Sunday, June 02, 2013

A Wrong Against the Right

Once again, graduation time is upon us, and a new study by the Los Angeles Times says plenty about the state of higher education in America. The paper looked at the invited commencement speakers for 150 colleges and universities. There are just four conservative speakers, as opposed to at least 69 liberal speakers.

In fact, Newark (N.J.) Mayor Cory Booker, a very liberal guy, has as many campus addresses as all elected Republicans combined.

There is no shortage of intellect or accomplishment on the right. The reason few conservative speakers are invited is that college administrators are frightened by radical-left students and faculty. Last month, Karl Rove's speech at the University of Massachusetts was disrupted, and so was the address by Sen. Rand Paul at Howard University. Nobody wants a graduation ceremony turned into an ideological circus, and that's what often happens when perceived conservatives are invited to speak on certain campuses.

Last year, I headed up a benefit for the It Happened to Alexa Foundation at Boston University, where I received a master's degree in broadcast journalism. As a freshman, Alexa Branchini was raped in a BU dorm and had to withdraw from the school. She eventually founded, with her parents, an organization to help victims of violent crime. I felt the campus of Boston University would be the perfect place to hold a fundraiser for this fine charity. How wrong I was.

A number of far-left professors and administrators, including a university vice president, boycotted the event. The school did little to promote it and essentially folded under the pressure of zealots. It was an absolute disgrace and an insult to Alexa and her family. That tells you all you need to know about the mentality of fanatical college professors and the cowardly administrators who enable them.

There is no question that liberal indoctrination is a fact of life on most American college campuses. Tenure means never having to say you're sorry or you're wrong. And, overwhelmingly, tenured college teachers are liberal. They dominate and intimidate their students. If you go up against them, your grade often suffers. There is a tyranny in higher education that is gravely harming this nation.

When a distinguished medical doctor and author such as Ben Carson has to withdraw as a commencement speaker at Johns Hopkins University because some loons don't like his conservative point of view, you know there is trouble in River City. And little is being done about it.

It is long past time to call out America's colleges, especially those funded by taxpayers, and demand that they be fair in their hiring practices and speaking forums. I give a nice annual donation to Marist College, where I obtained a degree in history, because it is fair. But I've stopped giving to Boston U. and to Harvard (where I received a master's in public administration), because those schools are not fair. All college grads should evaluate their contributions.

That's the only way the liberal higher-education stranglehold will be broken. Many of those pinhead professors espouse socialistic tenets -- but, believe me, they want the money. The goal of higher education should be to champion the airing of all honest viewpoints. Nothing less is acceptable.


When the First Amendment is repealed by bureaucrats

by Hans Bader

Greg Lukianoff is right to criticize the Education Department for illegally trying to abolish the requirement that comments must be offensive to a "reasonable person" to constitute sexual harassment ("Feds to Students: You Can't Say That," op-ed, May 17). As a former Education Department lawyer, I find that simply appalling.

The "reasonable person" standard is a cornerstone of sexual-harassment law, set forth in the Supreme Court's 1993 decision in Harris v. Forklift Systems, and amplified in its 1999 Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education decision, which states that conduct must be "severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive" to constitute illegal sexual harassment in the educational setting.

The Education Department's demand that the University of Montana define harassment as "any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature," including speech about sexual issues that offends a single hypersensitive member of an audience, defines sexual harassment even more broadly than the harassment codes struck down by the courts on First Amendment grounds in DeJohn v. Temple University (2008) and Saxe v. State College Area School District (2001).


Children's play is under threat from adults who ‘over-supervise’ and ‘over-schedule’, a British report says

It says youngsters cannot develop normally and are ‘play deprived’ because of our risk-averse, regimented lifestyles.

This means many lack vital skills such as resourcefulness, independence or self-regulation.

The research, discussed on EU ‘play day’ at the European Parliament yesterday, is the work of Dr David Whitebread, a senior lecturer in psychology of education at Cambridge University.

He consulted researchers from across Europe and found children’s leisure time is cut down by too much school work, safety fears, and lack of understanding of the impact of free play.

His report, The Importance of Play, warns ‘play provision is under threat in Europe’ and adult intervention is often ‘counter-productive’.

It says the UK in particular is ‘quite risk-averse’, with children ‘heavily supervised’ and forced to play indoors or in a garden or specially designed soft play area.

This compares with the more rural Scandinavian countries where children play independently in natural surroundings.  Just a generation ago, British children did the same, it adds.

Children have ‘increasingly limited opportunities for the free play and association with their peers which were so commonly available ..... to their parents and grandparents,’ the report says.  Life in big cities adds to the problem, making children ‘much more heavily scheduled’.

Poor children in cities can suffer from ‘stressed parenting’ and lack of access to the outdoors, while wealthier families may be overly cautious about dangers.

The report states: ‘Children brought up in relatively affluent households may be over-scheduled and over-supervised as a consequence of perceptions of urban environments as dangerous for children, and a growing culture of risk-averse parenting.’

If lack of play becomes severe it can lead to ‘abnormalities in neurological development’.

Dr Whitebread writes that  over-supervision is growing, with more and more parents worried about children playing outside due to traffic, crime, harassment and violence, abduction, and germs.

There are also problems at school, with pressure to learn the curriculum and meet standards.

Combined with curbs on free play at home, this leads to a  ‘worrying picture’ across Europe, with ‘a growing tendency to reduce play time in children’s lives, both at school and  home, in order to increase time  for “learning”’.

The report recommends cities be organised ‘with children in mind’, to enable them to play in the street and walk to school.

Informal outdoor activities should be encouraged at school, with longer breaks to encourage more physical activity.

The European Parliament event was planned by the Toy Industries of Europe, whose members include the LEGO Group.


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