Thursday, May 26, 2016

Ret. Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin wins the battle as the left wins the war on the American mind

Lt. General Jerry Boykin retired from the U.S. Army with the distinction of having led all Special Forces units in the Army.  Boykin had survived the jungles of Vietnam, Columbia and Panama, along with untold number of missions around the globe.  Yet, in his retirement, he was temporarily relieved of his teaching duties as the Wheat Visiting Professorship in Leadership at Hampden-Sydney College, a small private men’s school in southwestern Virginia due to the complaints of a few gay activists over comments made about men using women’s restrooms.

Just about two weeks earlier and a few miles up the road, Virginia Tech, a public school, ran into trouble, when they attempted to disinvite Jason Riley, a black conservative from giving their semi-annual BB&T Distinguished Lecture.

The Wall Street Journal columnist, Riley, contended that the invitation withdrawal was due to faculty concerns about his book, “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed.”

After exposure and a good dose of social media bashing, both institutions backed down. While these two instances of conservative thought being censored by the politically correct mobs were spiked, both Boykin and Riley were aided by having an extremely high profile and the ability to fight back.

However, the obvious question is how many low-profile conservative voices are silenced across academia either through overt actions or simply out of a desire by professors to not risk their jobs and livelihoods?

This past year, a “Men in Literature” course that had been taught at Springfield College in Massachusetts by Dr. Dennis Gouws was cancelled as creating a hostile environment for women. No student was compelled to take the popular course, and the college offers an English course entitled “Women and Literature” as well as various ethnic focused courses.

The “Men in Literature” course had been offered since 2005, and in 2010 achieved status of being part of the regular curriculum.

Peter Wood, the President of the National Association of Scholars, points out that Gouws, “never set out to be a gadfly against progressive dogma or a stalwart opponent of the ideological regime. He was, to the contrary, picked for the part by the regime itself. He had made his own adjustments to the contemporary preoccupation with ‘gender’ by devising an experimental course in 2005 titled ‘Men in Literature.’”

Yet, the heretofore, relatively unknown professor now finds this course of study under fire.  Note, this isn’t a degree being offered on “Men in Literature,” but merely a single course among dozens that students choose to take to matriculate. Yet, the presence of a single offering at a single college that doesn’t fit precisely into the radical left’s narrative is so discomfiting that it must be squashed.

There can be no dissent. There can be no alternative opinions offered. The left can bear no challenge to their orthodoxy.

And the freedom of thought and expression gets nullified in the process. This isn’t by accident.  The same ideological ilk that fought for gender and ethnic studies classes and subsequently gender and ethnic studies degrees in the past, know the power of controlling the information flow into the ripe young brains free to be fully on their own for the first time as they enter college. And they are determined to shield them from anything resembling cognitive debate.

The University has become the ultimate safe space to do anything except learn diverse world views. Instead it is designed to tear down the world view propagated through the family, church and pre-common core elementary and secondary educations, by flooding normally rebellious eighteen year old minds with counter-culture thought absent any reinforcement of the constructs that underlay their upbringing.

Lt. General Jerry Boykin and Jason Riley had national platforms to fight back and win their battles to be heard on campus, but for Professor Gouws and many others like him, there are no Fox News appearances to bolster public outrage. Instead they are left to toil under college administrations that at best tolerate and worse seek to end their work far from the spotlight.

What can be done?

Currently, the GOP controls the Governorship, State Senate and State House in thirty of the fifty states (note Nebraska is included in this even though it is unicameral).

Republican Governors working with the state legislatures in these states should make tearing down this academic wall of tyranny within their state university and college structures a top priority.  The wailing from liberal academia will be heard on National Public Radio from coast to coast, and that is a good thing.  By forcing the left to defend its academic strongholds, they will have to retrench from their wholesale onslaught on reason and planned indoctrination of the next generation.

College is not supposed to be a safe space. It is supposed to be a place where ideas challenge the mind, so the next generation can grow into and be worthy of our national heritage of free thought. Speech should not be feared, but embraced as the inevitable clash of intellects through which students learn how to discern by having their assumptions challenged.

It is time for Republican state officeholders to stand up for free thought in the university systems, before the liberal academia stamps it out, along with the flickering flame of free speech, forever.


Feds Order Colleges to Stop Checking Criminal/School Discipline History Because it Discriminates Against Minorities

The Obama administration has ordered the nation's colleges and universities to stop asking applicants about criminal and school disciplinary history because it discriminates against minorities.

Institutions are also being asked to offer those with criminal records special support services such as counseling, mentoring and legal aid once enrolled. The government's official term for these perspective students is "justice-involved individuals" and the new directive aims to remove barriers to higher education for the overwhelmingly minority population that's had encounters with the law or disciplinary issues through high school.

Instructions are outlined in a cumbersome document (Beyond the Box) issued by the U.S Department of Education (ED) this month. It says that "data show plainly that people of color are more likely to come in contact with the justice system due, in part, to punitive school disciplinary policies that disproportionately impact certain student groups and racial profiling." Because education can be a powerful pathway to transition out of prison and into the workforce, it's critical to ensure that admissions practices don't disproportionately disadvantage justice involved individuals, the directive states. Colleges and universities should also refrain from inquiring about a student's school disciplinary history-including past academic dishonesty-because that too discriminates against minorities. Civil rights data compiled by ED show "black students are suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than white students and often for the same types of infractions."

Therefore colleges and universities should consider designing admissions policies that don't include disciplinary history so they don't have the "unjustified effect of discriminating against individuals on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion and disability," the new ED guidelines state. Three out of four colleges and universities collect high school disciplinary information and 89% of those institutions use the information to make admissions decisions, according to the order.

That needs to change, according to the administration. A few years ago it warned public elementary and high schools to administer student discipline without discriminating on the bases of race, color or national origin because too many minority students-especially blacks-were getting suspended. The feds assert they issued the directive after reports of "racial disparities" in "exclusionary discipline policies" that created a "school to prison pipeline."

Colleges and universities are to take it a step further by offering students with criminal histories special support services. This is to include targeted academic and career guidance as well as counseling, legal aid services, mentoring and coaching. "Institutions should recruit and train peer mentors with previous justice involvement to work with justice-involved students to ensure a smooth transition to post-secondary education and provide support and resources throughout their time at the college or university," the new directive states. "These peer mentors could begin their work by acting as navigators who help acclimate justice-involved students to the educational institutions." Perhaps colleges and universities should also start sending recruiters to jails across the country.

This is part of a broader effort by the administration to even the playing field for convicts. Earlier this month Judicial Watch reported that the president issued an order prohibiting federal agencies from asking job applicants about criminal history. The measure will ensure that hiring managers are making selection decisions based solely on qualifications, according to a White House announcement. "Early inquiries into an applicant's criminal history may discourage motivated, well-qualified individuals who have served their time from applying for a federal job," the announcement says, adding that "early inquiries could also lead to the disqualification of otherwise eligible candidates."

Years ago the administration tried slamming the private sector with a ban on job applicant background checks by claiming that they discriminate against all minority candidates, not just ex-cons. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces the nation's workplace discrimination laws, wasted taxpayer dollars suing companies for checking criminal histories asserting that it violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The apparent intent was to discourage other businesses from checking criminal histories out of fear of getting sued by the government, but it didn't quite work out that way.

A federal judge eventually blasted the EEOC's claims, calling them laughable, distorted, cherry-picked, worthless and an egregious example of scientific dishonesty. Of interesting note is that the EEOC conducts criminal background checks as a condition of employment.


Federal authorities flunk in every category but promises

The U.S. Department of Education opened its doors 36 years ago. Proponents of its creation promised improved efficiency and higher student achievement. Instead, federal spending has soared and student achievement has barely budged.

Clearly, Washington doesn't know best, and it's time for federal authorities to butt out of America's schools and put parents and their locally elected boards back in charge.

The longest running nationally representative assessment of American student achievement is the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the results of which are known as the Nation's Report Card.

Long-term trend results in both math and reading are reported on a scale of zero to 500. Students who score 300 or above can solve moderately complex math problems and understand relatively complicated reading materials.

Among 17-year-olds, typically high school seniors, the long-term performance in NAEP math has increased only slightly over decades, from 52 percent of students scoring 300 or above in 1978 to 60 percent faring as well in 2012, the latest year for which results are available.

The long-term reading performance of 17-year-olds has remained flat, with just 39 percent of students scoring 300 or above in both 1971 and 2012.

Over the same period, federal appropriations for elementary and high school education increased more than 140 percent, from $33.2 billion in 1971 to $80 billion in 2012. Student enrollment, meanwhile, increased only 9 percent, from 45.6 million in 1971 to 49.8 million in 2012.

Back in 1866, when the idea of a national education department was first being debated in Congress, Rep. Samuel J. Randall, D-Pa., predicted that it would amount to "a bureau at an extravagant rate of pay, and an undue number of clerks collecting statistics ... (that) does not propose to teach a single child ... its A, B, C's."

History proves Randall was right.

We were promised that illiteracy would be eliminated by 1984. We were promised that high school graduation rates would reach 90 percent by the year 2000 and that American students would be global leaders in math and science. And we were promised that by 2014 all students would be proficient in reading and math. None of this has happened.

Rather than learning from these broken promises, Congress continues to tinker with ineffective and costly federal education programs.

It's time to end the U.S. Department of Education and put the real experts - parents - back in charge of their children's education.

Parents, regardless of their incomes or addresses, are choosing their children's public, charter, private and online schools in a significant and growing majority of states. More than 1.7 million students are now home-schooled, with that figure increasing 62 percent in the past decade.

Research shows that when parents have more choices in education, both students and schools benefit, and do so at a fraction of the cost of top-heavy federal programs. The resulting competition for students and their associated funding puts powerful pressure on schools to improve.

Little wonder that some seven out of 10 likely voters believe competition improves public schools and support greater parental choice, particularly education savings accounts, or ESAs.

First enacted in Arizona in 2011, and four more states since then, such savings accounts put parents in charge of their children's education funding, allowing them to customize the services that best meet their children's needs.

Any leftover funds remain in students' ESAs for future expenses, including college tuition. Regular ESA expenditure audits by state education agencies provide unparalleled levels of public transparency and accountability.

Instead of funneling money through the D.C. bureaucracy, we should be funding American students directly through ESAs.

Until we put the real experts - parents and their locally elected representatives - back in charge of education, we can expect more overpromising and under-delivering from the U.S. Department of Education.


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