Tuesday, December 01, 2015

This is Not a Day Care. It’s a University!

By Dr. Everett Piper, President, Oklahoma Wesleyan University

This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt “victimized” by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13. It appears that this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love! In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable.

I’m not making this up. Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic! Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims! Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them “feel bad” about themselves, is a “hater,” a “bigot,” an “oppressor,” and a “victimizer.”

I have a message for this young man and all others who care to listen. That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience! An altar call is supposed to make you feel bad! It is supposed to make you feel guilty! The goal of many a good sermon is to get you to confess your sins—not coddle you in your selfishness. The primary objective of the Church and the Christian faith is your confession, not your self-actualization!

So here’s my advice:

If you want the chaplain to tell you you’re a victim rather than tell you that you need virtue, this may not be the university you’re looking for. If you want to complain about a sermon that makes you feel less than loving for not showing love, this might be the wrong place.

If you’re more interested in playing the “hater” card than you are in confessing your own hate; if you want to arrogantly lecture, rather than humbly learn; if you don’t want to feel guilt in your soul when you are guilty of sin; if you want to be enabled rather than confronted, there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn’t one of them.

At OKWU, we teach you to be selfless rather than self-centered. We are more interested in you practicing personal forgiveness than political revenge. We want you to model interpersonal reconciliation rather than foment personal conflict. We believe the content of your character is more important than the color of your skin. We don’t believe that you have been victimized every time you feel guilty and we don’t issue “trigger warnings” before altar calls.

Oklahoma Wesleyan is not a “safe place”, but rather, a place to learn: to learn that life isn’t about you, but about others; that the bad feeling you have while listening to a sermon is called guilt; that the way to address it is to repent of everything that’s wrong with you rather than blame others for everything that’s wrong with them. This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up!

This is not a day care. This is a university!


Princeton Grad Disappointed Administrators Gave in to Student ‘Bullying Tactics’

For years, Darren Geist walked up the steps of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs almost daily.

After class, he’d meet with his senior thesis advisor Christopher L. Eisgruber, who Geist said at times, served as more of a “mentor” than an advisor.

In 2005, Geist would go on to graduate from the prestigious Ivy League, while nabbing the renowned Spirit of Princeton Award for his work on sensitive issues including human trafficking, sex trafficking, and genocide.

Eight years later, his mentor, Eisgruber, would go on to become president of Princeton University.

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Looking back, Geist told The Daily Signal he never would have imagined that ten years later, the university would be caught in a wave of campus protests, with students calling for the building where he earned his degree to be scrubbed of its name.

But moreover, Geist said, “I didn’t imagine that the president of the university would be in some way deciding to back the protesters.”

The protesters are part of a group called the Black Justice League, which according to its Facebook page, started in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and aims to dismantle racism.

Woodrow Wilson, they believe, continues “the legacy of white supremacy and anti-Blackness on campus.”

To voice their concerns, members of the Black Justice League organized a sit-in inside the president’s office. Thirty-two hours later, the sit-in ended with Eisgruber giving into many of the student’s demands.

Among their demands, the Black Justice League asked, “the university administration publicly acknowledge the racist legacy of Woodrow Wilson and how he impacted campus policy and culture.”

    We also demand that steps be made to rename Wilson residential college, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs, and any other building named after him. Furthermore, we would like the mural of Wilson to be removed from the Wilcox dining hall. We understand that a name change does not dismantle racism, but also know that the way we lionize legacies set precedents.

The Black Justice League also demanded “cultural competency training for all staff and faculty,” mandatory classes on the “history of marginalized peoples” and a “cultural space on campus dedicated specifically to Black students.”

The full list of demands is laid out on the group’s Change.org petition, available here.

Eisgruber responded on Thursday by making public an official agreement addressing each of the student demands.

Geist felt the agreement was premature, and didn’t consider the many other opinions surrounding the protesters demands.

“To make this huge decision that impacts the degrees of many, many students—myself included—without consulting them or waiting to hear their viewpoint, that to me is very troubling,” Geist said. “Especially when it’s only because of a few students who are very vocal and violated the school rules.”

Geist, who is now a lawyer, isn’t eager to speak critically of his former mentor, but after witnessing Eisgruber express his “personal view” that a mural remembering Wilson in a campus dining hall should be removed, and direct the Board of Trustees to “initiative conversations” surrounding the renaming of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, he had enough.

For a while, “I sort of stayed away from these race issues,” Geist said. But now, the situation has become “intolerable.”

    I think this got to a point where it’s become intolerable…it’s both intolerable and for me, because I care about human rights and civil rights, I think this is very bad for the movement. Unfortunately, we see the civil rights movement hijacked in some way by radicals.

He also called it a “weird double-standard, where they pick and choose what to be offended by and to me, that gives it less credibility.”

Most of them are self-described progressives and progressives have a long history of supporting eugenics, the Democratic party was the party of the South and the KKK and of segregation.

Over the weekend, Geist created a counter protest for alumni of the college to “express our concern at the administration’s approach to the Black Justice League’s demands.”

Thus far, it has only garnered 34 supporters.

Another counter-protest, however, led by current students has gained more than 1,245 signatures. Geist said in part, his effort was meant to show those students that they have the support of the fellow Princeton alum.

“Alumni are a little nervous about putting their name on something because of their careers,” Geist said.

    I wanted it to be clear that alumni are supporting undergrads that are trying to stand up against bullying tactics and are trying to really preserve the legacy of Princeton.


Why Massachusetts Gave Up on Common Core

The state Board of Education in Massachusetts has decided to retreat from common core and develop its own state tests—to the dismay of Common Core advocates.

It comes as no surprise that a “top-down, one-size-fits-all” approach to education is not working for the people of Massachusetts.

Interestingly, this policy reversal comes at the recommendation of Mitchell Chester, one of Common Core’s main architects. When a program’s leading advocate admits that it is not working, it is time to give that program a second look.

The sentiment held in Massachusetts is shared by parents, students, teachers, and school administrators all over the country. A recent poll found that approval for common core plummeted to 46 percent among teachers in 2014, a 30-point drop from 2013. Approval among parents indicates a similar pattern, with overall approval rates dropping from 65 percent in 2013 to 53 percent in 2014.

A recent poll found that approval for common core plummeted to 46 percent among teachers in 2014

For instance, students in Massachusetts are drastically different from students in Nevada and therefore require a different set of tests and curricula. Therefore, restoring control to states and localities to make informed choices for their communities will better ensure education quality.

Common Core has fallen under particularly harsh scrutiny after the National Association for Educational Progress (NAEP) released especially dismal results for 2015.

While Massachusetts has prided itself on its consistently high standardized test performance, their 2015 NAEP results showed declines in almost every category of testing. Massachusetts’ 8th grade math assessment dropped to its lowest average score since 2005, with 8th grade reading falling to 2009 levels. Massachusetts was not alone in its declining performance.

Since NAEP started its testing in the early 1990s, most states have seen slow but consistent progress. However, this year’s scores took a unexpected dip after almost 20 years of progress.

Russ Whitehurst at The Brookings Institution found a statistically significant link between state adoption of Common Core and lower NAEP scores. While some argue that the decline in test scores may simply be because students and teachers need to adjust to a new system, Whitehurst writes that “the modest correlation suggests that more is going on than disruptions in instruction associated with the rollout of a new assessment system.”

Neal McClusky of the Cato Institute came to a similar conclusion—“that the states that never adopted the Core outperformed the average could indicate that the disruption theory is correct: foregoing the transition to the Core enabled better performance.”

As Common Core faces harsh criticism in light of recent NAEP scores and pushback from policy makers, it is time for more states to consider going the route of Massachusetts and say “no thanks” to Common Core State Standards.


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