Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Best school in town and still they want to close it

The envious British Left again: Stoke-on-Trent is failing its pupils badly, so how on earth does it think it will raise standards by shutting its successful grammar school?

There are many reasons why St Joseph's College, a Catholic grammar in Stoke-on-Trent, is a thriving school. Its academic performance at GCSE and A-level puts it in the top 200 in the country. Its pastoral care is sensitive and exhaustive. Its extra-curricular activities are the best the state system has to offer. And its head teacher, Roisin Maguire, is, says Ofsted, an "outstanding leader".

But it's the smell of fresh bread, wafting from a DT laboratory, that gets me. It's the interrupted year 9 French class who wait, in turn, to give different reasons why each and every one of them "loves coming to school". It's the first XV rugby team sheet stuck to the noticeboard in the school reception. And it's the sixth-former, Katie Bailey, who has no fear in asking to plunder my contacts book so that she can "get into journalism".

Astonishingly, this happy, confident establishment - one of 164 grammar schools remaining in the country - is threatened with closure. Under plans drawn up by Serco, the private company enlisted by Stoke-on-Trent council to tackle the authority's educational needs, it is possible that St Joseph's could close in 2010 to be replaced by a nonselective Catholic school on the same site, with a different set of governors and staff. It would be the first grammar school to shut for nearly 20 years.

Stoke-on-Trent, a Labour council, turned to Serco because it was in freefall, having been named the third worst local authority for education in the country. Serco, in turn, has responded by drafting four proposals to restructure the authority's secondary schools. The "favoured" proposal at present is to shut all the secondary schools in the area and reopen 12 new secondary schools - a mixture of trust schools and academies - and four new special schools in the district, with a 200m pound boost in funding.

The restructuring is, says Ged Rowney, director of children and young people's services, a "great opportunity" and one that it is "essential we grasp". This is all well and good. Stoke-on-Trent does need to do something about its secondary schools. But why meddle with its best? The council says that for the process to be "fair" it needs to consider all schools in its restructuring process, not just the failing ones. Part of the problem for Stoke is that its schools are 23% under capacity - which means, for efficiency's sake, some will have to shut. But again, why St Joseph's? "It's something I find very hard to fathom," says Maguire. "Yes, we're selective, but that's not why we're good. There are selective schools in this country who are not doing so well. It's about what you do with the kids once you get them. This school isn't a good school because it's Catholic or it's selective. It's a good school because we know every child and we love them and care for them and we challenge them."

Maguire explains that unlike most grammar schools, St Joseph's does not simply take the brightest pupils. Indeed, Ofsted does not even class St Joseph's as "a grammar". It does have an entrance test, but it is one that 75% of applicants pass. After that, entrance is determined by "faith criteria", whereby the child's parents are asked to fill out a form, co-authored by their relevant "religious leader", on how righteous their 11-year-old is. About 80 students in every year are Catholic and the remaining 30-40 are from a variety of other faiths. In the sixth form, St Joseph's takes another 50-70 pupils from nearby city state schools. "There are many very bright children who do not get into St Joseph's," says Maguire. "We've built strong links in the community - my best English teacher now works two days a week in other city schools. And children from those schools come here for revision classes, too. "Stoke has so many problems. It is right at the top of the league tables for teenage pregnancies and Neets [young people not in education, employment or training], and right at the bottom for education. We are one of the things that Stoke can be really proud of. Why would you want us to go to the wall?"

St Joseph's is not quite at the wall yet. Rowney insists that although the closure of all the schools and the reopening of new secondaries is the "favoured" option, there are three others that would keep St Joseph's open. But if the favoured option does come to pass when the final decision is made in February, you can be sure there will be little noise from Westminster.

Labour's Department for Children says it will keep out of local authority decisions. But it has made it clear that it wishes to make it easier for parents to shut grammar schools. Apart from restructuring plans, such as the one Stoke-on-Trent is proposing, the only way to shut a selective school now is by parental ballot. The ballot requires 10 parents to trigger a petition and then 20% of parents in the affected area to sign it. Since this law was passed in 1998, only one ballot has come to fruition - and it failed to close the selective school.

Labour wishes to make the system simpler by shortening the ballot process and, possibly, by allowing petitioning parents access to the contact details of other parents in the area. "It is absolutely right," said Jim Knight, the schools minister, last month, "that we keep the parental ballot arrangements under review. We are firmly committed to giving local parents the right to abolish selection at existing grammar schools."

The modernising Conservative front bench might now know where it stands on this issue, but the party as a whole continues to twist its knickers on grammar schools. When David Willetts, then shadow education spokesman, said the 11-plus exam "entrenches advantage" he set off a backlash among backbenchers, who consider the maintenance of grammar schools a touchstone Conservative issue. They had, perhaps, forgotten that Margaret Thatcher and John Major failed to use their 18 years to revive the 11-plus.

David Cameron considers the row over grammar schools to be the "shallow end" of the education debate - and has said he admires Labour's academies programme. He has, however, indicated that he will shut no grammar schools. So don't expect a raging debate at next week's prime minister's questions about St Joseph's College.

"The Tories just can't get involved," says Sam Freedman, of the Policy Exchange think tank. "It doesn't work for them politically. I can't see them intervening. As for Labour, that's tricky. There may be some backbenchers who are ideologically opposed to a private company restructuring a local authority's schools and who may feel strongly enough that they wish to fight to save this one school. But then again, it's a grammar school. They're between a rock and a hard place."

The parents and pupils of St Joseph's are already making a noise. The website of the local Sentinel newspaper, which broke the story last Monday, has been bombarded with comments from parents and old pupils. Facebook and MySpace sites have been set up to organise support. A petition on the Downing Street website already has hundreds of names. Why not add your own?


Leftists cannot stand the competition of other ideas

It shows that they know how little foundation in reality their views have. Centers for African American Studies or Women's Studies (etc.) are fine but not a center for the study of Capitalism and Limited Government

Organizers of the Academy on Capitalism and Limited Government Fund hoped to turn their new program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign into a Hoover Institution of the Midwest, a model for getting more free market ideals and ideological diversity into major research universities.

But when a faculty committee was able to get all the details of the agreement that created the new center, it found provisions that were "fundamentally inconsistent" with university values that are designed to ensure a diversity of views. Specifically, the panel found that portions of the agreement would have restricted funds to research designed to reflect certain points of view, and that donors were given control over matters traditionally left to academics.

The faculty panel - which was appointed by the chancellor - said it was "deeply troublesome" that the agreement to accept the center was made without faculty consultation and that many details were kept secret until recently. The panel called for Chancellor Richard Herman to renegotiate the deal for the academy and on Tuesday, a spokeswoman confirmed that he had pledged to do so. Faculty leaders praised Herman for backing away from a deal that has angered many professors - even while it was cheered by many conservatives.

The agreement to create the center was signed in July 2006 between the university and a group of wealthy alumni but for almost a year there was very little public information about the arrangement, although rumors started to spread about it. In the summer of 2007, the academy became more public, planning a debut conference and announcing its plans to support research, conferences and events promoting capitalism. Funds were placed in the university foundation, not an academic department, and faculty members started to complain that it sounded like a research center was being created with donor control and an ideological agenda. Those complaints led the Faculty Senate to urge Herman to appoint a committee to study the issue. He did - and the professors on the panel (nominated by the Senate) were from a range of disciplines and political perspectives.

The panel's report said that some of the work envisioned in the new center was "outcome neutral," such as the idea of supporting work on "the philosophical, moral and economic underpinnings of capitalism." But other kinds of research agendas, the panel found, "unmistakably signal an ideological predisposition or presupposition." For example, the governing documents the university agreed to said that the center's research would focus on "the relationship between economic growth and reduced government size" and how "free market capitalism can become more effective in providing opportunities and prosperity for individual nations." Another topic cited for research support: "why communism, socialism, government bureaucracy have failed to bring prosperity, and how capitalism brings material wealth to a broad spectrum of society."

There is nothing wrong with any Illinois professor holding those views or doing work that supports those views, the panel said, but there is something wrong with a research center supporting only such work and thereby refusing to support research that might, for example, find that Nordic countries with high tax rates have brought considerable wealth to their societies.

Further, the panel found that documents creating the academy had it housed indefinitely in the university foundation, governed by a self-perpetuating advisory board, and that the board would be making funding decisions, assuming the chancellor's approval. The faculty panel found that it was "highly problematic" to house such an organization in the foundation, the university's fund-raising arm.

Two key principles were at stake, the panel found: institutional neutrality and university autonomy. On the former, the panel said that "a university ... and especially a public university exists for the common good, not for the propagation of the views of its donors."

The faculty panel repeatedly stressed that its objections were on issues of principle, not politics and that it would have had the same reaction to a center with a different ideology - even if the would-be donor could point to greater diversity that might result from the gift. The panel report imagined a situation where the American Socialist Party, citing the lack of socialists on campus, proposed a center that would support research "examining how public ownership of the means of production and higher income equality achieved by a redistributional tax system will bring economic and moral well being to a broad spectrum of society." Such a donation would be rejected, the panel said, just as the one that was accepted should have been rejected as a "breach of the principle of neutrality."

On the issue of autonomy, the report noted that donors are entitled and welcome to work with fund raisers and academics on shaping gifts that reflect donor interests. But for donors to play a role in handing out grants or approving recipients for research is inappropriate, the panel said. Decisions about who receives funds for academic work - whether research or teaching - "lie at the core of the university's functions" and need to be made by professors, the panel said.

While the panel was emphatic that the relationship with the capitalism center needed to be renegotiated, it said that the faculty would be open to an arrangement with these donors that met university standards, and the report stressed that it was not trying to discourage the involvement of the donors.

Nicholas C. Burbules, chair of the Senate at Illinois and professor of educational policy studies, said he thought the faculty panel issued "a very strong report" with an emphasis "on the most important things - they stuck with issues of academic principle and policy." Some Illinois professors have criticized the politics of the donors, and Burbules said it was important that no attention was paid to that issue in the report.

He said that faculty thinking on the capitalism academy has evolved. At first, as people heard just little bits of information, there was a "what the heck is going on here" feeling. Then as more information came out, many professors felt "anxiety" and there was considerable criticism of the chancellor for making the agreement. But Burbules said that he thought that the chancellor acted correctly in agreeing to renegotiate the deal, and that professors appreciated his quick response to the report. "We're open to working in a collaborative way with the donors," Burbules said, as long as any arrangement shows "unambiguous" respect for academic principles.

James E. Vermette, a businessman and investor who was one of the founders of the center, said that he had "no problem" with renegotiating the agreement with the university, and that he thought that all that would be needed would be "some wording or clarification." He said he has not read the report.

Vermette said that he and other founders wanted research to be "objective and neutral," and that he didn't have any problem if some of the research supported didn't adhere to his views on capitalism. But he also said it was "absolutely wrong" to say that the original agreement sought to favor some views over others and that the founders' "basic principles" can't change. "We understand what the university is all about," he said. "I'm confident that rational people will be able to work their way through this - as long as our basic principles don't change."

Anne D. Neal, a member of the advisory board for the capitalism program and president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, was more critical of the faculty report. She said that "it goes without saying that the principle of neutrality is central to academic research. Donors cannot condition their gifts on preordained conclusions, and any language that suggests otherwise should be modified."

But she said that she did not believe all departments and programs at Illinois were held to the same standard, saying that she found "ideological terms" in the African American Studies and Research Program at Illinois, and noting that the women's studies program presumes that people should "integrate feminist theory into their professional work and everyday lives."

Neal added: "While the committee report raises serious and legitimate questions, I am left with the nagging feeling that the committee's concern about `ideological predispositions' goes only one way - and that its problems with the Academy on Capitalism, underscored by its repeated, snide footnotes on the benefits of Sweden's state-run economy - expose its own ideological predispositions rather than a genuine, consistent concern about a free marketplace of ideas."


Death by Political Correctness: Who killed Antioch College?

Leftism destroys anything it gets to control -- even a once distinguished college

It is 9:30 on a sunny Monday morning in October, a time, day, and month when most college campuses bustle with activity: students hurrying to class or relaxing between classes on library steps or tree-covered lawns. Here, on the 200-acre campus of Antioch College, a 155-year-old liberal-arts institution best known nowadays for a campus culture that long ago drifted from the progressively liberal to the alarmingly radical (people still talk about the anti-date-rape policy that required a separate verbal consent for each step of an amorous encounter, famously parodied on Saturday Night Live in 1993), the phrase "bustling with activity" is not what comes to mind. What comes to mind is the neutron bomb.

There are plenty of trees on Antioch's historic campus in Yellow Springs, a town of 4,600 about 20 miles east of Dayton in rural southwestern Ohio--soaring oaks, walnuts, maples, and firs, many likely more than a century old. And there are plenty of buildings--dozens of residence halls and classroom facilities, along with a library that has seen better days and a turreted Victorian-era main building designed by James Renwick Jr., architect of the Smithsonian Institution's landmark castle in Washington, D.C., and St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. As for Antioch students, however, there are none to be seen this morning, except for an occasional shadowy figure moving silently among distant trees like one of Ohio's long-vanished Miami Indians on a solitary hunt. A visitor to the campus might infer that ultra-radicalism doesn't sell, at least when the price is the nearly $40,000 per year it costs to attend Antioch College.

On June 9, 2007, the trustees of Antioch University, an adult-education offshoot of Antioch College that now dominates the college administratively, financially, and in terms of overall student population, announced that Antioch College would suspend operations on July 1, 2008, with a possibility of reopening in much-altered form in 2012, and that its entire faculty, including tenured professors, would be laid off.

The reasons for the shutdown given by the trustees and by Tulisse Murdock, Antioch University's chancellor since 2005, were many: years and years of incurable deficits, this year totaling $2.6 million on an annual college budget of $18 million; an extraordinarily low endowment of just $36 million (neighboring Ohio liberal arts colleges Oberlin and Kenyon boast endowments of $700 million and $167 million respectively); and a chronically low student enrollment that topped 600 only once during the preceding 25 years (compare that with Oberlin's enrollment of nearly 2,900) and has declined precipitously since 2003.

During the 2006-07 academic year, for example, only 330 full-time students were enrolled in Antioch's bachelor-of-arts and bachelor-of-science programs--once so highly regarded that Antioch could boast that it had more graduates who went on to obtain Ph.D.'s than any other college in the country. This fall, after news of the pending shutdown decimated the incoming freshman class, there are just 220 Antioch College undergraduates left. That represents a decline of almost 90 percent from the 2,000 or so young people who attended Antioch during its peak enrollment years of the 1960s and early 1970s.

Antioch's students, its faculty--whose numbers have also drastically shrunk (just 37 today, down from 140 during the early 1970s)--and many residents of Yellow Springs, a pleasant college town of handsome old houses and businesses that advertise their liberal-leaning, Antioch-friendly "green" and "fair trade" consciousness, are fighting to save the college, citing its long and illustrious history. Antioch's first president, in 1853, was the famous education reformer Horace Mann, and until things went bad, Antioch regularly turned out graduates who went on to become stellar public figures, writers, and scholars: Coretta Scott King, wife of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, anthropologist Clifford Geertz, Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling, the District of Columbia's Democratic congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, and, most recently in the news, Mario R. Capecchi, co-winner of the Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology for his work on embryonic stem cells in mice. (This was Antioch College's second Nobel; Jose Ramos-Horta, president of East Timor, who had received a master's degree in 1984 in a peace-studies program now incorporated into Antioch University, won the Peace Prize in 1996.)

A group of Antioch College's chronically lethargic alumni says it has rushed to raise $18 million in donations and pledges in a last-ditch plan to save the college, and at an emergency meeting of the university's trustees in Yellow Springs on October 25 presented a $100 million business plan (based on an aggressive five-year fundraising drive) designed to cure their alma mater's deficit, keep its doors open, and revive its attractiveness to high-school seniors. The trustees had been expected to issue a decision on October 27 whether to accept or reject the alumni plan, but they declined to do so, leaving Antioch College in an even more precarious state, given that autumn is the time when colleges and universities do their most aggressive recruiting and prospective high-school graduates start filling out their college application forms. Discussions among trustees and alumni were continuing on November 2, as this article went to press....

An archaeologist called upon to estimate just when the plague swept through--that is, when the college reached its peak of flourishing and then abruptly stopped--might come up with, say, the year 1965, judging from the vintage mid-century look of the brick-and-plate-glass "newer" buildings. Indeed, the college did then enjoy a sustained and impressive growth spurt and a frenzy of construction. The school, which had never enrolled more than 1,000 students in its history, nearly doubled in size from 1954 to 1964, and it continued to grow after that, reaching its all-time peak undergraduate population of 2,470 in 1972.

Even during the 1950s, Antioch had a reputation as a "beatnik college." It had phased out varsity sports starting in the 1920s (it had once fielded football and baseball teams) and historically eschewed fraternities and sororities. It had no dress code, unlike most colleges in those days, and students tended to be arty overachievers with avant-garde political views. Antioch's pioneering work-study program, called "co-operative education" (shortened to "co-op" and part of the curriculum to this day), and the college's practice of giving students a voice in its governance drew earnest, highly individualistic young people who liked the idea of obtaining real-world job experience, often in science labs or on archaeological digs but also in private businesses, when still in school, while also being able to take time off to enlist in political causes. During the heyday of the civil rights movement, for example, Antioch was famous for its students who traveled to southern states to help register black voters. A graduate student, Alan E. Guskin, later to become president of Antioch College and chancellor of Antioch University, formed a student organization in 1960 that inspired John F. Kennedy to set up the Peace Corps. The favorite campus entertainment on Friday nights was that echt-1950s bohemian pastime: folk-dancing.

Nonetheless, Antioch also had a reputation for academic rigor and was nearly as competitive in admissions as Harvard. It accepted only one out of four applicants (the average combined SAT scores of those who got in was 1350 in 1960), and students had to pass a stiff comprehensive examination at the end of their first year. Today that test is long gone; Antioch does not require its applicants even to submit their SAT scores, which are said to hover around 1075, and it admits a majority of those who apply. It was during the glory years of the 1950s and early 1960s that Antioch produced its most famous and distinguished graduates.

Although political views at Antioch might have tilted leftward even back then, the students of the 1950s and early-to-mid 1960s prided themselves on their willingness to hear out their more conservative classmates in lively all-night dorm discussions on politics and philosophy, inspired by professors who encouraged them to test all their assumptions against the evidence. "We were completely respectful of every point of view," recalled Rick Daily, a Denver lawyer who graduated from Antioch in 1968 and is treasurer of the alumni committee that is struggling to save the college from closure. "We even had a Goldwater Republican in our graduating class," Daily said in a telephone interview.

That was Antioch then. Antioch now might be fairly represented by a September 21 article in the student newspaper, the Record, consisting of a gloating account of the invasion by 40 gay and lesbian Antioch students (a full fifth of the current student body) of an evangelical Christian book-signing event at a Barnes & Noble store located in a mall in nearby Beavercreek, Ohio. Record reporter Marysia Walcerz described the hours-long "Gay Takeover," whose participants wore rainbow-tinted bandannas, ostentatiously held hands and kissed, and did their best to shock both authors and customers in this socially conservative sector of Ohio, as a "success .??.??. for direct action executed in style."

A July 20 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Ralph Keyes, author of the bestselling Is There Life After High School? and a 1967 graduate of Antioch who moved with his family back to Yellow Springs some 20 years ago, described similar adventures by Antioch students in the intimidation of people who do not share their views. Keyes took pains to reassure the Chronicle's readers that he himself had been proudly "left-wing" as an Antioch student, but he also detailed a once-tolerant campus culture that had deteriorated since his student days into "insults, name-calling, and profanity." As Keyes described it (and others connected to the campus corroborate his observations), Antioch students regularly engaged, both inside and outside their classrooms, in the practice of "calling out" (public humiliation followed by social ostracism) their classmates for even the most trivial violations of an unwritten campus code of ideological propriety.

One of the called-out was a Polish exchange student who had made the mistake of using the now-taboo word "Eskimos" instead of "Inuit" in reference to Alaskan aboriginals. Another called-out student had worn Nike sneakers, verboten among the radically sensitive because they are supposedly products of Indonesian sweatshop labor (the Nike-wearer was so demoralized by his treatment that he transferred). Keyes lamented what he called the "crack-house decor" of Antioch's student union, whose second floor features a 30-foot wall of student-painted graffiti with themes and language running the gamut from revolutionary to obscene. The Antioch school "uniform" for many students seems to consist of as many tattoos and piercings as the human dermis can hold (a tattoo parlor in downtown Yellow Springs looks designed to accommodate this student fashion statement)....

The adults who could have and should have intervened to put a lid on the excesses of a culture created by 18- to 22-year-olds with little experience of the outside world in fact let that culture run untrammeled and amok, all in the name of Antioch's vaunted ideal of "community." The very existence of Antioch University, the chain of adult-education satellite campuses that morphed into Antioch College's parent institution during the 1990s and now threatens, Cronus-like, to devour its child, contains a bitter irony: The satellite campuses came into being 40 years ago because Antioch wanted to get in on a bit of late-1960s radical chic known as "bringing education to the streets."

Hard as it may be to believe, Antioch began its existence as a Christian college. Its founders belonged to a Second Great Awakening movement that called itself the "Christian Connexion" and eschewed the creeds of mainline churches in favor of what it viewed as a strictly Bible-based faith. Antioch College got its name from the city in ancient Syria that was an early center of New Testament Christianity. Antioch was one of the first coeducational colleges in the United States, among both students and faculty, and from the beginning it admitted black students. The standard curriculum, required of all students, would come as a shock to most of today's undergraduates: Latin, Greek, foreign languages, and a stiff array of science courses. Antioch was actively involved in the abolitionist movement, and when the Civil War broke out, the college shut down temporarily so that students and professors could fight on the Union side....

Armed with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, Antioch began in 1965 to recruit impoverished "high-risk students" from "high-risk schools"--which usually translated into black graduates of inner-city high schools who, unlike the middle-class, high-achieving blacks who had sat side by side with whites (albeit in very small numbers) in Antioch classrooms for nearly a century, were not prepared for college work. They were also not prepared for life in sleepy, artsy-craftsy Yellow Springs, or for coexistence with bookish, highly competitive classmates preparing for careers as physicists, lawyers, and doctors. Many of the Rockefeller students were older than the traditional college age, and some had children (Antioch obligingly provided them with free daycare). "There was a lot of tension," said Antioch's archivist, Scott Sanders, in a telephone interview, "and these were inner-city kids, so there was a certain amount of lawlessness. They brought skills to Antioch that they'd learned on the streets: fighting, drawing guns. There were specific instances of violence that were very alien to the other students."

While all this was going on, as alumnus Michael Goldfarb, a writer and former public radio correspondent who matriculated at Antioch in 1968, wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed piece, "Antioch created coeducational residence halls, with no adult supervision. Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll became the rule, as you might imagine, and there was enormous peer pressure to be involved in all of them." Goldfarb described having a gun drawn on him in a drunken rage by "a couple of ex-cons whom one of my classmates, in the interest of breaking down class barriers, had invited to live with her." ...

The financial crisis of 1979 triggered a further drop in enrollment at Antioch College (as well as further departures of professors), but the Birenbaum-instigated budget cuts seemed to stabilize the Yellow Springs campus. Its student population remained at a more or less steady, if not especially healthy, 500 or so for more than two decades. The widely-publicized date-rape policy that catapulted Antioch onto Saturday Night Live and into nationwide ridicule in 1993 was a kind of object lesson in what can happen when demographic implosion (reducing the student body to its most radical core) unites with a laissez-faire administration philosophy that consists of giving even the most extreme factions everything they want.

The extremists in this case consisted of a group of student feminists who called themselves "Womyn of Antioch" (a title that might have sent up a red flag to administrators elsewhere) and claimed to be reacting to two incidents of date rape on the Yellow Springs campus in 1991, which they said the administration had ignored. No Antioch students were ever charged with those offenses either formally or informally, much less found by a college tribunal to have committed them, much less prosecuted for any crime by outside authorities. Antioch's archivist Sanders said that the alleged rapes might have been more a matter of "perception" than reality. Nonetheless, when the Womyn "stormed" (the word comes from Antioch's website) an Antioch community meeting and insisted on pushing through the policy they had drafted regardless of parliamentary niceties, the administrators and faculty who were supposed to be on at least an equal footing with the students at those meetings, if not their superiors on the basis of maturity and experience, said, oh, okay...

The change in academic emphasis, coupled with the date-rape policy, whose main effect was to alter Antioch College's male-female student ratio from 50-50 to 40-60, coupled with a growing public perception of the college as a haven for crazies, made it difficult for the college to increase its enrollment. Figuring that the financially strapped school needed a critical mass of 800 students in order to generate the minimum revenue necessary to maintain academic quality, the administration adopted the mantra "800 by 2000." When that goal was not met (enrollment in 2000 was 515), the mantra changed to "800 by 2002" (enrollment in 2002 was 577)....

Much more here

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