Friday, January 01, 2016

Controversial job ad at the University of Louisville: Whites, Asians Need Not Apply

Many colleges want more ethnically and racially diverse faculty members. But should searches be limited to underrepresented groups? One university just tried.

Even before the recent, widespread student protests over campus climate issues, many colleges and universities were working to make their faculties more diverse. But can a department specifically reserve a position for an underrepresented minority candidate? That’s what some are asking after a job ad for an assistant professorship reserved for nonwhite, non-Asian Ph.D.s was abruptly deleted from a jobs site on Tuesday.

The post (inactive but still cached here) on HigherEdJobs mostly resembled a typical ad, encouraging applicants “with a Ph.D. in physics or a related area, a strong research record and a passion for teaching” to apply. It also included a standard equal employment opportunity statement saying the University of Louisville is “an affirmative action, equal opportunity, Americans with disabilities employer, committed to community engagement and diversity, and in that spirit, seeks applications from a broad variety of candidates.”

But just under that statement, the ad continued, “The Department of Physics and Astronomy announces a tenure-track assistant professor position that will be filled by an African-American, Hispanic American or a Native American Indian [sic].”

The ad, posted in mid-October, was taken down after the department received a complaint that the preferences didn’t include applicants with disabilities, said C.S. Jayanthi, chair of physics and astronomy. She said she forwarded the complaint to administrators, and the ad was promptly removed.

In the interim, others have questioned the broader legal issues raised by a job ad limiting a faculty search to members of select racial and ethnic groups.

“I’ve never seen that before and it strikes me as inappropriate,” said Benjamin Reese Jr., vice president and chief diversity officer at Duke University and president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.

Marshall Rose, president of the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity, who recently retired as director of the Office of Equity and Diversity at Bowling Green State University, agreed, saying the ad likely violated federal and state laws governing equal opportunity. Those include Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The former prohibits “exclusion from participation in, denial of benefits of, and discrimination under federally assisted programs on ground of race, color or national origin,” and the latter prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on such grounds.

“These are the terms and conditions of employment, from how you get into an organization to what happens to you in between, when you’re there and how you leave,” he said.

Rose expressed surprise that such an ad had ever survived the university’s vetting process, as did Jayanthi, the department chair. She said she knows physics and that there’s a mandate for more underrepresented minority faculty members in the natural sciences, and the ad was drafted thus -- not based on any nuanced understanding of federal employment law.

Cindy Hess, a university spokeswoman, said via email that the human resources department was notified of “the error” and the ad was removed immediately.

“The position will be reposted and [human resources] will contact all applicants and encourage them to reapply,” she said.


Student caught on camera blowing cigar smoke in his teacher's face during class after row about exams

Arkansas prosecutors are considering filing a criminal charge against a high school student who lit a cigar in class and then blew smoke in his teacher’s face three times, according to police.

As seen above, the incident Monday morning at North Little Rock High School was recorded by a student.

As detailed in a North Little Rock Police Department report, teacher Robert Holley told cops that his confrontation with student Christopher Dunn, 18, “started when Dunn showed up to class to take his final exam.”

Holley said that he told Dunn that he would have to sit in the hallway to take the test, but that the student refused. “Holley said he told Dunn that if he didn’t do as he was asked that he was going to write him up and call for a campus supervisor to remove him.”

When Holley reached for an intercom button, Dunn said, "Hit that button, I dare you. Holley told police that he has had Dunn removed from his classroom several times this year.

As Holley began “writing Dunn up,” cops noted, “his class started going wild so he turned around to see what the commotion was about.” Dunn, Holley said, had lit a cigar and was “taking a drag off of it.”

Dunn then rose from his seat and walked up to Holley and blew cigar smoke in his face. While the video shows Dunn doing this once, Holley told police the student blew smoke in his face three times.

Somehow, Holley did not physically respond to Dunn’s provocation, which appeared to delight other students, who can be heard in the background laughing, clapping, and whooping.

A campus supervisor eventually arrived at the classroom and escorted Dunn out. “I’ll be back,” the student said as he looked over his shoulder at Holley.

Police classified the incident as insult or abuse of a teacher, a misdemeanor. County prosecutors are now reviewing the case to make a decision on whether to file a criminal charge against Dunn.


Our Most Divisive Political Issue

Can you name the most contentious issue in American politics? Here’s a hint. It’s being fought at the federal, state and local levels. And it doesn’t go away. The struggle is persistent, ongoing, unending.

Here is a second hint. The issue is not gay marriage, or gun control, or police brutality and or immigration. Those issues are either settled, largely settled, isolated or completely out of the control of local and state governments.

Here is a third hint. The issue divides Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals. But it is especially divisive among Democrats and among people who call themselves “liberal.”

Give up? The most divisive issue in American politics is: What should we do about the education of children from low income families?

To appreciate how divisive the issue is among Democrats consider that Bernie Sanders can’t talk for two minutes without bringing up the issue of inequality. But when it comes to allowing poor children to escape bad schools and go to better ones he is virtually silent. He opposes public money going to private schools and has little encouraging to say about public school choice. Yet the state he represents (Vermont) has the oldest and most extensive system of school choice found anywhere in the country.

Hillary Clinton’s unwillingness to vigorously stand up for the kids is costing her big campaign contributions. Although she has supported student testing and charter schools in the past, her recent cozying up to the teachers unions is making wealthy school reform Democrats close their checkbooks to her presidential campaign.

To make matters more complex, parents are becoming more of a factor. In a recent election in Los Angeles pro-reform Latino parents managed to prevail against the teachers unions and white voters in affluent suburbs in what USA Today called “the priciest and most bitter school board race in history.”

The Obama administration has been completely inconsistent. Under Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the administration tied state grants and waivers from onerous federal regulations to support for charter schools and the linking of teacher pay to student test scores. His replacement, John King, is a charter school co-founder who, as New York’s education chief, pursued reforms designed to root out bad teachers.

Yet the administration’s Justice Department fought a losing battle in court in an effort to stop Louisiana’s new state-wide voucher program. And the administration joined with Nancy Pelosi and other congressional Democrats in an ongoing struggle to end Washington DC’s Opportunity Scholarship Program. Jeanne Allen of the Center for Education Reform explains the issue this way:

Democrats oppose this program not because it is failing but because it is succeeding. They fear that as these choice programs succeed, poor and minority moms and dads are going to figure out the Democrats are selling their kids out to the teachers unions.

To appreciate what’s at stake, consider two Harlem schools that operate side by side in the same building: Wadleigh Secondary School (a public school) and Harlem West (a charter school). At both schools 95 percent of the students and black and Hispanic and most are from poverty level families. As one of the teachers describes it:

The students … eat in the same cafeteria, exercise in the same gym and enjoy recess in the same courtyard. They also live on the same blocks and face many of the same challenges.

Yet not one of the public school students met state standards in math (a typical question: What is 15% of 60?) or English, while the passing rates at the charter school were 96 and 75 percent, respectively. The city wide scores, by the way, were 35 and 30 percent, despite New York City average spending of $20,331 per pupil.

So, should there be more Harlem Wests and fewer Wadleighs?

Hard to believe, but that is currently the most contentious political issue in New York City and maybe in the whole of New York state.

Also hard to believe, the CNN panel asked not one question about the public schools in last Saturday’s Democratic presidential debate.


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