Thursday, June 23, 2016

Some Departments At UNC Chapel Hill Have Zero Republican Professors

Professors at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill are 12 times more likely to be a registered Democrat than a registered Republican, The College Fix reports. In 16 departments, there are no Republican professors whatsoever.

Researchers from The College Fix, a conservative news and commentary site, searched North Carolina’s public voter database to find the political party registrations of UNC Chapel Hill’s 1,355 professors. Many of these were registered as unaffiliated, but of those who were registered with a party, 615 were registered Democrats and 50 were registered Republicans. In 16 out of the school’s 34 departments, there were zero registered Republicans.

Despite these findings, Jim Gregory, spokesman for UNC Chapel Hill, told The College Fix that the university “does not hire faculty based upon their political affiliation, but instead upon academic merit.” He said further that the university tries to achieve diversity “across all domains” but that doing so is “extremely difficult.”

The political leanings of UNC Chapel Hill’s faculty reflect those of broader academia. In 2012, Campus Reform reported that 96 percent of political donations from Ivy League faculty went to the Obama campaign. According to a survey by sociologist George Yancey, about 30 percent of academics say they would be less likely to hire someone whom they knew was a Republican.

The College Fix reports the following UNC Chapel Hill departments as having no registered Republican professors:

    African-American Studies
    American Studies
    Asian Studies
    Environmental Science
    Marine Sciences
    Public Policy
    Women’s Studies

The department with the most registered Republicans is the Global Business Center. Even there, however, Democratic professors outnumber Republican professors 41-21. The department with the most Democrats is biology, with 60. No biology professors were found to be registered Republicans.


Judge Rules Suspending 'Pop-Tart Gun Kid' Was Justified

The story became the poster child for the zero-tolerance policies run amok. In March 2013, a second-grader in Maryland who was eating a breakfast pastry chewed his meal into the shape of a gun. That act earned him suspension after he pointed the weaponized pastry at other students. “Public schools are indoctrinating our children to fear guns both real and imaginary, under the banner of ‘zero tolerance,’” we wrote when the news first made national headlines.

Now, three years later, Judge Ronald A. Silkworth, who presides over Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, ruled that the school district was right to suspend the boy. “[A] suspension was appropriately used as a corrective tool to address this disruption, based on the student’s past history of escalating behavioral issues,” Silkworth wrote. The incident occurred in the weeks following the Sandy Hook massacre. Teachers and administrators were on edge. Furthermore, the kid had joined the school mid year. As Reason’s Katherine Mangu-Ward pointed out, the school’s records show that the boy on several occasions banged his head repeatedly on walls and his desk. He threw a chair. And at one point, he punched another student.

A recent study found that zero-tolerance policies increased the number of suspensions and expulsions but did nothing to reduce the overall disruptions caused by students. “Pop-Tart Gun Kid” needed discipline, and probably help, but the school district used its zero-tolerance policy to punish him for an action that any other kid might do.


Quality control for colleges is somebody’s job; they’re just not doing it

IT’S NOT A secret that some colleges are a bad bargain for students, or that accrediting agencies, whose job it is to separate solid schools from hopeless ones, are coy about calling the latter out. Going after the worst colleges has such ugly and disruptive consequences — for students, for institutions, and for the government — that it’s just been less stressful, at least until now, to downplay the problem and keep the federal loans flowing.

Last week, the US Department of Education staff concluded that the federal government should stop recognizing the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. Known as ACICS, the council is one of a number of private accrediting agencies that are supposed to provide the higher-ed equivalent of a Good Housekeeping or Underwriters Laboratories stamp of approval — that is, an assurance by an informed outsider that a school is trustworthy enough to receive federal loans for its students.

In reality, these agencies are as indulgent as Enron-era corporate auditors or subprime mortgage-era securities raters; from 2009 to 2014, only 1 percent of schools lost their accreditation.

Traditional nonprofit colleges generally seek accreditation from a regional agency, such as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. ACICS, a national outfit, is known for certifying for-profit institutions — and for unusual leniency. It stood by Corinthian Colleges, a chain that foundered in 2014 amid numerous state and federal fraud investigations. Seventeen institutions accredited by ACICS, including some large chains, have been targeted by state or federal authorities for a variety of questionable practices, from falsifying job-placement rates to using exotic dancers to recruit students.

Earlier this month, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s staff issued a report that declared, “ACICS has spent years cranking open the spigot to allow taxpayer funds to flow to some of the sleaziest actors in American higher education.” In April, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and her counterparts in 10 states and the District of Columbia urged the federal government to cut ACICS off.

The final decision may not come for months. But if the federal government dumps ACICS, the schools that it oversees will need to find another agency to accredit them, or else lose access to federal loans — the higher-ed equivalent of the death penalty.

Making punishments stick is tough in higher ed. Last year, the schools that ACICS oversees received $4.8 billion in federal money for loans to 800,000 students on hundreds of campuses. When so much money and so many students’ well-being are at stake, isn’t swift action in order? In practice, the opposite occurs. Even as the Education Department moved decisively against ACICS last week, it was reassuring students that “nothing happens inevitably or immediately.”

On measures such as graduation and debt-repayment rates, the institutions overseen by ACICS fare much worse as a group than those accredited by regional agencies. Yet lots of other schools are putting students in harm’s way. A recent report by the centrist think tank Third Way noted that only 55 percent of students at all private nonprofit colleges in the United States graduate in six years. A high school with a graduation rate that low, the report noted, would face special interventions under federal law. Weaker public institutions struggle too.

The politics of higher ed are strange, as conservative politicians join forces with university lobbyists to thwart any action against iffy schools. But Washington can’t keep spending billions on the say-so of accreditors who can’t say no.


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