Thursday, November 04, 2010

Quinnipiac U thinks it can fight racism by being racist

Under the false flag of good intentions, Leftists encourage racism -- as they always have done. Even Karl Marx was a virulent racist

An Argus volunteer sent me an article from the student newspaper The Quinnipiac Chronicle, “Lahey Wants Black Diversity Director.” The article refers to Quinnipiac University President John Lahey and describes a meeting two weeks ago of the Student Government Association in which Lahey outlined his preferences for a new hire.

According to the Chronicle, Lahey said this person should be a “high quality African-American.” Matt Busekroos, who wrote the article, told me he attended the meeting in person and recorded, but did not transcribe, what was said.

Busekroos quotes Lahey saying, “We could fill that position tomorrow if we wanted to but we very much want, now that we have a Hispanic in the case of the chief diversity officer, an African-American for that particular position.”

And, “Even though there are more diverse, different groups that the [associate director of student diversity programming] works with, we think having that person be an African-American is very important to concluding that search.”

The position is for an “associate director of student diversity programming.” The title alone should give us pause. Student diversity programming? Besides sounding like a creepy effort to “program” students, it’s a title that needs some explaining. The responsibilities of the position are listed on the university’s website:

* Provides leadership and direction in the development, coordination, and support of student programs that promote diversity and cultural awareness

* Advise the Campus Multicultural Programming Board

* Liaison to campus multicultural student organizations

* Coordinate the ALANA-I mentor program

* Serve as a resource for all students and staff in the area of diversity awareness

ALANA-I stands for Asian, Latino, African, Native American, and international, and the mentor program is supposed to help “new students of color and international students” adapt to college life. No rationale is provided for segmenting minority students off into their own programs, nor is it clear why the associate director of student diversity programming could not be Asian, Native American, or of European origin. Latino, it appears, is already covered by Diane Ariza who was recently hired as the chief diversity officer.

For many college administrators, the ideal university is a giant support system for the chief diversity officer (see “What Does a Chief Diversity Officer Actually Do?”), and this position is intended to augment that network. Is an associate director of student diversity programming really necessary? Is funding that position a good investment of families’ tuition dollars and donors’ gifts? From the job description, it appears to be one of those posts used to extend the politically correct kingdom and to divvy students up by identity group.

I know of one woman (another Argus volunteer) at a large university in the South who has been pigeonholed into “diversity” roles specifically because of her race. She sought to escape the toxic environment of racial labeling by changing departments, but was told by her supervisor that there would be some difficulty “finding a black woman to replace you.” She recalled, “There I was,just one person sitting there, but she was seeing a group.” That’s the mistake Quinnipiac is making—failing to see the individual person.

University officials did not deny the declarations by President Lahey quoted in the Chronicle, and Vice President for Public Affairs Lynn Bushnell emailed me the same “diversity” boilerplate she sent Busekroos. She wrote, “We are taking steps to increase diversity among the staff, particularly at the most senior levels. There are several recently created positions that should enable us to make further strides in this area.”

Quinnipiac, it appears, has shamelessly built racial preferences into its hiring. And it may not be just for this position. The Chronicle suggests that Ariza may have been selected because she is Hispanic: “On Tuesday, Ariza told the Chronicle she wants to believe she was hired ‘not because I was Latina, but that I was the most skilled.’ ‘And if I happen to be Latina,’ she said, ‘then good for everybody.’”

But racial preferences aren’t good for everybody. What if the candidate happens to be white? Clearly President Lahey is holding out, waiting to fill the position with a person of a particular race, and refusing to consider others.

This stands in open violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. What emboldened the president of a prestigious university to flagrantly flout the law?

We saw a similar case of indiscretion a few weeks ago at Brooklyn College, where a faculty member urged other faculty by email to “correct the lily-white imbalances” on the dean’s search committees. In that case, the faculty member let her guard down because she felt safe to do so—because academe has incubated an atmosphere in which on-the-sly racial preferences and quiet evasions of the law have become comfortable. That’s why President Lahey expected a warm reception to his endeavors to hire only an African-American, and it’s why Vice President Bushnell backed him up.


Some efforts being made to ensure that teachers can teach

Standing at the edge of a pond surrounded by her class of fourth-graders, Jasmine Zeppa filled a bucket with brown water and lectured her pupils on the science of observing and recording data. Many of the children seemed more interested in nearby geese, a passing jogger and the crunchy leaves underfoot.

Zeppa's own professor from St. Catherine University stood nearby and recorded video of it all.

"I think it went as well as it possibly could have, given her experience," the professor, Susan Gibbs Goetz, said. Her snap review: The 25-year-old Zeppa could have done a better job holding the students' attention, but did well building on past lessons.

Zeppa is among the first class of aspiring teachers who are getting ready for new, more demanding requirements to receive their teacher license. A new licensing system is being tested in 19 states that includes filming student teachers in their classroom and evaluating the video, also candidates must show they can prepare a lesson, tailor it to different levels of students and present it effectively.

Most states only require that would-be teachers pass their class work and a written test. Supporters of the new system say the Teacher Performance Assessment program is a significant improvement, while others are a little more cautious in their praise, warning that it's not guaranteed it will lead to more successful teachers.

The assessments also place responsibility for grading the would-be teachers with teams of outside evaluators who have no stake in the result. Currently, the teachers-in-training are evaluated by their colleges, which want their students to get their teaching licenses.

"It's a big shift that the whole country is going through," said Misty Sato, a University of Minnesota education professor who is helping adapt the assessments for Minnesota. "It's going from 'What has your candidate experienced?' to what your candidate can do."

Minnesota is scheduled to be the first state to adopt the new system when it implements it in 2012. Four other states —Massachusetts, Ohio, Tennessee and Washington — plan to implement it within five years. Fourteen more states are running pilots.

The teacher assessment program is a joint project by a consortium made up of Stanford University, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Sharon P. Robinson, president of the AACTE, an umbrella group for schools that specialize in training teachers, said the assessment will mean better teachers — and ultimately more successful students.

The assessment was developed at Stanford's Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity. Ray Pecheone, the center's executive director, said more than 12,000 teaching candidates have gone through it in four years of testing in California.

California and Arizona are the only states that currently require performance testing to license teachers. Two of California's three different performance tests use video review. The third California test and the one in Arizona requires evaluators to sit in the classrooms and observe the teachers-in-training.

Pecheone said once more states adopt the program the consortium plans to track the performance of teachers who did well on the assessment to see if their students performed better on standardized tests than those of other teachers. He said the specifics of the follow-up study haven't been decided, but he said it would make extensive use of sampling.

Karen Balmer, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Teaching, said the assessments will mean more accountability for teaching colleges. For the first time, she said, her agency will have independent data that shows how well those schools are preparing students. Those that consistently produce low-performing graduates could be ordered by the state to improve their programs.

Balmer said the student teachers will pay some of the cost of the new program — probably around the $70 they now pay for the written test in Minnesota. At least initially, students will take both tests, but Balmer said the state may consider dropping the written test in the future.

Students that bomb the assessments would likely be required to retake them. If they do not test again, some teachers could still get a Minnesota teaching license if their college determines there were special circumstances — such as if the student was ill — and recommends licensure, Balmer said.

Tom Dooher, president of the Minnesota's teachers' union said the group supported it because of its emphasis on developing real-world teaching skills. "This is what education reform should look like, for practitioners by practitioners," he said.

Others are taking a wait-and-see attitude about the program.

Sandi Jacobs, vice president of the nonpartisan National Council on Teacher Quality, said she would support any test that could predict who will be a good teacher, but she's not sure performance assessments are it. Too often, she said, the passing scores on such assessments are set so low that nearly everyone passes and the weakest teachers aren't held back.

"The track record of these kinds of assessments actually being able to separate wheat from chaff is not so persuasive," Jacobs said.


British Liberal Party leader faces student leader's anger at £9,000 cap on tuition fees

Nick Clegg faced the wrath of students today after his pre-election promise to end tuition fees was brutally exposed by a coalition plan to hike them as high as £9,000-a-year.

Furious student leaders met with the Deputy Prime Minister to discuss the Government announcement which revealed an almost three-fold increase in the current £3,290-a-year limit for the cost of courses.

Mr Clegg, who earlier appeared stony-faced in the House of Commons when Universities Minister David Willetts told MPs of the changes, was accused of a plot to 'blow up education' by one students' union leader.

The changes - which will come into effect in 2012 will see the fee threshold moved to £6,000 with some institutions able to charge £9,000 in 'exceptional circumstances'. This is a three-fold increase on the current limit of £3,290-a-year and means fees for a three-year course could hit £27,000. Students could face total debts of £40,000 once living costs are included.

The universities wanting to charge more than £6,000 will be subject to 'fair access conditions' and have to show they are improving access for disadvantaged students.

The Lib Dems fought the election promising to scrap tuition fees and have succeeded in blocking plans to allow elite universities to charge unlimited amounts.

Labour leader Ed Miliband accused the Government of 'destroying trust in politics' by breaking various pledges, including on university funding. He claimed it was a 'Government of broken promises' on fees, VAT and child benefit. 'That is what they meant by Broken Britain,' he said at PMQs. 'The Prime Minister used to say he wanted to restore trust. All he is doing, day by day, is destroying trust in politics.'

Mr Cameron retorted that Labour had 'completely broken their word' on the Browne report on university funding, which the previous government had commissioned.

He insisted Lib Dem ministers had 'all taken, frankly, some courageous and difficult decisions.' 'I think every single person in this House of Commons wants strong universities that are well funded, that have greater independence and we want to make sure that people from the poorest homes can go to the best universities in our country,' he said.

'That is what the proposals are going to achieve. They grew from a decision made by the last government to set up the Browne report and what a pity that opportunism has overtaken principle.'

Mr Willetts earlier told the Commons that the Government wanted to see universities offering scholarships to targeted students, making their first year free.

Institutions charging over the £6,000 threshold would face sanctions if they did not do enough for poorer pupils, with a proportion of their extra income diverted into outreach activities.

The Minister insisted the proposals were a 'good deal for universities and for students'.

'These proposals offer a thriving future for universities, with extra freedoms and less bureaucracy, and they ensure value for money and real choice for learners,' he said.

Today's plans will see students begin to repay their loans at 9 per cent of their income at a real rate of interest when they earn £21,000 - up from £15,000.

Outstanding loans will be written off after 30 years but those who want to pay off theirs early will be hit with a financial penalty in a victory for the Lib Dems.

Tory ministers were thought to oppose moves that would hit middle-class parents who help their children but the concession was made to their coalition partners.

Mr Willetts said: 'The Government is committed to the progressive nature of the repayment system.

'It is therefore important that those on the highest incomes post graduation are not able unfairly to buy themselves out of this progressive system by paying off their loans early.

'We will consult on potential early repayment mechanisms - similar to those paid by people who pre-pay their mortgages. These mechanisms would need to ensure that graduates on modest incomes who strive to pay off their loans early through regular payments are not penalised.'


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