists Jennifer Lee and Min Zhou described in their book, “The Asian American Achievement Paradox.”

One goal of a 1965 U.S. immigration law, which also abolished severe restrictions against immigration from regions such as Asia, was to give preference to professionals with specialized skills. Partly as a result, a little more than half of Chinese immigrants to the United States have a college degree or higher, versus less than 10 percent of adults in China in recent years, Ms. Lee said. They have tended to prioritize that their children earn straight As; attend a good college; and become a doctor, lawyer, scientist or engineer, the authors wrote. They have also shared information about things like SAT tutors and A.P. courses with their less educated Asian- American peers.

Another factor is the so-called model minority stereotype — that Asians as a group are supposed to be smart, successful and hard-working. This image masks high poverty and dropout rates among some Asian ethnic groups, yet as with all stereotypes, it can lead people to act in biased ways. Teachers tend to give Asian-American students higher grades and funnel them into advanced programs, the researchers found. Often, lowerperforming students have risen to meet these expectations of them, an effect social scientists refer to as stereotype promise.

For Asian-American boys, these influences change in adolescence, Ms. Hsin found, a time when children become more aware of their gender identity and are more influenced by peers. They also have to fight a pernicious perception that they are not masculine enough.

“The model minority myth frames Asian boys as being kind of nerdy, caring too much about doing well, so that may cause them to become less academically attached,” Ms. Hsin said.

“It’s not as stigmatizing for Asian girls because if you’re good at school and you really care, that kind of plays along with what you should be doing as a girl anyway.”

The new study offers a clue about how much school environments affect boys’ academic achievement. Ms. Hsin found that the gender gap for Asian- Americans in high school was smaller in schools that were less sports-focused, and where boys did better over all.

Other studies have also pinpointed the importance of the school and social environments, especially for boys.

One working paper found that the best-performing students had a combination of behaviors typically considered male and female. It used nationally representative survey data about gender norms for about 12,000 high school students, linked with their high school transcripts. The most traditionally feminine girls and the most masculine boys had the lowest grades.

The messages boys receive about how to be masculine come from local influences in their schools and communities and are often tied to to socioeconomic status, other research has shown. Boys perform better in school when achievement is considered to be desirable, and when they believe successful men get their power from education versus strength and toughness.

Boys in high-income communities are more likely to get those messages, research has shown.

Teachers’ expectations of students — and the biases behind them — also influence children’s performance. For example, white teachers are less likely than black teachers to refer black students to gifted programs, or to have high expectations for their potential. Yet as with Asian-American students, research shows that when teachers have high expectations for black students, they rise to meet them.

The fact that boys’ achievement varies in different school environments is a hopeful sign for parents and educators, Ms.

Hsin said, because it suggests ways to help all students.

Encourage academic achievement, she said, and talk about how it leads to success.

Researchers have other suggestions. Show them role models who got where they are by doing well in school. Emphasize the importance of hard work and daily practice, not innate skill.

Encourage both boys and girls to embrace a full range of character traits, and not to feel limited by stereotypical gender roles. Place high expectations on children, and give them opportunities to meet them — regardless of skin color.


UK: Schools will be marked down if pupils misbehave under new Ofsted inspection regime

About time

Schools will be marked down if pupils misbehave and are discourteous to each other, under Ofsted’s new inspection regime. The proposed framework, which will be published today, includes “behaviour and attitudes” as a stand-alone category for the first time. 

The move follows research by Ofsted which revealed a rise in “low level” disruption such as children playing on their mobile phones and other electronic devices in the classroom. 

Schools will be judged on whether there is a “safe, calm, orderly and positive environment”, the draft framework says.

Inspectors should observe pupils during break times and lunch as well as during lessons, and take note of “pupils’ respect for and courtesy and good manners towards each other and adults”. 

A school that has “deliberately" removed pupils from the school or “arranged for them to be absent” on the day of an inspection in an attempt to boost their Ofsted rating will likely be handed an instant “inadequate” grade for the category.

Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director for education, said that new category was bought in to recognise the fact that low-level disruption is on the rise in classrooms, adding: “If every child behaved at school the standards would rocket up”.

The education watchdog published a report in 2014 which found that low-level disruption is an everyday part of school life, with pupils routinely using mobile phones, humming and swinging on chairs.

Children are losing up to an hour a day of teaching because of a damaging culture of disrespect in schools, the report concluded.

Mr Halford said that the research informed the new framework, explaining: "The problem now is more one about low level disruption - swinging on chairs, tapping when the teacher is talking, passing notes, whispering, mobile phones, you know getting distracted by electronic devices etc. That kind of thing is what has been on the rise, and is the bane of teachers' lives."

In the new framework, the “personal development” category will examine what schools do to build young people's resilience and confidence. This could include running a debating society, sports teams, drama clubs of cadet forces.

Inspections in England will no longer focus on exam results and grades, and instead will concentrate on whether pupils are being taught a broad curriculum, the framework says.

It also seeks to mark down schools that are guilty of “off-rolling”, where pupils are unjustifiably expelled because the school fears their exam results will drag the average down. 

Launching the consultation in a speech to the Sixth Form Colleges Association on Wednesday, the chief inspector of schools Amanda Spielman will say: "The new quality of education judgment will look at how providers are deciding what to teach and why, how well they are doing it and whether it is leading to strong outcomes for young people.

"This will reward those who are ambitious and make sure that young people accumulate rich, well-connected knowledge and develop strong skills using this knowledge.

"This is all about raising true standards. Nothing is more pernicious to these than a culture of curriculum narrowing and teaching to the test."

The proposals will go out to consultation today [WEDS], with a view to implementing the new inspection framework from September.


Needed: A Revival of For-Profit Higher Education

The Obama Administration intensely disliked for-profit higher education. Political appointees in the U.S. Department of Education (Robert Shireman particularly stands out) as well as Democrats in Congress (e.g., former Senator Tom Harkin, current Senator Dick Durbin) constantly attacked the sector.

Most of them probably thought that businesses should not make profits from education, which they consider primarily a public good appropriately only provided by nonprofit schools.

All sorts of regulations were imposed: state certification requirements (forcing online companies to get state bureaucratic approval in every state in which they operated), gainful employment rules, etc.

These restrictions were ostensibly designed to protect student consumers from fraud, but since in most cases they did not apply to public not-for-profit institutions, they were highly discriminatory—clearly an attempt to stamp out the schools.

The effects of this are still being felt, as evidenced by the recent decision by the Education Corporation of America to close dozens of campuses with thousands of students. To be sure, there were a number of “bad apples” engaging in deceptive practices, although a non-discriminatory policy would have closed down some public institutions as well with very poor academic and employment outcomes.

I thought the unfortunately largely successful regulatory attack was a mistake for four reasons.

First, markets impose disciplines on all institutions charging a price for their services, including schools. In the case of the for-profits, however, that discipline is far greater, because tuition fees are virtually the only source of revenues, unlike nonprofit institutions dependent on government subsidies, endowment income or private gifts. At for-profits, satisfying the customer is critical to survival, and hence teaching is Job One—more so than at other institutions also promoting research, saving the earth (“sustainability”), achieving progressive objectives (“diversity”), providing entertainment (e.g., football), etc.

Second, that market discipline makes colleges more efficient. Resources are more intensely used. Most proprietary institutions rent pleasant but highly functional space with good parking on the outskirts of town or operate on-line—having no real campus. Instructors each teach several sections of needed core courses, not one or two sections of classes covering obscure tangential topics that the instructor favors.

Third, while traditional higher education talks about serving low-income persons, racial minorities and first-generation college students, the for-profits do it—without hiring an army of diversity coordinators to demonstrate institutional support for equal educational opportunity. Critics of proprietary education bash the schools for poor performance, a phenomenon largely a consequence of accepting large numbers of at-risk students. The elite private schools that heavily influence the culture of most American universities want it both ways—they want to sound like they love the poor and minorities, but they also want high academic standards, first-rate students and the like. These goals sometimes conflict, particularly given the abysmal circumstances at home and school facing many poor inner city kids prior to college.

Fourth, the proprietary schools emphasize preparing students for specific vocational objectives. Many are two-year or even nondegree schools offering certificates denoting competency in some needed vocation, such as welding, plumbing, or driving eighteen-wheel trucks over long distances. We need truck drivers and welders just as we need engineers and accountants, and Americans have neglected public vocational education, viewing it as second-rate, inferior training. The for-profit schools include many “career colleges” that often train students with limited interest or skills in traditional book-based learning who are capable of learning other very useful skills in a short period for less money than traditional four-year bachelor’s degree-granting institutions cost.

A recent National Bureau of Economic Research study suggests that on average the for-profits do less well in terms of academic performance than traditional schools. There are variations, however, around that average. I recently spoke at a CEO summit of leaders of scores of these institutions, and generally was impressed with their diligence, intelligence and, as far as I could see, integrity. I would buy a used car from a randomly selected president of one of those schools as eagerly as I would from presidents of traditional not-for-profit institutions. American higher education benefits from competition and diversity of its schools. Let’s preserve that, welcoming a vibrant network of proprietary schools.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

Swedish Journalist: Teachers Have ‘Surrendered’ to Rising School Violence

Swedish journalist Joakim Lamotte has spent time lecturing in schools across Sweden and claims that violence is on the rise because many teachers have simply given up on attempting to deal with the problem.

Mr Lamotte made his comments in a post on Facebook following a series of articles from Swedish broadcaster SVT that highlighted the problem of violence in schools.

“I saw a lot of schools in crisis in the years I went around and lectured. I often met teachers who surrendered, while pupils did exactly what they wanted,” Lamotte said, and gave an example of a school where he had lectured saying that pupils felt free to shout at him while at least eight teachers were present and did not act.

Lamotte claims he asked the teachers later why they had not kicked out the troublemakers.

“Their answer is completely bizarre. The teachers say that the guys in question are violent and have been suspended during periods from school. No one in the faculty has the desire to risk threats and abuse.”

“Other incidents I have encountered in my work are pupils who became violent at a school in Bohuslän because one day they were only served pork in the dining room,” he noted, and claimed in several schools teachers would not walk by themselves out of safety concerns.

“Threats, beatings, and stabbings now occur every day in Swedish schools and it increases dramatically. At the same time, teachers are getting less power while authorities and politicians are completely paralysed,” he noted.

In a recent article on school violence, SVT revealed that within the last five years Sweden had seen 224 incidents involving various kinds of weapons including knives. In the last year alone, there were 54 incidents with weapons, the highest of the past five years.

Total reports of threats, robberies, and physical violence in both primary schools and secondary schools have doubled within the same five year period according to the Swedish Work Environment Authority.

Mr Lamotte also sounded the alarm regarding sexual abuse in Swedish schools in 2017, saying there had been a wave of sexual assaults by newly arrived migrants and that teachers were too afraid to speak out on the issue in case they were branded racists.


A Glimmer of Hope in Black Education

Walter E. Williams

In reference to efforts to teach black children, the president of the St. Petersburg, Florida, chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Maria Scruggs, said: “The (school) district has shown they just can’t do it. … Now it’s time for the community to step in.”

That’s a recognition that politicians and the education establishment, after decades of promises, cannot do much to narrow the huge educational achievement gap between Asians and whites on the one hand, and blacks on the other.

The most crucial input for a child’s education cannot be provided by schools or politicians. Continued calls for higher education budgets will produce disappointing results, as they have in the past.

There are certain minimum requirements that must be met for any child, regardless of race, to do well in school. Someone must make the youngster do his homework–and possibly help him with it. Someone must ensure that he gets eight hours of sleep. Someone must feed him wholesome meals, including breakfast. Finally, someone must ensure that he gets to school on time, behaves in school, and respects the teachers.

If these minimum requirements are not met–and they can be met even if a family is poor–all else is for naught.

Scruggs says that it’s time for the black community to accept part of the blame. Part of the problem is the lack of parents’ involvement in their children’s education–for example, they’re not attending parent-teacher nights.

Having children’s books around the house and reading to preschoolers is vitally important. According to Mariah Evans, who headed a 20-year worldwide study that found “the presence of books in the home” to be the top predictor of whether a child will attain a high level of education, “one of the things that is most striking … about it is that the book’s effect appears to be even larger and more important for children from very disadvantaged homes.”

By the way, one doesn’t have to be rich to have books around the house. Plus, there are libraries.

One vital measure for community involvement in black education is that of preventing youngsters who are alien and hostile to the educational process from making education impossible for everybody else. That can be accomplished by ignoring politicians and the liberal vision that restricts schools from removing students who pose severe disciplinary problems.

The problem goes beyond simple misbehavior. An article in Education Week last year, titled “When Students Assault Teachers, Effects Can Be Lasting,” reported: “In the 2015-16 school year, 5.8 percent of the nation’s 3.8 million teachers were physically attacked by a student. Almost 10 percent were threatened with injury, according to federal education data.”

Given the huge educational achievement gap between blacks and whites, one might ask whether black people can afford to allow students who have little interest in being educated to make education impossible for others. Students who assault teachers ought to be summarily removed from the school.

One might ask, “Williams, what are we going to do with those expelled students?” I do not know, but I do know one thing for sure: Black people cannot afford to allow them to remain in school and sabotage the educational chances of everyone else.

The educational achievement gap between blacks and whites is hidden from black students and their families. All too often, a black student with a high school diploma cannot read, write, or compute at a sixth- or seventh-grade level. This tends to make high school diplomas held by blacks less valuable in the eyes of employers.

As such, it sparks racial division where it otherwise would not exist. There have been complaints that police and fire departments and other civil service jobs don’t have many black employees. The problem is that to get hired in the first place–and get promoted if hired–one needs to pass a civil service exam. If one’s high school diploma is fraudulent–meaning he has not mastered the 12th-grade levels of all subjects–he is seriously handicapped.

I say hats off to the vision being promoted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s  Maria Scruggs. She and her supporters have their work cut out for them, but it’s doable.


Are Universities Ruining Students? These Authors Say ‘Yes’

One of the more interesting books I read in 2018 was Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt’s The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure. It’s a book-length treatment of the ideas they discussed in their provocative and controversial 2015 article in The Atlantic, which blew up in part because of the infamous protests that happened at the University of Missouri, Yale University, and elsewhere a few weeks later.

Lukianoff is President and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)—a campus free speech advocacy organization originally established by Alan Charles Kors—and author of Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate (2012) and Freedom From Speech (2014). Haidt is a social psychologist at New York University’s Stern School of Business and author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom (2006) and The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (2012).

They argue that we are treating students precisely the way we shouldn’t if we are trying to help them become resilient, functioning, and free people and exactly the way we should if we are intent on creating an army of neurotics. They focus on what they call “Three Great Untruths,” which they call “The Untruth of Fragility,” “The Untruth of Emotional Reasoning,” and “The Untruth of Us Versus Them.”

So how do these work and how are they Untruths? The first, “The Untruth of Fragility,” mangles Nietzsche’s maxim “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” into “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Weaker.” It counsels avoidance of the unpleasant, the uncomfortable, and the inconvenient and accomplishes precisely the opposite of what real learning should do. Learning is supposed to be uncomfortable: we are, in the university, supposedly fixing our ignorance, strengthening our moral fiber, and exchanging falsehood for truth.

The authors of the book Make It Stick offer a series of insights that have informed my own teaching: students may not feel like they are learning through (for example) things like what is called “retrieval practice.” It’s like going to the gym: it’s uncomfortable and unpleasant, and you will be sore afterward. But you are tearing down in order to build up. Of course, “if you are learning, you will be uncomfortable” is not the same thing as “if you are uncomfortable, then you are learning,” but constant affirmations of orthodoxy and fear of challenge is a great way to create mental and emotional weakness.

Think back to college. You probably have a friend or two or three who came from extremely sheltered Christian backgrounds who, upon encountering freedom and license in college went absolutely nuts. By carefully crafting their kids’ worldviews and insulating them from challenges, parents had actually created emotional and intellectual weaklings who could not stand up to challenges.

Progressives have done the same if they have brought up children who have gone into college without seriously encountering and considering the idea that (for example) abortion might be wrong—and in this case it is compounded by the fact that they are extremely unlikely to encounter that argument on campus unless they encounter some activists who have a table set up on campus—and even then they aren’t likely to spend sustained time entertaining the possibility that a view they probably don’t question is wrong.

The second untruth, The Untruth of Emotional Reasoning, says “Always Trust Your Feelings.” One of my pet peeves (especially in the classroom) is when people begin sentences with “I feel.” I don’t trust feeling as a way of knowing, and while it’s not strictly true in all cases feeling can be the opposite of thinking. This is especially dangerous given what we now know about the makeup of the human psyche, which is rife with biases and cognitive distortions documented and discussed in books like Rolf Dobelli’s The Art of Thinking Clearly and Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow.

When we are confronted with something we want to believe, for example, our minds implicitly ask “can I believe this?” When we are confronted with something we don’t want to believe, our minds implicitly ask “must I believe this?” The first embraces what we want to believe and gives it a subtle cognitive pass while the second rejects what we don’t want to believe and gives it a subtle cognitive push.

The third untruth, The Untruth of Us Versus Them, posits that life is a battle between Good People and Evil People. We are the Good People, of course, and They are the Evil People. You see this played out every day in the cesspools that Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and so on can become. But, as Alexandr Solzhenitsyn reminded us, “The line dividing good from evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” Given our tendencies toward bias and cognitive distortion, we probably shouldn’t be as confident as we usually are about which side of the line we’re on.

Lukianoff and Haidt argue that in combination, these Great Untruths are a recipe for failure in life and everything.

The prophets of the Three Great Untruths mean us no ill. Note the subtitle again: “How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure.” People mean well, but their good intentions and bad ideas about what we need to protect kids have created a toxic cognitive stew. Children, they argue, are actually antifragile, which is Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s term for systems like bones and immune systems that get stronger when they are tested.

By doing things like removing free play, scheduling every minute of every day for every kid, and stepping in to resolve every conflict instead of letting the kids work it out for themselves, we have actually done them a disservice by preventing them from using (and testing, and strengthening) the antifragile emotional, physical, and intellectual systems they should be developing. As they point out, our misled-but-good intentions are a recipe for creating neurosis as kids don’t learn how to navigate a complex and difficult (but, paradoxically, much safer) world.

So what do we do about it? First, they suggest taking a hard look at how we over-schedule and over-protect our kids. The world is a dangerous place, but it’s not nearly as dangerous a place as TV crime drama and the evening news would have us believe. Remember: “if it bleeds, it leads”—but what makes something newsworthy is that it is out of the ordinary.

Second, drawing on Lukianoff’s experience using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to combat depression, they suggest identifying cognitive distortions—“catastrophizing,” for example, by thinking that everything will fall apart in the event that (say) Donald Trump is reelected in 2020 and using CBT techniques like writing out what caused a certain feeling of distress, how strongly we feel certain emotions, and the cognitive distortions that produced them. Instead of trying to shield people from fearful ideas and words, we do them a service by teaching them effective ways to identify where they are blowing things out of proportion and take action.

“What is wrong with colleges and universities” is a venerable literary genre, and The Coddling of the American Mind is an important contribution. Haidt and Lukianoff are dedicated to recapturing and reinforcing the telos of the university, which is the search for truth. In the wake of a few years of high-profile campus unrest over ideas students find uncomfortable, we do well to heed their words.


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

California’s Push for ‘Free’ Community College Is Misguided

Just when you thought California couldn’t ask any more of its taxpayers, the state Legislature is pushing for two years of “free” community college for all residents, regardless of income.

California already has several existing programs to subsidize students who attend community college. Almost half of California’s community college student population has taken advantage of the state’s California College Promise Grant since 1985, which covers all application fees.

Last year, lawmakers passed a bill making the first year of community college free. This latest proposal would put taxpayers on the hook to cover the second year, subsidizing all students—even the sons and daughters of the Hollywood elite—to attend community college in the state tuition-free.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, inaugurated Jan. 7, campaigned on the promise of “free” tuition and claims that removing the burden of tuition will encourage students to stay enrolled and finish faster.

Unfortunately, California’s plan to make it possible for students to attend community college tuition-free is riddled with problems that would be a great disservice to the residents of the state.

The most glaring problem with California’s free community college plan is clearly the cost.

California is already a high-tax state, with the highest income tax rate in the country at 13.3 percent. Currently, the state has appropriated $46 million to cover just one year of community college and roughly the same amount is expected to cover the second year.

Second, subsidizing all students, regardless of income level, who attend community college will simply serve to extend the K-12 education system into a K-14 system.

The education system once successfully equipped students with the skills necessary to enter the workforce, and particularly gifted or those interested in an academic track continued on to college. However, now that college attendance has become more commonplace—even expected—high schools no longer make workforce preparation their top priority.

The guarantee of two more years of education will simply spark further degree inflation. A community college degree will become the new baseline, much like the high school diploma once was.

Finally, public spending on community college has been shown to be a risky investment at best.

For low-income students, Pell Grants almost entirely cover the cost of community college tuition. Yet, graduation rates remain remarkably low. Only 45 percent of students obtain any degree or certificate six years after starting their two-year program.

While some have argued that community college graduation rates are low because many students transfer to four-year schools, only 17 percent do so and complete their degree.

More and more Americans are calling for solutions to the astronomical $1.5 trillion student debt crisis. Reforming the outdated accreditation system that stifles innovation or reducing reliance on federal aid would go a long way in achieving meaningful reform.

However, “free” college will do nothing to address the causes of rising costs, and simply leave Americans with more paper credentials.

Simply obtaining a degree—assuming students graduate—does not necessarily translate to increased job preparedness. It can, however, directly translate to more public debt.

Americans deserve more thoughtful policy solutions to the cost crisis in higher education than faux “free” college. California’s proposal to transfer the community college tuition bill to taxpayers will do nothing to address the root causes of both tuition and degree inflation.

Instead, policymakers should encourage competition and innovation by reducing regulatory burdens for streamlined educational alternatives, such as vocational/career and technical training and apprenticeship programs.


UK: Oxford ends women-only fellowship after university rules that it breaches equality law

Oxford has ended its women-only fellowship after the university’s administrators said it breached equality law.

The Joanna Randall-MacIver junior research fellowship, established in the 1930s for women studying fine arts, music or literature, was deemed to be “discriminatory on the grounds of gender” by Oxford’s Council.

This is the first time that the university has opened up a historically female-only fellowship to male applicants, and the move has prompted a backlash from previous recipients.

The decision means that other research fellowships could be under threat, including those run by Cambridge's female-only college Newnham. The College say that its women-only appointments comply with the Equality Act.

Professor Elizabeth Cullingford, a Randall-MacIver fellow in the 1970s who is now chair of English at Texas University, said: “I feel pretty strongly that having one or two things that are special to woman aren’t going to threaten any great power structure at Oxford.

“The history there is totally male – for years women couldn’t even be in the university and couldn’t be fellow of a college.”

She said that women do still have some “catching up” to do with men, adding: “We may have parity in numbers but do we have parity on power? I doubt that. I am the first female chair of the English department and Texas University has been around since the 19th century.”

The fellowship is funded by the estate of British-born archaeologist and Oxford graduate David Randall-MacIver, who set it up in his wife Joanna's name after her death in 1932 and stipulated that it should only be awarded to female academics.

Former recipients include Jennifer Mundy, The Tate's head of Art Historical Research, and Georgina Herrmann OBE, an eminent archaeologist and the first woman to discover the Afghanistan’s Lapis Lazuli mines in the 1960s.

Alexandra Wilson, a professor of music and cultural history at Oxford Brookes, said that her Randall-MacIver fellowship in 2004 transformed her career in academia. 

“These posts are like gold dust, they are highly competitive. When I was applying it was very common to find music departments that were entirely male. Things have improved, but possibly not to full equality,” she told The Daily Telegraph.

“I do think it’s a rather regrettable consequence of a well-intended law that this opportunity for women should be removed.”

Another former recipient, now in her 80s, said: "I would like to see it continuing as women only because I think it is sometimes quite tough for women - less tough than it used to be, but it’s nice to have one or two things that are women only.

 “On the other hand I am not sure it has swung rather far the other way. I don’t really like positive discrimination, I think that’s insulting. We can stand on our own feet and fight our corner.”

Under the Employment Equality Act 2010, employers are not permitted to advertise or recruit to posts open to one gender only.

There are exceptions to this which allow for “positive action” to be taken in favour of a particular group if they are underrepresented in the relevant field of work.

Catherine Casserley, a barrister at Cloisters Chambers and one of the country’s leading experts in discrimination law, said that any institutions which have women-only fellowships will now have to reconsider. She said: "What universities are going to have to do is look at their scholarships and fellowships see whether legally, in light of the Equality Act, they can offer them to only one gender and see whether exceptions or positive action provisions applies.”

A spokesman for Oxford University said: “As a consequence of the [Employment Equality] Act, Oxford University has changed the terms of a number of historically-created trusts so they are no longer gender-specific. The Randall-MacIver Fellowship is the most recent example. “The University is very much aware of the lack of women in academic roles at many levels and is working to end the imbalance as a priority.

“Several initiatives to promote equality, including strengthened recruitment processes and professional development programmes for female academics, are now well-established and beginning to show an impact at all levels, including professorial posts.” 


Australia: Teachers won't be allowed to take classes if they fail English and maths exams

Teachers will soon have to pass a literacy and numeracy test to prove they can read, write and solve maths problems before they're allowed in the classroom.

All aspiring teachers in Australia will have to take the formal exam from next year and must pass it within three attempts.

In Victoria, about five per cent of working teachers failed or were yet to sit the test, but were allowed to remain in the classroom provided they passed within two years.

But the state government announced this week that from this month, all aspiring teachers who don't pass the test won't be registered.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Britain's Grammar schools send more ethnic minority students to Cambridge than all comprehensives combined

Of course they do.  They are academically selective schools. A breakdown of WHICH minorities get into Cambridge would be amusing, though.  Mostly Indians and a few Chinese, one imagines.  Or maybe Australians are classified as minorities.  If not, why not? It couldn't be because of their race, could it?  Any Australian will tell you that Australians are different culturally from the English

Grammar schools are sending more black and minority ethnic (BME) students to Cambridge University than all the other state schools in the country combined, a new analysis reveals.

Children from the most disadvantaged 20 per cent of households are more than twice as likely to get a place at Oxford or Cambridge if they live in an area with grammar schools, according to the report.

The paper, published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi), examines  the impact of selective schooling on state educated pupils’ progression to top universities.

Iain Mansfield, a former senior civil servant who wrote the report, said the figures are a "shocking indictment" on the country's 1,849 comprehensive schools.

His analysis found that BME pupils are more than five times as likely to progress to Oxford or Cambridge if they live in a selective area rather than a non-selective area. Other data shows that more than a third (39 per cent) of pupils in grammar school areas progress to prestigious universities, compared to just 23 per cent in comprehensive areas.

The report analysed the background of Cambridge students who took up places at the university in the past three years and found that grammars sent 486 students to Cambridge  over the three years, compared to 362 from comprehensives.

“Astonishingly, 163 grammar schools sent over 30 per cent more BME entrants to Cambridge  than the nearly 2,000 non-selective schools combined,” it says.

“With more than three quarters of the country having no grammar schools, these figures represent a shocking indictment of the comprehensive system.”

  Nick Hillman, director of Hepi, warned that the debate on grammar schools has become “very one sided”
 Nick Hillman, director of Hepi, warned that the debate on grammar schools has become “very one sided”
The data is not available for Oxford as the university does not collect information on whether students went to selective schools, but the report says that the analysis is likely to be “broadly applicable”  to both universities given the similar patterns of undergraduate intake.

Mr Mansfield describes how much of the previous social mobility research into grammar schools has focused on eligibility for free school meals (FSM) as a measure of disadvantage.

A report published last year by the campaign group Comprehensive Future claimed that just 4.5 per cent of grammar school places went to FSM children.

But the Hepi paper says that using the FSM measure obscures large differences within the remaining 85 per cent of the population. In fact, Mr Mansfield argues that grammar schools have a “socially diverse range of pupils”, with 45 per cent coming from families with income levels below the median income for families with children”.

Mr Mansfield said that the figures clearly undermine the claim that grammar schools are “just for the rich”, saying this “simply isn’t true”.

“A narrow focus on eligibility for Free School Meals has ignored many other measures of disadvantage, including ethnicity, parental education and broader income disparities,” he said.

"My report shows that, for many disadvantaged children, selective education makes a vital contribution to social mobility.”

However, Dr Lindsey Macmillan, reader in economics at University College London, and Dr Matt Dickson from Bath University, urge caution when comparing children from grammar school areas to their peers from areas with only non-selective secondaries. 

“The areas that chose to keep grammar schools have specific characteristics – they are generally more affluent with a higher proportion of degree educated people,” the researchers said.

“These are precisely the characteristics that support access to elite universities, and so we would naturally expect to see more pupils in those regions attending [them].”

 Nick Hillman, director of Hepi, warned that the debate on grammar schools has become “very one sided”.

 “Researchers line up to condemn them for inhibiting social mobility, and the schools do not perform well on every single measure,” he said. “But the full evidence is more nuanced and shows some pupils benefit a great deal.” 

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Selective schools are some of the highest performing schools in the country and an important part of our diverse education system. Almost all of them are rated Good or Outstanding, and they are popular with parents.

“That is why we continue to support their expansion, through the Selective School Expansion Fund, where they meet the high bar we have set for working to increase the admission of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.”


UK: WhatsApp groups for parents become overrun with 'vitriolic tirades',  leading headmaster warns

WhatsApp groups for parents create a "forum for negativity" full of "vitriolic tirades", a leading headmaster has warned, as he urges schools to return to face-to-face communication.

Dominic Floyd, head of Mount Kelly’s £24,000-a-year preparatory school in Devon, said there is a “worrying” trend towards schools setting up mass email chains or large group conversations on social media platforms for parents.

He said that these can undermine the “delicate and critical” relationship between parents and their child’s school.

Writing in the Spring edition of Attain magazine, he explained that this relationship has been “eroded” in recent years as a result of “messages posted through WhatsApp groups or round-robin emails to all parents in a particular year”.

While these can be a useful way for teachers to communicate with mothers and fathers of pupils in a particular form or year group, he warned that they also have a downside. 

“The rise of these form or year group gatherings demonstrate a worrying state of affairs for some parents,” Mr Floyd wrote.

“While these groups can be helpful, and really positive, they can also fuel misunderstanding and become a forum for negativity.”

He told how WhatsApp groups or email chains often end up being “dominated by a few key players” and become "home to vitriolic tirades”. 

“Minor complaints become amplified to an unintelligible degree: one lost sock takes on a proportion never intended and, far from being constructive, perspective can quickly be lost,” he said.

Mr Floyd described how the fall-out from these group communications can spiral out of control, and even have knock-on consequences for the parents or even pupils, especially when issues are “left to fester”.

Schools should encourage as much dialogue as possible with parents but rather than becoming over-reliant on online forums, they should return to old fashioned face-to-face conversations.

“We all know that email is a poor method of communicating as tone, nuance and language become subjective,” he said.

“Even punctuation can be left open to interpretation. Of course, it is possible to argue that these groups are just a digital version of the 'school gate' culture of old.

“But people talked at the school gate, face-to-face, and issues didn't take on such a life of their own.”

Mount Kelly, a co-educational school for children aged three to 18, charges up to £30,000-a-year for full boarders in the senior school. Teachers have previously complained about parents bombarding them late at night with emails.

Members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, which is now part of the National Education Union, have raised concerns about the increase in angry emails from parents demanding details about their child’s day at school.


The Diversity Miracle


Today’s world of higher education is not especially notable for miracles. But I am happy to report of one such miracle—the transformation of diversity from an academic liability to an asset of near incalculable benefit. That this transformation occurred in the space of a few decades and cost only a few million, makes it especially notable and gives hope that other miracles may soon appear.

Life Before the Miracle

When I began my university teaching career at an elite university in the late 1960’s the push for racial diversity was just beginning. This meant recruiting African American youngsters from the inner-city, providing extra tutoring during the summer, paying all their expenses and hiring black bureaucrats to oversee progress.

I cannot say how the experiment worked elsewhere, but for myself and department colleagues, it was an academic disaster. These recruits lagged far behind their classmates on every measure of intellectual proficiency, and those who passed the course usually did thanks to instructor generosity. Their written work was especially abysmal, and many proved troublesome students—skipping class with lame excuses, a penchant for plagiarism, and similar burdensome behaviors.

Matters did not improve over the next few decades where I spent twenty-eight years at a major state university. Despite the administration tinkering with recruitment strategies and investing yet more in remedial tutoring schemes, I saw no academic improvement. Rare exceptions aside, the “diversity students” struggled and, as before, I suspect that most survived thanks to more generous grading curves and dumbed down course requirements.

Particularly exasperating was recruiting and retaining African American graduate students. Courses requiring some mastery of statistics and research methods could be especially tough obstacles and many of these admittees thrashed about when it came time to write Ph.D. dissertations. In more than a few cases I can personally attest that overcoming this dissertation hurdle required an “unusual” level of faculty intervention.

Such under-performance could hardly be hidden from other students. I could sometimes see how their classmates smirked when these diversity admittees asked a particularly dumb question or tried to interject race-related nonsensical points into class discussion. In one large lecture class a black student adamantly insisted that the Black Panthers were a non-violent do-gooder specializing in breakfast programs for school kids. Non-minority students would also hear all the official campus talk about the latest outreach initiative or upping retention of these students by offering majors in Black Studies or permitting “blacks only” student housing.

Whether regularly admitted students seriously interacted with diversity admittees is an unanswerable question but I suspect that intellectual back-and-forth was constrained. Campus self-imposed segregation was everywhere, and I cannot recall seeing any animated discussions among mixed race groups before or after class. I suspect that if this interaction did exist, it has dwindled with time given the dangers that now can result from race-related misunderstandings. Today’s white students know all about unintentional micro-aggressions and how such conversations can accidentally bring accusations of offensiveness. Better to keep chit-chat bland.

If the problems of dealing with struggling black students were bad enough, the administrative-mandated faculty diversification was far worse. These were top-down pushes to make numbers and often included “free money” if the right candidate were hired. The emphasis was strictly on race, never program needs so zero attention was paid to what a black job candidate might teach. Who cares if the department already offers two courses on black politics if a black job candidate could only offer a third while the position in, say, Asian politics went unfilled.? Nor did anybody express reservations about the lack of traditional scholarly qualifications, notably publications in major disciplinary journals. It was just assumed that affirmative action hires could not be held to high standards. Similarly, given the intense competition for decent candidates, an attractive black candidate might be enticed with a well-above market salary, zero teaching load for his first two years on the job, a generous research and travel budget and other lures that a white male could never demand.

Perhaps the worst aspect of this diversification was how it promoted political correctness. Savvy instructors learned to avoid all sensitive topics lest minority students were offended and claimed that they could not survive in such a poisonous environment. Don’t even mention The Bell Curve or hint that racial groups differ in criminality, illegitimacy etc. etc. Almost overnight, the range of what could be expressed in the classroom (and pursued in research) drastically narrowed. Science that produced the “wrong” results automatically became “bad” science. The very idea of debating the role of culture in economic attainment became unthinkable thanks to newly arrived diversity.

All in all, other than for the most zealous egalitarians, this was a failed experiment.

The Miracle

Outside of teaching a few graduate seminars here in New York, I left the academy in 2002 though I have tried to keep up with events. It thus came as a great surprise to me that between my departure and today, the campus has witnessed a Miracle—diversity has been transformed from a tolerable burden, a rocky initial step in the march toward racial equality into an immense, widely celebrated benefit.

Skeptics need only search Google to see the evidence. It would be impossible to summarize this literature so only a few examples must suffice. According to the research highlighted at the website Everfi, diversity enriches a student’s educational experience, improves his or her communication skills, challenges stereotypes, allows students to see themselves as leaders and better prepares them for today’s diverse workforce. To quote, “Ultimately, studies show that diversity on campus improves ‘intellectual engagement, self-motivation, citizenship and cultural engagement, and academic skills like critical thinking, problem solving, and writing – for students of all races. Interacting with diverse peers outside a classroom setting directly benefits students, making them better scholars, thinkers, and citizens.’”

Meanwhile the Center for American Progress (a non-partisan progressive thinktank) provides ten reasons why diversity is necessary on today’s campus. Among these are that a diverse campus will reflect America’s shifting demography, help to close race-related educational gaps, promote a more innovative and competitive workforce (vital for our global economy), make American firms more profitable, enhances national security and, lastly because the American public wants campus diversity.

Hardly surprising, the research on hiring a diverse faculty is likewise upbeat on its benefits. Typical is one academic study that argues that a diverse faculty may be especially valuable for minority students thanks to having role models who look and sound like them. In addition, all students will learn how to live in an increasingly diverse world while a diverse faculty will offer more diverse courses and thus expose all students to a wider range of ideas, teaching methods and scholarship. A different study demonstrates that upping faculty diversity will benefit college students since such faculty interacts more frequently with students than their white counterparts and use a broader range and more effective mix of pedagogical techniques.

A survey-based study at two medical schools reported that students believed that having diverse classmates greatly enhanced the quality of their education and thus supported current policies of affirmative action. At the risk of beating a dead horse, one highly scholarly, citation-rich review conclude that an ethnically diverse campus offer more varied educational experiences that both enhance learning and prepare these youngster for participation in a democratic society. And on and on.

These examples illustrate an overwhelming, uncontested consensus that diversity enhances education. Conceivably, contrary views exist, but I have yet to encounter a single example in “respectable” scholarly literature (the only possible exception are the writing of the non-academic Heather MacDonald).

It is impossible to exaggerate this alleged transformation—prior to this “miracle” an ill-prepared black student would likely be judged a liability since he could add little useful to classroom discussion and often had to be accommodated by lowering academic standards. Today, by contrast, his very presence helps classmates prepare for a more heterogeneous world, helps diminish negative race-related stereotypies all the while boosting US global economic competitiveness. Likewise, while a black Ph.D. might have once been hired despite his weak academic record, he or she now too, has become an educational asset by broadening the horizons of his white colleagues. What is remarkable about these studies is that they derive from institutions of higher learning and totally, absolutely and categorically avoid measuring any indicator of intellectual attainment.

This lopsided focus is hardly inevitable. It would not take much, for example, to assess whether ill-prepared black students thanks to a new critical mass of fellow students of color demonstrated higher levels of academic proficiency or now major in tougher subjects. Unfortunately, in today’s diversity-obsessed world it is more important that a black instructor convinces other blacks that they, too, can be professors versus helping them pass Organic Chemistry. No doubt, those searching for proof regarding the marvelous diversity miracle know full well that diversity hardly guarantees academic progress, no small matter given the academic accomplishment is the university’s pre-eminent mission.

Why this dramatic shift? Let me suggest that this abrupt change can only be explained by the a few-found ideological orthodoxy, what the Marxist would call the zigs and zags of history–the Party Line, so to speak.

Stripped of mendacious rhetoric, college admission with its promise of providing the magical diploma has become a tool to keep the peace and “promoting diversity” is the least embarrassing way to acquiesce to these political demands. Further justifying all those well-paid diversity bureaucrats—surely all their salaries must be accomplishing something. Yes, diversity admittees may have middling SAT scores and dreadful high school grades, gravitate to empty-calorie majors and stifle campus intellectual life, but their very presence on campus, regardless of classroom or disciplinary accomplishments or fields of study, contributes to our multicultural society and so they must be admitted. As for all those talented white (and Asian) males who will never be admitted or hired in a university, don’t fret—your willingness to step aside for members of historically under-represented groups is most gracious, and who knows, in a hundred years there may be campus statutes commemorating your sacrifice.

Today’s diversity mania with its dumbing down of the humanities and social sciences (and perhaps even the hard sciences) is, as they say, putting lipstick on a pig. And who cannot adore such a pig?

SOURCE  (See the original for links)