Friday, November 30, 2012

96% of political donations from Ivy League faculty & staff went for Obama

One could be forgiven for suspecting that the other 4% was split between the Green Party and the Communist Party...

96% of the faculty and staff at Ivy League colleges that contributed to the 2012 presidential race donated to President Obama's campaign, reveals a Campus Reform investigation compiled using numbers released by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

From the eight elite schools, $1,211,267 was contributed to the Obama campaign, compared to the $114,166 given to Romney.

The highest percentage of Obama donors came from Brown University and Princeton, with 99 percent of donations from faculty and staff going towards his campaign.

Dartmouth College and the University of Pennsylvania’s faculty contributed to the President’s campaign in the lowest numbers, with only 94 percent donating to the Obama campaign.

Below is the breakdown of numbers compiled by Campus Reform:

Brown University: Obama donors: 129 giving $67,728 | Romney donors: 1 giving $500

Columbia University: Obama donors: 652 giving $361,754 | Romney donors: 21 giving $34,250

Cornell University: Obama donors: 282 giving $141,731 | Romney donors: 11 giving $8,610

Dartmouth College: Obama donors: 90 giving $51,018 | Romney donors: 6 giving $2,850

Harvard University: Obama donors: 555 giving $373,556 | Romney donors: 30 giving $34,500

Princeton University: Obama donors: 277 giving $155,008 | Romney donors: 4 giving $1,901

University of Pennsylvania: Obama donors: 376 giving $209,839 | Romney donors: 26 giving $22,900

Yale University: Obama donors: 399 giving $186,834 | Romney donors: 13 giving $8,655


What has been lost

The cultivated men of the times before 1900, and for that matter the women,  wrote well indeed. Read the memoirs of Ulysses Grant, George Armstrong Custer, John Singleton Mosby (who studied Greek and mathematics at the University of Virginal). Their prose is strong, polished without ostentation, always clear and devoid of grammatical slips. Yet these were not scholars but soldiers of the Civil War.

This was the tradition of my father, a mathematician raised in the Prince Edward County of Virginia of the Thirties, and of my grandfather, a professor of mathematics born before 1900. And so I grew up with my English being gently corrected, with relatives reading to me from those marvelous books purportedly for children that combined faultless language with stories that continue to delight adults to day: Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, The Jungle Books, Alice, Tom Sawyer, The Wind in the Willows. (I suppose that they now would be called “dual use.”)  The only modern work of similar literary quality of which I am aware is The Lord of the Rings.

My grade schools of the Fifties still taught grammar and required the diagramming of sentences, now regarded with horror as a sort of linguistic water-boarding. We learned tense, mood, voice, subjunctives and parallelism and appositives. Equally important, we learned to listen to the language as well as its content, without which decent writing is nigh impossible.

With us, the written language was primary, the spoken derived from the written. In Spanish, if I know how “ajolote” is spelled, the word is mine. Otherwise it never quite is. Today among the literarily unwashed, the spoken language becomes primary. Note how “iced tea” becomes “ice tea,” ”boxed set” becomes “box set,“ presumably a set of boxes. The people who use these confusions don’t read, perhaps barely can, and do not know how the words are spelled. Participles? Huh? Wha’?

There were Fowler’s The King’s English and American English Usage, and of course Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. These today are as well known to our gilded peasantry as the Gilgamesh Epic.

An attention to meaning existed. We knew that “sensuous” does not mean “sensual,” nor bellicose, belligerent; nor alternate, alternative; nor uninterested, disinterested; nor envious, jealous; nor historic, historical; nor philosophic, philosophical; nor it’s, its.

From The Elements of Style  we learned the all-important “Omit needless words”, from Fowler:

Prefer the familiar word to the far-fetched.
Prefer the concrete word to the abstract.
Prefer the single word to the circumlocution.
Prefer the short word to the long.
Prefer the Saxon word to the Romance.

But that was then. Today usage nose-dives from the merely infelicitous to the downright annoying. Note the increasing penetration of language by that form of mispronunciation, once the marker of the lower middle class and below, in which emphasis falls on the first syllable of words. HOtel, INsurance, DEEfense, REEsources, DEEtail. It is the linguistic parallel of a facial tattoo.

And there is noun-speak. “Rainwater run-off flow control barrier system improvement programs.” Aside from the lack of clarity, the endless catenation of substantives is so ugly as to make migraine seem preferable. A satisfying solution would be a chain saw—taken to the author, the words being innocent bystanders.

Why are things that once were the common property of the cultivated now regarded as fossils predating the trilobites? One reason I think is the weakening of the barriers of class. The educated cannot maintain standards of excellence when constantly bathed by television in mangled grammar and illiterate usage.

Then there is a variant of Gresham’s Law that says bad culture drives out good. Stated more carefully, in the absence of barriers of class the values of the drains of society tend to become universal. Thus we have rap music, if such it is, hanging pants encompassing  louts, piercings, and functional illiteracy. In a sentence, the vulgar have discovered that it is easier to reject higher standards than to meet them. By sheer numbers they prevail.

The death of good language is part of the larger death of all culture, springing from the same causes: the domination of society by the mob. Note the decline in the sales of books, particularly books of history, the sciences, and literature: the rapid growth in genuine illiteracy, the disappearance of symphony orchestras. We have no poets, a nation of over three hundred million being far inferior to tiny, muddy London in the Seventeenth Century. Classical music is seldom played and never written. Architecture means K Street boxes; sculpture, curious confabulations made to be sold to bureaucrats in the Parks Department.

Little hope exists of a reversal any time soon, if ever. In 1850 those deficient in schooling knew their deficiencies, and wanted to learn. Today there is an actual preference for ignorance, which is regarded as authentic or democratic and morally superior to knowing anything, which would be elitist. In politics we see a vengeful delight that control of society passes to non-European minorities without interest in any culture but that of the streets. “He is street smart,” or sometimes just “He street smart” conveys approbation that once would have been expressed by “He is a man of taste and discrimination.” Once learning or even the desire for it has been lost, they do not readily return.

The Vandals are within the gates. But they are all texting each other.


Feds: Teachers embroiled in test-taking fraud

It was a brazen and surprisingly long-lived scheme, authorities said, to help aspiring public school teachers cheat on the tests they must pass to prove they are qualified to lead their classrooms.

For 15 years, teachers in three Southern states paid Clarence Mumford Sr. — himself a longtime educator — to send someone else to take the tests in their place, authorities said. Each time, Mumford received a fee of between $1,500 and $3,000 to send one of his test ringers with fake identification to the Praxis exam. In return, his customers got a passing grade and began their careers as cheaters, according to federal prosecutors in Memphis.

Authorities say the scheme affected hundreds — if not thousands — of public school students who ended up being taught by unqualified instructors.

Mumford faces more than 60 fraud and conspiracy charges that claim he created fake driver's licenses with the information of a teacher or an aspiring teacher and attached the photograph of a test-taker. Prospective teachers are accused of giving Mumford their Social Security numbers for him to make the fake identities.

The hired-test takers went to testing centers, showed the proctor the fake license, and passed the certification exam, prosecutors say. Then, the aspiring teacher used the test score to secure a job with a public school district, the indictment alleges. Fourteen people have been charged with mail and Social Security fraud, and four people have pleaded guilty to charges associated with the scheme.

Mumford "obtained tens of thousands of dollars" during the alleged conspiracy, which prosecutors say lasted from 1995 to 2010 in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Among those charged is former University of Tennessee and NFL wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, who is accused of employing a test-taker for a Praxis physical education exam. He was charged in late October with four counts of Social Security and mail fraud. He has pleaded not guilty and is out of jail on a $10,000 bond. He has been suspended by the Memphis City Schools system.

If convicted, Mumford could face between two and 20 years in prison on each count. The teachers face between two and 20 years in prison on each count if convicted.

Prosecutors and standardized test experts say students were hurt the most by the scheme because they were being taught by unqualified teachers.

Nina Monfredo, a 23-year-old history teacher at Power Center Academy in Memphis, has taken Praxis exams for history, geography, middle school content, and secondary teaching and learning.

Monfredo, who passed all her tests and is not involved in the fraud case, said the exams she took were relatively easy for someone who has a high school education. She said some people use study aids to prepare, but she didn't. And she didn't feel much pressure because it was her understanding that she could take the test again if she did not pass.

"If you feel like you can't pass and you hire someone it means you really didn't know what you were doing," she said. "I think it would be easier to just learn what's on the test."

More here

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