Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The King of Bryan College

Mike Adams

In my columns, I often write about the swift moral decline within our nation's secular universities. That usually involves writing about corrupt university administrators. But I would be a hypocrite were I to ignore corruption by administrators at Christian colleges and universities. Right now, there is a controversy brewing at Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee with moral ramifications that are simply too important to ignore.

At the center of the controversy is Bryan's president Dr. Stephen Livesay. His conduct as Bryan's president has been so far outside the realm of normal professional conduct as to nearly defy description. Nonetheless, I will attempt to do so. The following is an in-exhaustive list of offenses - each of which could arguably justify Dr. Livesay's removal.

1. Sanitizing a sex scandal. When a college or university begins to knowingly cover up sex scandals it simply invites more sex scandals. Such was the case at Bryan College just a couple of years ago when a Bryan professor was arrested in a sting operation for allegedly soliciting sex from a minor.

Fortunately, the accused professor resigned. Unfortunately, Bryan College concocted a cover story, which falsely claimed that the professor left to pursue "other opportunities." Being charged with a felony sex crime isn't an "opportunity." It's a lie and a very bad one at that. Arguably, Dr. Livesay should have been terminated for his role in the cover up.

2. Prior restraint of free speech. Fortunately, a brave Bryan College student decided to blow the cover on the aforementioned lie. The student wanted to run the story in the Bryan paper - although he was also employed as a journalist for an off campus paper. But Dr. Livesay quashed the story before it ran citing concerns about its accuracy.

It is notable the student/journalist's story was based on public records. There was never any evidence that the student was off the mark in his reporting of this publicly available information. Obviously, Dr. Livesay's real concern was that it was accurate and exposed the school as having concocted a cover story that was inaccurate.

Furthermore, when the story was about to run, the accused professor was no longer at Bryan College. Additionally, the sting took place off campus. Bryan had no compelling interest in the prior restraint of the student's speech. They should have allowed the story to run. The day Dr. Livesay decided to engage in prior restraint of free and accurate speech was the day Bryan lost its claim to be a serious institution of higher learning.

3. Altering the statement of faith. The Bryan charter states in clear terms that the statement of faith cannot be altered. But now it has been. Bryan altered the statement of faith to include a statement about an historical Adam and Eve. The alteration also calls for faculty to sign a specific rejection of macro-evolution.

Under the leadership of Dr. Livesay, Bryan College has predictably dubbed the patently illegal alteration as a "clarification." The Livesay administration is sounding more like the Clinton Administration every day. I suppose it depends on what the definition of an alteration is.

To make matters worse, this illegal alteration was forced upon faculty shorty before their annual contracts were to be renewed. This did not give dissenters a reasonable amount of time to look for employment elsewhere. These are Gestapo tactics. They are simply indefensible actions by anyone who claims to subscribe to Christian ideals of decency and fairness.

Now, two tenured professors who have been terminated have had to resort to litigation against Bryan. They have a good chance of prevailing in the litigation. If that happens, Bryan's chances of surviving might not be so good. But Dr. Livesay shows no signs of capitulating.

4. Subverting faculty will. In the wake of the clear breach of the Bryan charter there has been a 30-2 vote of no confidence against Dr. Livesay. Yet he refuses to leave. This is a sign that there is something seriously wrong with this man. This is not conduct to be expected of Christians. This is conduct to be expected of dictators.

5. Ordering board resignations. The last sad chapter in the Bryan meltdown has been the resignation of several members of the Board of Trustees. According to numerous credible sources within the Bryan community, Dr. Livesay has simply told his board that those who refuse to support him must leave. The Bryan president appears to want to surround himself with boot licking slaves who will go along with whatever changes he dictates. In twelve years of writing (almost always critically) of higher education, I have never seen this kind of totalitarian arrogance on behalf of a college president. And that includes my coverage of those not claiming to be Christians.

Given this precedent, and the atmosphere of lawlessness at Bryan, faculty and students can probably expect further changes in the Bryan charter in the near future. Maybe there will be a young earth mandate. Or perhaps a change of name is in order for Bryan College.

Livesay College has a nice ring to it. I'm sure both the Board and the bored would agree.


Education fund 'champions' vocational projects

Seven educational projects have today been awarded grants totalling over half a million pounds, in a bid to “champion” vocational, practical and technical education.

The fund, launched in January by the Edge Foundation to mark the charity’s 10 year anniversary, aims to support innovative education projects that have the potential to be scaled up or disseminated across the education sector.

The grants, awarded in the first stage of the £1 million fund, start at £50,000 and reach £100,000. Successful bids for the second round of grants will be announced by the end of the year.

Projects benefiting from the fund are required to have a direct impact on young people aged 11-24 both in the short and the long term.

Beneficiaries include Activate Learning in Oxfordshire, which was awarded a £90,000 grant for a Career Pathway College, designed to provide technical education in construction and heritage craft.

Careers Academies UK was awarded £50,000 for five new academies focusing on the logistics sector; and Hackney Community College in London was awarded £78,540 for an apprenticeship centre providing apprentices for companies taking space in the Olympic Park.

Jan Hodges, CEO of the Edge Foundation highlighted the importance of “championing” technical and vocational education.

"Edge has worked hard over the past decade to highlight the importance and benefits of high quality technical, practical and vocational education and training, seeking a closer alignment between education and the skill needs of the UK economy," she said.

"These projects all have the potential to become beacons of excellence in this regard and exemplars of what can be achieved."

Ian Ashman, principal of Hackney Community College said that apprenticeships in the expanding digital economy are "crucial" to the future of Hackney’s young people.

“As we have already shown, young and diverse apprentices bring many benefits to the companies that take them. It’s a win-win deal with clear benefits for young people and for new tech entrepreneurs. ”

Last week it was reported that Britain faces a growing digital skills shortage, with a report from O2 saying that around 745,000 additional workers with these skills would be needed to meet demand between now and 2017.

Furthermore, recent research commissioned by Edge and City & Guilds found that 72 per cent of employers see vocational qualifications as “essential” for improving the skills of young people.

Writing in the Telegraph in May, David Harbourne, Director of Policy and Research, at the Edge Foundation, also highlighted that only 27 per cent of parents judged a vocational education to be worthwhile, while 22 per cent of students were told they were “too clever” for vocational education.

Ms Hodges says supporting vocational and practical education projects as they get under way is “crucial to bring about change and challenge old ways of thinking.”

Oldham College, a further beneficiary and the UK’s first Digital and Creative Career College, was today awarded £100,000 towards a Digital Skills Centre within the new Career College.

Andrew Harrison, vice principal of strategy and resources at Oldham College said: “The digital and creative industries are vital growth sectors in Greater Manchester, and are expected to generate over 23,000 jobs in the next decade.

“With Britain facing a growing shortage of digital skills, vocational education needs to focus on students learning what they need to progress, whether that’s into employment or onto higher education. Learners need to be able to tackle the digital requirements in today’s world of work.”


'Stop criticising private schools, start learning from them'

Former Chancellor, Lord Lamont, is absolutely right to say we should take more pride in our private schools, and see them as "great national assets".

Private schools are renowned the world over: a British success story increasingly being exported, with top schools like Cranleigh, Dulwich, Harrow, Marlborough and Wellington, all setting up overseas subsidiaries in the Far and Middle East.

Meanwhile Eton itself, founded in 1440, is a byword in educational achievement. How many other institutions, British or otherwise, have flourished for 574 years?

So why are so many, as Lord Lamont observes, so critical of private schools? Is this pure envy?

Whatever the reason, it’s not enough simply to sit back and take pride in these excellent institutions. We need to learn what makes them successful and translate some of the attitudes, some of the culture, to the maintained sector too.

What an irony: Britain has probably the best independent schools in the world; but on the other side of the “Berlin Wall”, has a maintained sector increasingly languishing behind our competitors, as the PISA tests revealed.

So what makes private schools special? First and foremost, the “can do” attitude they foster amongst pupils. Success, achievement, ambition, pride: these are not dirty words, to be avoided at all costs, but are embedded in the ethos of all independent schools – often seen in their mottos.

Cheltenham College’s is typical: “Labor Omnia Vincit” (“Work Conquers All”). Or how about “Industria”, the motto of Tony Blair’s alma mater, Fettes College (often regarded as “Scotland’s Eton”), exhorting its pupils to work harder.

The fact such mottos are still unashamedly in Latin, itself makes a statement about excellence: “You don’t know the meaning? Why not look it up and learn something?”

Apart from “Floreat Etona”, “May Eton Flourish” (no shortage of pride there), one of the most famous mottos is Winchester College’s “Manners makyth man”.

This may sound unfashionable, until you remember that Winchester, founded in 1382, has been around for over 600 years – even predating Eton. Surely that’s something to take pride in?

In contrast, every time I pass a comprehensive, I am struck by the bland, meaningless “mission statements” posted proudly outside school gates. Usually these run something along the lines of “excellence for everyone”, or “achievement for all”, or some such other woolly, waffly, slogan. How exactly is this to be achieved, I find myself wondering?

Next, private schools encourage competition – and not just in the classroom itself, with well-publicised grading systems and form orders, so everyone knows exactly how they stand, but also on the sports field.

Competitive sport is, sadly, on its way out in too many maintained schools. But in the private sector, sport flourishes: with regular rugby, soccer, cricket fixtures. This is why 40 per cent of medals at the London Olympics were won by former private pupils. When will we realise that “competition” too is not taboo?

Crucially, private schools also give every pupil a sense of community and belonging. They achieve this through their “house” systems. No matter how large the school, from two hundred to the huge size of Eton, boys and girls will be split into smaller, friendlier, school houses of fifty or sixty pupils.

Fierce rivalries between houses are engendered; fierce loyalties develop. A strong sense of identity and confidence is the end result.

So let’s stop criticising private schools and start learning a few lessons from them for a change.


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